Last stole this one, With timid glance, of watching eyes adread, And dropped his frightened flower when all were gone ; And where the frail flower fell, it withered. But yet methought those high souls smiled thereon; As when a child, upstraining at your knees Some fond and fancied nothings, says, " I give you these."
Of the first notion for this poem's title, "Amphicy-pellon," he wrote :-
" It refers to the a/uLCpucvireWov which Hephaestus, in Homer, bears round to the gods when he acts as cupbearer by way of joke. When Schliemann's things from Troy were first exhibited at South Kensington, I remember seeing among them a drinking-cup labelled ' Perhaps the amphicypellon of Homer.' It was a boat-shaped cup of plain gold, open at the top and with a crescentic aperture at either extremity of the rim, through which the wine could either be poured or drunk. So that you could pour from either end, and (if the cup were brimmed with wine) two people could have drunk from it at the same time, one at either extremity. In a certain sense, therefore, it was a double cup. And it had also two handles, one at either of its boat-shaped sides, so that it was a two-handled cup. You will see at once why I have applied the name to my double poem."
Later this title was abandoned :-
" Let it be 'Sister Songs' as you suggest. But keep ' an offering to two sisters' where it now is-on the title page. ' Sister Songs' was my own first alteration of the title, but was dropped I hardly know why."
One of his first articles after he left his always beloved Storrington was the notice of General Booth's In Darkest England. Called " Catholics in Darkest England," and signed " Francis Tancred," it appeared in Merry England for January 1891. Mr. Stead, in the Review of Reviews, wrote:-
"Tancred sounds a bugle-blast which, it is hoped, will ring through the Catholic ranks not only in England, but in all Catholic Christendom. After speaking highly of General Booth and his large, daring, and comprehensive scheme, he points out that it will of necessity lead to the proselytising of neglected Catholics. He, therefore, cries aloud for the creation of a Catholic Salvation Army, or rather, for the utilisation of the Franciscans, Regulars and Tertiaries, for the purpose of social salvation."
" Mr. Francis Tancred " received from Mr. Stead the following letter:-
"January 12, 1891.
" Dear Sir,-I beg to forward you herewith a copy of the Review of Reviews, in which you will find your admirable article quoted and briefly commented upon. Permit me to say that I read your article with sincere admiration and heartfelt sympathy, and that it delighted the Salvation Army people at headquarters more than anything that has appeared for a long time. ' That man can write/ said Bramwell Booth to me, and I think he sincerely grudges your pen to the Catholic Church.-I am, yours truly, W. T. Stead." 1
Cardinal Manning2 thereupon summoned Francis through my father, who was the Cardinal's friend, and to this single meeting Francis alludes in "To the Dead Cardinal of Westminster," a poem written, when, a year later, 1892, Manning died. Of this, A. M. has written:-
"In 1892 his editor asked him for a poem on Cardinal Manning, just dead, whom the poet had once visited; surely never was a poem ' to order' so greatly and originally inspired. I have alluded to days of deep depression in Francis Thompson's life, and they occurred now and then, with fairly cheerful intervals, at this time. It was in the grief and terror of such a day that he wrote ' To the dead Cardinal of Westminster/ which is a poem rather on himself than on the dead, an all but despairing presage of his own decease, which, when sixteen years later it came, brought no despair."
Claiming the ear of the dead, because the Cardinal asked the poet to go often to him, he writes in a first version of the poem :-
I saw thee only once, Although thy gentle tones Said soft:- " Come hither oft."
1 There perished with Mr. Stead in the Titanic disaster in 1912 a Catholic priest, who had, shortly before sailing, recommended " The Hound of Heaven " (with the strangely significant line '* Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears ") to a friend, as an antidote to decadent poetry.
2 At this time he met another Cardinal, then without his Hat, who knew his people in Manchester. There were many pauses when the talk turned to his home. Francis, untamable in shabbiness, even to the point of rags, explained afterwards: "I did not like to dwell on the subject, lest he should discover that I was in poor circumstances. You see he corresponds with my father.*' But his father did, of course, already know of his need. A letter, dated April 1892, from Bishop Carroll, runs :-
" My dear Mr. Meynell,-Francis Thompson's father has agreed to give me a small sum weekly ($s. 6d.) for his son. I have consented to forward it, and will do so monthly, adding a little myself. I now enclose a cheque for 24s. It is not much, but it will help.-Ever yours sincerely, j. Carroll."
1 The old Archbishop's Mouse in Carlisle Place.
Therefore my spirit clings Heaven's porter by the wings, And holds Its gated golds
Apart, with thee to press A private business;
Whence Deign me audience.
Your singer did not come Back to that stern, bare home :1 He knew Himself and you.
I saw, as seers do, That you were even you ; And-why, I too was I.
In that, as in "The Fallen Yew "-
" I take you to my inmost heart, my true !" Ah fool! but there is one heart you Shall never take him to !- his theme is one that often pressed home upon him :-
"There is such goodwill to impart, and such goodwill to receive, that each threatens to become the other, but the law of individuality collects its secret strength ; you are you and I am I, and so we remain."
These concluding words are transcribed with a suppressed verse of " To the Dead Cardinal of Westminster " -a verse suppressed, I imagine, because its poetry was not approved rather than because it committed its author to a too definite theory of Individualism. While he marks the impenetrability of mind and mind, he writes hotly nevertheless of the Political Economist's Individualism :-