LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Catherine Fanshawe to Samuel Rogers, 18 August 1828

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Dover: 18th August (1828).

‘Dear Mr. Rogers,—This is a P.P.C. card, for we are purposing in less than three weeks to traverse a little sea and much dry land (if any land be dry in such a season) and pass the coming winter at Nice. Last winter my dear invalid used to wish herself there per wishing cap, but I call for your congratulations on her now being sufficiently recovered to intend working her way thither by steam and coach, and your very good wishes I depend on receiving for those I hereby send you, together with the hope that we may all have a happy meeting next spring in London. I have a confused recollection of your having had some thoughts of visiting Switzerland in the course of the summer. In that case I hope that my adieux will not follow you, for they are certainly not worth 1s. 11d., though acting as cover to the impertinence of talking over with you, in the only way left me, your “Italy,” Part the Second. Really, it would
be ungrateful not to thank you for the great pleasure it has given me—just given—for we don’t deal in poetry in Dover, but Mr. Bigge, whom perhaps you know, happily brought it with him. Will you have a list of my favorite poems? The opening of the first, “Rome”: oh! how it recalls my feelings when first looking round me there, save that my historical recollections were few, and classical I of course had none. “The Campagna,” of which so much has been said and sung, but never half so well. The whole as a composition is so fine, the succession of pictures so vivid, and the details as distinct and spirited as in the shield of Achilles. “The Tomb of Caius Cestius” strikes me as original, and is very touching; “The Nun” exquisite; “The Fountain,” methinks, I had before seen and admired in Part the First, but it is with everything else I want in Berkeley Square; the piece called “A Character,” not for the sake of Montrioli’s, but of the just and beautiful sentiments it calls forth; lastly, “The Felucca.” I believe people now make verse by steam, for one cannot otherwise account for the facility with which anyone writes it. Rhyme, metre, elegance, and even spirit are grown quite common—such brilliant execution and so little invention, design, or expression. All this drives the real poet to the utmost confines of simplicity, and Mr. Rogers’s Muse, conscious of her genuine loveliness, disdained, perhaps too much, the aid of ornament, and when first she visited Italy lost some of her attractions. I am glad to see her again wearing, not for display, but as proper to her rank, some choice jewels—for example—
‘When Raphael and his school to Florence came,
Filling the land with splendour.


‘I forget which poem this is in, but ’tis no solitary instance. That volume, consisting chiefly of narrative pieces and in a lower key of sentiment, I much wished had been written in prose, or interspersed with some, and now my wish is gratified. You know not your own strength in prose. It is almost an exploded art; its perfection lies in the simplicity and conciseness for which you stand unrivalled. Without the affectation of either, there is not to be found a superfluous word or sentence. All who know how to read can understand you, and all who examine style must feel the real elegance of yours. I am sure you have a virtuous horror of the slang and jargon that are now thrusting honest old English off the stage. Such overcharged epithets, such perpetual allusion to arts, sciences, and manufactures! Then, one is so palled with quotations from Shakespeare that one wishes for sumptuary laws to restrain the use of him. Some law you will desire to restrain my sputtering, but what cross fit would not be cured by your chapter on “Foreign Travel”? It is quite delicious, as Mrs. Weddell would say, and specially palatable to us vagabonds. “National Prejudices,” exactly my own thoughts on the subject, which I thank you for clothing with your own language. How this little book is liked by the world I have no means of knowing, but to one small individual it has given unmingled pleasure from the union of so much goodness and benevolence with so much talent.

‘Dover is a charming place, especially, as Gray says of Cambridge, when there is nobody in it. Next to very good society is the comfort of no society at all, or very very little, which is happily our case. Living close to
the sea, it affords an incessant and infinite variety, and is a noble object even in its gloomiest moods. Its bright ones have not affected my eyes, which suffer a little at times during long continuance of wet, but recovered as soon as I left my beautiful enemy, the Thames. Of chalk cliffs these are, as you must know, but never perhaps stayed to make their acquaintance, the finest and boldest imaginable, and the little old town and bay I delight in. The humours of the pier do not come into our account, and we have profited only by two or three of the birds of passage who know us to be here.

‘It is high time to bring this bavardage to a conclusion, so, with kind regards to Miss Rogers, I beg you to believe me,

‘Your sincerely obliged,
C. M. Fanshawe.’