THE POETRY OF JEAN INGELOW
women poets of England, most critics would, I imagine, agree in
assigning the first place to Elizabeth Barret Browning. The
next place belongs probably to Jean Ingelow. True, it is not a
very difficult matter to decide the order of merit, seeing that
English poetesses of any note may be counted almost on the fingers
of one hand. It might be interesting to discuss the question
whether there is any peculiarity in the female character to account
for this rareness of the poetic gift. That women can write
poetry, and poetry of a very high order, no one who has studied the
works of Mrs. Browning, Jean Ingelow or
Adelaide Proctor, can reasonably
The most striking feature of Miss Ingelow's poetry, and that
which renders it so peculiarly attractive, is its metrical beauty.
To appreciate this fully, it ought to be read aloud, in order, as
George Macdonald said in one of his most fascinating books, to "get
all the good of its outside as well as inside—its sound as well as
thought, the one being the ethereal body of the other." Read
thus, Jean Ingelow carries you away upon a flood of delicious sound
which wholly fascinates and almost intoxicates you with its beauty.
Everyone must be struck by the wonderful ease of expression, the
smoothness, the exquisite music of her rhymes. Hers truly is
"The voice which like a stream could run
Smooth music from the roughest stone."
She is, above all, a singer, and she sings with a sweet rhythmic
cadence which entrances us, so that we are in danger of forgetting
the sense in the delight of the sound. If poetry consistent
only in beauty of form, she would be an infinitely greater poet than
Mrs. Browning. Take, for example, the worst poem (probably)
that she ever wrote, "Divided," and
read it aloud, listening to the sound and shutting your mind to the
meaning, and how deliciously melodious it his. Or take such a
verse as this, chosen, at haphazard, from "Requiescat
"Men must die—one dies by day, and near
him moans his mother;
They dig his grave, tread it down, and go from it full
And one dies about the midnight, and the wind moans and no other,
And the snows give him a burial. And God
loves them both,"
It is really difficult to choose examples of special beauty where
all is so beautiful. It would hardly be going too far to
assert that Jean never wrote an unmusical line, and never could
write one. Perhaps the most striking instance or this
wonderful gift of poetic beauty is that ballad written for the
Portfolio Society, "Persephone."
Place that side by side with any one of the best of E. B. Browning's
ballads, and how infinitely superior it is in the mere external
qualities of form, rhythm, and melody.
"She reigns upon her dusky throne,
'Mid shades of heroes dread to see;
Among the dead she breathes alone,
Persephone — Persephone!
Or seated on the Elysian hill
She dreams of earthly daylight still,
And murmurs of the daffodil.
"A voice in Hades soundeth clear,
The shadows mourn and flit below;
It cries—'Thou Lord of Hades hear,
And let Demeter's daughter go.
The tender corn upon the lea
Droops in her goddess gloom when she
Calls for her lost Persephone.'"
The second special characteristic of Miss Ingelow's poetry
is, I think, its facility of expression. As she is a living
writer, and therefore has not yet been torn to pieces and dissected
by the biographers and critics, we do not know the secrets of her
manner of working; but if the impression produced on the readers
mind be considered a trustworthy guide, her poems run straight from
her brain (or soul) on to the paper, and hardly need an after touch.
Half their charm lies in their apparent spontaneity and absence of
Thirdly, she is pre-eminently the poetess of nature, as she
is, and because she is, the High-priestess of Beauty. She
seems to have drunk so deep of nature's loveliness that she is
inebriated with it. Like Shelley—though in a lesser degree—she
often catches the every spirit of nature and photographs it in her
verse. The well-known ballad, "The
High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire," is an example of what I
mean. It is not merely that she describes the scene—the flat
Lincolnshire fen, the river flowing through the reeds, the solitary
figure standing out against the sunset sky—so that we can see it in
the mind's eye; the power of vivid description is no uncommon gift;
but that the very verse itself seems permeated with the tranquil
beauty of the afternoon, so that you seem to feel the strange hush,
the lazy stillness, the indescribable sensation which such an
afternoon does actually produce on the mind. And this effect
is given, not with pages of elaborate description, but with broad
strong touches such as:"
|". . . dark against day's golden
She moved where Luidis wandereth;
Or . . . .
"The swanherds where their sedges are
Moved on in sunset's golden breath.'
But no quotations can give any idea of the effect produced by
reading the poem carefully through, and giving oneself up to the
enjoyment of it. Another instance of this peculiar power is
found, to my mind, in the description of dawn in
book vi of "A Story of Doom ":
. . . . . . .
. "Then he lift
His eyes, and day had dawned. Right suddenly
The moon withheld her silver, and she hung
Frail as a cloud. The ruddy flame that
By night on dim, dusk trees, and on the flood,
Crept red amongst the logs, and all the world
And all the water blushed and bloomed. The
Were gone, and golden shafts came up, and touched
The feathered heads of palms, and green was born
Under the rosy cloud, and purples flew
Like veils across the mountains."
Or read that beautiful poem, "Scholar and
Carpenter"—a poem which is peculiarly characteristic of its
author as regards the three points which I have mentioned,
especially the first seven verses culminating in that splendid
outburst of trust and confidence:
"Grand is the leisure of the earth
She gives her happy myriads birth,
And afters harvest fears not dearth,
But goes to sleep in snow-wreaths dim.
Dread is the leisure up above,
The while He sits whose name is Love,
And waits, as Noah did for the dove,
To wit if she would fly to him."
In the fourth verse of the same poem she tells us what she considers
to be the secret of her sympathy with nature. Speaking of her
heart, she says—
"The morning freshness that she viewed
With her own meanings she endued,
And touched with her solicitude
The natures she did meditate."
Now those lines give the keynote to Jean Ingelow's poetry, the
keynote both to its strength and to its weakness, its merits and
defects. Her poetic nature is like a rare and sensitive
instrument, played on by nature in all her moods. When she
yields herself wholly to nature, and simply writes down the
impressions of her influence, as they photograph themselves upon her
brain, she succeeds most perfectly. But when, reversing the
position, she considers nature as the instrument to be played on by
her soul, she fails. Take, for instance, a thoughtful little
poem, and one not very easy to understand, "The
Nightingale Heard by the Unsatisfied Heart." She speaks of
the nightingale thus:
"But thou in the trance of light.
Stayest the feeding night,
And Echo makes sweet her lips with
the utterance wise;
And casts at our glad feet,
In a wisp of fancies fleet,
Life's fair, life's unfulfilled,
Her central thought full well
Thou hast the wit to tell,
To take the sense o' the dark and
to yield it so;
The moral of moonlight
To set in a cadence bright,
And sing our loftiest dream that we
thought none did know."
Now is it a fair criticism to call those lines untrue in sentiment?
Passing over their quite unnecessary obscurity, I accuse them of a
far greater fault―namely, untruth
to the spirit of nature in ascribing to the nightingale thoughts
belonging only to the human soul, instead of describing the human
soul producing those thoughts under the influence of nature, or, if
you will, drawing out the thoughts inherent in nature and expressed
to the soul of the listener in the nightingale's song. For
surely the great and eternal truths of God lie hid in the heart of
nature, as heat lies imprisoned in the black heart of the coal, and
only the God-given fire of human thought has power to draw them
forth into life. Not that a poet is necessarily untrue when he
puts into the mouth of nature human thought, so long as that thought
is in harmony with nature. But there is an incongruity (or so
at least it seems to me) in a nightingale having "the wit to tell
life's central thought," and "sing our loftiest dream that we
thought none did know."
The chief fault of Jean Ingelow's poetry is, surely, that it
is often too fanciful to be true. One is reminded in reading
it of a deep saying of that great and beautiful thinker whom I have
already quoted—"Fancy plays like a squirrel in its circular prison,
and is happy; but Imagination is a pilgrim on the earth, and her
home is in heaven." She fails most when she tries to go
deepest. Her writing is essentially feminine; her strength
lies in delicacy of imagination, power of description, warm human
sympathies, deep religious sentiments and emotions. Whenever
she becomes metaphysical, whenever she begins to reason deeply, she
becomes obscure and often laboured. Take, for instance, the
poem called "Honours", especially
the second part. The Subject is not an original; it deals with
the old problems and difficulties of life; but there is a vagueness
and want of consecutive argument, clearness, and comprehension in
its treatment, so that the reader is apt to get tired and impatient
with the effort to follow the tangled thread of the poet's thought.
Near the end of the poem she rises to a far more congenial sphere of
religious feeling, and instantly becomes beautify and interesting.
It is the Same with "Scholar and Carpenter"; a poem of a far higher
order, I venture to think, and the fault is even more pronounced in
some of the "Songs on the Voices of
Birds," and in the "Song of the Uncommunicated Ideal," a poem as
vaguer and obscure as its title.
It is as a ballad-writer, a story-teller in verse, that Miss
Ingelow is at her best. She has a great power of telling a
story, especially a pathetic story. I think that "Laurance,"
"Brothers and a Sermon," and "The
Dreams that came True," are good specimens of her stories in
verse, as "Persephone" and the "High
Tide" are the most striking of her ballads properly so called.
The sermon in "Brothers and a Sermon" is perhaps the best poem she
has ever written. It is full of deep religious feeling—not
merely religious sentiment, but real, living, practical faith in a
personal God—faith which finds expression in deep, passionate
sympathy with human suffering. No one can read it without
being elevated, or at least impressed, by its sublime earnestness,
without being touched by its heartrending pictures of human misery
in the stories of "The Drunkard's Wife," and of "The Outcast Woman,"
by the exquisite contrast between human cruelty and hardness and the
Divine tenderness and compassion.
I cannot forbear to quote a few lines which to my mind are
especially beautiful. The preacher is describing a wife
listening to her husband's drunken song, as he comes home across the
"O thou poor soul, it is the night—the night;
Against thy door drifts up the silent snow,
Blocking thy threshold: 'Fall,' thou sayest, 'fall, fall,
Cold snow, and lie and be trod underfoot.
Am not I fallen? Wake up, and pipe, O wind,
Dull wind, and beat and bluster at my door;
Merciful wind, sing me a hoarse rough song,
For there is other music made to-night
That I would fain not hear. Wake, thou still sea,
Heavily plunge. Shoot on, white waterfall.
O, I could long, like thy cold icicles,
Freeze, freeze, and hang upon the frosty cliff.
And not complain, so I might melt at last.
In the warm summer sun, as thou wilt do!
"'But woe is me! I think there is no sun;
My sun is sunken, and the night grows dark;
None care for me. The children cry for bread,
And I have none, and nought can comfort me;
Even if the heavens were free to such as I,
It were not much, for death is long to wait,
And heaven is far to go!'
"And speakest thou thus,
Despairing of the sun that sets to thee,
And of the earthly love that wanes to thee,
And of the heaven that lieth far from theirs?
Peace, peace, fond fool! One draweth near thy door
Whose footsteps leave no print across the snow;
Thy sun has risen with comfort in His face,
The smile of heaven, to warm thy frozen heart,
And bless with saintly hand. What! is it long
To wait and far to go? Thou shalt not go;
Behold, across the snow to thee he comes,
Thy heaven desends, and is it long to wait?
Thou shalt not wait: 'This night, this ,night,' He saith,'
I stand at the door and knock.'"
Jean Ingelow is probably more widely read as a novelist than
as a poet. It is the taste of the age to prefer prose to
poetry, and the fashion just now with many writers to extol
prose-poetry at the expense of verse. Miss Ingelow herself,
poet as she is, speaks slightingly of versifying in one of her
latest stories, "John Jerome." True, a poet is not only, or
necessarily, a writer of verses. There been plenty of
"glorious poets that never have written a line," and plenty more,
like Macdonald, who have written excellent prose-poems. "He
who forgives not is not forgiven, and the prayer of the Pharisee is
as the weary beating of the surf of hell, while the cry of a soul
out of its fire sets the heart-strings of love trebling." None
but a poet could have written that, and no setting of rhyme and
metre could make the poem more perfect. And yet the poet—not
the versemaker—has a higher claim to our gratitude in verse than in
prose, for many reasons, of which three will suffice:
(1) Verse is more difficult than prose. It costs more
labour, and therefore deserves to be rated higher.
(2) Verse is essence of thought, concentrated, condensed, and
therefore more forcible than prose, which, however beautiful in
form, must of necessity be more prolix and diffuse.
(3) Verse is, generally speaking, a more beautiful setting
than prose. I grant that the passage from George Macdonald
just quoted is an exception to this rule. But is it not so
just because it is so rhythmic, so melodious, that it seems prose
trembling on the very verge of averse?
The ordinary prose-poet hews his thought, like gold, from the
mine of his mind, and offers it to the world in the rough; the
verse-poet, after that he has hewn it from the mine, melts it in the
crucible of emotion, stamps it with the impress of his soul's
labour, and sends it forth to the world in a form that will ring on
when the equally golden thought of the prose-poet has, from its
inferiority of form, been lost and forgotten.
K. E. COLEMAN.
[by JEAN INGELOW:
"The motif stems to be hackneyed; but it is
not so, for here we have the time-honored expedient of changing children
at nurse treated in an entirely unprecedented, and yet perfectly
plausible fashion. The irresponsible young wet-nurse whose
imagination has been fired, and her head head turned, by an immense
consumption of the fiction furnished by a cheap circulating library,
makes, in the first instance instance, in mere wantonness, the
experiment of substituting her child for the one which had been confided
— somewhat too unquestioningly — to her care, while a severe epidemic of
scarlatina took its long course through the nursery of her employers.
Again a chain of curious and very creditably-devised chances favor —
almost necessitate — the maintenance of the deception; and at length it
comes about, through the sudden death, by accident, of her accomplice in
the dangerous game she had been playing, that the nurse herself is not
entirely certain whether it is the Johnstone baby or hers which the
family reclaim, while she is herself prostrated by severe illness.
The frightened woman keeps her guilty and yet rather absurd secret for a
little while, but then the miserable confession will out, and the
unhappy parents who have been the victims of this enraging trick find
that they can do no better than pack the unprincipled nurse off to
Australia, adopts this other child, and bring up the twin boys exactly
alike. The history of the growth of their characters, and the
development of their fates, is a singular and affecting one. It is
the best told of Miss Ingelow's tales, — the most direct and dramatic
and symmetrical; and, in short, Don John is, to our mind, a beautiful
little story; a finished and charming specimen of that minor English
fiction which is often as good, from a literary point of view, as the
best produced elsewhere." [Atlantic.
AN UNCONVENTIONAL NOVEL.
JOHN JEROME. HIS THOUGHTS AND WAYS. A Book without a
Beginning. By JEAN INGELOW, Boston: ROBERTS BROTHERS.
If Jean Ingelow were of the masculine gender we might describe the
author of "John Jerome" as making romance in shirt sleeves, so free and
easy are the methods. You know from the subtitle that it is a
story without a beginning, which means, we suppose, that a romance may
commence anywhere. Precise readers, accustomed to the cut and
dried ways of romance, may not appreciate the introduction to "John
Jerome," for it is rather intangible at best and uncertain. John
Jerome hunts the larvæ of lepidopterous
insects, teaches little village boys to distinguish the differences
between ordinary caterpillars and silkworms, and takes a decided
interest in the ailanthus. John Jerome has a limp. Some
years before in England, where the story takes place, two little girls
had broken through the ice, and John Jerome had saved them but had been
hurt in the rescue, and rheumatism had set in, and he had been slightly
crippled. Katharina and Anna, his cousins, were the young women he
had saved. Grateful? Of course they were. The girls
loved their savior, but Alma had married later a very queer man,
Godfrey, and Katharina had engaged herself to another. With
Katharina John Jerome's relationship is of the happiest kind, and it is
at her instigation that he writers the book.
"John Jerome" is endowed with many original ideas.
Occasionally he has a bad fit of spleen, and is wont to argue his
conditions of mind with himself in dialogues where "I" and "myself"
interchange ideas. If a man is dissatisfied with everything the
following is presented as an infallible receipt for a cure: You choose
two Japanese fans with magenta sunsets, a half pint of raw green
gooseberries, and three cats, and you establish yourself near a tallow
chandler's, and you "eat the gooseberries, beat the cats, and look hard
at the screens, considering remorsefully all the time how we have ruined
the taste of the Japanese for art and given them nothing to make up for
the loss. When you have set your teeth on edge with the
gooseberries, and are chilled to the bone with the east wind, and have
breathed the odors of tallow and listened to the discord of the cats,
release them and return home." Jean Ingelow indulges in many
whimsicalities, and is as discursive as Southey in his "Doctor."
Here are disquisitions on female beauty where it is conclusively shown
that the ideal Greek woman had a small head and big feet and that the
beauty of mediæval times had a
vivacious look and not a languid one. Miss Ingelow is not a Vernon
Lee, but her art criticisms are sharp and clever. This may be a
slur on the Rossettians, who admire "a hungry and despairing face, with
a lean, lanky figure, and what our grandmothers called gooseberry eyes."
We idealize "the wrong way." Flattery has made women
Juno-eyed, with feet that won't support her. In the current of the
story Jean Ingelow has her talk about women and women's rights.
John Jerome sees a troop ship depart, and philosophizes on the "girls we
left behind us." What are women's faults? First, she loves
luxury, but principally she never will rise to the height of her
aspirations, because she is wanting in the power of organization, and
her greatest defect is that "she does not love her own, she loves the
more selfish sex." In man there is human nature, in woman a vast
deal of human art; and finally Jean Ingelow sums it up when Katharina
remarks, "Women are not angels."
The whimsicalest of all men is Godfrey, who has married Anna.
Godfrey lives in a travelling van, associates with tinkers, he has a
Borrowish flavor. Godfrey is a bit crazy, and so is his wife, but
his method of living in the heather gives Jean Ingelow the opportunity
to write delightfully of nature, and her fine poetical faculties have in
prose their full swing. Katharina is not happy, although John
Jerome is her best friend. Another, which other is Tudor Smutt,
treats the pretty Kathrina as would a cad. Kathrina's grandmother,
from whom she has expected money, her nieces being her prospective
heiresses, suddenly loses her means. Tudor Smutt, who is a snob,
marries Lavinia Cohen, who is greasy but opulent. George Jerome,
with the limp, goes to the United States, where he finds a bone-setter.
A bone-setter is a humbug, and always was one, but there is a dark
closet in the brightest mind. We do not mean to say that the
author believes in the bone-setter, but it looks as if she did.
Anyhow, the bone-setter does his work for the man with the limp, and
Jerome hobbles no more. He comes home, and Katharina, who has
loved him, only believing that she once did care for the prig Smutt,
eventually marries John Jerome, who really after all never had anything
more "than a limp not worth mentioning." Miss Ingelow's book, when
you have done a little plodding at the beginning, opens up briskly and
pleasantly, and the jaunt through the story is a delightful one.
Vol LXXIII., 1894.
CHANGED, by Jean Ingelow. (Harpers.) The
changed motto is; “A little less than
kin, and more than kind,” and presumably has reference to the fact that
the young hero is really only the adopted child of his reputed father,
he having been one of those infants, not uncommon in fiction, who are
found on wrecked vessels, the sole survivors. The not very
interesting love-story of this youth forms the main motive of the tale,
though the heroine’s precocious little brother, — who, when first
introduced to us, is discussing the question “whether we owe any duties
towards vermin,” — unlike his delightful predecessors, the clever and
original children in the author’s earliest novel, is sometimes
distinctly tiresome. This condemnation the story itself could not
escape, — being as it is slight in texture, commonplace in incident, and
weak in characterization, — if it were not so brief in the telling.
Vol. LXXXVIII., 1894.
THE young people of
twenty-five or thirty years ago used to read, with no little interest
and pleasure, certain pretty, healthful stories written for them by Miss
Jean Ingelow, then a comparatively young person herself. They were
all about girls and boys, and a suspicious jackdaw, and minnows with
silver tails, and wild-duck-shooters, and such things, and they did
nobody any harm, although they are now almost forgotten. “Off the
Skelligs” came much later from the same writer, and attracted marked
attention from a more mature class of readers. It was an unusual
tale, of undoubted but unequal merit. Since then Miss Ingelow has
rarely been heard of and it is with a feeling almost of surprise that
her name is found upon the cover of a new novel. A Motto
Changed is not a child’s story altogether, although its heroine
and its hero are very youthful. The lover is just of age, and
young for his years, and the girl he loves is not very high up in her
teens; but fathers and mothers will be touched by their joys and their
sorrows, and sons and daughters will follow them eagerly to the end of
their career, as Miss Ingelow has set it down. There is a funny
little chap of eight or nine who makes remarkable statements about the
duty which mankind owes to vermin; and there is a funnier half-Malay,
half-English, white and brown baby—both of whom will appeal to a very
juvenile set of readers indeed. The book, therefore, is destined
to meet with general popularity, which, without being in any way a great
or an unusual book, it certainly deserves.
NEW YORK TIMES
19 December, 1893.
A Novel by Jean Ingelow.
A MOTTO CHANGED; OR, A LITTLE LESS THAN KIN AND MORE THAN
KIND. A Novel. By Jean
Ingelow. New-York: Harper & Brothers.
Jean Ingelow retains her old faculty for story telling.
She interests you without seeming to make an effort to be interesting,
and with scarcely any apparent artifice. She wastes no time on
elaborate descriptions of places or people. From the opening of
this new novel, a simple love story with plenty of variety of character
and incident, the reader's attention is held closely. She lets her
personages speak for themselves, and they speak well.
Sometimes her English is a little odd for a poet whose songs
are so simple and charming. But "onto" is in the dictionary, and
"presented with" has passed into common speech, even if Mr. Pater and
Mr. James and Mr. Aldrich and others whom we esteem as teachers of
modern English avoid that word and that phrase.
Rhodes Mainwaring is a big, burly, blonde youth of
twenty-one, simple, sound-hearted, unsophisticated, idle, because he has
never had any real inducement to choose a calling, but not lazy and a
real hero. Isabel, whom he loves, is a pretty, ordinary,
well-bred, middle-class girl. The course of their love does not
run smoothly, at first, but its story is very pretty and touching, and
the book is full of delightful humor that belongs to is as a component
part of the fabric.
The characters are all well drawn, especially grave, elderly
Mr. Larkin, who writes "leaders" on important topics, and his little
boy, the son of his second wife, who is the most pleasing example of the
precocious child we have lately met with in fiction. The study of
his infantile mind grappling with scientific problems of its own
invention is most amusing and most natural too. Rowland was
probably taken directly from real life.
NEW YORK TIMES
August 7, 1897.
Of Jean Ingelow.
ANECDOTES ABOUT HER AND FACTS
ABOUT HER BOOKS.
The late Jean Ingelow (giving the "g" in the surname a softened sound)
was born in 1820 in Boston, Lincolnshire. Her father, who was a
banker, moved to Ipswich, and The Academy says that "banking and
Evangelicalism have conspicuously run together in certain families, and
they did in hers. Almost Quakerlike some of her likings and
aversions might he called." Something that she seems to have always
held in horror was human strife, and so in Jean Ingelow's verse there
never is any allusion to war. The call of the bugle, the cry to arms
were distressing sounds to her. She carried this so far that it is
said when she had written in "Kismet" the story of a lad's love for
liberty and his delight in the sea, some critic told her that boys in
reading the book might be fired with the idea of entering the navy.
That so disturbed Jean Ingelow that she took the work and revised it
carefully, changing some of the parts.
Jean Ingelow's early life, her first ambitions, are by no
means easy to follow. Exceedingly modesty, she was particularly
reticent about herself. To those who knew her intimately she would
sometimes express astonishment at her own success. Perfectly quiet
in her manner, she was deliberate in all she did, and she was forty-three
before she published her first acknowledged book of verse.
It is to our credit that appreciation of Jean Ingelow first
came from the United States, and it is possible that she is even better
liked here than in England. Counting the number of volumes purchased
as evidence of merit, it is computed that over 200,000 volumes of Jean
Ingelow's works have found purchasers in this country. Oliver
Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell were among her earliest admirers,
and praise from either of these was praise indeed. "Tennyson was
generous in his encomiums," and above all Ruskin, "whose praise has always
been precious to women, was at her feet."
Jean Ingelow's first collected edition of poems was published
by Messrs. Longman & Co. It was taken up by the public in rather a
deliberate manner. Anyhow, in good time this first edition was
exhausted. Then Miss Ingelow went to London to treat with her
publishers for a second edition. But the Messrs. Longman, so it is
said, rather declined venturing on a second edition. There might
have been risks, so it was intimated, which the house did not deem it
prudent to take then. Miss Ingelow, somewhat disappointed, was
leaving the establishment when she passed a man hurrying up to the office
of the Messrs. Longman, and presently she was asked to return, a messenger
having been sent her. It seems somebody had just asked for 500
copies of "Jean Ingelow's Poems," and at once the necessity of a second
edition became imperative. It had taken some year or more for the
appreciation of her poems to come, but from that time on her merits were
confirmed, and so we have to-day the twenty-third English edition of her
first series of "Poems." "Imagine my feelings of envy and
humiliation," Christina Rossetti is reported to have said when she
received only a volume of the eighteenth edition of "Jean Ingelow's
Poems." The first edition of "Poems by Jean Ingelow" appeared in
1863. Her first volume was "A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and
Feelings," issued anonymously in 1850.
With fairly comfortable means, though Miss Ingelow received
handsome compensation for her works, it is believed that the money she
derived from her copyrights was for the major part dispensed in charity.
She was the most generous of women.
There is an amusing story told relating to nightingales,
which sweet songsters she often Introduces in her verses. But
nightingales were mere hearsays to her, for up to 1868 she had never heard
one. Paying a special visit to some friends who boasted of a grove
in which nightingales warbled, Miss Ingelow went out one May evening to
listen to the bird orchestra. To greet so distinguished an audience
the nightingales were singing their sweetest, and all else were silent.
Then Miss Ingelow said: "Are they singing? I don't hear anything."
The lady was by no means deaf, but the fact is she had forgotten to remove
some cotton from hers ears, for, the evening being damp and raw, she had
been afraid of catching a possible cold.
To pose as a poet was something Jean Ingelow despised.
She liked best to talk plain prose. She carried this so far that
when invited to some dinner as a celebrity, and expected to show off, she
was invariably disappointing. She talked well enough, but discussed
invariably commonplace topics.
To write such fine verse as did Jean Ingelow means that she
had strong powers of concentration. The idea comes, but to make it
grow, to give it leafage and flowers, to endow the blooms with perfume, is
a longer, a slower process. Some one who knew her well says that in
the time when she was writing she did not read much, and she was
"singularly ignorant of contemporaneous literature." Once she
said, "It is a great price to pay for writing successfully, but I dare not
read what others are writing in the same vein. I have such a dread
of unconsciously borrowing their ideas."
Poems that are fully twenty years old must have a vital force
of their own so as to be read to-day. Poets come and poets go, and
their verses reflect the incidents, the feelings of the present moment,
and this is but natural. The flicker of one sunrise is the prelude
of the sombreness of a night which follows, but the sweetness, the
freshness, the naturalness of the true poet are not evanescent.
It is Jean Ingelow's pitying tenderness which leaves its
Impress. How often has not Elizabeth's call to her cows been
Cusha! cusha! cusha! calling
Ere the early dews were falling.
Leave your meadow's grasses mellow,
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow,
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Light-foot,
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow,
[High Tide on the
Coast of Lincolnshire]
What a sweet, sad refrain is here! True grief never
found a more poignant utterance than in these six lines:
Is there never a chink in the world above
Where they listen for words from below?
Nay, I spoke once, and I grieved thee sore,
I remember all that I said,
And now thou wilt hear me no more-no more
Till the sea gives up her dead."
[Supper at the Mill]
The remains of Miss Ingelow were interred in the family grave
at West Brompton Cemetery. Besides relatives and friends present,
there were a number of Americans, chiefly ladies. The Bishop of
Wakefield and the Rev. G. R. Thornton of St. Barnabas's performed the
funeral service. The coffin, which was of polished oak, with brass
mountings, bore upon the breastplate the words, "Jean Ingelow. Born March
17, 1820; died July 20, 1897." Above this was fastened a cross of
roses, and on the card were the words, "Mr. Ruskin. In sorrow and
affectionate memory." A bouquet of sweet mignonette was inscribed,
"Antoinette Sterling. With dear love. There is no death; there
is no beginning or end to life." Maxwell Gray sent a wreath of
laurel leaves, intertwined with gold braid, and the words, "Ave, atque
vale!" After the Bishop of Wakefield had pronounced the benediction,
Mme. Antoinette Sterling by the open grave sang "The Lord Is My Shepherd."
Girls Who Became Famous.
Sarah K. Bolton,
Author of Poor Boys Who Became Famous, Social
Studies in England, etc.
THE same friend who had
given me Mrs. Browning's five volumes in blue and gold, came one day with
a dainty volume just published by Roberts Brothers, of Boston. They
had found a new poet, and one possessing a beautiful name. Possibly
it was a nom de plume, for who had heard any real name so musical
as that of Jean Ingelow?
I took the volume down by the quiet stream that flows below
Amherst College, and day after day, under a grand old tree, read some of
the most musical words, wedded to as pure thought as our century has
The world was just beginning to know The High Tide on the
Coast of Lincolnshire. Eyes were dimming as they read,—
"I looked without, and lo! my sonne
Came riding downe with might and main:
He raised a shout as he drew on,
Till all the welkin rang again,
(A sweeter woman ne'er drew breath
Than my sonne's wife Elizabeth.)
"'The olde sea wall (he cried) is downe,
The rising tide comes on apace,
And boats adrift in yonder towne
Go sailing uppe the market-place.'
He shook as one who looks on death:
'God save you, mother!' straight he saith;
'Where is my wife, Elizabeth?'"
And then the waters laid her body at his very door, and the
sweet voice that called, "Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!" was stilled forever.
The Songs of Seven soon became as household words,
because they were a reflection of real life. Nobody ever pictured a
child more exquisitely than the little seven-year-old, who, rich with the
little knowledge that seems much to a child, looks down from superior
"The lambs that play always, they know no better;
They are only one times one."
So happy is she that she makes boon companions of the
"O brave marshmary buds, rich and yellow,
Give me your honey to hold!
"O columbine, open your folded wrapper,
Where two twin turtle-doves dwell!
O cuckoopint, toll me the purple clapper
That hangs in your clear green bell!"
At "seven times two," who of us has not waited for the great
heavy curtains of the future to be drawn aside?
"I wish and I wish that the spring would go faster,
Nor long summer bide so late;
And I could grow on, like the fox-glove and aster,
For some things are ill to wait."
At twenty-one the girl's heart flutters with expectancy:—
"I leaned out of window, I smelt the white clover,
Dark, dark was the garden, I saw not the gate;
Now, if there be footsteps, he comes, my one lover;
Hush nightingale, hush! O sweet nightingale wait
Till I listen and hear
If a step draweth near,
For my love he is late!"
At twenty-eight, the happy mother lives in a simple home,
made beautiful by her children:—
"Heigho! daisies and buttercups!
Mother shall thread them a daisy chain."
At thirty-five a widow; at forty-two giving up her children
to brighten other homes; at forty-nine, "Longing for Home."
"I had a nestful once of my own,
Ah, happy, happy I!
Right dearly I loved them, but when they were grown
They spread out their wings to fly.
O, one after another they flew away,
Far up to the heavenly blue,
To the better country, the upper day,
And—I wish I was going too."
The Songs of Seven will be read and treasured as long as
there are women in the world to be loved, and men in the world to love
My especial favorite in the volume was the poem Divided.
Never have I seen more exquisite kinship with nature, or more delicate and
tender feeling. Where is there so beautiful a picture as this?
"An empty sky, a world of heather,
Purple of fox-glove, yellow of broom;
We two among them, wading together,
Shaking out honey, treading perfume.
"Crowds of bees are giddy with clover,
Crowds of grasshoppers skip at our feet,
Crowds of larks at their matins hang over,
Thanking the Lord for a life so sweet.
"We two walk till the purple dieth,
And short, dry grass under foot is brown;
But one little streak at a distance lieth
Green like a ribbon to prank the down.
"Over the grass we stepped into it,
And God He knoweth how blithe we were!
Never a voice to bid us eschew it;
Hey the green ribbon that showed so fair!
"A shady freshness, chafers whirring,
A little piping of leaf-hid birds;
A flutter of wings, a fitful stirring,
A cloud to the eastward, snowy as curds.
"Bare, glassy slopes, where kids are tethered;
Round valleys like nests all ferny lined;
Round hills, with fluttering tree-tops feathered,
Swell high in their freckled robes behind.
"Glitters the dew and shines the river,
Up comes the lily and dries her bell;
But two are walking apart forever,
And wave their hands for a mute farewell.
"And yet I know past all doubting, truly—
And knowledge greater than grief can dim—
I know, as he loved, he will love me duly—
Yea, better—e'en better than I love him.
"And as I walk by the vast calm river,
The awful river so dread to see,
I say, 'Thy breadth and thy depth forever
Are bridged by his thoughts that cross to me.'"
In what choice but simple language we are thus told that two
loving hearts cannot be divided.
Years went by, and I was at last to see the author of the
poems I had loved in girlhood. I had wondered how she looked, what was her
manner, and what were her surroundings.
In Kensington, a suburb of London, in a two-story-and-a-half
stone house, cream-colored, lives Jean Ingelow. Tasteful grounds are
in front of the home, and in the rear a large lawn bordered with many
flowers, and conservatories; a real English garden, soft as velvet, and
fragrant as new-mown hay. The house is fit for a poet; roomy,
cheerful, and filled with flowers. One end of the large, double
parlors seemed a bank of azalias and honeysuckles, while great bunches of
yellow primrose and blue forget-me-not were on the tables and in the
But most interesting of all was the poet herself, in middle
life, with fine, womanly face, friendly manner, and cultivated mind.
For an hour we talked of many things in both countries. Miss Ingelow
showed great familiarity with American literature and with our national
While everything about her indicated deep love for poetry,
and a keen sense of the beautiful, her conversation, fluent and admirable,
showed her to be eminently practical and sensible, without a touch of
sentimentality. Her first work in life seems to be the making of her
two brothers happy in the home. She usually spends her forenoons in
writing. She does her literary work thoroughly, keeping her
productions a long time before they are put into print. As she is never in
robust health, she gives little time to society, and passes her winters in
the South of France or Italy. A letter dated Feb. 25, from the Alps
Maritime, at Cannes, says, "This lovely spot is full of flowers, birds,
and butterflies." Who that recalls her Songs on the Voices of Birds,
the blackbird, and the nightingale, will not appreciate her happiness with
With great fondness for, and pride in, her own country, she
has the most kindly feelings toward America and her people. She says
in the preface of her novel, Fated to be Free, concerning this work and
Off the Skelligs, "I am told that they are peculiar; and I feel that they
must be so, for most stories of human life are, or at least aim at being,
works of art—selections of interesting portions of life, and fitting
incidents put together and presented as a picture is; and I have not aimed
at producing a work of art at all, but a piece of nature." And then
she goes on to explain her position to "her American friends," for, she
says, "I am sure you more than deserve of me some efforts to please you.
I seldom have an opportunity of saying how truly I think so."
Jean Ingelow's life has been a quiet but busy and earnest
one. She was born in the quaint old city of Boston, England, in 1830
[ED.—in fact 1820]. Her father was a well-to-do banker; her
mother a cultivated woman of Scotch descent, from Aberdeenshire.
Jean grew to womanhood in the midst of eleven brothers and sisters,
without the fate of struggle and poverty, so common among the great.
She writes to a friend concerning her childhood:—
"As a child, I was very happy at times,
and generally wondering at something.... I was uncommonly like other
children.... I remember seeing a star, and that my mother told me of God
who lived up there and made the star. This was on a summer evening.
It was my first hearing of God, and made a great impression on my mind.
I remember better than anything that certain ecstatic sensations of joy
used to get hold of me, and that I used to creep into corners to think out
my thoughts by myself. I was, however, extremely timid, and easily
overawed by fear. We had a lofty nursery with a bow-window that
overlooked the river. My brother and I were constantly wondering at
this river. The coming up of the tides, and the ships, and the jolly
gangs of towers ragging them on with a monotonous song made a daily
delight for us. The washing of the water, the sunshine upon it, and
the reflections of the waves on our nursery ceiling supplied hours of talk
to us, and days of pleasure. At this time, being three years old,
... I learned my letters.... I used to think a good deal, especially about
the origin of things. People said often that they had been in this
world, that house, that nursery, before I came. I thought everything
must have begun when I did.... No doubt other children have such
thoughts, but few remember them. Indeed, nothing is more remarkable
among intelligent people than the recollections they retain of their early
childhood. A few, as I do, remember it all. Many remember
nothing whatever which occurred before they were five years old.... I have
suffered much from a feeling of shyness and reserve, and I have not been
able to do things by trying to do them. What comes to me comes of
its own accord, and almost in spite of me; and I have hardly any power
when verses are once written to make them any better.... There were
no hardships in my youth, but care was bestowed on me and my brothers and
sisters by a father and mother who were both cultivated people."
To another friend she writes:
"I suppose I may take for granted that
mine was the poetic temperament, and since there are no thrilling
incidents to relate, you may think you should like to have my views as to
what that means. I cannot tell you in an hour, or even in a day, for
it means so much. I suppose it, of its absence or presence, to make
far more difference between one person and another than any contrast of
circumstances can do. The possessor does not have it for nothing.
It isolates, particularly in childhood; it takes away some common
blessings, but then it consoles for them all."
With this poetic temperament, that saw beauty in flower, and
sky, and bird, that felt keenly all the sorrow and all the happiness of
the world about her, that wrote of life rather than art, because to live
rightly was the whole problem of human existence, with this poetic
temperament, the girl grew to womanhood in the city bordering on the sea.
Boston, at the mouth of the Witham, was once a famous
seaport, the rival of London in commercial prosperity, in the thirteenth
century. It was the site of the famous monastery of St. Botolph,
built by a pious monk in 657. The town which grew up around it was
called Botolph's town, contracted finally to Boston. From this town
Reverend John Cotton came to America, and gave the name to the capital of
Massachusetts, in which he settled. The present famous old church of
St. Botolph was founded in 1309, having a bell-tower three hundred feet
high, which supports a lantern visible at sea for forty miles.
The surrounding country is made up largely of marshes
reclaimed from the sea, which are called fens, and slightly elevated
tracts of land called moors. Here Jean Ingelow studied the green
meadows and the ever-changing ocean.
Her first book, A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and
Feelings, was published in 1850, when she was twenty, and a novel, Allerton and Dreux, in 1851; nine years later her
Tales of Orris.
But her fame came at thirty-three, when her first full book of Poems
was published in 1863. This was dedicated to a much loved brother,
George K. Ingelow:—
"YOUR LOVING SISTER
OFFERS YOU THESE POEMS, PARTLY AS
AN EXPRESSION OF HER AFFECTION, PARTLY FOR THE
PLEASURE OF CONNECTING HER EFFORT
WITH YOUR NAME."
The press everywhere gave flattering notices. A new
singer had come; not one whose life had been spent in the study of Greek
roots, simply, but one who had studied nature and humanity. She had
a message to give the world, and she gave it well. It was a message
of good cheer, of earnest purpose, of contentment and hope.
"What though unmarked the happy workman toil,
And break unthanked of man the stubborn clod?
It is enough, for sacred is the soil,
Dear are the hills of God.
"Far better in its place the lowliest bird
Should sing aright to him the lowliest song,
Than that a seraph strayed should take the word
And sing his glory wrong."
"But like a river, blest where'er it flows,
Be still receiving while it still bestows."
Goes best with those who take it best.
—it is well
For us to be as happy as we can!"
"Work is its own best earthly meed,
Else have we none more than the sea-born throng
Who wrought those marvellous isles that bloom afar."
The London press said:
"Miss Ingelow's new volume exhibits abundant evidence that
time, study, and devotion to her vocation have both elevated and welcomed
the powers of the most gifted poetess we possess, now that Elizabeth
Barrett Browning and Adelaide Proctor sing no more on earth. Lincolnshire
has claims to be considered the Arcadia of England at present, having
given birth to Mr. Tennyson and our present Lady Laureate."
The press of America was not less cordial. "Except Mrs.
Browning, Jean Ingelow is first among the women whom the world calls
poets," said the Independent.
The songs touched the popular heart, and some, set to music,
were sung at numberless firesides. Who has not heard the Sailing
"Methought the stars were blinking bright,
And the old brig's sails unfurled;
I said, 'I will sail to my love this night
At the other side of the world.'
I stepped aboard,—we sailed so fast,—
The sun shot up from the bourne;
But a dove that perched upon the mast
Did mourn, and mourn, and mourn.
O fair dove! O fond dove!
And dove with the white breast,
Let me alone, the dream is my own,
And my heart is full of rest.
"My love! He stood at my right hand,
His eyes were grave and sweet.
Methought he said, 'In this fair land,
O, is it thus we meet?
Ah, maid most dear, I am not here;
I have no place,—no part,—
No dwelling more by sea or shore!
But only in thy heart!'
O fair dove! O fond dove!
Till night rose over the bourne,
The dove on the mast as we sailed past,
Did mourn, and mourn, and mourn."
Edmund Clarence Stedman, one of the ablest and fairest among American
"As the voice of Mrs. Browning grew silent, the songs of
Miss Ingelow began, and had instant and merited popularity. They sprang up
suddenly and tunefully as skylarks from the daisy-spangled,
hawthorn-bordered meadows of old England, with a blitheness long unknown,
and in their idyllic underflights moved with the tenderest currents of
human life. Miss Ingelow may be termed an idyllic lyrist, her lyrical
pieces having always much idyllic beauty. High Tide, Winstanley, Songs of
Seven, and the Long White Seam are lyrical treasures, and the author
especially may be said to evince that sincerity which is poetry's most
Winstanley is especially full of pathos and action. We watch this heroic
man as he builds the lighthouse on the Eddystone rocks:—
"Then he and the sea began their strife,
And worked with power and might:
Whatever the man reared up by day
The sea broke down by night.
* * * * *
"A Scottish schooner made the port
The thirteenth day at e'en:
'As I am a man,' the captain cried,
'A strange sight I have seen;
"'And a strange sound heard, my masters all,
At sea, in the fog and the rain,
Like shipwrights' hammers tapping low,
Then loud, then low again.
"'And a stately house one instant showed,
Through a rift, on the vessel's lea;
What manner of creatures may be those
That build upon the sea?'"
After the lighthouse was built, Winstanley went out again to see his
precious tower. A fearful storm came up, and the tower and its builder
went down together.
Several books have come from Miss Ingelow's pen since 1863. The following
year, Studies for Stories was published, of which the Athenæum said,
"They are prose poems, carefully meditated, and exquisitely touched in by
a teacher ready to sympathize with every joy and sorrow." The five stories
are told in simple and clear language, and without slang, to which she
heartily objects. For one so rich in imagination as Miss Ingelow, her
prose is singularly free from obscurity and florid language.
Stories told to a Child was published in 1865, and
A Story of Doom, and
Other Poems, in 1868, the principal poem being drawn from the time of the
Deluge. Mopsa the Fairy, an exquisite story, followed a year later, with
Sister's Bye-hours, and since that time, Off the Skelligs in 1872,
to be Free in 1875, Sarah de Berenger in 1879, Don John in 1881, and
of the Old Days and the New, recently issued. Of the latter, the poet
Stoddard says: "Beyond all the women of the Victorian era, she is the most
of an Elizabethan . . . . She has tracked the ocean journeyings of Drake,
Raleigh, and Frobisher, and others to whom the Spanish main was a second
home, the El Dorado of which Columbus and his followers dreamed in their
stormy slumbers . . . . The first of her poems in this volume, Rosamund, is a
masterly battle idyl."
Her books have had large sale, both here and in Europe. It is stated that
in this country one hundred thousand of her Poems have been sold, and half
that number of her prose works.
Miss Ingelow has not been elated by her deserved success. She has told the
world very little of herself in her books. She once wrote a friend:—
far from agreeing with you 'that it is rather too bad when we read
people's works, if they won't let us know anything about themselves.' I
consider that an author should, during life, be as much as possible,
impersonal. I never import myself into my writings, and am much better
pleased that others should feel an interest in me, and wish to know
something of me, than that they should complain of egotism."
It is said that the last of her Songs with Preludes refers to a
brother who lies buried in Australia:—
"I stand on the bridge where last we stood
When delicate leaves were young;
The children called us from yonder wood,
While a mated blackbird sung.
* * * * *
"But if all loved, as the few can love,
This world would seldom be well;
And who need wish, if he dwells above,
For a deep, a long death-knell?
"There are four or five, who, passing this place,
While they live will name me yet;
And when I am gone will think on my face,
And feel a kind of regret."
With all her literary work, she does not forget to do good personally. At
one time she instituted a "copyright dinner," at her own expense, which
she thus described to a friend: "I have set up a dinner-table for the sick
poor, or rather, for such persons as are just out of the hospitals, and
are hungry, and yet not strong enough to work. We have about twelve to
dinner three times a week, and hope to continue the plan. It is such a
comfort to see the good it does. I find it one of the great pleasures of
writing, that it gives me more command of money for such purposes than
falls to the lot of most women." Again, she writes to an American friend:
"I should be much obliged to you if you would give in my name twenty-five
dollars to some charity in Boston. I should prefer such a one as does not
belong to any party in particular, such as a city infirmary or orphan
school. I do not like to draw money from your country, and give none in
Miss Ingelow is very fond of children, and herein is, perhaps, one secret
of her success. In Off the Skelligs she says:—
"Some people appear to feel
that they are much wiser, much nearer to the truth and to realities, than
they were when they were children. They think of childhood as immeasurably
beneath and behind them. I have never been able to join in such a notion. It often seems to me that we lose quite as much as we gain by our
lengthened sojourn here. I should not at all wonder if the thoughts of our
childhood, when we look back on it after the rending of this vail of our
humanity, should prove less unlike what we were intended to derive from
the teaching of life, nature, and revelation, than the thoughts of our
more sophisticated days."
Best of all, this true woman and true poet as well, like Emerson, sees and
believes in the progress of the race . . . .
"Still humanity grows dearer,
Being learned the more,"
. . . .
she says, in that tender poem, A Mother showing the Portrait of her Child. Blessèd optimism! that amid all the shortcomings of human nature sees the
best, lifts souls upward, and helps to make the world sunny by its
"Recollections of Fifty Years"
ISABELLA FYVIE MAYO
I met my girlhood's correspondent, Jean Ingelow, at the
Halls' house [Ed.―Mrs. S. C. Hall, née
Fielding], when they were her neighbours in Holland Street. She
was a kind-looking, pleasant, middle-aged lady, with a fresh complexion
and brown hair, who cannot be better described than by saying that she
was very like her own writings. She looked a thoroughly wholesome,
practical person. Dr. Japp [Ed. ―Alexander
Japp] said to me long afterwards that she had always seemed to him the
very type of a country banker's maiden sister. In the course of our
conversation she said to me, with an air of solicitude, that she hoped I
took care that my publishers were doing me justice. She was a woman who
hated personal publicity. In advanced age, not very long before her
death, she showed some impatience towards a publisher who was anxious to
secure a new photograph of her. Something of this reserve she must have
carried into her private life, for one of her biographers has told us
that nothing was ever known of the end of her one shadowy love-affair
with a young naval officer. Long before I heard this I had written
that, whether or not it be true that every author's work is for ever
haunted by one dominant idea, we might certainly say that the paramount
note of Jean Ingelow's writing was of clinging love mysteriously
severed. Think of "Divided," of the creepy "House in the Dell," and of
the thread underlying so many of the plots of her stories.
Yet not even all Jean Ingelow's dignity and reserve could save her
from intrusive gossip. Some may remember that once it was freely
whispered that she was likely to become the second wife of Robert
Browning. There were absolutely no grounds for this rumour, which, if
it reached her, doubtless gave her pain, and is conceivably the reason
why, as her biographer puts it, "the acquaintance between the two poets
never ripened into intimacy." While the rumour was current Mrs. S. C.
Hall told me that Gerald Massey, who had felt as much admiration for the
poet as for her poems, had offered her his hand, he being then a widower
with a young family. He confided to Mrs. Hall that Jean Ingelow had
replied most kindly, but had assured him that her acceptance of his
offer was "absolutely impossible." "Now, nothing could make my offer
impossible," said he naively, "save the existence of an already-accepted
lover. Who is visiting the Ingelow' house just now? Why, Robert
Browning has been seen there! It must be he." And so the rumour
rose—an inference transformed into an assertion.
Dean Kitchin, who knew the Ingelow family in their youth, says that
he thinks "Jean" Ingelow was then but plain "Jane."
On the day when Queen Victoria went to St. Paul's to return
thanks for the Prince of Wales's recovery from dangerous illness, we
were invited to witness the procession from 56, Ludgate Hill, the
offices of Good Words and the Sunday Magazine. . . . So we
arrived in Ludgate Hill soon after St. Paul's clock struck 6 a.m. We
were not at all too soon; the street was already full, and we heard
afterwards that some of the people had taken up their positions the
night before, and had come well provided with food! . . . . With Pinwell,
the artist, and his sweet young wife we had some very pleasant talk
during those hours of waiting for the procession. Mr. Pinwell had
illustrated one or two of my stories, and some of his drawings had
delighted me by their evidence of his comprehension of my "characters,"
often a very sore point as between writer and artist. He was a
pleasant-looking, genial man, well-built, with a healthy country
complexion—the last man whom one would have thought destined to an early
Jean Ingelow was there, keenly interested to watch the crowd, and
she actually persuaded two gentlemen (Dr. Donald MacLeod was one of
them) to take her out into it, so thoroughly did she enjoy contact with
happy, homely humanity. She expressed herself as pained to see that Dr.
George Macdonald's young daughters had brought play-books with them,
which they read, instead of throwing themselves heart and soul into the
humours of the animated scene before them.
So far as I can tell, Jean's note reads as follows . . .
5 Holland Villas Road
Dear Mr Maitland
I am asking a blind lady a very charming woman to come in to
afternoon tea Saturday at four o'clock. Are you
inclined or at liberty to come too.
We shall be an extremely small party and you must know that
my poor friend would like to hear music such as yours!
I can hardly mention such horrid weather to say how much
pleased I should be to have your mother also & Mrs
Maitland but if the weather is tolerable tomorrow I shall
if possible come & ask her personally.
Very sincerely yours
you can offer other suggestions for the final paragraph, I
would be pleased to hear from you.