Letter 12


26 Mall. Clifton
[Postmark Jan 11:1825]

DEAR KELSALL,–Day after day since Xmas I have intended to write or go to London & day after day I have deferred both projects–and now–I will give you the adventures and mishaps of this present sunday. Remorse, and startling conscience, in the form of an old sulky & a shying horse, hurried me to the Regulator coach-office on saturday–“Does the regulator & its team conform to the Mosaic decalogue, Mr. Book-keeper?” He broke Priscian’s head & thro’ the aperture assured me that it did not–I was booked for the inside–call at 26 Mall for me–“Yes sir at 1/2 p. 5 AM.”–at 5 I rose like a ghost from the tomb & betook me to coffee. No wheels rolled through the streets but the inaudible ones of that uncreated hour–It struck 6–a coach was called–we hurried to the office but the coach was gone–here followed a long Brutus & Cassius discourse between a shilling-buttoned waist-coatteer of a porter and myself–which ended in my extending mercy to the suppliant coach-owners–& agreeing to accept a place for Monday–

All well thus far. The Biped knock of the post alighted on the door at 12–& two letters were placed upon my german dictionary–Your own–which I at first intended to reply to viv√£ voce–had not the second informed [me] of my brother’s arrival in England, his short leave of absence, & his intention to visit me here next week. This twisted my strong purpose like a thread,–and disposed me to remain here about 10 days further. On the 21st at latest I go to London. Be there & I will join you, or if not pursue you to Southampton.

The fatal dowry has been cobbled sure, by some purblind ultracrepidarian. McReady’s friend Walker very likely–but nevertheless I maintain ’tis a good play–& might have been rendered very effective–by docking it of the whole fifth Act which is an excrescence–re-creating Novall–& making Beaumelle a good deal more ghost-gaping & moonlightish–The cur: tailor has taken out the most purple piece in the whole weft–the end of the 4th act–& shouldered himself into toleration thro’ the prejudices of the pit, when he should have built his admiration on their necks.

Say what you will–I am convinced the man who is to awaken the drama must be a bold trampling fellow–no creeper into worm-holes–no reviser even–however good. These reanimations are vampire-cold–Such ghosts as Marloe–Webster &c are better dramatists, better poets, I dare say, than any contemporary of ours–but they are ghosts–the worm is in their pages–& we want to see something that our great-grandsires did not know. With the greatest reverence for all the antiquities of the drama I still think, that we had better beget than revive–attempt to give the literature of this age an idiosyncrasy & spirit of its own & only raise a ghost to gaze on not to live with–just now the drama is a haunted ruin.

I am glad that you are awakening to a sense of Darley–he must have no little perseverance to have gone thro so much of that play–it will perchance be the first star of a new day. Remember me to Procter & reproach him for his idleness to the fullest extent of vituperative civility–if I could find a reproof as heavy as the new London Mag I’d hurl it on him–I have written a new plot–& forgotten it. Will Keene (?) anatomize Mr. T. Campbell? even after

But, reaching home, terrific omen! there
The straw-laid street preluded his despair–
The servants’ look: the table that revealed
His letter sent to Charlotte last still sealed–&c


Stay in town if you can.

Yours truly


Addressed to
67 Gt Portland St
Oxford St

[Gosse, 1894]