[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and criticaledition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1374.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 264-265]
Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, [? 6] January 1885
Dear S. C.,
I have addressed a letter to the G.O.M. à propos of Wellington; and I became aware, you will be interested to hear, of an overwhelming respect for the old gentleman.
I can blaguer his failures; but when you actually address him, and bring the two statures and records to confrontation, dismay is the result. By mere continuance of years, he must impose; the man who helped to rule England before I was conceived, strikes me with a new sense of greatness and antiquity, when I must actually beard him with the cold forms of correspondence. I shied at the necessity of calling him plain ‘Sir’! Had he been ‘My lord,’ I had been happier; no, I am no equalitarian. Honour to whom honour is due; and if to none, why, then, honour to the old!
These, O Slade Professor, are my unvarnished sentiments: I was a little surprised to find them so extreme, and therefore I communicate the fact.
Belabour thy brains, as to whom it would be well to question. I have a small space; I wish to make a popular book, nowhere obscure, nowhere, if it can be helped, unhuman. It seems to me the most hopeful plan to tell the tale, so far as may be, by anecdote. He did not die till so recently, there must be hundreds who remember him, and thousands who have still ungarnered stories.
Dear man, to the breach! Up, soldier of the iron dook, up, Slades, and at ’em! (which, conclusively, he did not say: the at ’em! theory is to be dismissed). You know piles of fellows who must reek with matter; help! help!
I am going to try Happy-and-Glorious-long-to-reign-over-us. H.M. must remember things: and it is my belief, if my letter could be discreetly introduced, she would like to tell them […].
So I jest, when I don’t address my mind to it: when I do, shall I be smit louting to my knee, as before the G.O.M.? Problème! — Yours ever,