1839 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

Bryan Waller Procter to Mary Russell Mitford, 13 June 1839; in L'Estrange, Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford (1882) 268-69.



My Dear Madam,—

If you will do me the favor to particularize the sort of poem you wish to have for your annual, I will try to find something that may suit it. What is to be illustrated? What is the subject or subjects (supposing one may choose out of several)? And what length is the poem to run? If you have no fixed subjects, what is the general tenor to be — i.e., is it to consist of romance, or what else?

Should I be able to find anything in the shape of rhyme that, with a little extension or alteration, will do, it shall be at your service; but I am afraid of promising anything, unless I have some raw material by me. I am so out of the habit of scribbling anything but law that rhyme is now more difficult than reason to me. And I have many professional engagements on hand that must be attended to, and which will absorb all my hours for some time to come.

But you will, I am sure, be satisfied that, if I say I cannot do anything, I am really unable to do anything. On the other hand, if I can, you shall have it without further apology....

I hope that your geraniums flourish, and that you are meditating something for the press (I mean after you have completed your annual). My wife begs to be kindly remembered to you.

Believe me to be, dear madam, yours very faithfully,

B. W. Procter.