He continued fitfully on the Academy, but gradually transferred his allegiance to the Athenceum. In the meantime my father arranged that a publishing house whose literary adviser he was should supply him with work that could be done at any time and be paid for at any moment. The Life of St. Ignatius was commissioned. He delivered every few pages as he finished them-three were passport to a pound-and, so final was his method of composition, he neither desired nor needed to see a single page of the manuscript again. The reviewing my father obtained for him on the Athenceum he did with success till within a month or two of his death. Letters from Mr. Vernon Rendall illustrate the courtesy of his editors:-
"Athenaeum Office, December 20, 1905.
" Dear Mr. Thompson,-I am very sorry to hear of your illness, which may have been aggravated I fear by our clerks. I will try to make them send things correctly in future. Do not hurry now about anything you have. You are sure to be in need of rest and recreation-which, indeed, is supposed to be the fair perquisite of all at this season.-Yours very truly, Vernon Rendall."
And again :-
" Athen^um Office, March 14, 1906.
" Dear Mr. Thompson,-I was very glad to hear of your recovery, and hope you will now enjoy established health. We were clearly as much at fault as you in the delay of the notices you mention. I quite agree with you about Morris. Generally, I try to send you books worth reading, and, tho' we never have too much space to spare, I am sure that you know as well as anybody the value of a book, and I hope you will not restrict your notice of what you think really good.-Yours very truly,
And, later, from another office :-
"The Nation, April 9, 1907.
" Dear Mr. Thompson,-Mrs. Meynell will have sent you a letter of mine about the beautiful poem [" The Fair Inconstant"] which you wrote for us last week, and about the more elaborate work, which, in continuance of old Daily Chronicle days, you might be willing to do for us. I have always retained the utmost admiration for your poetic genius, and regard with much warmth its association with a paper like the Nation.-Yours very truly,
H, W. Massingham."
Of another literary enterprise which, like his journalism, shews that he could be diligent, he writes :-
H Dear Wilfrid,-I have summoned up pluck to send my little play1 (which Mrs. Meynell and you have seen) to W. Archer, asking him whether it afforded any encouragement to serious study of writing for the stage. His answer is unfavourable-though he refrains from a precise negative. This sets my mind at rest on that matter. None the less, I wanted to read you one or two bits from my chucked-up Saul, since they seemed to me better than I knew/'
" I never yet missed my Xmas wishes to you, and it seems uglily ominous if I should do so now. But I have been working desperately at a poem for the Academy. . . . When I met Whitten this morning he looked uneasy, repeatedly advised me to 1 get something/ I explained I already had 1 got' some tea (with my breakfast). 'Yes, but - get something more/ he said, and alleged that I was looking shrunk with cold.
1 This play was again unfavourably received when, in 1903, he submitted it to T. P.'s Weekly. It is thus set forth on his MS. title page:
NAPOLEON JUDGES A Tragedy in Two Scenes Dramatis Persons
Napoleon. General Augereau.
Madame Lebrun (an opera-dancer, Augereau's Mistress). President of the Court Martial. A French Deserter. Officers. Soldiers.
Place.-Augereau's Camp. Time. -The Italian Campaign of 1796-During the first scene Napoleon is absent from Augereau's Camp.
Of another class is a modern comedy, full of laboriously smart give and take, called " Man Proposes, but Woman Disposes. Un Conte sans Raconteur. In Two Scenes."
"Of course I will come in to-morrow night. Did I not, you might be sure I was knocked off my legs altogether, and I should feel that the world had gone off its hinges. I have never missed seeing you at Christmas save when I was at Pantasaph. Every happy wish to you, dear Wilfrid, and may God be as kind to you as you have ever been to me."