LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of Writers
Chapter IX

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
‣ Chapter IX
John Keats
Charles Lamb
Mary Lamb
Leigh Hunt
Douglas Jerrold
Charles Dickens
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Publishers—Critics—George James De Wilde—James Lamb—Thomas Pickering—Thomas Latimer—Isaac Latimer—Alexander Ireland—Samuel Timmins—Mary Balmanno—Austin Allibone—Dr. Charles Steams—Rev. Dr. Scadding—Mr. and Mrs. Horace Howard Fumess—John Watson Dalby—Mr. and Mrs. Townshend Mayer—Edmund Ollier—Gerald Massey—William Lowes Rushton—Frederick Rule—Dr. C. M. Ingleby—Alexander Main—His Excellency George Perkins Marsh—Mrs. John Farrar—Mrs. Somerville—Mr. and Mrs. Pulszky—Miss Thackeray—Mrs. William Grey—Miss Shirreff—John Bell—Edward Novello—Barbara Guschl—(Mme. Gleitsman)—Clara Angela Macirone—Mme. Henrietta Moritz—Herbert New—x—Rev. John Gordon—Mrs. Stirling—Bryan Waller Procter—James T. Fields—Celia Thaxter.

The present compliance with the wish expressed that we should record our Recollections of pleasant people we have known, leads us to include our personal experience of publishers—generally supposed, by an absurd popular fallacy, to be anything but “pleasant people” to authors. We, on the contrary, have found them to be invariably obliging, considerate, and liberal. Besides, without publishers where would authors be? Evermore in manuscript! worst of limbos to a writer!

There is another class of men connected with authors,
and themselves writers, against whom an unfounded prejudice has existed which we are well qualified to refute. We allude to critics; generally supposed to be sour, acrimonious, spiteful, even—venomous. Cruelly are they maligned by such an imputation; for the most part inclined to say an encouraging word, if possible; and rather given to pat a young author on the head than to quell him by a sneer or a knock-down blow. At least this is our experience of literary reviewers. Who that knew thee, dear lost
George James De Wilde, will accuse criticism of asperity? Who that saw thy bland, benign countenance, beaming with a look of universal good-will, as though it expressed affectionate fraternity of feeling toward all human kind, could imagine thee other than the gentle and lenient critic on moderately good attempts, and the largely, keenly appreciative critic on excellent productions that thou really wert? What shall replace to us thy ever elegant and eloquent pen? What may console us for the vacancy left in our life from missing thy hearty sympathy with whatever we wrote, or thy loving comment upon whatever we published, making thy circle of readers in the columns of the Northampton Mercury take interest in us and our writings from the sheer influence of thy genial, hearty discriminative notices? Another kindly critic whose loss we have to deplore is James Lamb, of Paisley, warm-hearted, generous in praise, unfailing in prompt greeting for everything we produced. These men are lost, alas! to friends on earth, though not to their ever-grateful remembrance.

Among those still alive, thank Heaven, to encourage in print our endeavours, and to interchange charities of affectionate correspondence with us, are others, who, amid active public and professional work, have found
time to write admirable critiques on literature or music in their local journals. Forgive us for openly naming thee—
Thomas Pickering,1 of Royston, one of the earliest to promote our lecture views, to cause us to deliver our maiden lecture (on Chaucer) in the Mechanics’ Institute of thy town; to receive us into thine own house; to let thy young daughters vie with each other who should be the privileged bearer of the MS. Lecture-book to the Lecture Hall; to incite re-engagement year after year; to write pleasant notices of each successive lecture; to pen kindly reviews of every fresh-written work; and, in short, to combine friend and critic with indefatigable zeal and spirit. Excellent listener to music! Excellent enjoyer of all things good and beautiful and tasteful and artistic! Ever full of energy on behalf of those once loved and esteemed by thee, whom we playfully dubbed Thomas Pickering, Esq., F.A. (meaning “Frightful Activity”), take not amiss these our publicly expressed acknowledgments of thy unceasing goodness; but remember the title by which thou best lovest to call thyself—“Vincent Novello’s pupil in musical appreciation and culture”—and take the mention in a tender spirit of pleasure for his sake.

We beg kindred indulgence from thee, Thomas Latimer, of Exeter, whose delicious gift of dainty Devonshire cream, sent by the hands of her husband to thy personally unknown “Concordantia,” as thou styledst her, still lingers in delicate suavity of remembered taste on the memory-palate of its recipient; together with the manifold creamy and most welcome eulogiums of her literary efforts that have flowed from thy friendly-partial

1 1878. Now, alas! dead. M. C. C.

pen. Like thanks to thee,
Isaac Latimer, of Plymouth, for like critical and kindly services; and to thee, Samuel Timmins, of Birmingham, for a long series of courtesies, thoughtful, constant, cordial, as various in nature as gracefully rendered. Lastly, what may we say to thee, Alexander Ireland, of Manchester, warm friend, racy correspondent? In Shakespeare’s words, “We’ll speak to thee in silence;” for we have so lately had the supreme pleasure of seeing thee eye to eye, of shaking hands with thee, of welcoming thee and thy “other self” in this Italy of ours, that here on paper we may well deny ourselves the gratification of putting more down than thy mere deeply loved name.

Another set of friends from whom we have derived large gratification, and to whom we owe special thanks, are our unknown correspondents; personally unknown, but whose persons are well known to our imagination, and whose hearts and minds are patent to our knowledge in their spontaneous outpourings by letter. Of one—now, alas, no more!—we knew as much through a long series of many-paged letters, sent during a period of several years, as we could have done had we met him at dinner-party after dinner-party for a similar length of time. He introduced himself by a quaint and original mode of procedure, which will be described when we come to Douglas Jerrold’s letters; he took delight in making an idol and ideal of his correspondent, calling her his “daughter in love,” and his “Shakespearian daughter;” and he scarcely let many weeks pass by without sending her a letter of two sheets closely covered with very small handwriting across the Atlantic from Brooklyn to Bayswater, Nice, or Genoa. Since we lost him, his dear widow follows his affectionate course of keeping up
correspondence with his chosen “daughter in love;” writing the most spirited, clever descriptive letters of people, incidents, and local scenes.
Mary Balmanno2 is the authoress of a pleasant volume entitled “Pen and Pencil;” and she wrote the “Pocahontas” for M. C. C. in her “World-noted Women.” She is as skilful artistically as literarily, for she sent over two beautiful water-colour groups she painted of all the Fruits and all the Flowers mentioned by Shakespeare, as a gift to M. C. C., which now adorn the library where the present recollections are being written.

Austin Allibone, author of that grand monument of literary industry, the “Critical Dictionary of English Literature;” Dr. Charles Stearns, author of “The Shakespeare Treasury,” and of “Shakespeare’s Medical Knowledge;” the Rev. Dr. Scadding, author of “Shakespeare, the Seer, the Interpreter;” and the admirable Shakespearian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Horace Howard Furness—he devoting himself to indefatigable labours in producing the completest Variorum Edition of the world’s great poet dramatist ever yet brought out; and she dedicating several years to the compilation of a “Concordance to Shakespeare’s Poems”—are all visible to our mind’s eye, in their own individual personalities, through their friendly, delightful, familiarly-affectionate letters, sent over the wide waters of the ocean from America to England; making us feel towards them as intimates, and to think of them and ourselves in Camillo’s words:—“They have seemed to be together, though absent; shook hands, as over a vast; and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds.”

2 1878, Now also dead. M. C. C.


Among our cherished unknown correspondents of long standing in kindliness of quietly-felt yet earnestly-shown regard, is John Watson Dalby, author of “Tales, Songs, and Sonnets;” also his accomplished son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Townshend Mayer, of whom (in her childhood) Leigh Hunt spoke affectionately as “mad-cap,” and with whom (in her matronhood) Procter confessed in one of his letters to us that he had fallen secretly in love when he was eighty years of age.

Another pleasant feature in our unknown correspondentship has been the renewal in a second generation of friendships commenced in a first. Thus we have derived double delight from letter intercourse with the author of “Poems from the Greek Mythology; and Miscellaneous Poems. By Edmund Ollier.”

In Shakespearian correspondents—personally unknown yet familiarly acquainted by means of the “one touch of Shakespeare” (or “Nature” almost synonymous!) that “makes the whole world kin”—we have been, and still are, most rich. Gerald Massey, that true poet, and author of the interesting book “Shakespeare’s Sonnets and his Private Friends;” William Lowes Rushton, who commenced a series of several valuable pamphlets on Shakespearian subjects by his excellent one “Shakespeare a Lawyer;” Frederick Rule, a frequent and intelligent contributor on Shakespearian subjects to Notes and Queries, and Dr. C. M. Ingleby, whose elaborate and erudite Shakespeare Commentaries scarcely more interest us than his graphic accounts, in his most agreeable letters, of his pleasantly-named country residence, “Valentines,” with its chief ornament, his equally-pleasantly-named daughter, “Rose.”

A delightful correspondent, that we owed to the loving
brotherhood in affection for
Shakespeare which makes fast friends of people in all parts of the world and inspires attachments between persons dwelling at remotest distance from each other, is Alexander Main, who formed into a choice volume “The Wise, Witty, and Tender Sayings, in Prose and Verse, of George Eliot,” and produced another entitled “The Life and Conversations of Dr. Samuel Johnson (founded chiefly upon Boswell).” For a full decade have we continued to receive from him frank, spontaneous, effusive letters, fraught with tokens of a young, enthusiastic, earnest nature, deeply imbued with the glories of poetry and the inmost workings of human nature—more especially, as legibly evolved in the pages of William Shakespeare.

To the same link of association we are indebted for another eminent correspondent—His Excellency, George Perkins Marsh—also personally unknown to us; yet who favours us, from his elevation as a distinguished philologist and as a man of high position, with interchange of letters, and even by entrusting us for more than two years with a rare work of the Elizabethan era which we wanted to consult during our task of editing the greatest writer of that or any other period. The above is stated in no vaunting spirit, but in purest desire to show how happy such kind friendships, impersonal but solidly firm, make those who have never beheld more than the mere handwriting of their unknown (but well-known) correspondents.

Although we left our beloved native England in 1856 to live abroad, we ceased not occasionally to become acquainted with persons whom it is honour and delight to know. While we were living at Nice we learned to know, esteem, and love Mrs. John Farrar, of Springfield, Massa-
chusetts, authoress of a charming little volume entitled, “
The Young Lady’s Friend,” and “Recollections of Seventy Years.” She passed one or two winters at Nice, and continued her correspondence with us after she returned to America, giving us animated descriptions of the civil war there as it progressed. To Mrs. Somerville we were first introduced at Turin; she afterwards visited us in Genoa; and latterly interchanged letters with us from Naples. She was as mild “and of ‘her’ porte as meek as is a maid;” utterly free from pretension or assumption of any sort; she might have been a perfect ignorama, for anything of didactic or dictatorial that appeared in her mode of speech: nay, ’tis ten to one that an ignoramus would have talked flippantly and pertly while Mary Somerville sat silent; or given an opinion with gratuitous impertinence and intrepidity when Mrs. Somerville could have given hers with modesty and pertinent ability: for, mostly, Mrs. Somerville refrained from speaking upon subjects that involved opinion or knowledge, or science; rather seeming to prefer the most simple, ordinary, every-day topics. On one occasion we were having some music when she came to see us, and she begged my brother, Alfred Novello, to continue the song he was singing, which chanced to be Samuel Lover’s pretty Irish ballad, “Molly Bawn.” At its conclusion Mrs. Somerville was sportively asked whether she agreed with the astronomical theory propounded in the passage,—
The Stars above are brightly shining,
Because they’ve nothing else to do.
And she replied, with the Scottish accent that gave characteristic inflection to her utterance, “Well—I’m not just prepared to say they don’t do so.”


Mr. and Mrs. Pulszky, in passing through Genoa on their way to Florence, were introduced to us, and afterwards made welcome my youngest sister, Sabilla Novello, at their house there, while a concert and some tableaux vivants were got up by the Pulszkys to buy off a promising young violinist from conscription; showing—in their own home circle with their boys and girls about them—what plain “family people” and unaffected domestic pair the most celebrated personages can often be.

Not very long ago a lady friend brought to our house the authoress of “The Story of Elizabeth,” “The Village on the Cliff,” “Old Kensington,” and “Bluebeard’s Keys,” giving us fresh cause to feel how charmingly simple-mannered, quiet, and unostentatious the cleverest persons usually are. While we looked at Miss Thackeray’s soft eyes, and listened to her gentle, musical voice, we felt this truth ever more and more impressed upon us, and thanked her in our heart for confirming us in our long-held belief on the point.

Letters of introduction bringing us the pleasure of knowing Mrs. William Grey, authoress of “Idols of Society,” and numerous pamphlets on the Education of Women, with her sister Miss Shirreff, editress of the “Journal of the Women’s Educational Union,” afforded additional evidence of this peculiar modesty and unpretendingness in superiorly-gifted women; for they are both living instances of this noteworthy fact.

A welcome advent was that of John Bell, the eminent sculptor, who produced the exquisite statue of Shakespeare in the attitude of reflection, and several most graceful tercentenary tributes in relievo to the Poet-Dramatist: especially beautiful the one embodying the charming invention of making the rays of glory round
the head consist of the titles of his immortal dramas. Beyond John Bell’s artistic merit, he possesses peculiar interest for us in having been a fellow-student with our lost artist brother
Edward Novello, at Mr. Sass’s academy for design in early years.

Three enchanting visits we had from super-excellent lady pianists: Barbara Guschl (now Madame Gleitsmann), Clara Angela Macirone, and Madame Henrietta Moritz, Hummel’s niece; all three indulging us to our hearts’ content with the divine art of music during the whole time of their stay.

A pleasant afternoon was spent here in receiving delightful Herbert New, author of some sonnets on Keats, to which we can sincerely give the high praise of saying they are worthy of their subject, and also author of some charming little books upon the picturesque English locality in which he lives, the Vale of Evesham. To this single day’s knowledge of him and to his fresh, graphically-written letters, we owe many a pleasant thought.

The Rev. Alexander Gordon, too, brought us news here of our long-esteemed friend, his father, the Rev. John Gordon, of Kenilworth; both men of real talent and literary accomplishment. Mrs. Stirling, of Edinburgh, renewed acquaintance with us here in a foreign land, when she and her husband visited Genoa. Dear Alexander Ireland, author of a valuable chronological and critical list of Lamb’s, Hazlitt’s, and Leigh Hunt’s writings, brought over the wife who has made the happiness of his latter years to make our acquaintance, and give, by the enchanting talk pressed into a few days’ stay, endless matter for enlivening memories. Honoured Bryan Waller Procter wrote us a sprightly graceful letter
as late as 1868; the sprightliness and the grace touched with tender earnestness, as in the course of the letter he makes allusion to
Vincent Novello aemotionsnd to Leigh Hunt. Last, not least among the pleasures of communion with distinguished people that we have enjoyed since we have been domiciled in Italy, we rejoice in the renewal of intercourse with James T. Fields, of Boston; to whom we were introduced while in England several years ago. His bright, genial, vivacious letters bring animation and excitement to our breakfast-table whenever they arrive: for the post is generally delivered during that fresh, cheery meal: the reports of his spirited lectures “On Charles Lamb,” “On Longfellow,” “On Masters of the Situation,” and on many attractive subjects besides, come with the delightful effect of evening-delivered discourses shedding added brilliancy on the morning hour: while his “Yesterdays with Authors” afforded several happy readings-aloud by one of us to the other, as she indulged in her favourite needle-work. To cordial, friendliest Mr. Fields we owe our knowledge of a most original, most poetical, most unique little volume, called “Among the Isles of Shoals;” and likewise sweet, ingenuous, characteristic letters from its author, Celia Thaxter: who seems to us to be a pearl among women-writers.

In coming to a close of this portion of our Recollections of Writers known to us, we look back relieved from the sense of anxiety that beset us at its outset, when we contemplated the almost bewildering task of selection and arrangement amid such heaps of material as lay stored in unsorted mingledom within the cells of our brain: and now we can take some pleasure in hoping that it is put into at least readable form. To us, this gallery of memory-portraits is substantial; and its figures,
while they presented themselves to our remembrance in succession, arose vivid and individual and distinct as any of those immortal portraits limned by
Titian, Vandyck, Velasquez, or our own Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, and Lawrence. To have succeeded in giving even a faint shadow of our own clearly-seen images will be something to reward us for the pains it has cost us; for it has been a task at once painful and pleasurable. Painful in recalling so many dearly loved and daily seen that can never again be embraced or beheld on earth; pleasurable in remembering so many still spared to cheer and bless our life. Sometimes, when lying awake during those long night-watches, stretched on a bed the very opposite to that described by the wise old friar—
But where unbruised youth, with unstuff’d brain,
Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign;
—we, unable to enjoy that lulling vacancy of thought, are fain to occupy many a sleepless hour by calling up these mind-portraits, and passing in review those who in themselves and in their memories have been a true beatitude to us. We behold them in almost material shape, and in spiritual vision, hoping to meet them where we trust to have fully solved those many forms of the “Great Why and Wherefore” that have so often and so achingly perplexed us in this beautiful but imperfect state of existence.

By day, our eyes feasting on the magnitude and magnificence of the unrivalled scene around us—blue expanse of sea, vast stretch of coast crowned by mountain ranges softened by olive woods and orange groves, with above all the cloudless sky, sun-lighted and sparkling, we often find ourselves ejaculating, “Ah, if Jerrold could have
seen this!” “Ah, how
Holmes would have enjoyed this!”—and ardently wishing for those we have known to be with us upon this beautiful Genoese promontory; making them still, as well as we can, companions in our pleasurable emotions, and feeling, through all, that indeed

A “loving friendship” is a joy for ever.