The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne

By Edmund Gosse | Go to book overview

APPENDIX I
SWINBURNE AT ETON

A LETTER FROM LORD REDESDALE

1 KENSINGTON COURTS, May 10, 1912.

MY DEAR GOSSE -- Here are the criticisms which suggest themselves to me on Mr. -----'s letter to the Times about Swinburne's Eton days. You will see that my personal recollections do not tally with his.

Amina, the ghoul of the Arabian Nights, and the archetype of the genus, was a lady. But there are also male ghouls and even sexless ghouls, and it is to a subdivision of the latter that a certain species of literary ghouls must be referred. These batten upon the fame of the illustrious dead. An inspired poet or prophet, a prince of letters, passes away. That is your ghoul's opportunity. Immediately he indites a letter to the Times or to any other newspaper that will give him print, in a fever of impatience to give to the world what he is pleased to call his "reminiscences." He may never have known the great man, he may have just received a nod from him, or even have been cut dead -- that is immaterial -- upon the perilous foundation of that nod, or no-nod, he will build his crazy fabric.

Algernon Charles Swinburne died in the spring of 1910. Revelling in the pleasures of the imagination Mr. ----- at once fired off a letter to the Times upon the subject of Swinburne's Eton days, and in that letter there is hardly a word which does not show that the

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