« ПредишнаНапред »
said Scott, “he is sure, is not at his ease,—to say the best of it.” Lord, Lord, if these home-keeping minstrels had crossed your Atlantic or my Mediterranean, and tasted a little open boating in a white squall—or a gale in “the Gut”-or the “Bay of Biscay," with no gale at all—how it would enliven and introduce them to a few of the sensations !-to say nothing of an illicit amour or two upon shore, in the way of essay upon the Passions, beginning with simple adultery, and compounding it as they went along.
(1814, August 3. Letter 483, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 119.) Depend—and perpend-upon it that your opinion of Scott's poem (given in a letter to Messrs Longman, Hurst, Orme, Rees, Brown and Co.] will travel through one or other of the quintuple correspondents, till it reaches the ear, and the liver of the author. Your adventure, however, is truly laughable—but how could you be such a potatoe? You a “brother” (of the quill) too, “near the throne,” to confide to a man's own publisher (who has “bought” or rather sold, "golden opinions" about him) such a damnatory parenthesis ! “Between you and me,” quotha--it reminds me of a passage in the Heir-at-Law—“Têteà-tête with Lady Duberly, I suppose.”—“No-tête-àtête with five hundred people ;” and your confidential communication (concerning The Lord of the Isles] will doubtless be in circulation to that amount, in a short time, with several additions, and in several letters, all signed L. H. R. O. B., etc., etc., etc.
(1815, March 8. Letter 530, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 184.)
“GREAT WITS TO MADNESS NEAR ALLIED” 135
It will give me great pleasure to comply with your request, though I hope there is still taste enough left amongst us to render it almost unnecessary, sordid and interested as, it must be admitted, many of “the trade” are, where circumstances give them an advantage. I trust you do not permit yourself to be depressed by the temporary partiality of what is called “the public” for the favourites of the moment; all experience is against the permanency of such impressions. You must have lived to see many of these pass away, and will survive many more—I mean personally, for poetically, I would not insult you by a comparison.
(1815, March 31. Letter 532, to Samuel
Taylor Coleridge, Vol. III., p. 190.)
The paper on the Methodists [written in the Examiner] I redde, and agree with the writer on one point, in which you and he perhaps differ; that an addiction to poetry is very generally the result of
an uneasy mind in an uneasy body”; disease or deformity have been the attendants of many of our best.
Collins mad-Chatterton, I think, madCowper mad—Pope crooked—Milton blind-Gray (I have heard that the last was afflicted by an incurable and very grievous distemper, though not generally known) and others—I have somewhere read, however, that poets rarely go mad. I suppose the writer means that their insanity effervesces and evaporates in verse—may be so.
(1815, November. Letter 562, to Leigh
Hunt, Vol. III., p. 247.)
I have not done a stitch of poetry since I left Switzerland, and have not, at present, the estro upon me: the truth is, that you are afraid of having a 4' Canto [of Childe Harold] before September, and of another copyright; but I have at present no thoughts of resuming that poem nor of beginning any other. If I write, I think of trying prose; but I dread introducing living people, or applications which might be made to living people : perhaps one day or other, I may attempt some work of fancy in prose, descriptive of Italian manners and of human passions; but at present I am preoccupied. As for poesy, mine is the dream of my sleeping Passions; when they are awake, I cannot speak their language, only in their Somnambulism, and just now they are not dormant.
(1817, January 2. Letter 624, to John
Murray, Vol. IV., p. 43.)
If I live ten years longer, you will see, however, that it is not over with me—I don't mean in literature, for that is nothing; and it may seem odd enough to say, I do not think it my vocation. But you will see that I shall do something or other—the times and fortune permitting-that, "like the cosmogony, or creation of the world, will puzzle the philosophers of all ages." But I doubt whether my constitution will hold out. I have, at intervals, exorcised it most devilishly.
(1817, February 28. Letter 631, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. IV., p. 62.
Some weeks ago I wrote to you my acknowledgments of W[alter] S[cott]'s article. Now I know it to be his, it cannot add to my good opinion of him,
AUTHORS' QUARRELS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS 137
but it adds to that of myself. He, and Gifford, and Moore, are the only regulars I ever knew who had nothing of the Garrison about their manner : nonsense, nor affectation, look you! As for the rest whom I have known, there was always more or less of the author about them—the pen peeping from behind the ear, and the thumbs a little inky, or so.
(1817, March 25. Letter 639, to John
Murray, Vol. IV., p. 85.)
you see our republican friend, Leigh Hunt, pray present my remembrances. I saw about nine months ago that he was in a row (like my friend Hobhouse) with the Quarterly Reviewers. For my part, I never could understand these quarrels of authors with critics and with one another. “For God's sake, gentlemen, what do they mean ?”
(1817, March 31. Letter 640, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. IV., p. 89.) Why you persist in saying nothing of the thing itself [i.e. Manfred], I am at a loss to conjecture. If it is for fear of telling me something disagreeable, you are wrong; because sooner or later I must know it, and I am not so new, nor so raw, nor so inexperienced, as not to be able to bear, not the mere paltry, petty disappointments of authorship, but things more serious,--at least I hope so, and that what you may think irritability is merely mechanical, and only acts like Galvanism on a dead body, or the muscular motion which survives sensation.
(1817, August 12. Letter 668, to John
Murray, Vol. IV., p. 157.)
Your new Canto [Childe Harold, Canto 4th] has expanded to one hundred and sixty-seven stanzas. It will be long, you see; and as for the notes by Hobhouse, I suspect they will be of the heroic size. You must keep M' Hol house in good humour, for he is devilishly touchy yet about your Review and all which it inherits, including the Editor, the Admiralty, and its_bookseller (John Murray). I used to think that I was a good deal of an author in amour propre and noli me tangere; but these prose fellows are worst, after all, about their little comforts.
(1817, November 15. Letter 679, to John
Murray, Vol. IV., p. 182.) My correspondences with England are mostly on business, and chiefly with my attorney [John Hanson), who has no very exalted notion, or extensive conception, of an author's attributes; for he once took up an Edinburgh Review, and looking at it a minute, said to me, “So, I see you have got into the magazine, --which is the only sentence I ever heard him utter upon literary matters, or the men thereof.
(1818, September 19. Letter 715, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. IV., p. 257.)
So you and M' Foscolo [an Italian patriot and poet settled in London, contributor to the Quarterly], etc., want me to undertake what you call a "great work ” ? an Epic poem, I suppose, or some such pyramid. I'll try no such thing ; I hate tasks. And then “seven or eight years !” God send us all well this day three months, let alone years. If one's years can't be better employed than in sweating