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Letter to Benjamin Robert Haydon , 31 October 1821

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LEst1870 : The Life of Mary Russell Mitford Related in a Selection from Her Letters to Her Friends, Second and Revised edition, 3 vols., Ed. Alfred Guy Kingan L’Estrange. London: Richard Bentley, 1870.
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October 31st 1821. Three Mile Cross
My dear Sir

The magnificent portion of bride cake arrived this morning & shall be distributed as you desire. Yes, we will set half the pretty girls in the parish dreaming on it--I wanted to make a bargain with one , to whom I gave a bit just now , that she should tell me her dream--but she says that would destroy the charm . There was no saying a word after that , you know. By - the - bye , nothing but the sort of sacred air that breathes around Bridecake could have preserved your munificent present & brought it safe to us. By some accident it was sent , not by a Reading , but a Newbury coach , & found its way to Three Mile Cross, after being carried half way to Newbury, through the intervention of all manner of men & women--Post boys--& Chambermaids & keepers of Turnpike gates. But every thing belonging to such a Wedding & such a Honeymoon as yours will turn out right , depend on it. You see that your good luck extends even to your friends--& travels about with your bride-cake. Oh ! it will never forsake you , never ! I think that last honeymoon letter , written whilst the fair Bride was sitting , working , & smiling at your side, was prettier even than the first. Did you read it to her as you wrote it? or
shall I send her a copy? It was worthy even of that charming seal. How much you must both have felt in going into your painting room . Will the Lazarus be finished against next season? If any thing could improve your genius , it would be living in such a sunshine of love & beauty.
Miss James is by this time back again at Richmond. I wished her very much to call on you Sunday or Monday , that she might leave with you my poor Tragedy , which I should , of all things , have liked you to read , I have such an opinion of your judgment. But it is now out of her hands. Only think of my shocking ill luck in having written on the same subject with Lord Byron--The story of Foscari ! I am so distressed at the idea of a competition, not merely with his Lordship's talents, but with his great name, & the strange awe in which he holds people, & the terrible scoffs & sneers in which he indulges himself, that I have written to Mr. Talfourd requesting him to consult another friend on the propriety of entirely suppressing my play, which had gone to Town to be presented to the Manager the very day that the subject of Lord Byron's was announced. I rather think now that it will not be offered--that Mr. Talfourd will suppress it--& I heartily wish he may. If it be sent back to me unoffered , I shall immediately begin another play on some German story , & shall take for the opening the exquisite first act of the Orestes of Euripides . What astonishing people those Greek dramatists were! I am just now reading Potter's Aeschylus with the intensity of admiration with which you would look at the frescoes of Michael Angelo . Happening to express something of this enthusiasm to a scholar of very great name he answered--"The Prometheus? Yes , the Prometheus is rather pretty--prettyish-- one of the prettiest!"Now what business has this man to know Greek ? And what business have I to be intruding so long on you?--Good bye my dear Sir . My Father & Mother join me in every kind remembrance & kinder wish to you & to Mrs Haydon.

Ever most sincerely yours,
M
. R. Mitford.















ebb : Elisa Beshero-Bondar
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October 31 st 1821. Three Mile Cross
My dear Sir

The magnificent portion of bride cake arrived this morning & shall be distributed as you desire. Yes, we will set half the pretty girls in the parish dreaming on it--I wanted to make a bargain with one to whom I gave a bit just now that she should tell me her dream--but she says that would destroy the charm --If she told who the husband was to be she should never get him. There was no saying a word after that you know. By the bye nothing but the sort of sacred air that breathes around Bridecake --so that to steal that would be to invade the sweetest & holiest of our affections & sympathies--nothing but this fine & general feeling could have preserved your munificent present , & brought it safe to us. By some accident it was sent not by a Reading Coach but a Newbury one , & found its way to Three Mile Cross, after being carried half way to Newbury, through the intervention of all manner of men & women--Post boys--& Chambermaids & keepers of Turnpike gates. But every thing belonging to such a Wedding & such a Honeymoon as yours will turn out right depend on it. You see that your good luck extends even to your friends--& travels about with your bride-cake. Oh it will never forsake you ! Never ! I think that last honeymoon letter written whilst the fair Bride was sitting working & smiling at your side, was prettier even than the first. Did you read it to her as you wrote it? or
shall I send her a copy? It was worthy even of that charming seal. How much you must both have felt in going into your painting room !-- Will the Lazarus be finished against next season? If any thing could improve your genius it would be living in such a sunshine of love & beauty.
Miss James is very anxious to have the pleasure of being known to Mrs. Haydon --She mentioned your note with great delight, & talked of calling--but was not I suppose certain of the time you would return to Lisson Grove . She is by this time back again at Richmond. I wished her very much to call on you Sunday or Monday that she might leave with you my poor Tragedy which I have should of all things have wished you to read --indeed I begged her to take the chance-- I have such an opinion of your judgment. But it is now out of her hands. Only think of my shocking ill luck in having written on the same subject with Lord Byron --The story of Foscari -- I am so distressed at the idea of a competition, not merely with his Lordship's talents, but with his great name, & the strange awe in which he holds people, & the terrible scoffs & sneers in which he indulges himself, that I have written to Mr. Talfourd requesting him to consult another friend on the propriety of entirely suppressing my play, which had gone to Town to be presented to the Manager the very day that the subject of Lord Byron's was announced. I rather think now that it will not be offered--that Mr. Talfourd will suppress it--& I heartily wish he may. My poor Tragedy has been a work of great labour & is certainly complete enough in its own small way, but it is abundantly womanish & feeble, & does not at all adhere to the literal historic truth--which would be a great disadvantage in case the noble author
should have done so, & have made the public familiar with the facts. I hope it will not be offered. What do you think of Lord Byron's dramatic power? Manfred was very fine certainly--perhaps the finest thing he ever did--& Marino Faliero certainly the worst. But Foscari is a story of real human sympathy--not of factitious sentiment--He will certainly succeed in that. If this play be
sent back to me unoffered I shall immediately begin another on some German story & shall take for the opening the exquisite first act of the Orestes of Euripides --which I saw acted so finely a fortnight ago, & which it is quite wonderful to think has never been transferred to the English stage. What astonishing people those Greek dramatists were! I am just now reading Potter 's Aeschylus with the intensity of admiration with which you would look at the frescoes of Michael Angelo & Happening to express something of this enthusiasm to a scholar of very great name he answered--" The Prometheus? Yes the Prometheus is rather pretty--prettyish-- one of the prettiest! "Now what business has this man to know Greek ! And what business have I to be intruding so long on you?--Good bye my dear Sir My Father & Mother join me in every kind remembrance & kinder wish to you & to Mrs Haydon .

Ever most sincerely your's
MR
. Mitford.


Do not mention my Foscari unless it should really be likely to come out of which you shall have the earliest notice. But of that there is very little chance. Once more God bless you. We have just been drinking your health & your dear Mary 's. Again Good bye


B.
R. Haydon Esqre
St
. John's Place
Lisson Grove North
Regent's Park
London







Select Witness

LEst1870 : The Life of Mary Russell Mitford Related in a Selection from Her Letters to Her Friends, Second and Revised edition, 3 vols., Ed. Alfred Guy Kingan L’Estrange. London: Richard Bentley, 1870.

ebb : Elisa Beshero-Bondar

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