London Snow Robert Bridges Essay

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My first impulse was to banish notes to tihe end of the book and leave the text free. Enough remain to show the bent of his youthful mind. Walford believed that Dolben had been mobbed in Birming- ham.* He went in his habit without sandals, barefoot I do not know whether it is more furmy or affecting to think of.

This plan, which would have meant number- ing the lines, was^soon seen to be impracticable for several reasons, the chief being that many of the letters are concerned with points of textual criticism needing immediate elucidation. The most signi- ficant of the earliest pieces is A Vision of the Mermaids^ a prize poem written while he was still at school.^ This is far more than a boyish exercise in heroic couplets after the manner of Keats. This quality of sensuous apprehension, later to be disciplined and enlarged by concentration, and uniting with poetic vision certain attributes of painter and musician, is to be one of the main characteristics of Hopkins’s poetry. 4010 XXV d Introduction on such phrases as ‘palate, the hutch of tasty lust’ and ‘feel-of- primrosc hands’ that lean rather to the sensuous than the stem. You were surprised and sorry, you said, and possibly hiurt that I wd. My father and mother are still abroad and are or will soon be at Dinan in Brittany, where it happens that Urquhart* now is, coaching Morris. My mother, my brother says, has some prejudice about Urquhart, I conceive because he is looked upon as Ifeading me over to Rome.

As for myself I looked in a hurried way through his papers but cannot say that I read any of them. As it is, though the rhythm he evolved justifies itself triumphantly in many a short poem, it is difficult to imagine its successful use in a work of length. — I have before told you about the cruet, the stopper will be a cork capped with silver from which rises a silver disk with a cross and some of the instruments of the Passion etc on the obverse side and a smaller design on the other. Street yet: I will go to- morrow if possible and if not on Wednesday — and also for not answering yr. not bring myself to do so till the cruet was off my mind.

Letters which I recognized by your writing or initials I set apart to forward. 1865 I ♦XLII 9 June 1878 55 II 24 July 1866 2 XLIII 13 July [1878] 55 III 4 Aug. His idiom, as might be expected, is very much his own. I cannot tell whether it will come out well in engraving and I fear at any rate you will think it a very twopenny-half- penny thing to have taken so long doing.

I have suppressed one name and, in deference to a family objection, one passage. The few mistakes due to hasty writing have been corrected in the text and the original reading is recorded below. As it was, the Oxford years decided, not only the course of his life but the current and temper of his poetry. The wreck of the Deutschland^ in December 1 875, lifted this self-imposed ban, and he became again a poet. not be gained except at your own and their trouble and grief. He was so good that one scarcely can regret his loss, but for our college it is very sad and dis- astrous. you be so kind as to bring it if you can, though I am afraid I cd.

The letters have been printed from photostats and reference has been made to the original on any difficult point. Bridges corrected her proofs from the originals: mine were done from the photostats. Very occa- sionally a word or letter omitted inadvertently has been supplied in square brackets. Readers may assume that any spelling or punctuation in the text that seems strange belongs to Gerard Hopkins. The question of where to place annotations was difficult. His conversion in 1866 was followed two years later by his entry into the Jesuit novitiate.* He then burnt what verses he had written* — ^probably our loss is not serious— -and ‘resolved to write no more, as not belonging to' my profession, unless it were by the wish of my superiors; so for seven years I wrote nothing but two or three little presentation pieces which occa- » Since the example of Newman counted for much with him it is well to recall that the controvetsy with Charles Kingsley and the resultant Apologia M Titd sud, which brought Newman so effectivdy into sympathetic public mterest, belong to 1864. Not all the verses written before 1868 were destroyed. This will make it plain how I feel that wherever I go I must either do no good or else harm.

Some words about my editing of the text are necessary. Kenneth Sisam and the staff of the Claren- don Press for their never-failing patience and care. Humphry House kindly tried to solve some of my difficulties, particularly regard- ing early years and friendships, by reference to the poet’s diaries, but unfortunately he could find Ettle that was of help. for allowing me to have far more accurate reproductions of the two photographs of Hopkins than ix b 4010 Preface have been made hitherto, and also for granting my plea that a characteristic sonnet should be included in facsimile. The main outlines of those decisive years at Oxford — he went up to Balliol in 1863 in his twentieth year — already stand out clearly in their temper, friendships, religious bent, and, above all, in the steps leading to his conversion from the doctrines of Pusey to tlie Roman Catholic faith. At one time he was private tutor for the Honours Schodi of Law and Modem History.

With my determination to print all the letters in, full no one vitally int^ested in poetry or in Hopkins will quarrel. The undergraduate note-books and the main diary (1868-75) con- tain, he tells me, very few references to Robert Bridges. A knowledge of the following contractions is necessary to readers of the footnotes: Memoir. How greatly he was influenced by the spirit of time and place and the religious ferment of the hour is apparent too. It was shared at the time by several of his friends. Brii^es I hid it with difficulty while I Stayed at Rochdale, till my going to Birmingham made concealment useless.

Robert Bridges had arranged the letters roughly in chronological order, though there were a few othen in MS. Stress as he conceives it is native to the genius of the language and may be taken as the logical development of his metrical studies, almost as alternative to the ‘counterpoint’ learned chiefly from Milton. I wrote to ask if you know whenabouts the Autu mn Greats Schools come on, for Ed. I am not satisfied with it: I give you a rough recollection of it.

book A which had to be restored to their places, and finer points of date or order to be settled. Coleridge, among others, had felt the importance of » Vol. xxi Introduction stress to pattern, tone, and modulation, but such a work as Christabel was too lightly woven and capricious to please the exacting demands of this poet who aimed ‘at an unattainable perfection of language Where Coleridge was content to let the metre follow the tune in his mind, Hopkins demanded from himself an exact system of prosody, rules to be obeyed. Bond' is going in then and naturally wishes to have the exact time. Street, but I am aiming my letters at a venture at Thorndon. It is correct, I suppose, (the original I mean) and unobjectionable but it does not attract one. To have a stopper capped with silver with a silver Maltese cross, disk, or what it might be surmounting it wd. Certainly if both these things were done I shd, still be under the sum you named but it was plain that one ought to be able to do everything for a good deal less and it wd. You see if you wished a new bottle blown I doubt if I cd. Brtoges, — I fear you will think 1 have done your business very unsatisfactorily.


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