Louis the Romantic, Part 9
bronteunleashed
Apologies, dear readers, for neglecting Donne and the Sykes family, who are really quite an amusing bunch. We have neglected the heroines of our story. Shirley Keeldar seems to be in the Lake District, though the book says she is in Soctland. I might change it to Scotland, depending on how my plot turns out. Anyway it is still the Land of poesy whether it is the Lakes of Scotland, because the Lake Poets dwelt in the former, and Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott (Charlotte Bronte's favourites) in the latter. She loved Scotland.

Now a bluestocking was a 19th-century term for a female bookworm - not readers light novels like Catherine Morland, but serious earnest purveyors of literature in the likes of Molly Gibson, Fanny Price, and of course, our dear Caroline Helstone (whom I suspect is a great reader of poetry, though she is not accomplished or well-educated). Real-life bluestockings include Sara Coleridge, daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and possibly Mary Lamb, sister of Charles Lamb, who helped to write Tales from Shakespeare (Charles acknowledged her contribution was better than his).

Elective affinities are something like animal magnetism - the latter is mentioned in The Professor, as the chemistry which binds people to certain people. It is mentioned in Goethe though I haven't read the book. This sort of thing plays a big part in Charlotte's novels.

Several contemporary references which seem irrelevant to the story. Humphry Davy was a well-known chemist of the Romantic era and a friend of Coleridge. He also wrote poetry. Anne Lister was a landowner with masculine traits - she was a lesbian in fact and very independent. She once impersonated a man to marry her longtime lover, Ann Walker. Now that is amazing.

Robert Herrick was a poet I believe of the 18th century, who wrote something about Cherry Ripe and about doing things while you still can. He was notorious about writing poems about somebody called Julia - quite lascivious pieces too. To give you an example of his repertoire, here is one of them.  No wonder Mrs Pryor won't speak of him much. Tee hee hee. :)

A chance comment from a fellow-blogger who intially mistook our Mr Donne for John Donne the poet prompted me to put in a little something about the poet.

Caroline Helstone to Shirley Keeldar, July 1812
Tuesday
My dearest friend,

How farest thou in the land of Poesy? Mrs Pryor is looking after me very well here, and as you know I have recovered steadily under her ministrations. I feel very blessed now - that I am loved by someone I do esteem. My uncle, as you well know, is a worthy man but he cannot sympathise with us women, Shirley - he understands not the passions we suffer in silence. Now with lively ladies he can crack witty jokes, but were we to be grave and solemn, he knows not what to do with us. Why, it is not feminine. I shall soon take pride in being a bluestocking, though I should not like to be as masculine as Miss Anne Lister whom they call "Gentleman Jack," whom Uncle was speaking of the other day.

I ought to be writing to you more gleeful gossip but as I am confined to my bed little gets to my ears now - besides as you know I have little inclination to chatter. I often fancy you pink and plump in the Lakes, in conversation with the most agreeable society - and I can't help envying you - I can't entertain others the way you do. Mrs Pryor and I have had conversations on the subject - on elective affinities, I believe it is called. Each of us have a certain natural affinity with certain persons - with others, we are nothing to them, and they nothing to us. It is not so much pride of wealth and station I think as a natural element - what it is I do not know.  Mr Hall mentioned it once - he thinks chemistry will reveal in time. But I have no head for science, and what he said of Humphry Davy went over my head.

Now Mrs Pryor and I share elective affinities, supposing the phenomenon exists, and I believe it does. You will be glad to know William Farren is flourishing in his new work as gardener. He comes here to tend to my plants - I still cannot walk as I used to, but uncle carries me to the garden and we have a fine time talking about botany and nature. I tried talking Wordsworth with William but he has no ear for poetry - men are not like us, Shirley! They have no heart for poetry - and those who do I believe are of a more sensitive, refined, feminine nature. But he is a naturalist which is just as good - if we both, thou and I, are the visionaries of nature, then William is the man of science. I wish I could call him philosopher but he is so straightforward about everything. I rather like his hard-minded practicality - it does much good to my fancies. I need more of the real - less of the fancy, as Mrs Pryor urges. She thinks it is unwholesome to dream of mermaids. I think it is a delight and a sorrow at once - a delight to think of new worlds, new sights, new doings, but sorrowful, for I know it can never be an escape. Your poetical mermaid is no tender nurse or sister - she destroys those she sees with the power of fascination. But I am wandering as usual.

I have forgotten to mention Mr Donne's indisposition. Did I tell you that Mr Sweeting is confined to his bed with influenza? So he has got Donne and Malone to replace his duties. They do not make a good effort out of it - Donne will beg, he has come round several times to extort from us. Why, he gave me a nosegay with a sentimental poem on it! To ingratiate himself into our good graces, I have no doubt, so that he might ruin us. I thought the poem sounded familiar - so Mrs Pryor had a look at it, and she says it is by Herrick, who I understand writes in the most odious taste about some lady called Julia. She will not show me the Julia poems, however, for it is not fit to be seen by young ladies. I wonder what it is - I suspect it is the grosser idea of love our Briarfield society aspires to. If it is, I scorn to exalt it.  But about Donne's indisposition. He has made himself a perfect nuisance at the Wynnes' that old Mr Wynne beat him up with a stick and he walks with a limp. Malone told uncle, who had a good laugh at Donne's expense. I think it most amusing that he should share a name with the poet who wrote so feelingly about how we cannot be islands. Donne was not entirely correct, however, for Miss Ainley proves the exception. But for the most he is right - how many of us can live alone? I feel so contented to be cared for I scarcely wish to become well.

To employ a vulgarism, Malone came a-wooing again shortly after your departure, but after that he has ceased to bother us, thank goodness. He often spends his time at the Sykes' - no doubt because Donne is there to talk nonsense with him. Let them denounce Yorkshire in the Sykes' home - I don't care. Mrs Sykes is not a bad woman but I am aware she wishes to be elevated in society - she thinks London is better than us.  She is not as horrid as Donne so I shall not condemn her. One can accept this feeling in ladies - we are all brought up to think what is right, what is refined in society, and therefore her yearnings for London fashions are natural. Donne is no lady, nor is he a gentleman, and he has a profession to occupy himself with - he has no right to express such trivial thoughts.  Mrs Sykes has not travelled much or seen the world - I could forgive her. But Donne knows the world - he is part of it.

Word has it that our curates are a-wooing at the Sykes'.  Uncle had a scornful laugh at their expense - you know how he views marriage, and he thinks them complete fools. I don't disagree with him this time - their mercenary sentiment deserves such censure.  We (at least Uncle and I) think they intend to ask Miss Harriet's hand in marriage, for she is the prettiest and the most stately of the sisters. Mrs Pryor doubts it - if they do, she says they will not succeed, for Harriet is not likely to look upon them with much esteem. She reminds Mrs Pryor of Miss Hardman, a former pupil of hers. "Miss Harriet Sykes is of a haughty nature," she observed calmly. "Their livings and their manner would not satisfy the ladylike delicacies in her. I should say Miss Hannah would be more likely to receive their suit."

"Miss Hannah?"

"Indeed, why not? She is less refined than Harriet, less fastidious - as long as they are willing to lavish her with flattery I don't see why not. She is also very voluble - gentlemen often are well-disposed to such ladies."

Yes, so long as they are charming and silly. Were I to be voluble all eyes would be on me, fearing I would be a bluestocking. It is this elective affinity they speak of.

"But I doubt Hannah would be disposed to Malone - he cannot speak to ladies well."

"Perhaps she would not be averse to Mr Donne, my dear."

"Miss Mary teaches in the Sunday-school - would she not be a suitable candidate?"

"I doubt, my dear, that Miss Mary's gravity would endear her to them," observed Mrs Pryor. "She is serious-minded - Mr Donne and Mr Malone do not care for that sort of thing."

You know very well, Shirley, contemptuous though it looks to put it to paper, Malone's former regard for me - or I should say his practicality - for he thought I am heiress to a small fortune - surely is proof that he does not simply neglect grave ladies with fortune. I put this to Mrs Pryor, who sighed, "Why, my dear, how shall I put it? You are like a child - that trait is admired among certain gentlemen."

Sometimes I do wish I were not so like a child, that others could see me as I am - but any other sort of character does not put me in a favourable light. I must smile and enact youthfulness to please - I wish I could be taken seriously.

By the way John Sykes has come to deliver a nosegay. Mrs Pryor thinks he will turn my head but I assure you he won't. To be honest I was surprised - I thought he had forgotten all about me - you know he never calls on us, though when we go visiting and we both happen to be at the same place he will try to flatter in that patronising, grovelling manner of his.  No, though life should destine me to be an old maid, I shall never encourage John Sykes.

Wednesday
Mrs Pryor is convinced that Donne and Malone are aiming for the hand of Dora Sykes! So rumours say. I hope it is not true: Mr Sweeting is in love with her, and it would be most unkind in them to betray their friend. Sweeting is worth a hundred of them.  Uncle has caught Mr Malone walking with a nosegay in the direction of Whinbury - perhaps it is true after all.

Malone is boisterous and rude - Nunnely is not pleased with him. He has been most dismissive of Mr Hall's sexton, who is most offended. 
I gather they had a disagreement about managing the church affairs. Now Malone and Donne are helping to manage the parish funds of Nunnely. Donne will certainly increase its value. 

Uncle has received a letter from a Mr Bronte of Thornton, Bradford. He is campaigning against the Luddites. Oh I do hope these riots will come to an end!

Write, dear Shirley, and tell me precisely what you think. 

Believe me to be 
Yours affectionately
Caroline Helstone. 

Yuletide request for Shirley fanfic
bronteunleashed
Dear Yuletide,
I don't know how the "pinch hitting" system works (is pinch hitting requesting for a story to be written for you, or volunteering to write a story?) but here goes.
Summary: I'd love to read something about "Shirley" by Charlotte Bronte, with emphasis on Caroline Helstone. Shirley/Louis Moore ship wanted. The Yorke family are my favourites too, please write about Rose and Jessie and their radicalism.
I will be eternally grateful to you if you write something about this underrated fandom. :)
Tags:

Louis the Romantic, Part 8
bronteunleashed
We see Louis and Mr Hall visiting Robert Southey, Lake Poet and friend of Coleridge. He became Poet Laureate in 1813. His famous works include Thalaba the Destroyer, but he was also biographer of Nelson among others. He was a man of letters and his library was well-stocked. I mention Southey because Charlotte Bronte admired him and wrote to him as a young woman. Southey wrote Wat Tyler, a radical poem in his youth, which only came out much later when he became a Tory and tried to suppress it.  Cameo appearances by Mrs Southey, Mrs Coleridge and Mrs Lovell, the Fricker sisters who were friends with Southey in their youth. Southey, Coleridge and a friend called Henry Lovell were radical Pantisocrats and planned to set up a community in America with the Fricker sisters whom they were to marry. It didn't work out but the marriages occurred. Mrs Coleridge, nee Sarah Fricker, married Samuel Taylor Coleridge but separated from him after a few years of marriage due to Coleridge's opium addiction and inability to provide for his family. She moved in with her sister Edith Southey, who married Robert Southey, with her own children. In the meantime, Mrs Henry Lovell, nee Mary Fricker, was widowed after a short period of marriage, and moved in with the Southeys as well with her son. Southey supported all of them on his income from journalism and writing. He taught the children Greek and Spanish. The Fricker sisters had been well-educated before their family fortunes fell, so Mrs Coleridge taught French and Italian and arithmetic, and Mrs Lovell taught Latin (seriously!) A few of the children did make out careers as intellectuals, namely Hartley Coleridge, Derwent Coleridge and Sara Coleridge (who also wrote poetry like her father), which makes her a literary bluestocking. Branwell Bronte would write to Hartley Coleridge for advice on his literary career.


Susan Dunn is the character in Louis' poem based on Miss Mann. This is a slight parody on Wordsworthian characters with short simple names. The solitary bluebell is an allusion to Anne Bronte's poem The Bluebell which I recommend all of you to read. 

Louis Moore and Mr Hall set off to Greta Hall to see Robert Southey, author of Thalaba the Destroyer and biographer. They were welcomed warmly by the poet, who ushered them into the library. To their surprise they found a group of children sitting at a table with three ladies. One of the ladies, a well-turned woman with a brown-haired wig, was occupied in teaching French to a few girls. The most beautiful lady, who was dressed in mourning, was heard to dictate several Latin phrases to the other ones. The third lady was not speaking, but she sat with her sewing, observing the scene. Louis noted the sweetness of the last lady's countenance - it seemed so gentle.

Southey cleared his throat. "We have visitors, ladies. Mr Hall and Mr Moore from Yorkshire - Mrs Southey" - the lady with the sewing bobbed a curtsy, "my sisters-in-law, Mrs Coleridge," the pretty be-wigged lady nodded, "and Mrs Lovell. Come away, children," he added, "there will be no Greek today." Mr Hall and Louis bowed. Louis looked at Mrs Coleridge with some interest. So this was the wife of the poet, who had separated from him! He had heard gossip about Coleridge's domestic life, which had been far from comfortable - though he had not expected to meet Mrs Coleridge. The widow and the estranged wife left the room, followed by the children.

"My sisters-in-law, as you see, tutor the children," said Southey, when they were gone. 

The gentlemen sat down at the table. "Are you in the literary line youself, sir?" Southey asked of Mr Hall.

"I am no poet like my friend Moore, though I have contributed some articles on the Greek dramatists," replied the middle-aged scholar.  "I daresay you may have seen them in The Examiner."

"I believe I have - you are the Rev. Cyril Hall, are you not?"

Mr Hall acknowledged this.

"But I have omitted to speak to Mr Moore about his poetry," said Southey, recalling himself. "You mentioned, Mr Moore, that you intended a career in the literary mould."

"I did," said Louis. "It is the great interest of my life."

"You are possessed of no ordinary talent," observed Southey, "and have a faculty of verse uncommon to most aspiring poets. Were I to judge you based on your merits, I would advise you to pursue Poesy for its sake. However, to earn a living places a different complexion on the matter. You are a tutor, I think?"

"That is my present employment. I am considering, however, that it is a position I do not intend to remain in for long."

"And so you resolved on living on the wings of Poesy," returned the future Poet Laureate, smiling. "It is a noble aim, but were I in your position I would advise against it - not because I doubt your ability, but because the demand for poetry is small.  Were you a novelty in Burns' or Bloomfield's manner it would have been more fortunate for you: there is a demand for 'poets of the soil'. Your talents, I think, are differently placed. But your aims, I see, are sincere: a poet who wishes to write for its own sake cannot do so for a living on its own. If you wish to pursue poetry, do so when you are inspired and sincere, and not for celebrity or an income."

"You, sir, have been singularly fortunate in your profession," said Louis. 

"Yes, fortune has favoured me so far," reflected Southey.  Perhaps a twinge of guilt touched the poet's eyes, for in his early youth he had written a poem in fervent support of the radical movement: how unlike the solid, respectable Tory he was become. If this was the case he did not choose to indulge his listeners with his conscience.  "Poetry has enabled me to get a sustenance, though I cannot depend solely on it - it is as a man of prose I earn my bread. I say this not to discourage you, but because I have known what it is to be a struggling poet.  If you are bent on literature, I advise you to earn it in some other manner as well, that can ensure you a living."

Louis and Mr Hall spoke with the poet on other subjects quite freely, observing the splendid library, quite splendid for a man who earned his bread through literature. There were tomes on history, geography, biography and languages - Southey was quite the polymath, for this was in the times before distractions came with the industrial revolution, and before subjects had become the specialised fossils they are. 

"You are a man of many talents, Mr Southey," observed Mr Hall,  "I quite envy you your library."

"It is part of my living," said Southey, "as a biographer it is necessary I am acquainted with the history of different countries.  How do you like the Lake District?"

"The scenery is singularly beautiful," said Louis Moore, "it impresses upon one with its grandeur and freshness. I have seen well-kept grounds but they are nothing to this."

"You favour the sublime over the classical, I perceive," remarked Southey. "It is quite a feature among our modern poets. - nature poems are by the dozen nowadays. - Are there scenic spots in your part of Yorkshire?"

"We have our own spots, sir," said Mr Hall, "Nunnely Woods grows green and flourishing - it is even said to have its own ghost though it is surely nothing to you compared to the Lakes."

"My parish, which is next to Hall's," said Louis Moore, "is built along smaller and less grand lines, and yet - I must confess it has its own quiet beauty, distinctive on its own. One could roam wild here, with strange visions for company, but is inspiring rather than soothing. Briarfield is of a calmer sort - it is like a home you return to, after a grand tour of the Lakes. You feel insignificant here, because it is grand: but you belong to, and are part of the Briarfield moors."  Was this the cynic speaking? Louis Moore had professed himself a dry critic of passion: he had denounced Lord Byron and the Gothic school, and delighted in parodies of the latter. The extremities of poetic passion had raised some biting scorn from his lips, as Caroline Helstone had observed with some disappointment at her poetic relation,  He now looked pensive and thoughtful, not unlike a Romantic poet of a more respectable cast. Had his young cousin been present it would have cast doubt on his cynicism.

Was this the result of a naturally passionate nature? It is not always the naturally unromantic who express strong doubts over great passion. They cannot be bothered to concern themselves with what does not exist to them in their lives or imagination; it is as vague to them as the existence of fairies. Those who express themselves strongly over passion's extremities may have been of a naturally ardent nature. Having idealised passion and perhaps expected it, only to find themselves disillusioned, they turn fully the other way, bitter and disappointed. Only on an ardent person would this be impressed upon. Caroline Helstone, much inclined to sensibility, would have dreamt of the Lakes long after she saw the place, had she visited it. The quiet hills of Briarfield had already excited much rapture from her, as it could not enrapture sober Mr Hall. Mr Hall saw Briarfield and even Nunnely, his parish, with the eye of a contented resident accustomed to these beauties; Caroline saw them as one who wanders to a world, in search of a welcome escape from the high streets of Briarfield. It takes a sensible nature to appreciate a small, less rolling lanscape, being less grand than the magnificent Lakes. Anyone of an artistic disposition may enjoy these magnificent views; fewer still saw every hue and shape among the Briarfield clouds. 

"There is much to be said for milder landscapes," agreed Southey, "The love for simpler scenes is what distinguishes the poet from the versifier: it is what Wordsworth has done in our own time. Now Wordsworth is no perfect versifier - there are many things I would fain have erased from his writings, but he has written much that is good - superior to our bard in many ways."

Louis agreed heartily. Mr Hall knew something of Wordsworth, and while he admired the Lake Poet's verse, he did not hold it up to the high esteem his friend did.  He listened in some wonder to the conversation of the two poets.

"No common mind," said Louis, "could venerate with discrimination the simple tales of countryside. Wordsworth is my model in the philosophy of poetry, sir, as you are mine in the art of executing its form."

But Southey here shook his head. "You are too good, Mr Moore, to pay tribute to one of my powers. While I believe I have contributed something to form, my poetry shall never reach the heights of Milton. If anyone living has attained the powers of Milton, it is Wordsworth."

"The powers of Milton!" here exclaimed Mr Hall, who could not understand this raving over Wordsworth. To him Milton was a god of poetry: an inclination for drama, deep, elevated passions he had, but small lyrics were not to his taste. The scholar could not see the solitary bluebell in search of the grand moors.

"Certainly, Mr Hall," said Southey. "Milton was a great poet in the grand scale, but Wordsworth is great in his more natural touches. Could Milton have drawn the rural folk so derided in Wordsworth? In posterity he will achieve his name - not now, perhaps, but there will come a time when the public will recognise his talents. What I write comes from my scholarly researches; Wordsworth takes as he sees from life. He owes his greatness to the living, not the dead."

Both the visitors from Yorkshire saw this as a moment of haunted contemplation; they hastily turned the subject to Hazlitt and Lamb and other luminaries. Mr Hall would have liked to ask about Coleridge, but the dependence of the gothick poet's estranged wife on Southey did not encourage enquiry.  Louis asked how his poetry could be improved.

"What you want," said Mr Southey, "is dramatic power. You are too fond of the ordinary, I regret - but your heroine in the Martyr of Briarfield lacks vividness. It is accurately-painted, and you have an eye for nature - but your characters want excitement."

"I must speak for my friend," put in Mr Hall. "The original of Susan Dunn is by no means an excitable character. She is a worthy woman but no goddess."

"Many persons are of that cast, it is true," replied Southey, "but it is what the poet sees and dramatises in his character. You would do better to dwell on Susan Dunn's inner thoughts and feelings - for the present, she rouses more curiosity than pity. - Have you written other things since then?"

"As a matter of fact," said Louis, "I have written a short piece called Ellen Bray. It is here with me." And he withdrew his notebook from his surtout and showed it to the poet. Southey perused the pages with some admiration.

"Your style is quite improved," he said, "the heroine is more vivid, though there are some faults in its execution I would advise you to alter." He proceeded to state these, saying that when they were changed, he would be glad if Moore would send them to him to be published. "Your heroine reminds me of Lucy Gray - I should like to see her in print. Where did you say you were from, Mr Moore?"

"I came from Briarfield - it is near Gomersal village. Hall's parish of Nunnely is a short distance away."

"I thought so. It is a most singular coincidence - the other day I received a letter from a lady residing in Briarfield. She, too, has adopted Wordsworth as among her favoured poets, though she is a greater admirer of Coleridge. I have invited her to visit."

"A lady from Briarfield?" said Mr Hall. "If you will excuse my inquisitiveness, was her name Helstone?"  He knew well the poetic fancies of his young friend, though he was unaware of her regard for Southey.

"No, her name is Keeldar. You are acquainted with the lady, sir?"

"Miss Keeldar is a personal friend of mine," said Mr Hall.  "Moore is tutor to her young cousin - indeed, he tutored Miss Keeldar a short while himself."

"Your manners of versifying are not dissimilar," observed Southey to Moore, "though Miss Keeldar is fond of the lyrical."

How near she was, and yet so far! To think that they were united in the form of the renowned Robert Southey - it would have been a joke, had Louis Moore not inwardly groaned for more information respecting his former pupil.  

"She is not without talent," said Southey, "though her powers are dimmed. She had a curious way of expressing herself - I could scarcely understand what she wrote - they were the words of a visionary, but she lacked the form to express her thoughts: the words ran weak and unsustained." He spoke more to himself than to the younger man. 

When they had left, Mr Hall wrote to his sister Margaret. "To think that Miss Keeldar has been under our noses all the while! Southey has been very good to Louis - he tells him that he will recommend his pieces to the editor of one of the periodicals.  Louis tells me that he hopes to gain work as a reviewer: he ventured to ask Southey, who has promised to introduce him to the literati. They have not yet seen him, however - that is a disadvantage, but a written testimony from Southey might do something. Louis is busy revising his poem on Ellen Bray - quite a marvellous feat I would recommend you to read, when it is published - and I believe he is occupied with yet another work which he will not show me. Perhaps Briarfield will produce its bard."

To whom did Louis express his hopes and dreams? Nobody, save Mr Hall. His sister Hortense was a good woman, but she was not at all literary in the intellectual sense: she knew the works of the old masters, though her mind was not of the depth to grasp their power. Rule, not sentiment dictated her tastes. Robert had some liking for poetry, though he could well dispense with them.  Perhaps he might have thought of his young cousin Caroline, but it did not occur to him to write to one whom he had no real intimacy with.

"I envy you and Miss Hall," he remarked one day, as they were sitting outside the inn contemplating the weather.  "You and your sister are intellectual companions and happy in each other's society."

"I am singularly fortunate," agreed Mr Hall, contentedly. "Margaret is a rare breed among women - as is Miss Ainley, though in an entirely different way. You ought to marry, Louis, and find a clever wife." 

Good Mr Hall perhaps lacked some insight in this remark. He had certainly met clever women (there were the sisters of an old fellow-teacher at his previous post) - not many, to be sure, but of their existence he had no doubt. Bluestockings were all right in their way, and some held interesting and intelligent views it was a pleasure to listen to, but what he yearned for was the affection of a sister. He had not known family-feeling since his departure to England for school. He had been separated from his siblings for years, too long to foster that true sense of belonging completely. He was a wanderer in the mists of nature and poesy, never the brother of the home-hearth and the heart of the warm circle. There is a sense of being comfortable merely staying, not speaking in an entertaining or profound manner, but to be accepted as one of a circle, no matter what one was. It was different from the impassioned democratic speeches he shared with the schoolteacher, the kind words from the latter's mother and sisters - perhaps the closest he had come to it beyond his family was with Mr Hall and Margaret. Then there was a small circle, younger than him - but why should he think of that? It could not be - could not remain.

Louis the Romantic, Part 8
bronteunleashed
We see Louis and Mr Hall visiting Robert Southey, Lake Poet and friend of Coleridge. He became Poet Laureate in 1813. His famous works include Thalaba the Destroyer, but he was also biographer of Nelson among others. He was a man of letters and his library was well-stocked. I mention Southey because Charlotte Bronte admired him and wrote to him as a young woman. Southey wrote Wat Tyler, a radical poem in his youth, which only came out much later when he became a Tory and tried to suppress it. &nbsp;Cameo appearances by Mrs Southey, Mrs Coleridge and Mrs Lovell, the Fricker sisters who were friends with Southey in their youth. Southey, Coleridge and a friend called Henry Lovell were radical Pantisocrats and planned to set up a community in America with the Fricker sisters whom they were to marry. It didn&#39;t work out but the marriages occurred.&nbsp;Mrs Coleridge, nee Sarah Fricker, married Samuel Taylor Coleridge but separated from him after a few years of marriage due to Coleridge&#39;s opium addiction and inability to provide for his family. She moved in with her sister Edith Southey, who married Robert Southey, with her own children. In the meantime, Mrs Henry Lovell, nee Mary Fricker, was widowed after a short period of marriage, and moved in with the Southeys as well with her son. Southey supported all of them on his income from journalism and writing. He taught the children Greek and Spanish. The Fricker sisters had been well-educated before their family fortunes fell, so Mrs Coleridge taught French and Italian and arithmetic, and Mrs Lovell taught Latin (seriously!) A few of the children did make out careers as intellectuals, namely Hartley Coleridge, Derwent Coleridge and Sara Coleridge (who also wrote poetry like her father), which makes her a literary bluestocking. Branwell Bronte would write to Hartley Coleridge for advice on his literary career.</b>
<b>Susan Dunn is the character in Louis&#39; poem based on Miss Mann. This is a slight parody on Wordsworthian characters with short simple names. The solitary bluebell is an allusion to Anne Bronte&#39;s poem The Bluebell which I recommend all of you to read.&nbsp;</b>
Louis Moore and Mr Hall set off to Greta Hall to see Robert Southey, author of<i> Thalaba the Destroyer</i> and biographer. They were welcomed warmly by the poet, who ushered them into the library. To their surprise they found a group of children sitting at a table with three ladies. One of the ladies, a well-turned woman with a brown-haired wig, was occupied in teaching French to a few girls. The most beautiful lady, who was dressed in mourning, was heard to dictate several Latin phrases to the other ones. The third lady was not speaking, but she sat with her sewing, observing the scene. Louis noted the sweetness of the last lady&#39;s countenance - it seemed so gentle.
Southey cleared his throat. &quot;We have visitors, ladies. Mr Hall and Mr Moore from Yorkshire - Mrs Southey&quot; - the lady with the sewing bobbed a curtsy, &quot;my sisters-in-law, Mrs Coleridge,&quot; the pretty be-wigged lady nodded, &quot;and Mrs Lovell. Come away, children,&quot; he added, &quot;there will be no Greek today.&quot; Mr Hall and Louis bowed. Louis looked at Mrs Coleridge with some interest. So this was the wife of the poet, who had separated from him! He had heard gossip about Coleridge&#39;s domestic life, which had been far from comfortable - though he had not expected to meet Mrs Coleridge. The widow and the estranged wife left the room, followed by the children.
&quot;My sisters-in-law, as you see, tutor the children,&quot; said Southey, when they were gone.&nbsp;
The gentlemen sat down at the table. &quot;Are you in the literary line youself, sir?&quot; Southey asked of Mr Hall.
&quot;I am no poet like my friend Moore, though I have contributed some articles on the Greek dramatists,&quot; replied the middle-aged scholar. &nbsp;&quot;I daresay you may have seen them in The Examiner.&quot;
&quot;I believe I have - you are the Rev. Cyril Hall, are you not?&quot;
Mr Hall acknowledged this.
&quot;But I have omitted to speak to Mr Moore about his poetry,&quot; said Southey, recalling himself. &quot;You mentioned, Mr Moore, that you intended a career in the literary mould.&quot;
&quot;I did,&quot; said Louis. &quot;It is the great interest of my life.&quot;
&quot;You are possessed of no ordinary talent,&quot; observed Southey, &quot;and have a faculty of verse uncommon to most aspiring poets. Were I to judge you based on your merits, I would advise you to pursue Poesy for its sake. However, to earn a living places a different complexion on the matter. You are a tutor, I think?&quot;
&quot;That is my present employment. I am considering, however, that it is a position I do not intend to remain in for long.&quot;
&quot;And so you resolved on living on the wings of Poesy,&quot; returned the future Poet Laureate, smiling. &quot;It is a noble aim, but were I in your position I would advise against it - not because I doubt your ability, but because the demand for poetry is small. &nbsp;Were you a novelty in Burns&#39; or Bloomfield&#39;s manner it would have been more fortunate for you: there is a demand for &#39;poets of the soil&#39;. Your talents, I think, are differently placed.&nbsp;But your aims, I see, are sincere: a poet who wishes to write for its own sake cannot do so for a living on its own. If you wish to pursue poetry, do so when you are inspired and sincere, and not for celebrity or an income.&quot;
&quot;You, sir, have been singularly fortunate in your profession,&quot; said Louis.&nbsp;
&quot;Yes, fortune has favoured me so far,&quot; reflected Southey. &nbsp;Perhaps a twinge of guilt touched the poet&#39;s eyes, for in his early youth he had written a poem in fervent support of the radical movement: how unlike the solid, respectable Tory he was become. If this was the case he did not choose to indulge his listeners with his conscience. &nbsp;&quot;Poetry has enabled me to get a sustenance, though I cannot depend solely on it - it is as a man of prose I earn my bread. I say this not to discourage you, but because I have known what it is to be a struggling poet. &nbsp;If you are bent on literature, I advise you to earn it in some other manner as well, that can ensure you a living.&quot;
Louis and Mr Hall spoke with the poet on other subjects quite freely, observing the splendid library, quite splendid for a man who earned his bread through literature. There were tomes on history, geography, biography and languages - Southey was quite the polymath, for this was in the times before distractions came with the industrial revolution, and before subjects had become the specialised fossils they are.&nbsp;
&quot;You are a man of many talents, Mr Southey,&quot; observed Mr Hall, &nbsp;&quot;I quite envy you your library.&quot;
&quot;It is part of my living,&quot; said Southey, &quot;as a biographer it is necessary I am acquainted with the history of different countries. &nbsp;How do you like the Lake District?&quot;
&quot;The scenery is singularly beautiful,&quot; said Louis Moore, &quot;it impresses upon one with its grandeur and freshness. I have seen well-kept grounds but they are nothing to this.&quot;
&quot;You favour the sublime over the classical, I perceive,&quot; remarked Southey. &quot;It is quite a feature among our modern poets. - nature poems are by the dozen nowadays. - Are there scenic spots in your part of Yorkshire?&quot;
&quot;We have our own spots, sir,&quot; said Mr Hall, &quot;Nunnely Woods grows green and flourishing - it is even said to have its own ghost though it is surely nothing to you compared to the Lakes.&quot;
&quot;My parish, which is next to Hall&#39;s,&quot; said Louis Moore, &quot;is built along smaller and less grand lines, and yet - I must confess it has its own quiet beauty, distinctive on its own. One could roam wild here, with strange visions for company, but is inspiring rather than soothing. Briarfield is of a calmer sort - it is like a home you return to, after a grand tour of the Lakes. You feel insignificant here, because it is grand: but you belong to, and are part of the Briarfield moors.&quot; &nbsp;Was this the cynic speaking? Louis Moore had professed himself a dry critic of passion: he had denounced Lord Byron and the Gothic school, and delighted in parodies of the latter. The extremities of poetic passion had raised some biting scorn from his lips, as Caroline Helstone had observed with some disappointment at her poetic relation, &nbsp;He now looked pensive and thoughtful, not unlike a Romantic poet of a more respectable cast. Had his young cousin been present it would have cast doubt on his cynicism.
Was this the result of a naturally passionate nature?&nbsp;It is not always the naturally unromantic who express strong doubts over great passion. They cannot be bothered to concern themselves with what does not exist to them in their lives or imagination; it is as vague to them as the existence of fairies. Those who express themselves strongly over passion&#39;s extremities may have been of a naturally ardent nature. Having idealised passion and perhaps expected it, only to find themselves disillusioned, they turn fully the other way, bitter and disappointed. Only on an ardent person would this be impressed upon. Caroline Helstone, much inclined to sensibility, would have dreamt of the Lakes long after she saw the place, had she visited it. The quiet hills of Briarfield had already excited much rapture from her, as it could not enrapture sober Mr Hall. Mr Hall saw Briarfield and even Nunnely, his parish, with the eye of a contented resident accustomed to these beauties; Caroline saw them as one who wanders to a world, in search of a welcome escape from the high streets of Briarfield. It takes a sensible nature to appreciate a small, less rolling lanscape, being less grand than the magnificent Lakes. Anyone of an artistic disposition may enjoy these magnificent views; fewer still saw every hue and shape among the Briarfield clouds.&nbsp;
&quot;There is much to be said for milder landscapes,&quot; agreed Southey, &quot;The love for simpler scenes is what distinguishes the poet from the versifier: it is what Wordsworth has done in our own time. Now Wordsworth is no perfect versifier - there are many things I would fain have erased from his writings, but he has written much that is good - superior to our bard in many ways.&quot;
Louis agreed heartily. Mr Hall knew something of Wordsworth, and while he admired the Lake Poet&#39;s verse, he did not hold it up to the high esteem his friend did. &nbsp;He listened in some wonder to the conversation of the two poets.
&quot;No common mind,&quot; said Louis, &quot;could venerate with discrimination the simple tales of countryside. Wordsworth is my model in the philosophy of poetry, sir, as you are mine in the art of executing its form.&quot;
But Southey here shook his head. &quot;You are too good, Mr Moore, to pay tribute to one of my powers. While I believe I have contributed something to form, my poetry shall never reach the heights of Milton. If anyone living has attained the powers of Milton, it is Wordsworth.&quot;
&quot;The powers of Milton!&quot; here exclaimed Mr Hall, who could not understand this raving over Wordsworth. To him Milton was a god of poetry: an inclination for drama, deep, elevated passions he had, but small lyrics were not to his taste. The scholar could not see the solitary bluebell in search of the grand moors.
&quot;Certainly, Mr Hall,&quot; said Southey. &quot;Milton was a great poet in the grand scale, but Wordsworth is great in his more natural touches. Could Milton have drawn the rural folk so derided in Wordsworth? In posterity he will achieve his name - not now, perhaps, but there will come a time when the public will recognise his talents. What I write comes from my scholarly researches; Wordsworth takes as he sees from life. He owes his greatness to the living, not the dead.&quot;
Both the visitors from Yorkshire saw this as a moment of haunted contemplation; they hastily turned the subject to Hazlitt and Lamb and other luminaries. Mr Hall would have liked to ask about Coleridge, but the dependence of the gothick poet&#39;s estranged wife on Southey did not encourage enquiry. &nbsp;Louis asked how his poetry could be improved.
&quot;What you want,&quot; said Mr Southey, &quot;is dramatic power. You are too fond of the ordinary, I regret - but your heroine in the Martyr of Briarfield lacks vividness. It is accurately-painted, and you have an eye for nature - but your characters want excitement.&quot;
&quot;I must speak for my friend,&quot; put in Mr Hall. &quot;The original of Susan Dunn is by no means an excitable character. She is a worthy woman but no goddess.&quot;
&quot;Many persons are of that cast, it is true,&quot; replied Southey, &quot;but it is what the poet sees and dramatises in his character. You would do better to dwell on Susan Dunn&#39;s inner thoughts and feelings - for the present, she rouses more curiosity than pity. - Have you written other things since then?&quot;
&quot;As a matter of fact,&quot; said Louis, &quot;I have written a short piece called Ellen Bray. It is here with me.&quot; And he withdrew his notebook from his surtout and showed it to the poet. Southey perused the pages with some admiration.
&quot;Your style is quite improved,&quot; he said, &quot;the heroine is more vivid, though there are some faults in its execution I would advise you to alter.&quot; He proceeded to state these, saying that when they were changed, he would be glad if Moore would send them to him to be published. &quot;Your heroine reminds me of Lucy Gray - I should like to see her in print. Where did you say you were from, Mr Moore?&quot;
&quot;I came from Briarfield - it is near Gomersal village. Hall&#39;s parish of Nunnely is a short distance away.&quot;
&quot;I thought so. It is a most singular coincidence - the other day I received a letter from a lady residing in Briarfield. She, too, has adopted Wordsworth as among her favoured poets, though she is a greater admirer of Coleridge. I have invited her to visit.&quot;
&quot;A lady from Briarfield?&quot; said Mr Hall. &quot;If you will excuse my inquisitiveness, was her name Helstone?&quot; &nbsp;He knew well the poetic fancies of his young friend, though he was unaware of her regard for Southey.
&quot;No, her name is Keeldar. You are acquainted with the lady, sir?&quot;
&quot;Miss Keeldar is a personal friend of mine,&quot; said Mr Hall. &nbsp;&quot;Moore is tutor to her young cousin - indeed, he tutored Miss Keeldar a short while himself.&quot;
&quot;Your manners of versifying are not dissimilar,&quot; observed Southey to Moore, &quot;though Miss Keeldar is fond of the lyrical.&quot;
How near she was, and yet so far! To think that they were united in the form of the renowned Robert Southey - it would have been a joke, had Louis Moore not inwardly groaned for more information respecting his former pupil. &nbsp;
&quot;She is not without talent,&quot; said Southey, &quot;though her powers are dimmed. She had a curious way of expressing herself - I could scarcely understand what she wrote - they were the words of a visionary, but she lacked the form to express her thoughts: the words ran weak and unsustained.&quot; He spoke more to himself than to the younger man.&nbsp;
When they had left, Mr Hall wrote to his sister Margaret. &quot;To think that Miss Keeldar has been under our noses all the while! Southey has been very good to Louis - he tells him that he will recommend his pieces to the editor of one of the periodicals. &nbsp;Louis tells me that he hopes to gain work as a reviewer: he ventured to ask Southey, who has promised to introduce him to the literati. They have not yet seen him, however - that is a disadvantage, but a written testimony from Southey might do something. Louis is busy revising his poem on Ellen Bray - quite a marvellous feat I would recommend you to read, when it is published - and I believe he is occupied with yet another work which he will not show me. Perhaps Briarfield will produce its bard.&quot;
To whom did Louis express his hopes and dreams? Nobody, save Mr Hall. His sister Hortense was a good woman, but she was not at all literary in the intellectual sense: she knew the works of the old masters, though her mind was not of the depth to grasp their power. Rule, not sentiment dictated her tastes. Robert had some liking for poetry, though he could well dispense with them. &nbsp;Perhaps he might have thought of his young cousin Caroline, but it did not occur to him to write to one whom he had no real intimacy with.
&quot;I envy you and Miss Hall,&quot; he remarked one day, as they were sitting outside the inn contemplating the weather. &nbsp;&quot;You and your sister are intellectual companions and happy in each other&#39;s society.&quot;
&quot;I am singularly fortunate,&quot; agreed Mr Hall, contentedly. &quot;Margaret is a rare breed among women - as is Miss Ainley, though in an entirely different way. You ought to marry, Louis, and find a clever wife.&quot;&nbsp;
Good Mr Hall perhaps lacked some insight in this remark. He had certainly met clever women (there were the sisters of an old fellow-teacher at his previous post) - not many, to be sure, but of their existence he had no doubt. Bluestockings were all right in their way, and some held interesting and intelligent views it was a pleasure to listen to, but what he yearned for was the affection of a sister. He had not known family-feeling since his departure to England for school. He had been separated from his siblings for years, too long to foster that true sense of belonging completely. He was a wanderer in the mists of nature and poesy, never the brother of the home-hearth and the heart of the warm circle. There is a sense of being comfortable merely staying, not speaking in an entertaining or profound manner, but to be accepted as one of a circle, no matter what one was. It was different from the impassioned democratic speeches he shared with the schoolteacher, the kind words from the latter&#39;s mother and sisters - perhaps the closest he had come to it beyond his family was with Mr Hall and Margaret. Then there was a small circle, younger than him - but why should he think of that? It could not be - could not remain.

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Mr Sweeting was lying in bed with the influenza, and was therefore unable to go about his rounds in the parish, to the dismay of many a parishioner. To be sure, Malone and Donne performed their duties, but their arrogant manner did not endear them to the cottagers. Then Donne's persistence in begging for funds for the parish was becoming too common for everyone's liking. He saw no reason why he should assist his sick friend without some compensation - namely, more funds for Whinbury parish. The De Walden family was frequently pleaded to, and to get rid of him, they gave him the cash. But Donne saw no reason why he should not beg again.

"Not Mr Donne again!" cried Mrs Wynne, as the familiar figure strolled to the drive.  "Inform Mr Donne we are not in," she told the butler, who may have suppressed a grim smile at these tidings for the beggar-curate.

 Mr Donne, however, was not to be defeated. "I shall call again in the evening," he declared airily.  "When will Mr and Mrs Wynne be in?"

"I am not aware, sir," replied the butler. Mr Donne went on his rounds and failed not to return.

"He is making a perfect nuisance of himself," grumbled Mr Wynne. Sam Wynne declared he should like to shoot him with his hunting-gun, or set Phoebe on him, Phoebe being the most ferocious of his dogs.

"Don't, Sam," pleaded Mrs Wynne, "think how it will look for your father."

"This is extortion," exclaimed Mr Wynne, "Sam is perfectly justified in defending his own purse and property."

On being informed that the Wynnes were out, Mr Donne said that no matter, he would wait: besides, he was thirsty, and needed a drink. The butler directed at him a supercilious gaze that clearly said, "You will not be imbibing ale in this house," and he was shown into the parlour for a glass of water.  An hour and a half in the parlour however was not spent fruitlessly: he soon persuaded the housekeeper to give a little donation to the Whinbury fund. 

"Come, Mrs Mason," he said to her, "a respectable woman in your position would not be seen giving less than a pound."  Mrs Mason would not give a pound, but was soon made poorer by several shillings, particularly as one of the parlourmaids was looking in at the moment, enjoying the spectacle of Mrs Mason being interrogated by the obnoxious curate. 

"Be off with you, girl," she said, at the girl's suppressed titter. By now Mr Donne was tired of waiting, and attempted to extract sixpence from the parlourmaid, who fled into the hallway. Mr Donne followed her, eager not to lose his latest victim, At that moment, however, an elderly gentleman, being the father of Mr Wynne, believing that Donne had gone away in disappointment, encountered him in the hall, to Donne's delight and old Mr Wynne's dismay.

"Be off with you, Donne!" bellowed the old gentleman, waving his stick in the clergyman's direction. At that moment, the groom had seen fit to unleash Phoebe off her chain, and the dog pranced through the French windows and jumped on Donne. 

"Help! help! Get her off me!" cried the clergyman, but old Mr Wynne only proceeded to beat him with his stick. At length, the groom was forced to retrieve the dog, not willing to be a party to the death of a churchman, and Mr Donne fled the house in deep pain, and badly bruised.

"That will teach him a lesson!" crowed old Mr Wynne, when the others were aghast at his doings.

"He might bring an action for damages," said his son.

"Nonsense!" snorted the old man. "He's too servile for that - it'll hurt his pocket."

Mr Donne's pride was hurt, and he thereafter decided to avoid the de Walden estate. He confided his troubles to Malone, fully expecting sympathy, but even Malone said, "You ought not to have gone there - you have taken enough from them. I have heard that the old man is a tyrant."  Malone subsequently informed Mr Helstone of Donne's troubles, to the older vicar's amusement. He burst out laughing, to the indignation of Mrs Pryor, who said that Caroline was struggling to sleep.

"I do beg your pardon, ma'am," said Mr Helstone, "but you must hear this story. Mr Wynne's father has beaten Mr Donne with a stick, while Sam Wynne's dog attacked him. He has not been to beg at de Walden Hall since."

"Will you inform Mr Donne not to beg so loudly, while Caroline is ill? He was talking so loudly this morning that we could hear him from upstairs. What is more, he had the tenerity to request for my presence and beg a few shillings of me."

"I wish he would not barge into our parish - that is Malone's duty, not his. I'll have a word with Dr Boultby. Is Caroline awake?"

"She could not help being so."

"Good, I'll tell her this story - give her a laugh." He was surprised to find on Caroline's dresser a large nosegay of flowers that could not have come from the usual visitors and friends - the Halls, the Moores and Shirley Keeldar. "Who is this from?" he exclaimed. "Hie, Cary, you have an admirer I can see."

"It is from Mr Donne, uncle," said Caroline from the bed. She was propped up against a pile of fat white pillows, her long brown hair flowing down her shoulders, no longer glossy in her illness.

"Done again by Donne!  What can he be going about?" said Mr Helstone, reading the card that had arrived with the flowers. It was a sentimental poem addressed to Caroline. Since Shirley Keeldar had gone away, and since her dismissal of Donne, he had decided to pursue the lesser heiress (so he thought, Caroline had not a single penny of her own). "What a bad rhymer he is - he beats Sir Philip Nunnely in silliness. No doubt he is attempting to ingratiate himself into our intimacy and squeeze the last penny out of us. I shall tell this to Hall - he will be amused."

Mr Donne decided to fortify himself by begging more often at the Sykes'. He had naturally extracted money from them in the past but it would not hurt more to obtain more from them. Beside, Mrs Sykes was fond of all the clergymen, being a strict Churchwoman, and blind to the follies of the curates. He would be certain to be asked to stay to tea, and have an excellent cut of ham, some cucumber sandwiches, a large cake and bread and butter. Mr Donne was not in general popular with the ladies, but Mrs Sykes listened to every word he said and would utter encouraging words now and then, which was highly gratifying to his feelings. Then the Sykes girls, being of a religious inclination, would share their mother's respect of him. Besides, it had occurred to him that Mr Sykes was prosperous (that his trade was affected by the riots was in no doubt, but he was still better off than many other families in the district) and his daughters would be well-provided for.

He therefore took his steps to the Sykes' large and comfortable house. "Come in, sir," said Mary, one of the maids, "we have just had Mr Malone here as well - he is in the parlour."

He found the Sykes family at tea with Mr Malone, who was doing his utmost to charm the family - succeeding with Mrs Sykes, less so with the girls, perhaps. 

"Oh, how nice to see you Mr Donne!" cooed Mrs Sykes. "Do stay to tea."  The rest edged to give him more space, and he sat down, prepared to enjoy the presence of his friend. At first everything was jolly until it occurred to Donne that Malone was doing something unusual - attempting to make conversation with the young ladies. To be sure he always asked Miss Helstone the same three questions: "Have you gone on your walk, Miss Helstone? Have you seen your cousin Moore lately? Does your Sunday-school keep up its current number?" which had aroused some quiet contempt in him - for Donne could talk to the ladies more fluently. (A beggar must needs conversation to keep his spirits up while waiting for the victim to fall into his trap). Today, however, he was in his element, telling off-colour jokes that Mrs Sykes tittered to (to her any joke told by the clergy was all decent and proper). Gone was her majesty so accustomed to by the parish, in deference to Messrs Donne and Malone.

Malone would not be outdone in this respect, and this time actually began a conversation about the Sunday-school, where Miss Mary Sykes taught. Miss Mary was devout, and so Malone's conversation was not only tolerated, but responded to with, if not enthusiasm, at least politeness. 

"We have had several gifts from well-wishers," said Mary, eagerly. "Miss Keeldar sent us some schoolbooks - I am so glad for it, for our books are old and tattered."

Malone was more fortunate in the choice of his companion. Among the elder Sykes sisters, there were Miss Mary, Miss Harriet and Miss Hannah. Miss Dora was not at the table that day, to which the visitors had enquired, but it seemed that she was out with a friend, purchasing materials for knitting.  (Mrs Sykes encouraged all her daughters to knit for the church sale.)

"How very kind of Miss Dora," said Donne. His tone was rich with arrogance but Mrs Sykes took no heed.  Malone was too busy laughing at his own jokes to bother. 

"If I may say so," said Mrs Sykes, "Dora is not bereft of the charitable instinct I so uphold in our younger generation. The other day, she was most insistent that we sent poor Mr Sweeting something for his illness, so I had Cook prepare a jelly and soup and sent it to him. How is dear Mr Sweeting?"

"Not very well, Mrs Sykes," said Mr Donne, "he is still lying in bed, and can barely get up to do anything."

"Oh! I do hope he improves soon," said Mrs Sykes, "we miss his company and his flute."

It may seem surprising to the reader than Donne's conversation was chiefly confined to the matron, instead of the other two pretty buxom daughters. But Miss Harriet was cold and haughty; she looked past you as if you did not exist if you did not meet her estimation. Caroline Helstone had met this cool attitude from her, and subsequently thought to herself that Miss Harriet fancied herself some grand lady. Hannah too was proud - she was vain, conceited, coquettish. She never cared for the shy wilting flower that was Caroline, though thinking herself a good Christian - but unlike her more refined sister Harriet, Miss Hannah showed her airs openly - flaunted her weight and superiority (of beauty and charm at least) to anyone she thought beneath her. Quiet melancholy faces like Miss Helstone's excited her contempt: while Harriet ignored the girl, Hannah looked at her patronisingly. Donne and Malone naturally were unaware of this, as most men are ignorant of the pride of beautiful charming ladies to their fellow-ladies: it is only when they exercise unnatural pride over men that they begin to consider their estimation of the idol in question. But Miss Harriet coolly ignored the clergymen, acknowledging them only as the barest courtesy required her to do; she was subsequently less popular with them. She thought Mr Malone vulgar and Mr Donne a beggar - one of the things she and Caroline Helstone had in common, though they would never have said so to each other. She tolerated them on account of her mother's obsession with the church but she would go no further. Hannah on the other hand would have appreciated flattery of her beauty and charm - but Malone did not speak well with most ladies, and so she thought him a dull bore and beneath her.

"And so vulgar!" she had once declared to Harriet, which unfortunately was heard by Mrs Sykes.

"Hannah, my dear!" Mrs Sykes had exclaimed, "it is not Mr Malone's fault that his father lost his money and was unable to afford him the gentleman's life that was clearly his right."

Hannah did not dislike Mr Donne, being quite ready to accept his homage to her when it was ready, but Donne was only too fond of abusing Yorkshire manners to exert his belived Southern superiority. Mr Malone was less arrogant than his friend, and so was more ready to pay homage, which Donne rarely gave Hannah unless he had nothing better to do. It was generally understood among the clergymen that the nicest Misses Sykes were Miss Mary and Miss Dora - Mr Sweeting was fond of all of them, having the rare gift of charming most people he met. 

Miss Mary was pleasant enough, and kind-hearted to bend her ear to Mr Malone's vulgarities and Mr Donne's arrogance, and so her company was in a way comforting.  But Miss Dora was undoubtedly Mary's superior in charm and spirits - Donne thought Mary a trifle too devout for his liking, which Dora was not.

Poor Malone was forced to put up with Mary's eagerness about the Sunday-school and church- activities: he, who had little interest in such matters. Still it would not have been becoming in him to berate the church and so he could not escape his fair listener. Mary was not an utter bore, but she was serious-minded, far more so than Harriet and Hannah and even her good-natured sister Dora. Mr Donne was sorry that Dora was not present, for she was not as proud as Harriet and Hannah, and much better to talk to than Mary (and also the handsomest - she was like a queen) but he enjoyed Mrs Syke's patronage anyway, and had a good gossip with her about the neighbourhood families.

They were not displeased when their little party was interrupted by the arrival of Dora Sykes and her magnificent form, returned from shopping.

Louis the Romantic, Part 6
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Louis did not mention to his friend the feelings that had been germinating under his bosom. That he loved Shirley Keeldar, the bright star of Briarfield, would not have been a suitable subject for conversation - Mr Hall would kindly remonstrate him on his unattainable fancies and urge him to consider elsewhere. But it was no common fancy, he knew. Shirley was pretty, that was true, and her position far above his. Her manner was charming and yet not contrived - she needed no friend at all times, to gabble with about young-lady things. No conventional young lady was she, for she was not part of a defined set. She held herself aloof and yet she did not repel: Caroline Helstone was aloof and diffident, but charm she could not: her sway being limited to her young pupils at the Sunday-school and tender-hearted matrons in the likes of Hortense Moore and Miss Margaret Hall. These qualities alone would have been sufficient to drive an impressionable young man to ardour. But the nature of his attraction was something more, something less common yet refreshing in a man only thirty - he admired Shirley's visionary spirit - the wildness of her imagination, so often concealed from her admiring neighbours. One could converse with her on almost anything. Then she did not treat him as a cipher - as least, she used not to, back in those days at Sympson Grove. In these days of solitude, she became his muse, the subject of his poetic ruminations - things he would not commit to print, for fear of discovery.

There would be no opportunity, naturally. Had he been a man of fortune there might have been some hope, but what little he had saved could not support a wife in the style she was accustomed to. He could only hope that she would not marry another - and this part of his hopes were for the present promising, for she had refused several offers from eligible gentlemen.

Then his position was too degrading for her. What profession could he take up? He had no inclination for trade, being less shrewd than Robert, and his education had not equipped him for the commercial world. He had been a schoolmaster in earlier days, but his present employment paid him more than those years of drudgery - Henry Sympson requiring more attention and sensitivity than the average schoolboy. He liked his young pupil. too, though not as dearly as Shirley. Still, he yearned to become an independent personage - not to be a mere tutor, but one accustomed to deal with the world. Literary tastes he had - and so he had briefly contemplated making a living from poetry. That idea had soon been quashed, for poetry was not renumerative unless one was Walter Scott or Lord Byron. If he wrote poetry, it would be from feeling and an aim for reputation, not renumeration. He had some faculty for prose, and aspired to the heights of Hazlitt and Elia - which was one reason he had for coming to see Southey.

Mr Hall spoke to him, while he was at work with a new poem. "Louis, you ought to write an ode to our worthy Miss Ainley," he said, "if Miss Mann can command your literary exertions, why Miss Ainley certainly deserves them."

"Ah, but I lack material, Hall. One must choose one's subject sparingly."

"She is a very good woman - spends her time on charitable objects and nursing the poor. I wonder you do not commemorate her: you say you are short of inspiration."

"I shall do my best - though it was easier work with Miss Mann."

"Indeed!"

"Miss Mann's life has been tragic - and her character is sufficiently bitter to strike the reader as powerful. Miss Ainley's goodness is a difficult matter. Complex characters are the rage nowadays, you know. Miss Ainley is too good to be true."

Shortly afterwards, Mr Hall, who had gone out for a while, returned with news. "I have had a letter from my sister Margaret."

"What does Miss Hall say?"

"Caroline's condition is improving. Mrs Pryor wrote to her."

"Thank heavens for that!"

"You know I have a tender solicitude for your cousin, Louis. Are you no doubt have noticed, she is not very strong-spirited. I had noticed that she seemed to fade months ago, but it never occurred to me that she was ill."

Louis kept silent on this matter. He had guessed the extent of Caroline's feelings for Robert - saw it in her brightened eye when he spoke to her, her quietness giving way to liveliness, and her soft gaze at the mill-owner. No one else seemed to have discovered her secret - why should he disclose his suspicions?

"On a lighter note," said Mr Hall, chuckling, "Margaret sends news of Miss Mann's latest gossip. Miss Mann is convinced that an understanding subsists between you and Caroline."

"I and Caroline!"

"She is convinced that she is pining away for you. She claims that because you send her poetry it must mean that there is an understanding between you."

Louis burst into laughter.

"Sweeting has written as well," said Mr Hall. "I fear he has caught the influenza as well, from the cottagers."

"Has he procured a substitute?"

"He has - Donne and Malone will take over his duties while he is lying in bed. I am sorry to hear it."

Louis was surprised: Malone not being known for diligence, but then he and Sweeting were friends. He suspected that some bungling up would certainly happen, but did not voice his thoughts. "Donne will serve them differently," he observed. "The parish coffers will certainly be filled." For Mr Donne was known for his tendency to beg, even if he had procured a donation from you the day before.

"It is a pity Donne does not get along with the cottagers," said Mr Hall, "but hopefully these arrangements shall be temporary. Besides, I am not averse to more funds for the parish - that is what they need in these times. Not all are as fortunate as William Farren." It was perhaps a blessing that he had been dismissed from Robert Moore's mill when the manufacturer could not afford his services, but Mr Hall did not say this. "I hear he is doing tolerably well as a gardener - old James Booth (Shirley's gardener) has taken him under his wing. By the bye, Louis, how long have you known Mrs Pryor?"

"For four years - why?"

"My sister wondered if she was related to you, or to the Helstones."

"No, she is not."

"A very worthy woman. I believe she was to accompany Miss Keeldar on her tour, but Mrs Pryor insisted on taking care of Caroline, though she was much better in health. Let us go now - what are you doing?" for Louis had bent his head to his notebook.

"Writing."

"What are you writing, Louis? another poem?" asked Mr Hall.

"Yes," replied his friend, absent-mindedly.

"On what subject now?"

"Oh! a trifle," said Louis, and shut his notebook.


Louis the Romantic, Part 5
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Miss Mann, Margaret Hall and Hortense Moore were at Wormwood Wells, a watering-place. This party was perhaps less strained than would have been expected of a party containing Miss Mann, for she and Hortense Moore had the felicity to share a similar dispoition of complaining - Hortense on the servants, Miss Mann on every profilgate family in the neighbourhood. This sufficed to make the party quite garrulous.  Miss Hall was less inclined to gossip, being of a scholarly disposition, but as she was really a good-natured woman, she put up with the chatter of the other old maids.  They had little else to occupy them with, after all: they were not so fortunate in liking books as she did. Besides she was not averse to listening to some nonsense now and then.

"We are only missing Mrs Yorke," she wrote to her brother, "and we would have quite a misanthropic part!" Mrs Yorke was fond of Hortense in her own patronising way, and Miss Mann would to be that great sour lady's approval, being neither lively nor charming.

Wormwood Wells was not unlike other watering-places, being rather crowded in summer, with families, elderly couples, maiden sisters or friends - some were refined, others ess so. There was a time, recalled Margaret Hall, in her parents' day, when it would have been uncommon for these sort of persons to stay at watering-places, a time when these were the privilege of the wealthy and well-born. She was no friend of  the Revolution, but how good it was, and how convenient, to live in this age of democracy. She kept this to herself, for her companions would not have appreciated the import of her thoughts.

Hortense and Miss Mann were gossiping about a family in the neighbourhood - the Sykeses, it seemed. It had come out of something perfectly harmless, as usual. Hortense had been mentioning the Sykes - it seemed that Mr Sykes was concerned over the state of his trade since the Luddites had come.

"What will become of dear Mr Sweeting and Miss Dora?" said Hortense. "He may not be able to afford a dowry."

Miss Mann sniffed. "Extravagance, Miss Moore, is the cause of it. I never saw the need for such a new carriage."

Seeing that Miss Mann would soon be deep in slander, Margaret interposed hurriedly.  "I wonder how Caroline Helstone is.  The last I heard from Mrs Pryor, she was not improving."  This had the effect of softening Hortense, who was fond of her young kinswoman.

"You need not worry, Miss Hall," said Miss Mann. "I am sure Miss Helstone's condition is in no danger. Young ladies, I have often observed, are inclined to fall into a decline at many things. Miss Helstone is of a nervous temperament."

"She is not strong at all," said Hortense, who had as usual missed the import of the remark.  "I often tell her to get more exercise but it does not seem to be doing her any good."  Margaret Hall, more acute, was disappointed in Miss Mann.

"There has been influenza around the village," she said. "Perhaps she has caught it. William Farren's children are ill - who knows what has passed to Caroline?"

"It may be catching," said Miss Mann, "but it is often not dangerous. The real danger in such cases is to give in to sentiment."

"Might I ask what you mean by that, Miss Mann?" returned Miss Hall, quietly.

"Why, I am surprised you have not heard the news. They say that an understanding exists between Miss Helstone and Mr Louis Moore, and that she is pining away for him."

"Mon Dieu!" cried Hortense. "I am sure it is not so, or I would have noticed it." This remark was ignored, for Miss Moore was not of the class the world calls sharp-witted, as Mrs Yorke had put it.

"You are mistaken," said Margaret Hall, "it cannot be so, for my brother would have been aware of it.  Besides, there is scarcely an intimacy between them."

"You may be right, Miss Hall, but it has not gone unnoticed that he has been lending her poetry.  When gentlemen send poems to a lady, it can only mean one thing."

"Oh it surely cannot be," cried Hortense, who could not bear the idea of losing her younger brother to a chit of a girl (That was the way in which she regarded Caroline: she scarcely thought her capable of falling in love).  "Mr Hall sends Caroline books of poems as well, does he not, Miss Hall?"

This was not perhaps the best way to counter Miss Mann's suspicions, but Margaret Hall only smiled sweetly. A wicked thought had just occurred to her.  "Then in that case, Miss Mann, Mr Louis must be madly in love with you, since he has dedicated a poem to you."
 
This had the desired effect of silencing the old maid.   

Letters came for Miss Hall. One was from her brother, describing the scenery of the Lake District. "And my companion is a most cultivated thinker," he wrote, "he is most ideal to walk with. Now if you were here with us, Margaret, we might make a pair worthy of Charles and Mary Lamb, or the Wordsworths. We will be seeing Southey, for Louis has business of a literary matter with him.

"It really is quite a delight to be away from Nunnely, though I shall not be sorry to return. There is a curious sensation of being solitary - though with one constant companion, I grant you - that does wonders to the imagination. Louis has written part of a poem, though he will not show it to me."

The other was from Mrs Pryor, who wrote to say that Caroline was getting better.

Miss Hall put down the letter, frowning. Something had occurred to her - Mrs Pryor seemed strangely familiar, though she could not say how. She was sure that she had seen her before, years ago, but where she did not know. She consulted Hortense.

"How long has Mrs Pryor been in Miss Keeldar's household?"

"Oh, a good many years. I am not exactly sure, but my brother Louis should know."

No, it was not the late Mrs Matthewson Helstone, nee Mary Cave that Mrs Pryor reminded her of. Though why should she be thinking of Mary Cave? She recalled, with a start, that Mr Helstone's no-gooder brother James had come to the neighbourhood about twenty years ago, bringing with him his young bride. She was auburn-haired - not unlike Mrs Pryor, though the stout lady was far removed from the slender girl she had seen. She did not recall Mrs James Helstone much - she had been too quiet to make an impression on her. 

My so-called gothic story
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Due to imbeciles causing the surge in sales of degrading novels, e.g. Fifty Shades, Twilights (have you heard of the hype Breaking Dawn 2 has caused?) I have decided, once and for all, to put an end to my poverty-stricken student existence and write a story based on a formula. 

First, since vampires are bestselling, I'll have a hot vampiric seducer. Since male vampires have overstocked the market, I'll venture out and put in a female vampire, since they're so mysterious. 

Mary Sues being in fashion, the hero is a good-natured inexperienced young man. He is also a super-intelligent graduate. His bride is a pure, innocent, sweet being who dotes on him. A triangle between the hero, the young bride and the vamp ensues ... though not in the way you expect.

Since revenge always adds drama, the female vampire wants revenge on men for some undefinable reason. She decides to wreck this through the agency of the hero by seducing him. Gratuitious seduction scenes are optional - perhaps even encouraged.

But you mustn't forget the Byronic heroes, lest you alienate the countless score of fangirls. The sheer number of idiots who love Twilight almost makes me wish we were back in the dark ages when people couldn't read or write. These people DESERVE to be illiterate. The hero is a brooding young man with some undefinable existential crisis, because ... he's not allowed to be with his bride, whom he has just eloped with. That's it!

Also, since all bestselling erotica attempts to be intellectual be referencing the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy and the sillier aspects of Shakespeare's plays, let's do the same. For example, in my version I'm putting in La Belle Dame Sans Merci from Keats and Geraldine from Coleridge's Christabel. Since Romantic poetry looks waaay more cultured than romantic novels, or rather classic novels stripped of everything except the romance bits.  To mix it all up, I'm doing a Melmoth the Wanderer, which is so gothick. 

So what do you get? A mash-up of genres, including fantasy, suspense, romance (this is for the most stupid of the readers, and most readers are stupid, as literacy levels prove) and horror, Scifi would be cool, unfortunately that's for the guys. Sorry, guys, but you don't make a majority of the  readers who send books up bestselling lists. 

So how does the vampire seduce the hero? Since he's supposed to be incorruptibly pure, she disguises herself as his bride. This device, by the way, was used in Shakespeare, in case you're wondering. Yet another way to put in something stupid and sound intellectual. The bed trick involves Mariana pretending to be Isabella in the bed of the judge - somethnig subsequently used in Restoration dramas. The Restoration by the way was full of this sort of crap which is why they don't last today - or perhaps why they've recently made a comeback. since we are now all over-sexualised morons. But let's go a step further from the bed trick at night - and put it in a Doppelganger element, because that's just so goth. (It was in the 18th and 19th century). The fairy changes form (which is supposed to be in Coleridge's Christabel only he never got round to finishing it) and transforms into the hero's young bride. Then she gets to seduce him, preferably with a song like the sirens. Let it take place in a small pool outdoors, because sirens are associated with the sea.

It is frightening to think that one can write a story just out of a bunch of stupid cliches and tropes. But add the atmosphere in and you're done. Now that is something else entirely. 

Louis the Romantic, Part 4
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"I am not surprised," said Mr Hall, "they say that Wordsworth believes his poetry to be the best - to be above the bard as well. Though one might argue he is justified in the matter. You are becoming quite a literary gentleman, Louis. Southey lives at Greta Hall, does he not?"

"Yes. Do you know that Coleridge once lived there?"

"I was not aware of it. Now Coleridge is a genius - far more so than Wordsworth. It is a pity he has stopped writing his best poems."

"But his prose amply compensates for our loss in poetry. Besides, his powers are no more."

Their walking tour was not without its little inconveniences. The nature of their rambling being more suited to rough attire, they wore loose-fitting trousers and workman's jackets, to the suspicion of one of the landlords, who thought that there were footpads in the house. They were therefore sent to the barn.

"Sir, I am a clergyman," protested Mr Hall, but to no avail. It did not help matters that he spoke with a strong Yorkshire accent, unlike the smooth silvery tones of Mrs Pryor. A gentleman must be universal in speech: accents are necessarily an impediment to respectability. "One would expect that at my age I would be free of suspicion."

But Louis was laughing at the spectacle of Mr Hall being mistaken for a footpad. "At least he paid you the compliment of thinking you good enough to be a highwayman. They are very popular nowadays."

"My sight is too weak to handle a pistol, Louis," pointed out Mr Hall, though he was amused. 

"You are intellectual-looking - you might be a mastermind of a great crime, and hire out lackeys to carry out your bidding." 

"I see you have a future career in mind should your literary ambitions come to naught."

That year the rain fell in copious amounts, and so even Louis was persuaded to put down pencil and paper, to retire indoors. Mr Hall did not mind this arrangement, though he would have liked to wander more among nature. His age had rendered his limbs feebler than back in his youthful days, and he was glad for a chance to seize rest. Then there were books to read, which took up a number of agreeable hours. It is such among quiet natures. Lively persons often do more, witness more, and tell more stories of how they spent their holidays. But they cannot be satisfied in quietness: they must act, or else their motivation is gone. Mr Hall and Louis Moore were of the quieter class of people, who could be perfectly contented reading a good book at home. If they had little to say to others then they had much more to think and reflect upon. It was a pity that Caroline was ill, and that Miss Hall was away in Wormwood Wells with Miss Mann and Hortense Moore, or else she would have enjoyed the peace of the Lake District. Had his sister been present to be chaperone Mr Hall would have gladly asked for his young friend's company. He was conscious of Mr Helstone's detachment from his niece: uncle and niece had not been on vacation together for some time. But Caroline was fond of him and his sister, and he doubted not that the air would have returned the redness to her faded cheeks. 

Louis occupied himself with scholarly pursuits - teaching himself German, reading Bentham and Godwin, and paying close attention to the Lyrical Ballads. Such a man was wasted as a mere tutor - though on the other hand, his pupil adored him. Probably no other tutor would have suited Henry Sympson so well. In the dim candlelight one could see the resemblance to his mercantile brother - had Caroline been present the sight would have been painful, for he looked just as Robert did when they read poetry together. 

"You do not intend to teach for long, I suppose?" observed Mr Hall on one of their walks.

"After Henry has completed his education I intend to give it up - but what for? I have no capital for trade or a profession."

Mr Hall sympathised.  "You might write for the reviews if you were acquainted with London literary circles. Your abilities I am sure are more than sufficient."

"That is one of the reasons I am seeing Southey. He is reputed to be generous with advice to young writers."

"You will need regular work. You will marry one of these days - and in these times one can't support a wife on a writer's salary."

"Marriage - I shall not be able to consider that prospect at present. The idea seems so distant to me."

Gabriel's Inferno
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And so, dear readers, I've bought a copy of Gabriel's Inferno from Waterstone's. I'm not into romance, but as there was a great deal of hype and since there was Renaissance art mentioned, I thought I'd check it out. One of the reasons I read Fifty Shade was to parody it. (Yes, masochist I am). One fellow blogger said she read the Twilight series despite despising it. I hate to say it, but even Twilight has a more complicated plot than 50 Shades. (With numerous covens, and stuff I"ve never read).

Also, I've spent so many hours reading for free in Waterstone's it would only be right to buy something. I know there's that biography on Shelley, and on Coleridge too, but then I'd been curiously asking whether Inferno was in stock and it never was, so I might as well order a copy. I could have saved the money and gone to Amazon but then I've saved so much reading many novels for free. Like the complete von Igelfeld novellas by Alexander McCall Smith(they're really funny). 

The author is an anonymous Canadian called Sylvain Reynard (translated it's supposed to be Woodland Fox). He or she wrote it as fanfiction originally as Sebastien Robichaud but I suspect it is a she - it is after all a bestselling romance novel.

I've read a little preview on Scribd, and while it didn't really fascinate or interest me, it was still better-written than Twilight and 50 Shades. I suspect the author might be an academic. So I shall keep you informed on whether you ought to read the Gabriel's Inferno series or not.

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