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SOME EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY
With the exception of Sydney Smith (1771-1845) all the writers of this group have been represented by other work in a previous section.
Sydney Smith became a Fellow at Oxford, took orders, was appointed to a curacy on Salisbury Plain, went to Edinburgh, and there stumbled upon his vocation as reviewer. After five years in Edinburgh, he moved to London where he spent the remainder of his life. Smith cared little for books as books and had not a grain of sentiment in his composition. He was one of the wittiest of Englishmen, and his letters are full of the most untiring and the most sparkling pleasantry.
Of the more distinguished authors whose letters are here given, it is sufficient to say that not one scrap that gives us more knowledge of their personality is uninteresting to us, and therefore those who treasure the heritage of English literature will always turn to the correspondence of these men to find a side which is not only alluring but is so often charmingly revealing.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH journey, all that was required. The
reception given me by the Queen at her To PROFESSOR REED
ball was most gracious. Mrs. Everett, (PRESENTATION TO THE QUEEN) the wife of your minister, among many RYDAL Mount, AMBLESIDE, July 1, 1845. ing who I was.
others, was a witness to it, without know
It moved her to the My dear Mr. Reed,
shedding of tears. This effect was in part I have, as usual, been long in your debt, produced, I suppose, by American habits
Ι which I am pretty sure you will excuse as of feeling, as pertaining to a republican heretofore. It gave me much pleasure to government. To see a grey-haired man of have a glimpse of your brother under seventy-five years of age, kneeling down circumstances which no doubt he will have in a large assembly to kiss the hand of a described to you. He spoke of his health young woman, is a sight for which instituas improved, and I hope it will continue to tions essentially democratic do not prepare do so. I understood from him that it was a spectator of either sex, and must natprobable that he should call at Rydal be- urally place the opinions upon which a fore his return to his own country.' I need republic is founded, and the sentiments not say to you I shall be glad, truly glad, to which support it, in strong contrast with a see him both for his own sake, and as so government based and upheld as ours is. nearly connected with you. My absence I am not, therefore, surprised that Mrs. from home lately was not of more than Everett was moved, as she herself described three weeks. I took the journey to to persons of my acquaintance, among London solely to pay my respects to the others to Mr. Rogers the poet. By the Queen upon my appointment to the by, of this gentleman, now I believe in his Laureateship upon the decease of my eighty-third year, I saw more than of any friend Mr. Southey. The weather was other person except my host, while I was very cold, and I caught an inflammation in in London. He is singularly fresh and one of my eyes, which rendered my stay in strong for his years, and his mental facthe south very uncomfortable. I never- ulties (with the exception of his memory a theless did, in respect to the object of my little) not at all impaired. It is remarkable that he and the Rev. W. Bowles were is far from us, being gone to Oporto with both distinguished as poets when I was a her husband on account of her enfeebled school-boy, and they have survived almost frame: and most unfortunately, soon all their eminent contemporaries, several after her arrival, she was seized with a of whom came into notice long after them. violent attack of rheumatic fever caused Since they became known, Burns, Cowper, by exposure to the evening air. We Mason, the author of Caractacus and have also been obliged lately to part with friend of Gray, have died. Thomas four grandsons, very fine boys, who are Warton, Laureate, then Byron, Shelley, gone with their father to Italy to visit their Keats, and a good deal later Scott, mother, kept there by severe illness, which Coleridge, Crabbe, Southey, Lamb, the sent her abroad two years ago. Under Ettrick Shepherd, Cary the translator of these circumstances we old people keep Dante, Crowe, the author of Lewesdon our spirits as well as we can, trusting the Hill, and others of more or less distinc- end to God's goodness. tion, have disappeared. And now of Now, for the enclosed poem, which I English poets, advanced in life, I cannot re- wrote the other day, and which I send to call any but James Montgomery, Thomas you, hoping it may give you some pleasure, Moore, and myself, who are living, except as a scanty repayment for all that we owe the octogenarian with whom I began. you. Our dear friend, Miss Fenwick, is
I saw Tennyson, when I was in London, especially desirous that her warmest several times. He is decidedly the first thanks should be returned to you for all of our living poets, and I hope will live to the trouble you have taken about her give the world still better things. You bonds. But, to return to the verses: if will be pleased to hear that he expressed in you approve, pray forward them with my the strongest terms his gratitude to my compliments and thanks for his letter to writings. To this I was far from indif
In his letter he states that with ferent, though persuaded that he is not others he is strenuously exerting himself much in sympathy with what I should my- in endeavours to abolish slavery, and, as self most value in my attempts, viz., the one of the means of disposing the public spirituality with which I have endeavoured mind to that measure, he is about to to invest the material universe, and the publish selections from various authors moral relations under which I have wished in behalf of humanity. He begs an origito exhibit its most ordinary appearances. nal composition from me. I have nothing I ought not to conclude this first portion of bearing directly upon slavery, but if you my letter without telling you that I have think this little piece would serve his cause now under my roof a cousin, who some indirectly, pray be so kind as to forward it time ago was introduced, improperly, I to him. He speaks of himself as deeply think, she being then a child, to the notice indebted to my writings. of the public, as one of the English poet- I have not left room to subscribe myself esses, in an article of the Quarterly so en- more than Affectionately yours, titled. Her name is Emmeline Fisher, and
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. her mother is my first cousin. What advances she may have made in latter
SYDNEY SMITH years I do not know, but her productions
To MRS. HOLLAND from the age of eight to twelve were not less than astonishing. She only arrived
[A CHANNEL-CROSSING] yesterday, and we promise ourselves much
ROUEN, Oct. 6, 1835. pleasure in seeing more of her. Our dear My dearest Child, , friend Miss Fenwick is also under our roof;
fell ill in London, and detained us a so is Katherine Southey, her late father's day or two.
day or two. At Canterbury, the wheel youngest daughter, so that we reckon would not turn round; we slept there, and ourselves rich; though our only daughter lost our passage the next day at Dover:
this was Wednesday, -- a day of mist, fog,
a day of mist, fog, blance to other rooms and squares, that I and despair. It blew a hurricane all that have ceased to interest myself about them. night, and we were kept awake by thinking To-morrow we start for Mantes, and the of the different fish by which we should be next day we shall be at Paris. Travelling devoured on the following day. I thought is extremely slow - five mile an hour.
- : I should fall to the lot of some female I find the people now as I did before, most porpoise, who, mistaking me for a porpoise, delightful; compared to them we are perbut finding me only a parson, would make fect barbarians. Happy the man whose a dinner of me. We were all up and at the daughter was half as well-bred as the quay by five in the morning. The captain chambermaid at Dessein's, or whose sons hesitated very much whether he would were as polished as the waiter! Whatever embark, and your mother solicited me in else you do, insist, when Holland brings pencil notes not to do so; however, we you to France, on coming to Rouen ; embarked, - the French Ambassador, there is nothing in France more worth ourselves, twenty Calais shopkeepers, and seeing. Come to Havre, and by steam to a variety of all nations. The passage was Rouen. God bless you, dear child! Give tremendous: Hibbert had crossed four my love to Froggy and Doggy. Your times, and the courier twenty; I had affectionate father,
SYDNEY SMITH. crossed three times more, and we none of us ever remember such a passage. I lay
WALTER SCOTT along the deck, wrapped in a cloak, shut my eyes, and, as to danger, reflected that
To HENRY BREVOORT it was much more apparent than real;
ABBOTSFORD, 23d April, 1813. and that, as I had so little life to lose, it was of little consequence whether I My dear Sir, drowned, or died, like a resident clergy- I beg you to accept my best thanks for man, from indigestion. Your mother was the uncommon degree of entertainment taken out more dead than alive.
which I have received from the most exWe were delighted with the hotel of cellently jocose history of New York. I Dessein, at Calais; eggs, butter, bread, am sensible, that as a stranger to American coffee everything better than in Eng- parties and politics, I must lose much of land -- the hotel itself magnificent. We the concealed satire of the piece, but I must all recovered, and stayed there the day; own that looking at the simple and obvious and proceeded to sleep at Montreuil, meaning only, I have never read anything forty miles, where we were still more so closely resembling the style of Dean improved by a good dinner. The next Swift, as the annals of Diedrich Knickerday, twenty miles farther, to Abbeville; boc
bocker. I have been employed these few from thence, sixty miles the next day to evenings in reading them aloud to Mrs. S. this place, where we found a superb hotel, and two ladies who are our guests, and and are quite delighted with Rouen; the our sides have been absolutely sore with churches far exceed anything in England in laughing. I think, too, there are passages richness of architectural ornament. The which indicate that the author possesses old buildings of Rouen are most interest- powers of a different kind, and has some ing. All that I refuse to see is, where touches which remind me much of Sterne. particular things were done to particular I beg you will have the kindness to let me persons; - the square where Joan of Arc know when Mr. Irvine takes pen in hand was burnt, the house where Corneille again, for assuredly I shall expect a very was born. The events I admit to be im- great treat which I may chance never to portant; but, from long experience, I have hear of but through your kindness. found that the square where Joan of Arc
Believe me, Dear Sir, was burnt, and the room where Corneille Your obliged humble servant, was born, have such a wonderful resem
To MRS. HUGHES
one may presume he may be desirous of (THE WAVERLEY NOVELS]
offering some token of his gratitude in the WATERLOO HOTEL, Tuesday,
shape of a reprint, or such-like kickshaw,
and for this purpose you had better send March 7, 1821.
me the statutes of your learned body, My dear Mrs. Hughes,
which I will engage to send him in safety. I have been so completely harassed by It will follow as a characteristic circumbusiness and engagements since I came to stance, that the table of the Roxburghe, this wilderness of houses, that I must have
like that of King Arthur, will have a seemed very ungrateful in leaving your vacant chair, like that of Banquo at kind remembrances unacknowledged. You Macbeth's banquet. But if this author, mistake when you give me any credit who “hath fernseed and walketh invisible," for being concerned with these far-famed
should not appear to claim it before I come novels, but I am not the less amused with
to London (should I ever be there again), the hasty dexterity of the good folks of with permission of the Club, I, who have Cumnor and its vicinity getting all their something of adventure in me, although a traditionary lore into such order as to meet
knight like Sir Andrew Aguecheek,"dubb'd the taste of the public. I could have with unhacked rapier, and on carpet conwished the author had chosen a more
sideration," would, rather than lose the heroical death for his fair victim.
chance of a dinner with the Roxburghe It is some time since I received and
Club, take upon me the adventure of the acknowledged your young student's very
siege perilous, and reap some amends for spirited verses. I am truly glad that
perils and scandals into which the inOxford breeds such nightingales, and that
visible champion has drawn me, by being you have an interest in them. I sent my his locum tenens on so distinguished an letter to my friend Longman, and, as it did
occasion. not reach you, can only repeat my kindest It will not be uninteresting to you to and best thanks. I would be most happy know, that a fraternity is about to be to know your son, and hope you will con- established here something on the plan trive to afford me that pleasure.
of the Roxburghe Club; but, having With best compliments to Dr. Hughes, Scottish antiquities chiefly in view, it is to and sincere regret that I have so often be called the Bannatyne Club, from the found Amen Corner untenanted, I am, with
celebrated antiquary, George Bannatyne, sincerity,
who compiled by far the greatest record of Dear Mrs. Hughes,
old Scottish poetry. The first meeting is Your much obliged humble servant, to be held on Thursday, when the health WALTER SCOTT.
the Roxburghe Club will be drunk. –
I am always, my dear sir, your most faithTO THOMAS FROGNALL DIBDIN ful humble servant, EDIN., Feb. 25, 1823.
WALTER Scott. My dear Sir, I was duly favoured with your letter,
To DR. AND MRS. HUGHES which proves one point against the unknown Author of Waverley; namely that
(THE FINANCIAL DISASTER) he is certainly a Scotsman, since no other
EDINBURGH, 6 February, 1826. nation pretends to the advantage of second sight. Be he who or where he may,
My dear Mrs. Hughes and my worthy he must certainly feel the very high honour
Doctor, which has selected him, nominis umbra, to I write immediately to give you the a situation so worthy of envy.
information which your kindness thinks of As his personal appearance in the importance. I shall certainly lose a very fraternity is not like to be a speedy event, large sum by the failure of my book
sellers, whom all men considered as worth me all the facilities I can desire to make my £150,000 & who I fear will not cut up, as payments; and as they gained by my they say, for one fourth of the money. prosperity, they are handsomely disposed But looking at the thing at the worst to be indulgent to my adversity, and what point of view, I cannot see that I am en- can an honest man wish for more? titled to claim the commiseration of any Many people will think that because I one, since I have made an arrangement for see company easily my pleasures depend settling these affairs to the satisfaction of on society. But this is not the case; I every party concerned so far as yet ap- am by nature a very lonely animal, and pears, which leaves an income with me enjoy myself much at getting rid from a ample for all the comforts and many of variety of things connected with public the elegancies of life, and does not in the business, etc., which I did because they slightest degree innovate on any of my were fixed on me, but I am particularly comforts. So what title have I to com- happy to be rid of. And now let the plain? I am far richer in point of in- matter be at rest for ever. It is a bad come than Generals and Admirals who business, but might have been much have led fleets and armies to battle. My worse. family are all provided for in present or in I am, my dear friends, prospect, my estate remains in my family,
Most truly yours, my house and books in my own possession.
WALTER Scott. I shall give up my house in Edinb. and retire to Abbotsford; where my wife and
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Anne will make their chief residence; during the time our courts sit, when I
To ROBERT SOUTHEY must attend, I will live at my club. If Anne wishes to see a little of the world in RICKMAN'S OFFICE, H. OF COMMONS, the gay season, they can have lodgings for
February 20, 1804, Monday noon. two or three weeks; this plan we had indeed form’d before it became imperative. Dear Southey,
At Abbotsford we will cut off all hos- The affair with Godwin began thus. pitality, which latterly consumed all my We were talking of reviews, and bewailing time, which was worse than the expense;
their ill effects. I detailed my plan for a this I intended to do at any rate; we part review, to occupy regularly the fourth side with an extra servant or two, manage our of an evening paper, etc., etc., adding that household economically, and in five years, it had been a favourite scheme with me for were the public to stand my friend, I two years past. Godwin very coolly obshould receive much more than I have served that it was a plan which“no man who lost. But if I only pay all demands I had a spark of honest pride” could join with. shall be satisfied.
“No man, not the slave of the grossest I shall be anxious to dispose of Mr. egotism could unite in,” etc. Cool and Charles so soon as his second year of Ox- civil! I ask whether he and most others ford is ended. I think of trying to get did not already do what I proposed in him into some diplomatic line, for which prefaces.
prefaces. “Aye! in prefaces; that is his habits and manners seem to suit him quite a different thing." I then adverted well.
to the extreme rudeness of the speech with I might certainly have borrowed large regard to myself, and added that it was sums.
But to what good purpose? I not only a very rough, but likewise a very must have owed that money, and a sense mistaken opinion, for I was nearly if not of obligation besides. Now, as I stand, quite sure that it had received the apthe Banks are extremely sensible that I probation both of you and of Wordsworth. have been the means of great advantages Yes, sir! just so! of Mr. Southey — to their establishments, and have afforded just what I said," and so on mõrě Godwin