Swinburne: A Literary Biography

By Georges Lafourcade | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
'WHERE THE WET HILL-WINDS WEEP' (1879-1909)

THAT Watts's intervention saved Swinburne there cannot be any doubt. From 1879 to the very last years of his life, no mention of ill-health occurs in the correspondence: bilious attacks, indigestion, lack of sleep or appetite, and even accidental falls and lily poisoning disappeared as by magic. One year ( 1880) during which Swinburne did not leave The Pines sufficed to achieve that miracle: regular hours and a gradual weaning from alcoholic excesses were the means used by Watts, but the miracle lies not in the nature of the means applied but in the fact that they proved applicable. In October 1880 lady Jane Swinburne visited The Pines and was amazed at the change in the condition of her son: 'I am so glad to have seen my son well and happy', she wrote to Watts. 'What a contrast to former days!'; and she added, rather unexpectedly: 'The return to the religious faith of his youth I feel is so much more hopeful when that fatal tendency from which he has suffered so much is got the better of'. Swinburne was the first to realize that he owed Watts his life: he submitted, remembering his quarrels with landladies, his endless financial troubles and his near escape from death, to the prospect of remaining at The Pines to the end of his days. His friendship for Watts became, from the end of

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Swinburne: A Literary Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Chapter I Semel Et Semper 1
  • Chapter II Childhood 15
  • Chapter III Eton 31
  • Chapter IV Oxford 51
  • Chapter V Ballads and Poems (1860-1866) 84
  • Chapter VI Songs After Sunset (1866-1872) 145
  • Chapter VII the Coming of Watts (1872-1879) 207
  • Chapter VIII 'Where the Wet Hill-Winds Weep' (1879-1909) 263
  • Bibliographical Note 304
  • Index 309
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