Letter 8


6 Devereux C Temple Bar.
[Postmark Au: 25 1824]

DEAR KELSALL,–I should have written to you some time ago if I had not hoped to see you before this: some business will detain me in town ten days or perhaps a fortnight longer–at the expiration of which I hope to have a month or so for Southampton. Tho’ I depend very little on my poetical faculty, it is my intention to complete one more tragedy, on the comparative merits or demerits of which future determinations will depend.

The disappearance of Shelley from the world, seems, like the tropical setting of that luminary (aside I hate that word) to which his poetical genius can alone be compared with reference to the companions of his day, to have been followed by instant darkness and owl-season; whether the vociferous Darley is to be the comet, or tender fullfaced L. E. L. the milk-and-watery moon of our darkness, are questions for the astrologers: if I were the literary weather-guesser for 1825 I would safely prognosticate fog, rain, blight in due succession for it’s dullard months–But I beg your pardon, this was all said forgetting your relation to the eternal Gerard–By the way I was two days at Canterbury, and did not see your correspondent Arthur–What an omission! But I saw Savagius at Florence. You have read his book and think something of him by this time.

And are you cricketting? N. or M. Who gave you that Ball? &c How did you like the Effigies Poeticae? And the Second Maiden? Verily that is worth the whole heap of Horace Gwynn, L. E. L., Midsummer day dreams, and Bernard-bartonizings of this years press. The arrogance and conceit of your cousin’s connections appears to me utterly insufferable and disgusting; and the increase of that pernicious Blackwood system–particularly among these younger men, is the very worst sign of their mind & public imbecillity. I would greatly prefer the return of the old dull prosing times, when every author was “the ingenious” and his miscellany “excellent” at the top of an acrostic; even Johnson’s very unbearable and absurd self was less mischievous. But I won’t despond, for I wish to cry at Walker’s next Trag.

I was very much pleased to hear of Mrs. Shelley’s arrangement with old Timothy, and to see the very great alteration for the better and the happier in her appearance and manner. She is writing something. Procter is idle of course–no I beg his pardon, he’s been 10 miles out of town this week. And now, being sleepy and stupid, I wish you goodnight.

Yours ever


P.S. Shelley’s book–This is a ghost indeed, and one who will answer to our demand for hidden treasure. The Dirge for the Year–That Indian fragment–The boat on the Serchio and the Letter–with Music are to me the best of the new things and perfectly worthy of the mind which produced them. The translation of Mercury’s hymn too; though questionable as to the fidelity of it’s tone, is delightfully easy–

What would he not have done, if ten years more, that will be wasted upon the lives of unprofitable knaves and fools, had been given to him. Was it that more of the beautiful and good, than Nature could spare to one, was incarnate in him, and that it was necessary to resume it for distribution through the external and internal worlds? How many springs will blossom with his thoughts–how many fair and glorious creations be born of his one extinction.

Addressed to
Houndwell Lane 3

[Gosse, 1894]