Shelley, a poem, with other writings relating to Shelley, to which is added an essay on the poems of William Blake/Correspondence between James Thomson and W. M. Rossetti

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CORRESPONDENCE

BETWEEN JAMES THOMSON AND WILLIAM

MICHAEL ROSSETTI.


8th Feby. 1872.

Dear Sir,

MR. BRADLAUGH has forwarded me your letter of the 4th inst., and I know not how to thank you for your very generous expression of approval of the Weddah and Om-el-Bonain. In sending you this piece I had indeed some slight hope of obtaining the verdict of so distinguished and competent a judge; but I chiefly intended it as a sort of apology for my very inadequate notice in the National Reformer last March of your popular edition of Shelley, written at the request of my friend Mr. Bradlaugh when I had no leisure for anything like a fair attempt to examine and discuss that work properly. Feeling not at all contented with such treatment of Shelley and yourself, I was anxious to show that your too off-hand critic was nevertheless a genuine lover of the poet to whom you have devoted so much worthy labour, and a serious student of poetry. To clear up your doubt permit me to state that no living writer can have much less reputation than myself, who am simply known to some readers of the National Reformer as B. V. the author of many pieces and scraps in prose and verse which have appeared in that periodical during the last seven years or so. And I am bound in honesty to confess that some of those pieces were among the most wicked and blasphemous which even Mr. Bradlaugh ever published. The only production in reputable society which I can cite in my favour is "Sunday up the River: an Idyll of Cockaigne," which Mr. Froude inserted in Fraser's Magazine for October '69, and which he and Mr. Kingsley thought very good. The Weddah and Om-el-Bonain Mr. Froude rejected, finding the story beautiful, and the treatment excellent in arrangement and conception, but deficient in melody of versification, in smoothness and sweetness, much less finished in style than the Idyll. Both pieces have been refused by four or five of our chief magazines to which they were sent.

I hope that you will pardon me for saying so much about myself, as I have only done so because your letter seemed to indicate a desire to know something on the subject.

The praise of two such men as yourself and your brother, however much kindliness may have tempered your judgment, is very valuable to me, and I am truly grateful for the generous promptitude and cordiality with which you have rendered it to an obscure stranger.

While to the public I wish to remain anonymous as a writer, I have no wish to shroud myself from persons I esteem, and am happy to sign myself your obliged and faithful servant

James Thomson.


2nd March, 1872.

Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for your very kind letter of the 25th ult., and for your too-liberal offer of a copy of your complete edition of Shelley. While I do not like to refuse the honour of this gift from you, I must really protest against your attacking me suddenly with so valuable a present on such insignificant and unintentional provocation. It is one among the works of our higher literature which during the last three or four years I have put off reading, waiting for more settled leisure to study them as they ought to be studied. I will do my best to profit by it, and should any notes occur to me which I can think worth your attention will submit them to you frankly.

I regret that you have been put to the trouble of procuring the number of Fraser, which I could not offer to send you, having no copy left. Your judgment on the relative merits of the Idyll and Weddah confirms my own. I was aware that the former as a piece of pure pleasantness was more smooth and easy in style than the latter, but I knew also that the latter in its style as dictated by the nature of the story was honestly wrought out to the best of my ability and was comparatively a serious bit of work. By the bye, the Idyll as I wrote it had two more joints to its tail, ending thus after some points to mark the transition:—

 What time is it, dear, now?
 We are in the year now
Of the New Creation One million, two or three.
 But where are we now, love?
 We are as I trow, love,
In the Heaven of Heavens upon the Crystal Sea.

 And may mortal sinners
 Care for carnal dinners
In your Heaven of Heavens, New Era millions three?
 Oh, if their boat gets stranding
 Upon some Richmond landing
They're thirsty as the desert and hungry as the sea!

These two stanzas, though of little worth in themselves, had the merit in my eyes of bringing back the piece at last to the sober realities of pleasant Cockaigne; but Mr. Froude and (as he informed me) Mr. Kingsley were so strongly in favour of its evanishing in the sentimental infinite that I submitted to them, not without reluctance. Whether you will agree with those gentlemen or with myself on this point, I of course cannot divine.

I have a parcel of leaves of the National Reformer containing most of my contributions to that paper, kept by me for the purpose of reference, which I shall of course be happy to send you if you care to turn them over, glancing into any that may seem not without interest. They would give you a much more ample and accurate knowledge of me than you can have gathered from two select poems, and would probably enough considerably lower me in your opinion, but I have not the slightest wish to seem to you at all better than I am, and would indeed (if I know myself) rather be under than over estimated. You will also I trust understand that I have not the least desire to abuse your kindness by asking you or expecting you to read a single line of my writing or express any opinion thereon, except as your own good pleasure may move you. Your criticism whether favourable or adverse would be very highly valued by me, but I cannot doubt that you have literary matters much more important than anything of mine to occupy your leisure.

Hoping that you will find in the nature of our correspondence an excuse for my again writing to you so much about myself,

I am, Dear Sir,

Yours very Respectfully

James Thomson.


10th April, '72.

Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for the copy of your complete edition of Shelley's Poetical Works, which I found on reaching home last evening, and especially for the inscription therein with which you have honoured me. Turning over the leaves, I find so many places where your hand has been at work improving on improvement that I cannot but regret so much trouble taken on my account, while rejoicing in your persistent passion for accuracy and perfection thus evidenced. That your name (which may well live in its own right) must be linked enduringly in our literature with that of Shelley, by virtue of the standard text of his Poems, is already my conviction.

I will do my poor best towards reading these noble volumes worthily; and welcome so fair an occasion for studying once more, and with such excellent assistance, the Poet who fascinated me in my youth, and of whom my reverence remains undiminished and my estimate scarcely altered after twenty long years.

I am, Dear Sir,

Yours truly

James Thomson.


21. 4. 72.

Dear Sir,

I have had two or three glances into your Shelley before, but this dull Sunday have made Alastor my even-song, and venture to send you a few notes thereanent while it is fresh in my mind. I think you have definitely settled text and punctuation save in two or three slight instances.

p. 97. I incline for the Herself a poet; his poetical character having been so emphasised from the beginning of the poem.

pp. 106-7. Here are gnarled roots clenching the soil with grasping roots. Should it not be gnarled trunks in the first instance?

p. 107. The precipice &c. still remain somewhat obscure to me, but your pencilled version seems the least dark of all.

p. 107. I think you may safely adopt the tracts for tracks, tho' the latter is just possible as you remark in your note. Shelley is rapidly enumerating vast objects, islanded seas, &c., &c., and would hardly pause to give a descriptive line to the streams.

p. 109. "Of the wide world her mighty horn suspended"—Should not this be horns? Just below we have the divided frame; and then with peculiar insistance (p. 110) the two lessening points of light, as if in reminiscence of the "two eyes, Two starry eyes " bottom of p. 105.

p. 109. "With whose dun beams" Should not this be dim, which seems quite lustreless enough?

p. 110 and note on p. 476. Here I prefer the old reading. The adjectives of the last line, it seems to me, refer distributively to the accumulated imagery of the whole sentence: Still to the lute; dark and dry to the stream (and the former also probably to the vapour, still floating in the poet's mind); unremembered to the dream.

For very minute points:—

p. 100. Would it not be worth while to print "Sang dirges in the wind"; and similarly p. 105 "the grass that sprang"?

Lastly, as a pure mathematical point or position without magnitude, should not nought be naught as the negation of aught?

Pray excuse the abrupt brevity of these remarks, which could only be got written now by being written rapidly.

I am, Dear Sir,

Yours very Respectfully

James Thomson.

P. S. From a conversation yesterday I gather that I may be very probably called to start at two or three days' notice in search of the Heathen Chinee among the Rocky Mountains, on business of the Company of which I am the unworthy Secretary pro tem. (The Champion Gold and Silver Mines Compy. of Colorado).

The trip, including sojourn of two or three months, would keep me absent four or five months. If therefore you have no further reports from me for some time, pray do not account me neglectful of Shelley and yourself, but blame the said Heathen Chinee—if not grateful to him as the cause of the reprieve.


[From W. M. Rossetti, Esq., in answer to the foregoing.]


28 April [1872].

My Dear Sir,

Many thanks to you for your notes on Shelley, which I have considered attentively, and find really serviceable. Also for the National Reformer, containing a little lyric of yours characterized by sweetness and feeling.

Alastor, p. 97. "Herself a poet." As I have said in my note, I think this may be right: yet I don't think it is right. There would I conceive be a certain incongruity and bathos in saying, in this direct and matter-of-fact way, that this phantasmal unactual personage was "a poet," and tho' (as you truly point out) there is no occasion, at this stage of the poem, to inform the reader that the wanderer was "himself a poet," still I think the phrase has a logical position where it comes—the statement being that the visionary personage charmed the wanderer by her utterances regarding knowledge, truth, virtue and liberty, because these were "thoughts the most dear to him"—and regarding poetry because he was "himself a poet."

106, 7. Roots (twice over). I am sure you are right in the important correction "trunks": should probably not hesitate to introduce that word into the text if opportunity offers, or would at any rate point it out in a note as a true correction, and due to you.

107. The precipice, &c. It seems to me now that there is no grave difficulty in this passage, according to its ordinary punctuation. I used to understand the word "disclosed" as meaning "which was disclosed or revealed"; but I now understand it to mean "did unclose, was cleft."

109. "Horns" I think you are in all probability right. Also "dim" instead of "dun": but this latter (at any rate) I would not venture to substitute.

110. "Still dark and dry" &c. Here again you convince me: at any rate, convince me so far as that I think my altered punctuation and note unsafe and undesirable, and would cancel them in any new edition.

100-5. Sang and sprang. I wholly agree with you in thinking these the right and agreeable forms of the past tense—but think it clear that Shelley wrote sung and sprung, so would not presume to make any change. "Naught" also is obviously, as you suggest, more correct than "nought." The latter however seems to have got the upper hand in modern spelling, and I fancy, when one substitutes "naught" now-a-days, it rather suggests that the notion of "naughty" is somehow implied—so I would not make the alteration.

If ever you have the chance and inclination to send me other revisals, I should be truly obliged to you—certain beforehand that they will be to the point.

I hope, if you do start off after Chinamen, you will find some satisfaction in the work: it sounds indeed full of adventurous and pleasurable excitement. I have myself a great respect for the Chinese—and still more for the Japanese—as a nation of very fine endowments, more especially in matters of fine art. To contemn them seems to me a symptom of crass ignorance or despicable self-conceit, or both.

With best wishes for your travel, should it take place, I remain

Very truly yours,

W. M. Rossetti.


Central City, Colorado, U.S.A.
5th Augt. 1872.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 28th April reached me here about a fortnight since, having been forwarded by a friend. I cannot say anything about the Shelley notes now, as the only books I could find room for in my portmanteau were the Globe Shakespeare and Pickering's diamond Dante (with Cary's version squeezed in for the notes and general assistance). But I hope on my return to resume the attentive reading of your Shelley, and to send you any remarks upon it which may occur to me and seem worth sending. Your liberal reception of the few already sent would encourage me to proceed, even were I not impelled by so strong an interest in the subject.

Mr. Bradlaugh promised to forward you a copy of the National Reformer containing a piece of verse called In the Room which left behind me. I learn that it appeared in the issue for May 19th, but don't know whether you received a copy or not.

From the close of your letter I gather that you somewhat misapprehended what I said about my business trip. When I wrote to the effect that I was going in search of the Heathen Chinee in the Rocky Mountains, I did not mean to convey that I was about to start for China. I believed that John Chinaman had already swarmed thus far east from California, and was alluding to the popular poem by Bret Harte, a writer who seems to me capable of doing really excellent work, and some of whose poems and sketches I am very fond of. As to the Chinese they have not got here yet, with the exception of four or five who are male laundresses (the proper masculine for this feminine noun I am quite ignorant of) and whom I never see.

I have been out here since the 15th May, having left London on the 27th April, but have seen very little of the country as yet, business confining me to this place. I am hoping to have some trips around shortly. Every village out here is termed a City: this Central with Blackhawk and Nevada, the three virtually forming one straggling town, numbers between four and five thousand people. Of these the great majority are miners, perhaps one thousand being Cornishmen, who earn from $3 to $4 a day wages, and much more when they take leases, or work by contract. The stores are well-stocked, but nearly everything is very dear. The working miner can get most of the mere necessaries of life almost as cheap as at home; the comforts and little luxuries are so priced that I find living here twice or three times as expensive. A small glass of English beer costs twenty-five cents, or say a shilling currency. To get your boots blacked (I always clean my own) you pay 25 cents, but then they get a "Dolly Varden shine," and are wrought upon by a "Boot Artist." A "tonsorialist" very naturally charges 75 cents or three shillings for cutting your hair; etc, etc, etc. We have churches, chapels, schools, and a new large hotel in which a very polite dancing party assembled the other evening. This week we are to have a concert, and also a lecture on the Darwinian Theory, admission one dollar. We have a theatre, in which we now and then have actors. The old rough days with their perils and excitement are quite over; the "City" is civilised enough to be dull and commonplace, while not yet civilised enough to be sociable and pleasant. There are no beggars, and petty larceny is almost unknown; storekeepers extort your money blandly and quietly, and the large larceny of selling mines at preposterous prices makes the people despise all larceny that is petty. You might as well carry a revolver between Euston Square and Somerset House as here. I brought one under persuasion, and have never taken it out of the bag.

This Central City is the headquarters of gold mining in Colorado Territory, but it has been very dull for some time past, the working of most of the large mines having been suspended, in some cases through want of capital, in others through litigation (mines are wonderful breeders of lawsuits), and in others because the ores are not rich enough to pay the enormous charges for haulage and reduction and smelting out here, tho' they would be of immense value in an old country. However a Rail-road connecting with the whole East is now within ten miles of us, and is being pushed on rapidly, so things are likely to improve ere long.

The houses, chiefly of wood, and some of them pretty enough in themselves though spoiled by their surroundings, are huddled and scattered along the bottom and slopes of a winding ravine, intermingled with prospect-holes, primitive loghuts, millsheds, of which many are idle, fragments of machinery that proved useless from the first, heaps of stones and poor ores, and all sorts of rubbish. No one has ever cleared up anything here: the streets and roads are usually many inches deep in dust, which the rare heavy rains and the more frequent turning on of some foul sluice make mud which is verily abominable unto one who cleaneth his own boots. Men dig a shaft shallow or deep, and leave it gaping for anyone to tumble into. Trees are cut down and the stumps all left to make night-wandering safe and agreeable. The hills surrounding us have been flayed of their grass, and scalped of their timber; and they are scarred and gashed and ulcerated all over from past mining operations; so ferociously does little man scratch at the breasts of his great calm mother when he thinks that jewels are there hidden. The streams running down the ravines, or as they say here, the creeks running down the gulches, are thick with pollution from the washing of dirt and ores. We are 8,300 feet above the level of the sea, and 3,000 feet above Denver, which lies about forty miles eastward. The highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains hereabout are over 14,000 feet; we are among the foothills. To get out of the City in any direction one must climb for a considerable distance. These foothills are distributed remarkably amongst the snowy ranges of the mountains, curtain beyond curtain, fold within fold, twisting and heaving inextricably. Those immediately around the City are of flat tame curves, as if crouching to their abject mercenary doom; but beyond there are keen crests and daring serrated contours, green with firs and cottonwood-aspens or nobly dark with pines; and one massy range ends in a promontory whose scarped precipitous upper flank gleams grand and savage in its stony nakedness, like the gleaming of set white teeth in some swart Titanic barbarian. Some of the loftier hillsides are as smooth meadows; but their grass at this season can scarcely be distinguished through the multitudinous flames and broad blaze of countless species of wild-flowers, nearly all of the most positive intense colours, scarlet, crimson, purple, azure, yellow, white. Few of them remind me of English flowers, and the people here (if I may judge by the few I have asked) don't seem to know their names. From these higher hills one gets magnificent views: vast billowy land seas, with dense woods and deep ravines and exquisite emerald dells, whereon and whereover sleep and sweep immense shadows, and of all shades even at noonday from bright green to solid black; beyond, a crescent of the mountains, some with broad fields or deep furrows of snow, some sheathed wholly with this white splendour; eastward toward the plains, what the keenest eye cannot distinguish from a distant sealine, faint or dark blue level to the horizon, with pale streaks like the shadows of clouds and long shoals and the haze of evaporation. The sky is wonderfully pure, azure or deep burning blue; the clouds are large and white; however hot the sun there are cool fresh breezes on these hills. There are few birds, and they scarcely sing. Butterflies abound, some of them almost as brilliant as the flowers. Crickets keep up a continual song like the whistling of the wind through reeds; and one species take long jumps and short rapid flights, making such a rattle with some bodily machinery that one can scarcely believe it comes from so small a creature.

The nights are always cool, and mosquitoes there are none. Snakes or any other vermin I have not heard of. One would have to go some distance now to find any wild animals such as bears or cougars.

I don't think that I have been out a single night, however cool and clear with moon and stars, without seeing frequent lightnings play up from behind the surrounding hills. Almost every day we have a slight shower. On the day of my arrival we had a hail-storm with thunder as we drove up the cañon, the largest stones being quite as big as goodsized walnuts. Our horses were so nervous that we had to unhitch and hold them. A few days after they had snow, thunder and lightning all together among the same hills. Occasional waterspouts sweep away bridges and destroy roads for miles. I have seen from here a terrible storm raging over the plains, dead-silent through remoteness: white lightnings momentarily surging up, veiling the stars, making the lower clouds ghostly, striking pale reflections from clouds at the zenith; and these broad sheets of white light were seamed and riven by intense darting lines of forked lightning, zigzag, vertical, transverse, oblique.

We have no dew here at night; one can lie out in a blanket between earth and sky with perfect safety and comfort.

Six miles from us is Idaho, the pleasantest place I have yet seen in the mountains. Going to it you ascend about a thousand feet in three miles to the divide (and climbing on foot tests your wind in this thin pure air); and then descend about eighteen hundred feet in three miles, winding down Virginia Cañon, whose hill-walls range from six to twelve hundred feet in height, and are still well-wooded with firs and pines. The roadway is good, wild flowers abound, and a clear rill runs down with you all the way.

Idaho, which its boldly prophetic inhabitants call the Saratoga of the West, and which is just now full of visitors, lies comfortably at large on the level floor of a broad and long valley. The houses are of wood, shingle-roofed, most of them neat, many of them pretty. The hills around rise to the height of a thousand feet; and as little mining has been attempted on them, they are delightfully green, and their timber has not been felled. Between them southwards you see the scalped heads of two mountains (until lately covered with snow) reckoned about 11,000 feet high, with a lower rounded height between; these are the Old Chief, the Squaw, and the Pappoose. Westwards also you glimpse snowy mountains. A stream, rapid and broad in summer after the rains and melting of the snows, runs from west to east through the midst of the village the whole length of the valley. Excellent trout have been caught in it. Two creeks join it from the south in this valley. There is a hot water spring impregnated with soda and sulphur, which feeds private and swimming baths. There is a cold spring chemically allied to it, which people drink with faith or hope, and which to me tastes like seltzer-water bewitched. There are beautiful walks and rides in all directions. I reckon that this village of Idaho or Idaho Springs will indeed ere long be one of the fashionable holiday resorts of America. Gray's Peak, over 14,000 feet, is within 24 miles of it. A good horse-trail goes right up to the scalped crest of Old Chief, a distance of about eight miles.

I have chatted with the man who first struck Virginia Cañon and found the Idaho Creek (South Clear Creek) through the dense woods which filled the valley, and caught fine trout for himself and fellow-prospectors. This was in '59. Men used to make marvellous sums by mining and gold-washing then, and pay marvellous prices for the necessaries of life. For some years existence was pretty rough, tho' never perhaps half so wild as in California during the early days of its gold fever.

I was told in Idaho (by a Justice of the Peace too) of a couple of men who were on terms of shoot at sight, of whom one tried to avoid and the other sought a meeting. At length the latter attained his desire, and in the "difficulty" which ensued was shot by the other, who was tried but got off clear as the evidence was not considered perfect. The dead man had $64 odd in his pockets, so it was resolved to give him a decent burial. They stopped the funeral procession at a store, drank to his salvation out of his own money, and also took a bottle of whisky with them to the burial place, that they might be not altogether without comfort when they had finally deposited him in the earth. Both deserved shooting, said the Justice of the Peace philosophically; and himself was one of the funeral party.

In a tobacconist's here among specimens of ore is an object labelled "Burr from the pinetree on which Pennsyltuck was hanged" Pennsyltuck was so called because Pennsylvania and Kentucky somehow shared the honour of raising him. He was a bad lot, so bad that the citizens at length determined to promptly relieve him and themselves of his noxious existence. Accordingly, without any tedious legal preliminaries, they took him forth and hanged him on a pine tree, and there left him. As the night was very cold, some one suggested that it was doubtful whether Pennsyltuck met his death by strangulation or freezing. As the citizens on cool reflection thought it wise to discourage Lynch law, they generally agreed to consider that he had been frozen to death.

As to the drinking, one anecdote (true or not) will suffice. An officer sent out to cater for some division of the army in the West returned with six wagonloads of whisky and one of provisions. The commanding officer, having overhauled the stock, cried out "What the hell shall we do with all these provisions?"

I did not intend to inflict all this nonsense upon you, but having begun to write, it seemed queer to send a mere note 5 or 6000 miles, and not say something about this country; so, having leisure, I let my pen run away with me. Fortunately you are not in any way called upon to read what I was not called upon to write.

I may be here for two or three months yet for all I know.

I am, dear Sir,

Yours truly,

James Thomson


2nd April, 1873.

To W. M. Rossetti, Esq.

Dear Sir,

Although I returned from my American trip about two months since, I have been so unsettled and occupied with a thousand nothings that I have scarcely looked at a book since my return.

I have at length managed to go pretty carefully through The Witch of Atlas and Epipsychidion, and herewith I send you a few notes thereon, which you must take for what they are worth. Although they are naturally very much like the notes of a reader for the press, whose special business it is to hunt out faults and ignore merits, you may be assured that I duly appreciate the great improvements you have made in the text. While agreeing with you in ranking The Witch of Atlas very high, I cannot agree with you in preferring it to the Epipsychidion. It has always seemed to me that Shelley never soared higher than in this poem, which I find full of supreme inspiration. It is his Vita Nuova, tender and fervid and noble as Dante's; and his premature death has deprived us of the befitting Divina Commedia which should have followed.

I am considerably ashamed to speak of anything of my own in this connexion; but, as I believe my little piece In the Room was sent to you, I take the liberty of forwarding a corrected copy, that, having it at all, you may have it as I wrote it.

Yours very Respectfully,

James Thomson.


Friday. 18. 4. 73.

Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for your letter of the 9th inst., and also for the series of remarks on my notes on your text of Shelley. On some passages these remarks have given me new light; as to a few others I may trouble you with further comments another time. Having gone pretty carefully through the Prometheus Unbound, I herewith enclose some preliminary notes, concerning rather the structure than the mere text. I have not been afraid of going into minutiæ, because nothing, however minute, which affects the perfection of a master-piece, can be quite insignificant. As to the question of the time occupied by the action, I have certainly felt it rather mean work making a great poem account for its employment of every hour, as if it were a prisoner at the bar whose defence rested on an alibi. Nor do I lay much stress upon this time question, excepting in the first instance investigated, which involves the apparent contradiction between Act I. and Act II. Sc. I.

Yours truly,

James Thomson.


[From W. M. Rossetti, Esq., in answer to the foregoing.]

21 April [1873]

My Dear Sir,

Here are one or two further replies, written without referring at the moment to Shelley's text. But there are still several points regarding Adonais and Hellas that I must answer about with the book before me, and all that you say concerning the Prometheus remains to be followed out. I expect to come to the same conclusion with yourself on most or all of these Prometheus matters; nor do I think that the literal verification of the time of action, &c. (conducted in such a spirit as yours) is at all out of place—the only proviso being that, whether or not Shelley proves to be wrong in these matters, the rank of the poem remains exactly where it stood before.

I am truly indebted to you in all these Shelley matters, and should feel it a great pleasure to make the personal acquaintance of so keen a critic, and (what is much better) so true a poet. Would you give me a call some evening? I am here at Euston Sq. almost all evenings from (say) 7½, hardly ever going out (expect however to be away on 3 and 4 May). On one evening of each week I am at a different house; 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea: this is Tuesday evening from about same hour. Cheyne Walk would be more convenient to you in point of situation: but anything I could show you about Shelley is at Euston Square—I have for instance a piece of his blackened skull, given me by Trelawney, who picked it out of the furnace, and the regard in which I hold this relic makes me understand the feelings of a Roman Catholic in parallel cases. Possibly you would be at the opposite pole of feeling in this matter. Also I am doing with much diligence another Shelley job I have long contemplated—collection (with elucidatory notes, &c.) of every scrap of his poetry or prose personal to himself—principally letters, so far as prose is concerned.

I like the Witch of Atlas better than Epipsychidion, and in a limited sense I think it the more satisfactory poem of the two. I am far however from considering it the greater poem, or the one which sustains Shelley's general position as a poet at the loftier level. As regards considerations of this class, I think Epipsychidion hardly yields to Prometheus.

I have sometimes felt inclined—if you would at all like it—to forward to Notes and Queries the most important of your Shelley emendations: of course confessing whose they are: not that I could pledge myself to obtaining insertion by the Editor, but I think it probable my object would partly be to express my high opinion of your capacities as a poet—which really ought not to be bottled up for the sole benefit of readers of the National Reformer. I would do this at leisure, if at all—being greatly occupied. Perhaps you would let me know whether you like the notion at all, and how far.

Believe me,

Very truly yours,

W. M. Rossetti.


12. 11.73.

Dear Sir,

Towards the end of July last I sent you rough notes on the Minor Poems and Fragments, excepting the Triumph of Life. On this I herewith enclose some remarks. It is a Poem which has always been a particular favourite of mine, and suggests questions which nothing less than an essay could indicate. Here I touch only on the text. It has been pure pleasure to follow again the unique terza rima; liquid, sinuous, continuous, a full-flowing river of music and light.

I think with a piece left, unfinished like this you might venture upon obvious metrical rectifications, which do not affect the sense, just as you have ventured upon obvious grammatical ditto.

I hope you enjoyed your Italian holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed Navarre; but was recalled too soon because Republicans and Monarchists wouldn't kill each other wholesale, the unfeeling wretches!

Yours truly,

James Thomson.