Edmund Gosse’s anthology, English Odes, was published by Kegan Paul in 1881. Among the odes suggested him by RLS, he did not include Dryden’s ‘Threnodia Augustalis’, the ode on the death of Charles II.
John Addington Symonds, translator, biographer and historian of the Italian Renaissance, had established his home at Davos in search of cure for tubercolosis.
[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 752.]
To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 17-18]
Hôtel Bélvedère, Davos. [December 6, 1880.]
My dear Weg,
I have many letters that I ought to write in preference to this; but a duty to letters and to you prevails over any private consideration. You are going to collect odes; I could not wish a better man to do so; but I tremble lest you should commit two sins of omission. You will not, I am sure, be so far left to yourself as to give us no more of Dryden than the hackneyed St. Cecilia;
I know you will give us some others of those surprising masterpieces where there is more sustained eloquence and harmony of English numbers than in all that has been written since; there is a machine about a poetical young lady, and another about either Charles or James, I know not which; and they are both indescribably fine.(Is Marvell’s Horatian Ode good enough? I half think so.)
But my great point is a fear that you are one of those who are unjust to our old Tennyson’s Duke of Wellington.I have just been talking it over with Symonds;
and we agreed that whether for its metrical effects, for its brief, plain, stirring words of portraiture, as – he ‘that never lost an English gun,’ or – the soldier salute; or for the heroic apostrophe to Nelson; that ode has never been surpassed in any tongue or time. Grant me the Duke, O Weg!I suppose you must not put in yours about the warship; you will have to admit worse ones, however. – Ever yours,