Letter 40


Zurich chez M. Waser Neustadt
[Postmark] 9 March 1837

MY DEAR KELSALL,–I am preparing for the press, as the saying is, among other graver affairs, a volume of prosaic poetry and poetical prose. It will contain half a dozen Tales, comic, tragic, and dithyrambic, satirical and semi-moral: perhaps half a hundred lyrical Jewsharpings in various styles and humours: and the stillborn D.J.B. with critical and cacochymical remarks on the European literature, in specie the hapless dramas of our day.

I am not asinine enough to imagine that it will be any very great shakes, but what with a careless temper and the pleasant translunary moods I walk and row myself into upon the lakes and over the alps of Switzerland it will, I hope, turn out not quite the smallest ale brewed out with the water of the fountain of ye horse’s foot.

Now then, I write to beg you, as the saying is, to send me in a letter a copy of a certain scene and song wh you, being the possessor of the only existing MS. thereof once proposed as an amelioration of one in D’s J.B. This affair will be very much cut down, a good many faults corrected; a little new matter added to it: and the whole better arranged. But I can hardly consent to eradicate my crocodile song, wh. you know, B.C. and all persons of proper feeling, as the saying is, strongly condemned. After all I only print it because it is written and can’t be helped and really only for such readers as the pseudonymical lawyer mentioned, W. Savage L[andor]: yourself etc.! (if there be yet a plural number left). G.D. appears to me to have grown deuced grey, whether it be the greyness of dawn, of life’s evening twilight, or of a nascent asinine metempsychosis I cannot distinguish at this distance.

As a specimen I send you a bit of foolery and a snack of fine feeling, and if you don’t answer me before June I shall let another rhymed bore loose at you: or what will be as bad, I hope a few of my anatomical discoveries and physiological fancies. I dare say you have been many years a happy married man: I am still

Your unhappy humble servant, and the Lord knows singley and sinfully virtuous


P.S here they are but they allude to passages in the tales containing ’em

Has no one seen my heart of yore?
   My heart bids run away;
And if you catch him, ladies, do
   Return him me, I pray.
On earth he is no more I hear
   Upon the land or sea
For the women found the rogue so queer
   They sent him back to me.
In heaven there is no purchaser
   For such strange ends and odds
Says a Jew, who goes to Jupiter
   To buy and sell old goods.
So there is but one place more to search,
   That’s not genteel to tell
Where demonesses go to church,–
So Xtians fair, farewell.

I think of thee at daybreak still,
   And then thou art my playmate small
Beside our strawroofed village rill
   Gathering cowslips tall,
And chasing oft the butterfly,
Wh. flutters past like treacherous life.

You smile at me and at you I,
   A husband boy & baby wife
   I think of thee at noon again
And thy meridian beauty high
   Falls on my bosom like young rain
Out of a summer sky.
   And I reflect it in the tear
Wh’ ‘neath thy picture drops forlorn
And then my love is bright & clear
& manlier than it was at morn.
I think of thee by evening’s star,
   And softly, melancholy slow,
An eye doth glisten from afar
   All full of lovely woe.
The air then sighingly doth part
   And or from death the cold, or Love
I hear the passing of a dart,
   But hope and move & look above.

I think of thee at black midnight
And woe & agony it is
To see thy cheek so deadly white,
To hear thy graveworm hiss.
But looking on thy lips is cheer.
They closed in love, pronouncing love.
And then I tremble, not for fear,
But in thy breath from heaven above.

Now if you wish to avoid any further similar visitation of doggrell you’d better take your quill from behind your ear and write and write and write like to a rat without a brief. Apropos of [blank] know that J.G.H.B. has been poetizing, Novellizing, and magazinning a year or two &, by Haynes Bayly, better than your hble servt, as the saying is. But what is Hecuba to you? I dare say you’ve forgotten all such childishnesses as these, and you’re then in the right on’t, not so hble servt. But who can help being an ass as long as he must graze in ye vale of tears? That onion wisdom, wh preventeth transformation, (moly–allium Dioscorides. Sibthorpe–nigrum Sprengel if. Spr. Gesch. d. Botanik Bd n s 37. 68 n f u T. 2. ahem!) a’n’t the potherb I fancy. A jew, a jew, a jew!

Remember me


March 9, 1837

P.S I send this directed to Revell Phillips Esqre because I don’t know your whereabouts but I suppose you’re in England.

[Gosse, 1894]