Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Friday, Twenty-fourth January, 1862.
My dear Bulwer Lytton,
I have considered your questions, and here follow my replies.
1. I think you undoubtedly have the right to forbid the turning of your play into an opera.
2. I do not think the production of such an opera in the slightest degree likely to injure the play or to render it a less valuable property than it is now. If it could have any effect on so standard and popular a work as “The Lady of Lyons,” the effect would, in my judgment, be beneficial. But I believe the play to be high above any such influence.
3. Assuming you do consent to the adaptation, in a desire to oblige Oxenford, I would not recommend your asking any pecuniary compensation. This for two reasons: firstly, because the compensation could only be small at the best; secondly, because your taking it would associate you (unreasonably, but not the less assuredly) with the opera.
The only objection I descry is purely one of feeling. Pauline trotting about in front of the float, invoking the orchestra with a limp pocket-handkerchief, is a notion that makes goose-flesh of my back. Also a yelping tenor going away to the wars in a half-an-hour long is painful to contemplate. Damas, too, as a bass, with a grizzled bald head, blatently bellowing about
Years long ago,
When the sound of the drum
First made his blood glow
With a rum ti tum tum—
rather sticks in my throat; but there really seems to me to be no other objection, if you can get over this.
Gad’s Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Saturday, First February, 1862.
My dear Mr. Baylis,
I have just come home. Finding your note, I write to you at once, or you might do me the wrong of supposing me unmindful of it and you.
I agree with you about Smith himself, and I don’t think it necessary to pursue the painful subject. Such things are at an end, I think, for the time being;—fell to the ground with the poor man at Cremorne. If they should be resumed, then they must be attacked; but I hope the fashion (far too much encouraged in its Blondin-beginning by those who should know much better) is over.
It always appears to me that the common people have an excuse in their patronage of such exhibitions which people above them in condition have not. Their lives are full of physical difficulties, and they like to see such difficulties overcome. They go to see them overcome. If I am in danger of falling off a scaffold or a ladder any day, the man who claims that he can’t fall from anything is a very wonderful and agreeable person to me.
Faithfully yours always.
Mr. Henry F. Chorley.
16, Hyde Park Gate, South Kensington Gore, W.,
Saturday, 1st March, 1862.
My dear Chorley,
I was at your lecture this afternoon, and I hope I may venture to tell you that I was extremely pleased and interested. Both the matter of the materials and the manner of their arrangement were quite admirable, and a modesty and complete absence of any kind of affectation pervaded the whole discourse, which was quite an example to the many whom it concerns. If you could be a very little louder, and would never let a sentence go for the thousandth part of an instant until the last word is out, you would find the audience more responsive.
A spoken sentence will never run alone in all its life, and is never to be trusted to itself in its most insignificant member. See it well out—with the voice—and the part of the audience is made surprisingly easier. In that excellent description of the Spanish mendicant and his guitar, as well as the very happy touches about the dance and the castanets, the people were really desirous to express very hearty appreciation; but by giving them rather too much to do in watching and listening for latter words, you stopped them. I take the liberty of making the remark, as one who has fought with beasts (oratorically) in divers arenas. For the rest nothing could be better. Knowledge, ingenuity, neatness, condensation, good sense, and good taste in delightful combination.
Paris, Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, 27,
Friday, Seventh November, 1862.
My dear Letitia,
I should have written to you from here sooner, but for having been constantly occupied.
Your improved account of yourself is very cheering and hopeful. Through determined occupation and action, lies the way. Be sure of it.
I came over to France before Georgina and Mary, and went to Boulogne to meet them coming in by the steamer on the great Sunday—the day of the storm. I stood (holding on with both hands) on the pier at Boulogne, five hours. The Sub-Marine Telegraph had telegraphed their boat as having come out of Folkestone—though the companion boat from Boulogne didn’t try it—and at nine o’clock at night, she being due at six, there were no signs of her. My principal dread was, that she would try to get into Boulogne; which she could not possibly have done without carrying away everything on deck. The tide at nine o’clock being too low for any such desperate attempt, I thought it likely that they had run for the Downs and would knock about there all night. So I went to the Inn to dry my pea-jacket and get some dinner anxiously enough, when, at about ten, came a telegram from them at Calais to say they had run in there. To Calais I went, post, next morning, expecting to find them half-dead (of course, they had arrived half-drowned), but I found them elaborately got up to come on to Paris by the next Train, and the most wonderful thing of all was, that they hardly seem to have been frightened! Of course, they had discovered at the end of the voyage, that a young bride and her husband, the only other passengers on deck, and with whom they had been talking all the time, were an officer from Chatham whom they knew very well (when dry), just married and going to India! So they all set up house-keeping together at Dessin’s at Calais (where I am well known), and looked as if they had been passing a mild summer there.
We have a pretty apartment here, but house-rent is awful to mention. Mrs. Bouncer (muzzled by the Parisian police) is also here, and is a wonderful spectacle to behold in the streets, restrained like a raging Lion.
I learn from an embassy here, that the Emperor has just made an earnest proposal to our Government to unite with France (and Russia, if Russia will) in an appeal to America to stop the brutal war. Our Government’s answer is not yet received, but I think I clearly perceive that the proposal will be declined, on the ground “that the time has not yet come.”