Of an article on Browning Mr. Garvin had written :-
" Dear Francis Thompson,-Tell me by what native instinct or faculty acquired you so easily avoid henotheism in your critical writings. My poet of the moment, as I am drawn to his centre and become enveloped in his light, seems to absorb all the radiance of all song. I know there are exterior suns, but the poet only remembered bears up with difficulty against him immediately contemplated. It is henotheism exactly. But here you take the crabbed case of Browning, you extricate him from the multitude of words and you directly declare middle justice upon him, and so he betakes him to his place. Yet if a word had been said against a certain oleaginous obesity of optimism that glistens upon the plump countenance of this well-groomed poet in easy circumstances, mayhap it had been well.
" But I went most willingly with you when you laid your finger upon Browning's Elizabethan aptitude for the dramatic form of motive analysis and critical comment. And that not because of Browning. I have long had it in my mind to say that I feel the same faculty to be latent in you somewhere. I fancy very strongly that you could handle the Elizabethan form better than anybody else these two hundred years and fifty and a little more. The Elizabethan spirit of course you have to that degree. The point about Browning's manipulation of character and circumstance is completely put. Don't you wish, though, to take the other part- volition diving at the imminent billow of life and buffeting a sea of circumstance ? Indefinite potentialities I feel sure you have- especially of the drama that gives a separate voice and name to all the sides of one's own numerous personality.1 I pine for the odes. -Always yours affectionately (if I may be), Louis Garvin."
In a letter to his sister about the Jubilee Ode, Francis says:-
"Thereon forthwith followed the severe and most unhappy cab accident about which I informed you. . . . I have had a year of disasters. You will notice a new address (39 Goldney-road, Harrow-road, N.W.) at the head of this letter. I have been burned out of my former lodgings. The curtain caught fire just after I had got into bed, and I upset the lamp in trying to extinguish it. My hands were badly blistered, and I sustained a dreadful shock, besides having to walk the streets all night. The room was quite burned out."
1 Note by F. T.. " That is not drama, but lyric."
This letter he never posted, so that his sister writes out of her unwearied solicitude two years later :-
" My dear Frank,-Doubtless you will be surprised to receive a letter from me after so long a silence. But the apparent negligence is not my fault, for I have been trying for twelve months past to obtain your address, and only succeeded about a fortnight ago. You see, my dear brother, I have no one to give me any information of you, and as you never write to me the consequence is I am utterly in the dark. My life is very uneventful, therefore my letters to you must, I know, be very uninteresting ; but they must just show you that you have still got a sister who loves you and thinks of you and also prays much for your well-being here and hereafter."
Later the old century was " sung on her way " in an ode appearing in the Academy, at the beginning of iqoi ; and in the death of Cecil Rhodes (March 26, 1902) his editor saw the occasion for another paper ode. Mr. Hind describes the hasty manner of its composition, and when it appeared in the Academy for April 12, 1902, it bore the marks of a trumped-up emotion's inspiration. In May 1902 Mr. Fisher, now of the Chronicle, asked F. T. for a Peace Ode, to be pigeon-holed against the conclusion of the South African War.
Very often F. T. would decide for an eight-hour day, and offer himself, through my father, to the journals. Like most men who find work irksome when they have it, and delay all commissions, he imagined, when he had none, that the difficulty was in the getting. "The Academy should not and shall not have a monopoly of me," he writes, without any provocation from the Academy. "Take this chance for me now." (W. M. had mentioned the Daily Chronicle as an opening) " Bite a cherry while it bobs against your mouth." Nor were his reasons for complaint against his journalistic fate always ungrounded. The Academy demanded no monopoly, being willing to accept his unpunctual copy whenever it arrived, and in almost any quantity; but elsewhere minor reverses were made the most of. F. T. writes:-
" I have just got home. The Imperial and Colonial Magazine asked me to submit ' one or two poems' of an Imperialist nature. I sent them one, as you know. They have rejected it. If the poem sent through you is also rejected (as I expect) I shall give up. I cannot go on here-or anywhere else-under these circumstances. Try as I will, all doors are shut against me. If your poem miscarries that is the end.-Yours ever, F. T."
Thus were his fears communicated to the person who made them futile and absurd. But Thompson would never forgo them.
Commissions, however, when they came, were rejected in silence, or accepted and neglected-
" Dear Sir,-I shall be greatly obliged if you can send me the articles you kindly agreed to write for the Catholic Encyclopaedia in the letters B and C " is a note I find among his papers, and others came, were ignored and lost. " Having done an article for the Chronicle" he writes, " I have still seventeen volumes of poetry undone for it." When Mr. Hind left the Academy the poet was in some flurry and distress; having called on the new editor, Mr. Teignmouth Shore, he writes :-
"The interview last Friday landed me on a doubtfully hospitable Shore. All articles to be cut down to a column. Immediate result, fifteen shillings for this week. . . . Therefore am waiting most anxiously for your return, when I may explain all the complexities of the situation. At present most perplexed and anxious. Do not cut short your holiday; yet I do need to see you."