At other times his copy is late because he has no stamp; or, thinking he has delivered an article, the next day he finds half of it still in his pocket; but illness is his stand-by, his most robust excuse.
The two following letters tell of books lost on either side :-
" 16 Elgin Avenue, W. November 2, 1897.
"My dear Hind,-I will do as you wish about the Crashaw. I think you are right, but in the absence of any notification I kept to the stipulated length of two columns.
"I received the letter you forwarded from Arthur Waugh ; but the book which should have accompanied it has not been sent me. Will you please see what has become of it, and have it forwarded at once. I am afraid it may have got mixed with the books for review; and it is a book I value, sent me as a gift by Waugh, in recognition of my last ' Excursion.' Please let the matter be looked into without delay.
" I am glad to hear that Wells has given you well-deserved recognition in the Saturday.-Yours sincerely,
" P.S.-For fear of any confusion, I may add that Waugh's book is a volume of ' Political Pamphlets,' belonging to the same ' Library' as the volume noticed in my last ' Excursion.' "
" Dear Hind,-I regret exceedingly to find that the Menpes was disposed of along with an accumulation of back review books, nor can I get it back, for it sold almost at once. I am very sorry it should have happened; because it should not and would not have been sold, had it not gone among others when I was in a hurry, and my mind occupied only with the work I had in hand. Of course, under such circumstances, I hold myself responsible for replacing it as soon as I can. Or if you cannot wait, I would suggest you get the book and dock it out of my extra money. The only alternative is for me to pick oakum (if they do that in debtors' gaols). And I have not the talents for oakum-picking. Though I enjoyed the distinguished tuition of a burglar, who had gone through many trials-and houses-in the pursuit of this little-known art, I showed such mediocre capacity that the Master did not encourage me to persevere. Besides, seeing how overcrowded the profession is, it would be a pity for me to take the oakum out of another man's fingers.
" Seriously, I am very upset that this should have happened. I can think of nothing but what I have suggested.-Yours sincerely, F. Thompson."
"Dear Hind,-I was taken sick on my way to the station, not having been to bed all night, and having been working a good part of to-day; and though I came on as soon as I could pull myself together again, I was too late. So I leave here the Dumas article, which I brought with me, and will be down to-morrow morning, when I am told you will be here.-Yours in haste,
"P.S.-You had another very interesting article last week; but I had qualms whether your art of artistic romance, or of the Thing Seen, or the Thing which Ought to have been Seen if it Wasn't, was taking me in again with its realism more real than fact."
" Dear Hind,-I was so unwell yesterday that I could not come-neuralgia in the eye. I am the more sorry because the Watson article was ready to bring with me, as you desired. The acute pain drove it out of my head. Nor could I see to write an explanation of my absence. To-day, when I remembered the unsent article, I thought it of course too late to be of use to you this week. So, my eye being still weak, I decided to bring it (not the eye) to-morrow, with personal explanation. But getting your telegram I send it herewith. A really fine Ode1- though close (in point of style) to my 'Nineteenth Century' Ode in the Academy. Thorp perceived it, without any ' lead' from me ; so it is not merely my own fancy. But it is, on the whole, a better poem than the original. If all made such fine use of the model, I would not mind imitation.-Yours in haste,
1 William Watson's on the Coronation of Edward VII. 259
Friends and Opinions
" 16 Elgin Avenue, W. Monday.
" My Dear Hind,-I was taken very ill last week, and was totally unable to get in my work for the Academy. Having pulled round, I send you herewith the Wordsworth, and trust to let you have the Fiona Macleod in the course of to-morrow, or at any rate by Wednesday morning by the latest.
" With regard to your request for articles on Shelley, Browning, and Tennyson, I am sorry that, after careful consideration, I must ask you to hand them over to someone else. Considering the importance-the great importance-of what I am asked to treat, I do not feel that I could do justice either to my subject or my own reputation within the limit of iooo words proposed. In the case of such minor men as Landor, or even possibly Macaulay, I should not object to the limitation - biographical details being omitted. But I simply cannot pledge my name to a disposal of Tennyson or Browning in about two columns. It would be a mere clumsy spoiling of material which I might to greater advantage use elsewhere. I could only undertake it on the terms that the length of the article should be determined by the organic exigencies of my treatment alone. Of course I have never dreamed of anything beyond five columns as what you could reasonably allow me for important articles. If some have extended to more, it has been the result of miscalculation, and I should have quite acquiesced in your cutting such excessive articles down.-Yours very sincerely,
Of the ethics of reviewing he writes at length, to the Editor :-
" I regret that-in pressure of work and ill-health- Miss Frances Power Cobbe's letter, which you forwarded me, has not received the immediate attention which it deserved. I regret that my review should strike her as a personal attack. But I cannot see that it exceeded the limits of impartial criticism. Miss Power Cobbe seems to imply that I in some way found Miss Shore's poems 'morally objectionable.' I am unaware of any sentence which could create such an impression. For the rest, I was necessarily unaware of Miss Shore's personal circumstances. I was not even aware of its being her first book of poems. When a book comes before a reviewer for criticism, he cannot be expected to know or take account of personal matters-of anything outside the book itself. Many things might plead that he should be very gentle with the author, but he has no knowledge of them. The book is an impersonal thing to him ; and the author who publishes a book becomes impersonal, and must expect to be treated as a mere name at the head of so many printed pages; it is the inevitable consequence of publication.