Yesterdays with Authors
James T. Fields

Part 6 out of 8

all events, he is one of the glories of your most glorious part of
great America. Tell me, too, what is become of Mr. Cooper, that
other great novelist? I think I heard from you, or from some other
Transatlantic friend, that he was less genial and less beloved than
so many other of your notabilities have been. Indeed, one sees that
in many of his recent works; but I have been reading many of his
earlier books again, with ever-increased admiration, especially I
should say "The Pioneers"; and one cannot help hoping that the mind
that has given so much pleasure to so many readers will adjust
itself so as to admit of its own happiness,--for very clearly the
discomfort was his own fault, and he is too clever a person for one
not to wish him well.

I think that the most distinguished of our own _young_ writers are,
the one a dear friend of mine, John Ruskin; the other, one who will
shortly be so near a neighbor that we must know each other. It is
quite wonderful that we don't now, for we are only twelve miles
apart, and have scores of friends in common. This last is the Rev.
Charles Kingsley, author of "Alton Locke" and "Yeast" and "The
Saint's Tragedy." All these books are full of world-wide truths, and
yet, taken as a whole, they are unsatisfactory and inconclusive,
knocking down without building up. Perhaps that is the fault of the
social system that he lays bare, perhaps of the organization of the
man, perhaps a little of both. You will have heard probably that he,
with other benevolent persons, established a sort of socialist
community (Christian socialism) for journeymen tailors, he himself
being their chaplain. The evil was very great, for of twenty-one
thousand of that class in London, fifteen thousand were ill-paid
and only half-employed. For a while, that is, as long as the
subscription lasted, all went well; but I fear this week that the
money has come to an end, and so very likely will the experiment.
Have you republished "Alton Locke" in America? It has one character,
an old Scotchman, equal to anything in Scott. The writer is still
quite a young man, but out of health. I have heard (but this is
between ourselves) that ----'s brain is suffering,--the terrible
malady by which so many of our great mental laborers (Scott and
Southey, above all) have fallen. Dr. Buckland is now dying of it. I
am afraid ---- may be so lost to the world and his friends, not
merely because his health is going, but because certain
peculiarities have come to my knowledge which look like it. A
brother clergyman saw him the other day, upon a common near his own
house, spouting, singing, and reciting verse at the top of his voice
at one o'clock in the morning. Upon inquiring what was the matter,
the poet said that he never went to bed till two or three o'clock,
and frequently went out in that way to exercise his lungs. My
informant, an orderly person of a very different stamp, set him down
for mad at once; but he is much beloved among his parishioners, and
if the escapade above mentioned do not indicate disease of the
brain, I can only say it would be good for the country if we had
more madmen of the same sort. As to John Ruskin, I would not answer
for quiet people not taking him for crazy too. He is an enthusiast
in art, often right, often wrong,--"in the right very stark, in the
wrong very sturdy,"--bigoted, perverse, provoking, as ever man was;
but good and kind and charming beyond the common lot of mortals.
There are some pages of his prose that seem to me more eloquent than
anything out of Jeremy Taylor, and I should think a selection of his
works would answer to reprint. Their sale here is something
wonderful, considering their dearness, in this age of cheap
literature, and the want of attraction in the subject, although the
illustrations of the "Stones of Venice," executed by himself from
his own drawings, are almost as exquisite as the writings. By the
way, he does not say what I heard the other day from another friend,
just returned from the city of the sea, that Taglioni has purchased
four of the finest palaces, and is restoring them with great taste,
by way of investment, intending to let them to Russian and English
noblemen. She was a very graceful dancer once, was Taglioni; but
still it rather depoetizes the place, which of all others was
richest in associations.

Mrs. Browning has got as near to England as Paris, and holds out
enough of hope of coming to London to keep me from visiting it until
I know her decision. I have not seen the great Exhibition, and,
unless she arrives, most probably shall not see it. My lameness,
which has now lasted five months, is the reason I give to myself for
not going, chairs being only admitted for an hour or two on Saturday
mornings. But I suspect that my curiosity has hardly reached the
fever-heat needful to encounter the crowd and the fatigue. It is
amusing to find how people are cooling down about it. We always were
a nation of idolaters, and always had the trick of avenging
ourselves upon our poor idols for the sin of our own idolatry. Many
an overrated, and then underrated, poet can bear witness to this. I
remember when my friend Mr. Milnes was called _the_ poet, although
Scott and Byron were in their glory, and Wordsworth had written all
of his works that will live. We make gods of wood and stone, and
then we knock them to pieces; and so figuratively, if not literally,
shall we do by the Exhibition. Next month I am going to move to a
cottage at Swallowfield,--so called, I suppose, because those
migratory birds meet by millions every autumn in the park there, now
belonging to some friends of mine, and still famous as the place
where Lord Clarendon wrote his history. That place is still almost a
palace; mine an humble but very prettily placed cottage. O, how
proud and glad I should be, if ever I could receive Mr. and Mrs.
Fields within its walls for more than a poor hour! I shall have
tired you with this long letter, but you have made me reckon you
among my friends,--ay, one of the best and kindest,--and must take
the consequence.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, Saturday Night.

I write you two notes at once, my dear friend, whilst the
recollection of your conversation is still in my head and the
feeling of your kindness warm on my heart. To write, to thank you
for a visit which has given me so much pleasure, is an impulse not
to be resisted. Pray tell Mr. and Mrs. Bennoch how delighted I am to
make their acquaintance and how earnestly I hope we may meet often.
They are charming people.

Another motive that I had for writing at once is to tell you that
the more I think of the title of the forthcoming book, the less I
like it; and I care more for it, now that you are concerned in the
matter, than I did before. "Personal Reminiscences" sounds like a
bad title for an autobiography. Now this is nothing of the sort. It
is literally a book made up of favorite scraps of poetry and prose;
the bits of my own writing are partly critical, and partly have
been interwoven to please Henry Chorley and give something of
novelty, and as it were individuality, to a mere selection, to take
off the dryness and triteness of extracts, and give the pen
something to say in the work as well as the scissors. Still, it is a
book founded on other books, and since it pleased Mr. Bentley to
object to "Readings of Poetry," because he said nobody in England
bought poetry, why "Recollections of Books," as suggested by Mr.
Bennett, approved by me, and as I believed (till this very day)
adopted by Mr. Bentley, seemed to meet exactly the truth of the
case, and to be quite concession enough to the exigencies of the
trade. By the other title we exposed ourselves, in my mind, to all
manner of danger. I shall write this by this same post to Mr.
Bennett, and get the announcement changed, if possible; for it seems
to me a trick of the worst sort. I shall write a list of the
subjects, and I only wish that I had duplicates, and I would send
you the articles, for I am most uncomfortable at the notion of your
being taken in to purchase a book that may, through this misnomer,
lose its reputation in England; for of course it will be attacked as
an unworthy attempt to make it pass for what it is not....

Now if you dislike it, or if Mr. Bentley keep that odious title,
why, give it up at once. Don't pray, pray lose money by me. It would
grieve me far more than it would you. A good many of these are about
books quite forgotten, as the "Pleader's Guide" (an exquisite
pleasantry), "Holcroft's Memoirs," and "Richardson's
Correspondence." Much on Darley and the Irish Poets, unknown in
England; and I think myself that the book will contain, as in the
last article, much exquisite poetry and curious prose, as in the
forgotten murder (of Toole, the author's uncle) in the State Trials.
But it should be called by its right name, as everything should in
this world. God bless you!

Ever faithfully yours,


P.S. First will come the Preface, then the story of the book
(without Henry Chorley's name; it is to be dedicated to him),
noticing the coincidence of "Our Village" having first appeared in
the Lady's Magazine, and saying something like what I wrote to you
last night. I think this will take off the danger of provoking
apprehension on one side and disappointment on the other; because
after all, although anecdote be not the style of the book, it does
contain some.

May I put in the story of Washington's ghost? without your name, of
course; it would be very interesting, and I am ten times more
desirous of making the book as good as I can, since I have reason to
believe you will be interested in it. Pray, forgive me for having
worried you last night and now again. I am a terribly nervous
person, and hate and dread literary scrapes, or indeed disputes of
any sort. But I ought not to have worried you. Just tell me if you
think this sort of preface will take the sting from the title, for I
dare say Mr. Bentley won't change it.

Adieu, dear friend. All peace and comfort to you in your journey;
amusement you are sure of. I write also to dear Mr. Bennett, whom I
fear I have also worried.

Ever most faithfully yours,



January 5.

Mr. Bennoch has just had the very great kindness, dear Mr. Fields,
to let me know of your safe arrival at Genoa, and of your enjoyment
of your journey. Thank God for it! We heard so much about commotions
in the South of France that I had become fidgety about you, the
rather that it is the best who go, and that I for one cannot afford
to lose you.

Now let me thank you for all your munificence,--that beautiful
Longfellow with the hundred illustrations, and that other book of
Professor Longfellow's, beautiful in another way, the "Golden
Legend." I hope I shall be only one among the multitude who think
this the greatest and best thing he has done yet, so racy, so full
of character, of what the French call local color, so, in its best
and highest sense, original. Moreover, I like the happy ending. Then
those charming volumes of De Quincey and Sprague and Grace
Greenwood. (Is that her real name?) And dear Mr. Hawthorne, and the
two new poets, who, if also young poets, will be fresh glories for
America. How can I thank you enough for all these enjoyments? And
you must come back to England, and add to my obligations by giving
me as much as you can of your company in the merry month of May. I
have fallen in with Mr. Kingsley, and a most charming person he is,
certainly the least like an Englishman of letters, and the most like
an accomplished, high-toned English gentleman, that I have ever met
with. You must know Mr. Kingsley. He is very young too, really
young, for it is characteristic of our "young poets" that they
generally turn out middle-aged and very often elderly. My book is
out at last, hurried through the press in a fortnight,--a process
which half killed me, and has left the volumes, no doubt, full of
errata,--and you, I mean your house, have not got it. I am keeping a
copy for you personally. People say that they like it. I think you
will, because it will remind you of this pretty country, and of an
old Englishwoman who loves you well. Mrs. Browning was delighted
with your visit. She is a Bonapartiste; so am I. I always adored the
Emperor, and I think his nephew is a great man, full of ability,
energy, and courage, who put an end to an untenable situation and
got quit of a set of unrepresenting representatives. The Times
newspaper, right as it seems to me about Kossuth, is dangerously
wrong about Louis Napoleon, since it is trying to stimulate the
nation to a war for which France is more than prepared, is ready,
and England is not. London might be taken with far less trouble and
fewer men than it took to accomplish the _coup d'etat_. Ah! I
suspect very different politics will enclose this wee bit notie, if
dear Mr. Bennoch contrives to fold it up in a letter of his own; but
to agree to differ is part of the privileges of friendship; besides,
I think you and I generally agree.

Ever yours,


P.S. All this time I have not said a word of "The Wonder Book."
Thanks again and again. Who was the Mr. Blackstone mentioned in "The
Scarlet Letter" as riding like a myth in New England History, and
what his arms? A grandson of Judge Blackstone, a friend of mine,
wishes to know.

(March, 1852.)

I can never enough thank you, dearest Mr. Fields, for your kind
recollection of me in such a place as the Eternal City. But you
never forget any whom you make happy in your friendship, for that is
the word; and therefore here in Europe or across the Atlantic, you
will always remain.... Your anecdote of the ---- is most
characteristic. I am very much afraid that he is only a poet, and
although I fear the last person in the world to deny that that is
much, I think that to be a really great man needs something more. I
am sure that you would not have sympathized with Wordsworth. I do
hope that you will see Beranger when in Paris. He is the one man in
France (always excepting Louis Napoleon, to whom I confess the
interest that all women feel in strength and courage) whom I should
earnestly desire to know well. In the first place, I think him by
far the greatest of living poets, the one who unites most completely
those two rare things, impulse and finish. In the next, I admire
his admirable independence and consistency, and his generous feeling
for fallen greatness. Ah, what a truth he told, when he said that
Napoleon was the greatest poet of modern days! I should like to have
the description of Beranger from your lips. Mrs. Browning ... has
made acquaintance with Madame Sand, of whom her account is most
striking and interesting. But George Sand is George Sand, and
Beranger is Beranger.

Thank you, dear friend, for your kind interest in my book. It has
found far more favor than I expected, and I think, ever since the
week after its publication, I have received a dozen of letters daily
about it, from friends and strangers,--mostly strangers,--some of
very high accomplishments, who will certainly be friends. This is
encouragement to write again, and we will have a talk about it when
you come. I should like your advice. One thing is certain, that this
work has succeeded, and that the people who like it best are
precisely those whom one wishes to like it best, the lovers of
literature. Amongst other things, I have received countless volumes
of poetry and prose,--one little volume of poetry written under the
name of Mary Maynard, of the greatest beauty, with the vividness and
picturesqueness of the new school, combined with infinite
correctness and clearness, that rarest of all merits nowadays. Her
real name I don't know, she has only thought it right to tell me
that Mary Maynard was not the true appellation (this is between
ourselves). Her own family know nothing of the publication, which
seems to have been suggested by her and my friend, John Ruskin. Of
course, she must have her probation, but I know of no young writer
so likely to rival your new American school. I sent your gift-books
of Hawthorne, yesterday, to the Walters of Bearwood, who had never
heard of them! Tell him that I have had the honor of poking him into
the den of the Times, the only civilized place in England where they
were barbarous enough not to be acquainted with "The Scarlet
Letter." I wonder what they'll think of it. It will make them stare.
They come to see me, for it is full two months since I have been in
the pony-chaise. I was low, if you remember, when you were here, but
thought myself getting better, was getting better. About Christmas,
very damp weather came on, or rather very wet weather, and the damp
seized my knee and ankles and brought back such an attack of
rheumatism that I cannot stand upright, walk quite double, and am
often obliged to be lifted from step to step up stairs. My medical
adviser (a very clever man) says that I shall get much better when
warm weather comes, but for weeks and weeks we have had east-winds
and frost. No violets, no primroses, no token of spring. A little
flock of ewes and lambs, with a pretty boy commonly holding a lamb
in his arms, who drives his flock to water at the pond opposite my
window, is the only thing that gives token of the season. I am quite
mortified at this on your account, for April, in general a month of
great beauty here, will be as desolate as winter. Nevertheless you
must come and see me, you and Mr. and Mrs. Bennoch, and perhaps you
can continue to stay a day or two, or to come more than once. I want
to see as much of you as I can, and I must change much, if I be in
any condition to go to London, even upon the only condition on which
I ever do go, that is, into lodgings, for I never stay anywhere; and
if I were to go, even to one dear and warm-hearted friend, I should
affront the very many other friends whose invitations I have refused
for so many years. I hope to get at Mr. Kingsley; but I have seen
little of him this winter. We are five miles asunder; his wife has
been ill; and my fear of an open carriage, or rather the medical
injunction not to enter one, has been a most insuperable objection.
We are, as we both said, summer neighbors. However, I will try that
you should see him. He is well worth knowing. Thank you about Mr.
Blackstone. He is worth knowing too, in a different way, a very
learned and very clever man (you will find half Dr. Arnold's letters
addressed to him), as full of crotchets as an egg is full of meat,
fond of disputing and contradicting, a clergyman living in the house
where Mrs. Trollope _was raised_, and very kind after his own
fashion. One thing that I should especially like would be that you
should see your first nightingale amongst our woody lanes. To be
sure, these winds can never last till then. Mr. ---- is coming here
on Sunday. He always brings rain or snow, and that will change the
weather. You are a person who ought to bring sunshine, and I suppose
you do more than metaphorically; for I remember that both times I
have had the happiness to see you--a summer day and a winter
day--were glorious. Heaven bless you, dear friend! May all the
pleasure ... return upon your own head! Even my little world is
charmed at the prospect of seeing you again. If you come to Reading
by the Great Western you could return later and make a longer day,
and yet be no longer from home.

Ever faithfully yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, April 27, 1852.

How can I thank you half enough, dearest Mr. Fields, for all your
goodness! To write to me the very day after reaching Paris, to think
of me so kindly! It is what I never can repay. I write now not to
trouble you for another letter, but to remind you that, as soon as
possible after your return to England, I hope to see you and Mr. and
Mrs. Bennoch here. Heaven grant the spring may come to meet you! At
present I am writing in an east-wind, which has continued two months
and gives no sign of cessation. Professor Airy says it will continue
five weeks longer. Not a drop of rain has fallen in all that time.
We have frosts every night, the hedges are as bare as at Christmas,
flowers forget to blow, or if they put forth miserable, infrequent,
reluctant blossoms, have no heart, and I have only once heard the
nightingale in this place where they abound, and not yet seen a
swallow in the spot which takes name from their gatherings. It
follows, of course, that the rheumatism, covered by a glut of wet
weather, just upon the coming in of the new year, is fifty times
increased by the bitter season,--a season which has no parallel in
my recollection. I can hardly sit down when standing, or rise from
my chair without assistance, walk quite double, and am lifted up
stairs step by step by my man-servant. I thought, two years ago, I
could walk fifteen or sixteen miles a day! O, I was too proud of my
activity! I am sure we are smitten in our vanities. However, you
will bring the summer, which is, they say, to do me good; and even
if that should fail, it will do me some good to see you, that is
quite certain. Thank you for telling me about the Galignani, and
about the kind American reception of my book; some one sent me a New
York paper (the Tribune, I think), full of kindness, and I do assure
you that to be so heartily greeted by my kinsmen across the Atlantic
is very precious to me. From the first American has there come
nothing but good-will. However, the general kindness here has taken
me quite by surprise. The only fault found was with the title,
which, as you know, was no doing of mine; and the number of private
letters, books, verses, (commendatory verses, as the old poets have
it), and tributes of all sorts, and from all manner of persons, that
I receive every day is something quite astonishing.

Our great portrait-painter, John Lucas, certainly the first painter
of female portraits now alive, has been down here to take a portrait
for engraving. He has been most successful. It is looking better, I
suppose, than I ever do look; but not better than under certain
circumstances--listening to a favorite friend, for example--I
perhaps might look. The picture is to go to-morrow into the
engraver's hands, and I hope the print will be completed before your
departure; also they are engraving, or are about to engrave, a
miniature taken of me when I was a little girl between three and
four years old. They are to be placed side by side, the young child
and the old withered woman, ---- a skull and cross-bones could
hardly be a more significant _memento mori_! I have lost my near
neighbor and most accomplished friend, Sir Henry Russell, and many
other friends, for Death has been very busy this winter, and Mr.
Ware is gone! He had sent me his "Zenobia," "from the author," and
for that very reason, I suppose, some one had stolen it; but I had
replaced both that and the letters from Rome, and sent them to Mr.
Kingsley as models for his "Hypatia." He has them still. He had
never heard of them till I named them to him. They seem to me very
fine and classical, just like the best translations from some great
Latin writer. And I have been most struck with Edgar Poe, who has
been republished, prose and poetry, in a shilling volume called
"Readable Books." What a deplorable history it was!--I mean his
own,--the most unredeemed vice that I have met with in the annals of
genius. But he was a very remarkable writer, and must have a niche
if I write again; so must your two poets, Stoddard and Taylor. I am
very sorry you missed Mrs. Trollope; she is a most remarkable woman,
and you would have liked her, I am sure, for her warm heart and her
many accomplishments. I had a sure way to Beranger, one of my dear
friends being a dear friend of his; but on inquiring for him last
week, that friend also is gone to heaven. Do pick up for me all you
can about Louis Napoleon, my one real abiding enthusiasm,--the
enthusiasm of my whole life,--for it began with the Emperor and has
passed quite undiminished to the present great, bold, and able ruler
of France. Mrs. Browning shares it, I think; only she calls herself
cool, which I don't; and another still more remarkable
co-religionist in the L.N. faith is old Lady Shirley (of Alderley),
the writer of that most interesting letter to Gibbon, dated 1792,
published by her father, Lord Sheffield, in his edition of the great
historian's posthumous works. She is eighty-two now, and as active
and vigorous in body and mind, as sixty years ago.

Make my most affectionate love to my friend in the Avenue des Champs
Elysees, and believe me ever, my dear Mr. Fields, most gratefully
and affectionately yours,


(No date)

Ah, my dearest Mr. Fields, how inimitably good and kind you are to
me! Your account of Rachel is most delightful, the rather that it
confirms a preconceived notion which two of my friends had taken
pains to change. Henry Chorley, not only by his own opinion, but by
that of Scribe, who told him that there was no comparison between
her and Viardot. Now if Viardot, even in that one famous part of
Fides, excels Rachel, she must be much the finer actress, having the
horrible drawback of the music to get over. My other friend told me
a story of her, in the modern play of Virginie; she declared that
when in her father's arms she pointed to the butcher's knife,
telling him what to do, and completely reversing that loveliest
story; but I hold to your version of her genius, even admitting that
she did commit the Virginie iniquity, which would be intensely
characteristic of her calling,--all actors and actresses having a
desire to play the whole play themselves, speaking every speech,
producing every effect in their own person. No doubt she is a great
actress, and still more assuredly is Louis Napoleon a great man, a
man of genius, which includes in my mind both sensibility and charm.
There are little bits of his writing from Ham, one where he speaks
of "le repos de ma prison," another long and most eloquent passage
on exile, which ends (I forget the exact words) with a sentiment
full of truth and sensibility. He is speaking of the treatment shown
to an exile in a foreign land, of the mistiness and coldness of
some, of the blandness and smoothness of others, and he goes on to
say, "He must be a man of ten thousand who behaves to an exile just
as he would behave to another person." If I could trust you to
perform a commission for me, and let me pay you the money you spent
upon it, I would ask you to bring me a cheap but comprehensive life
of him, with his works and speeches, and a portrait as like him as
possible. I asked an English friend to do this for me, and fancy his
sending me a book dated on the outside 1847!!!! Did I ever tell you
a pretty story of him, when he was in England after Strasburg and
before Boulogne, and which I know to be true? He spent a twelvemonth
at Leamington, living in the quietest manner. One of the principal
persons there is Mr. Hampden, a descendant of John Hampden, and the
elder brother of the Bishop. Mr. Hampden, himself a very liberal and
accomplished man, made a point of showing every attention in his
power to the Prince, and they soon became very intimate. There was
in the town an old officer of the Emperor's Polish Legion who,
compelled to leave France after Waterloo, had taken refuge in
England, and, having the national talent for languages, maintained
himself by teaching French, Italian, and German in different
families. The old exile and the young one found each other out, and
the language master was soon an habitual guest at the Prince's
table, and treated by him with the most affectionate attention. At
last Louis Napoleon wearied of a country town and repaired to
London; but before he went he called on Mr. Hampden to take leave.
After warm thanks for all the pleasure he had experienced in his
society, he said: "I am about to prove to you my entire reliance
upon your unfailing kindness by leaving you a legacy. I want to ask
you to transfer to my poor old friend the goodness you have lavished
upon me. His health is failing, his means are small. Will you call
upon him sometimes? and will you see that those lodging-house people
do not neglect him? and will you, above all, do for him what he will
not do for himself, draw upon me for what may be wanting for his
needs or for his comforts?" Mr. Hampden promised. The prophecy
proved true; the poor old man grew worse and worse, and finally
died. Mr. Hampden, as he had promised, replaced the Prince in his
kind attentions to his old friend, and finally defrayed the charges
of his illness and of his funeral. "I would willingly have paid them
myself," said he, "but I knew that that would have offended and
grieved the Prince, so I honestly divided the expenses with him, and
I found that full provision had been made at his banker's to answer
my drafts to a much larger amount." Now I have full faith in such a
nature. Let me add that he never forgot Mr. Hampden's kindness,
sending him his different brochures and the kindest messages, both
from Ham and the Elysee. If one did not not admire Louis Napoleon, I
should like to know upon whom one could, as a public man, fix one's
admiration! Just look at our English statesmen! And see the state to
which self-government brings everything! Look at London with all its
sanitary questions just in the same state as ten years ago; look at
all our acts of Parliament, one half of a session passed in amending
the mismanagement of the other. For my own part, I really believe
that there is nothing like one mind, one wise and good ruler; and I
verily believe that the President of France is that man. My only
doubt being whether the people are worthy of him, fickle as they
are, like all great masses,--the French people, in particular. By
the way, if a most vilely translated book, called the "Prisoner of
Ham," be extant in French, I should like to possess it. The account
of the escape looks true, and is most interesting.

I have been exceedingly struck, since I last wrote to you, by some
extracts from Edgar Poe's writings; I mean a book called "The
Readable Library," composed of selections from his works, prose and
verse. The famous ones are, I find, The Maelstrom and The Raven;
without denying their high merits, I prefer that fine poem on The
Bells, quite as fine as Schiller's, and those remarkable bits of
stories on circumstantial evidence. I am lower, dear friend, than
ever, and what is worse, in supporting myself on my hand I have
strained my right side and can hardly turn in bed. But if we cannot
walk round Swallowfield, we can drive, and the very sight of you
will do me good. If Mr. Bentley send me only one copy of that
engraving, it shall be for you. You know I have a copy for you of
the book. There are no words to tell the letters and books I receive
about it, so I suppose it is popular. I have lost, as you know, my
most accomplished and admirable neighbor, Sir Henry Russell, the
worthy successor of the great Lord Clarendon. His eldest daughter is
my favorite young friend, a most lovely creature, the ideal of a
poet. I hope you will see Beranger. Heaven bless you!

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Saturday Night.

Ah, my very dear friend, how can I ever thank you? But I don't want
to thank you. There are some persons (very few, though) to whom it
is a happiness to be indebted, and you are one of them. The books
and the busts are arrived. Poor dear Louis Napoleon with his head
off--Heaven avert the omen! Of course _that_ head can be replaced, I
mean stuck on again upon its proper shoulders. Beranger is a
beautiful old man, just what one fancies him and loves to fancy him.
I hope you saw him. To my mind, he is the very greatest poet now
alive, perhaps the greatest man, the truest and best type of perfect
independence. Thanks a thousand and a thousand times for those
charming busts and for the books. Mrs. Browning had mentioned to me
Mr. Read. If I live to write another book, I shall put him and Mr.
Taylor and Mr. Stoddard together, and try to do justice to Poe. I
have a good right to love America and the Americans. My Mr. Lucas
tells me to go, and says he has a mind to go. I want you to know
John Lucas, not only the finest portrait-painter, but about the very
finest mind that I know in the world. He might be.... for talent and
manner and heart; and, if you like, you shall, when I am dead, have
the portrait he has just taken of me. I make the reserve, instead of
giving it to you now, because it is possible that he might wish (I
know he does) to paint one for himself, and if I be dead before
sitting to him again, the present one would serve him to copy. Mr.
Bentley wanted to purchase it, and many have wanted it, but it shall
be for you.

Now, my very dear friend, I am afraid that Mr. ---- has said or done
something that would make you rather come here alone. His last
letter to me, after a month's silence, was _odd_. There was no
fixing upon line or word; still it was not like his other letters,
and I suppose the air of ---- is not genial, and yet dear Mr.
Bennoch breathes it often! You must know that I never could have
meant for one instant to impose him upon you as a companion. Only in
the autumn there had been a talk of his joining your party. He knows
Mr. Bennoch.... He has been very kind and attentive to me, and is, I
verily believe, an excellent and true-hearted person; and so I was
willing that, if all fell out well, he should have the pleasure of
your society here,--the rather that I am sometimes so poorly, and
always so helpless now, that one who knows the place might be of
use. But to think that for one moment I would make your time or your
wishes bend to his is out of the question. Come at your own time, as
soon and as often as you can. I should say this to any one going
away three thousand miles off, much more to you, and forgive my
having even hinted at his coming too. I only did it thinking it
might fix you and suit you. In this view I wrote to him yesterday,
to tell him that on Wednesday next there would be a cricket-match at
Bramshill, one of the finest old mansions in England, a Tudor Manor
House, altered by Inigo Jones, and formerly the residence of Prince
Henry, the elder son of James the First. In the grand old park
belonging to that grand old place, there will be on that afternoon a
cricket-match. I thought you would like to see our national game in
a scene so perfectly well adapted to show it to advantage. Being in
Mr. Kingsley's parish, and he very intimate with the owner, it is
most likely, too, that he will be there; so that altogether it
seemed to me something that you and dear Mr. and Mrs. Bennoch might
like to see. My poor little pony could take you from hence; but not
to fetch or carry you, and if the dear Bennochs come, it would be
advisable to let the flymen know the place of destination, because,
Sir William Cope being a new-comer, I am not sure whether he (like
his predecessor, whom I knew) allows horses and carriages to be put
up there. I should like you to look on for half an hour at a
cricket-match in Bramshill Park, and to be with you at a scene so
English and so beautiful. We could dine here afterwards, the Great
Western allowing till a quarter before nine in the evening. Contrive
this if you can, and let me know by return of post, and forgive my
_mal addresse_ about Mr. ----. There certainly has something come
across him,--not about you, but about me; one thing is, I think, his
extreme politics. I always find these violent Radicals very
unwilling to allow in others the unlimited freedom of thought that
they claim for themselves. He can't forgive my love for the
President. Now I must tell you a story I know to be true. A lady of
rank was placed next the Prince a year or two ago. He was very
gentle and courteous, but very silent, and she wanted to make him
talk. At last she remembered that, having been in Switzerland twenty
years before, she had received some kindness from the Queen
Hortense, and had spent a day at Arenenburg. She told him so,
speaking with warm admiration of the Queen. "Ah, madame, vous avez
connu ma mere!" exclaimed Louis Napoleon, turning to her eagerly and
talking of the place and the people as a school-boy talks of home.
She spent some months in Paris, receiving from the Prince every
attention which his position enabled him to show; and when she
thanked him for such kindness, his answer was always: "Ah, madame,
vous avez connu ma mere!" Is it in woman's heart not to love such a
man? And then look at the purchase of the Murillo the other day, and
the thousand really great things that he is doing. Mr. ---- is a

I send this letter to the post to-morrow, when I send other
letters,--a vile, puritanical post-office arrangement not permitting
us to send letters in the afternoon, unless we send straight to
Reading (six miles) on purpose,--so perhaps this may cross an answer
from Mr. ---- or from you about Bramshill; perhaps, on the other
hand, I may have to write again. At all events, you will understand
that this is written on Saturday night. God bless you, my very dear
and kind friend.

Ever faithfully yours, M.R.M.

May 24, 1852.

Ah, dearest Mr. Fields, how much too good and kind you are to me
always! ... I wish I were better, that I might go to town and see
more of you; but I am more lame than ever, and having, in my weight
and my shortness and my extreme helplessness, caught at tables and
chairs and dragged myself along that fashion, I have now so strained
the upper part of the body that I cannot turn in bed, and am full of
muscular pains which are worse than the rheumatism and more
disabling, so that I seem to cumber the earth. They say that summer,
when it comes, will do me good. How much more sure that the sight of
you will do me good, and I trust that, when your business will let
you, you will give me that happiness. In the mean while will you
take the trouble to send the enclosed and my answer, if it be fit
and proper and properly addressed? I give you this office, because
really the kindness seems so large and unlimited, that, if the
letter had not come enclosed in one from Mr. Kenyon, one could
hardly have believed it to be serious, and yet I am well used to
kindness, too. I thank over and over again your glorious poets for
their kindness, and tell Mr. Hawthorne I shall prize a letter from
him beyond all the worlds one has to give. I rejoice to hear of the
new work, and can answer for its excellence.

I trust that the English edition of Dr. Holmes will contain the
"Astraea," and the "Morning Visit," and the "Cambridge Address." I
am not sure, in my secret soul, that I do not prefer him to any
American poet. Besides his inimitable word-painting, the charity is
so large and the scale so fine. How kind in you to like my
book,--some people do like it. I am afraid to tell you what John
Ruskin says of it from Venice, and I get letters, from ten to twenty
a day. You know how little I dreamt of this! Mrs. Trollope has sent
me a most affectionate letter, bemoaning her ill-fortune in missing
you. I thank you for the Galignani edition, and the presidential
kindness, and all your goodness of every sort. I have nothing to
give you but as large a share of my poor affection as I think any
human being has. You know a copy of the book from me has been
waiting for you these three months. Adieu, my dear friend.

Ever yours,


(July 6, 1852.) Monday Night, or, rather, 2 o'clock Tuesday Morning.

Having just finished Mr. Hawthorne's book, dear Mr. Fields, I shall
get K---- to put it up and direct it so that it may be ready the
first time Sam has occasion to go to Reading, at which time this
letter will be put in the post; so that when you read this, you may
be assured that the precious volumes are arrived at the Paddington
Station, whence I hope they may be immediately transmitted to you.
If not, send for them. They will have your full direction, carriage
paid. I say this, because the much vaunted Great Western is like all
other railways, most uncertain and irregular, and we have lost a
packet of plants this very week, sent to us, announced by letter and
never arrived. Thank you heartily for the perusal of the book. I
shall not name it in a letter which I mean to enclose to Mr.
Hawthorne, not knowing that you mean to tell him, and having plenty
of other things to say to him besides. To you, and only to you, I
shall speak quite frankly what I think. It is full of beauty and of
power, but I agree with ---- that it would not have made a
reputation as the other two books did, and I have some doubts
whether it will not be a disappointment, but one that will soon be
redeemed by a fresh and happier effort. It seems to me too long,
too slow, and the personages are to my mind ill chosen. Zenobia puts
one in mind of Fanny Wright and Margaret Fuller and other unsexed
authorities, and Hollingsworth will, I fear, recall, to English
people at least, a most horrible man who went about preaching peace.
I heard him lecture once, and shall never forget his presumption,
his ignorance, or his vulgarity. He is said to know many languages.
I can answer for his not knowing his own, for I never, even upon the
platform, the native home of bad English, heard so much in so short
a time. The mesmeric lecturer and the sickly girl are almost equally
disagreeable. In short, the only likeable person in the book is
honest Silas Foster, who alone gives one the notion of a man of
flesh and blood. In my mind, dear Mr. Hawthorne mistakes exceedingly
when he thinks that fiction should be based upon, or rather seen
through, some ideal medium. The greatest fictions of the world are
the truest. Look at the "Vicar of Wakefield," look at the "Simple
Story," look at Scott, look at Jane Austen, greater because truer
than all, look at the best works of your own Cooper. It is precisely
the want of reality in his smaller stories which has delayed Mr.
Hawthorne's fame so long, and will prevent its extension if he do
not resolutely throw himself into truth, which is as great a thing
in my mind in art as in morals, the foundation of all excellence in
both. The fine parts of this book, at least the finest, are the
truest,--that magnificent search for the body, which is as perfect
as the search for the exciseman in Guy Mannering, and the burst of
passion in Eliot's pulpit. The plot, too, is very finely
constructed, and doubtless I have been a too critical reader,
because, from the moment you and I parted, I have been suffering
from fever, and have never left the bed, in which I am now writing.
Don't fancy, dear friend, that you had anything to do with this. The
complaint had fixed itself and would have run its course, even
although your ... society has not roused and excited the good
spirits, which will, I think, fail only with my life. I think I am
going to get better. Love to all.

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Tuesday. (No date.)

My Dear Friend: Being fit for nothing but lying in bed and reading
novels, I have just finished Mr. Field's and Mr. Jones's "Adrien,"
and as you certainly will not have time to look at it, and may like
to hear my opinion, I will tell it to you. Mr. Field, from the
Preface, is of New York. The thing that has diverted me most is the
love-plot of the book. A young gentleman, whose father came and
settled in America and made a competence there, is third or fourth
cousin to an English lord. He falls in love with a fisherman's
daughter (the story appears to be about fifty years back). This
fisherman's daughter is a most ethereal personage, speaking and
reading Italian, and possessing in the fishing-cottage a pianoforte
and a collection of books; nevertheless, she one day hears her
husband say something about a person being "well born and well
bred," and forthwith goes away from him, in order to set him free
from the misery entailed upon him, as she supposes, by a
disproportionate marriage. Is not this curious in your republic? We
in England certainly should not play such pranks. A man having
married a wife, his wife stays by him. This dilemma is got over by
the fisherman's turning out to be himself fifth or sixth cousin of
another English lord. But, having lived really as a fisherman ever
since his daughter's birth, he knew nothing of his aristocratic
descent. I think this is the most remarkable thing in the book.
There are certain flings at the New England character (the scene is
laid beside the waters of your Bay) which seem to foretell a not
very remote migration on the part of Mr. Jones, though they may come
from his partner; nothing very bad, only such hits as this: "He was
simple, humble, affectionate, three qualities rare anywhere, but
perhaps more rare in that part of the world than anywhere else." For
the rest the book is far inferior to the best even of Mr. James's
recent productions, such as "Henry Smeaton." These two authors speak
of the corpse of a drowned man as beautified by death, and retaining
all the look of life. You remember what Mr. Hawthorne says of the
appearance of his drowned heroine,--which is right? I have had the
most delightful letter possible (you shall see it when you come)
from dear Dr. Holmes, and venture to trouble you with the enclosed
answer. Yesterday, Mr. Harness, who had heard a bad account of me
(for I have been very ill, and, although much better now, I gather
from everybody that I am thought to be breaking down fast), so like
the dear kind old friend that he is, came to see me. It was a great
pleasure. We talked much of you, and I think he will call upon you.
Whether he call or not, do go to see him. He is fully prepared for
you as Mr. Dyce's friend and Mr. Rogers's friend, and my very dear
friend. Do go; you will find him charming, so different from the
author people that Mr. Kenyon collects. I am sure of your liking
each other. Surely by next week I may be well enough to see you. You
and Mrs. W---- would do me nothing but good. Say everything to her,
and to our dear kind friends, the Bennochs. I ought to have written
to them, but I get as much scolded for writing as talking.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

(No date.)

How good and kind you are to me, dearest Mr. Fields! kindest of all,
I think, in writing me those.... One comfort is, that if London lose
you this year I do think you will not suffer many to elapse before
revisiting it. Ah, you will hardly find your poor old friend next
time! Not that I expect to die just now, but there is such a want of
strength, of the power that shakes off disease, which is no good
sign for the constitution. Yesterday I got up for a little while,
for the first time since I saw you; but, having let in too many
people, the fever came on again at night, and I am only just now
shaking off the attack, and feel that I must submit to perfect
quietness for the present. Still the attack was less violent than
the last, and unattended by sickness, so that I am really better and
hope in a week or so to be able to get out with you under the trees,
perhaps as far as Upton.

One of my yesterday's visitors was a glorious old lady of
seventy-six, who has lived in Paris for the last thirty years, and I
do believe came to England very much for the purpose of seeing me.
She had known my father before his marriage. He had taken her in his
hand (he was always fond of children) one day to see my mother; she
had been present at their wedding, and remembered the old
housekeeper and the pretty nursery-maid and the great dog too, and
had won with great difficulty (she being then eleven years old) the
privilege of having the baby to hold. Her descriptions of all these
things and places were most graphic, and you may imagine how much
she must have been struck with my book when it met her eye in Paris,
and how much I (knowing all about her family) was struck on my part
by all these details, given with the spirit and fire of an
enthusiastic woman of twenty. We had certainly never met. I left
Alresford at three years old. She made an appointment to spend a day
here next year, having with her a daughter, apparently by a first
husband. Also she had the same host of recollections of Louis
Napoleon, remembered the Emperor, as Premier Consul, and La Reine
Hortense as Mlle. de Beauharnais. Her account of the Prince is
favorable. She says that it is a most real popularity, and that, if
anything like durability can ever be predicated of the French, it
will prove a lasting one. I had a letter from Mrs. Browning to-day,
talking of the "Facts of the Times," of which she said some
gentlemen were speaking with the same supreme contempt and disbelief
that I profess for every paragraph in that collection of falsehoods.
For my own part, I hold a wise despotism, like the Prince
President's, the only rule to live under. Only look at the figure
our _soi-disant_ statesmen cut,--Whig and Tory,--and then glance
your eye across the Atlantic to your "own dear people," as Dr.
Holmes says, and their doings in the Presidential line. Apropos to
Dr. Holmes you'll see him read and quoted when--and his doings are
as dead as Henry the Eighth.--has no feeling for finish or polish or
delicacy, and doubtless dismisses Pope and Goldsmith with supreme
contempt. She never mentions that horrid trial, to my great comfort.
Did I tell you that I had been reading Louis Napoleon's most
charming three volumes full?

Among my visitors yesterday was Miss Percy, the heiress of Guy's
Cliff, one of the richest in England, and, what is odd, the
translator of "Emilie Carlen's Birthright," the only Swedish novel I
have ever got fairly through, because Miss Percy really does her
work well, and I can't read ----'s English. Miss Percy, who, besides
being very clever and agreeable, is also pretty, has refused some
scores of offers, and declares she'll never marry; she has a dread
of being sought for her money.....

God bless you, dearest, kindest friend. Say everything for me to
your companions.

Ever most faithfully yours, M.R.M.

(No date)

Yes, dearest Mr. Fields, I continue to get better and better, and
shall be delighted to see you and Mr. and Mrs. W---- on Friday. I
even went in to surprise Mr. May on Saturday, so, weather
permitting, we shall get up to Upton together. I want you to see
that relique of Protestant bigotry. No doubt many of my dear
countrymen would play just the same pranks now, if the spirit of the
age would permit; the will is not wanting, witness our courts of

I have been reading the "Life of Margaret Fuller." What a tragedy
from first to last! She must have been odious in Boston in spite of
her power and her strong sense of duty, with which I always
sympathize; but at New York, where she dwindled from a sibyl to a
"lionne," one begins to like her better, and in England and Paris,
where she was not even that, better still; so that one is prepared
for the deep interest of the last half-volume. Of course her
example must have done much injury to the girls of her train. Of
course, also, she is the Zenobia of dear Mr Hawthorne. One wonders
what her book would have been like.

Mr. Bennett has sent me the "Nile Notes." We must talk about that,
which I have not read yet, not delighting much in Eastern travels,
or, rather, being tired of them. Ah, how sad it will be when I
cannot say "We will talk"! Surely Mr. Webster does not mean to get
up a dispute with England! That would be an affliction; for what
nations should be friends if ours should not? What our ministers
mean, nobody can tell,--hardly, I suppose, themselves. My hope was
in Mr. Webster. Well, this is for talking. God bless you, dear

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

August 7, 1852.

Hurrah! dear and kind friend, I have found the line without any
other person's aid or suggestion. Last night it occurred to me that
it was in some prologue or epilogue, and my little book-room being
very rich in the drama, I have looked through many hundreds of those
bits of rhyme, and at last made a discovery which, if it have no
other good effect, will at least have "emptied my head of Corsica,"
as Johnson said to Boswell; for never was the great biographer more
haunted by the thought of Paoli than I by that line. It occurs in an
epilogue by Garrick on quitting the stage, June, 1776, when the
performance was for the benefit of sick and aged actors.

A veteran see! whose last act on the stage
Entreats your smiles for sickness and for age;
Their cause I plead, plead it in heart and mind,
_A fellow-feeling makes one wondrous kind_.

Not finding it quoted in Johnson convinced me that it would probably
have been written after the publication of the Dictionary, and
ultimately guided me to the right place. It is singular that
epilogues were just dismissed at the first representation of one of
my plays, "Foscari," and prologues at another, "Rienzi."

I have but a moment to answer your most kind letter, because I have
been engaged with company, or rather interrupted by company, ever
since I got up, but you will pardon me. Nothing ever did me so much
good as your visit. My only comfort is the hope of your return in
the spring. Then I hope to be well enough to show Mr Hawthorne all
the holes and corners my own self. Tell him so. I am already about
to study the State Trials, and make myself perfect in all that can
assist the romance. It will be a labor of love to do for him the
small and humble part of collecting facts and books, and making
ready the palette for the great painter.

Talking of _artists_, one was here on Sunday who was going to Upton
yesterday. His object was to sketch every place mentioned in my
book. Many of the places (as those round Taplow) he had taken, and
K---- says he took this house and the stick and Fanchon and probably
herself. I was unluckily gone to take home the dear visitors who
cheer me daily and whom I so wish you to see.

God bless you all, dear friends.

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, September 24, 1852

My Very Dear Mr. Fields: I am beginning to get very fidgety about
you, and thinking rather too often, not only of the breadth of the
Atlantic, but of its dangers. However I must hear soon, and I write
now because I am expecting a fellow-townsman of yours, Mr. Thompson,
an American artist, who expected to find you still in England, and
who is welcomed, as I suppose all Boston would be ... People do not
love you the less, dear friend, for missing you.

I write to you this morning, because I have something to say and
something to ask. In the first place, I am better. Mr. Harness, who,
God bless him, left that Temple of Art, the Deepdene, and Mr. Hope's
delightful conversation, to come and take care of me, stayed at
Swallowfield three weeks. He found out a tidy lodging, which he has
retained, and he promises to come back in November; at present he is
again at the Deepdene. Nothing could be so judicious as his way of
going on; he came at two o'clock to my cottage and we drove out
together; then he went to his lodgings to dinner, to give me three
hours of perfect quiet; at eight he and the Russells met here to
tea, and he read Shakespeare (there is no such reader in the world)
till bedtime. Under his treatment no wonder that I improved, but the
low-fever is not far off; doing a little too much, I fell back even
before his departure, and have been worse since. However, on the
whole, I am much better.

Now to my request. You perhaps remember my speaking to you of a copy
of my "Recollections," which was in course of illustration in the
winter. Mr. Holloway, a great print-seller of Bedford Street, Covent
Garden, has been engaged upon it ever since, and brought me the
first volume to look at on Tuesday. It would have rejoiced the soul
of dear Dr. Holmes. My book is to be set into six or seven or eight
volumes, quarto, as the case may be; and although not unfamiliar
with the luxuries of the library, I could not have believed in the
number and richness of the pearls which have been strung upon so
slender a thread. The rarest and finest portraits, often many of one
person and always the choicest and the best,--ranging from
magnificent heads of the great old poets, from the Charleses and
Cromwells, to Sprat and George Faulkner of Dublin, of whom it was
thought none existed, until this print turned up unexpectedly in a
supplementary volume of Lord Chesterfield; nothing is too odd for
Mr. Holloway. There is a colored print of George the Third,--a full
length which really brings the old king to life again, so striking
is the resemblance, and quantities of theatrical people, Munden and
Elliston and the Kembles. There are two portraits of "glorious John"
in Penruddock. Then the curious old prints of old houses. They have
not only one two hundred years old of Dorrington Castle, but the
actual drawing from which that engraving was made; and they are rich
beyond anything in exquisite drawings of scenery by modern artists
sent on purpose to the different spots mentioned. Besides which
there are all sorts of characteristic autographs (a capital one of
Pope); in short, nothing is wanting that the most unlimited expense
(Mr. Holloway told me that his employer, a great city merchant of
unbounded riches, constantly urged him to spare no expense to
procure everything that money would buy), added to taste, skill, and
experience, could accomplish. Of course the number of proper names
and names of places have been one motive for conferring upon my book
an honor of which I never dreamt; but there is, besides, an
enthusiasm for my writings on the part of Mrs. Dillon, the lady of
the possessor, for whom it is destined as a birthday gift. Now what
I have to ask of you is to procure for Mr. Holloway as many
autographs and portraits as you can of the American writers whom I
have named,--dear Dr. Holmes, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier,
Prescott, Ticknor. If any of them would add a line or two of their
writing to their names, it would be a favor, and if; being about it,
they would send two other plain autographs, for I have heard of two
other copies in course of illustration, and expect to be applied to
by their proprietors every day. Mr. Holloway wrote to some trade
connection in Philadelphia, but probably because he applied to the
wrong place and the wrong person, and because he limited his
correspondent to time, obtained no results. If there be a print of
Professor Longfellow's house, so much the better, or any other
autographs of Americans named in my book. Forgive this trouble, dear
friend. You will probably see the work when you come to London in
the spring, and then you will understand the interest that I take
in it as a great book of art. Also my dear old friend, Lady Morley
(Gibbon's correspondent), who at the age of eighty-three is caught
by new books and is as enthusiastic as a girl, has commissioned me
to inquire about your new authoress, the writer of ----, who she is
and all about her. For my part, I have not finished the book yet,
and never shall. Besides my own utter dislike to its painfulness,
its one-sidedness, and its exaggeration, I observe that the sort of
popularity which it has obtained in England, and probably in
America, is decidedly _bad_, of the sort which cannot and does not
last,--a cry which is always essentially one-sided and commonly

Ever most faithfully and affectionately yours,


October 5, 1852.

DEAREST MR. FIELDS: You will think that I persecute you, but I find
that Mr. Dillon, for whom Mr. Holloway is illustrating my
Recollections so splendidly, means to send the volumes to the binder
on the 1st of November. I write therefore to beg, in case of your
not having yet sent off the American autographs and portraits, that
they may be forwarded direct to Mr. Holloway, 25 Bedford Street,
Covent Garden, London. It is very foolish not to wait until all the
materials are collected, but it is meant as an offering to Mrs.
Dillon, and I suppose there is some anniversary in the way. Mr.
Dillon is a great lover and preserver of fine engravings; his
collection, one of the finest private collections in the world, is
estimated at sixty thousand pounds. He is a friend of dear Mr.
Bennoch's, who, when I told him the compliment that had been paid to
my work by a great city man, immediately said it could be nobody but
Mr. Dillon. I have twice seen Mr. Bennoch within the last ten days,
once with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Thompson, your own Boston artist, whom
I liked much, and who gave me the great pleasure of talking of you
and of dear Mr. and Mrs. W----, last time with his own good and
charming wife and ----. Only think of ----'s saying that
Shakespeare, if he had lived now, would have been thought nothing
of, and this rather as a compliment to the age than not! But, if you
remember, he printed amended words to the air of "Drink to me only."
Ah, dear me, I suspect that both William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson
will survive him; don't you? Nevertheless he is better than might be
predicated from that observation.

All my domestic news is bad enough. My poor pretty pony keeps his
bed in the stable, with a violent attack of influenza, and Sam and
Fanchon spend three parts of their time in nursing him. Moreover we
have had such rains here that the Lodden has overflowed its banks,
and is now covering the water meadows, and almost covering the lower
parts of the lanes. Adieu, dearest friend.

Ever most faithfully yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, October 13, 1852.

More than one letter of mine, dearest friend, crossed yours, for
which I cannot sufficiently thank you. Nobody can better understand
than I do, how very, very glad your own people, and all the good
city, must feel to get you back again,--I trust not to keep; for in
spite of sea-sickness, that misery which during the summer I have
contrived to feel on land, I still hope that we shall have you here
again in the spring. I am impatiently waiting the arrival of
portraits and autographs, and if they do not come in time to bind, I
shall charge Mr. Holloway to contrive that they may be pasted with
the copy of my Recollections to which Mr. Dillon is paying so high
and so costly a compliment. Now I must tell you some news.

First let me say that there is an admirable criticism in one of the
numbers of the Nonconformist, edited by Edward Miall, one of the new
members of Parliament, and certainly the most able of the dissenting
organs, on our favorite poet, Dr. Holmes. Also I have a letter from
Dr. Robert Dickson, of Hertford Street, May Fair, one of the highest
and most fashionable London physicians, respecting my book, liking
Dr. Holmes better than anybody for the very qualities for which he
would himself choose to be preferred, originality and justness of
thought, admirable fineness and propriety of diction, and a power of
painting by words, very rare in any age, and rarest of the rare in
_this_, when vagueness and obscurity mar so much that is high and
pure. I shall keep this letter to _show_ Dr. Holmes, tell him with
my affectionate love. If it were not written on the thickest paper
ever seen, and as huge as it is thick, I would send it; but I'll
keep it for him against he comes to claim it. The description of
spring is, Dr. Dickson says, remarkable for originality and truth.
He thanks me for those poems of Dr. Holmes as if I had written them.
Now be free to tell him all this. Of course you have told Mr.
Hawthorne of the highly eulogistic critique on the "Blithedale
Romance" in the Times, written, I believe, by Mr. Willmott, to whom
I lent the veritable copy received from the author. Another thing
let me say, that I have been reading with the greatest pleasure some
letters on African trees copied from the New York Tribune into
Bentley's Miscellany, and no doubt by Mr. Bayard Taylor. Our chief
London news is that Mrs. Browning's cough came on so violently, in
consequence of the sudden setting in of cold weather, that they are
off for a week or two to Paris, then to Florence, Rome, and Naples,
and back here in the summer. Her father still refuses to open a
letter or to hear her name. Mrs. Southey, suffering also from
chest-complaint, has shut herself up till June. Poor Anne Hatton,
who was betrothed to Thomas Davis, and was supposed to be in a
consumption, is recovering, they say, under the advice of a
clairvoyante. Most likely a broken vessel has healed on the lungs,
or perhaps an abscess. Be what it may, the consequence is happy, for
she is a lovely creature and the only joy of a fond mother. Alfred
Tennyson's boy was christened the other day by the name of Hallam
Tennyson, Mr. Hallam standing to it in person. This is just as it
should be on all sides, only that Arthur Hallam would have been a
prettier name. You know that Arthur Hallam was the lost friend of
the "In Memoriam," and engaged to Tennyson's sister, and that after
his death, and even after her marrying another man, Mr. Hallam makes
her a large allowance.

We have just escaped a signal misfortune; my dear pretty pony has
been upon the point of death with influenza. Would not you have been
sorry if that pony had died? He has, however, recovered under Sam's
care and skill, and the first symptom of convalescence was his
neighing to Sam through the window. You will have found out that I
too am better. I trust to be stronger when you come again, well
enough to introduce you to Mr. Harness, whom we are expecting here
next month. God bless you, my dear and kind friend. I send this
through dear Mr Bennoch, whom I like better and better; so I do Mrs.
Bennoch, and everybody who knows and loves you. Ever, my dear Mr.

Your faithful and affectionate friend, M.R.M.

P.S.--October 17. I have kept this letter open till now, and I am
glad I did so. Acting upon the hint you gave of Mr. De Quincey's
kind feeling, I wrote to him, and yesterday I had a charming letter
from his daughter, saying how much her father was gratified by mine,
that he had already written an answer, amounting to a good-sized
pamphlet, but that when it would be finished was doubtful, so she
sent hers as a precursor.

Swallowfield, November 11, 1852.

I write, dearest friend, and although the packet which you had the
infinite goodness to send, has not reached me yet, and may not
possibly before my letter goes,--so uncertain is our railway,--yet
I will write because our excellent friend, Mr. Bennoch, says that he
has sent it off.... You will understand that I am even more obliged
by your goodness about Mr. Dillon's book than by any of the thousand
obligations to myself only. Besides my personal interest, as so
great a compliment to my own work, Mr. Dillon appears to be a most
interesting person. He is a friend of Mr. Bennoch's, from whom I had
his history, one most honorable to him, and he has written to me
since I wrote to you and proposes to come and see me. _You_ must see
him when you come to England, and must see his collection of
engravings. Would not dear Dr. Holmes have a sympathy with Mr.
Dillon? Have you such fancies in America? They are not common even
here; but Miss Skerrett (the Queen's factotum) tells me that the
most remarkable book in Windsor Castle is a De Grammont most richly
and expensively illustrated by George the Fourth, who, with all his
sins as a monarch, was the only sovereign since the Stuarts of any
literary taste.

Here is your packet! O my dear, dear friend, how shall I thank you
half enough! I shall send the parcels to-morrow morning, the very
first thing, to Mr. Holloway. The work is at the binder's, but
fly-leaves have been left for the American packet of which I felt so
sure, although even I could hardly foresee its value. One or two
duplicates I have kept. Tell Mr. Hawthorne that I shall make a dozen
people rich and happy by his autograph, and tell Dr. Holmes I could
not find it in my heart to part with the "Mary" stanza. Never was a
writer who possessed more perfectly the art of doing great things
greatly and small things gracefully. Love to Mr. Hawthorne and to

Poor Daniel Webster! or rather poor America! Rich as she is, she
cannot afford the loss, the greatest the world has known since our
Sir Robert. But what a death-bed, and what a funeral! How noble an
end of that noble life! I feel it the more, hearing and reading so
much about the Duke's funeral, which by dint of the delay will not
cause the slightest real feeling, but will be attended just like
every show, and yet as a show will be gloomy and poor. How much
better to have laid him simply here at Strathfieldsaye, and left it
as a place of pilgrimage,--as Strathfield will be,--although between
the two men, in my mind, there was no comparison; the one was a
genius, the other mere soldier,--pure physical force measured with
intellect the richest and the proudest. I have twenty letters
speaking of him as one of the greatest among the statesmen of the
age. The Times only refuses to do him justice. But when did the
Times do justice to any one? Look how it talks of our Emperor.

Your friend Bayard Taylor came to see me a fortnight ago, just
before he sailed on his tour round the world. I told him the first
of Bentley's reprinting his letters from the New York Tribune; he
had not heard a word of it. He seemed an admirable person, and it is
good to have such travellers to follow with one's heart and one's
earnest good wishes.

Also I have had two packets,--one from Mrs. Sparks, with a nice
letter, and some fresh and glorious autumnal flowers, and a
collection of autumn leaves from your glorious forests. I have
written to thank her. She seems full of heart, and she says that she
drove into Boston on purpose to see you, but missed you. When you do
meet, tell me about her. Also, I have through you, dear friend, a
most interesting book from Mr. Ware. To him, also, I have written,
but tell him how much I feel and prize his kindness, all the more
welcome for coming from a kinsman of dear Mrs. W----. Tell her and
her excellent husband that they cannot think of us oftener or more
warmly than we think of them. O, how I should like to visit you at
Boston! But I should have your malady by the way, and not your
strength to stand it....

God bless you, my dear and excellent friend! I seem to have a
thousand things to say to you, but the post is going, and a whole
sheet of paper would not hold my thanks.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, November 25, 1852.

My Dear Friend: Your most kind and welcome letter arrived to-day,
two days after the papers, for which I thank you much. Still more do
I thank you for that kind and charming letter, and for its
enclosures. The anonymous poem [it was by Dr. T.W. Parsons] is far
finer than anything that has been written on the death of the Duke
of Wellington, as indeed it was a far finer subject. May I inquire
the name of the writer? Mr. Everett's speech also is superb, and how
very much I prefer the Marshfield funeral in its sublime simplicity
to the tawdry pageantry here! I have had fifty letters from persons
who saw the funeral in St. Paul's, and seen as many who saw that or
the procession, and it is strange that the papers have omitted alike
the great successes and the great failures. My young neighbor, a
captain in the Grenadier Guards (the Duke's regiment), saw the
uncovering the car which had been hidden by the drapery, and was to
have been a great effect, and he says it was exactly what is
sometimes seen in a theatre when one scene is drawn up too soon and
the other is not ready. Carpenters and undertaker's men were on all
parts of the car, and the draperies and ornaments were everywhere
but in their places. Again, the procession waited upwards of an hour
at the cathedral door, because the same people had made no provision
for taking the coffin from the car; again, the sunlight was let into
St. Paul's, mingling most discordantly with the gas, and the naked
wood of screens and benches and board beams disfigured the grand
entrance. In three months' interval they had not time! On the other
hand, the strong points were the music, the effect of which is said
to have been unrivalled; the actual performance of the service,--my
friend Dean Milman is renowned for his manner of reading the funeral
service, he officiated at the burial of Mrs. Lockhart (Sir Walter's
favorite daughter),--and none who were present could speak of it
without tears; the clerical part of the procession, which was a real
and visible mourning pageant in its flowing robes of white with
black bands and sashes; the living branches of laurel and cypress
amongst the mere finery; and, above all, the hushed silence of the
people, always most and best impressed by anything that appeals to
the imagination or the heart.

I suppose you will have seen how England is flooded, and you will
like to hear that this tiny speck has escaped. The Lodden is over
the park, and turns the beautiful water meadows down to
Strathfieldsaye into a no less beautiful lake, two or three times a
week; but then it subsides as quickly as it rises, so there is none
of the lying under water which results in all sorts of pestilential
exhalations, and this cottage is lifted out of every bad influence,
nay, a kind neighbor having had my lane scraped, I walk dry-shod
every afternoon a mile and a half, which is more than I ever
expected to compass again, and for which I am most thankful. But we
have had our own troubles. K---- has lost her father. He was seized
with paralysis and knew nobody, so they desired her not to come, and
Sam went alone to the funeral. After all, _this_ is her home, and
she has pretty well got over her affliction, and the pony is well
again, and strong enough to draw you and me in the spring,--for I am
looking forward to good and happy days again when you shall return
to England.

Your magnificent present for Mr. Dillon's book was quite in time,
dear friend. I had warned them to leave room, and Mr. Holloway and
the binders contrived it admirably. They are most grateful for your
kindness, and most gratefully shall I receive the promised volumes.
I have not yet got "the pamphlet," and am much afraid it is buried
in what Miss De Quincey calls her "father's chaos"; but I have
charming letters from her, and am heartily glad that I wrote. You
have the way (like Mr. Bennoch) of making friends still better
friends, and bringing together those who, without you, would have
had no intercourse. It is the very finest of all the fine arts. Tell
dear Dr. Holmes that the more I hear of him, the more I feel how
inadequate has been all that I have said to express my own feelings;
and tell President Sparks that his charming wife ought to have
received a long letter from me at the same moment with yourself. Mr.
Hawthorne's new work will be a real treat. Tell me if Mr. Bennoch
has sent you some stanzas on Ireland, which have more of the very
highest qualities of Beranger than I have ever seen in English
verse. We who love him shall have to be very proud of dear Mr.
Bennoch. Tell me, too, if our solution of the line, "A
fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind," was the first; and why the
new President is at once called General and talked of as a civilian.
The other President goes on nobly, does he not?

Say everything for me to dear Mr. and Mrs. W---- and all friends.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, December 14, 1852.

O my very dear friend, how much too kind you are to me, who have
nothing to give you in return but affection and gratitude! Mr.
Bennett brought me your beautiful book on Saturday, and you may
think how heartily we wished that you had been here also. But you
will come this spring, will you not? I earnestly hope nothing will
come in the way of that happiness. Before leaving the subject of our
good little friend, let me say that, talking over our own best
authors and your De Quincey (N.B. The pamphlet has not arrived yet,
I fear it is forever buried in De Quincey's "chaos"),--talking of
these things, we both agreed that there was another author, probably
little known in America, who would be quite worthy of a reprint,
William Hazlitt. Is there any complete edition of his Lectures and
Essays? I should think they would come out well, now that Thackeray
is giving his Lectures. I know that Charles Lamb and Talfourd
thought Hazlitt not only the most brilliant, but the soundest of all
critics. Then his Life of Napoleon is capital, that is, capital for
an English life; the only way really to know the great man is to
read him in the _memoires_ of his own ministers, lieutenants, and
servants; for _he was_ a hero to his _valet de chambre_, the
greatness was so real that it would bear close looking into. And our
Emperor, I have just had a letter from Osborne, from Marianne
Skerrett, describing the arrival of Count Walewski under a royal
salute to receive the Queen's recognition of Napoleon III. She,
Marianne, says, "How great a man that, is, and how like a fairy tale
the whole story!" She adds, that, seeing much of Louis Philippe, she
never could abide him, he was so cunning and so false, not cunning
enough to hide the falseness! Were not you charmed with the bits of
sentiment and feeling that come out all through our hero's Southern
progress? Always one finds in him traits of a gracious and graceful
nature, far too frequent and too spontaneous to be the effect of
calculation. It is a comfort to find, in spite of our delectable
press, ministers are wise enough to understand that our policy is
peace, and not only peace but cordiality. To quarrel with France
would be almost as great a sin as to quarrel with America. What a
set of fools our great ladies are! I had hoped better things of Lord
Carlisle, but to find that long list at Stafford House in female
parliament assembled, echoing the absurdities of Exeter Hall,
leaving their own duties and the reserve which is the happy
privilege of our sex to dictate to a great nation on a point which
all the world knows to be its chief difficulty, is enough to make
one ashamed of the title of Englishwoman. I know a great many of
these committee ladies, and in most of them I trace that desire to
follow the fashion, and concert with duchesses, which is one of the
besetting sins of the literary circles in London. One name did
surprise me, ----, considering that one of her husband's happiest
bits, in the book of his that will live, was the subscription for
sending flannel waistcoats to the negroes in the West Indies; and
that in this present book a certain Mrs. Jellyby is doing just what
his wife is doing at Stafford House!

Even if I had not had my earnest thanks to send you, I should have
written this week to beg you to convey a message to Mr. Hawthorne.
Mr. Chorley writes to me, "You will be interested to hear that a
Russian literary man of eminence was so much attracted to the 'House
of the Seven Gables' by the review in the Athenaeum, as to have
translated it into Russian and published it feuilletonwise in a
newspaper." I know you will have the goodness to tell Mr. Hawthorne
this, with my love. Mr. Chorley saw the entrance of the Empereur
into the Tuileries. He looked radiant. The more I read that elegy on
the death of Daniel Webster, the more I find to admire. It is as
grand as a dirge upon an organ. Love to the dear W----s and to Dr.

Ever, dearest Mr. Fields, most gratefully yours, M.R.M.


Swallowfield, January 5, 1853.

Your most welcome letter, my very dear friend, arrived to-day, and
I write not only to acknowledge that, and your constant kindness,
but because, if, as I believe, Mr. Bennoch has told you of my
mischance, you will be glad to hear from my own hand that I am
going on well. Last Monday fortnight I was thrown violently from my
own pony-chaise upon the hard road in Lady Russell's park. No bones
were broken, but the nerves of one side were so terribly bruised
and lacerated, and the shock to the system was so great, that even
at the end of ten days Mr. May could not satisfy himself, without a
most minute re-examination, that neither fracture nor dislocation
had taken place, and I am writing to you at this moment with my
left arm bound tightly to my body and no power whatever of raising
either foot from the ground. The only parts of me that have escaped
uninjured are my head and my right hand, and this is much. Moreover
Mr. May says that, although the cure will be tedious, he sees no
cause to doubt my recovering altogether my former condition, so
that we may still hope to drive about together when you come back
to England....

I wrote I think, dearest friend, to thank you heartily for the
beautiful and interesting book called "The Homes of American
Authors." How comfortably they are housed, and how glad I am to
find that, owing to Mr. Hawthorne's being so near the new
President, and therefore keeping up the habit of friendship and
intercourse, the want of which habit so frequently brings college
friendship to an end, he is likely to enter into public life. It
will be an excellent thing for his future books,--the fault of all
his writings, in spite of their great beauty, being a want of
reality, of the actual, healthy, every-day life which is a
necessary element in literature. All the great poets have
it,--Homer, Shakespeare, Scott. It will be the very best school for
our pet poet.

Nobody under the sun has so much right as you have to see Mr.
Dillon's book, which is in six quarto volumes, not one. Our dear
friend Mr. Bennoch knows him, and tells me to-day that Mr. Dillon
has invited him to go and look at it. He has just received it from
the binders. Of course Mr. Bennoch will introduce you. I was so
glad to read what looked like a renewed pledge of your return to

Mr. Bentley has sent me three several applications for a second
series. At present Mr. May forbids all composition, but I suppose
the thing will be done. I shall introduce some chapters on French
poetry and literature. At this moment I am in full chase of Casimer
Delavigne's _ballads_. He thought so little of them that he
published very few in his Poesies,--one in a note,--and several of
the very finest not at all. They are scattered about here and
there. ---- has reproduced two (which I had) in his Memories; but I
want all that can be found, especially one of which the refrain is,
"Chez l'Ambassadere de France." I was such a fool, when I read it
six or seven years ago, as not to take a copy. Do you think Mr.
Hector Bossange could help me to that, or to any others not printed
in the Memories? ...Of course I shall devote one chapter to _our_
Emperor. Ah, how much better is such a government as his than one
which every four years causes a sort of moral earthquake; or one
like ours, where whole sessions are passed in squabbling! The loss
of his place has saved Disraeli's life, for everybody said he could
not have survived three months' badgering in the House. A very
intimate friend of his (Mr. Henry Drummond, the very odd, very
clever member for Surrey) says that he had certainly broken a
bloodvessel. One piece of news I have heard to-day from Miss
Goldsmid, that the Jews are certain now to gain their point and be
admitted to the House of Commons; for my part, I hold that every
one has a claim to his civil rights, were he Mahometan or Hindoo,
and I rejoice that poor old Sir Isaac, the real author of the
movement, will probably live to see it accomplished. The thought of
succeeding at last in the pursuit to which he has devoted half his
life has quite revived him.

And now Heaven bless you, my very dear friend. None of the poems on
Wellington are to be compared to that dirge on Webster. I rejoice
that my article should have pleased his family. The only bit of my
new book that I have written is a paper on Taylor and Stoddard. Say
everything for me to the Ticknors and Nortons and your own people,
the W----s.

Ever most faithfully and affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, February 1, 1853.

Ah, my dear friend! ask Dr. Holmes what these severe bruises and
lacerations of the nerves of the principal joints are, and he will
tell you that they are much more slow and difficult of cure, as well
as more painful, than half a dozen broken bones. It is now above six
weeks since that accident, and although the shoulder is going on
favorably, there is still a total loss of muscular power in the
lower limbs. I am just lifted out of bed and wheeled to the
fireside, and then at night wheeled back and lifted into
bed,--without the power of standing for a moment, or of putting one
foot before the other, or of turning in bed. Mr. May says that warm
weather will probably do much for me, but that till then I must be a
prisoner to my room, for that if rheumatism supervenes upon my
present inability, there will be no chance of getting rid of it. So
"patience and shuffle the cards," as a good man, much in my state,
the contented Marquess, says in Don Quixote.... I assure you I am
not out of spirits; indeed, people are so kind to me that it would
be the basest of all ingratitude if I were not cheerful as well as
thankful. I think that in a letter which you must have received by
this time, I told you how it came about, and thanked you for the
comely book which shows how cosily America lodges my brethren of the
quill. Dr. Holmes ought to have been there, and Dr. Parsons, but
their time will come and must. Nothing gratifies me more than to
find how many strangers, writing to me of my Recollections, mention
Dr. Holmes, classing him sometimes with Thomas Davis, sometimes with
Praed. If I write another series of Recollections, as, when Mr. May
will let me, I suppose I must, I shall certainly include Dr.

Has anybody told you the terrible story of that boy, Lord Ockham,
Lord Byron's grandson? I had it from Mr. Noel, Lady Byron's
cousin-german and intimate friend. While his poor mother was dying
her death of martyrdom from an inward cancer,--Mrs. Sartoris
(Adelaide Kemble), who went to sing to her, saw her through the
door, which was left open, crouching on a floor covered with
mattresses, on her hands and knees, the only posture she could
bear,--whilst she with the patience of an angel was enduring her
long agony, her husband, engrossed by her, left this lad of
seventeen to his sister and the governess. It was a dull life, and
he ran away. Mr. Noel (my friend's brother, from whom he had the
story) knew most of the youth, who had been for a long time staying
at his house, and they begged him to undertake the search. Lord
Ockham had sent a carpet-bag containing his gentleman's clothes to
his father, Lord Lovelace, in London; he was therefore disguised,
and from certain things he had said Mr. Noel suspected that he
intended to go to America. Accordingly he went first to Bristol,
then to Liverpool, leaving his description, a sort of written
portrait of him, with the police at both places. At Liverpool he was
found before long, and when Mr. Noel, summoned by the electric
telegraph, reached that town, he found him dressed as a sailor-boy
at a low public-house, surrounded by seamen of both nations, and
enjoying, as much as possible, their sailor yarns. He had given his
money, L36, to the landlord to keep; had desired him to inquire for
a ship where he might be received as cabin-boy; and had entered into
a shrewd bargain for his board, stipulating that he should have over
and above his ordinary rations a pint of beer with his Sunday
dinner. The landlord did not cheat him, but he postponed all
engagements under the expectation--seeing that he was clearly a
gentleman's son--that money would be offered for his recovery. The
worst is that he (Lord Ockham) showed no regret for the sorrow and
disgrace that he had brought upon his family at such a time. He has
two tastes not often seen combined,--the love of money and of low
company. One wonders how he will turn out. He is now in Paris, after
which he is to re-enter in Green's ship (he had served in one
before) for a twelvemonth, and to leave the service or remain in it
as he may decide then. This is perfectly true; Mr. Noel had it from
his brother the very day before he wrote it to me. He says that Lady
Lovelace's funeral was too ostentatious. Escutcheons and silver
coronals everywhere. Lord Lovelace's taste that, and not Lady
Byron's, which is perfectly simple. You know that she was buried in
the same vault with her father, whose coffin and the box containing
his heart were in perfect preservation. Scott's only grandson, too,
is just dead of sheer debauchery. Strange! As if one generation paid
in vice and folly for the genius of the past. By the way, are you
not charmed at the Emperor's marriage? To restore to princes honest
love and healthy preference, instead of the conventional
intermarriages which have brought epilepsy and idiotism and madness
into half the royal families of Christendom! And then the beauty of
that speech, with its fine appeals to the best sympathies of our
common nature! I am proud of him. What a sad, sad catastrophe was
that of young Pierce! I won't call his father general, and I hope he
will leave it off. With us it is a real offence to give any man a
higher rank than belongs to him,--to say captain, for instance, to a
lieutenant,--and that is one of our usages which it would be well to
copy. But we have follies enough, God knows; that duchess address,
with all its tuft-hunting signatures, is a thing to make
Englishwomen ashamed. Well, they caught it deservedly in an address
from American women, written probably by some very clever American
man. No, I have not seen Longfellow's lines on the Duke. One gets
sick of the very name. Henry is exceedingly fond of his little
sister. I remember that when he first saw the snow fall in large
flakes, he would have it that it was a shower of white feathers.
Love to all my dear friends, the W----s, Mrs. Sparks, Dr. Holmes,
Mr. Hawthorne. Ever, dearest friend, most affectionately yours,


(1st March, 1853.)

The numbers for the election of President of France in favor of
Louis Napoleon were for against 7119791 1119

Look through the back of this against the candle, or the fire, or
any light.

My Very Dear Friend: Having a note to send to Mrs. Sparks, who has
sent me, or rather whose husband has sent me, two answers to Lord
Mahon, which, coming through a country bookseller, have, I suspect,
been some months on the way, I cannot help sending it enclosed to
you, that I may have a chat with you _en passant_,--the last, I
hope, before your arrival. If you have not seen the above curious
instance of figures forming into a word, and that word into a
prophecy, I think it will amuse you, and I want besides to tell you
some of the _on-dits_ about the Empress. A Mr. Huddlestone, the head
of one of our great Catholic houses, is in despair at the marriage.
He had been desperately in love with her for two years in
Spain,--had followed her to Paris,--was called back to England by
his father's illness, and was on the point of crossing the Channel,
after that father's death, to lay himself and L30,000 or L40,000 a
year at her feet, when the Emperor stepped in and carried off the
prize. To comfort himself he has got a portrait of her on horseback,
which a friend of mine saw the other day at his house. Mrs. Browning
writes me from Florence: "I wonder if the Empress pleases you as
well as the Emperor. For my part, I approve altogether, and none the
less that he has offended Austria by the mode of announcement. Every
cut of the whip on the face of Austria is an especial compliment to
me, or so I feel it. Let him heed the democracy, and do his duty to
the world, and use to the utmost his great opportunities. Mr. Cobden
and the peace societies are pleasing me infinitely just now in
making head against the immorality--that's the word--of the English
press. The tone taken up towards France is immoral in the highest
degree, and the invasion cry would be idiotic if it were not
something worse. The Empress, I heard the other day from high
authority, is charming and good at heart. She was brought up at a
respectable school at Clifton, and is very English, which does not
prevent her from shooting with pistols, leaping gates, driving four
in hand, and upsetting the carriage if the frolic requires it,--as
brave as a lion and as true as a dog. Her complexion is like marble,
white, pale, and pure,--the hair light, rather sandy, they say, and
she powders it with gold dust for effect; but there is less physical
and more intellectual beauty than is generally attributed to her.
She is a woman of very decided opinions. I like all that, don't you?
and I like her letter to the press, as everybody must." Besides
this, I have to-day a letter from a friend in Paris, who says that
"everybody feels her charm," and that "the Emperor, when presenting
her at the balcony on the wedding-day, looked radiant with
happiness." My Parisian friend says that young Alexandre Dumas is
amongst the people arrested for libel,--a thorough _mauvais sujet_.
Lamartine is quite ruined, and forced to sell his estates. He was
always, I believe, expensive, like all those French _litterateurs_.
You don't happen to have in Boston--have you?--a copy of "Les
Memoires de Lally Tollendal"? I think they are different
publications in defence of his father, published, some in London
during the Emigration, some in Paris after the Restoration. What I
want is an account of the retreat from Pondicherie. I'll tell you
why some day here. Mrs. Browning is most curious about your
rappings,--of which I suppose you believe as much as I do of the
Cock Lane Ghost, whose doings, by the way, they much resemble.

I liked Mrs. Tyler's letter; at least I liked it much better than
the one to which it was an answer, although I hold it one of our
best female privileges to have no act or part in such matters.

Now you will be sorry to have a very bad account of me. Three weeks
ago frost and snow set in here, and ever since I have been unable to
rise or stand, or put one foot before another, and the pain is much
worse than at first. I suppose rheumatism has supervened upon the
injured nerve. God bless you. Love to all.

Ever faithfully yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, March 17, 1853

My Dear Friend: I cannot enough thank you for your most kind and
charming letter. Your letters, and the thoughts of you, and the hope
that you will coax your partners into the hazardous experiment of
letting you come to England, help to console me under this long
confinement; for here I am at near Easter still a close prisoner
from the consequences of the accident that took place before
Christmas. I have only once left my room, and that only to the
opposite chamber to have this cleaned, and I got such a chill that
it brought back all the pain and increased all the weakness. But
when fine weather--warm, genial, sunny weather--comes, I will get
down in some way or other, and trust myself to that which never
hurts any one, the honest open air. Spring, and even the approach of
spring, has upon me something the effect that England has upon you.
It sets me dreaming,--I see leafy hedges in my dreams, and flowery
banks, and then I long to make the vision a reality. I remember that
Fanchon's father, Flush, who was a famous sporting dog, used, at the
approach of the covering season, to quest in his sleep, doubtless by
the same instinct that works in me. So, as soon as the sun tells the
same story with the primroses I shall make a descent after some
fashion, and no doubt, aided by Sam's stalwart arm, successfully. In
the mean while I have one great pleasure in store, be the weather
what it may; for next Saturday or the Saturday after I shall see
dear Mr. Bennoch. We have not met since November, although he has
written to me again and again. He will take this letter, and I
trouble you with a note to kind Mrs. Sparks, who is about to send
me, or rather who has sent me, some American cracknels, which have
not yet arrived. To-day, too, I had a charming letter from
Lasswade,--not _the_ letter, the pamphlet one, but one full of
kindness from father and daughter, written by Miss Margaret to ask
after me with a reality of interest which one feels at once. It gave
me pleasure in another way too; Mr. De Quincey is of my faith and
delight in the Emperor! Is not that delightful? Also he holds in
great abomination that blackest of iniquities ----, my heresy as to
which nearly cost me an idolator t'other day, a lady from Essex, who
came here to take a house in my neighborhood to be near me. She was
so shocked that, if we had not met afterwards, when I regained my
ground a little by certain congenialities she certainly would have
abjured me forever. Well! no offence to Mrs. ----. I had rather in a
literary question agree with Thomas De Quincey than with her and
Queen Victoria, who, always fond of strong not to say coarse
excitements, is amongst ----'s warm admirers. I knew you would like
the Emperor's marriage. I heard last week from a stiff English lady,
who had been visiting one of the Empress's ladies of honor, that one
day at St. Cloud she shot thirteen brace of partridges; "but," added
the narrator, "she is so sweet and charming a creature that any man
might fall in love with her notwithstanding." To be sure Mr.
Thackeray liked you. How could he help it? Did not he also like Dr.
Holmes? I hope so. How glad I should be to see him in England, and
how glad I shall be to see Mr. Hawthorne! He will find all the best
judges of English writing admiring him to his heart's content,
warmly and discriminatingly; and a consulship in a bustling town
will give him the cheerful reality, the healthy air of every-day
life, which is his only want. Will you tell all these dear friends,
especially Mr. and Mrs. W----, how deeply I feel their affectionate
sympathy, and thank Mr. Whittier and Professor Longfellow over and
over again for their kind condolence? Tell Mr. Whittier how much I
shall prize his book. He has an earnest admirer in Buckingham
Palace, Marianne Skerrett, known as the Queen's Miss Skerrett, the
lady chiefly about her, and the only one to whom she talks of books.
Miss Skerrett is herself a very clever woman, and holds Mr. Whittier
to be not only the greatest, but the _one_ poet of America; which
last assertion the poet himself would, I suspect, be the very first
to deny. Your promise of Dr. Parsons's poem is very delightful to
me. I hold firm to my admiration of those stanzas on Webster.
Nothing written on the Duke came within miles of it, and I have no
doubt that the poem on Dante's bust is equally fine.... Mr. Justice
Talfourd has just printed a new tragedy. He sent it to me from
Oxford, not from Reading, where he had passed four days and never
gave a copy to any mortal, and told me, in a very affectionate
letter which accompanied it, that "it was at present a very private
sin, he having only given eight or ten copies in all." I suppose
that it will be published, for I observe that the "not published" is
written, not printed, and that Moxon's name is on the title-page. It
is called "The Castilian,"--is on the story of a revolt headed by
Don John de Padilla in the early part of Charles the Fifth's reign,
and is more like Ion than either of his other tragedies. I have just
been reading a most interesting little book in manuscript, called
"The Heart of Montrose." It is a versification in three ballads of a
very striking letter in Napier's "Life and Times of Montrose," by
the young lady who calls herself Mary Maynard. It is really a little
book that ought to make a noise, not too long, full of grace and of
interest, and she has adhered to the true story with excellent
taste, that story being a very remarkable union of the romantic and
the domestic. I am afraid that my other young poet, ----, is dying
of consumption; those fine spirits often fall in that way. I have
just corrected my book for a cheaper edition. Mr. Bentley is very
urgent for a second series, and I suppose I must try. I shall get
you to write for me to Mr. Hector Bossange when you come, for come
you must. My eyes begin to feel the effects of this long confinement
to one smoky and dusty room.

So far had I written, dearest friend, when this day (March 26)
brought me your most kind and welcome letter enclosed in another
from dear Mr. Bennoch. Am I to return Dr. Parsons's? or shall I
keep it till you come to fetch it? Tell the writer how very much I
prize his kindness, none the less that he likes (as I do) my
tragedies, that is, one of them, the best of my poor doings. The
lines on the Duchess are capital, and quite what she deserves; but I
think those the worst who, in so true a spirit of what Carlyle would
call flunkeyism, consent to sign any nonsense that their names may
figure side by side with that of a duchess, and they themselves find
(for once) an admittance to the gilded saloons of Stafford House.
For my part, I well-nigh lost an admirer the other day by taking a
common-sense view of the question. A lady (whose name I never heard
till a week ago) came here to take a house to be near me. (N.B.
There was none to be had.) Well, she was so provoked to find that I
had stopped short of the one hundredth page of ----, and never
intended to read another, that I do think, if we had not discovered
some sympathies to counterbalance that grand difference--As I live,
I have told you that story before! Ah! I am sixty-six, and I get
older every day! So does little Henry, who is at home just now, and
longing to put the clock forward that he may go to America. He is a
boy of great promise, full of sound sense, and as good as good can
be. I suppose that he never in his life told an untruth, or broke a
promise, or disobeyed a command. He is very fond of his little
sister; and not at all jealous either--to the great praise of that
four-footed lady be it said--is Fanchon, who watches over the
cradle, and is as fond of the baby in her way as Henry in his.

So far from paying me copyright money, all that I ever received from
Mr. B---- was two copies of his edition of "Our Village," one of
which I gave away, and of the other some chance visitor has taken
one of the volumes. I really do think I shall ask him for a copy or
two. How can I ever thank you enough for your infinite kindness in
sending me books! Thank you again and again. Dear Mr. Bennoch has
been making an admirable speech, in moving to present the thanks of
the city to Mr. Layard. How one likes to feel proud of one's
friends! God bless you!

Ever most faithfully yours, M.R.M.

Kind Mrs. Sparks's biscuits arrived quite safe. How droll some of
the cookery is in "The Wide, Wide World"! It would try English
stomachs by its over-richness. I wonder you are not all dead, if
such be your _cuisine_.

Swallowfield, May 3, 1853.

How shall I thank you enough, dear and kind friend, for the copy of
---- that arrived here yesterday! Very like; only it wanted what
that great painter, the sun, will never arrive at giving, the actual
look of life which is the one great charm of the human countenance.
Strange that the very source of light should fail in giving that
light of the face, the smile. However, all that can be given by that
branch of art has been given. I never before saw so good a
photographic portrait, and for one that gives more I must wait until
John Lucas, or some American John Lucas, shall coax you into
sitting. I sent you, ten days ago, a batch of notes, and a most
unworthy letter of thanks for one of your parcels of gift-books; and
I write the rather now to tell you I am better than then, and hope
to be in a still better plight before July or August, when a most
welcome letter from Mr. Tuckerman has bidden us to expect you to
officiate as Master of the Ceremonies to Mr. Hawthorne, who, welcome
for himself, will be trebly welcome for such an introducer.

Now let me say how much I like De Quincey's new volumes. The "Wreck
of a Household" shows great power of narrative, if he would but take
the trouble to be right as to details; the least and lowest part of
the art, that of interesting you in his people, he has. And those
"Last Days of Kant," how affecting they are, and how thoroughly in
every line and in every thought, agree with him or not, (and in all
that relates to Napoleon I differ from him, as in his overestimate
of Wordsworth and of Coleridge), one always feels how thoroughly and
completely he is a gentleman as well as a great writer; and so much
has _that_ to do with my admiration, that I have come to tracing
personal character in books almost as a test of literary merit:
Charles Boner's "Chamois-Hunting," for instance, owes a great part
of its charm to the resolute truth of the writer, and a great
drawback from the attraction of "My Novel" seems to me to be derived
from the _blase_ feeling, the unclean mind from whence it springs,
felt most when trying after moralities.

Amongst your bounties I was much amused with the New York magazines,
the curious turning up of a new claimant to the
Louis-the-Seventeenth pretension amongst the Red Indians, and the
rappings and pencil-writings of the new Spiritualists. One should
wonder most at the believers in these two branches of faith, if that
particular class did not always seem to be provided most abundantly
whenever a demand occurs. Only think of Mrs. Browning giving the
most unlimited credence to every "rapping" story which anybody can
tell her! Did I tell you that the work on which she is engaged is a
fictitious autobiography in blank verse, the heroine a woman artist
(I suppose singer or actress), and the tone intensely modern? You
will see that "Colombe's Birthday" has been brought out at the
Haymarket. Mr. Chorley (Robert Browning's most intimate friend)
writes me word that Mrs. Martin (Helen Faucit, at whose persuasion
it was acted) told him that it had gone off "better than she
expected." Have you seen Alexander Smith's book, which is all the
rage just now? I saw some extracts from his poems a year and a half
ago, and the whole book is like a quantity of extracts put together
without any sort of connection, a mass of powerful metaphor with
scarce any lattice-work for the honeysuckles to climb upon. Keats
was too much like this; but then Keats was the first. Now this book,
admitting its merit in a certain way, is but the imitation of a
school, and, in my mind, a bad school. One such poem as that on the
bust of Dante is worth a whole wilderness of these new writers, the
very best of them. Certainly nothing better than those two pages
ever crossed the Atlantic.

God bless you, dear friend. Say everything for me to dear Mr. and
Mrs. W----, to Dr. Holmes, to Dr. Parsons, to Mr. Whittier, (how
powerful his new volume is!) to Mr. Stoddard, to Mrs. Sparks, to all
my friends.

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

I am writing on the 8th of May, but where is the May of the poets?
Half the morning yesterday it snowed, at night there was ice as
thick as a shilling, and to-day it is absolutely as cold as
Christmas. Of course the leaves refuse to unfold, the nightingales
can hardly be said to sing, even the hateful cuckoo holds his peace.
I am hoping to see dear Mr. Bennoch soon to supply some glow and

Swallowfield, June 4, 1853.

I write at once, dearest friend, to acknowledge your most kind and
welcome letter. I am better than when I wrote last, and get out
almost every day for a very slow and quiet drive round our lovely
lanes; far more lovely than last year, since the foliage is quite as
thick again, and all the flowery trees, aloes, laburnums,
horse-chestnuts, acacias, honeysuckles, azalias, rhododendrons,
hawthorns, are one mass of blossoms,--literally the leaves are
hardly visible, so that the color, whenever we come upon park,
shrubbery, or plantation, is such as should be seen to be imagined.
In my long life I never knew such a season of flowers; so the wet
winter and the cold spring have their compensation. I get out in
this way with Sam and K---- and the baby, and it gives me exquisite
pleasure, and if you were here the pleasure would be multiplied a
thousand fold by your society; but I do not gain strength in the
least. Attempting to do a little more and take some young people to
the gates of Whiteknights, which, without my presence, would be
closed, proved too far and too rapid a movement, and for two days I
could not stir for excessive soreness all over the body. I am still
lifted down stairs step by step, and it is an operation of such time
(it takes half an hour to get me down that one flight of cottage
stairs), such pain, such fatigue, and such difficulty, that, unless
to get out in the pony-chaise, I do not attempt to leave my room. I
am still lifted into bed, and can neither turn nor move in any way
when there, am wheeled from the stairs to the pony-carriage, cannot
walk three steps, can hardly stand a moment, and in rising from my
chair am sometimes ten minutes, often longer. So you see that I am
very, very feeble and infirm. Still I feel sound at heart and clear
in head, am quite as cheerful as ever, and, except that I get very
much sooner exhausted, enjoy society as much as ever, so you must
come if only to make me well. I do verily believe your coming would
do me more good than anything.

I was much interested by your account of the poor English stage
coachman. Ah, these are bad days for stage coachmen on both sides
the Atlantic! Do you remember his name? and do you know whether he
drove between London and Reading, or between Reading and
Basingstoke?--a most useless branch railroad between the two latter
places, constructed by the Great Western simply out of spite to the
Southwestern, which I am happy to state has never yet paid its daily
expenses, to say nothing of the cost of construction, and has taken
everything off our road, which before abounded in coaches, carriers,
and conveyances of all sorts. The vile railway does us no earthly
good, we being above four miles from the nearest station, and you
may imagine how much inconvenience the absence of stated
communication with a market town causes to our small family,
especially now that I can neither spare Sam nor the pony to go
twelve miles. You must come to England and come often to see me,
just to prove that there is any good whatever in railways,--a fact I
am often inclined to doubt.

I shall send this letter to be forwarded to Mr. Bennett, and desire
him to write to you himself. He is, as you say, an "excellent
youth," although it is very generous in me to say so, for I do
believe that you came to see me since he has been. Dear Mr. Bennoch,
with all his multifarious business, has been again and again. God
bless him! ...To return to Mr Bennett. He has been engaged in a
grand battle with the trustees of an old charity school,
principally the vicar. His two brothers helped in the fight. They
won a notable victory. They were quite right in the matter in
dispute and the "excellent youth" came out well in various letters.
His opponent, the vicar, was Senior Wrangler at our Cambridge, the
very highest University honor in England, and tutor to the present
Lord Grey.

By the way, Mr. ---- wrote to me the other day to ask that I would
let him be here when Mr. Hawthorne comes to see me. I only answered
this request by asking whether he did not intend to come to see _me_
before that time, for certainly he might come to visit an old
friend, especially a sick one, for her own sake, and not merely to
meet a notability, and I am by no means sure that Mr. Hawthorne
might not prefer to come alone or with dear Mr. Bennoch; at all
events it ought to be left to _his_ choice, and besides I have not
lost the hope of your being the introducer of the great romancer,
and then how little should I want anybody to come between us. Begin
as they may, all my paragraphs slide into that refrain of Pray, pray

I have written to you about other kindnesses since that note full of
hopes, but I do not think that I did write to thank you for dear Dr.
Holmes's "Lecture on English Poetesses," or rather the analysis of a
lecture which sins only by over-gallantry. Ah, there is a difference
between the sexes, and the difference is the reverse way to that in
which he puts it! Tell him I sent his charming stanzas on Moore to a
leading member of the Irish committee for raising a monument to his
memory, and that they were received with enthusiasm by the Irish
friends of the poet. I have sent them to many persons in England
worthy to be so honored, and the very cleverest woman whom I have
ever known (Miss Goldsmid) wrote to me only yesterday to thank me
for sending her that exquisite poem, adding, "I think the stanza 'If
on his cheek, etc.,' contains one of the most beautiful similes to
be found in the whole domain of poetry." I also told Mrs. Browning
what dear Dr. Holmes said of her. The American poets whom she
prefers are Lowell and Emerson. Now I know something of Lowell and
of Emerson, but I hold that those lines on Dante's bust are amongst
the finest ever written in the language, whether by American or
Englishman; don't you? And what a grand Dead March is the poem on
Webster! ...Also Mrs. Browning believes in spirit-rapping
stories,--all,--and tells me that Robert Owen has been converted by
them to a belief in a future state. Everybody everywhere is turning
tables. The young Russells, who are surcharged with electricity, set
them spinning in ten minutes. In general, you know, it is usual to
take off all articles of metal. They, the other night, took a fancy
to remove their rings and bracelets, and, having done so, the table,
which had paused for a moment, began whirling again as fast as ever
the contrary way. This is a fact, and a curious one.

I have lent three volumes of your "De Quincey" to my young friend,
James Payn, a poet of very high promise, who has verified the Green
story, and taken the books with him to the Lakes. God grant, my dear
friend, that you may not lose by "Our Village"; that is what I care

Ever faithfully yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, June 23, 1853.

Ah, my very dear friend, we shall not see you this summer, I am
sure. For the first time I clearly perceive the obstacle, and I feel
that unless some chance should detain Mr. Ticknor, we must give up
the great happiness of seeing you till next year. I wonder whether
your poor old friend will be alive to greet you then! Well, that is
as God pleases; in the mean time be assured that you have been one
of the chief comforts and blessings of these latter years of my
life, not only in your own friendship and your thousand kindnesses,
but in the kindness and friendship of dear Mr. Bennoch, which, in
the first instance, I mainly owe to you. I am in somewhat better
trim, although the getting out of doors and into the pony-carriage,
from which Mr. May hoped such great things, has hardly answered his
expectations. I am not stronger, and I am so nervous that I can only
bear to be driven, or more ignominiously still to be led, at a
foot's pace through the lanes. I am still unable to stand or walk,
unless supported by Sam's strong hands lifting me up on each side,
still obliged to be lifted into bed, and unable to turn or move when
there, the worst grievance of all. However, I am in as good spirits
as ever, and just at this moment most comfortably seated under the
acacia-tree at the corner of my house,--the beautiful acacia
literally loaded with its snowy chains (the flowering trees this
summer, lilacs, laburnums, rhododendrons, azalias, have been one
mass of blossoms, and none are so graceful as this waving acacia);
on one side a syringa, smelling and looking like an orange-tree; a
jar of roses on the table before me,--fresh-gathered roses, the
pride of Sam's heart; and little Fanchon at my feet, too idle to eat
the biscuits with which I am trying to tempt her,--biscuits from
Boston, sent to me by Mrs. Sparks, whose kindness is really
indefatigable, and which Fanchon ought to like upon that principle
if upon no other, but you know her laziness of old, and she
improves in it every day. Well that is a picture of the Swallowfield
cottage at this moment, and I wish that you and the Bennochs and the
W----s and Mr. Whipple were here to add to its life and comfort. You
must come next year and come in May, that you and dear Mr. Bennoch
may hear the nightingales together. He has never heard them, and
this year they have been faint and feeble (as indeed they were last)
compared with their usual song. Now they are over, and although I
expect him next week, it will be too late.

Precious fooling that has been at Stafford House! And our ---- who
delights in strong, not to say worse, emotions, whose chief pleasure
it was to see the lions fed in Van Amburgh's time, who went seven
times to see the Ghost in the "Corsican Brothers," and has every
sort of natural curiosity (not to say wonder) brought to her at
Buckingham Palace, was in a state of exceeding misery because she
could not, consistently with her amicable relations with the United
States, receive Mrs. ---- there. (Ah! our dear Emperor has better
taste. Heaven bless him!) From Lord Shaftesbury one looks for
unmitigated cant, but I did expect better things of Lord Carlisle.
How many names that both you and I know went there merely because


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