Macrone and Cunningham
One cannot help feeling that Cochrane had the worst of it in all matters involving Macrone. Cunningham ‘& all others who value their character’, he had written to Brydges on 13 October 1834, ‘have indignantly spurned the viper from their doors’.1 By February 1835, however, Cunningham was on good terms with Macrone once again, as we learn from a series of letters about Brydges’s life of Milton, which Macrone had sent him in manuscript.2 ‘The opening of Sir Egertons life of Milton, like the opening of the first flower in spring now in the sunshine under my window – is at once welcome and beautiful,’ Cunningham wrote to Macrone on 9 February. ‘In all the authors sentiments I concur: he is brilliant and concise: elegant as well as natural […] I never met with any critic – or rather genius with such healthy notions and wholesome tastes.’3 He returned the manuscript with pencilled recommendations to St James’s Square on 20 February, signing himself ‘yours in haste and truth’.4 All the same, there were limits to his cordiality. On trying, a few days afterward, to enlist Cunningham in his quarrel with Cochrane over Brydges’s papers, Macrone met with a blunt refusal. ‘I cannot comply with your request,’ Cunningham wrote on 23 February. ‘I think indeed that matters have been pushed quite far enough, and that it would be well for both sides to let bygones be bygones. But this it seems is not to be: I am [illegible] to be neutral were it but for my own peace.’5 There was another incident of this kind as late as the spring of 1836. ‘My dear Mac,’ Cunningham wrote on 12 March. ‘If you have half an hour to spare tomorrow bestow it on me at three or at seven – for I wish to speak to you about books. It may be as well however if we perfectly understand each other before we meet. If you are of opinion that my conduct was unjust and illiberal
1. MS. Beinecke, OSB MS File 3446.
2. A. J. Valpy, who had been another of Cochrane’s counsellors, was to print various books for Macrone, including Brydges’s Milton.
3. MS. Beinecke, OSB MS File 17157.