It might be headed as sent in acknowledgment of your LAMIA. Or perhaps it might be introduced by the phrases I have marked above. I dare say they would stick it in: I want no payment, being well paid by LAMIA. If they are not, keep them to yourself.
TO WILL H. LOW
DAMNED BAD LINES IN RETURN FOR A BEAUTIFUL BOOK
Youth now flees on feathered foot. Faint and fainter sounds the flute; Rarer songs of Gods. And still, Somewhere on the sunny hill, Or along the winding stream, Through the willows, flits a dream; Flits, but shows a smiling face, Flees, but with so quaint a grace, None can choose to stay at home, All must follow - all must roam. This is unborn beauty: she Now in air floats high and free, Takes the sun, and breaks the blue; - Late, with stooping pinion flew Raking hedgerow trees, and wet Her wing in silver streams, and set Shining foot on temple roof. Now again she flies aloof, Coasting mountain clouds, and kissed By the evening's amethyst. In wet wood and miry lane Still we pound and pant in vain; Still with earthy foot we chase Waning pinion, fainting face; Still, with grey hair, we stumble on Till - behold! - the vision gone! Where has fleeting beauty led? To the doorway of the dead! qy. omit? [Life is gone, but life was gay: We have come the primrose way!]
R. L. S.
Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE
SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH, JAN. 2ND, 1886.
MY DEAR GOSSE, - Thank you for your letter, so interesting to my vanity. There is a review in the St. James's, which, as it seems to hold somewhat of your opinions, and is besides written with a pen and not a poker, we think may possibly be yours. The PRINCE has done fairly well in spite of the reviews, which have been bad: he was, as you doubtless saw, well slated in the SATURDAY; one paper received it as a child's story; another (picture my agony) described it as a 'Gilbert comedy.' It was amusing to see the race between me and Justin M'Carthy: the Milesian has won by a length.
That is the hard part of literature. You aim high, and you take longer over your work, and it will not be so successful as if you had aimed low and rushed it. What the public likes is work (of any kind) a little loosely executed; so long as it is a little wordy, a little slack, a little dim and knotless, the dear public likes it; it should (if possible) be a little dull into the bargain. I know that good work sometimes hits; but, with my hand on my heart, I think it is by an accident. And I know also that good work must succeed at last; but that is not the doing of the public; they are only shamed into silence or affectation. I do not write for the public; I do write for money, a nobler deity; and most of all for myself, not perhaps any more noble, but both more intelligent and nearer home.
Let us tell each other sad stories of the bestiality of the beast whom we feed. What he likes is the newspaper; and to me the press is the mouth of a sewer, where lying is professed as from an university chair, and everything prurient, and ignoble, and essentially dull, finds its abode and pulpit. I do not like mankind; but men, and not all of these - and fewer women. As for respecting the race, and, above all, that fatuous rabble of burgesses called 'the public,' God save me from such irreligion! - that way lies disgrace and dishonour. There must be something wrong in me, or I would not be popular.
This is perhaps a trifle stronger than my sedate and permanent opinion. Not much, I think. As for the art that we practise, I have never been able to see why its professors should be respected. They chose the primrose path; when they found it was not all primroses, but some of it brambly, and much of it uphill, they began to think and to speak of themselves as holy martyrs. But a man is never martyred in any honest sense in the pursuit of his pleasure; and DELIRIUM TREMENS has more of the honour of the cross. We were full of the pride of life, and chose, like prostitutes, to live by a pleasure. We should be paid if we give the pleasure we pretend to give; but why should we be honoured?
I hope some day you and Mrs.