[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1176.]
To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 155-156]
[Hyères, November 1883]
My dear Gosse,
I have now leisurely read your volume; pretty soon, by the way, you will receive one of mine.
It is a pleasant, instructive, and scholarly volume. The three best being, quite out of sight – Crashaw, Otway, and Etherege. They are excellent; I hesitate between them; but perhaps Crashaw is the most brilliant.
Your Webster is not my Webster; nor your Herrick my Herrick.
On these matters we must fire a gun to leeward, show our colours, and go by. Argument is impossible. They are two of my favourite authors: Herrick above all: I suppose they are two of yours. Well, Janus-like, they do behold us two with diverse countenances, few features are common to these different avatars;
and we can but agree to differ, but still with gratitude to our entertainers, like two guests at the same dinner, one of whom takes clear and one white soup.
By my way of thinking, neither of us need be wrong.
The other papers are all interesting, adequate, clear, and with a pleasant spice of the romantic. It is a book you may be well pleased to have so finished, and will do you much good. The Crashaw is capital: capital; I like the taste of it. Preface clean and dignified.
The handling throughout workmanlike, with some four or five touches of preciosity, which I regret.
With my thanks for information, entertainment, and a pleasurable envy here and there. – Yours affectionately,