The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893.
allusion and local colour were both wanting to that dry-as-dust record of heroic endeavour.  I had only the Times correspondent; where he was picturesque I could be picturesque—­allowing always for the Spenserian straining—­where he was rich in local colour I did my utmost to reproduce his colouring, stretched always on the Spenserian rack, and lengthened out by the bitter necessity of finding triple rhymes.  Next to Guiseppe Garibaldi I hated Edmund Spenser, and it may be from a vengeful remembrance of those early struggles with a difficult form of versification, that, although throughout my literary life I have been a lover of England’s earlier poet, and have delighted in the quaintness and naivete of Chaucer, I have refrained from reading more than a casual stanza or two of the “Faery Queen.”  When I lived at Beverley, Spenser was to me but a name, and Byron’s “Childe Harold” was my only model for that exacting verse.  I should add that the Beverley Maecenas, when commissioning this volume of verse, was less superb in his ideas than the literary patron of the past.  He looked at the matter from a purely commercial standpoint, and believed that a volume of verse, such as I could produce, would pay—­a delusion on his part which I honestly strove to combat before accepting his handsome offer of remuneration for my time and labour.  It was with this idea in his mind that he chose and insisted upon the Sicilian Campaign as a subject for my muse, and thus started me heavily handicapped on the racecourse of Parnassus.


The weekly number of “Three Times Dead” was “thrown off” in brief intervals of rest from my magnum opus, and it was an infinite relief to turn from Garibaldi and his brothers in arms to the angels and the monsters which my own brain had engendered, and which to me seemed more alive than the good great man whose arms I so laboriously sang.  My rustic pipe far better loved to sing of melodramatic poisoners and ubiquitous detectives; of fine houses in the West of London, and dark dens in the East.  So the weekly chapter of my first novel ran merrily off my pen while the printer’s boy waited in the farm-house kitchen.

Happy, happy days, so near to memory, and yet so far.  In that peaceful summer I finished my first novel, knocked Garibaldi on the head with a closing rhapsody, saw the York spring and summer races in hopelessly wet weather, learnt to love the Yorkshire people, and left Yorkshire almost broken-heartedly on a dull gray October morning, to travel Londonwards through a landscape that was mostly under water.

And, behold, since that October morning I have written fifty-three novels; I have lost dear old friends and found new friends, who are also dear, but I have never looked on a Yorkshire landscape since I turned my reluctant eyes from those level meadows and green lanes where the old chestnut mare used to carry me ploddingly to and fro between tall, tangled hedges of eglantine and honeysuckle.

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The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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