again? It wants working out. I have omitted,
after all, a schoolboy historical romance, explaining
why Queen Elizabeth was never married
A Scottish paper offered a prize for a story of Queen
Mary Stuart’s reign. I did not get the
prize—perhaps did not deserve it, but my
story ran thus: You must know that Queen Elizabeth
was singularly like Darnley in personal appearance.
What so natural as that, disguised as a page, her
Majesty should come spying about the Court of Holyrood?
Darnley sees her walking out of Queen Mary’s
room, he thinks her an hallucination, discovers that
she is real, challenges her, and they fight at Faldonside,
by the Tweed, Shakespeare holding Elizabeth’s
horse. Elizabeth is wounded, and is carried
to the Kirk of Field, and laid in Darnley’s chamber,
while Darnley goes out and makes love to my rural
heroine, the lady of Fernilee, a Kerr. That
night Bothwell blows up the Kirk of Field, Elizabeth
and all. Darnley has only one resource.
Borrowing the riding habit of the rural heroine,
the lady of Fernilee, he flees across the Border,
and, for the rest of his life, personates Queen Elizabeth.
That is why Elizabeth, who was Darnley, hated Mary
so bitterly (on account of the Kirk of Field affair),
and that is why Queen Elizabeth was never married
Side-lights on Shakespeare’s Sonnets were obviously
cast. The young man whom Shakespeare admired
so, and urged to marry, was—Darnley.
This romance did not get the prize (the anachronism
about Shakespeare is worthy of Scott), but I am conceited
enough to think it deserved an honourable mention.
Enough of my own cigarettes. But there are others
of a more fragrant weed. Who will end for me
the novel of which Byron only wrote a chapter; who,
as Bulwer Lytton is dead? A finer opening, one
more mysteriously stirring, you can nowhere read.
And the novel in letters, which Scott began in 1819,
who shall finish it, or tell us what he did with his
fair Venetian courtezan, a character so much out of
Sir Walter’s way? He tossed it aside—it
was but an enchanted cigarette—and gave
us “The Fortunes of Nigel” in its place.
I want both. We cannot call up those who “left
half told” these stories. In a happier
world we shall listen to their endings, and all our
dreams shall be coherent and concluded. Meanwhile,
without trouble, and expense, and disappointment, and
reviews, we can all smoke our cigarettes of fairyland.
Would that many people were content to smoke them
peacefully, and did not rush on pen, paper, and ink!