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

 | 
William Sharp
, 
Fiona Macleod

Chapter Three

Texte intégral

Life: 1885–1886

1Sharp remained healthy for most of 1885, and his productivity increased accordingly. He continued as London art critic for the Glasgow Herald, joined the staff of The Academy, and contributed articles to The Art Journal, the Examiner, The Athenaeum, and Good Words. He thought a year or two of reviewing and editing would free him financially to concentrate on poetry and fiction. In early January he wrote to Eugene Lee-Hamilton praising his recently published book of poems (Apollo and Marsyas, and Other Poems). In a letter to Violet Paget, Lee-Hamilton’s sister who published pseudonymously as “Vernon Lee,” he expressed his disappointment in her recent novel – Miss Brown – in which many of Sharp’s friends saw themselves portrayed in a negative light: “You cannot be aware of the deep offense it has given to many good friends.… If I had never read anything else of yours, Miss Brown would effectually have prevented my ever reading or having the faintest curiosity to read anything from your pen.” Then he tempered those harsh words: “If it were not for my sincere admiration for you as a writer of much delightful, admirable, and original work – I should not have written to you as I have now done: but it is because of my admiration for the ‘Vernon Lee’ whom I know that I refuse to recognize as genuine or characteristic a production in every sense inferior to anything she has done.” The severe criticism may have derived in part from Paget’s negative response to Sharp’s “Motherhood” in his first volume of poetry. In any case, the two had little to do with each other following Sharp’s letter, though he maintained a cordial friendship with Lee-Hamilton. Paget’s relationship with her brother also soured following the death of their mother when Lee-Hamilton miraculously arose from the sick bed he had lain in for years, took off for America where he found a wife, and returned with her to a villa near Florence where they frequently entertained the Sharps. Violet Paget moved to Rome.

2Sharp wrote both of these letters in bed due to an illness that rendered him liable to his “old trouble” which we now know was rheumatic fever. By February he had recovered enough to write a review of Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean which appeared as the lead item in the 28 February issue of The Athenaeum (271–73). Athenaeum reviews were unsigned, but Sharp sent a copy to Pater who thanked him on March 1: “You seem to have struck a note of criticism not merely pleasant but judicious; and there are one or two points – literary ones – on which you have said precisely what I should have wished and thought it important for me to have said. Thank you sincerely for your friendly work!” He was pleased that Mrs. Sharp was also interested in the book as it was always a sign to him that he had to some extent succeeded in his literary work when it gained the ‘the approval of accomplished women.” He hoped Sharp would contact him a week or so ahead of a projected visit to Oxford so they could plan to see as much as possible of each other (Memoir 104–05).

3Sharp first met Pater through Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the late 1870s, and their friendship was such by November 1882 that Pater began a letter to Sharp with a parenthetical: “(I think we have known each other long enough to drop the ‘Mr’).” In 1884, Sharp dedicated his second book of poems, Earth’s Voices: Transcripts from Nature: Sospitra and other Poems, as follows: “Dedicated in High Esteem and in Personal Regard to my Friend, Walter Pater, Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford.”

4Sometime in the late spring of 1885, the Sharps went “down to Oxford,” according to Elizabeth, “so I might meet the Misses Pater at their brother’s house” (Memoir 119–20). While there Sharp saw an advertisement for “a desirable cottage to be let furnished, with service, and garden stocked with vegetables” on Loch Tarbert in Scotland which they rented for the month of July.

5The cottage was less desirable than advertised, but Sharp described its location glowingly in a July 22 letter to Edward Dowden:

I came here from London some weeks ago, with my wife and a young sister who lives in Glasgow. I forget, by the by, whether I ever told you that I was married late last autumn? I am always glad to get north, both loving and knowing the Western Isles and Highlands, and all places wherever broods the Celtic glamour. West Loch Tarbert is one of the loveliest of the Atlantic sea-lochs: severing Knapdale (Northern Argyll) from “wild Cantyre;” its length is about 11 miles, from its commencement east of the islands of Giglia and Islay up to the narrow Isthmus of Tarbert on the western side of Loch Fyne. From our windows we get a lovely view up the loch, looking out on the mountainous district of Knapdale and the small-islanded water towards Tarbert. To the Northeast is Shobli-Ghoil – the Hill of Love – the mountain where that Celtic Achilles, Diarmid, met his death by a wound in the heel through the envy of Fingal. Behind us are endless moorlands, and only one or two cottages at wide distances.

6Foreshadowing more overtly his writing as Fiona Macleod, he continued: “I have a stirring and heroic Celtic subject in my mind for poetic treatment, and hope to make a start with it erelong. It will be with regret that we will leave at the end of the month – but we have two or three other places to go to in Scotland before returning to London – which we do not intend doing till the end of September.” The purpose of the letter was to solicit Dowden’s opinions about the placing of several sonnets in an edition of Shakespeare’s poems he was working on for inclusion in the Canterbury Poets, a series of inexpensive editions of the works of well-known English poets that was to be issued by the Walter Scott Publishing Company. Having published Shakespeare: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art in 1875, Dowden, a Professor at Trinity College in Dublin, was a leading expert on Shakespeare whose opinions Sharp valued.

7The care Sharp exercised in arranging the poems and writing the Introduction for Songs, Poems, and Sonnets of William Shakespeare in the fall of 1885 led the Walter Scott Publishing House to accept his proposal for a book containing a selection of the best sonnets of the century and to appointment him, in 1886, as general editor of the Canterbury Poets. The firm played a crucial role in establishing William Sharp’s reputation as a writer and editor. Walter Scott was a prosperous businessman in Newcastle who acquired the bankrupt Tyne Publishing Company in 1882. He named David Gordon, a dynamic Scotsman, as manager of the renamed Walter Scott Publishing House. Gordon convinced Scott he could turn the firm to profitability by speeding up the publication of inexpensive editions of major writers, separating them into several series, advertising them aggressively, and selling them at the rate of one per month to an expanding reading public for one shilling. After purchasing and reading one volume, readers would be motivated to acquire another. Gordon proceeded to create in short order not only the Canterbury Poets Series, but also the Camelot Classics Series (for prose works), the Great Writers Series (biographies), and the Contemporary Science Series.

Fig. 5. Photograph of Edward Dowden. Robinson (c. 1895), Wikimedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Portrait_of_Edward_Dowden.jpg, Public Domain.

8Gordon had turned first to Joseph Skipsey (1832–1903), who was living in Newcastle, to edit the Canterbury Poets. Son of a coal miner, Skipsey taught himself to read and matured into a well-known and highly respected poet. Under his editorship, in 1884 and 1885 the firm produced editions of Coleridge, Shelley, Blake, Burns, and Poe (all edited by Skipsey), George Herbert (edited by Ernest Rhys), and Sharp’s edition of Shakespeare’s poems.

9Scott and Gordon knew little about English or any other literature; they were businessmen intent on making money. In his autobiographical Wales England Wed, Ernest Rhys recalled receiving in early 1886 “an unexpected call at his London home from ‘two prosperous-looking men in top hats’ who turned out to be Walter Scott’s representatives.” They were there to offer Rhys the editorship of a prose series complementing the Canterbury Poets. Rhys gradually realized the two men thought they were talking to Professor John Rhys, a well-known Celtic scholar. Nevertheless, it was Ernest who got the job, and he described the visit more fully in his earlier Memoir:

One morning two visitors were announced at an awkwardly early hour.… A loud knocking woke me in no state to receive strangers, clad in an old Rob Roy dressing-gown and slippers. It was too late to retreat. One of the callers, a red-haired Scotsman, was already entering.… These morning callers were emissaries of Walter Scott Ltd.… they carted me off to lunch at a City tavern and asked me to edit a prose series for a ridiculously modest stipend. Before we parted, I had sketched a chart of a dozen possible titles. So lightly was I launched on the career of editing (Everyman Remembers, 75–76).

10After accepting the offer from the emissaries, one of whom must have been David Gordon, Rhys chose Camelot as the name of the new series, and settled on Sir Thomas Malory, “the father of English prose,” for its first volume, which he edited under the title Romance of King Arthur. The Camelot series was a great success, as were the other three series. The volumes disappeared as fast as the Scott firm and its editors could produce them. When the Camelot Series had run its course, Ernest Rhys convinced an unknown publisher, J. M. Dent, to undertake another series of relatively inexpensive editions of higher quality, which became the phenomenally successful Everyman’s Library. Dent, its publisher, made vast sums of money, and Rhys, its first and long-time editor, became famous as “Everyman.”

11Shortly after returning to London in the fall of 1885, Sharp fell ill again. “Disquieting rheumatic symptoms” were noted by Elizabeth, but he was able to work on various writing and editing projects, chief among them an anthology of nineteenth-century sonnets for the Canterbury Poets Series. He asked many well-known poets for permission to use one or two of their works and composed the volume’s introductory essay – “The Sonnet: Its History and Characteristics” – which George Meredith considered “the best exposition of the sonnet known to him” (Memoir 116). Elizabeth contributed substantially to the selection and arrangement of the poems. By late December, the volume was ready, and it was published on January 26, 1886. It sold well and was reissued several times during the year. Sharp made some revisions during the summer and fall of 1886 for a new edition in December. The anthology went through several more editions and became, after 1899, Sonnets of the Nineteenth Century. Since Sharp was hired by the Scott firm to prepare the book and later to revise it, he did not share in its long-term financial success, but he told Edward Dowden (3 February 1886) the publishers had “behaved very decently” to him. No matter how decent their behavior, it paled in contrast to what Sharp would have earned had he received royalties, and that money would have eased considerably the financial difficulties the Sharps endured for many years. Though Sharp’s earnings from the volume were meager, it established his reputation as an editor.

12Sharp also managed to write in the fall of 1885 a three-volume sensational novel set in Scotland and Australia called The Sport of Chance which was published serially in The People’s Friend in early 1887 and as a book by Hurst and Blackett in 1888. He also began to plan a biography of Shelley for Walter Scott’s Great Writers Series, which was edited by his good friend Eric Robertson. For this series, Sharp eventually produced, in addition to the Shelley (1887), biographies of Heine (1888) and Browning (1890). Despite his frequent illnesses in the fall of 1885, he wrote the introduction and edited for the Canterbury Poet’s Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, a Walter Scott very different from the book’s publisher.

13When Sharp learned the Scott firm was planning a Camelot prose series with Ernest Rhys as General Editor, he saw an opportunity to make some additional money. He asked a mutual friend for an introduction to Rhys and sought him out with a proposal to edit and introduce Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater. According to Rhys, Sharp “burst in” on him “one summer morning” as he was “having a bath.” In his memoir, Everyman described their meeting as follows in Everyman Remembers:

This was William Sharp, the poet, who towered up, a rosy giant, in the low-raftered room. His fine figure and exuberant contours, set forth in unusually resplendent clothes, suggested a stage Norseman. He talked very fast and excitedly, his bright yellow hair brushed up from an open brow, under which blue eyes, rosy cheeks, full red lips, and a pointed yellow beard suggested a picture by some impressionist painter. He had been editing the Canterbury Poets, in which series my George Herbert volume appeared, and had heard from the publishers of my prose argosy. Here was an opening after his own heart. In half an hour he had proposed half a dozen books which he would like to edit for me, and De Quincey’s Opium-Eater was there and then allotted to him (Everyman Remembers, 76).

14He had described this meeting earlier and at greater length in a 1907 Century Magazine article. Sharp was

joyously and consciously exuberant. He told of adventures in Australian backwoods, and of intrigues in Italy;… and then he turned, with the same rapid flow of brief staccato sentences, to speak of his friend Mr. Swinburne’s new volume of poems, or of the last time he walked along Cheyne Walk [where Rhys then lived] to spend an evening with Rossetti. He appeared to know everybody, to have been everywhere.… It is not easy to avoid extravagance in speaking of one who was in all things an illusionist. Sharp’s sensations, artistic ideas, and performances were not to be counted by rule or measure. He was capable of predicting a new religion as he paced the Thames Embankment, or of devising an imaginary new theater for romantic drama – whose plays were yet to be written (by himself) – as he rode home from the Haymarket.

15And again:

Thanks to his large and imposing presence, his sanguine air, his rosy faith in himself, he had a way of overwhelming editors that was beyond anything, I believe, ever heard of in London, before or since. On one occasion he went into a publisher’s office and gave so alluring an account of a long-meditated book that the publisher gave him a check for 100£, although he had not written a word.

16Those descriptions capture the appearance and mannerisms that made Sharp appealing to women and men as he was making his way as a writer and editor in the London publishing world.

17Elizabeth recalled the start of 1886 as “unpropitious.” It was a wet winter, and Sharp was ill and dejected. In mid-February, he sent two sonnets to his friend Eric Robertson for his birthday. The sestet of one reads:

A little thing it is indeed to die:
God’s seal to sanctify the soul’s advance –
Or silence, and a long enfevered trance.
But no slight thing is it – ere the last sigh
Leaves the tired heart, ere calm and passively
The worn face reverent grows, fades the dim glance –
To pass away and pay no recompense
To Life, who hath given to us so gloriously.

18In a letter accompanying the sonnets, Sharp wrote, “There are two ‘William Sharps’ – one of them unhappy and bitter enough at heart, God knows – though he seldom shows it. This other poor devil also sends you a greeting of his own kind [the sonnet].” From childhood on, Sharp assumed to an unusual extent the guise of different people. Gradually the trait progressed to the point that he began to think of himself as two people inhabiting a single body. This letter is one of the early signs of that consolidation, of his movement, influenced by his reading of psychology, toward duality. In this letter, the duality is defined principally by mood; one W. S. is happy and outgoing, the other unhappy and bitter. He was using the notion of two people in one body as a means of explaining and coping with intense mood swings that plagued him throughout his life. At other times, he defined the duality as the dominance of reason versus dominance of emotion, or as living in both the real world and the spirit world, or of his being both a man and a woman. That trend finally culminated in the creation – perhaps more accurately the emergence – of a fully functional second self in the form of the woman he called Fiona Macleod.

19Of the Opium-Eater assignment, Rhys wrote: “But alas! before he [Sharp] had completed the copy or even written his preamble for the book, he caught scarlet fever. Careless of infection, I spent an hour at his bedside when the fever abated, in talking over De Quincey, and then wrote the preamble myself over his name.” Since the volume appeared on March 26, 1886, Sharp must have been laid low by scarlet fever in February, not long after his first meeting with Rhys. “In the early spring of 1886,” Elizabeth wrote, “my husband was laid low with scarlet fever and phlebitis. Recovery was slow, and at the press review of the Royal Academy he caught a severe chill; the next day he was in the grip of a prolonged attack of rheumatic fever” (Memoir 135). The catalogue of Sharp’s colds and bouts of rheumatic fever in the nineteen eighties is extensive:

  1. In January 1880 a bad cold while visiting Rossetti;

  2. In summer and fall 1880, another cold culminating in his initial bout of rheumatic fever;

  3. In fall 1883 a second attack of rheumatic fever which seriously damaged a heart valve and drew his sister Mary from Edinburgh to help Elizabeth nurse him back to health;

  4. In June 1884 another cold that threatened to produce another episode of rheumatic fever, which Sharp described in a pitiful letter to Hall Caine in a hand so cold and shaky the writing is nearly illegible;

  5. In fall 1885, disquieting rheumatic symptoms;

  6. In February 1886 scarlet fever and another attack of rheumatic fever.

20This record of illnesses contrasts markedly with the robust figure who appeared to Rhys. Sharp had described the dichotomy in a letter to Caine in November 1883: “I am one day in exuberant health and the next very much the reverse.”

21The rheumatic fever attack in the spring of 1886 was particularly severe. “For many days, Elizabeth wrote, “his life hung in the balance” (Memoir 125–26). Her description of his hallucinations during the illness is especially compelling as it bears upon how his imagination worked and his later creation of the Fiona Macleod persona:

During much of the suffering and tedium of those long weeks the sick man passed in a dream-world of his own; for he had the power at times of getting out of or beyond his normal consciousness at will. At first he imagined himself the owner of a gypsy travelling-van, in which he wandered over the to him well-known and much-loved solitudes of Argyll, resting where the whim dictated and visiting his many fisher and shepherd friends. Later, during the long crisis of the illness, though unconscious often of all material surroundings, he passed through other keen inner phases of consciousness, through psychic and dream experiences that afterward to some extent were woven into the Fiona Macleod writings, and, as he believed, were among the original shaping influences that produced them. For a time he felt himself to be practically dead to the material world and acutely alive “on the other side of things” in the greater freer universe. He had no desire to return, and he rejoiced in his freedom and greater powers; but as he described it afterward, a hand suddenly restrained him: “Not yet, you must return.”

22He believed he had been “freshly sensitized,” Elizabeth continued, he “knew he had – as I had always believed – some special work to do before he could again go free.” While his illness persisted, Ernest Rhys brought him branches of a tree in early leaf, which Elizabeth placed on the window sill. The effect of their “fluttering leaves,” she wrote, helped his imagination. But they had another effect: They “awoke ‘that dazzle in the brain,’ as he always described the process which led him over the borderland of the physical into the ‘gardens’ of psychic consciousness he called ‘the Green Life’.”

23Here Elizabeth broached the psychic experiments – enhanced by drugs – Sharp undertook in the 1890s. She discouraged those experiments because they negatively affected his overall mental state. She worried they might drive him into a state of schizophrenia from which he could not recover. Such experiments led him in the nineties into the orbit of William Butler Yeats, who enlisted both Sharp and Fiona Macleod in his efforts to obtain by psychic experiments the rituals of the Celtic Mystical Order he planned to house in an abandoned castle in the west of Ireland. Many years later Yeats recounted a story Sharp told him and commented “I did not believe him, and not because I thought the story impossible, for I knew he had a susceptibility beyond that of anyone I had ever known to symbolic or telepathic influence, but because he never told anything that was true; the facts of life disturbed him and were forgotten” (Autobiographies, 340).

24After pulling through the worst of the 1886 episode, Sharp was unable for many months to engage in sustained writing, and that left him desperately short of money. “At the end of ten weeks,” Elizabeth wrote, “he left his bed. As soon as possible I took him to Northbrook, Micheldever [in Hampshire], the country house of our kind friends Mr. and Mrs. Henryson Caird, who put it at our disposal for six weeks. Slowly his strength came back in those warm summer days, as he lay contentedly in the sunshine” (Memoir 126).

25Writing from Micheldever on August 14, he described his condition to Theodore Watts, who was helping him with the second edition of Sonnets of this Century:

I am gaining strength very satisfactorily. My doctor ran down to see me before going off to Canada on his autumn holiday, and he told me he could now find no trace of heart-disease, though I undoubtedly inherited from the Rheumatic fevers (the recent attack & that of 5 years ago) a heart-complaint which would require my care for a year or so to come. I am not to work too hard, and never after the afternoon. This is all very well, but whether I can keep to such orders is a different matter.

26In a September 7 letter to Frederick Shields, he said he was “progressing slowly but steadily.” In a September 13th letter, he told Ford Madox Brown he was “nearly robust again.” He had benefited greatly by “his long stay at this pleasant country house.” He had begun to do a little work, “chiefly reviewing,” but he had been instructed “to wait another month at least before getting in full sail again.” He had hoped to be able to go to Manchester to see and review the frescoes Brown was painting for the Great Room of the newly constructed Town Hall, but that would have to wait until spring. His doctor thought he needed “bracing” and advised him to go to his “native air.” He and Elizabeth left Micheldever in mid-September and spent two weeks in and around Edinburgh.

27In mid-October, Sharp told J. Stanley Little, who would soon become a close and valued friend, that he was incapacitated by a sudden illness. Elizabeth noticed “new disquieting symptoms” as “he began to assert himself. His heart proved to be badly affected, and his recovery was proportionately retarded” (Memoir 126) Nevertheless, he returned to the life of Shelley he had promised for the Great Writers Series. In late November he thanked Edward Dowden for sending as a gift his recently published two-volume Life of Shelley. He needed it for his writing and could not afford at present to buy it. As 1886 came to an end, Sharp had suffered varying degrees of illness for nine months, his health remained precarious, and money was in short supply.

Letters: 1885–1886

To Eugene Lee-Hamilton, January 5, 1885

2846 Talgarth Road | West Kensington | W. | 5: 1: 85

29My dear friend,

  • 1 Apollo and Marsyas, and Other Poems (London: Eliot Stock, 1884.)

30At last I find a moment wherein I am at leisure to send you a brief line concerning your last volume, the present of which has given me such genuine pleasure.1

31Among the “Poems”, I like best ‘Apollo and Marsyas’, the ‘Bride of Porphyrion’, ‘Abraham Carew’, “Pageant of Siena’, and ‘Ipsissimus’.

32Among the Sonnets, ‘Idle Charon’, ‘Lethe’, ‘Signorelli’ s Resurrection’, ‘The Phantom Ship’, ‘Sunken Gold’, ‘Torso of Venus’, and the last three in the book.

33If you will permit me to say so, I think your metrical gift is much more measuredly than lyrical: your sonnets, your blank verse, your heroic couplets, are (to me) invariably immeasurably superior to the majority of your more formally lyrical strains, and I notice this more forcibly in the present volume than in “The New Medusa”.

34When I contrast “Hunting the King” with such powerful poetic efforts as ‘Porphyrion’ or the ‘Wonder of the World’ I cannot but be struck by the essential difference. I am convinced that in either of the two lastnamed it would have been impossible for you to have written such a line as

And more stars overhead came and winked

35or

When their horses ‘mid clapping of hands
tugged away,
And the live limbs of Damius resisted!

36The whole of the “Introduction” I liked, and especially noted one line,

The hum of sunripe Nature’s million strings.

37There is some exquisite descriptive writing in a “Pageant of Siena”, for instance, the vivid and beautiful lines of the second stanza, though it is almost invidious to pick out any single verse when all are good. I don’t like the 4th line in ‘Ipsissimus’, for I don’t see how ‘vitals’ could get ‘limp’ with anything save some medicinal purge: but the poem as a whole is very powerful.

38The sonnets have greatly charmed me: in this measure I think you are strongest. They are full at once of true poetry and vigorous mental insight and grasp, and, as in the case of ‘Lethe’ and the ‘Phantom Ship,’ of something higher still.

39There are beautiful lines in ‘Acheron’

And no other light
Evokes the rocks from an eternal night
Than the pale phosphorescence of the wave –

40The ‘Phantom Ship’ seems to me worthy to rank with that splendid sonnet in your last book on the SeaShell. The whole of “Sunken Gold’is very fine, noticeably the last three lines of the sestet.

41Altogether I most heartily congratulate you on your new volume – and hope, as I believe, it will bring you more friends and increased reputation.

42Excuse a short note, but I am not very well – and am writing in bed. I have been working exceptionally hard lately, and after finishing a “Quarterly” article under great pressure I caught a rheumatic chill, which rather floored me.

  • 2 Theodore Watts’ review appeared in the issue of December 13, 1884, 764 ff.

43Watts is greatly pleased with your work – as I dare say you saw from his review in the Athenaeum.2 He has been unwell, but is now up again.

44With sincere good wishes for you for 1885 – in which my wife heartily joins, with many kind remembrances –

45Ever, my dear Hamilton, | Yours faithfully, | William Sharp

46ALS Colby College Library

To Miss Violet Paget, [January 5, 1885]3

  • 3 This undated letter was enclosed with Sharp’s 5 January letter to Eugene Lee–Hamilton.

47Dear Miss Paget,

  • 4 Miss Brown (1884) was Violet Paget’s first attempt at a novel. Peter Gunn, in Vernon Lee: Violet Pa (...)

48Just a line since I am writing to your brother at any rate. As I have told him, I am writing in bed, not being very well – otherwise you wd. have something more from me than a mere note. I am not going to write at length to you about “Miss Brown,” for in honesty I am bound to say that I am deeply disappointed with it, not only as a story or as a social sketch but with the manner in which it is written.4 You cannot but be aware of the deep offence it has given to many good friends, but of course I believe this was unintentional. I do not wish to enlarge on the subject, but will say simply that if I had never read anything else of yours, “Miss Brown” would effectually have prevented my ever reading or having the faintest curiosity to read anything from your pen.

49If it were not for my sincere admiration for you as a writer of much delightful, admirable, and original work – I should not have written to you as I have now done: but it is because of my admiration for the “Vernon Lee” whom I know that I refuse to recognise as genuine or characteristic a production in every sense inferior to anything she has done.

  • 5 The essays collected in Euphorion (1884) were written by Paget over several years, and many were pu (...)

50Although this may not be a palatable compliment, it is a true compliment all the same. I think you must know what a great regard I have for your brilliant talent – (I forget if I sent you word as to the extreme pleasure I had derived from “Euphorion”5 – a truly remarkable series of essays) – and therefore you will not be offended, I hope, at my being so candid.

51I have been working very hard lately – so much so as to render myself liable to a touch of my old trouble: but today, though still in bed, I am practically all right again. Quite a number of people looked in yesterday to see my wife, among whom were Mary Robinson and Walter Pater.

52The latter and Theodore Watts are going to spend the evening with us tomorrow. Elizabeth is very busy also just now, and has got sufficient literary work to keep her busy for some time to come.

53Both she and I wish health, prosperity, and all good things for you throughout 1885 – and believe me ever, dear Miss Paget,

54Your sincere friend, | William Sharp

55ALS Colby College Library

To Hall Caine, [mid-February, 1885]6

  • 6 Having run serially in the Liverpool Mercury in the fall of 1884, Shadow of a Crime, Caine’s first (...)

5646, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W.

57My dear Caine,

58Just a hasty line to congratulate you on the Athenaeum notice which can hardly fail to have a most beneficial effect on the “Shadow of a Crime”.

  • 7 Sharp’s friend and fellow Walter Scott editor Eric Robertson shared lodgings with Hall Caine in Lon (...)
  • 8 Sharp was writing a review of Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean for The Athenaeum. It appeared as (...)

59From what Robertson told me I am most anxious to hear what you have done of your new story (in the name of which, by the bye, I don’t think you have made a hit) – so hope that sometime soon after next Thursday you will do me the great pleasure of reading your MS to me. R.7 is quite enthusiastic about it, – and I rejoice at your success – present & prospective. I wd. have been at your “reading” the other night – but that I had to write the Pater paper for the Athenaeum.8 You have begun well – and that you may prosper continuously is the wish of

60Your sincere friend | William Sharp

61ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man.

To Edward Dowden, July 22, 1885

62Kilchamaily Cottage | Whitehouse | West Loch Tarbert | Cantyre |
N. B.

  • 9 See note to Sharp’s 22 May 1882 letter to Dowden.

63Dear Prof. Dowden9

64I am writing to ask your advice (if you are not too busy with your own lity work to give heed to a casual correspondent).

  • 10 Songs, Poems, and Sonnets of William Shakespeare, ed. by William Sharp (Walter Scott: London, 1885)

65I am editing a volume containing Songs, Selections from the Poems, and the Sonnets of Shakespeare.10

66Do you agree or disagree with me in thinking that the sonnet forming the 8th division of the Passionate Pilgrim, “If music and sweet poetry agree” is one of the “dark-woman’sequence in the regular series: – and that the sonnet forming the third division of the Passionate Pilgrim “Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye” also belongs to the dark-woman sequence?

67In my edition I am placing the sonnets thus

I.

Sonnets I to CXXV.

‘Sonnet’ CXXVI (Envoy).

II.

Sonnet CXXVII.

Music and Poetry (but unnumber’d)

Sonnets CXXVIII to CXXXVI.

““Did not the heavenly rhetoric etc”. (unnumber’d)

“CXXXVII to CLIV.

(i.e. Sonnets 127 to 154 in unbroken sequence save for the two unnumbered additions)

68I have put the ‘Music and Poetry’ second in the 2nd section (i.e. between Sonnets CXXVII & CXXVIII) because, as seems to me, internal evidence points to its connection with this series. By Sonnet CXXVIII we learn that the dark-haired mistress was a musician, hence the greater likelihood of his addressing her in such lover’s logic as we find in this 8th division of the Passionate Pilgrim. I at one time fancied it might have been written as a pendant to Sonnet VIII, but here the internal evidence is not nearly so strong, is indeed antagonistic to the conjecture. The octave of No. VIII seems to be a reproach against S’s friends’ indifference to music, hardly agreeing with the assertion in lines 4–5 and 9–10 of ‘Music and Poetry,’ while the statement “You delight specially in sweet music, I in sweet poetry” harmonizes with what we could well imagine S. saying to his dark mistress.

69Again, I have placed it before no. CXXVIII, because it seems to be the fitting prelude to that sonnet.

70Did not the heavenly rhetoric etc.

71I have inserted this between Sonnets CXXXVI and CXXXVII, because it seems to me to fit in here with peculiar applicability. It is the last time in this series that S. hints there is anything more in his love than thralldom to a strong and subtle passion: while there is also a suggestion of the feebleness of spiritual resolution struggling against the “power of the flesh,” of vows being as vapour, with the half-passionate half cynical conclusion

If by me broke, what fool is not so wise
To break an oath, to win a paradise.

72To the possible objection that S. would never have addressed the lady of the 130th Sonnet as “Thou fair sun” etc. (10th line) there could be opposed the line in the 147th Sonnet –

For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright

73(or, again, the 13th line of No. 152).

  • 11 Dowden’s Sonnets by William Shakespeare (London: C. K. Paul & Co.) was published in 1881.

74Of course these additions to the regular sequence being merely conjectural, I would never dream of numbering them, thus throwing out the universally recognized numerical arrangement – and every reader, noting them as conjectural additions, can include them or not as he or she thinks fit. The only book of yours I have beside me here is the delightful Parchment edition of the Sonnets, and from this I have not gathered what conjecture you may entertain on the subject.11 Even if you shd. consider it highly probable that the two sonnets in question were originally (or subsequently to the nominal completion) meant for the Dark-Woman series, you may totally disagree with my placement.

75Though an ardent student of Shakespeare from the individual standpoint I have but (comparatively speaking) limited acquaintance with the mass of Shakespearian annotation, – moreover, I am here remote from all authorities, save the two books I have with me, viz: the Globe edn. of Shakespeare’s works and your Parchment Sonnets: So, for all I know to the contrary, these views of mine may have been already urged.

76But I should be very glad to hear what you, one of the foremost authorities, have to say on the subject. I have written to no one else, as at present I wish neither my proposed additions discussed nor my editing the volume to be known. The book may be out in the late autumn, but of course an editor has nothing to do with the appearance of commissioned work.

  • 12 John Cordy Jeaffreson (1831–1901) was the author of The Real Shelley, New Views of the Poet’s Life,(...)

77I hope you are getting on with your ‘Shelley’ – for the publication of which I have been all the more anxious since the issue of Jeaffreson’s most unnecessary and (to me) objectionable book, which, however, I only know by many lengthy quotations, as I have no wish to wade through it in detail.12 I hope also that your many labours have not prevented your accomplishing some work in verse.

78I came here from London some weeks ago, with my wife and a young sister who lives in Glasgow. I forget, by the by, whether I ever told you that I was married late last autumn? I am always glad to get north, both loving and knowing the Western Isles and Highlands, and all places whereover broods the Celtic glamour. West Loch Tarbert is one of the loveliest of the Atlantic sea-lochs: severing Knapdale (Northern Argyll) from “‘wild Cantyre,” its length is about 11 miles, from its commencement east of the islands of Giglia and Islay up to the narrow Isthmus of Tarbert on the western side of Loch Fyne. From our windows we get a lovely view up the loch, looking out on the mountainous district of Knapdale and the small-islanded water towards Tarbert. To the North-east is Shobli-Ghoil – the Hill of Love – the mountain where that Celtic Achilles, Diarmid, met his death by a wound in the heel through the envy of Fingal. Behind us are endless moorlands, and only one or two cottages at wide distances. I have a stirring and heroic Celtic subject in my mind for poetic treatment, and hope to make a start with it erelong. What with a measure of work, boating, bathing, walking, Royal Fern hunting, and occasional fishing the days fly past rapidly. We live as simply as possible – chiefly on milk and eggs and butter, on trout from a little tarne in the moorland behind, and Loch Fyne herrings (40 for 1/.!!).

79It will be with regret that we will leave at the end of the month – but we have two or three other places to go to in Scotland before returning to London – which we do not intend doing till the end of September. When in London I hope you will come and see us: I think you have my address, but in case you have not, I add it – 46 Talgarth Road | West Kensington | W.

Hoping you are well and having a pleasant summer, I remain
Very sincerely yours | William Sharp

80P.S. I enclose [for] you copies of the last sonnet & last lyric I have written, thinking you might care to read them.

81ALS Trinity College Dublin

[To Theodore Watts[-Dunton], October 12, 1885]13

  • 13 This MS poem is on a single sheet in the British Library.

To A Poet
Out of the heart flew a pray’r
Till far in the blue sky
It met a thought, most fair,
That all alone did fly:

O whither, golden pray’r ?”
“Pray come with me, fair thought–
Thou shalt make the world more fair,
For long it hath thee sought”.

This prayer is born of me:
O may it meet its mate–
For the generations then
Thy name shall consecrate.
W. S

82ALS British Library

To William Allingham,14 November 11, 1885

  • 14 Born at Ballyshannon in Donegal, William Allingham (1824–1889) was a friend of Tennyson, and associ (...)

8346, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington, | W. | 11: 11:’85

84Dear Sir,

85I am about to bring out a selection of the Best Sonnets of this Century, giving to all save the very foremost sonneteers (Wordsworth, Rossetti, Mrs. Browning) an average of two representative sonnets. I have always much admired your work in this direction, and should be glad to see you represented by three.

86As beautiful sonnets and coming within my strictly defined plan, I have selected

I. “Autumnal Sonnet

II. “After Sunset

(“The vast and solemn company of clouds” from a little book edited by Isa Knox Craig, in 1863).

III. “Day Dream’s Reflection

(“On the Sunny Shore”) “Checkered with woven shadows as I lay”

87I should be glad to hear that you are agreeable to my representing you by these three sonnets.

88Yours faithfully | William Sharp

89William Allingham Esq | etc. etc.

90ALS University of Illinois

To Wilfred S. Blunt, November 11, 1885

9146, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W. | 11: 11:’85

92Dear Sir,

  • 15 Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840–1922,) poet, traveler, and explorer, served in the British diplomatic se (...)

93I am shortly going to bring out a Selection of the Best Sonnets of This Century (i.e. from Wordsworth’s down to those of contemporary date), and would certainly not consider it complete if your fine sonnet-work were unrepresented.15

94I have allowed an average of two to each writer of genuine standing, but in your case I have determined to give five. These I have already selected (subject to your consent), and are as follows – having been chosen not only as specially fine sonnets but as coming within my strictly-defined rules in selection.

95From “Proteus” | “An Exhortation” p 33 | “Vanitas Vanitatis” p 53 | “The Pride of Unbelief” p 97 | “On the Shortness of Time” p 103 | “The Sublime” p 113

96I should be glad to hear that you are agreeable to being represented by this selection. Allow me to take this opportunity of expressing the very great pleasure I have again and again had in “The Love Sonnets of Proteus” – and the genuine satisfaction I have in being able to draw the attention of some others thereto.

97Yours faithfully | William Sharp

98Wilfred S. Blunt Esq | etc. etc.

99P.S. I would have written to you sooner but that I fancied you were abroad. I hope it is the case, as I understand, that you are now in England – as the Sonnet-matter must be “struck off” at once.

100ALS West Sussex Record Office

To James Ashcroft Noble,16 November 11, 1885

  • 16 James Ashcroft Noble (1844–1896) was a writer and critic and editor of The Athenaeum. Among his pub (...)

10146, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. W.

102Dear Sir,

103I am shortly going to bring out a Selection of the Best Sonnets of this Century (with a lengthy introductory dissertation on the Sonnet as a vehicle of poetic thought and on its history and place in English literature) and I should be pleased to see you represented therein.

104I have already (subject to your approval) marked down “A Supreme Hour” – but if there is any other you would rather be represented by I would be agreeable. I might be able to print two but cannot fix anything definitely just yet.

105I know that the subject is one of interest to you, your essay being one of the best dissertations on the sonnet that I know.

106Yours faithfully | William Sharp

107J. Ashcroft Noble Esq

108ALS, private

To Edward Dowden, [November 12, 1885]17

  • 17 Date from postmark on envelope.

10946, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W.

110Dear Mr. Dowden

111I am shortly going to bring out a selection of the Best Sonnets of This Century, and would certainly not consider my selection complete if you were unrepresented.

  • 18 All eventually appeared in the order listed here in Sharp’s Sonnets of this Century.

112I have always greatly admired your sonnet-work, and give practical proof thereof in the fact that while I am giving each writer (with the exception of Wordsworth and Rossetti) an average of two. I have selected five of your sonnets: viz: “An Interior” | “Evening near the Sea” | “Awakening” | “Two Infinities” | “Brother Death”. These seem to me especially fine and at the same time come within my strictly defined plan.18 I should be glad to hear that you are agreeable to my using the above.

113The principles which have in the main actuated my choice are (1) Structural correctness – (2) Individuality, with distinct poetic value – and (3) adequacy of sonnet-motive.

114The book will be out towards the end of January, & will also contain an exhaustive essay on the Sonnet as a poetic vehicle and on its place and history in English literature.

  • 19 Published by Walter Scottin the Canterbury Poets Series in December 1895.

115My little book of Shakespeare’s Songs, Sonnets, & Selected Poems, should be out on the 1st proximo – and I shall take pleasure in sending you a copy.19

116Hoping you will come and see me when next you are in London –

117Sincerely yours | William Sharp

  • 20 See W. S. letter to W. B. Scott22 April 1882, fn.

118P.S. I have just had a line from our mutual friend, Wm Bell Scott20: he is stronger, but the doctor won’t let him travel – so he will spend the winter at Penkill in Ayrshire. Poor old fellow.

119ALS Trinity College Dublin

To John Addington Symonds, November 12, 1885

12012: 11: 85.

121My dear Mr. Symonds,

122I am shortly going to bring out a Selection of the Best Sonnets of this Century (including a lengthy Introductory Essay on the Sonnet as vehicle of poetic thought, and on its place and history in English Literature) – and I should certainly regard it as incomplete if your fine sonnetwork were unrepresented. I am giving an average of two to each writer of standing, but in your case I have allowed for five. This is both because I have a genuine admiration for your sonnet-work in the main and because I think that you have never been done full justice to as a poet – though of course you have met with loyal recognition in most of those quarters where you would most value it….

123I have taken great pleasure in the preparation of the little book, and I think that both poetically and technically it will be found satisfactory. My main principles in selection have been (1) Structural correctness. (2) Individuality, with distinct poetic value. (3) Adequacy of Sonnet-Motive.

124I hope that you are hard at work – not neglecting the shyest and dearest of the muses?

125Is there any chance of your being in London in the late Spring? I hope so.

126Sincerely yours, | William Sharp

127Memoir 113

To Edward Dowden, November 14, 188521

  • 21 Date from postmark.

128Dear Mr. Dowden,

129Thanks for your note. You may rest assured as to accuracy in printing – as I shall in each case compare with the original, word with word & punctuation with punctuation. A sonnet above all things loses thro’ some small flaw.

130W. Bell Scott’s address is Penkill Castle | Girvan | Ayrshire. I know he will be greatly pleased at a friendly line from you.

131Yrs. sincerely | William Sharp

132ACS Trinity College Dublin.

To The Reverend R. P. Graves,22 November 18, 1885

  • 22 Robert Perceval Graves was a friend and biographer of Sir William Hamilton. He was the recipient of (...)

13346, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. W. | 18: 11: 85

134Dear Sir

  • 23 Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865) was an important mathematician who also wrote poetry. He was (...)

135I am very shortly going to bring out a selection of the Best Sonnets of this Century, and would regret not seeing Sir W. R. Hamilton23 represented therein. Can you tell me if I am at liberty to excerpt any one, or two Sonnets I may decide upon? I write to you, as I think you are Editor of his “Remains”.

136Faithfully yours | William Sharp

137The Reverend R. P. Graves | Dublin

138ALS Private

To Edward Dowden, [December, 1885]

13946 Talgarth Road | West Kensington | W.

140My dear Mr. Dowden

  • 24 Sharp was referring to the papers of Joseph Severn which were given to him by Severn’s son Walter o (...)

141May your Xmas be pleasant and 1886 a happy and prosperous year. Is there anything of interest to you in your Shelley work in the enclosed note of Leigh Hunt? A great mass of material has lately come into my hands – with much of interest relating to Keats & others, including Shelley.24 I am engaged, spider-like, in absorbing it before I spin it out again in book-form – a book bound to be widely interesting to all lovers of literature on a/c of its bearings on the revered names of two of our great poets of this century, besides “many other attractions” as theatrical slang has it.

  • 25 Sharp did not finish the Severn book until August 1891, and it was published (Sampson Low & Co.) in (...)

142I have not had time to examine it except very superficially, yet: but I have made one or two most important “finds”. One of the features of my book when it does appear (probably not for 18 months yet at any rate)25 will be the Adonais with ample notes by Joseph Severn, a commentary of exceeding interest.

143But all this is private, of course.

144Again with all good wishes –

145Sincerely yours | William Sharp

146P.S. Please let me have the Leigh Hunt letter back when you have read it.

147ALS Trinity College Dublin

To Wilfred Meynell,26 [late 1885?]

  • 26 Wilfrid Meynell (1852–1948) was a newspaper publisher and editor and the husband of Alice Meynell ( (...)

14846, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W.

149My dear Mr. Meynell,

  • 27 This novel, here called False Lights, ran serially in The People’s Friend as “The Deathless Hate.” (...)

150If you could do anything towards “placing” my novel27 in another quarter for me I should be much obliged.

151It has just been accepted by the “People’s Friend,” an influential weekly paper published in Dundee and having a large circulation in Scotland and the north of England and Ireland. I retain all rights save that of permitting any other journal to print the story in advance of “The People’s Friend”. I should be specially glad if it could run (beginning sometime next Spring, the “PF”. not intending to issue it till the end of February or perhaps later) in some Australian paper – partly because of my connection with that country and partly because some important chapters have an Australian “background”, the scenery and incidents introduced having been written from actual memory and not at secondhand. “False Lights” is a story of exciting incident: it is what is generally called melodramatic, but this in the right sense – and strange and almost incredible as some of the incidents may appear they are all true to fact, though of course, the real incidents did not happen sequent as in False Lights, but at different times and in various parts of the civilized and uncivilized world where I have sojourned.

152The 2 opening chapters describe a terrible storm that visited the Cornish Coast a long time ago: here a character is introduced that much later is destined to play an active part, and here occurs a shipwreck, with the saving of a single life – a rescue on which the whole plot depends.

153After this prelude comes the story itself. The scene is in Perthshire, and deals mainly with a strange mystification anent a forgery on the hero, Hew Armitage, by a person who is really Hew’s wife’s brother – though of this Mr. Armitage knows nothing, not even the fact of the brother’s existence. The mystery deepens, and there is a gradual intensifying of interest on this and other counts. At last comes an accident to Mrs. H. A. – her child is prematurely born – she has brain fever, recovers, but is left in that curious state wherein, while reasonable in most things, she has a sudden insuperable dislike and dread of her husband. He never fully realizes this, & when at last she secretly leaves the house he is played upon by the villain Leith (the brother) – so that – to be brief – he becomes convinced that his wife and Leith have gone off together. Later chapters describe his despair and further action, his exciting rencontre with Charles Leith, the latter’s escape and his plans of mystification to which H. A. succumbs, and at last H. A’.s pursuit of the couple (as he thinks) to Australia. (Leith has sailed, but of course alone).

154Book II. describes Mona Armitage’s flight – her shelter with an old Highland nurse – and her tragic death. Also second-sight is introduced. The child Lora is left with the nurse – every precaution being taken.

155In Bk III there is described the running down of Leith’s vessel by that in which H. A. is a passenger – and their subsequent terrible adventures.

156Then comes Australia, and his long chase of Leith there – with various exciting incidents – and at last he tracks him down in Queensland. Ultimate escape of Leith. The unhappy H. A. makes his way home again, but it is on this voyage that the wreck takes place on the Cornish Coast described in the prelude. In the shock, H. A. loses absolutely his memory – and for 20 years remains thus – an actual fact by the way.

157Meanwhile the girl Lora grows up – makes good friends – and finds a lover. Suddenly a guardian appointed by her dead father (as it appears) turns up in the shape of a Mr. Farquhar (really Leith).

158The plot becomes intricate & more exciting than ever, & chapter by chapter things evolve towards a long-way-off but ultimately satisfactory denouement.

159The story was written for serial publication – and it would run to 32 installments of about 3 cols each (average newspaper columns).

160Any further information that would be wanted I would willingly afford at once.

161Sincerely yours | William Sharp

162P.S. In enclosing you some press opinions on my books I send nothing anent any work in fiction, for what I have hitherto done in that way has been under a pseudonym which I particularly wish to stick to without identifying it with my own name. Although I have a story running through a monthly magazine just now no one knows that the author – Mr. “Blank” – is me, save a few necessary persons – and even my wife has not read my serial – so you can see my secret has been well kept: nor do I intend to let it eke out if I can help it.

163ALS Fales Library, New York University

To Wilfred Meynell, [late 1885?]

16446, Talgarth Road., | West Kensington, | W.

165My dear Mr. Meynell,

  • 28 It was changed to “A Deathless Hate.” See previous note.

166Just as I was about to send for the enclosed, with a supplementary note, I received a letter from the Proprietors of the People’s Friend stating that they would prefer that “False Lights” (a name that is to be changed, by the bye – at any rate in the first instance)28 did not appear elsewhere simultaneously.

  • 29 Sharp believed his serial novel would start running in The People’s Friend in the Spring of 1886. I (...)

167They add that this will be no real drawback to me, as neither an Australian nor an English journal is likely to object to print a story that has run through a paper whose circulation is in great part confined to Scotland. If it could be managed, I should like to have it run through some Australian paper after its appearance in the People’s Friend and before its issue in book-form – beginning in Australia say at the commencement of 1887. It would be more satisfactory if some arrangement could be made now – but if this can’t be managed, and if the matter were still “open” for consideration later on I should be willing next Spring to submit duplicate proofs as they come out.29 Of course if I could arrange satisfactorily otherwise I would do so – as I would rather have the matter settled.

168Of course this must be a business arrangement – as indeed it is only right it should be.

169If you should be able to “place” my story anywhere, you must of course accept the commission customary in such cases. None the less am I sensible of your friendly interest – and with sincere regards to Mrs. Meynell,

170Believe me, cheer confrère, | Yours very truly | William Sharp

171P.S. If you could let me have a copy of the Register I shd. be much obliged.

172ALS Fales Library, New York University

To Frederick Langbridge, [January 5, 1886?]

173This is my “permanent address”. | 46 Talgarth Road | West Kensington. W.

174My dear Mr. Langbridge

175I was glad to hear from you again. Like you, I fancied that your old address no longer held good – for when last year (1884) I sent you a copy of my second vol. of verse – Earth’s Voices – I never heard from you in reply. Perhaps, on the other hand, you never received it: if so, you must permit me to remedy the mischance at this late date.

  • 30 George F. Ferris, Great Musical Composers: German, French and Italian, ed. with an introduction by (...)

176I forget whether I was in Italy or Belgium or France when I last heard from you – or where: anyway, I think it is since then that I ‘married my old love’ and have since been correspondingly happy – neither of us regretting that as yet no children have made their appearance. My wife’s first book is to be out this Spring,30 but she has had literary experience before this, though she is more the artist and musician than the writer.

  • 31 Frederick Langbridge, Sent Back by the Angels, and Other Ballad of Home Life (London: Simpkin & Co. (...)

177I am glad that you have collected your charming ballads into a volume31 (one or two of which, dipping into the uncut volume, I find to be old acquaintances) and as soon as I have the leisure I will read the book through and write to you my opinion thereon.

178I am frantically busy at present with an appalling amount of literary work of different kinds to attend to: and I only returned yesterday from the Lake Country where I have had the honor and pleasure of being Ruskin’s guest for a most delightful visit – so you will understand my present inability to read the volume you have so kindly sent to me.

  • 32 Sonnets of this Century, edited and arranged, with a critical introduction on the sonnet by William (...)

179My sonnet-book is to be published tomorrow.32 It consists of 265 select sonnets, with a prefatory essay on the sonnet of about 70 pages, and about 60 pages of notes in nonpareil type on the authors represented. If I can get Scott’s people to allow me another copy – which is uncertain – I shall send you one. They look upon it more as a splendid advt. than as a paying thing, as you may imagine when I tell you it consists of 400 pages. I think he has made all arrangements for a long time to come, and not accessible to any new offers.

180Meanwhile I must say au revoir.

181Sincerely Yours | William Sharp

182ALS Princeton

To Edward Dowden, February 3, 1886

18346, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W. | 3: 2:’86

184My dear Dowden,

185Many thanks for your most kindly worded notice of my “Shakespeare’s Songs and Sonnets” in the “Academy” of last week which I have just seen – a pressure of correspondence, proof-correcting, and other literary work having prevented my glancing through that paper heretofore.

186Ten days ago I sent to you a copy of my just published “Sonnets of This Century,” which duly reached you, I hope. I trust you like the appearance of your five beautiful sonnets therein. I believe there is a great run upon the book – of which I am glad for the publisher’s sake, as they behaved very decently to me.

187There are several provoking misprints – but these I hope to rectify before long. I trust yours are free from flaws of this kind? I hope you will be in London this Spring that we may meet at last.

188In haste | Sincerely yours | William Sharp

189ALS Trinity College Dublin

To Eric S. Robertson, [mid-February, 1886]

19046 Talgarth Road, W.

191My dear Friend,

  • 33 Of this letter and the two sonnets, Elizabeth Sharp wrote: “The opening of the new year 1886 – from (...)

192I join with Lillie in love and earnest good wishes for you as man and writer. Accept the accompanying two sonnets as a birthday welcome.33

193There are two “William Sharps” – one of them unhappy and bitter enough at heart, God knows – though he seldom shows it. The other poor devil also sends you a greeting of his own kind. Tear it up and forget it, if you will.

194But sometimes I am very tired – very tired.

195Yours ever, my dear Eric, | WAS.

TO ERIC SUTHERLAND ROBERTSON

(On his birthday, 18: 2: 86)

Already in the purple-tinted woods
The loudvoiced throttle calls – sweet echoing
Down leafless aisles that dream of bygone springs:
Already towards their northern solitudes
The fieldfares turn, and soaring high, wheel broods
Of wild swans with a clamor of swift wings;
A tremor of new life moves through all things
And earth regenerate thrills with joyous moods.

Let not spring’s breath blow vainly past thine heart,
Dear friend: for Time grows ruinously apace:
Yon tall white lily in its holy grace
The winds will draggle soon: for an unseen dart
Moves ever hither and thither through each place,
Nor know we when or how our life ‘twill part.

II
A little thing it is indeed to die:
God’s seal to sanctify the soul’s advance –
Or silence, and a long enfevered trance.
But no slight thing is it – ere the last sigh
Leaves the tired heart, ere calm and passively
The worn face reverent grows, fades the dim glance –
To pass away and pay no recompense
To life, who hath given to us so gloriously.

Not so for thee – within whose heart lie deep
As ingots ‘Neath the waves, thoughts true and fair.
Nor ever let thy soul the burden bear,
Of having life to live yet choosing sleep:
Yea even if thine the dark and slippery stair,
Better to toil and climb than wormlike creep.

196Memoir 124–25

To Hall Caine, [? February, 1886]

19746, Talgarth Road | West Kensington. | W.

198My dear Caine,

  • 34 Sonnets of this Century.

199I have sent the undernoted para: to the Athenaeum, among one or two other bits of gossip. It has just occurred to me that you [may] not be agreeable to its appearance – & if this be the case, drop me a line and I will countermand it. (I suppose you got the “Sonnet-Book” all right?)34

200Yours in haste | William Sharp

  • 35 Nothing came of Caine’s plan to collaborate with Robert Buchanan on a dramatization of The Shadow o (...)

201We understand that Mr. Hall Caine, in collaboration with Mr. Robert Buchanan, is engaged on the dramatization of his highly successful novel of last season, The Shadow of a Crime.35

202ALS Manx Museum, Isle of Man

To Theodore Watts [-Dunton], February 15, [1886]36

  • 36 The date “15–2–1886” is written at the top of the first page of the MS letter in another hand. It m (...)

20315.2.1886

204My dear Watts,

205I have not a copy of the reissue of the Sonnets of this Century, or I would send it to you. Browning’s sonnet is all right (as are Symonds’s) and the old boy wrote me such a nice letter there anent this morning.

  • 37 J. E. Pfeiffer (d. 1889) was a German merchant who lived in London. He married Emily Jane (Davis) P (...)

206I have had a preposterous letter from that ass Pfeiffer37 this morning about Symonds’ reference to Mrs. Pfeiffer in his article. He thinks it an insult to class her with such names – & says she is acknowledged by all the best judges as the first living sonneteer: that she and Rossetti are the acknowledged masters of the craft, & so forth: and that Symonds is one of the ring of London authors banded together to depreciate his wife.

207What a fool the man is.

208Ever yours affectly | William Sharp

209ALS Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

To Theodore Watts[-Dunton], August 14, 188638

  • 38 Date from postmark on envelope. The absence of letters between February and August 1886 is due to S (...)

210Northbrook | Micheldever | Hants

211My Dear Watts,

  • 39 Sharp had asked Watts to read the proofs of a revised edition of Sonnets of This Century. Page 314 (...)

212I sent you a line by this morning’s post, acknowledging receipt of your letter and sonnet-matter.39

213Best thanks again for all the trouble you have taken with the latter. Your suggestions are always valuable, and in the majority of instances I have acted upon them. I think I shall adopt, pretty well in your own words, those on pp. 313 & 320 – and undoubtedly they do, as you say, enrich the notes. I quite agree with the Swinburne additions. What a charming subject you have in the Rosy Seas, and the sonnet is worthy of it – though I must say my ear revolts at leaned (1st line) and wind as rhymes.

  • 40 The publication of the revised edition was delayed until December.

214I won’t forget to let you see the proofs of all the prose matter (Introdn. & notes) – also your own sonnets – if you will give me your address, for there is no time to lose. The book is to appear in October (but don’t announce it yet, please) – and I send the Introdn. to the printer on Monday (16th).40

  • 41 Kidnapped; being the adventures of David Balfour in the year 1751 (London: Cassell & Co., 1886).
  • 42 Frederick William Robinson (1830–1901) wrote an enormous number of popular novels now forgotten.
  • 43 Watts worked on this novel and discussed it with his friends for many years, and it was finally pub (...)

215Thanks for lending me your interesting sonnet article – which I won’t forget to return to you early next week. I have been reading with interest your review of Stevenson’s book:41 I like the article much, & think R. L. S. will be greatly pleased. By the by, I think I recognised your hand in a notice of a new novel by Robinson42 some two or three weeks ago. When is Aylwin43 to be out: I wish you would send me the proofs of the 3rd vol; do, like a good fellow.

  • 44 Sharp was ill during the early months of 1886 and contacted scarlet fever and phlebitis in the spri (...)

216I am gaining strength very satisfactorily.44 My doctor ran down to see me before going off to Canada on his autumn holiday, and he told me he could now find no trace of heart-disease, though I undoubtedly inherited from the Rheumatic fevers (the recent attack & that of 5 years ago) a heart-complaint which would require my care for a year or so to come. I am not to work too hard, and never after the afternoon. This is all very well, but whether I can keep to such orders is a different matter.

217I heard today from the Newspaper Press Fund. My application was considered a thoroughly just one – but alas! the amount of the grant they have made to me is only £ 25 – which won’t go far to meet medical and other bills. However, I daresay I’ll pull through all right somehow.

218I shall be here till about the 25th at any rate – after that date my movements are as yet somewhat uncertain, so, unless you hear from me to the contrary, my best address will be 46 Talgarth Road.

  • 45 The Great Writers Series that Eric Robertson edited for Walter Scott.
  • 46 No volume on either Borrow or Rossetti appeared in the Great Writers Series. Sharp’s volume on Shel (...)

219What have you arranged to do for Eric Robertson’s series?45 G. Borrow, I suppose, if any. And have you heard if Meredith is going to do Rossetti? I have promised to undertake Shelley, though not among the first 6 or 8 volumes.46

220Yours ever affectly | William Sharp

221P.S. Don’t forget to let me know your address when you leave town and please don’t forget to send me proofs of the 3rd vol of Aylwin.

222ALS Edinburgh University Library

To Frederick Shields, September 7, 1886

223Northbrook House | Micheldever | Hants | 7: 9:’86

224My dear Shields,

225It was a true pleasure to me to see your handwriting again. I am sorry to see that you are in London during this fine weather – but perhaps you have already had a change somewhere.

226Since Dr. Moir left for his holiday I have progressed slowly but steadily. I am not of course robust yet, but I can now walk a fair distance (half a mile or so) without fatigue. The quiet and fresh air here have done us both good – but the place is a little relaxing.

227I am not sure yet when we shall be settled in town again – probably about the middle or latter part of October. After leaving here we go for “bracing up” to Edinburgh for a fortnight or so – and then I hope I shall see Sir Noel Paton. I had a long letter from him about a fortnight ago. In it he wrote “Shields’ drawing “for Lady Dundas is very fine. He sent it here some time ago, where it awaits her coming north – and as yet I am ashamed to say I have only acknowledged it by a brief telegram. But heaven help me! What can I do? correspondence becomes more & more impracticable”.

  • 47 For more about Mrs. D. O. Hill (Amelia Robertson Paton) see note to Sharp’s letter to D. G. Rossett (...)

228I am afraid he is far from being up to the mark. We are going to stay for a week with Mrs. D. O. Hill (his sister, and a wellknown sculptor)47 – & I am much looking forward to seeing her again. No noblernatured woman was ever born.

229I still write very little – so excuse more at present. My wife sends her kindest remembrances to you both – and I am ever, my dear Shields

230Affectionately Yours | William Sharp

231P.S. I look forward to seeing you again soon after we settle down once more.

232ALS Spencer Library, University of Kansas

To Ford Madox Brown, September 13, 1886

233Northbrook House | Micheldever | Hants. | 13th Sep/86

234Dear Mr. Brown,

235Thanks for your note and kind invitation. Since I wrote to you our plans have changed, and we do not now expect to be in the Manchester neighborhood until next Spring. My doctor thinks I want bracing & that [I] should go to my native air – so my wife and I go shortly to Edinburgh.

  • 48 Ford had been hired to paint twelve frescoes for the Great Hall of the recently completed Mancheste (...)

236Otherwise I – or rather my wife and I would have had genuine pleasure in accepting your kind invitation.48

237I am pretty sure to take a run down to Manchester either in the winter or in the spring, and in that case would be very glad indeed to stay at any rate a night with you.

238We are going to stay with Mrs. D. O. Hill in Edinburgh, the sister of Sir Noel Paton and, in Scotland, a well-known sculptor. She is a most delightful woman – but perhaps you know her?

239I am now nearly robust again – & have greatly benefited by my long stay at this pleasant country house. I have begun to do a little work again – chiefly reviewing: tho’ I must wait another month at least before getting in full sail again.

240Looking forward to seeing you and your fine work when I am next in Manchester, and again with thanks for your kind invitation.

241Yours most sincerely | William Sharp

242ALS private (Transcript of letter sold by Sotheby’s on December 18, 1995)

To J. Stanley Little,49 [mid-October, 1886]

  • 49 James Stanley Little (1856–1940) was a prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction. The son of Thomas (...)

24346, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W. | Saturday Afternoon

244Dear Sir,

  • 50 The Shelley Society sponsored a performance of Shelley’s Hellas in London in October, 1886. Few not (...)

245I have been incapacitated, through sudden illness, from applying ere this for tickets for “Hellas”.50

246Will you kindly give bearer (or send me, when I will remit whatever may be due) the following: – The 2 Balcony Tickets which are due to me as a member – also 4 others (2/6 Balcony Tickets) which I will take and give to friends so as in a small way to help the performancefunds.

247Yours faithfully, | William Sharp

  • 51 At the first meeting of the Shelley Society, on March 10, 1886, at University College, London, the (...)

248Jas. Stanley Little Esq | Hon: Sec: “Shelley Socy”51

249My servant will pay what is due, if you will ask her for it.

250ALS Princeton

To ____________, November 8, 1886

25146, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W. | London | 8th November/86

252Dear Sir

  • 52 Oliver Madox Brown (1855–1874), the son of Ford Madox Brown, was a painter and writer. He published (...)

253Would it be agreeable to you if I were to submit for your consideration an article entitled Boy-Poets? It wd. be partly biographical and anecdotal, and partly wd. consist of critical and comparative exposition of the highly interesting work in verse of certain English poets, known and unknown, – from Cowley and Chatterton down to Rossetti and Oliver Madox Brown.52 In addition to known poets who wrote striking verse at a very youthful age, I know others (three or four living) whose precocity is really remarkable.

254The paper wd. deal with poems written between the ages of nine and seventeen: and accompanying the description of several written there cd. be engraved portraits.

255Yours very truly | William Sharp

256Author of “Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Record & Study”

257The Human Inheritance: And Other Poems”

258“Earth’s Voices: Sospitrá, and Other Poems”

259“Transcripts from Nature” etc. etc.

260Editor of “Shakespeare’s Sonnets”

261“Sonnets of this Century: An Anthology”. etc. etc. etc.

  • 53 Sharp’s next volume of poems was Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (London: Walter Scott, 1888 (...)

262I enclose also for your consideration two sonnets and two short lyrical pieces. If you should care to accept one of them – please do so knowing that I reserve the copyright, and that I intend to print all four in a forthcoming volume of poems which will probably be published next May.53

263W.S.

264ALS Fales Library, New York University

To Edward Dowden, [November 26, 1886]54

  • 54 Envelope postmarked November 27. Friday was November 26.

26546, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W. | Friday Evening

266Dear Mr. Dowden,

267On reaching my house this evening I found your note awaiting me. I am glad you like the Sonnet book: it has been a great success; I am glad to say.

  • 55 The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2 vols (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co, 1886).

268It is exceedingly kind of you to send me your “Life of Shelley”55 – a book I shall always value for its own sake and for that of the donor. Your gift of it is especially welcome – as I was just persuading myself that I ought to buy it – a proceeding which I am hardly able to afford at present. In the new series of “Great Writers” that is shortly to come out, I am to do Shelley – and of course could do nothing worth[while] unless I had your new work to go upon for definite facts etc. So the book you so kindly send me will be of great service to me as well as affording me much & frequent pleasure.

269I see long & important notices of it in the “Daily News” and “Standard” of today. I think, however, it is hardly fair in the Standard or any paper to quote the hitherto unpublished poems you give in your book: a journal ought simply to direct readers, not to pick out “tit-bits” from important books.

270I’m afraid our mutual friend, poor old Bell Scott, won’t be south again: not, however, that he is especially unwell at present.

  • 56 Sharp’s The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (London: Walter Scott) was published in 1887. It includes, (...)

271Sidney Colvin’s “Keats” will be out in Jany, I believe; & tho’ on a much smaller scale than your “Shelley,” will hold something like the same authoritative place. Wm. Rossetti is going to do “Keats” in the “Great Writers” series: Garnett is to do Carlyle: Joseph Knight, Rossetti: Hall Caine, Coleridge: Darcy Thompson, Darwin. My Shelley, I fancy, is to be out either in May or June.56

272The “Life of Shelley” has not yet come from K. Paul & co. – but doubtless will do so shortly.

273Again, with sincere thanks,

274Cordially yours | William Sharp.

275ALS Trinity College Dublin

To Edward Dowden, November 27, 1886

27646, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. | W.

277My dear Mr. Dowden,

278Your “Shelley” has come since I posted my letter to you. The volumes are beautiful, and the matter tempting on every page glanced at. I am indeed glad to possess it.

279Alfred Austin has just looked in to see me. I have shown him the book, and (being one of the fortunates with abundance of cash) he is going to purchase a copy at once, rightly judging it to be a necessity for any lover of Shelley’s poetry to possess this work.

280In haste, & with renewed thanks, | Sincerely yours | William Sharp

281ALS Trinity College Dublin

To Robert Lewis Stevenson, December 14, 1886

28246, Talgarth Road | West Kensington | W. | 14: 12: ‘86

283Dear Mr. Stevenson,

284Over a month ago I sent you one of the few copies which the publisher placed at my disposal of the large quarto edition deluxe of my Sonnets of this Century. I hope it duly reached you. If so, you will have noticed that it contained the two sonnets you were so good as to send to me.

285I now write to ask if there is any misprint in – or if you wish to make any alteration in the [se] lection of, these Sonnets – or if you would like them reversed? The publisher is shortly going to reprint the book in the small form (similar to that which I sent to you before) at 1/-. This reissue is to follow the text (which was much revised & improved in the Introdn & notes, and contains several new sonnets, with others improved) of the large quarto.

286The book has had a very great success. Within about 10 months 15, 000 copies have been sold – (i.e. seven 1/-editions of 2, 000 each, and the quarto edition at 12/6 & 20/-) and the reissue is to consist of 10, 000 copies, most of which the publisher expects to clear speedily. Who can say after this that sonnets are unpopular, or that poetry is a mere drug in the market?

287Hoping you are in fair health and rejoicing in the knowledge that you are engaged in a sequel to Kidnapped.

288Believe me | Yours very truly | William Sharp

289Robert Lewis Stevenson, Esq

290P.S. I forgot to state the publisher wants my finally Revised “copy” this week if possible.

291ALS Yale Beinecke

To Mrs. Bland, December 26, 1886

29246, Talgarth Road, | West Kensington. W

293I have just received your volume of “Lays and Legends” – which I am very glad to possess. I hope to be able to notice it in an influential quarter in due time.

294I am so very busy at present & have had so many Xmas packages that I have been unable to do anything more than glance through some uncut pages. That glance, however, afforded tempting perspectives. With best wishes.

295Yrs very truly | William Sharp

296Private

Notes

1 Apollo and Marsyas, and Other Poems (London: Eliot Stock, 1884.)

2 Theodore Watts’ review appeared in the issue of December 13, 1884, 764 ff.

3 This undated letter was enclosed with Sharp’s 5 January letter to Eugene Lee–Hamilton.

4 Miss Brown (1884) was Violet Paget’s first attempt at a novel. Peter Gunn, in Vernon Lee: Violet Paget, 1856–1935 (1964,) notes: ‘Ouida, who had experience in these matters, remarked that it showed signs of having been written at a gallop” (p. 99).

5 The essays collected in Euphorion (1884) were written by Paget over several years, and many were published earlier in periodicals.

6 Having run serially in the Liverpool Mercury in the fall of 1884, Shadow of a Crime, Caine’s first novel, was published by Chatto & Windus in late February 1885 and went through several editions. Well reviewed and widely read, this book launched Caine’s forty-year career as a popular romantic novelist.

7 Sharp’s friend and fellow Walter Scott editor Eric Robertson shared lodgings with Hall Caine in London.

8 Sharp was writing a review of Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean for The Athenaeum. It appeared as the lead review in the 28 February issue (pp. 271–73). Though Athenaeum reviews were unsigned, Sharp sent a copy to Pater in the hope of ingratiating himself with the well-known Oxford don.

9 See note to Sharp’s 22 May 1882 letter to Dowden.

10 Songs, Poems, and Sonnets of William Shakespeare, ed. by William Sharp (Walter Scott: London, 1885).

11 Dowden’s Sonnets by William Shakespeare (London: C. K. Paul & Co.) was published in 1881.

12 John Cordy Jeaffreson (1831–1901) was the author of The Real Shelley, New Views of the Poet’s Life, 2 vols. (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1885). Among his other books are Novels and Novelists, From Elizabeth to Victoria (1858), A Book About Lawyers (1866), and The Real Lord Byron (1883).

13 This MS poem is on a single sheet in the British Library.

14 Born at Ballyshannon in Donegal, William Allingham (1824–1889) was a friend of Tennyson, and associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He edited Fraser’s Magazine from 1874–1879. He was the author of Poems (1850), Day & Night Songs (1854), Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland (1864), Irish Songs and Poems (1888), and a posthumous volume entitled Varieties in Prose (1893).

15 Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840–1922,) poet, traveler, and explorer, served in the British diplomatic service from 1858–1870. Later he became an opponent of British imperialism and supported Egyptian, Indian, and Irish nationalist movements. In Ireland he was arrested and imprisoned for two months. His publications include Love Sonnets of Proteus (1881), Future of Islam (1882), Ideas About India (1885), Griselda: A Society Novel in Rhymed Verse (1893), and My Diaries (1919–1920.)

16 James Ashcroft Noble (1844–1896) was a writer and critic and editor of The Athenaeum. Among his publications are Morality in English Fiction (1886), Impressions and Memories (1895), The Poets and the Poetry of the Century (1903).

17 Date from postmark on envelope.

18 All eventually appeared in the order listed here in Sharp’s Sonnets of this Century.

19 Published by Walter Scottin the Canterbury Poets Series in December 1895.

20 See W. S. letter to W. B. Scott22 April 1882, fn.

21 Date from postmark.

22 Robert Perceval Graves was a friend and biographer of Sir William Hamilton. He was the recipient of Hamilton’s voluminous papers and letters upon the latter’s death. Graves wrote the 2040-page Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Including Selections from His Poems, Correspondence, and Miscellaneous Writings, 3 vol. (1882–1889; addendum, 1891).

23 Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865) was an important mathematician who also wrote poetry. He was friends with both Wordsworth and Coleridge. In 1827, while still an undergraduate, he was named Andrews Professor of astronomy at Trinity College in Dublin. He was the author of General Method in Dynamics (1834), Lectures on Quaternions (1853) and The Elements of Quaternions (1866).

24 Sharp was referring to the papers of Joseph Severn which were given to him by Severn’s son Walter on the condition that he write a biography of the artist and diplomat who nursed Keats in his last illness in Rome. Elizabeth dated the occasion of this understanding as the early Spring of 1889 or 1890, but this letter shows it was much earlier, perhaps in the Spring of 1885. Elizabeth describes the occasion as follows: “‘We spent a week-end in Surrey with some old friends of my mother, Sir Walter and Lady Hughes, and one morning Mr. Walter Severn, the painter, walked over to luncheon. He spoke about my husband’s Life of Rossetti, then of the quantity of unpublished MSS he and his family had written by and relating to his father, Joseph Severn, the friend of Keats.’ Finally, he proposed that his listener should take over the MSS, put them in form and write a Life of Severn, with, as the special point of literary interest, his father’s devoted friendship with and care of the dying poet.” Working on the Severn papers and life, according to Elizabeth, brought Sharp “into pleasant relationship not only with Mr. Walter Severn, and with Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Severn, but also with Ruskin, who he visited later at Coniston.” (Memoir 168–69)

25 Sharp did not finish the Severn book until August 1891, and it was published (Sampson Low & Co.) in February, 1892.

26 Wilfrid Meynell (1852–1948) was a newspaper publisher and editor and the husband of Alice Meynell (1847–1922) a writer, editor, critic, and suffragist, now remembered mainly as a poet. After marrying in 1877, the Meynells settled in Kensington and became the proprietors and editors of such magazines as The Pen, the Weekly Register, and Merry England.

27 This novel, here called False Lights, ran serially in The People’s Friend as “The Deathless Hate.” In 1888 it was published in three volumes as The Sport of Chance (London: Hurst and Blackett, Ltd.). See Memoir (121–29) for a discussion of its reception. Sharp began writing the work in the fall of 1885 and submitted it to The People’s Friend for a contest. He did not win the prize of 100£, but the editor accepted it and published it serially beginning in early 1887.

28 It was changed to “A Deathless Hate.” See previous note.

29 Sharp believed his serial novel would start running in The People’s Friend in the Spring of 1886. It did not begin until early 1887.

30 George F. Ferris, Great Musical Composers: German, French and Italian, ed. with an introduction by Mrs. W. Sharp, The Camelot Classics (London: Walter Scott, 1887).

31 Frederick Langbridge, Sent Back by the Angels, and Other Ballad of Home Life (London: Simpkin & Co., 1886).

32 Sonnets of this Century, edited and arranged, with a critical introduction on the sonnet by William Sharp (London: Walter Scott, 1886). It was published on 6 January 1886; thus the date of this letter. The book proved to be very popular, and was reprinted several times before Sharp made some revisions during the summer and fall of 1886 for a new edition. Sharp was hired by the Scott firm to prepare the anthology and later to revise it so he did not share in the book’s long term financial success. He told Dowden (3 February 1886), however, that the publishers had “behaved very decently,” to him, implying his satisfaction with the payment he received for the book from the Scott firm.

33 Of this letter and the two sonnets, Elizabeth Sharp wrote: “The opening of the new year 1886 – from which we hoped much – was unpropitious. A wet winter and long hours of work told heavily on my husband, whose ill-health was increased by the enforced silence of his ‘second self’” (Memoir 124). By “second self” she meant his frame of mind in which he could focus on his creative writing. This letter and the sonnets were written in a state of dejection resulting from these circumstances. Soon after writing this letter, Sharp became seriously ill.

34 Sonnets of this Century.

35 Nothing came of Caine’s plan to collaborate with Robert Buchanan on a dramatization of The Shadow of a Crime. The latter was published serially in the Liverpool Mercury in the fall of 1884 and in book form by Chatto & Windus (London) in February, 1885. See Vivien Allen’s Hall Caine, Portrait of a Victorian (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997).

36 The date “15–2–1886” is written at the top of the first page of the MS letter in another hand. It may have been taken from the postmark of the letter’s envelope, and it is probably correct since only 100 copies were printed of the first edition of Sonnets of This Century. The hundred copies disappeared quickly and more were printed (reissued) very quickly. As subsequent letters demonstrate, Theodore Watts was assisting Sharp in preparing a revised second edition that appeared in fall, 1886.

37 J. E. Pfeiffer (d. 1889) was a German merchant who lived in London. He married Emily Jane (Davis) Pfeiffer (1827–1890) in 1853. She was a poet who prided herself on her ability as a sonneteer. Her many publications include Glan Alarch (1877), The Rhyme of the Lady of the Rock (1884), and Woman and Work (1888), for which she collected periodical articles on the social position of women.

38 Date from postmark on envelope. The absence of letters between February and August 1886 is due to Sharp’s serious illness. See introduction to this section and Memoir, 125ff.

39 Sharp had asked Watts to read the proofs of a revised edition of Sonnets of This Century. Page 314 of the second edition contains the notes to Swinburne’s sonnets, and pages 320ffcontain the notes to Watts’ sonnets. A letter from Watts to Sharp in the Memoir (114–15) dated January 8, 1886 indicates Watts wanted to change the order of printing of his five sonnets in the first edition. He sent the revised sequence directly to the printer, but it was too late to make the change since the book was published on January 6. The order was changed in the second and subsequent editions. Watts was especially concerned about his contributions and Swinburne’s to the Sonnets volume and about what Sharp said about them in his notes. Sharp was grateful for Watts’ input.

40 The publication of the revised edition was delayed until December.

41 Kidnapped; being the adventures of David Balfour in the year 1751 (London: Cassell & Co., 1886).

42 Frederick William Robinson (1830–1901) wrote an enormous number of popular novels now forgotten.

43 Watts worked on this novel and discussed it with his friends for many years, and it was finally published – by Hurst and Blackett, London – in October 1898.

44 Sharp was ill during the early months of 1886 and contacted scarlet fever and phlebitis in the spring. That was followed by a life-threatening case of rheumatic fever. After ten straight weeks in bed, he was well enough in August to go with Elizabeth to Micheldever in Kent where the Cairds had lent them their house – Northbrook – for six weeks. There in the peace and warm sunshine Sharp recovered, but his heart was permanently damaged by this long bout of illness. He was only thirty years old at this time, and he was unable to work for most of the year. The Sharps were saved from financial ruin only by a “substantial check” from Alfred Austin who asked that it be repaid not to him but to “someone else who stood in need” (Memoir 125–26).

45 The Great Writers Series that Eric Robertson edited for Walter Scott.

46 No volume on either Borrow or Rossetti appeared in the Great Writers Series. Sharp’s volume on Shelley was number 11 in the series, and was published in fall 1887.

47 For more about Mrs. D. O. Hill (Amelia Robertson Paton) see note to Sharp’s letter to D. G. Rossetti dated September 22,1881.

48 Ford had been hired to paint twelve frescoes for the Great Hall of the recently completed Manchester Town Hall. He invited the Sharps to come to Manchester to see the eight frescoes he had completed in the hope their visit would produce a favorable review in the Glasgow Herald.

49 James Stanley Little (1856–1940) was a prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction. The son of Thomas Little, of Woodville, Forest Hill, London, and John Cockerell’s daughter Lilla, he married the Viscountess Fanny Maude Therese de la Blache, and they had a daughter and a son. He lived variously in France, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium as well as in England; at the time of his death he resided in Cichele, Parkstone, Dorset. He and Sharp became close personal friends during the late eighties. In the eighties he published What Is Art? (1884), My Royal Father: A Story for Women (1886), and Doubt (1888).

50 The Shelley Society sponsored a performance of Shelley’s Hellas in London in October, 1886. Few notable people attended, and the event resulted in a grave financial loss to the Shelley Society [Sylva Norman, The Flight of the Skylark, The Development of Shelley’s Reputation (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954,) 269–70)].

51 At the first meeting of the Shelley Society, on March 10, 1886, at University College, London, the Reverend Stopford Brooke substituted for W. M. Rossetti as the principal speaker. His audience consisted of about a hundred members of the Society. Before its dissolution in 1895 from lack of funds, the Shelley Society produced a few of Shelley’s plays (Hellas among them) and printed several of his works. The Society’s notebooks are largely a record of its internal politics (see Sylva Norman, The Flight of the Skylark, p. 268).

52 Oliver Madox Brown (1855–1874), the son of Ford Madox Brown, was a painter and writer. He published his first prose story, “Gabriel Denver,” in 1873 and died the following year, at age 19, of blood poisoning after an attack of gout. He was a close friend of Philip Bourke Marston who published an article about him in Scribner’s Monthly, 12 (1876), 425–28.

53 Sharp’s next volume of poems was Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (London: Walter Scott, 1888).

54 Envelope postmarked November 27. Friday was November 26.

55 The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2 vols (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co, 1886).

56 Sharp’s The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (London: Walter Scott) was published in 1887. It includes, following a table of contents, a single page “Note” which reads in part: “A special acknowledgment of indebtedness is due to Professor Edward Dowden, whose two comprehensive volumes on Shelley form the completest and most reliable record extant, and at the same time constitute the worthiest monument wherewith the poet’s memory has yet been honored.”

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