Thus the fellowships he was learning at the work table were supplemented by younger friendships. There was no angel to pluck them from him by the hair; no printer's boy to pluck his sleeve when he would attend elsewhere, save when he carried his work to Kensington Gardens and admonitory nurse-maids doubted him :-
"The notice of Mr. Yeats is my absolute opinion : indeed I have reined in a little of the warmth of language to which I was disposed, lest my pleasure and surprise should betray me into extreme praise. If the reviews are not very brilliant, you must excuse me if you can, for I myself am not very brilliant just now. Fact is, the dearest child has made friends with me in the park; and we have fallen in love with each other with an instantaneous rapidity not unusual on my side, but a good deal more unusual on the child's. I rather fancy she thinks me one of the most admirable of mortals ; and I firmly believe her to be one of the most daintily supernatural of fairies. And now I am in a fever lest (after, the usual manner of fairies) her kinsfolk should steal her from me. Result-I haven't slept for two nights, and I fear I shall not recover myself until I am resolved whether my glimpses of her are to be interdicted or not. Of course in some way she is sure to vanish-elves always do, and my elves in particular."
For the New Year, 1890, he offered his compliments in the letter and little fairy-tale that follow. They will be understood by everyone who knew how my father tended the needs of others :-
"Dear Mr. Meynell,-I have imagined at times that in certain moments you may be inclined to have certain thoughts, just as I myself have fits in which I see the black side of everything. Will you pardon if I have not surmised them truly, and pardon me also for what is perhaps, I fear, the impertinence of sending you the enclosed little bit ? As a matter of fact it was just an attempt to put into a sentence or two what I was thinking this New Year's Eve ; when I pondered on the great work I discern you to have done, and still to be doing. I hope that many a New Year to come will see you spreading it; and wish I could be your right hand in it; not the clog I am. On account of your services to the Angelic Art in particular, I am sure the angels must be rehearsing a special chorus for you in Paradise. I thought so when I read Miss Probyn's poem. May they sprinkle every stone in your house.-Ever most truly your francis thompson."
The " enclosed little bit" was :-
"Within the mid girth of banyan was the banyan-spirit, all an-ache with heavy heaving through the years ; and he was saddened, because he doubted to what end his weary pain of them had been. For beyond his trunk the banyan spirit looked not. While without, the great grove hailed him sire; and from every bird nestling among its thousand branches, Heaven's ear heard his voice."
In 1891, at the birth of my brother Francis, he wrote to W. M. :-
" I hardly, I fear, gave you even commonplace thanks for the favour you conferred on me in choosing me for your little son's godfather. Even now I am utterly unable to express to you what I feel regarding it; I can only hope that you may comprehend without words. As for the quietness with which I took it on Saturday-for the premeditated of emotion in speech I have an instinctive horror which, I think, you share sufficiently to understand and excuse in me. Besides, the words which one might use have been desiccated, fossilised, by those amiable persons who not only use the heart as a sleeve-ornament, but conspicuously label it-' This is a Heart.' One can only, like Cordelia, speak by silence.
" Give my love to Monicella, and Cuckoo, and all the children. As for F. M. M., I doubt the primitive egoism is still too new in him for him to care a baby-rattle about my love."
That he carried in his " copy" a day late mattered little; that he then further delayed it by some accident seemed serious only to himself, and he would write thus to W. M. :-
" I called at Palace Court on Friday, and, finding you were gone, started to follow you. Unfortunately I fell into composition on the way, and when I next became conscious of matters sublunary, found myself wandering about somewhere in the region of Smithfield Market, and the time late in the afternoon. I am heartily sorry for my failure to keep my appointment, and hope you will forgive me. I thought I had disciplined myself out of these aberrations, which makes me feel all the more vexed about the matter.-Always your F. T."
Or, still more distressed :-
" I don't know what I shall do, or what you shall do. I haven't been able to write a line, through sheer nervousness and fright. Confound Canon Carroll! It is he who has put me into this state. I wish you had never incumbered yourself with me. I am more in a condition to sit down and go into hysterics like a girl than to write anything. I know how vexed and impatient you must feel to hear this from me, when you had expected to have the thing from me this morning. Indeed I feel that you have already done too much for me ; and that it would be better you should have nothing more to do with me. You have already displayed a patience and tenderness with me that my kindred would never have displayed ; and it is most unjust that I should any longer be a burden to you. I think I am fit for nothing: certainly not fit to be any longer the object of your too great kindness. Please understand that I entirely feel, and am perfectly resigned to the ending of an experiment which even your sweetness would never have burdened yourself with, if you could have foreseen the consequences. F. T."
With such fits my father made it his business to deal, and this he did with a persuasiveness and love that I think no other man could have summoned. But for his peculiar power F. T. would have returned to the streets.1
At Friston, in Suffolk,
Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare, And left the flushed print in a poppy there.