Yesterdays with Authors
James T. Fields

Part 7 out of 8

the owner of the house was a fashionable Duchess,--the Wilmers
("though they are my friends"), the P----s and ----! For my part, I
have never read beyond the first one hundred pages, and have a
certain malicious pleasure in so saying. Let me add that almost all
the clever men whom I have seen are of the same faction; they took
up the book and laid it down again. Do you ever reprint French
books, or ever get them translated? By very far the most delightful
work that I have read for many years is Sainte-Beuve's "Causeries du
Lundi," or his weekly feuilletons in the "Constitutionnel." I am
sure they would sell if there be any taste for French literature. It
is so curious, so various, so healthy, so catholic in its biography
and criticism; but it must be well done by some one who writes good
English prose and knows well the literary history of France. Don't
trust women; they, especially the authoresses, are as ignorant as
dirt. Just as I had got to this point, Mr. Willmot came to spend the
evening, and very singularly consulted me about undertaking a series
of English Portraits Litteraires, like Sainte-Beuve's former works.
He will do it well, and I commended him to the charming "Causeries,"
and advised him to make that a weekly article, as no doubt he could.
It would only tell the better for the wide diffusion. He does, you
know, the best criticism of The Times. I have most charming letters
from Dr. Parsons and dear Mr. Whittier. His cordiality is
delightful. God bless you.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

(No date.)

Never, my dear friend, did I expect to like so well a man who came
in your place, as I do like Mr. Ticknor. He is an admirable person,
very like his cousin in mind and manners, unmistakably good. It is
delightful to hear him talk of you, and to feel that the sort of
elder brotherhood which a senior partner must exercise in a firm is
in such hands. He was very kind to little Harry, and Harry likes him
_next_ to you. You know he had been stanch in resisting all the
advances of dear Mr ----, who had asked him if he would not come to
him, to which he had responded by a sturdy "no!" He (Mr. Ticknor)
came here on Saturday with the dear Bennochs (N.B. I love him better
than ever), and the Kingsleys met him. Mr. Hawthorne was to have
come, but could not leave Liverpool so soon, so that is a pleasure
to come. He will tell you that all is arranged for printing with
Colburn's successors, Hurst and Blackett, two separate works, the
plays and dramatic scenes forming one, the stories to be headed by a
long tale, of which I have always had the idea in my head, to form
almost a novel. God grant me strength to do myself and my publishers
justice in that story! This whole affair springs from the fancy
which Mr. Bennoch has taken to have the plays printed in a collected
form during my lifetime, for I had always felt that they would be so
printed after my death, so that their coming out now seems to me a
sort of anachronism. The one certain pleasure that I shall derive
from this arrangement will be, having my name and yours joined
together in the American edition, for we reserve the early sheets.
Nothing ever vexed me so much as the other book not being in your
hands. That was Mr. ----'s fault, for, stiff as Bentley is, Mr.
Bennoch would have managed him..... Of a certainty my first strong
interest in American poetry sprang from dear Dr. Holmes's exquisite
little piece of scenery painting, which he delivered where his
father had been educated. You sent me that, and thus made the
friendship between Dr. Holmes and me; and now you are yourself--you,
my dearest American friend--delivering an address at the greatest
American University. It is a great honor, and one....

I suppose Mr. Ticknor tells you the book-news? The most striking
work for years is "Haydon's Life." I hope you have reprinted it, for
it is sure, not only of a run, but of a durable success. You know
that the family wanted me to edit the book. I shrank from a task
that required so much knowledge which could only be possessed by one
living in the artist world _now_, to know who was dead and who
alive, and Mr. Tom Taylor has done it admirably. I read the book
twice over, so profound was my interest in it. In his early days, I
used to be a sort of safety-valve to that ardent spirit most like
Benvenuto Cellini both in pen and tongue and person. Our dear Mr.
Bennoch was the providence of his later years. They tell me that
that powerful work has entirely stopped the sale of Moore's Life,
which, all tinsel and tawdry rags, might have been written by a
court newsman or a court milliner. I wonder whether they will print
the other six volumes; for the four out they have given Mrs. Moore
three thousand pounds. A bad account Mr. Tupper gives of ----. Fancy
his conceit! When Mr. Tupper praised a passage in one of his poems,
he said, "If I had known you liked it, I would have omitted that
passage in my new edition," and he has done so by passages praised
by persons of taste, cut them out bodily and left the sentences
before and after to join themselves how they could. What a bad
figure your President and Mr. ---- cut at the opening of your
Exhibition! I am sorry for ----, for, although he has quite
forgotten me since his aunt's book came out, he once stayed three
weeks with us, and I liked him. Well, so many of his countrymen are
over-good to me, that I may well forgive one solitary instance of
forgetfulness! Make my love to all my dear friends at Boston and
Cambridge. Tell Mrs. Sparks how dearly I should have liked to have
been at her side on _the_ Thursday. Tell Dr. Holmes that his kind
approbation of Rienzi is one of my encouragements in this new
edition. I had a long talk about him with Mr. Ticknor, and rejoice
to find him so young. Thank Mr. Whipple again and again for his

Ever yours, M.R.M.

(No date.)

My Very Dear Friend: Mr. Hillard (whom I shall be delighted to see
if he come to England and will let me know when he can get
here)--Mr. Hillard has just put into verse my own feelings about
you. It is the one comfort belonging to the hard work of these _two_
books (for besides the Dramatic Works in two thick volumes, there
are prose stories in two also, and I have one long tale, almost a
novel, to write),--it is the one comfort of this labor that _I_
shall see our names together on one page. I have just finished a
long gossiping preface of thirty or forty pages to the Dramatic
Works, which is much more an autobiography than the Recollections,
and which I have tried to make as amusing as if it were ill-natured.
_That_ work is dedicated to our dear Mr. Bennoch, another
consolation. I sent the dedication to dear Mr. Ticknor, but as his
letter of adieu did not reach me till two or three days after it was
written, and I am not quite sure that I recollected the number in
Paternoster Row, I shall send it to you here. "To Francis Bennoch,
Esq., who blends in his life great public services with the most
genial private hospitality; who, munificent patron of poet and of
painter, is the first to recognize every talent except his own,
content to be beloved where others claim to be admired; to him,
equally valued as companion and as friend, these volumes are most
respectfully and affectionately inscribed by the author." I write
from memory, but if this be not it, it is very like it, (and I beg
you to believe that my preface is a little better English than this
agglomeration of "its.")

Mr. Kingsley says that Alfred Tennyson says that Alexander Smith's
poems show fancy, but not imagination; and on my repeating this to
Mrs. Browning, she said it was exactly her impression. For my part I
am struck by the extravagance and the total want of finish and of
constructive power, and I am in hopes that ultimately good will come
out of evil, for Mr. Kingsley has written, he tells me, a paper
called "Alexander Pope and Alexander Smith," and Mr. Willmott, the
powerful critic of The Times, takes the same view, he tells me, and
will doubtless put it into print some day or other, so that the
carrying this bad school to excess will work for good. By the way,
Mr. ----, whose Imogen is so beautiful, sent me the other day a
terrible wild affair in that style, and I wrote him a frank letter,
which my sincere admiration for what he does well gives me some
right to do. He has in him the making of a great poet; but, if he
once take to these obscurities, he is lost. I hope I have not
offended him, for I think it is a real talent, and I feel the
strongest interest in him. My young friend, James Payn, went a
fortnight or three weeks ago to Lasswade and spent an evening with
Mr. De Quincey. He speaks of him just as you do, marvellously fine
in point of conversation, looking like an old beggar, but with the
manners of a prince, "if," adds James Payn, "we may understand by
that all that is intelligent and courteous and charming." (I suppose
he means such manners as our Emperor's.) He began by saying that his
life was a mere misery to him from nerves, and that he could only
render it endurable by a semi-inebriation with opium. (I always
thought he had not left opium off.).... On his return, James Payn
again visited Harriet Martineau, who talked frankly about _the_
book, exculpating Mr. Atkinson and taking all the blame to herself.
She asked if I had read it, and on finding that I had not, said, "It
was better so." There are fine points about Harriet Martineau. Mrs.
Browning is positively crazy about the spirit-rappings. She believes
every story, European or American, and says our Emperor consults the
mediums, which I disbelieve.

The above was written yesterday. To-day has brought me a charming
letter from Miss De Quincey. She has been very ill, but is now back
at Lasswade, and longing most earnestly to persuade her father to
return to Grasmere. Will she succeed? She sends me a charming
message from a brother Francis, a young physician settled in India.
She says that her sister told her her father was in bad spirits when
talking to Mr. Payn, which perhaps accounts for his confessing to
the continuing the opium-eating.

Mr. ---- brought me some proofs of his new volume of poems. I think
that if he will take pains he will be a real poet. But it is so
difficult to get young men to believe that correcting and
re-correcting is necessary, and he is a most charming person, and so
gets spoiled. I spoil him myself, God forgive me! although I advise
him to the best of my power. No signs of Mr. Hawthorne yet! Heaven
bless you, my dear friend.

Ever faithfully yours, M.R.M.

October, 1853.

My Very Dear Friend: I cannot thank you enough for the two charming
books which you have sent me. I enclose a letter for the author of
this very remarkable book of Italian travel, and I have written to
dear Mr. Hawthorne myself.

Since I wrote to you, dear Mr. Bennoch sent to me to look out what
letters I could find of poor Haydon's. I was half killed by the
operation, all my sins came upon me; for, lulling my conscience by
carelessness about bills and receipts, and by answering almost every
letter the day it comes, I am in other respects utterly careless,
and my great mass of correspondence goes where fate and K----
decree. We had five great chests and boxes, two huge hampers,
fifteen or sixteen baskets, and more drawers than you would believe
the house could hold, to look over, and at last disinterred
sixty-five. I did not dare read them for fear of the dust, but I
have no doubt they will be most valuable, for his letters were
matchless for talent and spirit. I hope you have reprinted the Life;
if so, of course you will publish the Correspondence. By the way,
it is a curious specimen of the little care our highest people have
for poetry of the ---- school, that Vice-Chancellor Wood, one of the
most accomplished men whom I have ever known, a bosom friend of
Macaulay, was with me last week, and had never heard of Alexander

I continue terribly lame, and with no chance of amendment till the
spring, when you will come and do me good. Besides the lameness, I
am also miserably feeble, ten years older than when you saw me last.
I am working as well as I can, but very slowly. I send you a proof
of the Preface to the Dramatic Works (not knowing whether they have
sent you the sheets, or when they mean to bring it out). The few who
have seen this Introduction like it. It tells the truth about myself
and says no ill of other people. God bless you, dear friend. Say
everything for me to all friends, not forgetting Mr. Ticknor.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, November 8, 1853.

My Very Dear Friend; Your letters are always delightful to me, even
when they are dated Boston; think what they will be when they are
dated London. In my last I sent you a very rough proof of my Preface
(I think Mr. Hurst means to call it Introduction), which you will
find autobiographical to your heart's content; I hope you will like
it. To-day I enclose the first rough draft of an account of my first
impression of Haydon. Don't print it, please, because I suppose they
mean it for a part of the Correspondence when it shall be published.
I looked out for those sixty-five long letters of Haydon's,--as
long, perhaps, each, as half a dozen of mine to you,--and doubtless
I have many more, but I was almost blinded by the dust in hunting up
those, my eyes having been very tender since I was shut up in a
smoky room for twenty-two weeks last winter. I find now that Messrs.
Longman have postponed the publication of the Correspondence in the
fear that it would injure the sale of the Memoirs, the book having
had a great success here. By the enclosed, which is as true and as
like as I could make it, you will see that he was a very brilliant
and charming person. I believe that next to having been heart-broken
by the committee and the heartlessness of his pupil ----, and
enraged by the passion for that miserable little wretch, Tom Thumb,
that the real cause of his suicide was to get his family provided
for. It succeeded. By one way and another they had L440 a year
between the four; but although the poor father never complained,
you will see by his book what a selfish wretch that ---- was.....

My tragedies are printed, and the dramatic scenes, forming, with the
preface, two volumes of above four hundred pages each. But I don't
think they are to come out till the prose work, and that is not a
quarter finished. I am always a most slow and laborious writer (that
Preface was written three times over throughout, and many parts of
it five or six), and of course my ill health does not improve my
powers of composition. This wet summer and autumn have been terribly
against me. I am lamer even than when Mr. Ticknor saw me, and
sometimes cannot even dip the pen in the ink without holding it in
my left hand. Thank God my head is spared, and my heart is, I think,
as young as ever.

I had a letter to-day from Mr. Chorley; he has been staying all the
autumn with Sir William Molesworth, now a Cabinet Minister, but he
complains terribly about his own health, notwithstanding he has a
play coming out at the Olympic, which Mr. Wigan has taken. Mrs.
Kingsley, a most sweet person, has a cough which has forced them to
send her to the sea. You shall be sure to see both him and Mr.
Willmott if I can compass it; but we live, each of us, seven miles
apart, and these country clergymen are so tied to their parish that
they are difficult to catch. However, they both come to see me
whenever they can, and we must contrive it. You will like both in
different ways. Mr. Willmott is one of the most agreeable men in the
world, and Mr. Kingsley is charming. I have another dear friend, not
an author, whom I prefer to either,--Hugh Pearson. He made for
himself a collection of De Quincey, when a lad at Oxford. You would
like him, I think, better than anybody; but he too is a country
clergyman, living eight miles off. Poor Mr. Norton! His letters were
charming. He is connected in my mind with Mrs. Hemans, too, to whom
he was so kind. You must say everything for me to dear Mrs. Sparks.
I seem most ungrateful to her, but I really have little power of
writing letters just now. Did I tell you that Mr. ---- sent me a
poem called ----, which I am very sorry that he ever wrote. It has
shocked Mr. Bennoch even more than it did me. You must get him to
write more poems like ----. A young friend of mine has brought out a
little volume in which there is striking evidence of talent; but
none of these young writers take pains. How very pretty is that
scrap on a country church! Mrs. Browning is at Florence, but is
going to Rome. She says that your countryman, Mr. Story, has made a
charming statuette, I think of Beethoven, or else of Mendelssohn,
which ought to make his reputation. She is crazy about mediums. She
says (but I have not heard it elsewhere) that Thackeray and Dickens
are to winter at Rome, and Alfred Tennyson at Florence. Mrs.
Trollope has quite recovered, and receives as usual. How full of
beauty Mr. Hillard's book is! thank him for it again and again. Did
I tell you that they are going to engrave a portrait of me by
Haydon, now belonging to Mr. Bennoch, for the Dramatic Works? God
bless you, my very dear friend. Say everything for me to Mr. Ticknor
and Dr. Holmes and Dr. Parsons, and all my friends in Boston. Little
Henry grows a very sensible, intelligent boy, and is a great
favorite at his school. He is getting on with French.

Once more, ever yours, M.R.M.


(January, 1854.)

My Beloved Friend: They who correspond with sick people must be
content to receive such letters as are sent from hospitals. For many
weeks I have been wholly shut up in my own room, getting with
exceeding difficulty from the bed to the fireside, quite unable to
stir either in the chair or in the bed, but much less miserable up
than when in bed. The terrible cold of last summer did not allow me
to gain any strength, so that although the fire in my room is kept
up night and day, yet a severe attack of influenza came on and would
have carried me off, had not Mr. May been so much alarmed at the
state of the pulse and the general feebleness as to order me two
tablespoonfuls of champagne in water once a day, and a teaspoonful
of brandy also in water, at night, which undoubtedly saved my life.
It is the only good argument for what is called teetotalism that it
keeps more admirable medicines as medicine; for undoubtedly a
wine-drinker, however moderate, would not have been brought round by
the remedy which did me so much good. Miserably feeble I still am,
and shall continue till May or June (if it please God to spare my
life till then), when, if it be fine weather, Sam will lift me down
stairs and into the pony-chaise, and I may get stronger. Well, in
the midst of the terrible cough, which did not allow me to lie down
in bed, and a weakness difficult to describe, I finished "Atherton."
I did it against orders and against warning, because I had an
impression that I should not live to complete it, and I sent it
yesterday to London to dear Mr. Bennoch, so I suppose you will soon
receive the sheets. Almost every line has been written three times
over, and it is certainly the most cheerful and sunshiny story that
was ever composed in such a state of helplessness, feebleness, and
suffering; for the rheumatic pain in the chest not only rendered the
cough terrible (that, thank God, is nearly gone now), but makes the
position of writing one of misery. God grant you may like this
story! I shall at least say in the Preface that it will give me one
pleasure, that of having in the American title-page the names of
dear friends united with mine. Mind I don't know whether the story
be good or bad. I only answer for its having the youthfulness which
you liked in the preface to the plays. Well, dearest friend, just
when I was at the worst came your letter about the ducks and the
ducks themselves. Never were birds so welcome. My friend, Mr. May,
the cleverest and most admirable person whom I know in this
neighborhood, refuses all fees of any sort, and comes twelve miles
to see me, when torn to pieces by all the great folk round, from
pure friendship. Think how glad I was to have such a dainty to offer
him just when he had all his family gathered about him at Christmas.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this great
pleasure, infinitely greater than eating it myself would have been.
They were delicious. How very, very good you are to me!

Has Mrs. Craig written to you to tell you of her marriage? I will
run the risk of repetition and tell you that it is the charming
Margaret De Quincey, who has married the son of a Scotch neighbor.
He has purchased land in Ireland, and they are about to live in
Tipperary,--a district which Irish people tell me is losing its
reputation for being the most disturbed in Ireland, but keeping that
for superior fertility. They are trying to regain a reputation for
literature in Edinburgh. John Ruskin has been giving a series of
lectures on art there, and Mr. Kingsley four lectures on the schools
of Alexandria.

Nothing out of Parliament has for very long made so strong a
sensation as our dear Mr. Bennoch's evidence on the London
Corporation. Three leading articles in The Times paid him the
highest compliments, and you know what that implies. I have myself
had several letters congratulating me on having such a friend. Ah!
the public qualities make but a part of that fine and genial
character, although I firmly believe that the strength is essential
to the tenderness. I always put you and him together, and it is one
of the compensations of my old age to have acquired such friends.

Have you seen Matthew Arnold's poems? They have fine bits. The
author is a son of Dr. Arnold.

God bless you! Say everything for me to my dear American friends,
Drs. Holmes and Parsons, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Whittier, Mrs. Sparks,
Mr. Taylor, Mr. Whipple, Mr. and Mrs. Willard, and Mr. Ticknor.
Many, very many happy years to them and to you.

Always most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

P.S. I enclose some slips to be pasted into books for my different
American friends. If I have sent too many, you will know which to
omit. I must add to the American preface a line expressive of my
pleasure in joining my name to yours. I will send one line here for
fear of its not going. Mr. May says that those ducks were amongst
the few things thoroughly deserving their reputation, holding the
same place, as compared with our wild ducks, that the finest venison
does to common mutton. I cannot tell you how much I thank you for
enabling me to send such a treat to such a friend. You will send a
copy of the prose book or the dramas, according to your own
pleasure, only I should like the two dear doctors to have the plays.

Swallowfield, January 23, 1854.

I have always to thank you for some kindness, dearest Mr. Fields,
generally for many. How clever those magazines are, especially Mr.
Lowell's article, and Mr. Bayard Taylor's graceful stanzas! Just now
I have to ask you to forward the enclosed to Mr. Whittier. He sent
me a charming poem on Burns, full of tenderness and humanity, and
the indulgence which the wise and good can so well afford, and which
only the wisest and best can show to their erring brethren. I
rejoice to hear that he is getting well again. I myself am weaker
and more helpless every day, and the rheumatic pain in the chest
increases so rapidly, and makes writing so difficult, even the
writing such a note as this, that I cannot be thankful enough for
having finished "Atherton," for I am sure I could not write it now.
There is some chance of my getting better in the summer, if I can be
got into the air, and that must be by being let down in a chair
through a trap-door, like so much railway luggage, for there is not
the slightest power of helping myself left in me,--nothing, indeed,
but the good spirits which Shakespeare gave to Horatio, and Hamlet
envied him. Dearest Mr. Bennoch has made me a superb present,--two
portraits of our Emperor and his fair wife. He all intellect,--never
was a brow so full of thought; she all sweetness,--such a mouth was
never seen, it seems waiting to smile. The beauty is rather of
expression than of feature, which is exactly what it ought to be....


Swallowfield, May 2, 1854.

My Dear Friend: Long before this time, you will, I hope, have
received the sheets of "Atherton." It has met with an enthusiastic
reception from the English press, and certainly the friends who have
written to me on the subject seem to prefer the tale which fills the
first volume to anything that I have done. I hope you will like
it,--I am sure you will not detect in it the gloom of a
sick-chamber. Mr. May holds out hopes that the summer may do me
good. As yet the spring has been most unfavorable to invalids, being
one combined series of east-wind, so that instead of getting better
I am every day weaker than the last, unable to see more than one
person a day, and quite exhausted by half an hour's conversation. I
hope to be a little better before your arrival, dearest friend,
because I must see you; but any stranger--even Mr. Hawthorne--is
quite out of the question.

You may imagine how kind dear Mr. Bennoch has been all through this
long trial, next after John Ruskin and his admirable father the
kindest of all my friends, and that is saying much.

God bless you. Love to all my friends, poets, prosers, and the dear
----, who are that most excellent thing, readers. I wonder if you
ever received a list of people to whom to send one or other of my
works? I wrote such with little words in my own hand, but writing is
so painful and difficult, and I am always so uncertain of your
getting my letters, that I cannot attempt to send another. There was
one for Mrs. Sparks. I am sure of liking Dr. Parsons's book,--quite
sure. Once again, God bless you! Little Henry grows a nice boy.

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, July 12, 1854.

Dearest Mr. Fields: Our excellent friend Mr. Bennoch will have told
you from how painful a state of anxiety your most welcome letter
relieved us. You have done quite right, my beloved friend, in
returning to Boston. The voyage, always so trying to you, would,
with your health so deranged, have been most dangerous, and next
year you will find all your friends, except one, as happy to see and
to welcome you. Even if you had arrived now our meeting would have
been limited to minutes. Dr. Parsons will tell you that fresh
feebleness in a person so long tried and so aged (sixty-seven) must
have a speedy termination. May Heaven prolong your valuable life,
dear friend, and grant that you may be as happy yourself as you have
always tried to render others!

I rejoice to hear what you tell me of "Atherton." Here the
reception has been most warm and cordial. Every page of it was
written three times over, so that I spared no pains, but I was
nearly killed by the terrible haste in which it was finished, and I
do believe that many of the sheets were sent to me without ever
being read in the office. I have corrected one copy for the third
English edition, but I cannot undertake such an effort again, so, if
(as I venture to believe) it be destined to be often reprinted by
you, you must correct it from _that_ edition. I hope you sent a copy
to Mr. Whittier from me. I had hoped you would bring one to Mr.
Hawthorne and Mr. De Quincey, but I must try what I can do with Mr.
Hurst, and must depend on you for assuring these valued friends that
it was not neglect or ingratitude on my part.

Mr. Boner, my dear and valued friend, wishes you and dear Mr.
Ticknor to print his "Chamois-Hunting" from a second edition which
Chapman and Hall are bringing out. I sent my copy of the work to Mr.
Bennoch when we were expecting you, that you might see it. It is a
really excellent book, full of interest, with admirable plates,
which you could have, and, speaking in your interest, as much as in
his, I firmly believe that it would answer to you in money as well
as in credit to bring it out in America. Also Mrs. Browning (while
in Italy) wrote to me to inquire if you would like to bring out a
new poem by her, and a new work by her husband. I told her that I
could not doubt it, but that she had better write duplicate letters
to London and to Boston. Our poor little boy is here for his
holidays. His excellent mother and step-father have nursed me rather
as if they had been my children than my servants. Everybody has been
most kind. The champagne, which I believe keeps me alive, is dear
Mr. Bennoch's present; but you will understand how ill I am when I
tell you that my breath is so much affected by the slightest
exertion that I cannot bear even to be lifted into bed, but have
spent the last eight nights sitting up, with my feet supported on a
leg-rest. This from exhaustion, not from disease of the lungs.

Give the enclosed to Dr. Parsons. You know what I have always
thought of his genius. In my mind no poems ever crossed the Atlantic
which approached his stanzas on Dante and on the death of Webster,
and yet you have great poets too. Think how glad and proud I am to
hear of the honor he has done me. I wish you had transcribed the

God bless you, my beloved friend! Say everything for me to all my
dear friends, to Dr. Parsons, to Dr. Holmes, to Mr. Whittier, to
Professor Longfellow, to Mr. Taylor, to Mr. Stoddard, to Mrs.
Sparks, and above all to the excellent Mr. Ticknor and the dear

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, July 28, 1854.

My Very Dear Friend: This is a sort of postscript to my last,
written instantly on the receipt of yours and sent through Mr. ----.
I hope you received it, for he is so impetuous that I always a
little doubt his care; at least it was when sent through him that
the loss of letters to and fro took place. However, I enjoined him
to be careful this time, and he assured me that he was so.

The purport of this is to add the name of my friend, Mr. Willmott,
to the authors who wish for the advantage of your firm as their
American publishers. I have begged him to write to you himself, and
I hope he has done so, or that he will do so. But he is staying at
Richmond with sick relatives, and I am not sure. You know his works,
of course. They are becoming more and more popular in England, and
he is writing better and better. The best critical articles in The
Times are by him. He is eminently a scholar, and yet full of
anecdote of the most amusing sort, with a memory like Scott, and a
charming habit of applying his knowledge. His writings become more
and more like his talk, and I am confident that you would find his
works not only most creditable, but most profitable. I would not
recommend you to each other if it were not for your mutual
advantage, so far as my poor judgment goes. On the 25th my Dramatic
Works are to be published here. I hope they have sent you the

I have not heard yet from any American friend, except your
delightful letter and one from Grace Greenwood, but I hope I shall.
I prize the good word of such persons as Drs. Parsons and Holmes and
Professor Longfellow and John Whittier and many others. I am still
very ill.

The Brownings remain this year in Italy. If it be very hot, they
will go for a month or two to the Baths of Lucca, but their home is
Florence. She has taken a fancy to an American female sculptor,--a
girl of twenty-two,--a pupil of Gibson's, who goes with the rest of
the fraternity of the studio to breakfast and dine at a _cafe_, and
yet keeps her character. Also she believes in all your rappings.

God be with you, my very dear friend. I trust you are quite

Always affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Swallowfield, August 21, 1854.

My Dear Mr. Fields: Mr. Bayard Taylor having sent me a most
interesting letter, but no address, I trouble you with my reply.
Read it, and you will perhaps understand that I am declining day by
day, and that, humanly speaking, the end is very near. Perhaps there
may yet be time for an answer to this....

I believe that one reason for your not quite understanding my
illness is, that you, if you have seen long and great sickness at
all, which is doubtful, have seen it with an utter prostration of
the mind and the spirits,--that your women are languid and
querulous, and never dream of bearing up against bodily evils by an
effort of the mind. Even now, when half an hour's visit is utterly
forbidden, and half that time leaves me panting and exhausted, I
never mention (except forced into it by your evident disbelief) my
own illness either in speaking or writing,--never, except to answer
Mr. May's questions, or to join my beloved friend, Mr. Pearson, in
thanking God for the visitation which I humbly hope was sent in his
mercy to draw me nearer to him; may he grant me grace to use
it!--for the rest, whilst the intelligence and the sympathy are
vouchsafed to me, I will write of others, and give to my friends, as
far as in me lies, the thoughts which would hardly be more worthily
bestowed on my own miserable body.

You will be sorry to find that the poor Talfourds are likely to be
very poor. A Reading attorney has run away, cheating half the town.
He has carried off L4,000 belonging to Lady Talfourd, and she
herself tells my friend, William Harness (one of her kindest
friends), that that formed the principal part of the Judge's small
savings, and, together with the sum for which he had insured his
life (only L5,000), was all which they had. Now there are five young
people,--his children,--the widow and an adopted niece, seven in
all, accustomed to every sort of luxury and indulgence. The only
glimpse of hope is, that the eldest son held a few briefs on circuit
and went through them creditably; but it takes many years in England
to win a barrister's reputation, and the poorer our young men are
the more sure they are to marry. Add the strange fact that since the
father's death (he having reserved his copyrights) not a single copy
of any of his books has been sold! A fortnight ago I had a great
fright respecting Miss Martineau, which still continues. James Payn,
who is living at the Lakes, and to whom she has been most kind, says
he fears she will be a great pecuniary sufferer by ----. I only hope
that it is a definite sum, and no general security or
partnership,--even that will be bad enough for a woman of her age,
and so hard a worker, who intended to give herself rest; but observe
these are only _fears_. I _know_ nothing. The Brownings are detained
in Italy, she tells me, for want of money, and cannot even get to
Lucca. This is my bad news,--O, and it is very bad that sweet Mrs.
Kingsley must stay two years in Devonshire and cannot come home. I
expect to see him this week. John Ruskin is with his father and
mother in Switzerland, constantly sending me tokens of friendship.
Everybody writes or sends or comes; never was such kindness. The
Bennochs are in Scotland. He sends me charming letters, having, I
believe, at last discovered what every one else has known long.
Remember me to Mr. Ticknor. Say everything to my Athenian friends
all, especially to Dr. Holmes and Dr. Parsons.

Ever, dear friend, your affectionate M.R.M.

September 26, 1854.

My Very Dear Friend: Your most kind and interesting letter has just
arrived, with one from our good friend, Mr. Bennoch, announcing the
receipt of the L50 bill for "Atherton." More welcome even as a sign
of the prosperity of the book in a country where I have so many
friends and which I have always loved so well, than as money,
although in that way it is a far greater comfort than you probably
guess, this very long and very severe illness obliging me to keep a
third maid-servant. I get no sleep,--not on an average an hour a
night,--and require perpetual change of posture to prevent the skin
giving way still more than it does, and forming what we emphatically
call bed-sores, although I sit up night and day, and have no other
relief than the being, to a slight extent, shifted from one position
to another in the chair that I never quit. Besides this, there are
many other expenses. I tell you this, dear friend, that Mr. Ticknor
and yourself may have the satisfaction of knowing that, besides all
that you have done for many years for my gratification, you have
been of substantial use in this emergency. In spite of all this
illness, after being so entirely given over that dear Mr. Pearson,
leaving me a month ago to travel with Arthur Stanley for a month,
took a final leave of me, I have yet revived greatly during these
last three weeks. I owe this, under Providence, to my admirable
friend, Mr. May, who, instead of abandoning the stranded ship, as is
common in these cases, has continued, although six miles off, and
driving four pair of horses a day, ay, and while himself hopeless of
my case, to visit me constantly and to watch every symptom, and
exhaust every resource of his great art, as if his own fame and
fortune depended on the result. One kind but too sanguine friend,
Mr. Bennoch, is rather over-hopeful about this amendment, for I am
still in a state in which the slightest falling back would carry me
off, and in which I can hardly think it possible to weather the
winter. If that incredible contingency should arise, what a
happiness it would be to see you in April! But I must content myself
with the charming little portrait you have sent me, which is your
very self. Thank you for it over and over. Thank you, too, for the
batch of notices on "Atherton."....

Dr. Parsons's address is very fine, and makes me still more desire
to see his volume; and the letter from Dr. Holmes is charming, so
clear, so kind, and so good. If I had been a boy, I would have
followed their noble profession. Three such men as Mr. May, Dr.
Parsons, and Dr. Holmes are enough to confirm the predilection that
I have always had for the art of healing.

I have no good news to tell you of dear Mr. K----. His sweet wife
(Mr. Ticknor will remember her) has been three times at death's door
since he saw her here, and must spend at least two winters more at
Torquay. But I don't believe that he could stay here even if she
were well. Bramshill has fallen into the hands of a Puseyite parson,
who, besides that craze, which is so flagrant as to have made dear
Mr. K---- forbid him his pulpit, is subject to fits of raving
madness,--one of those most dangerous lunatics whom an age (in which
there is a great deal of false humanity) never shuts up until some
terrible crime has been committed. (A celebrated mad-doctor said the
other day of this very man, that he had "homicidal madness.") You
may fancy what such a Squire, opposing him in every way, is to the
rector of the parish. Mr. K---- told me last winter that he was
driving him mad, and I am fully persuaded that he would make a large
sacrifice of income to exchange his parish. To make up for this, he
is working himself to death, and I greatly fear that his excess of
tobacco is almost equal to the opium of Mr. De Quincey. With his
temperament this is full of danger. He was only here for two or
three days to settle a new curate, but he walked over to see me, and
I will take care that he receives your message. His regard for me
is, I really believe, sincere and very warm. Remember that all this
is in strict confidence. The kindness that people show to me is
something surprising. I have not deserved it, but I receive it most
gratefully. It touches one's very heart. Will you say everything for
me to my many kind friends, too many to name? I had a kind letter
from Mrs. Sparks the other day. The poets I cling to while I can
hold a pen. God bless you.

Ever yours, M.R.M.

Can you contrive to send a copy of your edition of "Atherton" to Mr.
Hawthorne? Pray, dear friend, do if you can.

October 12, 1854

My Very Dear Friend: I can hardly give you a greater proof of
affection, than in telling you that your letter of yesterday
affected me to tears, and that I thanked God for it last night in my
prayers; so much a mercy does it seem to me to be still beloved by
one whom I have always loved so much. I thank you a thousand times
for that letter and for the book. I enclose you my own letter to
dear Dr. Parsons. Read it before giving it to him. I could not help
being amused at his having appended my name to a poem in some sort
derogating from the fame of the only Frenchman who is worthy to be
named after the present great monarch. I hope I have not done wrong
in confessing my faith. Holding back an opinion is often as much a
falsehood as the actual untruth itself, and so I think it would be
here. Now we have the book, do you remember through whom you sent
the notices? If you do, let me know. You will see by my letter to
Dr. Parsons that ---- dined here yesterday, under K----'s auspices.
He invited himself for three days,--luckily I have Mr. Pearson to
take care of him,--and still more luckily I told him frankly
yesterday that three days would be too much, for I had nearly died
last night of fatigue and exhaustion and their consequences.
To-night I shall leave all to my charming friend. There is nobody
like John Ruskin for refinement and eloquence. You will be glad to
hear that he has asked me for a letter to dear Mr. Bennoch to help
him in his schools of Art,--I mean with advice. This will, I hope,
bring our dear friend out of the set he is in, and into that where I
wish to see him, for John Ruskin must always fill the very highest
position. God bless you all, dear friends!

Ever most affectionately yours, M.R.M.

Love to all my friends.

You have given me a new motive for clinging to life by coming to
England in April. Till this pull-back yesterday, I was better,
although still afraid of being lifted into bed, and with small hope
of getting alive through the winter. God bless you!

October 18, 1854.

My Very Dear Friend: Another copy of dear Dr. Parsons's book has
arrived, with a charming, most charming letter from him, and a copy
of your edition of "Atherton." It is very nicely got up indeed, the
portrait the best of any engraving that has been made of me, at
least, any recent engraving. May I have a few copies of that
engraving when you come to England? And if I should be gone, will
you let poor K---- have one? The only thing I lament in the American
"Atherton" is that a passage that I wrote to add to that edition has
been omitted. It was to the purport of my having a peculiar pleasure
in the prospect of that reprint, because few things could be so
gratifying to me as to find my poor name conjoined with those of the
great and liberal publishers, for one of whom I entertain so much
respect and esteem, and for the other so true and so lively an
affection. The little sentence was better turned much, but that was
the meaning. No doubt it was in one of my many missing letters. I
even think I sent it twice,--I should greatly have liked that little
paragraph to be there. May I ask you to give the enclosed to dear
Dr. Parsons? There are noble lines in his book, which gains much by
being known. Dear John Ruskin was here when it arrived, and much
pleased with it on turning over the leaves, and he is the most
fastidious of men. I must give him the copy. His praise is indeed
worth having. I am as when I wrote last. God bless you, beloved

Ever yours, M.R.M.

December 23, 1854.

Your dear affectionate letter, dearest and kindest friend, would
have given me unmingled pleasure had it conveyed a better account of
your business prospects. Here, from what I can gather, and from the
sure sign of all works of importance being postponed, the trade is
in a similar state of depression, caused, they say, by this war,
which but for the wretched imbecility of our ministers could never
have assumed so alarming an appearance. Whether we shall recover
from it, God only knows. My hope is in Louis Napoleon; but that
America will rally seems certain enough. She has elbow-room, and,
moreover, she is not unused to rapid transitions from high
prosperity to temporary difficulty, and so back again. Moreover,
dear friend, I have faith in you..... God bless you, my dear friend!
May he send to both of you health and happiness and length of days,
and so much of this world's goods as is needful to prevent anxiety
and insure comfort. I have known many rich people in my time, and
the result has convinced me that with great wealth some deep black
shadow is as sure to walk, as it is to follow the bright sunshine.
So I never pray for more than the blessed enough for those whom I
love best.

And very dearly do I love my American friends,--you best of
all,--but all very dearly, as I have cause. Say this, please, to Dr.
Parsons and Dr. Holmes (admiring their poems is a sort of touchstone
of taste with me, and very, very many stand the test well) and dear
Bayard Taylor, a man soundest and sweetest the nearer one gets to
the kernel, and good, kind John Whittier, who has the fervor of the
poet ingrafted into the tough old Quaker stock, and Mr. Stoddard,
and Mrs. Lippincott, and Mrs. Sparks, and the Philadelphia Poetess,
and dear Mr. and Mrs. W----, and your capital critics and orators.
Remember me to all who think of me; but keep the choicest tenderness
for yourself and your wife.

Do you know those books which pretend to have been written from one
hundred to two hundred years ago,--"Mary Powell" (Milton's
Courtship), "Cherry and Violet," and the rest? Their fault is that
they are too much alike. The authoress (a Miss Manning) sent me some
of them last winter, with some most interesting letters. Then for
many months I ceased to hear from her, but a few weeks ago she sent
me her new Christmas book,--"The Old Chelsea Bun House,"--and told
me she was dying of a frightful internal complaint. She suffers
martyrdom, but bears it like a saint, and her letters are better
than all the sermons in the world. May God grant me the same
cheerful submission! I try for it and pray that it be granted, but I
have none of the enthusiastic glow of devotion, so real and so
beautiful in Miss Manning. My faith is humble and lowly,--not that I
have the slightest doubt,--but I cannot get her rapturous assurance
of acceptance. My friend, William Harness, got me to employ our kind
little friend, Mr. ----, to procure for him Judge Edmonds's
"Spiritualism." What an odious book it is! there is neither respect
for the dead nor the living. Mrs. Browning believes it all; so does
Bulwer, who is surrounded by mediums who summon his dead daughter.
It is too frightful to talk about. Mr. May and Mr. Pearson both
asked me to send it away, for fear of its seizing upon my nerves. I
get weaker and weaker, and am become a mere skeleton. Ah, dear
friend, come when you may, you will find only a grave at
Swallowfield. Once again, God bless you and yours!

Ever yours, M, R.M.

_And Some Of His Friends_.

* * * * *

"_All, all are gone, the old familiar faces_."

"_Old Acquaintance, shall the nights
You and I once talked together,
Be forgot like common things?_"

* * * * *

"_His thoughts half hid in golden dreams,
Which make thrice fair the songs and streams
Of Air and Earth_."

* * * * *

"_Song should breathe of scents and flowers;
Song should like a river flow;
Song should bring back scenes and hours
That we loved,--ah, long ago!_"


There is no portrait in my possession more satisfactory than the small
one of Barry Cornwall, made purposely for me in England, from life. It
is a thoroughly honest resemblance.

I first saw the poet five-and-twenty years ago, in his own house in
London, at No. 13 Upper Harley Street, Cavendish Square. He was then
declining into the vale of years, but his mind was still vigorous and
young. My letter of introduction to him was written by Charles Sumner,
and it proved sufficient for the beginning of a friendship which existed
through a quarter of a century. My last interview with him occurred in
1869. I found him then quite feeble, but full of his old kindness and
geniality. His speech was somewhat difficult to follow, for he had been
slightly paralyzed not long before; but after listening to him for half
an hour, it was easy to understand nearly every word he uttered. He
spoke with warm feeling of Longfellow, who had been in London during
that season, and had called to see his venerable friend before
proceeding to the Continent. "Wasn't it good of him," said the old man,
in his tremulous voice, "to think of _me_ before he had been in town
twenty-four hours?" He also spoke of his dear companion, John Kenyon, at
whose house we had often met in years past, and he called to mind a
breakfast party there, saying with deep feeling, "And you and I are the
only ones now alive of all who came together that happy morning!"

A few months ago,[*] at the great age of eighty-seven, Bryan Waller
Procter, familiarly and honorably known in English literature for sixty
years past as "Barry Cornwall," calmly "fell on sleep." The schoolmate
of Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel at Harrow, the friend and companion of
Keats, Lamb, Shelley, Coleridge, Landor, Hunt, Talfourd, and Rogers, the
man to whom Thackeray "affectionately dedicated" his "Vanity Fair," one
of the kindest souls that ever gladdened earth, has now joined the great
majority of England's hallowed sons of song. No poet ever left behind
him more fragrant memories, and he will always be thought of as one whom
his contemporaries loved and honored. No harsh word will ever be spoken
by those who have known him of the author of "Marcian Colonna,"
"Mirandola," "The Broken Heart," and those charming lyrics which rank
the poet among the first of his class. His songs will be sung so long as
music wedded to beautiful poetry is a requisition anywhere. His verses
have gone into the Book of Fame, and such pieces as "Touch us gently,
Time," "Send down thy winged Angel, God," "King Death," "The Sea," and
"Belshazzar is King," will long keep his memory green. Who that ever
came habitually into his presence can forget the tones of his voice, the
tenderness in his gray retrospective eyes, or the touch of his
sympathetic hand laid on the shoulder of a friend! The elements were
indeed so kindly mixed in him that no bitterness or rancor or jealousy
had part or lot in his composition. No distinguished person was ever
more ready to help forward the rising and as yet nameless literary man
or woman who asked his counsel and warm-hearted suffrage. His mere
presence was sunshine to a new-comer into the world of letters and
criticism, for he was always quick to encourage, and slow to disparage
anybody. Indeed, to be _human_ only entitled any one who came near him
to receive the gracious bounty of his goodness and courtesy. He made it
the happiness of his life never to miss, whenever opportunity occurred,
the chance of conferring pleasure and gladness on those who needed kind
words and substantial aid.

[Footnote *: October, 1874.]

His equals in literature venerated and loved him. Dickens and Thackeray
never ceased to regard him with the deepest feeling, and such men as
Browning and Tennyson and Carlyle and Forster rallied about him to the
last. He was the delight of all those interesting men and women who
habitually gathered around Rogers's famous table in the olden time, for
his manner had in it all the courtesy of genius, without any of that
chance asperity so common in some literary circles. The shyness of a
scholar brooded continually over him and made him reticent, but he was
never silent from ill-humor. His was that true modesty so excellent in
ability, and so rare in celebrities petted for a long time in society.
His was also that happy alchemy of mind which transmutes disagreeable
things into golden and ruby colors like the dawn. His temperament was
the exact reverse of Fuseli's, who complained that "_nature_ put him
out." A beautiful spirit has indeed passed away, and the name of "Barry
Cornwall," beloved in both hemispheres, is now sanctified afresh by the
seal of eternity so recently stamped upon it.

It was indeed a privilege for a young American, on his first travels
abroad, to have "Barry Cornwall" for his host in London. As I recall the
memorable days and nights of that long-ago period, I wonder at the good
fortune which brought me into such relations with him, and I linger
with profound gratitude over his many acts of unmerited kindness. One of
the most intimate rambles I ever took with him was in 1851, when we
started one morning from a book-shop in Piccadilly, where we met
accidentally. I had been in London only a couple of days, and had not
yet called upon him for lack of time. Several years had elapsed since we
had met, but he began to talk as if we had parted only a few hours
before. At first I thought his mind was impaired by age, and that he had
forgotten how long it was since we had spoken together. I imagined it
possible that he mistook me for some one else; but very soon I found
that his memory was not at fault, for in a few minutes he began to
question me about old friends in America, and to ask for information
concerning the probable sea-sick horrors of an Atlantic voyage. "I
suppose," said he, "knowing your infirmity, you found it hard work to
stand on your immaterial legs, as Hood used to call Lamb's quivering
limbs." Sauntering out into the street, he went on in a quaintly
humorous way to imagine what a rough voyage must be to a real sufferer,
and thus walking gayly along, we came into Leadenhall Street. There he
pointed out the office where his old friend and fellow-magazinist,
"Elia," spent so many years of hard work from ten until four o'clock of
every day. Being in a mood for reminiscence, he described the Wednesday
evenings he used to spend with "Charles and Mary" and their friends
around the old "mahogany-tree" in Russell Street. I remember he tried to
give me an idea of how Lamb looked and dressed, and how he stood bending
forward to welcome his guests as they arrived in his humble lodgings.
Procter thought nothing unimportant that might serve in any way to
illustrate character, and so he seemed to wish that I might get an exact
idea of the charming person both of us prized so ardently and he had
known so intimately. Speaking of Lamb's habits, he said he had never
known his friend to drink immoderately except upon one occasion, and he
observed that "Elia," like Dickens, was a small and delicate eater. With
faltering voice he told me of Lamb's "givings away" to needy,
impoverished friends whose necessities were yet greater than his own.
His secret charities were constant and unfailing, and no one ever
suffered hunger when he was by. He could not endure to see a
fellow-creature in want if he had the means to feed him. Thinking, from
a depression of spirits which Procter in his young manhood was once
laboring under, that perhaps he was in want of money, Lamb looked him
earnestly in the face as they were walking one day in the country
together, and blurted out, in his stammering way, "My dear boy, I have a
hundred-pound note in my desk that I really don't know what to do with:
oblige me by taking it and getting the confounded thing out of my
keeping." "I was in no need of money," said Procter, "and I declined the
gift; but it was hard work to make Lamb believe that I was not in an
impecunious condition."

Speaking of Lamb's sister Mary, Procter quoted Hazlitt's saying that
"Mary Lamb was the most rational and wisest woman he had ever been
acquainted with." As we went along some of the more retired streets in
the old city, we had also, I remember, much gossip about Coleridge and
his manner of reciting his poetry, especially when "Elia" happened to be
among the listeners, for the philosopher put a high estimate upon Lamb's
critical judgment. The author of "The Ancient Mariner" always had an
excuse for any bad habit to which he was himself addicted, and he told
Procter one day that perhaps snuff was the final cause of the human
nose. In connection with Coleridge we had much reminiscence of such
interesting persons as the Novellos, Martin Burney, Talfourd, and Crabb
Robinson, and a store of anecdotes in which Haydon, Manning, Dyer, and
Godwin figured at full length. In course of conversation I asked my
companion if he thought Lamb had ever been really in love, and he told
me interesting things of Hester Savory, a young Quaker girl of
Pentonville, who inspired the poem embalming the name of Hester forever,
and of Fanny Kelly, the actress with "the divine plain face," who will
always live in one of "Elia's" most exquisite essays. "He had a
_reverence_ for the sex," said Procter, "and there were tender spots in
his heart that time could never entirely cover up or conceal."

During our walk we stepped into Christ's Hospital, and turned to the
page on its record book where together we read this entry: "October 9,
1782, Charles Lamb, aged seven years, son of John Lamb, scrivener, and
Elizabeth his wife."

It was a lucky morning when I dropped in to bid "good morrow" to the
poet as I was passing his house one day, for it was then he took from
among his treasures and gave to me an autograph letter addressed to
himself by Charles Lamb in 1829. I found the dear old man alone and in
his library, sitting at his books, with the windows wide open, letting
in the spring odors. Quoting, as I entered, some lines from Wordsworth
embalming May mornings, he began to talk of the older poets who had
worshipped nature with the ardor of lovers, and his eyes lighted up with
pleasure when I happened to remember some almost forgotten stanza from
England's "Helicon." It was an easy transition from the old bards to
"Elia," and he soon went on in his fine enthusiastic way to relate
several anecdotes of his eccentric friend. As I rose to take leave he

"Have I ever given you one of Lamb's letters to carry home to America?"

"No," I replied, "and you must not part with the least scrap of a note
in 'Elia's' handwriting. Such things are too precious to be risked on a
sea-voyage to another hemisphere."

"America ought to share with England in these things," he rejoined; and
leading me up to a sort of cabinet in the library, he unlocked a drawer
and got out a package of time-stained papers. "Ah," said he, as he
turned over the golden leaves, "here is something you will like to
handle." I unfolded the sheet, and lo! it was in Keats's handwriting,
the sonnet on first looking into Chapman's Homer. "Keats gave it to me,"
said Procter, "many, many years ago," and then he proceeded to read, in
tones tremulous with delight, these undying lines:--

"Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many Western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific--and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

I sat gazing at the man who had looked on Keats in the flush of his
young genius, and wondered at my good fortune. As the living poet folded
up again the faded manuscript of the illustrious dead one, and laid it
reverently in its place, I felt grateful for the honor thus vouchsafed
to a wandering stranger in a foreign land, and wished that other and
worthier votaries of English letters might have been present to share
with me the boon of such an interview. Presently my hospitable friend,
still rummaging among the past, drew out a letter, which was the one,
he said, he had been looking after. "Cram it into your pocket," he
cried, "for I hear ---- coming down stairs, and perhaps she won't let
you carry it off!" The letter is addressed to B.W. Procter, Esq., 10
Lincoln's Inn, New Square. I give the entire epistle here just as it
stands in the original which Procter handed me that memorable May
morning. He told me that the law question raised in this epistle was a
sheer fabrication of Lamb's, gotten up by him to puzzle his young
correspondent, the conveyancer. The coolness referred to between himself
and Robinson and Talfourd, Procter said, was also a fiction invented by
Lamb to carry out his legal mystification.

"_Jan'y_ 19, 1829.

"My Dear Procter,--I am ashamed to have not taken the drift of your
pleasant letter, which I find to have been pure invention. But jokes
are not suspected in Boeotian Enfield. We are plain people, and our
talk is of corn, and cattle, and Waltham markets. Besides I was a
little out of sorts when I received it. The fact is, I am involved
in a case which has fretted me to death, and I have no reliance
except on you to extricate me. I am sure you will give me your best
legal advice, having no professional friend besides but Robinson and
Talfourd, with neither of whom at present I am on the best terms. My
brother's widow left a will, made during the lifetime of my brother,
in which I am named sole Executor, by which she bequeaths forty
acres of arable property, which it seems she held under Covert
Baron, unknown to my Brother, to the heirs of the body of Elizabeth
Dowden, her married daughter by her first husband, in fee simple,
recoverable by fine--invested property, mind, for there is the
difficulty--subject to leet and quit rent--in short, worded in the
most guarded terms, to shut out the property from Isaac Dowden the
husband. Intelligence has just come of the death of this person in
India, where he made a will, entailing this property (which seem'd
entangled enough already) to the heirs of his body, that should not
be born of his wife; for it seems by the Law in India natural
children can recover. They have put the cause into Exchequer Process
here, removed by Certiorari from the Native Courts, and the question
is whether I should as Executor, try the cause here, or again
re-remove to the Supreme Sessions at Bangalore, which I understand I
can, or plead a hearing before the Privy Council here. As it
involves all the little property of Elizabeth Dowden, I am anxious
to take the fittest steps, and what may be the least expensive. For
God's sake assist me, for the case is so embarrassed that it
deprives me of sleep and appetite. M. Burney thinks there is a Case
like it in Chapt. 170 Sect. 5 in Fearn's _Contingent Remainders_.
Pray read it over with him dispassionately, and let me have the
result. The complexity lies in the questionable power of the husband
to alienate in usum enfeoffments whereof he was only collaterally
seized, etc."

[On the leaf at this place there are some words in another hand.--F.]

"The above is some of M. Burney's memoranda, which he has left here,
and you may cut out and give him. I had another favour to beg, which
is the beggarliest of beggings. A few lines of verse for a young
friend's Album (six will be enough). M. Burney will tell you who she
is I want 'em for. A girl of gold. Six lines--make 'em eight--signed
Barry C----. They need not be very good, as I chiefly want 'em as a
foil to mine. But I shall be seriously obliged by any refuse scrap.
We are in the last ages of the world, when St. Paul prophesied that
women should be 'headstrong, lovers of their own wills, having
Albums.' I fled hither to escape the Albumean persecution, and had
not been in my new house 24 hours, when the Daughter of the next
house came in with a friend's Album to beg a contribution, and the
following day intimated she had one of her own. Two more have sprung
up since. If I take the wings of the morning and fly unto the
uttermost parts of the earth, there will Albums be. New Holland has
Albums. But the age is to be complied with. M.B. will tell you the
sort of girl I request the ten lines for. Somewhat of a pensive cast
what you admire. The lines may come before the Law question, as that
cannot be determined before Hilary Term, and I wish your deliberate
judgment on that. The other may be flimsy and superficial. And if
you have not burnt your returned letter pray re-send it me as a
monumental token of my stupidity. 'Twas a little unthinking of you
to touch upon a sore subject. Why, by dabbling in those accursed
Annuals I have become a by-word of infamy all over the kingdom. I
have sicken'd decent women for asking me to write in Albums. There
be 'dark jests' abroad, Master Cornwall, and some riddles may live
to be clear'd up. And 'tisn't every saddle is put on the right
steed. And forgeries and false Gospels are not peculiar to the age
following the Apostles. And some tubs don't stand on their right
bottom. Which is all I wish to say in these ticklish Times ---- and
so your servant,


At the age of seventy-seven Procter was invited to print his
recollections of Charles Lamb, and his volume was welcomed in both
hemispheres as a pleasant addition to "Eliana." During the last eighteen
years of Lamb's life Procter knew him most intimately, and his
chronicles of visits to the little gamboge-colored house in Enfield are
charming pencillings of memory. When Lamb and his sister, tired of
housekeeping, went into lodging and boarding with T---- W----, their
sometime next-door neighbor,--who, Lamb said, had one joke and forty
pounds a year, upon which he retired in a green old age,--Procter still
kept up his friendly visits to his old associate. And after the brother
and sister moved to their last earthly retreat in Edmonton, where
Charles died in 1834, Procter still paid them regular visits of love and
kindness. And after Charles's death, when Mary went to live at a house
in St. John's Wood, her unfailing friend kept up his cheering calls
there till she set out "for that unknown and silent shore," on the 20th
of May, in 1847.

Procter's conversation was full of endless delight to his friends. His
"asides" were sometimes full of exquisite touches. I remember one
evening when Carlyle was present and rattling on against American
institutions, half comic and half serious, Procter, who sat near me,
kept up a constant underbreath of commentary, taking exactly the other
side. Carlyle was full of horse-play over the character of George
Washington, whom he never vouchsafed to call anything but George. He
said our first President was a good surveyor, and knew how to measure
timber, and that was about all. Procter kept whispering to me all the
while Carlyle was discoursing, and going over Washington's fine traits
to the disparagement of everything Carlyle was laying down as gospel. I
was listening to both these distinguished men at the same time, and it
was one of the most curious experiences in conversation I ever happened
to enjoy.

I was once present when a loud-voiced person of quality, ignorant and
supercilious, was inveighing against the want of taste commonly
exhibited by artists when they chose their wives, saying they almost
always selected inferior women. Procter, sitting next to me, put his
hand on my shoulder, and, with a look expressive of ludicrous pity and
contempt for the idiotic speaker, whispered, "And yet Vandyck married
the daughter of Earl Gower, poor fellow!" The mock solemnity of
Procter's manner was irresistible. It had a wink in it that really
embodied the genius of fun and sarcasm.

Talking of the ocean with him one day, he revealed this curious fact:
although he is the author of one of the most stirring and popular
sea-songs in the language,--

"The sea, the sea, the open sea!"--

he said he had rarely been upon the tossing element, having a great fear
of being made ill by it. I think he told me he had never dared to cross
the Channel even, and so had never seen Paris. He said, like many
others, he delighted to gaze upon the waters from a safe place on land,
but had a horror of living on it even for a few hours. I recalled to his
recollection his own lines,--

"I'm on the sea! I'm on the sea!
I am where I would ever be,"--

and he shook his head, and laughingly declared I must have misquoted his
words, or that Dibdin had written the piece and put "Barry Cornwall's"
signature to it. We had, I remember, a great deal of fun over the
poetical lies, as he called them, which bards in all ages had
perpetrated in their verse, and he told me some stories of English
poets, over which we made merry as we sat together in pleasant Cavendish
Square that summer evening.

His world-renowned song of "The Sea" he afterward gave me in his own
handwriting, and it is still among my autographic treasures.

It was Procter who first in my hearing, twenty-five years ago, put such
an estimate on the poetry of Robert Browning that I could not delay any
longer to make acquaintance with his writings. I remember to have been
startled at hearing the man who in his day had known so many poets
declare that Browning was the peer of any one who had written in this
century, and that, on the whole, his genius had not been excelled in his
(Procter's) time. "Mind what I say," insisted Procter; "Browning will
make an enduring name, and add another supremely great poet to England."

Procter could sometimes be prompted into describing that brilliant set
of men and women who were in the habit of congregating at Lady
Blessington's, and I well recollect his description of young N.P. Willis
as he first appeared in her _salon_. "The young traveller came among
us," said Procter, "enthusiastic, handsome, and good-natured, and took
his place beside D'Orsay, Bulwer, Disraeli, and the other dandies as
naturally as if he had been for years a London man about town. He was
full of fresh talk concerning his own country, and we all admired his
cleverness in compassing so aptly all the little newnesses of the
situation. He was ready on all occasions, a little too ready, some of
the _habitues_ of the _salon_ thought, and they could not understand his
cool and quiet-at-home manners. He became a favorite at first trial, and
laid himself out determined to please and be pleased. His ever kind and
thoughtful attention to others won him troops of friends, and I never
can forget his unwearied goodness to a sick child of mine, with whom,
night after night, he would sit by the bedside and watch, thus relieving
the worn-out family in a way that was very tender and self-sacrificing."

Of Lady Blessington's tact, kindness, and remarkable beauty Procter
always spoke with ardor, and abated nothing from the popular idea of
that fascinating person. He thought she had done more in her time to
institute good feeling and social intercourse among men of letters than
any other lady in England, and he gave her eminent credit for bringing
forward the rising talent of the metropolis without waiting to be
prompted by a public verdict. As the poet described her to me as she
moved through her exquisite apartments, surrounded by all the luxuries
that naturally connect themselves with one of her commanding position in
literature and art, her radiant and exceptional beauty of person, her
frank and cordial manners, the wit, wisdom, and grace of her speech, I
thought of the fair Giovanna of Naples as painted in "Bianca

"Gods! what a light enveloped her!
.... Her beauty
Was of that order that the universe
Seemed governed by her motion.....
The pomp, the music, the bright sun in heaven,
Seemed glorious by her leave."

One of the most agreeable men in London literary society during
Procter's time was the companionable and ever kind-hearted John Kenyon.
He was a man compacted of all the best qualities of an incomparable
good-nature. His friends used to call him "the apostle of cheerfulness."
He could not endure a long face under his roof, and declined to see the
dark side of anything. He wrote verses almost like a poet, but no one
surpassed him in genuine admiration for whatever was excellent in
others. No happiness was so great to him as the conferring of happiness
on others, and I am glad to write myself his eternal debtor for much of
my enjoyment in England, for he introduced me to many lifelong
friendships, and he inaugurated for me much of that felicity which
springs from intercourse with men and women whose books are the solace
of our lifelong existence.

Kenyon was Mrs. Browning's cousin, and in 1856 she dedicates "Aurora
Leigh" to him in these affectionate terms:--

"The words 'cousin' and 'friend' are constantly recurring in this
poem, the last pages of which have been finished under the
hospitality of your roof, my own dearest cousin and friend;--cousin
and friend, in a sense of less equality and greater
disinterestedness than Romney's.... I venture to leave in your hands
this book, the most mature of my works, and the one into which my
highest convictions upon Life and Art have entered; that as, through
my various efforts in literature and steps in life, you have
believed in me, borne with me, and been generous to me, far beyond
the common uses of mere relationship or sympathy of mind, so you may
kindly accept, in sight of the public, this poor sign of esteem,
gratitude, and affection from your unforgetting


How often have I seen Kenyon and Procter chirping together over an old
quarto that had floated down from an early century, or rejoicing
together over a well-worn letter in a family portfolio of treasures!
They were a pair of veteran brothers, and there was never a flaw in
their long and loving intercourse. In a letter which Procter wrote to me
in March, 1857, he thus refers to his old friend, then lately dead:
"Everybody seems to be dying hereabouts,--one of my colleagues, one of
my relations, one of my servants, three of them in one week, the last
one in my own house. And now I seem fit for little else myself. My dear
old friend Kenyon is dead. There never was a man, take him for all in
all, with more amiable, attractive qualities. A kind friend, a good
master, a generous and judicious dispenser of his wealth, honorable,
sweet-tempered, and serene, and genial as a summer's day. It is true
that he has left me a solid mark of his friendship. I did not expect
anything; but if to like a man sincerely deserved such a mark of his
regard, I deserved it. I doubt if he has left one person who really
liked him more than I did. Yes, one--I think one--a woman.... I get old
and weak and stupid. That pleasant journey to Niagara, that dip into
your Indian summer, all such thoughts are over. I shall never see Italy;
I shall never see Paris. My future is before me,--a very limited
landscape, with scarcely one old friend left in it. I see a smallish
room, with a bow-window looking south, a bookcase full of books, three
or four drawings, and a library chair and table (once the property of my
old friend Kenyon--I am writing on the table now), and you have the
greater part of the vision before you. Is this the end of all things? I
believe it is pretty much like most scenes in the fifth act, when the
green (or black) curtain is about to drop and tell you that the play of
_Hamlet_ or of John Smith is over. But wait a little. There will be
another piece, in which John Smith the younger will figure, and quite
eclipse his old, stupid, wrinkled, useless, time-slaughtered parent. The
king is dead,--long live the king!"

Kenyon was very fond of Americans, Professor Ticknor and Mr. George S.
Hillard being especially dear to him. I remember hearing him say one day
that the "best prepared" young foreigner he had ever met, who had come
to see Europe, was Mr. Hillard. One day at his dinner-table, in the
presence of Mrs. Jameson, Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle, Walter Savage Landor,
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Browning, and the Procters, I heard him declare that
one of the best talkers on any subject that might be started at the
social board was the author of "Six Months in Italy." It was at a
breakfast in Kenyon's house that I first met Walter Savage Landor, whose
writings are full of verbal legacies to posterity. As I entered the room
with Procter, Landor was in the midst of an eloquent harangue on the
high art of portraiture. Procter had been lately sitting to a
daguerreotypist for a picture, and Mrs. Jameson, who was very fond of
the poet, had arranged the camera for that occasion. Landor was holding
the picture in his hand, declaring that it had never been surpassed as a
specimen of that particular art. The grand-looking author of "Pericles
and Aspasia" was standing in the middle of the room when we entered, and
his voice sounded like an explosion of first-class artillery. Seeing
Procter enter, he immediately began to address him compliments in
high-sounding Latin. Poor modest Procter pretended to stop his ears that
he might not listen to Landor's eulogistic phrases. Kenyon came to the
rescue by declaring the breakfast had been waiting half an hour. When we
arrived at the table Landor asked Procter to join him on an expedition
into Spain which he was then contemplating. "No," said Procter, "for I
cannot even 'walk Spanish' and having never crossed the Channel, I do
not intend to begin now."

"Never crossed the Channel!" roared Landor,--"never saw Napoleon
Bonaparte!" He then began to tell us how the young Corsican looked when
he first saw him, saying that he had the olive complexion and roundness
of face of a Greek girl; that the consul's voice was deep and melodious,
but untruthful in tone. While we were eating breakfast he went on to
describe his Italian travels in early youth, telling us that he once saw
Shelley and Byron meet in the doorway of a hotel in Pisa. Landor had
lived in Italy many years, for he detested the climate of his native
country, and used to say "one could only live comfortably in England who
was rich enough to have a solar system of his own."

The Prince of Carpi said of Erasmus he was so thin-skinned that a fly
would draw blood from him. The author of the "Imaginary Conversations"
had the same infirmity. A very little thing would disturb him for hours,
and his friends were never sure of his equanimity. I was present once
when a blundering friend trod unwittingly on his favorite prejudice, and
Landor went off instanter like a blaspheming torpedo. There were three
things in the world which received no quarter at his hands, and when in
the slightest degree he scented _hypocrisy_, _pharisaism_, or _tyranny_,
straightway he became furious, and laid about him like a mad giant.

Procter told me that when Landor got into a passion, his rage was
sometimes uncontrollable. The fiery spirit knew his weakness, but his
anger quite overmastered him in spite of himself. "Keep your temper,
Landor," somebody said to him one day when he was raging. "That is just
what I don't wish to keep," he cried; "I wish to be rid of such an
infamous, ungovernable thing. I don't wish to keep my temper." Whoever
wishes to get a good look at Landor will not seek for it alone in John
Forster's interesting life of the old man, admirable as it is, but will
turn to Dickens's "Bleak House" for side glances at the great author. In
that vivid story Dickens has made his friend Landor sit for the portrait
of Lawrence Boythorn. The very laugh that made the whole house vibrate,
the roundness and fulness of voice, the fury of superlatives, are all
given in Dickens's best manner, and no one who has ever seen Landor for
half an hour could possibly mistake Boythorn for anybody else. Talking
the matter over once with Dickens, he said, "Landor always took that
presentation of himself in hearty good-humor, and seemed rather proud of
the picture." This is Dickens's portrait: "He was not only a very
handsome old gentleman, upright and stalwart, with a massive gray head,
a fine composure of face when silent, a figure that might have become
corpulent but for his being so continually in earnest that he gave it no
rest, and a chin that might have subsided into a double chin but for the
vehement emphasis in which it was constantly required to assist; but he
was such a true gentleman in his manner, so chivalrously polite, his
face was lighted by a smile of so much sweetness and tenderness, and it
seemed so plain that he had nothing to hide, that really I could not
help looking at him with equal pleasure, whether he smilingly conversed
with Ada and me, or was led by Mr. Jarndyce into some great volley of
superlatives, or threw up his head like a bloodhound, and gave out that
tremendous Ha! ha! ha!"

Landor's energetic gravity, when he was proposing some colossal
impossibility, the observant novelist would naturally seize on, for
Dickens was always on the lookout for exaggerations in human language
and conduct. It was at Procter's table I heard Dickens describe a scene
which transpired after the publication of the "Old Curiosity Shop." It
seems that the first idea of Little Nell occurred to Dickens when he was
on a birthday visit to Landor, then living in Bath. The old man was
residing in lodgings in St. James Square, in that city, and ever after
connected Little Nell with that particular spot. No character in prose
fiction was a greater favorite with Landor, and one day, years after the
story was published, he burst out with a tremendous emphasis, and
declared the one mistake of his life was that he had not purchased the
house in Bath, and then and there burned it to the ground, so that no
meaner association should ever desecrate the birthplace of Little Nell!

It was Procter's old schoolmaster (Dr. Drury, headmaster of Harrow) who
was the means of introducing Edmund Kean, the great actor, on the London
stage. Procter delighted to recall the many theatrical triumphs of the
eccentric tragedian, and the memoir which he printed of Kean will always
be read with interest. I heard the poet one evening describe the player
most graphically as he appeared in Sir Giles Overreach in 1816 at Drury
Lane, when he produced such an effect on Lord Byron, who sat that night
in a stage-box with Tom Moore. His lordship was so overcome by Kean's
magnificent acting that he fell forward in a convulsive fit, and it was
some time before he regained his wonted composure. Douglas Jerrold said
that Kean's appearance in Shakespeare's Jew was like a chapter out of
Genesis, and all who have seen the incomparable actor speak of his
tiger-like power and infinite grace as unrivalled.

At Procter's house the best of England's celebrated men and women
assembled, and it was a kind of enchantment to converse with the ladies
one met there. It was indeed a privilege to be received by the hostess
herself, for Mrs. Procter was not only sure to be the most brilliant
person among her guests, but she practised habitually that exquisite
courtesy toward all which renders even a stranger, unwonted to London
drawing-rooms, free from awkwardness and that constraint which are
almost inseparable from a first appearance.

Among the persons T have seen at that house of urbanity in London I
distinctly recall old Mrs. Montague, the mother of Mrs. Procter. She had
met Robert Burns in Edinburgh when he first came up to that city to
bring out his volume of poems. "I have seen many a handsome man in my
time," said the old lady one day to us at dinner, "but never such a pair
of eyes as young Robbie Burns kept flashing from under his beautiful
brow." Mrs. Montague was much interested in Charles Sumner, and
predicted for him all the eminence of his after-position. With a certain
other American visitor she had no patience, and spoke of him to me as a
"note of interrogation, too curious to be comfortable."

I distinctly recall Adelaide Procter as I first saw her on one of my
early visits to her father's house. She was a shy, bright girl, and the
poet drew my attention to her as she sat reading in a corner of the
library. Looking at the young maiden, intent on her book, I remembered
that exquisite sonnet in her father's volume, bearing date November,
1825, addressed to the infant just a month after her birth:--

Child of my heart! My sweet, beloved First-born!
Thou dove who tidings bring'st of calmer hours!
Thou rainbow who dost shine when all the showers
Are past or passing! Rose which hath no thorn,
No spot, no blemish,--pure and unforlorn,
Untouched, untainted! O my Flower of flowers!
More welcome than to bees are summer bowers,
To stranded seamen life-assuring morn!
Welcome, a thousand welcomes! Care, who clings
Round all, seems loosening now its serpent fold:
New hope springs upward; and the bright world seems
Cast back into a youth of endless springs!
Sweet mother, is it so? or grow I old,
Bewildered in divine Elysian dreams!

I whispered in the poet's ear my admiration of the sonnet and the
beautiful subject of it as we sat looking at her absorbed in the volume
on her knees. Procter, in response, murmured some words expressive of
his joy at having such a gift from God to gladden his affectionate
heart, and he told me afterward what a comfort Adelaide had always been
to his household. He described to me a visit Wordsworth made to his
house one day, and how gentle the old man's aspect was when he looked at
the children. "He took the hand of my dear Adelaide in his," said
Procter, "and spoke some words to her, the recollection of which helped,
perhaps, with other things, to incline her to poetry." When a little
child "the golden-tressed Adelaide," as the poet calls her in one of
his songs, must often have heard her father read aloud his own poems as
they came fresh from the fount of song, and the impression no doubt
wrought upon her young imagination a spell she could not resist. On a
sensitive mind like hers such a piece as the "Petition to Time" could
not fail of producing its full effect, and no girl of her temperament
would be unmoved by the music of words like these:--

"Touch us gently, Time!
Let us glide adown thy stream
Gently, as we sometimes glide
Through a quiet dream.
Humble voyagers are we,
Husband, wife, and children three.
(One is lost, an angel, fled
To the azure overhead.)

"Touch us gently, Time!
We've not proud nor soaring wings:
_Our_ ambition, _our_ content,
Lie in simple things.
Humble voyagers are we,
O'er Life's dim unsounded sea,
Seeking only some calm clime:
Touch us _gently_, gentle Time!"

Adelaide Procter's name will always be sweet in the annals of English
poetry. Her place was assured from the time when she made her modest
advent, in 1853, in the columns of Dickens's "Household Words," and
everything she wrote from that period onward until she died gave
evidence of striking and peculiar talent. I have heard Dickens describe
how she first began to proffer contributions to his columns over a
feigned name, that of Miss Mary Berwick; how he came to think that his
unknown correspondent must be a governess; how, as time went on, he
learned to value his new contributor for her self-reliance and
punctuality,--qualities upon which Dickens always placed a high value;
how at last, going to dine one day with his old friends the Procters, he
launched enthusiastically out in praise of Mary Berwick (the writer
herself, Adelaide Procter, sitting at the table); and how the delighted
mother, being in the secret, revealed, with tears of joy, the real name
of the young aspirant. Although Dickens has told the whole story most
feelingly in an introduction to Miss Procter's "Legends and Lyrics,"
issued after her death, to hear it from his own lips and sympathetic
heart, as I have done, was, as may be imagined, something better even
than reading his pathetic words on the printed page.

One of the most interesting ladies in London literary society in the
period of which I am writing was Mrs. Jameson, the dear and honored
friend of Procter and his family. During many years of her later life
she stood in the relation of consoler to her sex in England. Women in
mental anguish needing consolation and counsel fled to her as to a
convent for protection and guidance. Her published writings established
such a claim upon her sympathy in the hearts of her readers that much of
her time for twenty years before she died was spent in helping others,
by correspondence and personal contact, to submit to the sorrows God had
cast upon them. She believed, with Milton, that it is miserable enough
to be blind, but still more miserable not to be able to bear blindness.
Her own earlier life had been darkened by griefs, and she knew from a
deep experience what it was to enter the cloud and stand waiting and
hoping in the shadows. In her instructive and delightful society I spent
many an hour twenty years ago in the houses of Procter and Rogers and
Kenyon. Procter, knowing my admiration of the Kemble family, frequently
led the conversation up to that regal line which included so many men
and women of genius. Mrs. Jameson was never weary of being questioned
as to the legitimate supremacy of Mrs. Siddons and her nieces, Fanny and
Adelaide Kemble. While Rogers talked of Garrick, and Procter of Kean,
she had no enthusiasms that were not bounded in by those fine spirits
whom she had watched and worshipped from her earliest years.

Now and then in the garden of life we get that special bite out of the
sunny side of a peach. One of my own memorable experiences in that way
came in this wise. I had heard, long before I went abroad, so much of
the singing of the youngest child of the "Olympian dynasty," Adelaide
Kemble, so much of a brief career crowded with triumphs on the lyric
stage, that I longed, if it might be possible, to listen to the "true
daughter of her race." The rest of her family for years had been, as it
were, "nourished on Shakespeare," and achieved greatness in that high
walk of genius; but now came one who could interpret Mozart, Bellini,
and Mercadante, one who could equal what Pasta and Malibran and Persiani
and Grisi had taught the world to understand and worship. "Ah!" said a
friend, "if you could only hear _her_ sing 'Casta Diva'!" "Yes," said
another, "and 'Auld Robin Gray'!" No wonder, I thought, at the universal
enthusiasm for a vocal and lyrical artist who can alternate with equal
power from "Casta Diva" to "Auld Robin Gray." I _must_ hear her! She had
left the stage, after a brief glory upon it, but as Madame Sartoris she
sometimes sang at home to her guests.

"We are invited to hear some music, this evening," said Procter to me
one day, "and you must go with us." I went, and our hostess was the once
magnificent _prima donna!_ At intervals throughout the evening, with a

"That crowds and hurries and precipitates
With thick fast warble its delicious notes,"

she poured out her full soul in melody. We all know her now as the
author of that exquisite "Week in a French Country-House," and her
fascinating book somehow always mingles itself in my memory with the
enchanted evening when I heard her sing. As she sat at the piano in all
her majestic beauty, I imagined her a sort of later St. Cecilia, and
could have wished for another Raphael to paint her worthily. Henry
Chorley, who was present on that memorable evening, seemed to be in a
kind of nervous rapture at hearing again the supreme and willing singer.
Procter moved away into a dim corner of the room, and held his tremulous
hand over his eyes. The old poet's sensitive spirit seemed at times to
be going out on the breath of the glorious artist who was thrilling us
all with her power. Mrs. Jameson bent forward to watch every motion of
her idol, looking applause at every noble passage. Another lady, whom I
did not know, was tremulous with excitement, and I could well imagine
what might have taken place when the "impassioned chantress" sang and
enacted Semiramide as I have heard it described. Every one present was
inspired by her fine mien, as well as by her transcendent voice. Mozart,
Rossini, Bellini, Cherubini,--how she flung herself that night, with all
her gifts, into their highest compositions! As she rose and was walking
away from the piano, after singing an air from the "Medea" with a pathos
that no musically uneducated pen like mine can or ought to attempt a
description of, some one intercepted her and whispered a request. Again
she turned, and walked toward the instrument like a queen among her
admiring court. A flash of lightning, followed by a peal of thunder that
jarred the house, stopped her for a moment on her way to the piano. A
sudden summer tempest was gathering, and crash after crash made it
impossible for her to begin. As she stood waiting for the "elemental
fury" to subside, her attitude was quite worthy of the niece of Mrs.
Siddons. When the thunder had grown less frequent, she threw back her
beautiful classic head and touched the keys. The air she had been called
upon to sing was so wild and weird, a dead silence fell upon the room,
and an influence as of terror pervaded the whole assembly. It was a song
by Dessauer, which he had composed for her voice, the words by Tennyson.
No one who was present that evening can forget how she broke the silence

"We were two daughters of one race,"

or how she uttered the words,

"The wind is roaring in turret and tree."

It was like a scene in a great tragedy, and then I fully understood the
worship she had won as belonging only to those consummate artists who
have arisen to dignify and ennoble the lyric stage. As we left the house
Procter said, "You are in great luck to-night. I never heard her sing
more divinely."

The Poet frequently spoke to me of the old days when he was contributing
to the "London Magazine," which fifty years ago was deservedly so
popular in Great Britain. All the "best talent" (to use a modern
advertisement phrase) wrote for it. Carlyle sent his papers on Schiller
to be printed in it; De Quincey's "Confessions of an English
Opium-Eater" appeared in its pages; and the essays of "Elia" came out
first in that potent periodical; Landor, Keats, and John Bowring
contributed to it; and to have printed a prose or poetical article in
the "London" entitled a man to be asked to dine out anywhere in society
in those days. In 1821 the proprietors began to give dinners in Waterloo
Place once a month to their contributors, who, after the cloth was
removed, were expected to talk over the prospects of the magazine, and
lay out the contents for next month. Procter described to me the
authors of his generation as they sat round the old "mahogany-tree" of
that period. "Very social and expansive hours they passed in that
pleasant room half a century ago. Thither came stalwart Allan
Cunningham, with his Scotch face shining with good-nature; Charles Lamb,
'a Diogenes with the heart of a St. John'; Hamilton Reynolds, whose good
temper and vivacity were like condiments at a feast; John Clare, the
peasant-poet, simple as a daisy; Tom Hood, young, silent, and grave, but
who nevertheless now and then shot out a pun that damaged the shaking
sides of the whole company; De Quincey, self-involved and courteous,
rolling out his periods with a pomp and splendor suited, perhaps, to a
high Roman festival; and with these sons of fame gathered certain
nameless folk whose contributions to the great 'London' are now under
the protection of that tremendous power which men call _Oblivion_."

It was a vivid pleasure to hear Procter describe Edward Irving, the
eccentric preacher, who made such a deep impression on the spirit of his
time. He is now dislimned into space, but he was, according to all his
thoughtful contemporaries, a "son of thunder," a "giant force of
activity." Procter fully indorsed all that Carlyle has so nobly written
of the eloquent man who, dying at forty-two, has stamped his strong
personal vitality on the age in which he lived.

Procter, in his younger days, was evidently much impressed by that
clever rascal who, under the name of "Janus Weathercock," scintillated
at intervals in the old "London Magazine." Wainwright--for that was his
real name--was so brilliant, he made friends for a time among many of
the first-class contributors to that once famous periodical; but the Ten
Commandments ruined all his prospects for life. A murderer, a forger, a
thief,--in short, a sinner in general,--he came to grief rather early
in his wicked career, and suffered penalties of the law accordingly, but
never to the full extent of his remarkable deserts. I have heard Procter
describe his personal appearance as he came sparkling into the room,
clad in undress military costume. His smart conversation deceived those
about him into the belief that he had been an officer in the dragoons,
that he had spent a large fortune, and now condescended to take a part
in periodical literature with the culture of a gentleman and the grace
of an amateur. How this vapid charlatan in a braided surtout and
prismatic necktie could so long veil his real character from, and retain
the regard of, such men as Procter and Talfourd and Coleridge is
amazing. Lamb calls him the "kind and light-hearted Janus," and thought
he liked him. The contributors often spoke of his guileless nature at
the festal monthly board of the magazine, and no one dreamed that this
gay and mock-smiling London cavalier was about to begin a career so foul
and monstrous that the annals of crime for centuries have no blacker
pages inscribed on them. To secure the means of luxurious living without
labor, and to pamper his dandy tastes, this lounging, lazy _litterateur_
resolved to become a murderer on a large scale, and accompany his cruel
poisonings with forgeries whenever they were most convenient. His custom
for years was to effect policies of insurance on the lives of his
relations, and then at the proper time administer strychnine to his
victims. The heart sickens at the recital of his brutal crimes. On the
life of a beautiful young girl named Abercrombie this fiendish wretch
effected an insurance at various offices for L18,000 before he sent her
to her account with the rest of his poisoned too-confiding relatives. So
many heavily insured ladies dying in violent convulsions drew attention
to the gentleman who always called to collect the money. But why this
consummate criminal was not brought to justice and hung, my Lord Abinger
never satisfactorily divulged. At last this polished Sybarite, who
boasted that he always drank the richest Montepulciano, who could not
sit long in a room that was not garlanded with flowers, who said he felt
lonely in an apartment without a fine cast of the Venus de' Medici in
it,--this self-indulgent voluptuary at last committed several forgeries
on the Bank of England, and the Old Bailey sessions of July, 1837,
sentenced him to transportation for life. While he was lying in Newgate
prior to his departure, with other convicts, to New South Wales, where
he died, Dickens went with a former acquaintance of the prisoner to see
him. They found him still possessed with a morbid self-esteem and a poor
and empty vanity. All other feelings and interests were overwhelmed by
an excessive idolatry of self, and he claimed (I now quote his own words
to Dickens) a soul whose nutriment is love, and its offspring art,
music, divine song, and still holier philosophy. To the last this
super-refined creature seemed undisturbed by remorse. What place can we
fancy for such a reptile, and what do we learn from such a career?
Talfourd has so wisely summed up the whole case for us that I leave the
dark tragedy with the recital of this solemn sentence from a paper on
the culprit in the "Final Memorials of Charles Lamb": "Wainwright's
vanity, nurtured by selfishness and unchecked by religion, became a
disease, amounting perhaps to monomania, and yielding one lesson to
repay the world for his existence, viz. that there is no state of the
soul so dangerous as that in which the vices of the sensualist are
envenomed by the grovelling intellect of the scorner."

One of the men best worth meeting in London, under any circumstances,
was Leigh Hunt, but it was a special boon to find him and Procter
together. I remember a day in the summer of 1859 when Procter had a
party of friends at dinner to meet Hawthorne, who was then on a brief
visit to London. Among the guests were the Countess of ----, Kinglake,
the author of "Eothen," Charles Sumner, then on his way to Paris, and
Leigh Hunt, the mercurial qualities of whose blood were even then
perceptible in his manner.

Adelaide Procter did not reach home in season to begin the dinner with
us, but she came later in the evening, and sat for some time in earnest
talk with Hawthorne. It was a "goodly companie," long to be remembered.
Hunt and Procter were in a mood for gossip over the ruddy port. As the
twilight deepened around the table, which was exquisitely decorated with
flowers, the author of "Rimini" recalled to Procter's recollection other
memorable tables where they used to meet in vanished days with Lamb,
Coleridge, and others of their set long since passed away. As they
talked on in rather low tones, I saw the two old poets take hands more
than once at the mention of dead and beloved names. I recollect they had
a good deal of fine talk over the great singers whose voices had
delighted them in bygone days; speaking with rapture of Pasta, whose
tones in opera they thought incomparably the grandest musical utterances
they had ever heard. Procter's tribute in verse to this

"Queen and wonder of the enchanted world of sound"

is one of his best lyrics, and never was singer more divinely
complimented by poet. At the dinner I am describing he declared that she
walked on the stage like an empress, "and when she sang," said he, "I
held my breath." Leigh Hunt, in one of his letters to Procter in 1831,
says: "As to Pasta, I love her, for she makes the ground firm under my
feet, and the sky blue over my head."

I cannot remember all the good things I heard that day, but some of
them live in my recollection still. Hunt quoted Hartley Coleridge, who
said, "No boy ever imagined himself a poet while he was reading
Shakespeare or Milton." And speaking of Landor's oaths, he said, "They
are so rich, they are really nutritious." Talking of criticism, he said
he did not believe in spiteful imps, but in kindly elves who would "nod
to him and do him courtesies." He laughed at Bishop Berkeley's attempt
to destroy the world in one octavo volume. His doctrine to mankind
always was, "Enlarge your tastes, that you may enlarge your hearts." He
believed in reversing original propensities by education,--as
Spallanzani brought up eagles on bread and milk, and fed doves on raw
meat. "Don't let us demand too much of human nature," was a line in his
creed; and he believed in Hood's advice, that gentleness in a case of
wrong direction is always better than vituperation.

"Mid light, and by degrees, should be the plan
To cure the dark and erring mind;
But who would rush at a benighted man
And give him two black eyes for being blind?"

I recollect there was much converse that day on the love of reading in
old age, and Leigh Hunt observed that Sir Robert Walpole, seeing Mr. Fox
busy in the library at Houghton, said to him: "And you can read! Ah, how
I envy you! I totally neglected the _habit_ of reading when I was young,
and now in my old age I cannot read a single page." Hunt himself was a
man who could be "penetrated by a book." It was inspiring to hear him
dilate over "Plutarch's Morals," and quote passages from that delightful
essay on "The Tranquillity of the Soul." He had such reverence for the
wisdom folded up on his library shelves, he declared that the very
perusal of the _backs of his books_ was "a discipline of humanity."
Whenever and wherever I met this charming person, I learned a lesson of
gentleness and patience; for, steeped to the lips in poverty as he was,
he was ever the most cheerful, the most genial companion and friend. He
never left his good-nature outside the family circle, as a Mussulman
leaves his slippers outside a mosque, but he always brought a smiling
face into the house with him. T---- A----, whose fine floating wit has
never yet quite condensed itself into a star, said one day of a Boston
man that he was "east-wind made flesh." Leigh Hunt was exactly the
opposite of this; he was compact of all the spicy breezes that blow. In
his bare cottage at Hammersmith the temperament of his fine spirit
heaped up such riches of fancy that kings, if wise ones, might envy his
magic power.

"Onward in faith, and leave the rest to Heaven,"

was a line he often quoted. There was about him such a modest fortitude
in want and poverty, such an inborn mental superiority to low and
uncomfortable circumstances, that he rose without effort into a region
encompassed with felicities, untroubled by a care or sorrow. He always
reminded me of that favorite child of the genii who carried an amulet in
his bosom by which all the gold and jewels of the Sultan's halls were no
sooner beheld than they became his own. If he sat down companionless to
a solitary chop, his imagination transformed it straightway into a fine
shoulder of mutton. When he looked out of his dingy old windows on the
four bleak elms in front of his dwelling, he saw, or thought he saw, a
vast forest, and he could hear in the note of one poor sparrow even the
silvery voices of a hundred nightingales. Such a man might often be cold
and hungry, but he had the wit never to be aware of it.

Hunt's love for Procter was deep and tender, and in one of his notes to
me he says, referring to the meeting my memory has been trying to
describe, "I have reasons for liking our dear friend Procter's wine
beyond what you saw when we dined together at his table the other day."
Procter prefixed a memoir of the life and writings of Ben Jonson to the
great dramatist's works printed by Moxon in 1838. I happen to be the
lucky owner of a copy of this edition that once belonged to Leigh Hunt,
who has enriched it and perfumed the pages, as it were, by his
annotations. The memoir abounds in felicities of expression, and is the
best brief chronicle yet made of rare Ben and his poetry. Leigh Hunt has
filled the margins with his own neat handwriting, and as I turn over the
leaves, thus companioned, I seem to meet those two loving brothers in
modern song, and have again the benefit of their sweet society,--a
society redolent of

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books."

I shall not soon forget the first morning I walked with Procter and
Kenyon to the famous house No 22 St. James Place, overlooking the Green
Park, to a breakfast with Samuel Rogers. Mixed up with this matutinal
rite was much that belongs to the modern literary and political history
of England. Fox, Burke, Talleyrand, Grattan, Walter Scott, and many
other great ones have sat there and held converse on divers matters with
the banker-poet. For more than half a century the wits and the wise men
honored that unpretending mansion with their presence. On my way thither
for the first time my companions related anecdote after anecdote of the
"ancient bard," as they called our host, telling me also how all his
life long the poet of Memory had been giving substantial aid to poor
authors; how he had befriended Sheridan, and how good he had been to
Campbell in his sorest needs. Intellectual or artistic excellence was a
sure passport to his _salon_, and his door never turned on reluctant
hinges to admit the unfriended man of letters who needed his aid and

We arrived in quite an expectant mood, to find our host already seated
at the head of his table, and his good man Edmund standing behind his
chair. As we entered the room, and I saw Rogers sitting there so
venerable and strange, I was reminded of that line of Wordsworth's,

"The oldest man he seemed that ever wore gray hair."

But old as he was, he seemed full of _verve_, vivacity, and decision.
Knowing his homage for Ben Franklin, I had brought to him as a gift from
America an old volume issued by the patriot printer in 1741. He was
delighted with my little present, and began at once to say how much he
thought of Franklin's prose. He considered the style admirable, and
declared that it might be studied now for improvement in the art of
composition. One of the guests that morning was the Rev. Alexander Dyce,
the scholarly editor of Beaumont and Fletcher, and he very soon drew
Rogers out on the subject of Warren Hastings's trial. It seemed ghostly
enough to hear that famous event depicted by one who sat in the great
hall of William Rufus; who day after day had looked on and listened to
the eloquence of Fox and Sheridan; who had heard Edmund Burke raise his
voice till the old arches of Irish oak resounded, and impeach Warren
Hastings, "in the name of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the
name of every rank, as the common enemy and oppressor of all." It
thrilled me to hear Rogers say, "As I walked up Parliament Street with
Mrs. Siddons, after hearing Sheridan's great speech, we both agreed that
never before could human lips have uttered more eloquent words." That
morning Rogers described to us the appearance of Grattan as he first
saw and heard him when he made his first speech in Parliament. "Some of
us were inclined to laugh," said he, "at the orator's Irish brogue when
he began his speech that day, but after he had been on his legs five
minutes nobody dared to laugh any more." Then followed personal
anecdotes of Madame De Stael, the Duke of Wellington, Walter Scott, Tom
Moore, and Sydney Smith, all exquisitely told. Both our host and his
friend Procter had known or entertained most of the celebrities of their
day. Procter soon led the conversation up to matters connected with the
stage, and thinking of John Kemble and Edmund Kean, I ventured to ask
Rogers who of all the great actors he had seen bore away the palm. "I
have looked upon a magnificent procession of them," he said, "in my
time, and I never saw any one superior to _David Garrick_." He then
repeated Hannah More's couplet on receiving as a gift from Mrs. Garrick
the shoe-buckles which once belonged to the great actor:--

"Thy buckles, O Garrick, another may use,
but none shall be found who can tread in thy shoes"

We applauded his memory and his manner of reciting the lines, which
seemed to please him. "How much can sometimes be put into an epigram!"
he said to Procter, and asked him if he remembered the lines about Earl
Grey and the Kaffir war. Procter did not recall them, and Rogers set off

"A dispute has arisen of late at the Cape,
As touching the devil, his color and shape;
While some folks contend that the devil is white,
The others aver that he's black as midnight;
But now't is decided quite right in this way,
And all are convinced that the devil is _Grey_."

We asked him if he remembered the theatrical excitement in London when
Garrick and his troublesome contemporary, Barry, were playing King Lear
at rival houses, and dividing the final opinion of the critics. "Yes,"
said he, "perfectly. I saw both those wonderful actors, and fully agreed
at the time with the admirable epigram that ran like wildfire into every
nook and corner of society." "Did the epigram still live in his memory?"
we asked. The old man seemed looking across the misty valley of time for
a few moments, and then gave it without a pause:--

"The town have chosen different ways
To praise their different Lears;
To Barry they give loud applause,
To Garrick only tears.

"A king! ay, every inch a king,
Such Barry doth appear;
But Garrick's quite another thing,--
He's every inch _King Lear!_"

Among other things which Rogers told us that morning, I remember he had
much to say of Byron's _forgetfulness_ as to all manner of things. As an
evidence of his inaccuracy, Rogers related how the noble bard had once
quoted to him some lines on Venice as Southey's, "which he wanted me to
admire," said Rogers; "and as I wrote them myself, I had no hesitation
in doing so. The lines are in my poem on Italy, and begin,

"'There is a glorious city in the sea.'"

Samuel Lawrence had recently painted in oils a portrait of Rogers, and
we asked to see it; so Edmund was sent up stairs to get it, and bring it
to the table. Rogers himself wished to compare it with his own face, and
had a looking-glass held before him. We sat by in silence as he regarded
the picture attentively, and waited for his criticism. Soon he burst out
with, "Is my nose so d----y sharp as that?" We all exclaimed, "No! no!
the artist is at fault there, sir." "I thought so," he cried; "he has
painted the face of a dead man, d--n him!" Some one said, "The portrait
is too hard." "I won't be painted as a hard man," rejoined Rogers. "I am
not a hard man, am I, Procter?" asked the old poet. Procter deprecated
with energy such an idea as that. Looking at the portrait again, Rogers
said, with great feeling, "Children would run away from that face, and
they never ran away from me!" Notwithstanding all he had to say against
the portrait, I thought it a wonderful likeness, and a painting of great
value. Moxon, the publisher, who was present, asked for a certain
portfolio of engraved heads which had been made from time to time of
Rogers, and this was brought and opened for our examination of its
contents. Rogers insisted upon looking over the portraits, and he amused
us by his cutting comments on each one as it came out of the portfolio.
"This," said he, holding one up, "is the head of a cunning fellow, and
this the face of a debauched clergyman, and this the visage of a
shameless drunkard!" After a comic discussion of the pictures of
himself, which went on for half an hour, he said, "It is time to change
the topic, and set aside the little man for a very great one. Bring me
my collection of Washington portraits." These were brought in, and he
had much to say of American matters. He remembered being told, when a
boy, by his father one day, that "a fight had recently occurred at a
place called Bunker Hill, in America." He then inquired about Webster
and the monument. He had met Webster in England, and greatly admired
him. Now and then his memory was at fault, and he spoke occasionally of
events as still existing which had happened half a century before. I
remember what a shock it gave me when he asked me if Alexander Hamilton
had printed any new pamphlets lately, and begged me to send him anything
that distinguished man might publish after I got home to America.

I recollect how delighted I was when Rogers sent me an invitation the
second time to breakfast with him. On that occasion the poet spoke of
being in Paris on a pleasure-tour with Daniel Webster, and he grew
eloquent over the great American orator's genius. He also referred with
enthusiasm to Bryant's poetry, and quoted with deep feeling the first
three verses of "The Future Life." When he pronounced the lines:--

"My name on earth was ever in thy prayer,
And must thou never utter it in heaven?"

his voice trembled, and he faltered out, "I cannot go on: there is
something in that poem which breaks me down, and I must never try again
to recite verses so full of tenderness and undying love."

For Longfellow's poems, then just published in England, he expressed the
warmest admiration, and thought the author of "Voices of the Night" one
of the most perfect artists in English verse who had ever lived.

Rogers's reminiscences of Holland House that morning were a series of
delightful pictures painted by an artist who left out none of the
salient features, but gave to everything he touched a graphic reality.
In his narrations the eloquent men, the fine ladies, he had seen there
assembled again around their noble host and hostess, and one listened in
the pleasant breakfast-room in St. James Place to the wit and wisdom of
that brilliant company which met fifty years ago in the great _salon_ of
that princely mansion, which will always be famous in the literary and
political history of England.

Rogers talked that morning with inimitable finish and grace of
expression. A light seemed to play over his faded features when he
recalled some happy past experience, and his eye would sometimes fill as
he glanced back among his kindred, all now dead save one, his sister,
who also lived to a great age. His head was very fine, and I never


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