Read PART III - CHAPTER III.  FALMOUTH:  POEMS. of The Life of John Sterling, free online book, by Thomas Carlyle, on ReadCentral.com.

At Falmouth, as usual, he was soon at home in his new environment; resumed his labors; had his new small circle of acquaintance, the ready and constant centre of which was the Fox family, with whom he lived on an altogether intimate, honored and beloved footing; realizing his best anticipations in that respect, which doubtless were among his first inducements to settle in this new place.  Open cheery heights, rather bare of wood:  fresh southwestern breezes; a brisk laughing sea, swept by industrious sails, and the nets of a most stalwart, wholesome, frank and interesting population:  the clean little fishing, trading and packet Town; hanging on its slope towards the Eastern sun, close on the waters of its basin and intricate bay, ­with the miniature Pendennis Castle seaward on the right, the miniature St. Mawes landward to left, and the mining world and the farming world open boundlessly to the rear: ­all this made a pleasant outlook and environment.  And in all this, as in the other new elements of his position, Sterling, open beyond most men to the worth of things about him, took his frank share.  From the first, he had liked the general aspect of the population, and their healthy, lively ways; not to speak of the special friendships he had formed there, which shed a charm over them all.  “Men of strong character, clear heads and genuine goodness,” writes he, “are by no means wanting.”  And long after:  “The common people here dress better than in most parts of England; and on Sundays, if the weather be at all fine, their appearance is very pleasant.  One sees them all round the Town, especially towards Pendennis Castle, streaming in a succession of little groups, and seeming for the most part really and quietly happy.”  On the whole he reckoned himself lucky; and, so far as locality went, found this a handsome shelter for the next two years of his life.  Two years, and not without an interruption; that was all.  Here we have no continuing city; he less than any of us!  One other flight for shelter; and then it is ended, and he has found an inexpugnable refuge.  Let us trace his remote footsteps, as we have opportunity: ­

To Dr. Symonds, Clifton.

Falmouth, June 28th, 1841. ­Newman writes to me that he is gone to the Rhine.  I wish I were!  And yet the only ‘wish’ at the bottom of my heart, is to be able to work vigorously in my own way anywhere, were it in some Circle of Dante’s Inferno.  This, however, is the secret of my soul, which I disclose only to a few.”

To his Mother.

Falmouth, July 6th, 1841. ­I have at last my own study made comfortable; the carpet being now laid down, and most of my appurtenances in tolerable order.  By and by I shall, unless stopped by illness, get myself together, and begin living an orderly life and doing my daily task.  I have swung a cot in my dressing-room; partly as a convenience for myself, partly as a sort of memorial of my poor Uncle, in whose cot in his dressing-room at Lisworney I remember to have slept when a child.  I have put a good large bookcase in my drawing-room, and all the rest of my books fit very well into the study.”

To Mr. Carlyle.

July 6th. ­No books have come in my way but Emerson’s, which I value full as much as you, though as yet I have read only some corners of it.  We have had an Election here, of the usual stamp; to me a droll ‘realized Ideal,’ after my late metrical adventures in that line.  But the oddest sign of the Times I know, is a cheap Translation of Strauss’s Leben Jesu, now publishing in numbers, and said to be circulating far and wide.  What does ­or rather, what does not ­this portend?” ­

With the Poem called The Election, here alluded to, which had been more than once revised and reconsidered, he was still under some hesitations; but at last had well-nigh resolved, as from the first it was clear he would do, on publishing it.  This occupied some occasional portion of his thoughts.  But his grand private affair, I believe, was now Strafford; to which, or to its adjuncts, all working hours were devoted.  Sterling’s notions of Tragedy are high enough.  This is what he writes once, in reference to his own task in these weeks:  “Few, I fancy, know how much harder it is to write a Tragedy than to realize or be one.  Every man has in his heart and lot, if he pleases, and too many whether they please or no, all the woes of OEdipus and Antigone.  But it takes the One, the Sophocles of a thousand years, to utter these in the full depth and harmony of creative song.  Curious, by the way, how that Dramatic Form of the old Greek, with only some superficial changes, remains a law not only for the stage, but for the thoughts of all Poets; and what a charm it has even for the reader who never saw a theatre.  The Greek Plays and Shakspeare have interested a hundred as books, for one who has seen their writings acted.  How lightly does the mere clown, the idle school-girl, build a private theatre in the fancy, and laugh or weep with Falstaff and Macbeth:  with how entire an oblivion of the artificial nature of the whole contrivance, which thus compels them to be their own architects, machinists, scene-painters, and actors!  In fact, the artifice succeeds, ­becomes grounded in the substance of the soul:  and every one loves to feel how he is thus brought face to face with the brave, the fair, the woful and the great of all past ages; looks into their eyes, and feels the beatings of their hearts; and reads, over the shoulder, the secret written tablets of the busiest and the largest brains; while the Juggler, by whose cunning the whole strange beautiful absurdity is set in motion, keeps himself hidden; sings loud with a mouth unmoving as that of a statue, and makes the human race cheat itself unanimously and delightfully by the illusion that he preordains; while as an obscure Fate, he sits invisible, and hardly lets his being be divined by those who cannot flee him.  The Lyric Art is childish, and the Epic barbarous, compared to this.  But of the true and perfect Drama it may be said, as of even higher mysteries, Who is sufficient for these things?” ­On this Tragedy of Strafford, writing it and again writing it, studying for it, and bending himself with his whole strength to do his best on it, he expended many strenuous months, ­“above a year of his life,” he computes, in all.

For the rest, what Falmouth has to give him he is willing to take, and mingles freely in it.  In Hare’s Collection there is given a Lecture which he read in Autumn, 1841 (Mr. Hare says “1842,” by mistake), to a certain Public Institution in the place, ­of which more anon; ­a piece interesting in this, if not much in any other respect.  Doubtless his friends the Foxes were at the heart of that lecturing enterprise, and had urged and solicited him.  Something like proficiency in certain branches of science, as I have understood, characterized one or more of this estimable family; love of knowledge, taste for art, wish to consort with wisdom and wise men, were the tendencies of all; to opulent means superadd the Quaker beneficence, Quaker purity and reverence, there is a circle in which wise men also may love to be.  Sterling made acquaintance here with whatever of notable in worthy persons or things might be afoot in those parts; and was led thereby, now and then, into pleasant reunions, in new circles of activity, which might otherwise have continued foreign to him.  The good Calvert, too, was now here; and intended to remain; ­which he mostly did henceforth, lodging in Sterling’s neighborhood, so long as lodging in this world was permitted him.  Still good and clear and cheerful; still a lively comrade, within doors or without, ­a diligent rider always, ­though now wearing visibly weaker, and less able to exert himself.

Among those accidental Falmouth reunions, perhaps the notablest for Sterling occurred in this his first season.  There is in Falmouth an Association called the Cornwall Polytechnic Society, established about twenty years ago, and supported by the wealthy people of the Town and neighborhood, for the encouragement of the arts in that region; it has its Library, its Museum, some kind of Annual Exhibition withal; gives prizes, publishes reports:  the main patrons, I believe, are Sir Charles Lemon, a well-known country gentleman of those parts, and the Messrs. Fox.  To this, so far as he liked to go in it, Sterling was sure to be introduced and solicited.  The Polytechnic meeting of 1841 was unusually distinguished; and Sterling’s part in it formed one of the pleasant occurrences for him in Falmouth.  It was here that, among other profitable as well as pleasant things, he made acquaintance with Professor Owen (an event of which I too had my benefit in due time, and still have):  the bigger assemblage called British Association, which met at Plymouth this year, having now just finished its affairs there, Owen and other distinguished persons had taken Falmouth in their route from it.  Sterling’s account of this Polytechnic gala still remains, ­in three Letters to his Father, which, omitting the extraneous portions, I will give in one, ­as a piece worth reading among those still-life pictures: ­

“To Edward Sterling, Esq., Knightsbridge, London. 
“FALMOUTH, 10th August, 1841.

“MY DEAR FATHER, ­I was not well for a day or two after you went; and since, I have been busy about an annual show of the Polytechnic Society here, in which my friends take much interest, and for which I have been acting as one of the judges in the department of the Fine Arts, and have written a little Report for them.  As I have not said that Falmouth is as eminent as Athens or Florence, perhaps the Committee will not adopt my statement.  But if they do, it will be of some use; for I have hinted, as delicately as possible, that people should not paint historical pictures before they have the power of drawing a decent outline of a pig or a cabbage.  I saw Sir Charles Lemon yesterday, who was kind as well as civil in his manner; and promises to be a pleasant neighbor.  There are several of the British Association heroes here; but not Whewell, or any one whom I know.”

August 17th. ­At the Polytechnic Meeting here we had several very eminent men; among others, Professor Owen, said to be the first of comparative anatomists, and Conybeare the geologist.  Both of these gave evening Lectures; and after Conybeare’s, at which I happened to be present, I said I would, if they chose, make some remarks on the Busts which happened to be standing there, intended for prizes in the department of the Fine Arts.  They agreed gladly.  The heads were Homer, Pericles, Augustus, Dante and Michael Angelo.  I got into the box-like platform, with these on a shelf before me; and began a talk which must have lasted some three quarters of an hour; describing partly the characters and circumstances of the men, illustrated by anecdotes and compared with their physiognomies, and partly the several styles of sculpture exhibited in the Casts, referring these to what I considered the true principles of the Art.  The subject was one that interests me, and I got on in famous style; and had both pit and galleries all applauding, in a way that had had no precedent during any other part of the meeting.  Conybeare paid me high compliments; Owen looked much pleased, ­an honor well purchased by a year’s hard work; ­and everybody, in short, seemed delighted.  Susan was not there, and I had nothing to make me nervous; so that I worked away freely, and got vigorously over the ground.  After so many years’ disuse of rhetoric, it was a pleasant surprise to myself to find that I could still handle the old weapons without awkwardness.  More by good luck than good guidance, it has done my health no harm.  I have been at Sir Charles Lemon’s, though only to pay a morning visit, having declined to stay there or dine, the hours not suiting me.  They were very civil.  The person I saw most of was his sister, Lady Dunstanville; a pleasant, well-informed and well-bred woman.  He seems a most amiable, kindly man, of fair good sense and cultivated tastes. ­I had a letter to-day from my Mother [in Scotland]; who says she sent you one which you were to forward me; which I hope soon to have.”

August 29th. ­I returned yesterday from Carclew, Sir C. Lemon’s fine place about five miles off; where I had been staying a couple of days, with apparently the heartiest welcome.  Susan was asked; but wanting a Governess, could not leave home.

“Sir Charles is a widower (his Wife was sister to Lord Ilchester) without children; but had a niece staying with him, and his sister Lady Dunstanville, a pleasant and very civil woman.  There were also Mr. Bunbury, eldest son of Sir Henry Bunbury, a man of much cultivation and strong talents; Mr. Fox Talbot, son, I think, of another Ilchester lady, and brother of the Talbot of Wales, but himself a man of large fortune, and known for photogenic and other scientific plans of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.  He also is a man of known ability, but chiefly employed in that peculiar department. Item Professors Lloyd and Owen:  the former, of Dublin, son of the late Provost, I had seen before and knew; a great mathematician and optician, and a discoverer in those matters; with a clever little Wife, who has a great deal of knowledge, quite free from pretension.  Owen is a first-rate comparative anatomist, they say the greatest since Cuvier; lives in London, and lectures there.  On the whole, he interested me more than any of them, ­by an apparent force and downrightness of mind, combined with much simplicity and frankness.

“Nothing could be pleasanter and easier than the habits of life, with what to me was a very unusual degree of luxury, though probably nothing but what is common among people of large fortune.  The library and pictures are nothing extraordinary.  The general tone of good nature, good sense and quiet freedom, was what struck me most; and I think besides this there was a disposition to be cordially courteous towards me....

“I took Edward a ride of two hours yesterday on Calvert’s pony, and he is improving fast in horsemanship.  The school appears to answer very well.  We shall have the Governess in a day or two, which will be a great satisfaction.  Will you send my Mother this scribble with my love; and believe me,

“Your affectionate son,
“JOHN STERLING.”

One other little event dwells with me, out of those Falmouth times, exact date now forgotten; a pleasant little matter, in which Sterling, and principally the Misses Fox, bright cheery young creatures, were concerned; which, for the sake of its human interest, is worth mention.  In a certain Cornish mine, said the Newspapers duly specifying it, two miners deep down in the shaft were engaged putting in a shot for blasting:  they had completed their affair, and were about to give the signal for being hoisted up, ­one at a time was all their coadjutor at the top could manage, and the second was to kindle the match, and then mount with all speed.  Now it chanced while they were both still below, one of them thought the match too long; tried to break it shorter, took a couple of stones, a flat and a sharp, to cut it shorter; did cut it of the due length, but, horrible to relate, kindled it at the same time, and both were still below!  Both shouted vehemently to the coadjutor at the windlass, both sprang at the basket; the windlass man could not move it with them both.  Here was a moment for poor miner Jack and miner Will!  Instant horrible death hangs over both, ­when Will generously resigns himself:  “Go aloft, Jack,” and sits down; “away; in one minute I shall be in Heaven!” Jack bounds aloft, the explosion instantly follows, bruises his face as he looks over; he is safe above ground:  and poor Will?  Descending eagerly they find Will too, as if by miracle, buried under rocks which had arched themselves over him, and little injured:  he too is brought up safe, and all ends joyfully, say the Newspapers.

Such a piece of manful promptitude, and salutary human heroism, was worth investigating.  It was investigated; found to be accurate to the letter, ­with this addition and explanation, that Will, an honest, ignorant good man, entirely given up to Methodism, had been perfect in the “faith of assurance,” certain that he should get to Heaven if he died, certain that Jack would not, which had been the ground of his decision in that great moment; ­for the rest, that he much wished to learn reading and writing, and find some way of life above ground instead of below.  By aid of the Misses Fox and the rest of that family, a subscription (modest Anti-Hudson testimonial) was raised to this Methodist hero:  he emerged into daylight with fifty pounds in his pocket; did strenuously try, for certain months, to learn reading and writing; found he could not learn those arts or either of them; took his money and bought cows with it, wedding at the same time some religious likely milkmaid; and is, last time I heard of him, a prosperous modest dairyman, thankful for the upper light and safety from the wrath to come.  Sterling had some hand in this affair:  but, as I said, it was the two young ladies of the family that mainly did it.

In the end of 1841, after many hesitations and revisals, The Election came out; a tiny Duodecimo without name attached; again inquiring of the public what its suffrage was; again to little purpose.  My vote had never been loud for this step, but neither was it quite adverse; and now, in reading the poor little Poem over again, after ten years’ space, I find it, with a touching mixture of pleasure and repentance, considerably better than it then seemed to me.  My encouragement, if not to print this poem, yet to proceed with Poetry, since there was such a resolution for it, might have been a little more decided!

This is a small Piece, but aims at containing great things; a multum in parvo after its sort; and is executed here and there with undeniable success.  The style is free and flowing, the rhyme dances along with a certain joyful triumph; everything of due brevity withal.  That mixture of mockery on the surface, which finely relieves the real earnestness within, and flavors even what is not very earnest and might even be insipid otherwise, is not ill managed:  an amalgam difficult to effect well in writing; nay, impossible in writing, ­unless it stand already done and effected, as a general fact, in the writer’s mind and character; which will betoken a certain ripeness there.

As I said, great things are intended in this little Piece; the motto itself foreshadowing them: ­

     “Fluellen.  Ancient Pistol, I do partly understand your
                    meaning.
     Pistol.  Why, then, rejoice therefor.”

A stupid commonplace English Borough has lost its Member suddenly, by apoplexy or otherwise; resolves, in the usual explosive temper of mind, to replace him by one of two others; whereupon strange stirring-up of rival-attorney and other human interests and catastrophes.  “Frank Vane” (Sterling himself), and “Peter Mogg,” the pattern English blockhead of elections:  these are the candidates.  There are, of course, fierce rival attorneys; electors of all creeds and complexions to be canvassed:  a poor stupid Borough thrown all into red or white heat; into blazing paroxysms of activity and enthusiasm, which render the inner life of it (and of England and the world through it) luminously transparent, so to speak; ­of which opportunity our friend and his “Muse” take dexterous advantage, to delineate the same.  His pictures are uncommonly good; brief, joyous, sometimes conclusively true:  in rigorously compressed shape; all is merry freshness and exuberance:  we have leafy summer embowering red bricks and small human interests, presented as in glowing miniature; a mock-heroic action fitly interwoven; ­and many a clear glance is carelessly given into the deepest things by the way.  Very happy also is the little love-episode; and the absorption of all the interest into that, on the part of Frank Vane and of us, when once this gallant Frank, ­having fairly from his barrel-head stated his own (and John Sterling’s) views on the aspects of the world, and of course having quite broken down with his attorney and his public, ­handsomely, by stratagem, gallops off with the fair Anne; and leaves free field to Mogg, free field to the Hippopotamus if it like.  This portrait of Mogg may be considered to have merit: ­

     “Though short of days, how large the mind of man;
     A godlike force enclosed within a span! 
     To climb the skies we spurn our nature’s clog,
     And toil as Titans to elect a Mogg.

     “And who was Mogg?  O Muse! the man declare,
     How excellent his worth, his parts how rare. 
     A younger son, he learnt in Oxford’s halls
     The spheral harmonies of billiard-balls,
     Drank, hunted, drove, and hid from Virtue’s frown
     His venial follies in Decorum’s gown. 
     Too wise to doubt on insufficient cause,
     He signed old Cranmer’s lore without a pause;
     And knew that logic’s cunning rules are taught
     To guard our creed, and not invigorate thought, ­
     As those bronze steeds at Venice, kept for pride,
     Adorn a Town where not one man can ride.

     “From Isis sent with all her loud acclaims,
     The Laws he studied on the banks of Thames. 
     Park, race and play, in his capacious plan,
     Combined with Coke to form the finished man,
     Until the wig’s ambrosial influence shed
     Its last full glories on the lawyer’s head.

     “But vain are mortal schemes.  The eldest son
     At Harrier Hall had scarce his stud begun,
     When Death’s pale courser took the Squire away
     To lands where never dawns a hunting day: 
     And so, while Thomas vanished ’mid the fog,
     Bright rose the morning-star of Peter Mogg.”

And this little picture, in a quite opposite way: ­

     “Now, in her chamber all alone, the maid
     Her polished limbs and shoulders disarrayed;
     One little taper gave the only light,
     One little mirror caught so dear a sight;
     ’Mid hangings dusk and shadows wide she stood,
     Like some pale Nymph in dark-leafed solitude
     Of rocks and gloomy waters all alone,
     Where sunshine scarcely breaks on stump or stone
     To scare the dreamy vision.  Thus did she,
     A star in deepest night, intent but free,
     Gleam through the eyeless darkness, heeding not
     Her beauty’s praise, but musing o’er her lot.

     “Her garments one by one she laid aside,
     And then her knotted hair’s long locks untied
     With careless hand, and down her cheeks they fell,
     And o’er her maiden bosom’s blue-veined swell. 
     The right-hand fingers played amidst her hair,
     And with her reverie wandered here and there: 
     The other hand sustained the only dress
     That now but half concealed her loveliness;
     And pausing, aimlessly she stood and thought,
     In virgin beauty by no fear distraught.”

Manifold, and beautiful of their sort, are Anne’s musings, in this interesting attitude, in the summer midnight, in the crisis of her destiny now near; ­at last: ­

     “But Anne, at last her mute devotions o’er,
     Perceived the feet she had forgot before
     Of her too shocking nudity; and shame
     Flushed from her heart o’er all the snowy frame: 
     And, struck from top to toe with burning dread,
     She blew the light out, and escaped to bed.”

­which also is a very pretty movement.

It must be owned withal, the Piece is crude in parts, and far enough from perfect.  Our good painter has yet several things to learn, and to unlearn.  His brush is not always of the finest; and dashes about, sometimes, in a recognizably sprawling way:  but it hits many a feature with decisive accuracy and felicity; and on the palette, as usual, lie the richest colors.  A grand merit, too, is the brevity of everything; by no means a spontaneous, or quite common merit with Sterling.

This new poetic Duodecimo, as the last had done and as the next also did, met with little or no recognition from the world:  which was not very inexcusable on the world’s part; though many a poem with far less proof of merit than this offers, has run, when the accidents favored it, through its tens of editions, and raised the writer to the demigods for a year or two, if not longer.  Such as it is, we may take it as marking, in its small way, in a noticed or unnoticed manner, a new height arrived at by Sterling in his Poetic course; and almost as vindicating the determination he had formed to keep climbing by that method.  Poor Poem, or rather Promise of a Poem!  In Sterling’s brave struggle, this little Election is the highest point he fairly lived to see attained, and openly demonstrated in print.  His next public adventure in this kind was of inferior worth; and a third, which had perhaps intrinsically gone much higher than any of its antecessors, was cut off as a fragment, and has not hitherto been published.  Steady courage is needed on the Poetic course, as on all courses! ­

Shortly after this Publication, in the beginning of 1842, poor Calvert, long a hopeless sufferer, was delivered by death:  Sterling’s faithful fellow-pilgrim could no more attend him in his wayfarings through this world.  The weary and heavy-laden man had borne his burden well.  Sterling says of him to Hare:  “Since I wrote last, I have lost Calvert; the man with whom, of all others, I have been during late years the most intimate.  Simplicity, benevolence, practical good sense and moral earnestness were his great unfailing characteristics; and no man, I believe, ever possessed them more entirely.  His illness had latterly so prostrated him, both in mind and body, that those who most loved him were most anxious for his departure.”  There was something touching in this exit; in the quenching of so kind and bright a little life under the dark billows of death.  To me he left a curious old Print of James Nayler the Quaker, which I still affectionately preserve.

Sterling, from this greater distance, came perhaps rather seldomer to London; but we saw him still at moderate intervals; and, through his family here and other direct and indirect channels, were kept in lively communication with him.  Literature was still his constant pursuit; and, with encouragement or without, Poetic composition his chosen department therein.  On the ill success of The Election, or any ill success with the world, nobody ever heard him utter the least murmur; condolence upon that or any such subject might have been a questionable operation, by no means called for!  Nay, my own approval, higher than this of the world, had been languid, by no means enthusiastic.  But our valiant friend took all quietly; and was not to be repulsed from his Poetics either by the world’s coldness or by mine; he labored at his Strafford; ­determined to labor, in all ways, till he felt the end of his tether in this direction.

He sometimes spoke, with a certain zeal, of my starting a Periodical:  Why not lift up some kind of war-flag against the obese platitudes, and sickly superstitious aperies and impostures of the time?  But I had to answer, “Who will join it, my friend?” He seemed to say, “I, for one;” and there was occasionally a transient temptation in the thought, but transient only.  No fighting regiment, with the smallest attempt towards drill, co-operation, commissariat, or the like unspeakable advantages, could be raised in Sterling’s time or mine; which truly, to honest fighters, is a rather grievous want.  A grievous, but not quite a fatal one.  For, failing this, failing all things and all men, there remains the solitary battle (and were it by the poorest weapon, the tongue only, or were it even by wise abstinence and silence and without any weapon), such as each man for himself can wage while he has life:  an indubitable and infinitely comfortable fact for every man!  Said battle shaped itself for Sterling, as we have long since seen, chiefly in the poetic form, in the singing or hymning rather than the speaking form; and in that he was cheerfully assiduous according to his light.  The unfortunate Strafford is far on towards completion; a Coeur-de-Lion, of which we shall hear farther, “Coeur-de-Lion, greatly the best of all his Poems,” unluckily not completed, and still unpublished, already hangs in the wind.

His Letters to friends continue copious; and he has, as always, a loyally interested eye on whatsoever of notable is passing in the world.  Especially on whatsoever indicates to him the spiritual condition of the world.  Of “Strauss,” in English or in German, we now hear nothing more; of Church matters, and that only to special correspondents, less and less.  Strauss, whom he used to mention, had interested him only as a sign of the times; in which sense alone do we find, for a year or two back, any notice of the Church, or its affairs by Sterling; and at last even this as good as ceases:  “Adieu, O Church; thy road is that way, mine is this:  in God’s name, adieu!” “What we are going to,” says he once, “is abundantly obscure; but what all men are going from, is very plain.” ­Sifted out of many pages, not of sufficient interest, here are one or two miscellaneous sentences, about the date we are now arrived at: ­

To Dr. Symonds.

Falmouth, 3d November, 1841. ­Yesterday was my Wedding-day:  eleven years of marriage; and on the whole my verdict is clear for matrimony.  I solemnized the day by reading John Gilpin to the children, who with their Mother are all pretty well....  There is a trick of sham Elizabethan writing now prevalent, that looks plausible, but in most cases means nothing at all.  Darley has real (lyrical) genius; Taylor, wonderful sense, clearness and weight of purpose; Tennyson, a rich and exquisite fancy.  All the other men of our tiny generation that I know of are, in Poetry, either feeble or fraudulent.  I know nothing of the Reviewer you ask about.”

To his Mother

December 11th. ­I have seen no new books; but am reading your last.  I got hold of the two first Numbers of the Hoggarty Diamond; and read them with extreme delight.  What is there better in Fielding or Goldsmith?  The man is a true genius; and, with quiet and comfort, might produce masterpieces that would last as long as any we have, and delight millions of unborn readers.  There is more truth and nature in one of these papers than in all ­’s Novels together.” ­Thackeray, always a close friend of the Sterling house, will observe that this is dated 1841, not 1851, and have his own reflections on the matter!

To the Same.

December 17th. ­I am not much surprised at Lady ­’s views of Coleridge’s little Book on Inspiration. ­Great part of the obscurity of the Letters arises from his anxiety to avoid the difficulties and absurdities of the common views, and his panic terror of saying anything that bishops and good people would disapprove.  He paid a heavy price, viz. all his own candor and simplicity, in hope of gaining the favor of persons like Lady ­; and you see what his reward is!  A good lesson for us all.”

To the Same.

February 1st, 1842. ­English Toryism has, even in my eyes, about as much to say for itself as any other form of doctrine; but Irish Toryism is the downright proclamation of brutal injustice, and all in the name of God and the Bible!  It is almost enough to make one turn Mahometan, but for the fear of the four wives.”

To his Father.

March 12th, 1842. ...  Important to me as these matters are, it almost seems as if there were something unfeeling in writing of them, under the pressure of such news as ours from India.  If the Cabool Troops have perished, England has not received such a blow from an enemy, nor anything approaching it, since Buckingham’s Expedition to the Isle of Rhé.  Walcheren destroyed us by climate; and Corunna, with all its losses, had much of glory.  But here we are dismally injured by mere Barbarians, in a War on our part shamefully unjust as well as foolish:  a combination of disgrace and calamity that would have shocked Augustus even more than the defeat of Varus.  One of the four officers with Macnaghten was George Lawrence, a brother-in-law of Nat Barton; a distinguished man, and the father of five totally unprovided children.  He is a prisoner, if not since murdered.  Macnaghten I do not pity; he was the prime author of the whole mad War.  But Burnes; and the women; and our regiments!  India, however, I feel sure, is safe.”

So roll the months at Falmouth; such is the ticking of the great World-Horologe as heard there by a good ear.  “I willingly add,” so ends he, once, “that I lately found somewhere this fragment of an Arab’s love-song:  ’O Ghalia!  If my father were a jackass, I would sell him to purchase Ghalia!’ A beautiful parallel to the French ’Avec cette sauce on mangerait son pere.’”