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The Life and Letters of William Sharp and “Fiona Macleod”. Volume 1

 | 
William Sharp
, 
Fiona Macleod

Chapter Two

Texte intégral

Life: 1882–1884

1In February 1882 Rossetti became ill and depressed, convinced he was near death. Hall Caine, who was his main caretaker, rented a house on the seacoast near Birchington in Kent in the hope that living near the sea away from the fogs and smoke of London would improve his health and spirits. He invited William Sharp and Theodore Watts for a weekend to help him break through Rossetti’s gloom. In a February 13 letter to Elizabeth from Birchington, Sharp described an outing with Rossetti the previous day: “Oh, the larks yesterday! It was as warm as June, and Rossetti and Caine and I went out, and I lay in the grass basking in the sun, looking down on the shining sea, and hearing these heavenly incarnate little joys sending thrills of sweetness, and vague pain through all my being.” Years later he expanded on the experience as one of his most cherished memories:

It had been a lovely day. Rossetti asked me to go out with him for a stroll on the cliff; and though he leaned heavily and dragged his limbs wearily as if in pain, he grew more cheerful as the sunlight warmed him. The sky was a cloudless blue and the singing of at least a score of larks was wonderful to listen to. Everywhere Spring odours prevailed.… At first I thought Rossetti was indifferent, but this mood gave way. He let go my arm and stood staring seaward silently, then, still in a low, tired voice, but with a new tone, he murmured, “It is beautiful – the world and life itself. I am glad I have lived”. Insensibly thereafter the dejection lifted from off his spirit. And for the rest of that day and that evening he was noticeably less despondent (Memoir 59–60).

2Less than two months later, on April 9, Rossetti died. Sharp described his feelings to Elizabeth on the night before he went to Birchington for the funeral:

He had weaknesses and frailties within the last six or eight months owing to his illness, but to myself he was ever patient and true and affectionate. A grand heart and soul, a true friend, a great artist, a great poet. I shall not meet with such another. He loved me, I know – and believed and hoped great things of me, and within the last few days I have learned how generously and how urgently, he impressed this upon others…. I can hardly imagine London without him.

3Rossetti was more than a friend and mentor. Sharp’s father rejected his son’s artistic bent and died without reconciliation. Rossetti was the first of many who filled that void.

4In the years before his death, Rossetti drew first Caine and then Sharp into his circle and depended on them for support and companionship. Soon after he died, both men decided to write a book about the great man. When Caine learned in July that Sharp was preparing a book, he complained bitterly. Since Sharp’s book would cut into the sale of his book, he had decided to abandon it. Sharp’s letters to Caine were not available to Elizabeth for her Memoir, and Caine is largely absent from that work. Their competing books on Rossetti might well have permanently damaged their relationship. A trove of Sharp letters to Caine preserved in the Manx Museum on the Isle of Man shows, on the contrary, they remained close friends for many years. After a brief period of strain in the summer of 1882, Sharp cleared the air in a letter that assured Caine his book would not be a biography, but “a Study of the Poet – Artist – for in deference to your own work I determined to make the biographical portion consist of only about ten pages or so.… I fail to see where the two will clash.” Mollified by this explanation, Caine proceeded with his book – Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti – which was published by Elliot Stock in September. Sharp’s response to Caine preserved their friendship.

5During July, William Michael Rossetti worked with Sharp on the dating and location of his brother’s paintings. With that information in hand by early August, Sharp joined his mother and sisters in a rented cottage in western Scotland where he wrote the main body of the book. He finished it after returning to London, and Macmillan published Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and A Study in December. The book’s favorable reception provided a significant boost to Sharp’s literary career. While his descriptions and analyses of Rossetti’s paintings, poetry, and prose continue to be of some interest, the book’s main lasting value is its Appendix, a detailed listing of the dates, subjects, and then current owners of Rossetti’s paintings.

Fig. 3. Hall Caine, The Manxman, as caricatured in Vanity Fair. John Bernard Partridge (1896), Wikimedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​File:Hall_Caine_Vanity_Fair_2_July_1896.jpg, Public Domain.

6Sharp’s first book of poems – The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood – was published by Elliot Stock in 1882. He considered this book, according to Elizabeth, the beginning of the “true work of his life.” As the title indicates, it consists of three long poems. “The Human Inheritance” contains four sections which depict, in turn, childhood, youth, manhood/womanhood, and old age. “The New Hope” forecasts a spiritual regeneration of the world; and “Motherhood” attempts to demonstrate “by depicting the experience of giving birth” the commonality of experience among all living creatures. Sharp considered that poem, which Rossetti had praised, a major accomplishment. When Elizabeth accompanied her mother to Italy in early 1880, she read parts of “Motherhood” to Eugene Lee-Hamilton, an aspiring poet who lived with his mother and sister, Violet Paget (Vernon Lee), near Florence. They thought the poem’s depiction of “giving birth” was not a fit subject for poetry. In response Sharp wrote a long letter to Lee-Hamilton and another to Paget in March 1881 (both reproduced in the previous chapter) justifying his effort to demonstrate in the poem that women shared with animals many experiences and feelings. The poem seems not to have produced much consternation when it appeared in the 1882 volume, perhaps because the entire volume evoked minimal notice and sank quietly out of sight. The care with which Sharp wrote and defended “Motherhood,” however, is the first sign of his life-long fascination with the inner lives of women. This poem was his first effort to penetrate and portray publically the consciousness of a woman, a manner of thinking and feeling he felt deep within himself that culminated in 1892 in his creation of and identification with Fiona Macleod.

7During 1882 Sharp earned small amounts for poems that appeared in The Athenaeum, the Portfolio, The Academy, The Art Journal, and, in America, Harper’s Magazine. Toward the end of the year, he had almost reached his last penny. A forty-pound check from Harper’s provided some relief, and then out of the blue a two-hundred-pound check arrived from an unknown friend of his grandfather who had heard from Sir Noel Paton that he was “inclined to the study of literature and art.” Sharp was to use the money “to pursue his artistic studies” in Italy. The windfall enabled him at the end of February 1883, to leave for Italy where he spent five months in churches and galleries studying paintings by the major figures of the Italian Renaissance. He went first to Florence where he stayed with one of Elizabeth’s aunts in her villa on the outskirts of the city, then to Venice where he met Ouida and William Dean Howells and formed a close friendship with John Addington Symonds, then to Sienna, and then to Rome before returning to Florence. He described much of what he saw in a series of lengthy letters to Elizabeth who had seen many of the paintings and frescoes during her trip to Italy with her mother in 1881. He studied the works carefully and developed opinions of their relative merits. He was introduced to paintings by his association with Rossetti and others of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The Italian experience brought him into direct contact with the work of artists who had, in fact, preceded Raphael and provided a solid basis for the art criticism that occupied much of his time and attention in the years that followed.

Fig. 4. Photograph of William Sharp taken by an unknown photographer in Rome in 1883. Reproduced from William Sharp: A Memoir, compiled by Elizabeth Sharp (London: William Heinemann, 1910).

8When he returned to London, he wrote a series of articles for the Glasgow Herald on Etrurian cities. In August, he was in Scotland with his mother and sisters in a rented house on the Clyde. While there, he went over to Arran to visit Sir Noel Paton, and from Arran, he went on to Oban, sailed over to Mull, and crossed that large island to the small island of Iona which became a place of pilgrimage for him and would figure prominently in his writings as Fiona Macleod. In September, the Glasgow Herald, probably on the strength of his Italian articles, invited him to become its London-based art critic, a post he held for many years before turning it over to Elizabeth.

9On his way to Scotland in early August, he lost a large portmanteau which “in addition to new clothes got in London and valuable souvenirs and presents from Italy, contained all my MSS., both prose & verse, all my Memoranda (many of them essential to work in hand), all my Notes taken in Italy, my private papers and letters, some proofs, three partly written articles (two of them much overdue), my most valued books – and indeed my whole literary stock-in-trade pro-tem.” After retracing his steps in cold, wet weather, trying to locate the missing case, he had no choice but to accept its loss. He wrote to Hall Caine in August 1883: “As a literary worker yourself you will understand what a ‘fister’ this is to a young writer. I must take this buffet of Fate, however, without undue wincing – and tackle to again all the more earnestly for the severe loss and disappointment experienced. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” Elizabeth reported the portmanteau was found about a month after its loss and returned in a wet and damaged condition, but many of the poems and essays were recoverable. Some were published, providing a modest income, in Good Words, The Fortnightly Review, Cassell’s Magazine, and the Literary World.

10After returning to London from Scotland in September, Sharp had a cold that progressed into a second bout of rheumatic fever, further damaging his heart. His sister Mary came from Edinburgh to join Elizabeth in nursing him back to health. By November he was able to tell Caine: “I am greatly better, so much so that I find it difficult to credit the doctor’s doleful prognostications: I feel I must take care, but beyond that I have no immediate cause for alarm. The worst of it is that I am one day in exuberant health and the next very much the reverse. The doctors agree that it is valvular disease of the heart, a treacherous form thereof still further complicated by a hereditary bias.” He felt well enough to make light of the illness: “a fellow must “kick” someday – and I would as soon do so “per the heart” as, like no small number of my forbears in Scotland, from delirium tremens, sheep-stealing (in hanging days), and general disreputableness.” Still, there was a problem: “Even if pecuniarly able, I am forbidden to marry for a year to come – and though waiting is hard now for us both, it is better even for my fiancée that nothing should be done which might result in what would be such a grief to her.” Even if he had the requisite money, marriage would put too great a strain on his heart.

11During the early part of 1884, Sharp prepared his second book of poems, Earth’s Voices, which was published by Elliott Stock in June. Perhaps because he had become friends with more important literary figures, it was more widely noted than the earlier volume. He received a letter of praise from Walter Pater, whose judgment might have been tinged by the volume’s dedication to him, and another from Christina Rossetti who liked several poems, especially those praising her brother. In a 1906 Century article on Sharp his friend Ernest Rhys praised some of the poems in Earth’s Voices: “His writings betrayed a constant quest after those hardly realizable regions of thought and those keener lyric emotions, which, since Shelley wrote and Rossetti wrote and painted, have so often occupied the interpreters of the vision and spectacle of nature.” Rhys found in one of the volume’s poems, “A Record,” “unmistakable germs” of “some of the supernatural ideas that afterward received a much more vital expression in the works of Fiona Macleod” (Memoir 97–98).

12Sharp spent most of March and April in a house in Dover loaned to him by Dinah Maria Craik who understood both his precarious finances and his need to recuperate away from the fogs of London. His friend and fellow poet Philip Marston (1850–1887), who was blinded at the age three, spent a week with him in April. In a Memoir of Marston that Sharp wrote as an introduction to his edition of his poems and to his edition of his stories published in 1888, following Marston’s early death in 1887, he described in glowing terms the walks they took together and Marston’s excited responses to the warm sea air and sounds he had never heard in London.

13From Dover, Sharp crossed to France in early May for the first of many visits to Paris as an art critic for the Glasgow Herald. He wrote excitedly to Elizabeth about the writers, painters, and other luminaries he was meeting, among them Paul Bourget, Alphonse Daudet, Emile Zola, Frederic Mistral, Adolphe Bouguereau, Fernand Cormon, Puvis de Chavannes, Jules Breton, and, curiously, Madame Blavatsky.

14Shortly after he returned from Paris, Sharp suffered another relapse that led him to ask Hall Caine on Sunday, June 15, 1884, if he could stay with him the following night. He was vacating his rented Thorngate Road rooms, which were cold and damp, and had to leave them the next day. He could not stay with Elizabeth’s family in Inverness Terrace until Tuesday. The letter indicates how close Sharp and Caine were in this period and provides a revealing insight into the malady Sharp could not escape:

I have had, this afternoon, a narrow escape from rheumatic fever & must leave here at once. I think I have fought it down, but I must not risk such another chance. I have been crouching over a large fire and with my medicine have got the better of the cursed complaint…. If in any way inconvenient, a postcard will do if you only say all right on it. Wd. come in the evening – but must go west early in the day from here on an urgent matter. Can’t say how thankful I am to have escaped this sharp and sudden attack, & there’s no saying what a second bout would do. Excuse a hideous scrawl, but my hands are so chilled and pained I can hardly hold the pen – and have to write at a distance.

15Caine replied immediately. Sharp should come the next day to a house Caine rented in Hampstead where he would be well cared for by two ladies and their maid. According to Caine’s biographer, Sharp spent that Monday night at Caine’s house – Yarra in Worsley Road, Hampstead – where he was looked after by Caine’s fifteen-year-old mistress, Mary Chandler, and her maid. [Vivien Allen, Hall Caine: Portrait of a Victorian Romancer (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 171.]

16Caine had rented the Hampstead house for Mary Chandler because he did not want his family or others to know about his relationship with such a young girl, who was pregnant with his child. Sharp was one of only a few close friends who knew about the arrangement. Long after he recovered, he asked Caine in an August 26th letter from Scotland,

Is the hour of paternity drawing nigh? I wonder if Maccoll would accept for the Athenaeum a sonnet on “Caine’s Firstborn”? I must try. If a boy, please call it “Abel”, or in case this would give rise to too many poor jokes, what do you say to “Tubal”. Most people would simply think you had called him after “that fellow, you know, in one of George Eliot’s poems”!

17As it turned out, a baby boy was born on August 15th and named neither Abel nor Tubal, after the Tubal-Cain in Genesis, but Ralph, after Caine’s Grandfather, Ralph Hall. The main purpose of Sharp’s August 26th letter was to let Caine know about an upcoming change in his own circumstances

Just a line, my dear Caine, in the midst of pressure from urgent work and accumulated correspondence, to let you know (what I am sure you will be glad to hear for my sake) that at last my long engagement is drawing to a close, and that Lillie and I are to be married on All Saints Day – just about two months from date. What we have got to marry on, Heaven knows – for I don’t: yet I hope a plunge in the dark will not in this instance prove disastrous. It is not a plunge in the dark as regards love and friendship – and that is the main thing.

18The year of waiting prescribed by his doctor was nearly up, and Elizabeth’s parents were finally convinced that her marriage to her first cousin was inevitable even though the newly married couple’s financial circumstances would remain uncertain. Sharp had proved himself a reliable and constant young man; indeed, his frequent presence at 72 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, had already made him part of Elizabeth’s family.

19On October 31st, after a nine-year courtship, Elizabeth and William were married at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London. They rented a flat at 46 Talgarth Road in West Kensington which was furnished by their families. They continued to make their way as writers and expanded their circle of literary and artistic friends. In her Memoir, Elizabeth included a list of luminaries whose “literary households” welcomed the newly married couple. Among the many were Walter Pater, Robert Browning, Mr. and Mrs. Ford Madox Ford, Mr. and Mrs. William Morris, Mr. and Mrs. William Rossetti, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Wilde, and Sir Frederick Leighton, the painter whose beautiful home and studio just off the Kensington High Street is now open to the public. At the close of 1884, both Sharps embarked on a six-year period of editing and reviewing that placed them near the center of London’s literary elite. Still, William continued to write poetry and harbored a strong desire to gain attention and praise for his imaginative writing in poetry and prose.

Letters: 1882–1884

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, February 13, 18821

  • 1 This letter was written from Birchington, Kent, where Rossetti died on Easter Sunday, April 9, 188 (...)
  • 2 Although he never finished it, Rossetti returned to work on his “Joan of Arc” during a short perio (...)

20Just a line to tell you I am supremely content. Beautiful sea views, steep ‘cavey’ cliffs, a delicious luxurious house, and nice company. By a curious mistake I got out at the wrong place on Sunday, and had a long walk with my bag along the cliffs till I arrived rather tired and hot at my destination. I was surprised not to find Hall Caine there, but it appeared he clearly understood I was to get out at a different station altogether. I was also delayed in arriving, as I asked a countryman my direction and he told me to the left – but from the shape of the coast I argued that the right must be the proper way – I went to the right in consequence, and nearly succeeded in going over a cliff’s edge, while my theory was decidedly vanquished by facts. However the walk repaid it. Oh, the larks yesterday! It was as warm as June, and Rossetti and Caine and myself went out and lay in the grass (at least I did) basking in the sun, looking down on the gleaming sea, and hearing these heavenly incarnate little joys sending thrills of sweetness, and vague pain through all my being. I seemed all aquiver with the delight of it all. And the smell of the wrack! and the cries of the seabirds! and delicious wash of the incoming tide! Oh, dear me, I shall hate to go back tomorrow. Caine is writing a sonnet in your book, Watts is writing a review for the Athenaeum, Rossetti is about to go on with painting his Joan of Arc,2 and I am writing the last lines of this note to you.

21Memoir 59

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, April 11, 1882

22London | 11:4:82

  • 3 Robert Farquharson Sharp (1864–1945) was Elizabeth Sharp’s brother and thus both a first cousin an (...)

23… After spending a very pleasant day at Haileybury with Farquharson3 we arrived late in London, and while glancing over an evening paper my eye suddenly caught a paragraph which made my heart almost stop. I could not bring myself to read it for a long time, although I knew it simply rechronicled the heading – “Sudden Death of Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti”. He died on Sunday night at Birchington. I cannot tell you what a grief this is to me. He has ever been to me a true friend, affectionate and generous – and to him I owe more perhaps than to any one after yourself. Apart from my deep regret at the loss of one whom I so loved, I have also the natural regret at what the loss of his friendship means. I feel as if a sudden tower of strength on which I had greatly relied had given way: for not only would Rossetti’s house have been my own as long as and whenever I needed, but it was his influence while alive that I so much looked to. Comparatively little known to the public, his name has always been a power and recommendation in itself amongst men of letters and artists and those who have to do with both professions. When I recall all that Rossetti has been to me – the pleasure he has given me – the encouragement, the fellowship – I feel very bitter at heart to think I shall never see again the kindly gray eyes and the massive head of the great poet and artist. He has gone to his rest. It were selfish to wish otherwise considering all things….

24If I take flowers down, part of the wreath shall be from you. He would have liked it himself, for he knew you through me, and he knew I am happier in this than most men perhaps.

25Memoir 61

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, April 13, 1882

26April 13, 1882

27… I have just returned (between twelve and one at night) tired and worn out with some necessary things in connection with Rossetti, taking me first to Chelsea, then away in the opposite direction to Euston Road. As I go down to Birchington by an early train, besides having much correspondence to get through after breakfast, I can only write a very short letter. I have felt the loss of my dear and great friend more and more. He had weaknesses and frailties within the last six or eight months owing to his illness, but to myself he was ever patient and true and affectionate. A grand heart and soul, a true friend, a great artist, a great poet, I shall not meet with such another. He loved me, I know, and believed and hoped great things of me, and within the last few days I have learned how generously and how urgently he impressed this upon others. God knows I do not grudge him his long-lookedforrest, yet I can hardly imagine London without him. I cannot realise it, and yet I know that I shall never again see the face lighten up when I come near, never again hear the voice whose mysterious fascination was like a spell. What fools are those vain men who talk of death: blinded, and full of the dust of corruption. As God lives, the soul dies not. What though the grave be silent, and the darkness of the Shadow become not peopled – to those eyes that can see there is light, light, light – to those ears that can hear the tumult of the disenfranchised, rejoicing. I am borne me down not with the sense of annihilation, but with the vastness of life and the imminence of things spiritual. I know from something beyond and out of myself that we are now but dying to live, and that there is no death, which is but as a child’s dream in a weary night.

28I am very tired. You will forgive more, my dearest friend.

29Memoir 62

To William Michael Rossetti, April 15, 1882

  • 4 In the Memoir (63,) this letter is misdated 1883.

3013 Thorngate Road, | Sutherland Gardens, W., | 15th April, 188[2].4

31Dear Mr. Rossetti,

32As your wife kindly expressed a wish that I would send you a copy of the sonnet I left in your brother’s coffin along with the flowers, I now do so. It must be judged not as a literary production, but as last words straight from the heart of one who loved and revered your brother.

33Yours very sincerely, | William Sharp

34Memoir 63

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti5

  • 5 This sonnet was not published until Mrs. Sharp printed it in the Memoir. Two other sonnets address (...)

AVE! MORS NON EST!

True heart, great spirit, who hast sojourn’d here
Till now the darkness rounds thee, and Death’s sea
Hath surged and ebbed and carried suddenly
Thy Soul far hence, as from a stony, drear,
And weary coast the tide the wrack doth shear;
Thou art gone hence, and though our sight may be
Strained with a yearning gaze, the mystery
Is mystic still to us: to thee, how clear!

O loved great friend, at last the balm of sleep
Hath soothed thee into silence: it is well
After life’s long unrest to draw the breath
No more on earth, but in a slumber deep,
Or joyous hence afar, the miracle
Await when dies at last imperious Death.
W. S.

35Memoir 63

To William Bell Scott, [April] 22, [1882]

3613 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | W. | Saturday 22nd

  • 6 William Bell Scott (1811–1890), was a Scottish artist in oils and watercolors. He was also a poet (...)

37Dear Mr. Scott6

38Pray accept my best thanks for the very welcome present of your book.

39I did not get home till midnight last night, yet it was well on in the morning before I could put the volume down. The peculiar individuality that has always attracted me in your work hitherto is even more observable in some ways here than anything I have yet seen. They are emphatically not verses to read once and lay down for good – for the majority of them are of the kind that delight both the imagination and the intellect. I promise myself many a fine thought and pleasurable thrill in the many future perusals I hope to give them. Later on, if you can care to have the opinion of one as young in the art as myself, I should like to let you know what especially touches myself, and wherein in my judgment you have excelled.

40I expect my own “first-born” to make its appearance within 10 days at least, if Elliott Stock is true to his word.

41Yours very sincerely | William Sharp

42ALS University of British Columbia

To Edward Dowden, May 22, 1882

4313 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | London | W. | 22/5/82

  • 7 Edward Dowden (1843–1913), an Irish poet, essayist, biographer, and literary critic, was a Profess (...)
  • 8 For more information about Dowden, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Dowden.

44My dear Sir,7,8

45I send you by this post a copy of my first volume, published a week or two ago, – which I trust you will accept as a slight mark of the esteem and regard I hold you in as a poet and critic.

46It may interest you to know that much of The Human Inheritance is personal. The descriptions in that poem and elsewhere of Australian & other scenery are from observation, and not reading – as after leaving college, I knocked about the other side of the world a bit to recover health, which was somewhat shaky.

47You may also care to hear that the Sonnet called Spring-Wind (which appeared also, by the bye, in Hall Caine’s collection of Eng. Sonnets) was written one windy March Sunday morning of last year in the garden of 16 Cheyne Walk, while staying there with my friend Dante Rossetti.

48He, by the bye, I have heard speak most warmly of both your poetical & critical gifts. His death was indeed a loss, not only to those who knew him well, but to all who loved art and literature. Personally speaking, I know that the encouragement of and belief he had in myself will always be with me an impulse to good work.

49I may mention that I procured your address from a mutual friend.

50Very sincerely yours | William Sharp

51E. Dowden Esq.

52ALS TCD.

To Hall Caine, [June 5, 1882]

53Monday Mrg.

54My dear Caine

55Thanks for the information.

  • 9 Notice by Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton) of Sharp’s first book of poetry – The Human Inherita (...)
  • 10 Yorkshire Post.

56I am afraid my letter must have somewhat misled you, for you seem to be under the impression that I do not sufficiently value the Athenaeum notice.9 This is quite a mistake, as it is by far the most important one for me that I have received, and I am exceedingly grateful to Watts for it. What I meant to say was that the Yk. Post’s10 notice was the best criticism as criticism that I had seen, the Athenaeum’s, however important and welcome, being more a valuable notice than really a critique. I should be exceedingly sorry if I thought Watts had any reason to imagine I was not sufficiently grateful for the good service he has done me – and I trust that you have, however inadvertently, not given him this impression.

  • 11 A poet and essayist, James Thomson (1834–1882) was the author of “City of Dreadful Night” (1874) a (...)

57You will regret to hear that James Thomson (the poet I mean, of course) is dead.11 He died at University Hospital on Saty night at 10 o’clock. He came to make a call on Philip on Thursday, & seemed then all right, tho’ very quiet and subdued. Late in the evening we thought it advisable to send for a doctor, & subsequently I carried him downstairs & took him to the Hospital in a cab. This was the only step to be taken, as he is absolutely lodgingless as well as homeless. He seemed better on Friday, tho’ very weak – and perhaps still better on Saty afternoon – but before midnight the poor fellow had escaped his insomnia and other miseries. He’s to have another volume coming out in the Autumn I understand.

58I let you know this matter as you may wish it for “news”; & as I don’t suppose it’s in today’s papers.

59Hoping erelong that we may see more of each other.

60Yours ever sincerely | William Sharp

61ALS British Library.

To Hall Caine, [June 15, 1882]12

  • 12 Date from postcard on envelope.

62My dear Caine

63I will obtain 2 more bottles of Hydoleine for you with pleasure – but I have not a disengaged hour this week! you are feeling seedy it wd. perhaps be better for me to come to you than vice versa. So I will endeavor to turn up at No. 16 at the earliest opportunity, sending if practicable a card first.

  • 13 Philip Bourke Marston.
  • 14 James Thomson.

64I will give P. B. M.13 your message. He will also be pleased to hear you have quoted his sonnet on Thomson. I don’t think I shall ever write anything on Thomson,14 as the personal reminiscences are slight, indeed I have only met with about two people who knew him really well. Philip knew him better than I did, personally, tho’ I am more acquainted with certain passages in his life. But neither of us are really qualified to write personal reminiscences.

65Hoping you will soon be all right again.

66In extremity of haste | Yours ever | William Sharp

67ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Mann.

To Hall Caine, [July?, 1882]

68Friday Morning

69Dear Caine,

70I write this note in case you shd. be out when I call.

71If you had made yourself acquainted with the matter as it really stood, you would not have written me the letter I have just received, containing as it does expressions which I cannot but feel insulting.

  • 15 Sharp began his book on Rossetti (Daniel Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study) in June 1882 with (...)
  • 16 Caine’s Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti was published by Elliot Stock in fall 1882.

72In the first place, my projected book is not to be a biography at all.15 After the Harper’s affair fell through I did think of writing a Memoir of Rossetti, but the moment I learned that you intended such a work I threw up my plans, both because I thought you had a prior claim and were in a better position to do it well than myself.16 When E. Stock told me of the volume, I knew at once he meant you, and I informed him at once that I wd. be quite willing to miss out the biographical portion altogether. As it is, the book Macmillians are to bring out, is a Study of the Poet-Artist – for in deference to your own work I determined to make the biographical portion consist of only about 10 pp or so. At most, this chapter (the first – “Life”) will not be more than a rechauffé of already disseminated information. The main portion of the book will be a critical study of his poetic work. Now, as I understand your book is to be purely a biographical Memoir, with correspondence, & – I fail to see where the two clash. Stock himself saw this in the same light, & wd. have been willing to have brought out both books if I had agreed to his terms.

73Do you know, I had somewhat hastily & foolishly concluded I had won your friendship? But I am now disillusioned – otherwise you could not have so insulted me as to infer that I sent the announcement of my book in order to annul the effect of an announcement of your own. And how, moreover, could I know that there was any announcement of yours previously sent at all? I never dreamt you wd. misunderstand the matter. I thought it a fact that your book wd. be out 2 mos. or more before my own, so that, if anything, it wd. be you damaging me instead of the contrary. Whatever I may be in a literary sense, I hope at least I am a gentleman.

74I regret you have withdrawn your announcement. I had been looking forward with the greatest interest to reading your book.

75I give you the benefit of the doubt in supposing you did not intentionally insult me by your reason there for. As a known friend of Rossetti’s I have no need to “claim intimacy” with him. You will excuse me if I say that your sneer seems to me to cut both ways.

  • 17 A journalist and novelist, William Tirebuch (1854–1900) was a friend of Hall Caine who lived in Li (...)

76I have much more reason to object to Mr. Tirebuch’s17 writing on the same lines as myself. But I don’t, & will welcome his contribution to our knowledge of R’s art and influence. With either Theodore Watts, Wm. R. or yourself, I would not contend – each being far fitter than myself for a biographical Memoir. But I have a right to my own opinions as to his art and poetry, & if I choose to publish a book engaged by a firm of publishers, embodying those opinions, I do not see that you or anyone else need object. Doubtless your critical faculty is more developed than mine – but despite, in your own words, “your enormous superiority” over myself for the work in question, I may perhaps be vain enough to consider my own judgment not wholly worthless.

77Frankly, I must tell you I exceedingly regret this matter having come between us: for I had come to like you, & to hope that our friendship would grow and fructify. But if you consider my conduct only in the light of what you designate as “journalistic sharp practice”, then there must be an end to this friendship.

78With every good wish for the success of your book, which I hope you will still proceed with,

79I am | Yours very truly | William Sharp

80ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man.

To Edward Dowden, July 16, 1882

8113 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | London | W.

82My dear Sir,

  • 18 This work became Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study.

83I have heard one or two friends mentioning the probability of your being in London during July, and I now write to say that if this is to be the case I hope I may have the pleasure of seeing you. I have known you a good long time now through both your critical and poetic work, and I have always since wished to meet you in the flesh as well. If you could come and share my quiet dinner with me at my rooms – or, if you are only going to pay a flying visit, if I could come and see you at your hotel or lodging I should be most glad. At the end of this month, or beginning of August, I leave for Scotland for two months – partly for pleasure, partly to finish more rapidly the volume on Pre-Raphaelitism & on Rossetti and his work in art and literature which Macmillan commissioned me to write.18

  • 19 The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood.

84I have to thank you very sincerely for kind words as to my book in letters to Miss Hickey & to Mr. Stock.19 I am looking forward to the letter which you mentioned in your note of a month or so ago as intending to write to me thereon. I have been very fortunate in favourable reviews as yet, & Rossetti’s prognostication as to its reception have not been falsified after all.

85Hoping the report of your coming over to London for a brief visit is well-founded.

86Very sincerely yours | William Sharp

87Edward Dowden, Esq.

88ALS TCD.

To William Michael Rossetti, July 21, 1882

8913 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W. | 21/7/82

90Queries in Nos. 8, 9, 10, & 18

91Dear Mr. Rossetti,

  • 20 For images of the Rossetti paintings identified in this letter, consult the Rossetti Archive: http (...)

92I am much indebted to you for your kindness in annotating and correcting my hastily put together trial list.20

93There is much useful information and corroboration in your notes, though most cases where you have marked ‘don’ t remember this’ I have seen the drawings or pictures myself, either in Oxford, Scotland, or in the rooms of owners, besides frequently finding confirmation in the 30 photos or thereabouts Gabriel at different times gave me.

941. As to the Sea-Spell, this I am almost certain is the same as La Ghirlandata, despite the minor difference between the painting having a small harp and the sonnet mentioning a lute. It is a beautiful painting; – I know it well.

952. I did not know about the pencil head of himself belonging to your mother, but I have seen the pen & ink one I mention.

963. Fra Pace, which I put down at 1850, & which you barely remember – but suppose may be later than/50 – this I now think must be one of his earliest. It is exceedingly interesting, and in your brother’s early style. I took down a full description of it at the time I saw it. It was, I was told, the first thing of Gabriel’s Burne-Jones saw him working at.

  • 21 I. e. watercolour.

974. The ‘Annunciation’ I know well, & entered by mistake as a W. Col.21

985. ‘Morning Music’, which you don’t know of, I have seen. It is a square water-colour, painted in 1850 – and early found its way to some dealers, & thence to present owner.

996. ‘How They Met Themselves’ – The Photo has on it the dates 1851/1860. I take it the design was in 1851, the water-colour in/60, and an improved replica in 1864, now belonging to Mr. Graham.

1007. ‘Roman de la Rose’, which you don’t recollect, is a rather inferior early production. Date 1854.

1018. As to ‘Mary Magdalene’ was it simply a drawing? It was so mentioned in a contemporary notice, and also in the note to the Sonnet – but Ruskin’s remarks I thought applied to a water colour or oil, can you tell me for certain?

1029. ‘Venus Verticordia’ – I have seen the first chalk study, which differs greatly. I am almost certain I am right as to the first oil being 1858, & not as you think about 65 or 66. There was a fine & slightly altered ‘replica’ about the latter date, which I think Rae has.

  • 22 “Found” is a famous unfinished painting by Rossetti.

10310. ‘The Farmer’s daughter’ – this water colour was either the study for or taken from the idea, of “Found”.22 The treatment is almost the same as in the oil. It was executed probably in 1861, exhibited in Edinburgh in 1862. Do you think you are right in supposing “Found” to have been begun so long ago as 1853? I remember Gabriel’s (I think) telling me that it had been on hand nearly 20 years; this would bring it to about 1861.

10411. In addition to the Hamlet and Ophelia, pen and ink (date unknown to me) – there was a water colour which I have seen. It was finished in April /64. called, as in my list, First Madness of Ophelia, & quite different from the Pen & Ink Scene.

10512. Il Ramoscello, which you don’t remember, is a beautiful little oil, about which I have some interesting particulars. Painted in 1865.

10613. The drawing of Christina R. I have put this down at Sept. 1866, which date you doubt, thinking about Dec /60. My only reason for differing is the distinctly stated ‘September 1866’ in the photo of it Gabriel gave me.

10714. Mariana. Surprised you don’t remember this as an oil. It is one of the finest of his achievements in depth of colour (blue). Very large picture. Rae’s an early water colour. I know of nothing in contemporary art to equal the wonderful management of the hues of deep blue throughout her dress. It has, of course, nothing to do with the Tennyson Illustration. Really a portrait of Mrs. Morris.

10815. There are two oils called ‘Beata Beatrix’, the same as you mean by the Dying Beatrix or B. in trance.

109Much the finer belongs to Lord Mt. Temple, date of beginning the work, as you say, about the latter part of 1862.

110The second belongs to Graham. Not as fine, but has a Predella which the other lacks (not a double Predella, as I mistakenly said). Finished in 1872 – as a favour in return for a kindness of great service. Had been asked before to do it but always refused till 1871.

11116. As to the oil named ‘La Fleur du Mari’ or ‘La Fleur de Marie’, I must find out the exact name. I was told at the time it was the former. Save ‘Found’ it is the only modern work of his I know. Subject contemporary. Lady Standing before an oaken chest. Sage green apron over green-blue dress. Upstretched arms towards a blue vase with yellow kingcups in it. She meant to be another flower herself, Fleur du Mari? Date 1874.

11217. Sancta Lilias. My date was 1879, but you think about /73. My authority the date on the drawing in Studio. Also in Photo.

11318. I fancy the drawing (W. Colour) (Sprinkling the lintels with blood) I spoke of as in the Taylor Museum at Oxford is really the same as the drawing “The Passover in the Holy Family”, described in Sonnet of same name. If so, it must be synonymous with the “Mary gathering the bitter Herbs for the Passover”, mentioned by Ruskin in conjunction with Mary Magdalene, as two such noble works.

114As you kindly tell me to write on any point of difficulty, I shd be glad (if writing is not hurtful to you at present) to know who owns Helen of Troy, La Donna della Finestra (the painting, not the drawing, which I know) and the Dante & Giotto. Also Mr. Turner’s address, who owns the Frainmetta, which I have not seen. And if you would give me an introduction to Mr. Rae, (his Liverpool address) I should be greatly obliged, as I shall go to Scotland via Liverpool on purpose. Also Leyland’s address.

115I am causing you I fear a great deal of trouble, but I must again plead that it is not for my sake alone that I wish to be accurate and as complete as practicable. I wish the book to be really an authority, & to give a full & true account of Gabriel’s life work.

116I have read Tirebok’s essay – but think very little either of its style or matter. In the first place he is evidently forming an opinion on but little basis, & in the next I doubt much his qualifications for art criticism at all, from what I have heard of him.

117There is a very unjust and (apart from my differing from the views taken) very incompetent review of Gabriel’s poetry, in the British Quarterly for July. His whole life work is condemned in the most sweeping manner, and with a severity that would be almost out of place in a depreciator of Villon or Baudelaire.

118It makes me all the more glad that a friend like myself (who admire, moreover, by no means indiscriminately) should be engaged in what may give a fair and just account of one who beyond all detraction was a great artist and great poet.

119Hoping your gout will soon be a thing of the past, and with renewed best thanks for all the trouble you have kindly undertaken on my behalf.

120Sincerely Yours, | William Sharp

121ALS University of British Columbia

To F. S. Ellis, [July 21, 1882]23

  • 23 Frederick Startridge Ellis (1830–1901 was a bookseller, author, and publisher (Ellis and White) wh (...)

12213 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W.

123My dear Sir,

124Thanks for your note and permission to see your “Bella Mano” and “Donna della Finestra” (which I am glad to learn you possess as I could not find out who the owner was – tho’ I know the chalk study of it belonging to Mr. Graham).

125Tuesday forenoon will be much the most convenient time for me, so I will go to Epsom then. I think I know the house, it is not far from my friends the Robinsons’ cottage.

126With thanks | Yours sincerely | William Sharp

127F. S. Ellis Esq.

128P. S. If there are no dates on “La Bella Mano” or “La Donna d. F”. I should be much obliged if you would kindly leave a slip of paper with the date of painting of each, or failing this of your purchase. The former if I am not mistaken was either 1874 or 1875.

129ALS UCLA.

To F. S. Ellis, [July 25, 1882]24

  • 24 Date from postmark, and addressed to Ellis at Hill House, Epsom. Sharp wrote this card on the 25th (...)

13013 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W.

131Dear Sir,

132I write to say I shd. be greatly obliged if you cd. send me a card with (if you know) the date of the chalk study of “Lilith” I saw next the door in the drawing room. Also the subject of the companion drawing.

133I greatly enjoyed the full inspection I had of “La Bella Mano” – it is a most lovely picture. “La D. della F” I was glad to see again also.

134With my best thanks for the courtesy I met with at your house,

135Yours sincerely | William Sharp.

136ACS UCLA

To Theodore Watts [-Dunton], July 27, 1882

137Tuesday | 13 Thorngate Rd

  • 25 Philip Bourke Marston.
  • 26 Mathilde Blind (1841–1896) was a German-born poet, translator, and friend of the Rossetti family. (...)

138I think I must postpone my small dinner party till the autumn, as Philip25 leaves London on Wednesday week, & Miss Blind26 not long after.

139May the Gods be more favourable next time.

140Yours ever sincerely | W. S.

141ALS Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

To Hall Caine, [? September, 1882]27

  • 27 This incomplete letter is taken from a summary which was transcribed by a Manx Museum staff member

142My dear Caine

143Tho’ overwhelmed with work I must send you a line of congratulatory welcome for your book. It is a most fascinating volume, from its general get-up (which does Stock the highest credit) to the material itself…

144… besides staying for a day or two at a time frequently… On the other hand I have to thank you for your very kind reference to myself on p 291 – just saying what is most pleasing to myself: not only that he appreciated my work but also that I cheered him up a bit. He often told me this, but I am glad to have it confirmed…

145P. S. I caught it from Mrs. W M R for my “unqualified abuse” of Madox Brown in re his etching.

146Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To William Michael Rossetti, October 23, 1882

14713 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens. W.

148Dear Mr. Rossetti,

  • 28 The “‘unsold drawings” by D. G. Rossetti were sold at Christie’s in 1883. The reference is to the (...)

149As you said it would do equally for you, and as I now find it would be greatly more convenient for me, I will come unless I hear from you to the contrary on Sunday next about 10 a. m. On Monday I go to Hampshire for a fortnight or more, and it might be too late on my return. I am glad you are agreeable to include the unsold drawings in my Catalogue,28 not only because I am anxious to prove by demonstration that Rossetti really did get through a great amount of sterling work – and again because several desirous and likely purchasers both in Scotland and England have asked me to let them know the subjects and sizes etc. of some of those for sale – and I have always replied, that while I should let them hear from me on any one or more drawings which I wd know wd be suitable, they would in all probability find all the information in my Supplementary Catalogue, when they could write you direct.

150In haste | Yours most sincerely | William Sharp

151ALS, private

To Richard Garnett, [Early November, 1882]

  • 29 On October 23, Sharp told W. M. Rossetti he would be going to Hampshire for a fortnight or more. T (...)

152Northbrook | Micheldever | Hants.29

153Dear Mr. Garnett

154My best thanks for yr. beautiful little “Shelley” – forwarded to me from London. I have only had time to dip into it yet. The preface I especially liked, & what you say as to Matthew Arnold is particularly apropos.

155I shall value it greatly both for its own sake and for that of the Giver.

156When I return to London next week – you must write your name on the first fly-leaf. The vol can hardly fail to become widely popular.

157My kindest regards to Mrs. Garnett –

158Most sincerely yours | William Sharp

159P. S. I expect the Rossetti engraving proofs in a few days. It will be almost perfect as a specimen of wood-engraving, Macmillans considering it about the best thing of its kind they have ever issued.

160ALS University of Texas at Austin

To Eugene Lee-Hamilton, November 18, 1882

16113 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | London W. | 18/11/82

162My dear Hamilton,

  • 30 The New Medusa and Other Poems (1882). The book Sharp received from Richard Garnettwas Selected Le (...)

163I last night finished the perusal of your volume,30 most of which was not new to me. I must congratulate you most sincerely and heartily on what seems to me a great advance in poetic power and in technical grasp – not that I mean your previous volumes were not up to the mark on either point, only, from my point of view, this volume contains decidedly the best things you have done. Your dramatic power is very noticeable, so much so that I shd. fancy you could manage very successfully some scenes in dialogue or tragic action, even perhaps a sustained and equable play. The New Medusa and The Mandolin are in this respect specially fine: as to the former, you already know my opinion of it – that it stands at the head of your compositions. It seems to me that there is too great a condensation of narrative preceding the account of the woman on the wreck: of course it is understood that the wreck has been reached, that nothing is found of life or anything else on the dismasted ship save the woman, and that she has been taken off from her support – but the narration of this is so very rapid that the effect is rather an artistic break instead of artistic coherency. The lines beginning “I was awake; there was no sound, no light” down to “And sought the breeze of night etc”. are very beautiful and powerful.

164I think on such an occasion as that which occurs in the fifth line of page 23 it is better to have an extra syllable than an ugly word. “Contradictory” wouldn’t scan but it is preferable to “contradict’ry”.

165Another very powerful passage is that beginning “I was about to wake her, when the moon” etc. (p. 26). But I must again make the strong objection I made before to your sister, regarding the last line. So greatly does it detract from the fine effect of the poem (I am speaking personally of course) that I have struck a broad line through it so that the poem in my copy finishes with “Moonlit Rocks”.

166I like the “Sack of Prato” better than the “Ballad of the Plague of Florence”, though the latter is fine also: and the “Idyll of the Anchorite” is at once dramatic and a terrible satire.

167I am not certain but I fancy your sister considered The Raft your best poem. I cannot agree with this, though [there] are fine things in it.

168“On a Tuscan Road” is indeed beautiful; I think the most musical thing you have written, and in its natural features recalling that vague delicious charm you must have experienced in looking at some of the landscapes of Corot and Millet.

169A volume of lyrics with such music as:

Slowly the sunset departs from the shrine
Close to the road, but still touches the fountain;
Fewer are those who pass by with a sign;
Dark grow the maize and the hemp and the vine,
Blue is the Mountain.

170would be welcome to all those who know your poems, I am sure.

171On the whole, “The Mandolin” is in my opinion the most flawless thing you have done. There are verses in “A Letter” as fine as anything of the kind I remember: but though in the “Elegy” there is one fine passage or rather passages (p 109) I do not care so much about it from a poetical point of view.

  • 31 Sonnets of Three Centuries: A Selection, ed. T. H. Caine (1882).

172There is not one of the sonnets that is not fine; and “Waifs of Time” I am going to copy into Caine’s Treasury of Sonnets, as I see you are not represented there as you ought to have been. If a second edition should be required (as is not improbable) I will see that this Sonnet or some other you might prefer is inserted, as I have some influence with Caine, who is now a friend of mine.31

173Altogether, I have received a great deal of pleasure from your book, and only regret it is so short.

  • 32 Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study.

174Remember me most kindly to Miss Paget. I shd. like to have sent you a copy of my Rossetti book32 but it is the publisher’s matter, and I only get a very few copies which I must give to those who have been of special service to me during its composition, and as I am not exactly reveling in the fleshpots of Egypt I can’t purchase copies as I wd. like to do.

175My cousin sends you her most kind remembrances. She has had equal pleasure with myself in perusing both the old and new friends in your volume.

176If I can come to Florence and Italy – O ye Gods! – but I dare not say anything more. Dreams nearly always evaporate if you concentrate your mind upon them: so I hope the dream will enfold me till I waken in the South.

177Your sincere friend, | William Sharp

178E. A. S. wanted me specially to mention “A Tuscan Road” as specially beautiful, and “The Mandolin” as forcible and dramatic.

179ALS Colby College Library

To Frederick Langbridge,33 December 2, 1882

  • 33 Frederick Langbridge (1849–1922) was a clergyman who lived for many years in Limerick. He wrote po (...)

18013 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W, London | 2/12/82

181My dear Sir

  • 34 The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood.

182I have just received your kind letter and thank you for wishing to include something of mine in your forthcoming collection. I don’t quite gather if it must be something unpublished: if not, I shall be gratified if you can find something in my volume,34 which I send herewith, worthy of insertion, and I have ventured to mark in pencil one or two passages or poems that might suit for the department of your volume you specify. If it is essential that it must be something unpublished kindly send me a card, and I will look amongst my MSS or else write something specially for you – but the truth is that I have just returned to town after an absence of about four months in the country and have all my MSS (except what were composed during that period) locked up and as yet not disinterred or copied out, and moreover I am more than pressed for time with several important articles and also the issue of a large volume on the work in art and poetry of the late Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the proofs of which entail continuous and arduous labour.

183You will find the passages I have marked at 78, 106, and 175. Overleaf I enclose a sonnet you may care for. It is by a Mr. Eugene Lee-Hamilton, the author of Gods, Saints, and Men, Poems and Transcripts, and The New Medusa from which last mentioned and just published volume it is taken. It was addressed to me in reply to one of mine affirming my intense belief in individual immortality, and though I do not agree with its conclusion I consider it a really remarkable sonnet; in the words of my friend Theodore Watts, “every poet since Landor and Shakespeare has been trying to say something new about the murmurs of a sea-shell and no one has yet notably succeeded, and yet here is an almost unknown and by no means great poet (though true one so far as he goes) who succeeds where so many have failed”. The author, poor fellow, exists and has existed for long in a living death (from a terrible spinal affliction) and cannot possibly survive many years. How he can still cling to life (only 2 hours in the day wherein he dare be read to or compose), especially with absolutely no hope or belief for the future as regards to himself, is a mystery to me.

184I must thank you doubly for your “Songs in Sunshine”: – in the first instance for your courtesy in sending it to me, and in the second for the real and genuine pleasure it has afforded and will continue to afford me. Such a lyric gift as you are the happy possessor of is very unusual, and nowadays is specially welcome when such a tide of Rossettian, Swinburnian, and wearisomely repetitive verses is constantly flowing forth. Many of the poems have the charm that is so characteristic of Herrick at his best, especially such really lovely little lyrics as Norah at the Fair and The Little Roundhead Maid, which I have read several times already. Moonshine and Ripe Cherries have the same delightful charm, and My Own Girl is such a song as must surely reach far and wide. The book has also the great merit of not being too large, and of containing nothing poor; and I only hope I may still get it for review in some magazine or periodical: – if I do; I will write a review of it with a pleasure that is very infrequent in this branch of literature as I have experienced too often. Although in themselves joy in life, gladness in the human delights that make life after all so beautiful, and belief in divine goodness and in immortality do not constitute poetry, they undoubtedly add much to it when spontaneously and convincingly accompanying it, and this is certainly the case in your volume, which I hope again and again to recur to and always with pleasure and refreshment. Indeed, speaking personally, it is refreshment that is its most happy characteristic. My own volume is in a very different style and it is not in the nature of things it can afford you so much enjoyment as yours can myself, unless perhaps you are very susceptible to nature which I passionately love and have loved since I can remember and with which my verse is charged throughout. It may interest you to know that the first three parts of The Human Inheritance are personal and practically literally exact, but this information is of course private.

185If I do not hear from you to the contrary I shall understand you have found something in my volume that will serve your purpose.

186Believe me, | Yours very Sincerely, | William Sharp

187ALS Pierpont Morgan Library

To Robert Browning, December 10, 1882

18810th Decr. /82 | 13 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W.

189Dear Mr. Browning

190I have been able to procure half a dozen proofs on India paper of poor Rossetti’s Sonnet design – the same that forms the frontispiece to my immediately forthcoming volume on his work – artistic and poetic.

191The design has a double appeal – both to the poet and artist, & this combined with your former intimacy with him made me think you would like to possess this his latest original design. The mounters have unfortunately not done their work very neatly, & have stretched the impression too tightly, but perhaps one ought to be thankful they have not spoilt it altogether.

192Sincerely yours | William Sharp

193Armstrong Browning Library. Baylor.

To Edward Dowden, [December 10, 1882]

19413 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | London | W.

195My dear Mr. Dowden,

196You may have heard (or I may have told you myself when writing you before) that Macmillans are going to issue a vol. of considerable length (450 pp) on Rossetti’s art-work and on his poetry. As a frontispiece Christina R. & her mother kindly gave me D. G. R’.s beautiful Sonnet-Design for engraving purposes, & it has been finely done on wood. This design has a triple interest – it is the last original design Rossetti made (1880), it has great beauty as a piece of fine draughtsmanship, and it has a special interest to the poet and the lovers of poetry.

  • 35 India ink is a simple black or colored ink once widely used for writing and printing.

197I felt certain you would like to have a proof, both for the sake of having something of R’s art-work and because of the interest you must necessarily take in such a design as a poet and sonnet-writer yourself – and so I send by this post one of the half dozen proofs in India35 I have been able to procure.

198I shd. like to have sent you a copy of the book when it comes out (from the 16th to the 20th I understand) but I am obliged to be niggardly in respect of private distribution, as it is a big venture for Macmillans & I have but few to give away & can’t afford to buy others. Perhaps, however, you may be able to get it for review from the Academy, by application therefor, which I shd. be glad of on two accounts.

199Faithfully yours | William Sharp

  • 36 In 1883 there were exhibitions of Rossetti’s art at both the Royal Academy’s Burlington House and (...)
  • 37 For many years an imposing residence in Piccadilly, Burlington House was sold in 1854 to the Briti (...)

200P. S. If over to see the Rossetti exhibit at Burlington House3637 I hope I may have the pleasure of seeing you.

201ALS TCD

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, March 14, 1883

  • 38 Sharp’s four-month visit to Italy, which began in late February 1883, was made possible by the gif (...)

202Florence38 | Wednesday, 14:3:83.

203Yesterday morning I went to Sta. Maria Novella, and enjoyed it greatly. It is a splendid place, though on a first visit I was less impressed than by Santa Croce….

204The monumental sculpture is not so fine as in Santa Croce, but on the other hand there are some splendid paintings and frescoes – amongst others Cimabue’s famous picture of the Virgin seated on a throne. I admired some frescoes by Filippino Lippi – also those in the Choir by Ghirlandaio: in the Capella dei Strozzi (to the left) I saw the famous frescoes of Orcagna, the Inferno and Paradiso. They greatly resemble the same subjects by the same painter in the Campo Santo at Pisa. What a horrible imagination, poisoned by horrible superstitions, these old fellows had: his Paradise, while in some ways finely imagined, is stiff and unimpressive, and his Inferno simply repellent. It is strange that religious art should have in general been so unimaginative. The landscapes I care most for here are those of the early Giottesque and preRaphaelite painters – they are often very beautiful – for the others, there is more in Turner than in them all put together.

205Memoir 79–80

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, March 18, 1883

206Florence, 18:3:83.

  • 39 The Brancaccio Chapel of the Santa Maria del Carmine is a landmark of Florentine art. Its frescoes (...)

207Well, yesterday after lunch I went to the Chiesa del Carmine, and was delighted greatly with the famous frescoes of Masaccio, which I studied for an hour or more with great interest. He was a wonderful fellow to have been the first to have painted movement, for his figures have much grace of outline and freedom of pose. Altogether I have been more struck by Masaccio than by any other artist save Michel Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. If he hadn’t died so young (twentyseven) I believe he would have been amongst the very first in actual accomplishment. He did something, which is more than can be said for many others more famous than himself, who merely duplicated unimaginative and stereotyped religious ideas.39

208Yesterday being Holy Thursday we went to several Churches and in the afternoon and evening to see the Flowers for the Sepulchres. Very much impressed and excited by all I saw. I was quite unprepared for the mystery and gloom of the Duomo. There were (comparatively) few people there, as it is not so popular with the Florentines as Sta. Maria Novella – and when we entered, it was like going into a tomb. Absolute darkness away by the western entrances (closed), a dark gloom elsewhere, with gray trails of incense mist still floating about like wan spirits, and all the crosses and monuments draped in black crape, and a great canopy of the same overhead. Two acolytes held burning tapers before only one monument, that of the Pieta under the great crucifix in the centre of the upper aisle – so that the light fell with startling distinctness on the dead and mutilated body of Christ. Not a sound was to be heard but the wild chanting of the priests, and at last a single voice with a strain of agony in every tone. This and the mystery and gloom and pain (for, strange as it may seem to you, I felt the agony of the pierced hands and feet myself) quite overcame me, and I burst into tears. I think I would have fainted with the strain and excitement, if the agony of the Garden had not come to an end, and the startling crash of the scourging commenced, the slashing of canes upon stones and pillars. I was never so impressed before. I left, and wandered away by myself along the deserted LungArno, still shivering with the excitement of almost foretasted death I had experienced, and unable to control the tears that came whenever I thought of Christ’s dreadful agony. To-day (Good Friday) the others have gone to church, but I couldn’t have gone to listen to platitudes – and don’t know if I can bring myself to enter the catholic churches again till the Crucifixion is over, as I dread a repetition of last night’s suffering. I shall probably go to hear the Passion Music in the church of the Badia (the finest in Florence for music). How I wish you were with me….

209Memoir 80–81

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, April 3, 1883

210Florence, 3:4:83.

  • 40 Mrs. Smillie, Elizabeth Sharp’s aunt, had a villa on the outskirts of Florence.
  • 41 Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée) (1839–1909) was well known on the continent as well as in England (...)

211… The last two days have been days of great enjoyment to me. First and foremost they have been heavenly warm, with cloudless ardent blue skies – and everything is beginning to look fresh and green. Well, on Monday I drove with Mrs. Smillie40 away out of the Porta San Frediano till we came in sight of Scanducci Alto, and then of the Villa Farinola. There I left her, and went up through beautiful and Englishlike grounds to the house, and was soon ushered in to Ouida’s presence.41 I found her alone, with two of her famous and certainly most beautiful dogs beside her. I found her most pleasant and agreeable, though in appearance somewhat eccentric owing to the way in which her hair was done, and also partly to her dress which seemed to consist mainly of lace. A large and beautiful room led into others, all full of bricabrac, and filled with flowers, books, statuettes and pictures (poor), by herself. We had a long talk and she showed me many things of interest. Then other people began to arrive (it was her reception day).

  • 42 William Wetmore Story (1819–1895) was an American sculptor, poet, and novelist who moved permanent (...)

212Before I left, Ouida most kindly promised to give me some introductions to use in Rome. Yesterday she drove in and left three introductions for me which may be of good service – one to Lady Paget, wife of the British Ambassador, one to the Storys, and one to Tilton, the sculptor.42

  • 43 Arthur Lemon (1850–1912) was a British painter who spent his early years in Rome and was, for ten (...)
  • 44 John Arthur Lomax (1857–1923) studied in Munich and did his major work in Manchester and London.

213Yesterday I perhaps enjoyed more than I have done since I came to Italy. In the morning Arthur Lemon,43 the artist, called for me, and being joined by two others (Lomax,44 an artist, and his brother) we had a boat carried over the weir and we into it at the Cascine and rowed downstream past the junction of the Mugnone and Arno, till Florence and Fiesole were shut from view, and the hills all round took on extra beauty – Monta Beni on the right and Monte Morello on the left glowing with a haze of heat, and beyond all, the steeps of Fallombrosa in white – and Carrara’s crags also snowcovered behind us. We passed the quaint old church and village of San Stefano and swung inshore to get some wine….

214We rowed on and in due course came in sight of Signa. We put on a spurt (the four of us were rowing) and as we swept at a swift rate below the old bridge it seemed as if half the population came out to see the unusual sight of gentili signorini exerting themselves so madly when they might be doing nothing. We got out and said farewell to the picturesquelooking fellow who had steered us down – had some breakfast at a Trattoria, where we had small fish halfraw and steeped in oil (but not at all bad) – kid’s flesh, and delicious sheep’smilk cheese, bread, and light, red, Chianti wine. We then spent two or three hours roaming about Signa, which is a beautifully situated dreamy sleepy old place – with beautiful “bits” for artists every here and there – old wells with lizards basking on them in numbers – and lovely views.

215We came back by Lastia, a fine ancient walled town, and arrived in Florence by open tramcar in the evening, finally I had a delicious cold bath. The whole day was heavenly. If the river has not sunk too low when I return from Rome, Arthur Lemon and some other artists and myself are going on a sketching trip down the Arno amongst the old villages – the length of Pisa – taking about two days.

216Memoir 81–83

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, [early April, 1883]

217Rome

218… It is too soon to give you my impressions of Rome, but I may say that they partly savour of disappointment…. Of one thing however, I have already seen enough to convince me – and that is that Rome is not for a moment to be compared to Florence in beauty – neither in its environs, its situation, its streets, nor its rivers. Its palaces may be grander, the interiors of its churches more magnificent, its treasures of art more wonderful, but in beauty it is as far short as London is of Edinburgh. But it has one great loveliness which can never tire and which charms immeasurably – the fountains which continually and every here and there splash all day and night in the sunlight or in green grottoes in the courts of villas and palaces. I am certain that I should hate to live here – I believe it would kill me – for Rome is too old to be alive – unless indeed a new Rome entirely overshadows the past. I don’t suppose you will quite understand, and I cannot explain just now – but so I feel. Florence (after the cold has gone) is divine – air, atmosphere, situation, memory of the past, a still virile present – but Rome is an anomaly, for what is predominant here is that evil medieval Rome whose eyes were blind with lust and hate. Ancient Rome is magnificent – but so little remains of it that one can no more live in it than in Karnak or Thebes: as for modern Rome, everything seems out of keeping – so that one has either to weary with the dull Metropolitanism of the capital of Italy or else to enter into the life of the medieval ages….

219I expect and believe that I shall find Rome beautiful in many things, even as she is already majestic and wonderful – and that the more one becomes acquainted with the Eternal City the more one loves or at least reverences and delights in it.

220Meanwhile, however, with me, it is more a sense of oppression that I experience – a feeling as if life would become intolerable unless all sense of the past were put away. I hate death, and all that puts one in mind of death – and after all Rome is only a gigantic and richly ornamented tomb….

221How I hate large cities! Even Florence is almost too large, but there at least one can always escape into open space and air and light and freedom at will – and the mountains are close, and the country round on all sides is fair, and the river is beautiful. Do not be provoked with me when I say that Signa, for instance, is more beautiful to me than Rome – and that the flashing of sunlight in the waters of the fountains, the green of Spring in the flowered fields and amongst the trees, and the songs of birds and the little happyeyed children, mean infinitely more to me than the grandest sculptures, the noblest frescoes, the finest paintings. This is my drawback I am afraid, and not my praise – for where such hundreds are intensely interested I am often but slightly so. Again and again when I find myself wearied to death with sightseeing I call to mind some loch with the glory of morning on it, some mountainside flecked with trailing clouds and thrilling me with the bleating of distant sheep, the cries of the cliff hawks, and the wavering echoes of waterfalls: or, if the mood, I recall some happy and indolent forenoon in the Cascine or Monte Oliveto or in the country paths leading from Bellosguardo, where I watched the shadows playing amongst the olives and the dear little green and grey lizards running endlessly hither and thither – and thinking of these or such as these I grow comforted. And often when walking in the Cascine by myself at sunset I have heard a thrush or blackbird call to its mate through the gloom of the trees, or when looking toward Morello and the Appenine chain and seeing them aglow with wonderful softness, or on the Arno’s banks I have seen the river washing in silver ripples and rosy light to the distant crags of Carrara where the sun sank above the Pisan sea – often at such times my thrill of passionate and sometimes painful delight is followed by the irrepressible conviction that such things are to me more beautiful, more worthy of worship, more full of meaning, more significant of life, more excelling in all manner of loveliness, than all the treasures of the Affix and the Pitti, the Vatican, and the Louvre put together. But whenever I have expressed such a conviction I have been told that the works of man are after all nobler, in the truer sense lovelier, and more spiritually refreshing and helpful – and though I do not find them so, I must believe that to most people such is the case, perhaps to the infinite majority.

222And, after all, why am I to be considered inferior to my fellows because I love passionately in her every manifestation the mother who has borne us all, and to whom much that is noblest in art is due?…

223Yet I would not be otherwise after all. I know some things which few know, some secrets of beauty in cloud, and sea and earth – have an inner communion with all that meets my eyes in what we call nature, and am rich with a wealth which I would not part with for all the palaces in Rome. Do you understand me, Lill, in this?… Poor dear! I had meant to have told her all about my visit to Orieto (alone worth coming to Italy for – if only to behold the magnificent Cathedral) but instead I have only relieved my mind in a kind of grumbling….

224What fascinates me most in Rome is the sculpture. Well as I knew all the famous statues, from copies and casts, some of them were almost like new revelations – especially the Faun of Praxiteles, of which I had never seen a really good copy. Can’t say, however, I felt enthusiastic about the Capitoline Venus.

225Memoir 83–86

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, April 16, 1883

226Rome, | 16th April, 1883

227I have just come in from the Campagna where I have spent some of the happiest hours I have yet had in Rome. I went for some three miles across the glorious open reaches of tall grass, literally dense with myriads of flowers – not a vestige of a house to be seen, not a hint of Rome, nothing but miles upon miles of rolling grassy slopes till they broke like a green sea against the bluepurple hills, which were inexpressibly beautiful with their cloudshadows athwart their sides and the lingering snows upon their heights. There was not a sound to be heard save those dear sounds of solitary places, and endless hum of insects, the cries of birds, the songs of many larks, the scream of an occasional hawk, the splash of a stream that will soon be dried up, and the exquisite, delicious, heavenly music of the wind upon the grass and in the infrequent trees…. And a good fairy watched over me today, for I was peculiarly fortunate in seeing one or two picturesque things I might have missed. First, as I was listening to what a dear spark of a lintie was whistling to its mate, I heard a dull heavy trampling sound, and ongoing to a neighbouring rise I saw two wild bulls fighting. I never realised before the immense weight and strength these animals have. Soon after, a herd of them came over the slope, their huge horns tossing in the sunlight and often goring at each other. I was just beginning to fancy that I had seen my last of Rome (for I had been warned against these wild cattle especially at this season) when some picturesquelyattired horsemen on shaggy little steeds came up at full speed, and with dogs and long spears or poles and frantic cries urged the already half furious, half terrified animals forward. It was delightful to witness, and if I were a painter I would be glad to paint such a scene. I then went across a brook and up some slopes (half buried in flowers and grasses) till I came to a few blackthorn trees and an old stonepine, and from there I had a divine view. The heat was very great, but I lay in a pleasant dreamy state with my umbrella stuck tentwise, and I there began the first chapter of the novel I told you before I left that I intended writing. I had been thinking over it often, and so at last began it: and certainly few romances have been begun in lovelier places. Suddenly, through one eye, as it were, I caught sight of a broad moving shadow on the slope beyond me, and looking up I was electrified with delight to see a large eagle shining goldbronze in the sun. I had no idea (though I knew they preyed on lambs, etc., further on the Campagna and in the Maremma) that they ever came so near the haunts of men. It gave one loud harsh scream, a swoop of its broad wings, and then sailed away out of sight into the blue haze beyond the farthest reaches I could see.

228Away to the right I saw a ruined arch, formerly some triumphal record no doubt, and near it was a shepherd, clad in skins, tending his goats. No other human sign – oh, it was delicious and has made me in love with the very name of Rome. Such swarms of lizards there were, and so tame, especially the green ones, which knew I wouldn’t hurt them and so ran on to my hands. The funniest fly too I ever saw buzzed up, and sat on a spray of blackthorn blossom and looked at me: I burst out laughing at it, and it really seemed to look reproachfully at me – and for a moment I felt sorry at being so rude. I could have lain there all day, so delicious was the silence save for these natural sounds – and all these dear little birds and insects. What surprised me so about the flowers was not only their immense quantity, but also their astounding variety. At last I had to leave, as it is not safe to lie long on the Campagna if one is tired or hungry. So I strolled along through the deep grasses and over slope after slope till at last I saw the clump of stone pines which were my landmark, and then I soon joined the road….

229Memoir 86–88

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, April 30, 1883

230Sienna | April, 1883

231You will see by the above address that I have arrived in this beautiful old city.

232I left Rome and arrived in Perugia on Thursday last – spending the rest of the day in wandering about the latter, and watching the sunset over the farstretching Umbrian country. I made the acquaintance of some nice people at the Hotel, and we agreed to share a carriage for a day – so early on Friday morning we started in a carriage and pair for Assisi. About 3 miles from Perugia we came to the Etruscan tombs, which we spent a considerable time in exploring: I was much struck with the symbolism and beauty of the ornamental portions, Death evidently to the ancient Etrurians being but a departure elsewhere. The comparative joyousness (exultation, as in the symbol of the rising sun over the chief entrance) of the Etruscans contrasts greatly with the joylessness of the Christians, who have done their best to make death repellant in its features and horrible in its significance, its possibilities.

233Only a Renaissance of belief in the Beautiful being the only sure guide can save modern nations from further spiritual degradation – and not till the gloomy precepts of Christianity yield to something more akin to the Greek sense of beauty will life appear to the majority lovely and wonderful, alike in the present and in the future.

234After leaving the Tombs of the Volumnii we drove along through a most interesting country, beautiful everywhere owing to Spring’s feet having passed thereover, till we came to the Church of Sta. Maria degli Angeli – on the plain just below Assisi. We went over this, and then drove up the winding road to the gray old town itself, visiting, before ascending to the ruined citadel at the top of the hill, the Chiesa di Santa Chiara. Lying on the grass on the very summit of the hill, we had lunch, and then lay looking at the scenery all round us, north, south, east, and west. Barren and desolate and colourless, with neither shade of tree nor coolness of water, these dreary Assisi hills have nothing of the grandeur and beauty of the barrenness and desolation of the north – they are simply hideous to the eye, inexpressibly dreary, dead, and accursed. I shall never now hear Assisi mentioned without a shudder, for picturesque as the old town is, beautiful as are the Monastery, the Upper Church, the paintings and the frescoes – they are over weighted in my memory with the hideousness of the immediate hill-surroundings. It made me feel almost sick and ill, looking from the ruined citadel out upon these stony, dreary, lifeless hills – and I had again and again to find relief in the beauty of more immediate surroundings – the long grasses waving in the buttresses of the citadel, the beautiful yellow (absolutely stainless in colour) wallflowers sprouting from every chink and cranny, and the green and gray lizards darting everywhere and shining in the sunlight. Here at least was life, not death: and to me human death is less painful than that of nature, for in the former I see but change, but in the latter – annihilation. These poor mountains! – once, long ago, bright and joyous with colour and sound and winds and waters and birds – and now without a tree to give shadow where grass will never again grow, save here and there a stunted and withered olive, like some plaguestricken wretch still lingering amongst the decayed desolation of his birthplace – without the music and light of running water, save, perhaps twice amidst their parched and serried flanks a crawling, muddy, hideous liquid; and without sound, save the blast of the winterwind and the rattle of dislodged stones.

235Yet the day was perfect – one of those flawless days combining the laughter of spring and the breath of ardent Summer: but perhaps this very perfection accentuates the desert wretchedness behind the old town of St. Francis. Yet the very day before I went I was told that the view from the citadel was lovely (and this not with reference to the Umbrian prospect in front of Assisi, which is fine though to my mind it has been enormously exaggerated) – lovely! As well might a person ask me to look at the divine beauty of the Belvedere Apollo, and then say to me that lovely also was yon maimed and hideous beggar, stricken with the foulness of leprosy.

236The hills about Assisi beautiful! Oh Pan, Pan, indeed your music passed long, long ago out of men’s hearing….

237Memoir 88–90

To Edward Dowden, April 30, 1883

238Casa Tognazzi | 19 Via Sallustio Bandini | Siena | Italy | 30 Apl 83

239My dear Mr. Dowden

240Your kind note of last Thursday has been forwarded to me from London. I greatly regret the lost opportunity of seeing you, as I have often looked forward to making your personal acquaintance – but I hope Fortune may be more favourable again. I shall not be returning to London till the late autumn, but if you should be crossing the Irish Channel again in the winter or following Spring season, I hope you will not forget my desire to meet you.

241I am here – in Italy: learning and unlearning. You probably know Siena: – now, with the glory of Spring brightening every hill and valley in this Umbrian country it is at its best – and there is magic in the air. I do not think Italy so winningly beautiful as the north or so glorious as the tropical south, but it has a pathetic loveliness – exquisite and peculiar to itself.

242Hoping you are well, and that our meeting is not always to be in futuro.

243Sincerely your | William Sharp

244ALS TCD

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, May 7, [1883]

245Florence | 7th May

246On either Wednesday or Thursday last we started early for Monte Oliveto, and after a long and interesting drive we came to a rugged and wild country, and at last, by the side of a deep gorge to the famous Convent itself. The scenery all round made a great impression on me – it was as wild, almost as desolate as the hills behind Assisi – but there was nothing repellant, i. e., stagnant, about it. While we were having something to eat outside the convent (a huge building) the Abbé came out and received us most kindly, and brought us further refreshment in the way of hard bread and wine and cheese – their mode of life being too simple to have anything else to offer.

  • 45 Mrs. Smillie.
  • 46 Giovanni Antonio Bazzi Sodoma (1477–1549) was a Lombard painter who worked at Monte Oliveto from 1 (...)

247Owing to the great heat and perhaps overexposure while toiling up some of the barren scorched roads, where they became too hilly or rough for the horses – I had succumbed to an agonising nervous headache, and could do nothing for a while but crouch in a corner of the wall in the shade and keep wet handkerchiefs constantly over my forehead and head. In the meantime, the others had gone inside, and as Mrs. S.45 had told the Abbé I was suffering from a bad headache he came out to see me and at once said I had a slight touch of the sun – a frequent thing in these scorched and barren solitudes. He took me into a private room and made me lie down on a bed – and in a short time brought me two cups of strong black coffee, with probably something in it – for in less than twenty minutes I could bear the light in my eyes and in a few minutes more I had only an ordinary headache. He was exceedingly kind altogether, and I shall never think of Monte Oliveto without calling to remembrance the Abbé Cesareo di Negro. I then spent about three hours over the famous 35 noble frescoes by Sodoma and Signorelli, illustrating the life of Saint Benedict, the founder of the convent.46 They are exceedingly beautiful – and one can learn more from this consecutive series than can well be imagined. While taking my notes and wondering how I was to find time (without staying for a couple of days or so) to take down all particulars – I saw the Abbé crossing the cloisters in my direction, and when he joined me he said, “la Signora” had told him I was a poet and writer, and that I thought more of Sodoma than any of his contemporaries, and so he begged me to accept from him a small work in French on the history of the convent including a fairly complete account of each fresco. A glance at this showed that it would be of great service to me, and save much in the way of notetaking – and I was moreover glad of this memento; he inscribed his name in it….

248The more I see of Sodoma’s work the more I see what a great artist he was – and how enormously underrated he is in comparison with many others better known or more talked about. After having done as much as I could take in, I went with the Abbé over other interesting parts and saw some paintings of great repute, but to me unutterably wearisome and empty – and then to the library – and finally through the wood to a little chapel with some interesting frescoes. I felt quite sorry to leave the good Abbé. I promised to send him a copy of whatever I wrote about the Sodomas – and he said that whenever I came to Italy again I was to come and stay there for a few days, or longer if I liked – and hoped I would not forget but take him at his word. Thinking of you, I said I supposed ladies could not stay at the Convent – but he said they were not so rigorous now, and he would be glad to see the wife of the young English poet with him, if she could put up with plain fare and simple lodging. Altogether, Monte Oliveto made such an impression on me that I won’t be content till I take you there for a visit of a few days….

249Memoir 90–92

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, May 10, 1883

250Venezia | 10th May

251… I came here one day earlier than I anticipated. What can I say? I have no words to express my delight as to Venice and its surroundings – it makes up a hundredfold for my deep disappointment as to Rome. I am in sympathy with everything here – the art, the architecture, the beauty of the city, everything connected with it, the climate, the brightness and joyousness, and most of all perhaps the glorious presence of the sea…. From the first moment, I fell passionately and irretrievably in love with Venice: I should rather be a week here than a month in Rome or even Florence: the noble city is the crown of Italy, and fit to be empress of all cities.

  • 47 Sharp wrote “The Tides of Venice” before he visited Italy. It was published in The Human Inheritan (...)
  • 48 John Addington Symonds (1840–1893) settled in Switzerland in 1877 and remained there until his dea (...)
  • 49 William Dean Howells (1837–1920), a novelist, poet, and essayist, was a subeditor of The Atlantic (...)

252All yesterday afternoon and evening (save an hour on the Piazza and neighbourhood) I spent in a gondola – enjoying it immensely: and after dinner I went out till late at night, listening to the music on the canals. Curiously, after the canals were almost deserted – and I was drifting slowly in a broad stream of moonlight – a casement opened and a woman sang with as divine a voice as in my poem of The Tides of Venice:47 she was also such a woman as there imagined – and I felt that the poem was a true forecast. Early this morning I went to the magnificent St. Mark’s (not only infinitely nobler than St. Peter’s, but to me more impressive than all the Churches in Rome taken together). I then went to the Lido, and had a glorious swim in the heavy sea that was rolling in. On my return I found that Addington Symonds48 had called on me – and I am expecting W. D. Howells.49 I had also a kind note from Ouida.

253Joyousness, brightness everywhere – oh, I am so happy! I wish I were a bird, so that I could sing out the joy and delight in my heart. After the oppression of Rome, the ghastliness of Assisi, the heat and dust of Florence – Venice is like Paradise. Summer is everywhere here – on the Lido there were hundreds of butterflies, lizards, bees, birds, and some heavenly larks – a perfect glow and tumult of life – and I shivered with happiness. The cool fresh joyous wind blew across the waves white with foam and gay with the bronzesailed fisherboats – the long wavy grass was sweet-scented and delicious – the acacias were in blossom of white – life – dear, wonderful, changeful, passionate, joyous life everywhere! I shall never forget this day – never, never. Don’t despise me when I tell you that once it overcame me, quite; but the tears were only from excess of happiness, from the passionate delight of getting back again to the Mother whom I love in Nature, with her windcaresses and her magic breath.

254Memoir 92–93

To Emma Lucy Rossetti,50 June 5, 1883

  • 50 William Michael Rossetti married Emma Lucy Brown, the daughter of Ford Maddox Brown, in 1874.

255Hotel des Postes | Dinaut-sur-Meuse | Belgium | June 5/83

256Dear Mrs. Rossetti,

257After long wanderings a card of date sometime in April last has reached me – asking me to come and see you on a specified date.

  • 51 E. A. S. confirms that Venice, where he enjoyed the “frequent companionship of John Addington Symo (...)

258In case you did not know (tho’ I called twice to tell you and Mr. Rossetti – and told Miss Rossetti) I left England for Italy the end of last February – and have been in that country ever since till two or three days ago when I came to this district of the Ardennes, where (or whereabouts) I shall be with friends till the end of July.51

259My going to Italy was sudden, but in every way pleasant – having friends in many parts to stay with.

  • 52 Sharp is probably referring to the second of the two sales described by Oswald Doughty: “On July 5 (...)

260I was glad to hear the “Rossetti Sale”52 had been a success, and I hope it came up to your anticipations.

261Hoping you have learned long before this that my silence and not calling on you arose out of absence and from not having heard from you –

262Believe me | With kind regards to Mr. Rossetti – | Yours very truly | William Sharp

263P. S. I hope your father has now quite recovered from his recent serious illness.

264ALS John Carter Brown Library, Brown University

To Hall Caine, [early August, 1883]

265Primrose Bank | Innellan | by Greenock | N. B.

266My dear Caine,

267I have not long returned from my long absence on the continent – and amongst many things not forwarded to me I found two journals addressed to me in your handwriting, both containing reviews of my “Rossetti”.

268I think I am right in supposing that you are not the author of either – but for kindly thinking of sending them to me pray accept my sincere though tardy thanks. The notice in the Lity World, consisting of 9 columns, ought to have helped the book – i. e. if the L. W. has an influential circulation.

269I was only 3 days in London, when passing thro’ – so hadn’t time to look you up. I hope you are flourishing professionally, and that your health is better than when I saw you last. I don’t expect to be settled in London again till early in October, but look forward to seeing you again then or a little later.

270I enjoyed myself greatly in Italy – and was favoured indeed by circumstance: to such an extent indeed that it would be difficult to imagine any subsequent visit transcending in pleasure the one I have just spent.

  • 53 Elizabeth Sharp in her Memoir states the portmanteau was lost when Sharp was returning to London f (...)

271But since coming north a great misfortune has happened to me. En route, a large portmanteau was lost or stolen – and this portmanteau, in addition to new clothes got in London and valuable souvenirs and presents from Italy, contained all my MSS., both prose & verse, all my Memoranda (many of them essential to work in hand), all my Notes taken in Italy, my private papers and letters, some proofs, three partly written articles (two of them much overdue), my most valued books – and indeed my whole literary stock-in-trade pro-tem.53

272Its nonrecovery means at least an immediate loss of about £ 30, and prospectively a good deal more. Nine days have passed, & nothing has been heard of it yet – and I am beginning to lose my last fragments of hope. As a literary worker yourself you will understand what a “fister” this is to a young writer. I must take this buffet of Fate, however, without undue wincing – and tackle to again all the more earnestly for the severe loss and disappointment experienced. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.

273I suppose you are at work on something of more permanent interest than leaders for the L’pool Mercury?

274Will be glad of a line from you if you have time, and believe me

275Sincerely yours | William Sharp.

276ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To Hall Caine, [November, 1883]54

  • 54 Although the enclosed poem is dated September 18, 1883, this letter was written in mid-to late-Nov (...)

27713 Thorngate Rd. | Sutherland Gardens | W. | Tuesday Night

278My dear Caine

279You will have recd. my hurried note from Edinburgh.

280On my return to London I at once looked about for the recipe you wanted – but have been unsuccessful in finding it – indeed I am afraid it must be lost, perhaps destroyed amongst other papers when I went to Italy.

281The embrocation was a good for all kinds of rheumatic cold (stiff necks – strained muscles – effects of draughts etc). but I know next to nothing of its composition. The man who ordered it for me for external use in case I shd. require it during the winter following my rheumatic fever in autumn 1880 was Dr. Griffittes, of Portmadoc, North Wales. This, alas, is all the information I can give you about it.

282I am greatly better, so much so that I find it difficult to credit the doctor’s doleful prognostications: I feel I must take care, but beyond that I have no immediate cause for alarm. The worst of it is that I am one day in exuberant health and the next very much the reverse. The doctors agree that it is valvular disease of the heart, a treacherous form thereof still further complicated by hereditary bias. However, a fellow must “kick” someday – and I would as soon do so “per the heart” as, like no small number of my forbears in Scotland, from delirium tremens, sheep-stealing (in hanging days), and general disreputableness.

  • 55 Wind Voices (London: Stock, 1883).

283I am afraid poor Marston’s book has fallen rather flat.55 I have seen only one brief and worthless notice in the Lity. World – tho’ I heard from someone today that there was a notice in the Academy of last week, which I have not seen yet.

284The truth is, people are tired of the “wail” in poetry, either the individual caterwaul or the general ‘howl’ – and though P. B. W. is worth a dozen of most of his detractors he is bound to go to the wall unless he will forego what unfortunately he cannot do. Independently of this, he, despite his fine and rare gifts, is too much under the shadow of Rossetti to flourish on his own little open piece of ground.

285Thinking people want Hope, Faith, Energy, Joy – more than anything else do they crave that at least someone else should proclaim the last, on which the others are attendant. Joy in life, joy in death, the world will yet come to realize what that means. It is because humanity is sadder at heart than of yore that it must turn from the personality of sorrow to the impersonality of world-joy.

  • 56 Sharp accepted Dinah Maria Craik’s offer and spent March and April in her Dover house: 9 Hubert Te (...)

286I rejoice to hear that you are fairly well, and that Sandown suits you. But indeed almost any place must be better than the Inferno of London – which I am going to make a strenuous effort in the Spring to leave. Even if pecuniarly able, I am forbidden to marry for a year to come – and though waiting is hard now for us both, it is better even for my fianceé that nothing should be done which might result in what would be such a grief to her. Moreover, I am medically advised that London is not the place for me at all – so if I can possibly see my way I must try a move in the Spring. Hearing of my illness, Mrs. Craik56 offered me her house in Dover for two months in the Spring or early summer, as it wd. then be unoccupied – and there it is possible I may go.

287But my art-journalistic work (a very material ‘staff’ indeed) is the main obstacle. I would need to be in London at least one day every week besides Sunday, and coming up regularly from Saty till Monday would be expensive. How do you manage with the L’pool Mercury at Sandown?

288I have just today seen an announcement of your Cobwebs of Criticism – most heartily do I wish it success. I hope I may get it for review somewhere – I remember seeing a small portion of it at Birchington. What memories that name calls up – and what a blank he has left behind him!

289When I last saw Watts he was well, and Swinburne kindly condescended to be less deaf than usual. Watt’s article on Lewis Morris has been much discussed – bardically approved, publicly but half assented to.

  • 57 Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron Lytton (1803–1873) was a prolific novelist, poet, c (...)

290The interest of the hour is fixt on Lord Lytton’s57 autobiography and literary remains. I have the first two vols, and they are certainly most interesting.

  • 58 Agnes Mary Frances Robinson (1857–1944). See note to Sharp’s March 1881 letter to Violet Paget.

291You will be sorry to hear that Mary Robinson has had an attack of smallpox – fortunately she has weathered it all right – and when I called yesterday with some flowers to cheer her beautiful eyes the servant told me she was soon to be taken downstairs again.58 The Gods preserve her fair young life. Her sister Mabel has also been ill, but I am glad to say is now better.

  • 59 One of these books would have been his second volume of poems, Earth’s Voices, etc. (1884).

292I am hard at work, in addition to my art-editorial work and commissioned articles for the Art Journal and other magazines, upon two books which may see the light – God knows when.59

293As in some way relative to my remarks on page 5 of this letter, I enclose some lines written one day last September.

294Drop me a line when you have time, and believe me ever yours affectionately

295William Sharp

296Don’t forget, if you ever want a bed for a night to let me know.

Mater Dolorosa

She, brooding ever, dwells amidst the hills;
Her Kingdom is call’d Solitude; her name –
More terrible than desolating flame –
Is Silence; and her soul is Pain.
Day after day some weightier sorrow fills
Her heart, and each new hour she knows
The birth of further woes.
And who so, journeying, goes
Unto the land wherein she dwells for aye
Shall not come thence until have pass’ d away
For evermore the bright joy of his years.
She giveth rest, but giveth it with tears,
Tears that more bitter be
Than drops of the Dead Sea:
But never gives she peace to any soul,
For how could she that rarest gift bestow
Who well doth know
That though in dreams she can attain the goal,
In dreams alone her steps can thither go:
Solitude, Silence, Pain, for all who live
Within the twilight realms that are her own
And even Rest to those who seek her throne,
But these her gifts alone:
Peace hath she not and therefore cannot give.
W. S. | 18 Sept/83

297ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To Harry Buxton Forman, [1883]

29813 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | W.

299Dear sir

300Since my volume on Rossetti was published I have come across one or two drawings by D. G. R. which therefore do not appear in my catalogue at the end of the vol. Amongst these is a pen and ink drawing done in the Artist’s 19th or 20th year – evidently the study for a later composition – “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. On this study the following verses from Keats’ beautiful poem are inscribed, but as they are somewhat differently worded from every edition I have (4) I take the liberty of asking you if you can tell me if they are part of Keats’ first draft of the poem – or if they appear in any published copy.

  • 60 The Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman (1884).

301It is a great pleasure to myself as to all lovers of Keats to know that you are engaged upon such an edition60 as has been long looked for – and I hope its appearance is not to be delayed long.

302Believe me | Yours very truly | William Sharp

303Inscribed on a sepia drawing (14 7/8 by 6 7/8) by D. G. Rossetti in 1848 –

I met a lady in the wood,
Most beautiful, a fairy’ s child;
Her hair was long, her step was light,
And her eyes were wild.
I walked with her in the green shade,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sideways would she lean and sing
A fairy’s song.

304ALS NY Public Library, Berg Collection

To Harry Buxton Forman, [1883]

30513 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | W.

306Dear Sir

307Thanks for your reply. I enclose a printed slip from the catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club’s Rossetti Exhibition to open on Monday. The drawing in question has not, as you will see, the verses upon it – but the original sepia has. Two figures only in the composition, and no horse as you infer. The original would lend itself for mechanical duplication – but it is at present in the North of Scotland. In the course of six weeks I expect to see it and its owner at Oxford, and if you like would submit your letter to him – unless you would prefer to write direct and at once. I for one would be glad if your idea could be carried out.

308The two other drawings I referred to are about the same time (1848 to ‘51) and are illustrations to poems – one called Genevieve to Coleridge’s “Love”, and one to Sordello. Another is a design called “Poe’s Study”.

309Very truly yours | in haste | William Sharp

310H. Buxton Forman Esq

311ALS NY Public Library, Berg Collection

To Theodore Watts, October 12, 1883

(A Birthday Sonnet)

12 Oct./83.

Thou hast the crown of laurel, though thy name
Is not yet bruited through the land as one
Whose fire-wing’d words like falling stars have spun
Past many worlds of minds: but yet thy fame
Grows and is sure, as when a for est-flame,
Seen first alone by few, at last doth run
From furthest boundaries where the eastern sun
Uprises, till it rushes the west its aim.

Crowned by the few; is it not better thus
Than with a wider praise to hear the cries
Of those who yell their envy and their spite?

  • 61 Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

He loved and crowned you who was late with us61
This is thy truest laurel! and thewise
Discern at last the true from tinsel light.

William Sharp

312ALS British Library

To Eugene Lee-Hamilton, [early] 1884

31313 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | London, W.

314My dear Hamilton,

  • 62 The New Medusa, and Other Poems.

315We are such slaves to petty incidents that the best intentions are constantly being frustrated. I have a frequent wish to write to you – and succeed, well I won’t say how seldom: but there are such innumerable little as well as important things always awaiting one’s attention that I have let all my correspondence drift hopelessly behind hand. I need hardly say I often think of you, and of our pleasant morning drives. I earnestly hope you are freer from pain than heretofore, and that your Muse is no fickle jade but a constant and cherished friend. Have you been writing much lately – and is there any chance of another volume coming out within mentionable time. It was only the other day that I was reading the “New Medusa”62 vol over again – and I was even more struck by it on this third complete perusal than on the first occasion. It is remarkably equal, and it has the altogether unusual merit of containing nothing poor – no padding! The sonnets seem to me amongst the strongest of their kind in contemporary literature. I don’t know what kind of commercial success it has had, but its readers have neither been very limited nor unappreciative – not only in the literary world but amongst many of the outside public, as I have personally ascertained. I am curious to know what your subsequent work has been – other than the fine MS you lent to me in Florence. It must be a great pleasure to you to know as well as to hope that your poetry has appealed so strongly and (in a literary sense) so widely: and I sincerely hope (and believe) that your next volume will not only sustain but also increase the deserved reputation you have gained. I read a beautiful sonnet of yours in the yearly vol of the Art Journal for 1883 – but of this, by the bye, I think I have already written to you.

  • 63 New Arcadia, and Other Poems (London: Ellis and White, 1884).
  • 64 Published in 1884.
  • 65 All in All: Poems and Sonnets (1875).

316I am looking forward to the publication of Mary Robinson’s vol.,63 very little of which I already know. You have seen Marston’s WindVoices,64 I know. It contains some very beautiful work, but on the whole it is not as fine as I had hoped. I do not think he has the vivid dramatic emotion, though he has dramatic insight. But his sonnets and lyrics are most beautiful – though the unchanging monotony of sentiment palls at last dreadfully upon even the most sympathetic reader. It is doubtless better to play well on one string than to cause frequent discords along the whole diapason of artistic endeavor – but it is a mistake to suppose that the audience of a onestringed player will never weary. And monotony of sentiment (as in Marston’s 2nd Vol, “All in All”)65 is more fatal than monotony in expression.

  • 66 Elizabeth Sharp.
  • 67 Philip H. Caldron was born in France in 1833, went to England in his early boyhood, and began the (...)
  • 68 Earth’s Voices: Transcripts from Nature: Sospitra and Other Poems (London: Elliott Stock) was publ (...)
  • 69 Philip Bourke Marston.
  • 70 The identity of this “Romance” is uncertain. Sharp’s first published piece of prose fiction was “J (...)

317Mary Robinson seems well, I am glad to say – and is hard at work as you doubtless know. My cousin66 is also working hard, in a different way, at Caldron’s67 studio, and is getting on well. As for myself, I am greatly better, tho’ still needing to take care. I hope to bring out my second vol. of poems late in April or early in May.68 I know the contents to be very much in advance of my first book – both in imaginative reach and intellectual grasp as well as descriptive power – this being endorsed by P. B. M.,69 Watts, and others. Before then my Romance70 will be concluded, but not published till the Autumn – and I have also a great amount of artwork in hand and other literary labour.

318I can remember no other news at present – save that Swinburne is engaged upon an essay on Wordsworth which will either be extremely (and insincerely) flattering or very condemnatory.

  • 71 Walter Pater (1839–1894).

319I was visiting Pater71 recently, and found him well and hard at work upon his slow but sure ‘building’.

320Give my kindest remembrances to your sister and mother – and if not too great a trouble drop me a line about yourself and your doing, which will always interest

321Your affectionate friend, | William Sharp

322ALS Colby College Library

To Mr. ________ Parsons,72 [1884]

  • 72 I have been unable to identify Mr. Parsons.

32313 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W. | Wendy Night

324My dear Mr. Parsons

  • 73 Probably either Sharp’s first volume of poetry, The Human Inheritance, or his second, Earth’s Voic (...)

325I have just returned from a brief visit to Oxford – or would have sent you the accompanying ere this.73

326I hope you may find something in it worthy of your attention – in any case accept it as a token of the regard of

327Yours very truly | William Sharp

328ALS Princeton

To Hall Caine, [February 11, 1884]74

  • 74 Date from postmark on accompanying envelope. The letter was posted on Wednesday, February 13, 1884

329Monday night

330My dear Caine

331Thanks for your note. I am afraid I shall have left London by the time you return, but some Saty. or Sunday morning we must meet somewhere & renew our conversation in re bardic aims – (for I am coming up from Dover each Saty. till Monday – tho’ not to Thorngate Road) –

332With reference to our conversation the other night – the drift of it was to effectually put an end to my going on with the poem I was last reading. I am perhaps too indifferent to praise or blame as regards my poetic work – but I have my weak place, and that is, hostile criticism during composition of the poem – while it is yet unfinished.

  • 75 “Sospitra” appeared in Sharp’s second volume of poetry Earth’s Voices.

333But if there is anything to regret in it (which I don’t know that there is) I have only myself to blame – knowing as I do my inability to take up any subject again after the spell of being possessed by it has been broken. Not even to my cousin can I venture to do this – and though she was eager to hear something of “Sospitra”75 while I was working at it I wisely refused to gratify her. In all probability I should never have gone on with it if I had shown it – or the subsequent stanzas would not have been equal.

334So I have only myself to blame that my latest bardic effort was, if not exactly nipped in the bud, at any rate prevented from blossoming into full flower.

  • 76 Sharp did add “A Fragment” to the title of “A Record” when it was published in Earth’s Voices.

335So it will be published almost as it stood when I read the opening verses of it to you – the addition since being a batch of asterisks and three winding-up stanzas. So I will still call it “A Record” but will add a Fragment.76

336My view of Poetry entirely coincides with what Watts says and you agree to – but where we perhaps differ is on the scope of Life as the only basis for true work. Two people may look over the same sea and both agree that it is the real ocean that they are looking out upon – yet to one the horizon may seem much more remote than to the other. Another instance: I possess great keenness of vision – and some time ago a friend and myself were looking up at the full moon, & owing to some atmospherical state I distinctly saw three extended rims ‘lipping’ over each other above the orb – but my friend could only make out one, and that indefinitely. I saw a little further, that is all. In a sense he would have been quite right in previously objecting to a written description wherein this phenomenon was referred to – as quite beyond the pale of experience. But what worth has negative criticism compared with positive assurance?

337Perhaps this instance is not a very clear one – but I can’t go further into the question just now. The rack many people split upon is Reality. They say so-and-so is merely subjective – or it is not nature – or it is not real. To me everything is real – humanity and its passions most of all. But I do not confuse time with reality: a momentary flash of summer lightning is as real as a prolonged bonfire – a sudden gleam of moonlight on a cloudy night as the star that has been a flaming chaos for aeons past & which we call the Sun.

  • 77 George MacDonald (1824–1905) was a poet, novelist, and fantasy writer. His reputation lies mostly (...)

338Moreover, as Geo. Macdonald77 (I think) – has said – “To the philosopher a possibility is a fact”.

339If Shakespeare – greatest because widest and deepest seeing of all men – had drawn only upon life recognizable by all men at once he would not have been the supreme poet he is. He is supreme through his magnificent sanity – but it was a sanity that recognized no limits to man’s speculative insight. The truest portraitist, he was also the truest Seer. The greatest men have always realized that we are encompassed with mystery. Shakespeare, Goethe, Emerson, – how they would have smiled at the suggestion that the aim of poetry must invariably be human action.

340Mostly fervently I agree with you on one point – that we have had more than enough of the personal wail. I am sick of contemporary minor verse, greatly on this score. Who, by all that’s pleasant in life, wants to hear the yaup of each damned poetaster over some fancied individual grievance which in reality is common to all men?

341My advice to young bards is as follows: –

342(1).Don’t write at all if you can do without it.

343(2).If you do write, see first that you have something in itself worth writing about.

344(3).Certain of the worth of your subject (whether a ‘daisy’ or ‘Humanity’) do your utmost to render its presentment in verse not only a fitting one but the fitting one.

345(4).Having reached this length (knowing your powers and the direction of their development) take no heed of critical opinion save as regards the pointing out of technical flaws.

346Each year – perhaps each month – brings more & more home to me the fact that the creative artist, whether painter, sculptor, poet, or novelist, must attend only to the ‘shaping’ instinct that is in him and not to what this or that contradictory critic states. We both know the truth of this in literature – and I for one see it daily in art.

347Please, in futuro (after the 3rd), remember my only certain address will be

  • 78 The home of E. A. S.’s parents with whom she lived.

34872 Inverness Terrace | Bayswater | W78

349Tho’ I may tell you now that my Dover address during March & April will be

  • 79 “9 Herbert Terrace” was Dinah Maria Craik’s house in Dover. On hearing of Sharp’s serious illness (...)

3509 Herbert Terrace.79

351Please let me have back the Paper on Rossetti by Pater – as I have promised to lend it to someone this week.

352Wishing you success in the North | Yours ever | William Sharp

353ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To Theodore Watts [-Dunton], February 18, 1884

35413 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens W. | 18:2:84

355My dear Watts,

356I was exceedingly sorry to hear from Caine that you have been unwell – and most sincerely hope you are quite or nearly right again.

357I should like if convenient to come out and see you some evening (except Saty. & Sunday) before the 1st of March. After that date I go to Dover for 2 months.

358I am greatly better – and physically as strong as a horse, so long as I don’t run or overwalk myself.

359In haste | Affectionately yours | William Sharp

360ALS Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

To Hall Caine, [March, 1884]

3619 Herbert Terrace | Dover | Monday

362My dear Caine,

363Just a line to ask you to come and pay me a short visit here. I have a pleasant house at my disposal, and the scenery in the neighbourhood is endlessly charming – while I am certain the fresh bracing cliff & sea-air would do you good. Moreover, it would be very pleasant for me to have your company. Could you come down next Friday or Saty (as suits you) for a few days say till Tuesday at any rate. You could bring your work with you, and work as much or as little as you choose.

364Please telegraph to me the conclusion you come to – so that I may make consequent arrangements and as time is precious.

365If you can come (as I hope) let me know the day and hour and I will meet you.

366In haste | Yrs affectly | William Sharp

367ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man.

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, May 10, 188480

  • 80 Although this letter is dated 10 April in the Memoir, Sharp’s 26 April letter to Dowden (below) cl (...)

368Paris | 10th [May] 1884

  • 81 Paul Charles Joseph Bourget (1852–1935), a conservative French Catholic, wrote novels, short stori (...)

369What remains of me after today’s heat now writes to you. This morning I spent half an hour or so in M. Bourget’s study81 – and was flattered to find a wellread copy of my Rossetti there. He had a delightful library of books, and, for a Frenchman, quite a respectable number by English writers: amongst other things, I was most interested in seeing a shelf of about 30 volumes with letters or inscriptions inside from the corresponding contemporary critics, philosophists, etc. M. Bourget is fortunate in his friends.

  • 82 Emile Hennequin (1858–1888) was a literary critic and the author of Edgar Allan Poe (1885), La Cri (...)

370I then went to breakfast with him at a famous Café, frequented chiefly by hommes de lettres. At our table we were soon joined by Hennequin82 and two others. After breakfast (a most serious matter!) I adjourned with Bourget to his club, La Société Historique, Cercle St. Simon, and while there was introduced to one or two people, and made an honorary member with full privileges. I daresay Bourget’s name is better known to you as a poet, but generally his name is more familiar as the author of “Essais de Psychologie” – an admirable series of studies on the works and genius of Baudelaire, Renan, Gustave Flaubert, Taine, and Stendhal. He very kindly gave me a copy (which I am glad to have from him, though I knew the book already) and in it he wrote:

371À William Sharp

372de son confrère

373Paul Bourget.

374After leaving him I recrossed the Champs Elysées – perspired so freely that the Seine perceptibly rose – sank exhausted on a seat at the Café de la Paix – dwelt in ecstasy while absorbing a glace aux pistaches – then went back to the Grand Hotel – and to my room, where after a bit I set to finish my concluding Grosvenor Gallery Notice.

  • 83 Madame Blavatsky (1831–1891) was Helena P. Hahn until she married General Nicephore Blavatsky (who (...)

375On Sunday, if I can manage it, I will go to Mdme. Blavatsky.83

  • 84 Eugène Müntz(1845–1902) was a historian of French art. Sharp’s reference is to his Raphaël, sa vie (...)
  • 85 Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897) and Emile Zola (1840–1902) were eminent French novelists.
  • 86 Joseph Antoine Milsand (1817–1886) was a French critic and philosopher whose works include a book (...)
  • 87 François Coppée (1842–1908) and Frederic Mistral (1830–1914) were poets, while Jean Richepin (1849 (...)
  • 88 Adolphe William Bouguereau (1825–1905) was born at La Rochelle, studied art in Paris, and became a (...)
  • 89 Maurice Guillaume Guizot (1833–1892), a literary scholar, was appointed acting professor of the De (...)

376On Monday Bourget comes here for me at twelve, and we breakfast together (he with me this time) – and I then go to M. Lucien Mariex, who is to take and introduce me to M. Muntz,84 the writer of the best of the many books on Raphael and an influential person in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Somebody else is to take me to look at some of the private treasures in the École des Beaux Arts. In the course of the week I am to see Alphonse Daudet, and Bourget is going to introduce me to Emile Zola.85 As early as practicable I hope to get to Neuilly to see M. Milsand,86 but don’t know when. If practicable I am also to meet François Coppée (the chief living French poet after Victor Hugo) – also M. M. Richepin, F. Mistral (author of Miréio), and one or two others.87 Amongst artists I am looking forward to meeting Bouguereau, Cormon, Puvis de Chavannes, and Jules Breton.88 As much as anyone else, I look forward to making the acquaintance of Guizot89 to whose house I am going shortly with M. Bourget. There is really a delightful fraternity here amongst the literary and artistic world. And every one seems to want to do something for me, and I feel as much flattered as I am pleased. Of course my introductions have paved the way, and, besides, Bourget has said a great deal about me as a writer – too much, I know.

377Memoir 95–97

To Edward Dowden, April 26, 1884

37872 Inverness Terrace | Bayswater | London. W. | 26:4:84

379Dear Professor Dowden,

  • 90 Earth’s Voices.

380Just a line to say that in the course of a few days you will receive through Elliot Stock a copy of my vol. of verse.90 I have not forgotten your kind words about my first vol., and I earnestly hope this one may not disappoint you. Personally, it seems to me an advance in every way.

381I did not see my way to putting in this book what you advised – viz some naturally poetic and striking Celtic legend – tho! I yet hope to do so – but you will find instead a rendering of a strange and very beautiful Eastern legend with which I have as yet met no one acquainted. It is called “Sospitra”.

382The two other long poems are “Gaspara Stampa” (the Venetian Sappho, as some Italian chronicler has described her), and “A Record”, the latter embodying my belief in past existences on earth.

383Fully half the book is devoted to nature pure and simple – under the headings “Earth’s Voices” (26 in all), “Transcripts from Nature” (first and second series), “Australian Sketches”, “Graffiti d’Italia”, Moonrise-Sketches and Rainbow-Sketches.

384Amongst my shorter poems I consider I have reached my highest mark as yet in “The Shadowed Souls” and in the lines printed in italics at the end of the vol. and called “Madonna Natura”.

  • 91 James Cotton (1869–1916) became editor of The Academy in 1881.

385My next object in writing is to say that if you could get the book for review in the Academy I should be very glad indeed. I think Cotton91 will give it into friendly hands in any case, but of course a notice by an authoritative critic is worth double that of a comparatively unknown man.

386This (with characteristic bardic assurance!) is taking for granted that in the first place you thought the book worth reviewing, & in the next that you cared to do so.

387I think Stock will send the book to the Academy etc. on Friday the 2nd.

388If you are to be in town this summer I wd. greatly look forward to the pleasure of seeing you. Up to the 20th of May or so (from the 5th) I shall be in Paris on art-work (the Salon etc). – but during the end of May and all June I shall be in London, & the above address would always find me.

389Hoping you are well, and that before very long we shall have another volume of poems from you.

390Believe me | Yours sincerely | William Sharp.

391ALS TCD.

To Edward Dowden, [May 21, 1884]

39253 Crowndale Road | Oakley Square | N. W.

393Dear Mr. Dowden,

394On my return from Paris I saw W. B. Scott & learned that you had been in town. I regret having missed you, but hope for better luck the next time you are in this wearisome metropolis.

395I trust the copy of my last book I sent reached you all right – and that you found in it something to please you. You may be interested to hear that it is doing well, and that its critical reception has been gratifying in the extreme.

396Hoping you are well, and with much interest in your present Shelley labours –

397Believe me | Sincerely yours | William Sharp

398ALS TCD

To Hall Caine, [June 16, 1884]92

  • 92 This pitiful letter is postmarked June 16, 1884, a Monday. It is written in a nearly illegible scr (...)

399My dear Caine

  • 93 “& bedroom damp” is written in the margin here.

400If really not inconvenient, could you put me up tomorrow night? I have had, this afternoon, a narrow escape from rheumatic fever & must leave here at once. I think I have fought it down but I must not risk such another chance.93

401I have been crouching over a large fire and with my medicine having the better of the cursed complaint.

  • 94 Eric Sutherland Robertson who shared rooms with Caine and served as best man at Sharp’s wedding on (...)

402On Tuesday I go to Inverness Terrace – but as you said Robertson94 was not coming back till Tuesday I thought you might be able.

403If in any way inconvenient, please send a note or telegram, but not a postcard a postcard will do if you only say all right on it. Wd. come in the evening – but must go west early in day from here on urgent matter.

404Can’t say how thankful I am to have escaped this sharp and sudden attack, as there’s no saying what a second bout would do. Excuse a hideous scrawl, but my hands are so chilled and pained I can hardly hold the pen – and have to write at a distance –

405Yrs ever | William Sharp

406ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To Hall Caine, August 26, 1884

407Orinbeg | Loch Ranza | Isle of Arran | N. B. | 26:8:84

408Just a line, my dear Caine, in the midst of pressure from urgent work and accumulated correspondence, to let you know (what I am sure you will be glad to hear for my sake) that at last my long engagement is drawing to a close, and that Lillie and I are to be married on All Saints Day – just about two months from date. What we have got to marry on, Heaven knows – for I don’t: yet I hope a plunge in the dark will not in this instance prove disastrous. It is not a plunge in the dark as regards love and friendship – and that is the main thing.

409I hope you are in good health and that things are going well with you. Are you still at Yarra, & have you fixed on your next place of residence?

410Loch Ranza is a lovely northern sea-loch, surrounded by lofty hills and the serrated ridges of the “Peaks of the Castles” – and for some weeks past I have been enjoying myself here greatly, & would have done so infinitely more but for the amount of work & correspondence I have daily to go through.

411The other day I had a visit from the Madox Browns and Miss Blind, who drove in a buggy over the mountains from Corrie, where they are staying a few days.

412I believe it is terrifically hot in London – so I hope you are going to have a change.

  • 95 When Sharp spent the night at Caine’s Hampstead house in June, he saw that Mary Chandler was pregn (...)

413Is the hour of paternity drawing nigh?95 I wonder if Maccoll would accept for the Athenaeum a sonnet on “Caine’s Firstborn”? I must try. If a boy, please call it “Abel”, or in case this would give rise to too many poor jokes, what do you say to “Tubal”. Most people would simply think you had called him after “that fellow, you know, in one of George Eliot’s poems”!

414After Saturday, my letter-address will be 16 Rosslyn Terrace, Kelvinside, Glasgow – and I expect to be in London about the end of September.

415In haste | Affectionately yours | William Sharp

416ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

Notes

1 This letter was written from Birchington, Kent, where Rossetti died on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1882.

2 Although he never finished it, Rossetti returned to work on his “Joan of Arc” during a short period of recovery shortly before his death in 1882.

3 Robert Farquharson Sharp (1864–1945) was Elizabeth Sharp’s brother and thus both a first cousin and brother-in-law of William Sharp, whose literary executor he became upon Elizabeth’s death in 1932. He served in the Department of Printed Books in the British Museum from 1888 until 1929. His published works include Dictionary of English Authors (1897,) Makers of Music (1898), Reader’s Guide to Everyman’s Library (1932), Short Biographical Dictionary of Foreign Literature (1933), and translations of Hugo, Bjornson, and Ibsen. On February 5, 1937, he read an essay entitled “I Remember William Sharp” on the BBC.

4 In the Memoir (63,) this letter is misdated 1883.

5 This sonnet was not published until Mrs. Sharp printed it in the Memoir. Two other sonnets addressed to D. G. Rossetti appear in the section entitled “Sonnets, 1882–1886” in the Selected Writings of William Sharp, Uniform Edition Arranged by Mrs. William Sharp, Volume One, Poems by William Sharp (London: William Heinemann, 1912).

6 William Bell Scott (1811–1890), was a Scottish artist in oils and watercolors. He was also a poet and art teacher, and his posthumously published reminiscences give a chatty and often vivid picture of life in the circle of the Pre-Raphaelites; he was especially close to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His publications include Poems (1854), William Blake: Etchings from his Works (1878,) and The Little Masters (1880).

7 Edward Dowden (1843–1913), an Irish poet, essayist, biographer, and literary critic, was a Professor at Trinity College Dublin from 1892 until his death. He gave the Taylor Lectures at Oxford in 1889 and the Clark Lectures at Cambridge between 1892 and 1896. He is best known for his Shakespeare criticism and his two-volume Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1886). Among his publications are Shakespeare: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art (1875), Poems (1876), Introduction to Shakespeare (1893), Essays: Modern and Elizabethan (1910), and Poems (1914).

8 For more information about Dowden, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Dowden.

9 Notice by Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton) of Sharp’s first book of poetry – The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood – which was published by Elliot Stock in Spring 1882.

10 Yorkshire Post.

11 A poet and essayist, James Thomson (1834–1882) was the author of “City of Dreadful Night” (1874) and a volume of that title which followed in 1880, in addition to Essays and Phantasies (1881), and Satires and Profanities (1884). In 1840 his father became paralyzed and his mother died in 1842. In 1853 the girl that he loved, Matilda Weller, died suddenly. Additionally, his insomnia, dipsomania, melancholia, poverty, alcoholism, and eventual homelessness are some of the “miseries” to which Sharp refers. He collapsed at Philip Bourke Marston’s on June 1st and died on June 3rd.

12 Date from postcard on envelope.

13 Philip Bourke Marston.

14 James Thomson.

15 Sharp began his book on Rossetti (Daniel Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study) in June 1882 within two months of Rossetti’s death in April. It was published in December by Macmillan. The book was well-received and established Sharp’s reputation as a critic. He later considered it a too-hasty project by a young man whose “judgement” was “immature” (Memoir 63–72).

16 Caine’s Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti was published by Elliot Stock in fall 1882.

17 A journalist and novelist, William Tirebuch (1854–1900) was a friend of Hall Caine who lived in Liverpool. After a period of writing for the Liverpool Mail and the Yorkshire Post, he devoted himself to writing novels. He was the first to get a book about Rossetti into print after Rossetti died (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882). Hall Caine and William Sharp were writing books on Rossetti in 1882, and each hoped to be the first to publish. It turned out that Tirebuch’s book “was a slim essay on Rossetti’s art with little about his life. It came out on June, 1882, and William [Rossetti] dismissed it as of no importance as the writer had not known Rossetti personally and was himself unknown.” See Hall Caine. Portrait of a Victorian Romancer by Vivien Allen (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), pp. 151–52.

18 This work became Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study.

19 The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood.

20 For images of the Rossetti paintings identified in this letter, consult the Rossetti Archive: http://www.rossettiarchive.org/index.html

21 I. e. watercolour.

22 “Found” is a famous unfinished painting by Rossetti.

23 Frederick Startridge Ellis (1830–1901 was a bookseller, author, and publisher (Ellis and White) who brought out works by William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and became their close friend.

24 Date from postmark, and addressed to Ellis at Hill House, Epsom. Sharp wrote this card on the 25th, a Thursday, after returning from seeing Ellis’ Rossetti paintings in Epsom.

25 Philip Bourke Marston.

26 Mathilde Blind (1841–1896) was a German-born poet, translator, and friend of the Rossetti family. Her works include The Ascent of Man; The Heather on Fire; Dramas in Miniature; Poems of the Open Air; Tarantella: A Romance (1885); Madame Roland (1886); and George Eliot (1888).

27 This incomplete letter is taken from a summary which was transcribed by a Manx Museum staff member.

28 The “‘unsold drawings” by D. G. Rossetti were sold at Christie’s in 1883. The reference is to the “Supplementary Catalogue” Sharp included in his book on Rossetti.

29 On October 23, Sharp told W. M. Rossetti he would be going to Hampshire for a fortnight or more. This letter indicates he was staying in Northbrook House in Micheldever which was the country home of the Cairds. The Sharps stayed there frequently at the invitation of Mona Caird, a good friend of Elizabeth Sharp since their school days, who became a well-known advocate of women’s rights. (See note to Sharp letter to Caird dated early 1880.) Built in the eighteenth century, Northbrook House is now a grade II listed building. The date of the letter is established by its reference to the proofs, which Sharp expected in a few days, of the wood-engraving of D. G. Rossetti’s design which surrounds the sonnet he wrote about the sonnet. Sharp told Dowden on December 10, 1882 that Christina Rossetti and her mother had made the design containing the sonnet available to him for publication as the frontispiece for his study of Rossetti.

30 The New Medusa and Other Poems (1882). The book Sharp received from Richard Garnettwas Selected Letters of Shelley with an introduction by Garnett which was published by Kegan Paul in 1882.

31 Sonnets of Three Centuries: A Selection, ed. T. H. Caine (1882).

32 Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study.

33 Frederick Langbridge (1849–1922) was a clergyman who lived for many years in Limerick. He wrote poems, plays, novels, and books for children.

34 The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood.

35 India ink is a simple black or colored ink once widely used for writing and printing.

36 In 1883 there were exhibitions of Rossetti’s art at both the Royal Academy’s Burlington House and the Burlington Fine Arts Club. The latter was offered as a supplementary and concurrent exhibition due to the supposed shortcomings of the Royal Academy’s exhibition. The Royal Academy exhibit opened in December 1882, and the Burlington Club’s opened on January 13, 1883. The London Times responded favorably to both: “the two Rossetti exhibitions now open will be remembered for a long time to come. They have dispelled more than one prejudice, and thrown a new light on the origin of a movement which has played an important part in the development of English art and of the external surroundings of English life” (January 15, 1883, p. 8).

37 For many years an imposing residence in Piccadilly, Burlington House was sold in 1854 to the British government for £140,000. The Royal Society occupied part of the house in 1857. The Royal Academy of Art moved to the main block in 1867 on a 999-year lease with rent of £1 per year. It soon became and remains a prestigious art school and a major art gallery. The Burlington Fine Arts Club was established in 1866 and occupied (until its demise in 1952) imposing quarters at 17 Savile Row. In addition to providing gallery space for exhibitions, it was a men’s club for artists and art patrons. Daniel Gabriel Rossetti was a member as were James McNeill Whistler, John Ruskin, and William Michael Rossetti

38 Sharp’s four-month visit to Italy, which began in late February 1883, was made possible by the gift of 200 pounds from a friend of his grandfather who heard from Sir Noel Paton that Sharp was “inclined to the study of literature and art” (Memoir 78). Of all the letters Sharp wrote to his fiancé from Italy, only those she printed in the Memoir survive since she destroyed toward the end of her life all the letters she had received from him and most of those he received from others. That was a sad loss because the letters and fragments that survive contain the responses of a perceptive young man, heavily imbued with the work of the British Pre-Raphaelites, to the paintings, murals, and statuary of the Italian Renaissance. Not long after he returned to England, Sharp became the London art critic for the Glasgow Herald, a position he later turned over to his wife. Both William and Elizabeth Sharp attended not only the major art exhibits in London, but also for many years the annual Spring Salons in Paris. They wrote extensively about the art they observed there in the late 1880s and 1890s, a period in which the experimental work of French artists dominated the international art world.

39 The Brancaccio Chapel of the Santa Maria del Carmine is a landmark of Florentine art. Its frescoes were painted by Masolino, beginning in 1424, and by his pupil Masaccio, who worked until his death in 1428 at the age of 27. They were completed by Filippino Lippi in the 1480s. Many of the scenes are among Masaccio’s masterpieces, and many artists of the 1400s and 1500s came to the chapel to sketch and discover how Masaccio achieved his dramatic effects.

40 Mrs. Smillie, Elizabeth Sharp’s aunt, had a villa on the outskirts of Florence.

41 Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée) (1839–1909) was well known on the continent as well as in England and America for her stories and criticism. Her mother, Susan Sutton, was English, and her father, Louis Reme, French. When she was not traveling, she lived and worked at her Villa Farinola outside Florence. She wrote glamorous, unreal, but extremely popular stories. Among her most successful books were: Held in Bondage (1863), Chandos (1866), and Under Two Flags (1867).

42 William Wetmore Story (1819–1895) was an American sculptor, poet, and novelist who moved permanently to Rome in 1850. See note to Sharp’s July 15, 1890 letter to Story. John Rollin Tilton (1828–1888), a close friend of Story, was a landscape painter who worked chiefly in watercolors. Also an American, he settled in Rome in 1852 and remained for the rest of his life.

43 Arthur Lemon (1850–1912) was a British painter who spent his early years in Rome and was, for ten years, a cowboy in California, where he painted Indians and wildlife.

44 John Arthur Lomax (1857–1923) studied in Munich and did his major work in Manchester and London.

45 Mrs. Smillie.

46 Giovanni Antonio Bazzi Sodoma (1477–1549) was a Lombard painter who worked at Monte Oliveto from 1505 to 1508, continuing the frescoes, “Scenes of the Life of St. Benedict that were begun by Luca Signorelli (1450–1523), an Umbrian painter and a pupil and collaborator of Piero della Francesca. Signorelli’s “Legend of St. Benedict,” a work known for its anatomical detail, its foreshortening, and its conveyance of pathos, was probably painted at Monte Oliveto in 1497.

47 Sharp wrote “The Tides of Venice” before he visited Italy. It was published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood.

48 John Addington Symonds (1840–1893) settled in Switzerland in 1877 and remained there until his death, with regular trips to Italy, especially Venice. He and Sharp developed a warm friendship, and Symonds encouraged Sharp’s literary pursuits throughout the eighties.

49 William Dean Howells (1837–1920), a novelist, poet, and essayist, was a subeditor of The Atlantic Monthly under James T. Fields and editor-in-chief from 1872 until 1881. He wrote the “Editor’s Study” column for Harper’s Monthly from 1886 to 1891 when he left to edit Cosmopolitan for a year. He returned to Harper’s in 1900 and wrote the “Editor’s Easy Chair” until his death. Howells was the U. S. Consul in Venice from 1861 until 1865, and he returned frequently for visits. His works include: Poems (1873), A Modern Instance (1882), The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), Modern Italian Poets (1887), A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), Literature and Life (1902), Years of My Youth (1916), and The Leatherwood God (1916).

50 William Michael Rossetti married Emma Lucy Brown, the daughter of Ford Maddox Brown, in 1874.

51 E. A. S. confirms that Venice, where he enjoyed the “frequent companionship of John Addington Symonds” and long hours in the gondola, was the “crowning pleasure” of Sharp’s Italian sojourn. He stayed there through May, spent June in the Ardennes with Elizabeth and her mother, and returned to London briefly in July before going on to Scotland to stay with his mother and sister at Innellan on the Clyde (Memoir 93).

52 Sharp is probably referring to the second of the two sales described by Oswald Doughty: “On July 5th [1882] and the two following days, the sale of Rossetti’s household effects took place at Cheyne Walk. To William’s [William Michael Rossetti] pleased surprise it produced, together with some of the pictures sold privately, about three thousand pounds…. It chanced to be Gabriel’s birthday, May 12, 1883, when the remaining paintings were sold at Christie’s for about the same sum as the household sale had realized; the total thus raised, almost six thousand pounds, proved sufficient to pay Rossetti’s debts and even leave a small balance in hand.” Oswald Doughty, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A Victorian Romantic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949), 674.

53 Elizabeth Sharp in her Memoir states the portmanteau was lost when Sharp was returning to London from Innellan. This letter makes clear that it was lost on his way from London to Innellan to stay with his Mother & sisters. It was found about a month after its loss with its contents, according to E. A. S., “in a soaked sodden condition, but still legible and serviceable.” Elizabeth reported that his search for the portmanteau in the wet & cold of Scotland caused him to become ill with rheumatic fever which attacked his heart when he returned to London in September (Memoir 94).

54 Although the enclosed poem is dated September 18, 1883, this letter was written in mid-to late-November. Sharp was “feeling better” after becoming seriously ill with rheumatic fever upon his return from Scotland in September. He is glad Caine was feeling better and that Sandown suits him. Caine went to live in a cottage near Sandown on the Isle of Wight at the end of October, 1883 (Vivien Allen, Hall Caine, Portrait of a Victorian Romancer).

55 Wind Voices (London: Stock, 1883).

56 Sharp accepted Dinah Maria Craik’s offer and spent March and April in her Dover house: 9 Hubert Terrace. He told Caine in a letter dated February 11, 1884 that he would be coming up from Dover each “Saty. till Monday – tho’not to Thorngate Road.” He probably spent at least some weekends in London with Elizabeth at her parent’s house, 72 Inverness Terrace, from which he could attend art exhibits on Saturday and keep up his reviewing for the Glasgow Herald. When he left Dover in early May, he crossed to Paris and stayed there until May 20. In October 1884, Mrs. Craik lent her Dover house to the Sharps for a portion of their honeymoon.

57 Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron Lytton (1803–1873) was a prolific novelist, poet, critic, and Member of Parliament. His novels include Pelham (1828), The Last Days of Pompeii, 3 vol. (1834), King Arthur (1848), and The Caxtons, 3 vol. (1849). In 1883 his son, (Edward) Robert Bulwer-Lytton (1831–1891), a diplomat and poet, published The Life, Letters and Literary Remains of his father. The two volumes covered the period 1803–1832. There were no subsequent volumes. Lytton’s wife, Lady Rosina (Doyle Wheeler) Bulwer-Lytton, who was Irish, was also a novelist. They separated after about six years of marriage (1827–1836). In 1839 she published a novel called Cheveley, or the Man of Honour, in which her husband was cast as the villain.

58 Agnes Mary Frances Robinson (1857–1944). See note to Sharp’s March 1881 letter to Violet Paget.

59 One of these books would have been his second volume of poems, Earth’s Voices, etc. (1884).

60 The Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman (1884).

61 Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

62 The New Medusa, and Other Poems.

63 New Arcadia, and Other Poems (London: Ellis and White, 1884).

64 Published in 1884.

65 All in All: Poems and Sonnets (1875).

66 Elizabeth Sharp.

67 Philip H. Caldron was born in France in 1833, went to England in his early boyhood, and began the study of art in London in 1850. He is best known for his painting “The Day of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew” (1863).

68 Earth’s Voices: Transcripts from Nature: Sospitra and Other Poems (London: Elliott Stock) was published in June 1884.

69 Philip Bourke Marston.

70 The identity of this “Romance” is uncertain. Sharp’s first published piece of prose fiction was “Jack Noel’s Legacy: A Story for Boys” which appeared serially in Young Folks’ Papers, 8 (London: James Henderson & Co., Ltd.) in 1886.

71 Walter Pater (1839–1894).

72 I have been unable to identify Mr. Parsons.

73 Probably either Sharp’s first volume of poetry, The Human Inheritance, or his second, Earth’s Voices. If the latter, this letter would date after June 1884 when Earth’s Voices was published.

74 Date from postmark on accompanying envelope. The letter was posted on Wednesday, February 13, 1884.

75 “Sospitra” appeared in Sharp’s second volume of poetry Earth’s Voices.

76 Sharp did add “A Fragment” to the title of “A Record” when it was published in Earth’s Voices.

77 George MacDonald (1824–1905) was a poet, novelist, and fantasy writer. His reputation lies mostly in his fairy tales, examples of which are contained in Dealings with Fairies (1867), The Princess and the Goblin (1872), and Lilith (1895).

78 The home of E. A. S.’s parents with whom she lived.

79 “9 Herbert Terrace” was Dinah Maria Craik’s house in Dover. On hearing of Sharp’s serious illness and his need to be away from London in the winter of 1884, Mrs. Craik offered him the use of her Dover house. (See Sharp’s letter to D. G. Rossetti of July 28, 1881). In October 1884, she lent her Dover house to the Sharps for a portion of their honeymoon.

80 Although this letter is dated 10 April in the Memoir, Sharp’s 26 April letter to Dowden (below) clearly states that he will be in Paris from 5 May until 20 May. This letter was therefore written on 10 May or thereabouts.

81 Paul Charles Joseph Bourget (1852–1935), a conservative French Catholic, wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, criticism and travel books. He was the author of Essais de Psychologie (1883), André Cornélis (1887), Le Disciple (1889), and Un Divorce (1904).

82 Emile Hennequin (1858–1888) was a literary critic and the author of Edgar Allan Poe (1885), La Critique Scientifique (1888), and Etudes de Critique Scientifique (1890.)

83 Madame Blavatsky (1831–1891) was Helena P. Hahn until she married General Nicephore Blavatsky (whom she left within the first year of marriage). Born in Ekaterionslav, Russia, she traveled through Europe and the Mideast between 1848 to 1873. She first visited Paris in March 1873 and later that year went to America where she founded the Theosophical Society and became an American citizen. From America she went to India in 1878 and returned to Europe in February 1884. Subsequently, she spent a good deal of time in England, but continued her travels until her death in London in 1891. Her special brand of spiritualism – with elements of eastern religions and of the Kabbalah – was very attractive to young artists and intellectuals, chief among them W. B. Yeats, in the eighties and nineties.

84 Eugène Müntz(1845–1902) was a historian of French art. Sharp’s reference is to his Raphaël, sa vie, son oeuvre, son temps (1881).

85 Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897) and Emile Zola (1840–1902) were eminent French novelists.

86 Joseph Antoine Milsand (1817–1886) was a French critic and philosopher whose works include a book on Ruskin, L’Esthetique Anglaise (1864).

87 François Coppée (1842–1908) and Frederic Mistral (1830–1914) were poets, while Jean Richepin (1849–1926), a popular figure in the “Latin Quarter” of Paris, was a poet, novelist, and dramatist.

88 Adolphe William Bouguereau (1825–1905) was born at La Rochelle, studied art in Paris, and became a decorative painter, best known for his “The Body of St. Cecilia Borne to the Catacombs.” FernandAnne-Piestre Cormon (1845–1924), also an artist, was a professor at L’École des Beaux Arts. Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898) painted in a traditional manner though his works have imaginative power and complexity. Jules Breton (1827–1906) was a French poet who became a member of L’Académie des Beaux Arts in 1886.

89 Maurice Guillaume Guizot (1833–1892), a literary scholar, was appointed acting professor of the Department of French Language and Modern Literature at the Collège de France and, in 1874, was named to the Chair of Germanic Language and Literature at the same university. In 1882 he published a partial translation of Macaulay’s essays on history and literature.

90 Earth’s Voices.

91 James Cotton (1869–1916) became editor of The Academy in 1881.

92 This pitiful letter is postmarked June 16, 1884, a Monday. It is written in a nearly illegible scrawl that demonstrates the pain Sharp was experiencing as he wrote. See the introduction to this section.

93 “& bedroom damp” is written in the margin here.

94 Eric Sutherland Robertson who shared rooms with Caine and served as best man at Sharp’s wedding on October 31, 1884. He edited the “Great Writers” series for Walter Scott, for which he wrote the Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1887). He was also the author of The Dreams of Christ, and Other Verses (1891), From Alleys and Valleys (1918), and The Limits of Unbelief; or Faith Without Miracles (1920). In the spring of 1887 Robertson assumed the chair of Literature and Logic at the University of Lahore. Upon leaving London, he had to vacate his position as editor of the “Literary Chair” in The Young Folk’s Paper. He suggested William Sharp succeed him as Editor, and that position provided the Sharps with a modest steady income for three years. Sharp was asking Caine if he could sleep in Robertson’s bed in the quarters they shared in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Caine had another house in Hampstead, perhaps unknown to Sharp, where he sent Sharp to be cared for by Mary Chandler and her maid. See the introduction to this section for more details.

95 When Sharp spent the night at Caine’s Hampstead house in June, he saw that Mary Chandler was pregnant with Caine’s child. As it happened, Mary had given birth to a son on 15 August 1884, and Caine had named him not Abel, but Ralph Hall Caine. Caine registered the birth on 15 September as the son of Thomas Henry Hall Caine, journalist, and Mary Alice Caine, formerly Chandler. Caine considered himself married to Mary, though he was not. They married in 1886 and enjoyed a long life together.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 3. Hall Caine, The Manxman, as caricatured in Vanity Fair. John Bernard Partridge (1896), Wikimedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​File:Hall_Caine_Vanity_Fair_2_July_1896.jpg, Public Domain.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7829/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 121k
Légende Fig. 4. Photograph of William Sharp taken by an unknown photographer in Rome in 1883. Reproduced from William Sharp: A Memoir, compiled by Elizabeth Sharp (London: William Heinemann, 1910).
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7829/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 343k

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