And later :-
"What I put forth as a bud he blew out and it blossomed. The contact of our ideas was dynamic ; he reverberated my idea with such and so many echoes that it returned to me greater than I gave it forth. He opened it as you would open an oyster, or placed it under a microscope, and showed me what it contained/'
"Creccas Cottage, Pantasaph, Tuesday.
" Dear Mr. Patmore,-The poem, even if I am to take your high and valued praises quite literally, has a defect of which you must be conscious, though you have courteously refrained from noticing it. It echoes your own manner largely, in the metre, and even in some of the diction-the latter a thing of which, I think, I have seldom before rendered myself guilty.
" Now it is possible in rare cases - e.g. Keats' ' Hyperion'-for an echo to take on body enough to survive as literature. But even should my poem so survive it must rest under the drawback of being no more distinctive Thompson than ' Hyperion' is distinctive Keats.
"With regard to the other poem, I want to allude particularly to your invaluable correction of my misuse of the Western symbolism. On re-examination, the whole passage discloses a confusion of thought naturally causing a confusing of symbolism. My attention was called to the point about Egyptian worship by a footnote in Dr. Robert Clarke's ' Story of a Conversion/ in Merry England} I at once perceived its symbolic significance, and asked myself how it came that we reckoned our points of the compass facing to the North. The only explanation I could surmise was that it was a relic of Set-worship among our Saxon ancestors. Do you mean that historically men have prayed in three distinct periods to W., E., and N. ?
1 On this subject, and the derivation of portions of ,Ecclesiastes, he corresponded with Fr. Clarke. The contents of commonplace-books of a somewhat early period suggest a taste for many kindred themes. In one he has entered random "Varia on Magic," accounts of and comments on many heresies, suspicions of the Masons, and fears of a Divine Visitation upon the general wickedness in the shape of general war; with these are important notes on Creation Myths, the Chaldean Genesis, the Egyptian Crocodile, the Kabbalist Doctrine of the Pre-existence of Souls; some symbols connected with the Incarnation, the Lotus, the ritual of the funeral sacrifice, with transcriptions from the Book of Respirations, the Prayer to Ammon Ra, and The meaning of Easter, a cutting scored with his own excursions into the etymology of the word-from Ishtar, the Chaldsean goddess-"And Ishtar I take to be Ashak Tar (or Tur) the Lady of the Light of the Way," But at the turn of a few pages he is found enlarging and correcting. Still nearer his real concern are the notes on varieties of the Cross symbol.
C. P. to F. T. :-
" Lymington, Hants, September 10, '95. " My dear Thompson,-I hope I have not kept your Poem too long. I have read it several times, and found it quite intelligible enough for song which is also prophecy. We are upon very much the same lines, but you, I think, are more advanced than I am. ' Dieu et ma Dame' is the legend of both of us, but at present Ma Dame is too much for the balance, peace, and purity of my religion. There is too much of heart-ache in it.
" I have ventured to affix a few notes of interrogation to unusual modes of expression.
" I hear, from Mrs. Meynell, that Mr. Meynell is with you. Please remember me very kindly to him.-Yours ever truly,
" P.S.-The world has worshipped turning to the West, to the East, and to the North. The 1 New Eve ' is the South, and, when we turn thither, all things will be renewed, and God will ' turn our captivity as Rivers in the South,' and we shall know Him in the flesh ' from sea to sea.' "
He later explains that the " South " is the symbol of Divine Womanhood. The next letter from Patmore, dated a month later, is also of symbolism :-
" I wish I could see and talk to you on the subject of the symbolism you speak of. The Bible and all the theologies are full of it, but it is too deep and significant to get itself uttered in writing. The Psalms especially are full of it. On the matter of the ' North' note that verse : ' Promotion cometh not from the South, nor the East, nor the West.' That is, it cometh from the North. The North seems always to signify the original Godhead, the ' Father'
-or the Devil. For the same symbol is used in the Bible and in the mythologies for either extreme.1 ' Water,' for example, is constantly used for the sensible nature in its extreme purity, as in the Blessed Virgin, or in its extreme corruption. This honouring of the ' North' may very likely have been at the bottom of the seeking of the points of the compass from that quarter.
" I hope, some day, to see and have speech with you on this and other matters. Meantime I will only hint that the North represents the simple Divine virility, the South the Divine womanhood,2 the East their synthesis in the Holy Spirit, and the West the pure natural womanhood ' full of grace.' I could give you no end of proofs, but it would take me months to collect them, from all I have read and forgotten."
This spacious correspondence, on things that will not " get themselves uttered in writing," was, nevertheless, continued. F. T. writes :-
" You rather overlook the purport of my inquiry in regard to the symbolic question. I wanted to know if there had been any actual progressive development among the nations with regard to the quarters in which they worshipped-as an historic fact, apart from symbolic meaning. But this is such a minor matter, and the concluding hint of your letter contains so much of value to me, that I am not sorry you misapprehended me. Of course I am quite aware that it is impossible to answer openly-indeed impossible to ask openly-deeper matters in a letter. But that is not requisite in my case. It is enough that my gaze should be set in the necessary direction ; the rest may be safely left to the practised fixity of my looking. Indicative longings such as you employed in your letter, you may safely trust me to understand. With regard to what you say about the symbolism of the North, I had substantially discerned for myself. Indeed it formed part of a little essay already written. It will be none the worse for the corroboration of your remarks ; there is always something in your way of stating even what is already to me a res visa, which adds sight to my seeing. The quotation from the Psalms is new and grateful to me. But I was aware of the thing to which it points. Shakespeare speaks of 'The lordly monarch of the North' (I was confusing it with a passage in Comus), and Butler remarks-
1 In a poem " The Schoolmaster for God," which Francis thought just not good enough to put into a volume, he represents Satan as scaling the walls of God's garth, stealing the seed, and giving it a clandestine growth, which grew to fruit that made men who ate it an-hungered for God. And in this poem Satan is named " that Robber from the North." Again, in one of the "Ecclesiastical Ballads," the Veteran of Heaven declares, "The Prince I drave forth held the Mount of the North."
2 See F. T.'s poem " The Newer Eve," or " After Woman," with whom the world should rise instead of fall.
Cardan believed great states depend Upon the tip o' the Bear's tail's end.
" Set was given by the Egyptians the lordship of temporal powers; and of course I am aware of the esoteric meaning of this and of Cardan's saying-indeed this was what I intended by my observation that I surmised our Northern aspect in reckoning the compass to be a relic of Set-worship among our Teuton ancestors; though of course I was aware that Set, by that name, was an Egyptian deity.
"Also I am familiar with the principle and significance in this and mythological imagery generally. Indeed, without the knowledge of this principle both Scripture and the mythologies are full of baffling contradictions. When I began seriously to consider mythologies comparatively, I cut myself with the broken reed on which all the ' scientific ' students fall back-this significance belongs to an earlier, that to a later, development. But having eyes which ' scientific' students have not, I soon saw that fact gave me the lie in all directions. And when I came to make a comprehensive study of the Hebrew prophets, with the Eastern mythologies in mind, I speedily discovered the systematic use of the dual significance, and the difficulty vanished."
Perfection beyond Hope
From Coventry Patmore :-
" Thank you for your very interesting letter, which shows me how extraordinarily alike are our methods of and experience in contemplation. . . .
" God bless and help you to bear your crown of thorns, and to prosper in the great, though possibly obscure, career He seems to have marked out for you ! My work, such as it is, is done, and I am now only waiting, somewhat impatiently, for death, and the fulfilment of the promises of God, which include all that we have ever desired here, in perfection beyond all hope.- Yours, C. P."