Edward Newman, poet of south-east London

Edward Newman picChristopher Adams’s miscellany entitled The Worst English Poets (1958) is a disappointing volume. Though the author may have decided to exclude the universally execrated McGonnigal for reasons of space, there can be no excuse for omitting the work of Amanda McKittrick Ros, arguably the worst poet and the worst novelist in the English language. She was never as prolific a versifier as the Scot.

Still, Adams has managed to include a number of bad poets who were new to me. One ( but by no means the worst ) is Edward Newman, a noted entomologist, whose collection, The Insect Hunters, was undated when a second edition of it appeared around 1855. Here is an extract from the title poem:

Take my hat, my little Laura,

Fix it by the loop elastic;

Let us go to Haddo Villas,

Passing by the church and churchyard,

Now so bright with shortlived flowers,

Apt mementos of the buried;

Passing hand in hand together,

Passing, old and young together,

Gravely walking, gaily tripping,

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Iona – a minor poet sings

IMG_1597Found – a copy of Ionica – a book of  verse by Eton master William Johnson Cory  – this edition published anonymously by George Allen in 1891. It has been bound in an expensive full leather binding with gilt decorated inner dentelles. The book was presented by minor poet Arthur C James* to one Iona F Robinson on whom he appears to have been very keen given the title of the book, its sumptuous binding and the poem he has written to her on the front endpaper. Ironically Johnson Cory, a fellow master at Eton, is known for the gay themes in some of his poems.

Jan 16th. To Iona F Robinson

Not from those violet isles of western Greece,

Nor from the statelier cities which of yore

Looked into sunset from the Aegean shore

O’er varied tracts of bay and Chersonese

Home of the muse whose grace shall never cease;

-But from that northern Island which upbore

Columbus’s cross our Britain to explore, Continue reading

Private Life of Henry Maitland – author’s copy

IMG_1579Found – the dedication copy of Morley Roberts  ‘roman a clef’  The Private Life of Henry Maitland– a fictionalised biography of George Gissing (Maitland.)  H.G.Wells, Clement Shorter, Edward Clodd and many others also turn up under disguised names. Although the book is fictional it gives a very good and authentic account of Gissing and his literary life and his circle. Loosely inserted is a note in MR’s hand giving the real names of many characters etc., The novel New Grub Street is here Paternoster Row. The book has a dedication in MR’s hand to the printed dedicatee – his late wife Alice daughter of the playwright Angiolo Robson Slous – ‘To my dear wife (14.9.11).’ She had died the year before the book’s publication.  A long signed note on the title page explains:

This book was actually dictated during a period of great tribulation and I found myself utterly unable to correct the proofs with any care. It is therefore full of faults most of which I hope where removed in the revised edition of 1923. Much of the value of this book, if it has any, is due to the fact of it’s downright truth and directness as it was done at a time when I was incapable of understanding that any could be disturbed by anything but some great disaster. Morley Roberts

The note in MR’s hand gives a comprehensive list of the disguised names. A handful  were already  known  and a few characters (e.g. George Meredith) are in the book under their real names. It would be impossible to imagine a better copy of the book, the only think lacking is the 104 year old dust- jacket. Continue reading

Ian Fletcher

Victor Plarr cover

Found in the Peter Haining archive, an Independent obituary by Peter Mendez of the fin de siecle scholar Ian Fletcher (1920 – 88). As the obituarist remarks, Fletcher’s vertiginous rise in 1955 from humble book-stamper in Catford Public Library to University teacher was extraordinary and may be unique in the history of modern British academic life. Today, when the possession of a Ph D is obligatory for entry into academia, and when many with this qualification are either unemployed or in low-grade jobs, the idea that someone with no degree at all could be elevated to a lectureship in English Literature would be laughed out of court.

But this was Fletcher’s position in 1955. Not only did he lack a higher degree, but he had never attended a University. However, in compensation he became a prolific contributor to such neo-Romantic post-war magazines as Tambimuttu’s Poetry London, Peter Russell’s Nine and Wrey Gardiner’s Poetry Quarterly. In 1948 Tambimuttu published a volume of his poems entitled, Orisons. He also brought out an edition of Lionel Johnson’s Collected Poems in 1953. Fletcher’s passion for the aesthetic movement and the literature of the eighteen nineties had begun early. His book-hunting excursions in that golden age of the forties and early fifties, when rare titles could be had for under ten shillings, led him to assemble a large collection which became a valuable resource. At the same time his growing reputation as a poet and scholar attracted the attention of Professor D. J. Gordon of Reading University, who saw that the young librarian might be a valuable addition to his staff. And it soon became apparent that Gordon’s trust in him was well placed.

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A Byron forgery—rediscovered

Lord Byron

Forgery has always fascinated historians of literature, whether it takes the form of a whole manuscript or annotations in a printed book, or (of much rarer occurrence) a whole book or books, as in the case of Thomas Wise. The manuscript forgeries of the self-styled Major George Gordon De Luna Byron, alias De Gibler, alias Monsieur Memoir, were of some key Romantic poets, including Byron, Shelley and Keats. The one that concerns us here was a quatrain and a long prose note supposedly written by Lord Byron on the fly leaves of a copy of the fifth edition ( 1777) of the works of the eighteenth century poet, William Shenstone.

This particular forgery was well known to bibliophiles for many years, but had been long lost until our own Jot 101 CEO bought this particular copy in a book sale about eight years ago. Details were then handed on to Byron scholar Andrew Nicholson, who discussed them in a paper published in The Byron Journal in 2010.     We at Jot 101 HQ are grateful to the late Mr Nicholson for his assiduous research which focuses on the nature of the forgery. It  had been acquired by a certain Mr Young from the library sale in 1851 of John Wilks, MP, a well known collector of manuscripts.

The forgeries, penned in black ink, appeared in several volumes of the Works, as follows:

Volume 1: on the first fly-leaf at the head of the page

Trin. Coll. 1807

Byron

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The Library of J-P Mayer

Found among the papers of  J-P Mayer (1903 – 1992) – this appraisal of his massive library by his friend F.R. Cowell. Peter Mayer was  Professor Emeritus at Reading University and author of books on De Tocqueville, Max Weber, the sociology of films,  and French political thought. He fled to England in 1936 having been a leading figure in the anti-Nazi movement in Germany. He then worked for Britain in the Ministry of Economic Warfare.His library was acquired by us last year, many of the high price items having been taken by Bonham’s auction house. This included a presentation copy from John Stuart Mill to Alexis de Tocqueville and  signed material from Friedrich Engels which made £100,000 plus each. Oddly we (Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road) also bought in 2009 a large part of the library of F.R. Cowell another man with a very large and interesting book collection. Both men went on book hunts together, Paris being (then) fertile ground. Mayer also bought heavily while in America. F. R. Cowell was a historian and author of Cicero and the Roman Republic, The Athenaeum, and Leibniz Material for London and many other works on ancient history, horticulture, economics and bibliography. In the accompanying letter (shown) he invites J-P Mayer to join him for a meal at his London club – The Athenaeum (February 1962). It appears that Mayer was trying to sell his library to ‘Boulder’ -presumably the University of Colorado. Evidently the sale never happened and the books stayed in his house in Stoke Poges for another 50 years. The house was near St. Giles church where Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is believed to have been written. It took 5 large vans to move the books. F.R. Cowell’s book collection just two…

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The Liberty League—a campaign against Bolshevism

This interesting cutting from the Haining archive tells some of the story of the short-lived Liberty League. Less than three years after the Russian Revolution had erupted, leading figures in public life, alarmed by the progress of its ideas in the West, got together to initiate a counter campaign that would challenge Bolshevism in the UK and throughout the empire. The new force for good was ‘The Liberty League’ and on 3rd March 1920 an open letter declaring its objectives and signed by H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Sydenham, H. Bax-Ironside, John Hanbury Williams, Algernon Maudslay and  Lt –Col G Maitland- Edwards, was published in the Times. The signatories began by defining Bolshevism and its aims.

Bolshevism is the reverse of what mankind has built up of good by nearly two thousand years of effort. It is the Sermon of the Mount writ backward. It has led to bloodshed and torture, rapine and destruction. It repudiated God and would build its own throne upon the basest passions of mankind. There are some misguided people of righteous instincts in this country who believe in Bolshevism; there are others who have been influenced by secret funds. There are many who hope to fish in its bloodstained waters.

We, the undersigned, and those we represent, being assured that if it is allowed to conquer it will mean in the end the destruction  of individual rights, the family, the nation, and the whole British Commonwealth, together wit the handing over of all we hold sacred into the power of those who stand behind and perhaps have fashioned this monstrous organization...

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The sex life of Marie Corelli—-a revealing letter

Marie Corelli (thanks Timprasil)
It cannot be denied that Marie Corelli (1855 – 1924) was an enormous success as a writer of science fantasy and romance. She sold more books than H.G.Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling put together and her fans were as loyal as the literary critics were dismissive.

But was she a lesbian, as many modern commentators have alleged, or did the fact that for forty years she shared her life with a certain Bertha Vyver, an irrelevancy? It has been rightly pointed out that it would be ridiculous to ascribe any homosexual leanings to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson based merely on the fact that they shared a flat in Baker Street. And the same could be said of many literary figures, both real and fictional. In the case of Corelli, it could also be argued that she was passionately attached to the painter Arthur Severn for many years, but that her feelings were not reciprocated.

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Thomas Augustus Trollope—the famous novelist’s forgotten brother

While many admirers of Anthony Trollope are busy celebrating the great novelist’s bicentenary, spare a thought for his older brother, Thomas Augustus Trollope (1810 – 92), who was always in his shadow, but who as a novelist, prolific travel writer and biographer in his own right, may have eclipsed Anthony in the word stakes.

In a long literary career Thomas published around sixty books, having begun a writing partnership with his mother while still at Oxford? In addition, he was a prodigious contributor to magazines. His friendship with Dickens, for instance, led to a long association with Household Words. Much of his work was achieved while living in some style in Italy. He moved to Florence in 1843, creating with his first wife a salon for expatriates at the Villino Trollope, which was expertly decorated and whose  sumptuous furnishings included a library of 5,000 books.
From here he migrated to Rome, where with his second wife, the writer Frances Trollope, he established another refuge for the expatriate  community.

In this short undated letter Trollope apologises  to a Mr Cutbill for not being ‘ able to remain at home’ to see  him, and suggests that he  instead  delivers a ‘ packet ‘ to number  193, Piccadilly, ‘ otherwise the advantage of the scarcity would be lost ‘.As the address in question was that of Trollope’s publishers, Chapman and Hall, and if the letter dates from the period before he left for Italy, this packet may have contained some literary material of interest to the writer, but equally,  it could have been something perishable which may have spoiled if Cutbill, who was away from home at the time, had waited until his return to present  personally to Trollope.

This latter possibility seems unlikely. We simply don’t know what Trollope meant by ‘the advantage of the scarcity’, but if the package did indeed contain a perishable gift from Cutbill, perhaps Trollope felt that his publishers would be best placed to look after it until he returned to claim it.
[R.M.Healey]

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The Open Window 1905

Not sure where this came from or what it was. It appears to be a literary magazine but is not the literary magazine  The Open Window published in London by Locke Ellis  from 1910 onwards with contributions by Edward Thomas, E.M. Forster, George Bourne, Katherine Mansfield,  Maxwell Armfield, Douglas Goldring, W.H. Davies, Geoffrey Whitworth, Lord Dunsany, John Drinkwater, Walter de la Mare and Vivian Locke Ellis etc., The article, of some competence, quotes among other George Borrow, Kipling, W.E. Henley and F. Marion Crawford...

On the “Joie de Vivre.”

There could hardly be a more fitting time to say something about this primitive impulse than now, when maps and guide-books are taken down from shelves; when bicycles, botanical vascular, and geological hammers are brought out from their places of concealment, and we lift up our eyes to the hills.
  The true “joie de vivre” I take to be the satisfaction of an instinct for communion with Nature, an instinct which, implanted in the bosoms of our ancestors during the long ages before cities were existent, has not yet died completely away in their more artificial descendants, and which, at certain periods, seizes upon some of us with an almost irresistible power.
  After living during many months in dingy offices or class-rooms, poring over musty tomes, and hearing through our windows nothing but the lugubrious cry of the coal man, the discordant tinkle of the barrel-organ, or other of the multiform phases of the “brouhaha des rues”–sounds having relation to nothing more than the distracting life of this “man-made” town–suddenly some small note may be heard, or an odor of spring may be felt, or a green blade seen growing in a cranny of the wall–some sight or sound, small in itself, but mighty in the mental effect it  evokes; for, in a moment, this ancient primaeval instinct grips us by the heart-strings, and we resolve–to take a holiday.
  In Marion Crawford’s “Cigarette Maker’s Romance” there is a wonderful passage describing the annual wild rush of the reindeer to drink the salt water of the Arctic Sea. As their blood cries out for the essential chloride, so in spring does that of the city-dweller for the ozone of the hills.
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Edward Fitzgerald buys a Constable and conceives Alice (1841)

Found in  A Fitzgerald Medley (Methuen, 1933) an excerpt from a letter by Fitzgerald (the translator of Omar Khayyam) that he sent to his friend Frederick Tennyson in January 1841. Charles Ganz, the editor of the anthology, includes this in the introduction to a piece Fitzgerald wrote for children - a version of Dickens's Little Nell in simple language for children. The letter reads:

I have just concluded, with all the throes of imprudent pleasure, the purchase of a large picture by Constable*, of which, if I can continue in the mood, I will enclose you a sketch. It is very good:but how you and Morton would abuse it! Yet this, being a sketch, escapes some of Constable's faults, and might escape some of your censures. The trees are not splashed with that white sky-mud, which (according to Constable's theory) the Earth scatters up with her wheels in travelling so briskly round the sun; and there is a dash and felicity in the execution that gives one a thrill of good digestion in one's room, and the thought of which makes one inclined to jump over the children's heads in the streets. But if you could see my great enormous Venetian picture you would be astonished.

Does the thought ever strike you, when looking at pictures in a house, that you are to run and jump at one, and go right through it into some behind-scene world on the other side, as Harlequins do? A steady portrait especially invites one to do so: the quietude of it ironically tempts one to outrage it: one feels it would close again over the panel, like water, as if nothing had happened.

Ganz comments: "This fantastic idea reminds us of Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there. Carroll wrote his story. Fitzgerald played with the idea and let it slide. One cannot  help regretting that he never wrote an original story for children, but we must rejoice that Little Nell's Wanderings, the result of the efforts of two men of genius is left to us."

*Not sure what this picture was. I can find no paintings of Venice by Constable. It would of course be excessively valuable now. He is known to have bought two Constables in 1842 that sold for healthy sums when he died in 1876. The cover of the book is by Frank Brangwyn.

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Gordon Bottomley – 1890’s poet

Found in a copy Poems at White Nights (published in 1899 in Cecil Court, London) a contemporary review of the book. The review is unsigned but was obviously from a national daily paper as there are financial reports on the back. Gordon Bottomley is a mildly collected fin de siecle poet, of considerable talent but slight neglected -possibly because of his name which could be used as the the butt of jokes, so to speak. His first book The Mickle Drede and Other Verses was privately printed in Kendal in 1896  and is a great rarity and of some value. He attempted to destroy all of the 150 copies as he considered the work immature..The reviewer below senses dark currents in his work.

Mr. Gordon Bottomley's second volume, Poems at White Nights (At the Sign of the Unicorn), shows him still frequenting the darker woods of Faerie. One fragment in it is a dedication for some book of verses in which the receiver is bidden to read:

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Literary Cranks of London– The Whitefriars Club

This was established in 1868 in three rooms at Radley’s Hotel, in New Bridge Street, Blackfriars. The authors don’t mention the fact, but  in the 1820s Radley’s was known as Walker’s Hotel and was infamous as the HQ of the generally despised Constitutional Association, the reactionary group dubbed by William Hone, the ‘Bridge Street Gang’, which harassed radical booksellers  it accused of circulating seditious libels--- usually the pirated works of Thomas Paine.

By the time it had come to house the Whitefriars ( incidentally, a humorous reference to the nearby Blackfriars) Radley’s was a respectable family business with ‘ an old-fashioned cuisine and an excellent cellar of wines ‘. Of the three rooms occupied by the Club, the one used as a dining room had ‘three windows looking out on Ludgate Hill Station, filled with heavy furniture and black horse-hair sofas of a late Georgian period’. Behind this was a smaller room dedicated to ‘smoking and writing’, which  commanded a view behind the Bridewell gaol ‘of a neglected bit of ground, on which flourished rank grass, oyster shells , and dead cats…and a row of picturesque and irregular backs of ancient houses, delightful for their finely-toned red brick, their old red tiles and their quaint chimney pots ‘. By 1900, when the history of the Club was privately published, Radley’s Hotel had been pulled down ‘for improvements’.

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Sherlock’s Watson — was he a bad doctor?

Found in The London Mystery Magazine of April/May 1951 this amusing Sherlockian poem casting doubt on Watson's medical credentials…The author 'Sagittarius' was a journalist named Olga Katzin* who wrote several humorous and satirical books, some in rhyme. A short life  is appended below. The London Mystery Magazine began in 1949 and went on into the mid 1950s. It gave its address as 221b Baker Street. Adrian Conan-Doyle (Arthur's son) 'not uncharacteristically' sued the magazine, but lost the case.

Illustrated by 'Figaro'

DOCTOR…?

Holmes left one unsolved mystery,
The case of the strange M. D.;

Was he ever qualified?

Had he anything to hide?
And why was he always free?
Facts of his previous history
Researchers fail to trace,

But there’s something queer in his medical career,
For he never had a single case.

Nobody called Dr Watson
For medical advice;
If Sherlock in a hurry asked his company in Surrey,
Watson would be ready in a trice.
No one ever seemed to worry,
When he drove to Charing Cross,
Which strengthens the suspicion that as surgeon or physician
Watson was a total loss.

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Coventry Patmore rejects his uninspiring ‘vegetables’

The poet who composed the long love poem, The Angel of the House, which appeared in four volumes from 1854, became, like many of his generation, a convert to Catholicism, and so his remarks, voiced in a letter to the editor of the Spectator  regarding a bust of Cardinal Newman by the pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner, come as no real surprise.

The original letter, written from Hastings, was discovered in a pile of similar autographed material.

‘It may interest some of the readers of a Paper which has shewn so special an interest in and affection of Cardinal Newman, that by very much the finest likeness of him in existence is the bust which was made of him some ten or fifteen years ago by Thomas Woolner…I was once in a room containing first-rate busts of all the most famous men of the past generation. That of Newman made all the others look like vegetables, so wonderfully was it loaded with the great Cardinal’s weight of thought and character.’

We don’t know who the sitters for other busts were, or the identity of the sculptors, but we do know that as a friend of Woolner, as indeed he was of Dante Rossetti, W. Holman Hunt, and other Pre-Raphaelites, Patmore was bound to defend the merits of the Newman bust over perhaps some more conventional works of art. As a child, Patmore himself wanted to be an artist and at the age of fifteen won the Silver Palette of the Society of Arts. The poverty of his father made such an ambition impossible and Patmore ended up in the British Museum library. In later life, spurred on by his association with the Pre-Raphaelites, he wrote on Art, but he is best known today as the author of The Angel of the House, although it is generally recognised that his best poems, which have strong spiritual qualities, were written towards the end of his life. [R R]
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The Dutch Sensitivists

An excellent introduction by Edmund Gosse to Louis Couperus's 1891 novel Footsteps of Fate ('Noodlot') translated from the Dutch by Clara Bell. Gosse corresponded with Couperus but he wrote well informed  introductions similar to this to every book in Heinemann's long series of European novels. They show great scholarship and an enthusiasm for the emerging movements in writing in the last decade of the 19th century. While Britain had its aesthetic 1890s movement and the Celtic Twilight and the French their decadent writers the Dutch had the 'Sensitivists'…There are interesting references to the Dutch Browning (the poet Potgieter) also resident in Florence and also to Netscher the Dutch George Moore, a singular honour.

THE DUTCH SENSITIVISTS

In the intellectual history of all countries we find the same phenomenon incessantly recurring. New writers, new artists, new composers arise in revolt against what has delighted their grandfathers and satisfied their fathers. These young men, pressed together at first, by external opposition, into a serried phalanx, gradually win their way, become themselves the delight and then the satisfaction of their contemporaries, and, falling apart as success is secured to them, come to seem lax, effete and obsolete to a new race of youths, who effect a fresh aesthetic revolution. In small communities, these movements are often to be observed more precisely than in larger ones. But they are very tardily perceived by foreigners, the established authorities in art and literature retaining their exclusive place in dictionaries and handbooks long after the claim of their juniors to be observed with attention has been practically conceded at home.

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Life and death in a Georgian workhouse ( A real life Mr. Bumble)

Here is a letter picked up years ago in London among a box of ephemera. It is undated, though the watermark is 1821. It is addressed to ‘Mr or Mrs Peacock’:

Mrs Kennion is quite surprised that Mr Peacock should have sent this poor boy to work. He was certainly very ill & ought to be in bed & have medical advice immediately. Mrs K will call at the workhouse about 1 o’clock & hopes that Mr Peacock will have sent for the Parish doctor before that time,that she may hear what he thinks of the child. Mrs K has sent him to Dr Sympson & Mr Richardson, but they are both from home.
Friday.

A bit of Googling revealed that the action took place in Harrogate, then just beginning on its journey to becoming the most select watering place in the north of England.  In June 1822 Henry  Peacock, formerly the master of Aldborough and Boroughbridge workhouse,  arrived, with his wife Elizabeth, as the master of Harrogate’s workhouse in Starbeck. Evidently aiming to make an impression with the employers by saving money, the couple soon managed to reduce the average cost of keeping a pauper by establishing what was basically a vegetarian diet. This regimen could have contributed to the poor health of the boy in question. It would probably not have included many, if any, fresh vegetables, and may, like that of the hero of Oliver Twist, which was set in the 1820s, have consisted mainly of gruel.

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The Rings of Baron Corvo

Biography of Baron Corvo
by 
A.J.A. Symons

An interesting side note on the appearance of the great cult writer can be found in this speech by C.H.('Harry') Pirie-Gordon (1883-1969) co -author with Baron Corvo  of The Weird of the Wanderer (by Prospero & Caliban). Baron Corvo was also known as Frederick Rolfe. The speech was delivered at the first banquet of the Corvine Society in June 1929 16 years after Corvo's death. Caliban speaks:

"His Archblessedness the Grand Master has referred to the Baron's sub fuse (sic) and sometimes revolting vesture. I cherish happier memories of his sartorial appearance. While he was our guest, sometimes he appeared in the purple habit designed and devised by himself for the Order of Chivalry, of which we were both members, a habit sumptuous and amaranthine: at others, when dining with the doubtless bucolic society, which marvelled at his conversation and his lore, he would wear a dinner jacket of soft bluish-grey velveteen, with his clerical collar and silk stock, while on his fingers would appear one or more of the massive silver rings which he had designed for himself. These he kept, when not in use, in a box of powdered sulphur in order that they might constantly be black: two of these were the famous anti-Jesuit rings, to which he alludes in one of his stories. They were of immense thickness, and each was armed with a spur rowel, so set in the thickness of the ring as to be capable of revolving. He used to explain that if a man, wearing these, were to meet a Jesuit, he could dash one of them across the Jesuit's forehead, and escape while the holy man was blinded by his own blood pouring from the wound scored across his forehead. Another ring he had, which he gave to me, made of electron, which he explained as being an amalgam of gold and silver in equal parts. This was engraved with a Crow..."

The diners who throughout the meal had drunk larger and larger libations finally toasted the Baron in Corvo Gran Spumante and then "the meeting did not so much end as deliquesce..."

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Matthew Arnold letter – a football injury

Found tipped into the front of Poems of Matthew Arnold (London, 1853) an unpublished  handwritten signed letter from the poet to his French friend the writer and anglophile Edmond Schérer.

PAINS HILL COTTAGE, COBHAM, SURREY*. Oct 13th '76

My dear Mr. Scherer

My boy slipped down and was trodden upon at football last March, and was very ill afterwards from some injury to the back. He got well, however, but when I wrote to you we had been disturbed by a sudden return of his pain.  We have taken him to Prescott Hewitt** a great surgeon, who says that he must lie in bed till the pain has entirely gone,  this upsets the arrangements of a small cottage, as we have to give our invalid the one spare room we have, that he may have more air  and  space than in his own little room.  So we are unable to receive any guests in the house while he is ill, and therefore I was obliged, to my very great regret, to put you off.  I fear it will be still a week before we cease to be a  hospital but – do let me know what you are doing and how long you stay in England.  I cannot easily give up the hope of seeing you here. At any rate I shall meet you at the Athenaeum, I trust;  for next week I begin inspecting*** again and shall be in London every day. I have so much to say to you and to hear from you. Most sincerely yours Matthew Arnold.

* Printed at head of notepaper. This was in the beautiful private landscaped park Painshill Park and Arnold rented the cottage from 1873 to 1888.

** In Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens , Jr., (1879) under 'Doctors' Prescott G. Hewitt is noted as Consulting Surgeon at the  Evelina Hospital for Sick Children (Southwark Bridge Road.)

***Matthew Arnold  was appointed, in April 1851, one of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, a job which he worked at until 1886. He once described it as 'drudgery.'

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‘Lines on the Loss of the Royal Charter’

At least 800 lives were lost in the seas around the shores of Britain in the violent storms on the night of 25-26 October 1859. 223 vessels were wrecked: the biggest disaster of all was the loss of the Royal Charter off the coast of Wales, in which almost 450 people died. The ship was returning from Australia and the passengers included many gold miners, some of who had struck it rich at the diggings in Australia and were carrying large sums of gold about their persons. A consignment of gold was also being carried as cargo; it was insured for over £300,000 - about half a billion pounds in todays money. Many of the passengers were killed by being dashed against the rocks by the waves rather than drowned. Others were said to have drowned, weighed down by the belts of gold they were wearing around their bodies. The survivors, 21 passengers and 18 crew members, were all men, with no women or children saved. This poem on one side of a small  card was probably sold for a halfpenny or farthing just after the disaster. The address 'Trafalgar, Neyland' is nearby in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. Of Maria Roberts nothing is known…

We also have a more accomplished poem about a gold ring washed up on the beach (to follow) but this poem was probably composed very shortly after the fateful night:

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