ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

Home
Biography
Bibliography

Poetry
Plays
Fiction

Essays
Reviews
Letters

The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay
Miscellanea

Links
Site Diary
Site Search

LETTERS FROM COLLECTIONS

3. U.S.A. University Libraries:

U.C.L.A., Charles E. Young Research Library - continued

 

15. Letter to Mrs. Marshall (Ada Cavendish) - [1885].

29 Oxford Mansions
         W.
Tuesday

Dear Mrs Marshall,

                   I send Prologue & first 3 acts. They are rather rough, & Act 4 too rough for you to make out at all. Glance them thro’ & let me have the M.S. back to-night.
         ‘Nan’ is a big sympathetic part admirably suited to you. The play is not Shaksperean, but goes like a whirlwind.

                   Yours truly
                   Robt Buchanan.

Mrs Marshall

[Notes:
Letter No. 20 in collection.

No date and the ‘29 Oxford Mansions’ address is not duplicated elsewhere. The only clue is the mention of ‘Nan’, which means the play is Alone in London, which is confirmed by the description that it is “not Shaksperean, but goes like a whirlwind”. Given the state of the manuscript and the fact that neither the part nor the play is known to Ada Cavendish, I would suggest that Buchanan offered her the part of ‘Nan’ (aka Annie Meadows) before Amy Roselle. This would place this letter some time between Buchanan’s return from America (in June, 1885, but he initially stayed at the Westward Ho boarding house in Southend and it was probably not until early August that the plans for the London production of Alone in London began to be put in place) and September, 1885, when, according to the subsequent court reports, Buchanan first sent telegrams to Roselle offering her the part. There is a possibility that the part was offered to Ada Cavendish later, after Roselle was sacked on 3rd December, 1885 (Harriett Jay taking over the part of ‘Nan’) or when the plans were being made for the first provincial tour, which began at Liverpool on 22nd February, 1886, but I think both these occasions are doubtful.

Ada Cavendish (Mrs. Frank Marshall) acted in three Buchanan plays: The Queen of Connaught (1877), Lady Clare (1883) and The Bride of Love (1890).]

_____

 

16. Letter to Messrs. Enoch & Sons - 26th November [1885].

How soon do you
issue the song? I hope,
well before Xmas.

11a Park Road
Regents Park
         N.W.
Nov. 26

Dear Sirs,

                   The poet you have ‘turned on’ to alter the ‘Alone in London’ verses rather mistakes their purport as well as their rhythm. Wherein lies the offence of the original?
         I enclose a slightly altered version, which may suit you. If the lines are to appear with my name, they must not be tinkered.
         I have allowed my acting Manager Mr Burnham to arrange this little affair with you. He has doubtless sent you my signed permission to publish.

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Messrs Enoch & Sons

                                                                                                   (over

Just a hair’s-breadth seperates natural sentiment from twaddle. I never wrote that the ‘angels bore’ any one ‘away, to the Kingdom of light & love,’ though they have been doing so in drawing-rooms ever since the time of the poet Bunn.

[Notes:
Letter No. 32 in collection.
The first performance of Alone in London in England took place at the Olympic Theatre on 2nd November, 1885.
The note about ‘Xmas’ is written at a slant, in the top left-hand corner.
Following ‘may suit you. If’ ‘they’ is written but the ‘y’ is crossed through and ‘lines’ is inserted above.
A word is crossed out after ‘to arrange’.
 

Enoch & Sons were music publishers. The original French arm of the company is still in business and the following is taken from their website:

     “Carl Enoch was an itinerant salesman for the German company Littolf Publishers when in 1853 he set up a music publishing business located in Paris, 27 boulevard des Italiens. From the beginning, Carl brought his young children into  his business in order to introduce them to music publishing.
     It was Carl’s eldest son, Wilhem, who succeeded his father in the 1880’s. He took over the firm in which he had already been collaborating with Carl for twenty years. Wilhem created his own catalogue of musical works. At the same time, Wilhem’s youngest brother, Charles Enoch migrated to London, England where he set up the music publishing house Enoch and Sons”

Information on ‘the poet Bunn’ is available here.

I have not found the ‘Alone in London’ song, which this letter concerns, but Buchanan did contribute a poem to the programme for the original London performance of Alone in London. Presumably this was the basis for the song, referred to in the letter as “the ‘Alone in London’ verses”.

ALONE IN LONDON

Alone! alone in London!
     She stretches helpless hands—
In storm and strife, the Sea of Life
     Rolls round her as she stands!
She sees no friendly face go past,
     She hears no friendly tone;
A flower upon a torrent cast
     Is not more lost and lone!

Then nightly, over London,
     The starry orbs unclose,
Heaven opens clear, from sphere to sphere
     The electric splendor glows!
She stands alone amid the crowd,
     And, looking to the skies,
Beholds, beyond the breaking cloud,
     The light of loving eyes!

At last, alone in London,
     She sinks in that dark Sea!
Deep down below its ebb and flow
     Creep creatures sad as she;
Ragged and wretched, thro’ the gloom,
     The human outcasts move;
Yet even here, in darkness, bloom
     Lilies of light and love!

Alone! alone in London!
     And yet not all alone!
Weeping she stands, but gentle hands
     Are thrust into her own!
The shadows fade, the splendours grow,
     Sweet voices answer hers;
While beggar’s rags fall off, to show
     God’s radiant Messengers.

Information on ‘the poet Bunn’ is available here.]

_____

 

17. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Strickland - 1st December 1885.

“And when God takes much, my darling,
         He leaves us the colour & form—
The scorn of the nations is bitter,
         But the touch of a hand is warm!”

                                                                                                   Robert Buchanan.

London, Dec. 7.
         1885.

         With compts & kind greetings to Mr & Mrs Strickland.

[Notes:
Letter No. 1 in collection.
There is a second signature attached to this note, authentic but written in different ink, so unconnected to the note.

The quotation is from ‘Artist and Model’ published in London Poems (1866).]

_____

 

18. Letter to Lady Monckton - 24th November [1887].

9 Gower Street
Bedford Square
         W.C.
Nov. 24

Dear Madam,

                   Would you be disposed to create the leading part, one well suited to your powers, in a new play of mine at a Matinêe? If so I shall be glad to hear from you. I purpose producing the play very shortly, with Mr Neville, Miss Harriett Jay, Mr Righton, and other well known artistes in the caste.

                   Faithfully yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

Lady Monckton.

[Notes:
Letter No. 21 in collection.
The address is written below the printed address, ‘HAMLET COURT, SOUTHEND, ESSEX’, which has been struck through.]

_____

 

19. Letter to Lady Monckton - 6th December [1887].

9 Gower Street
         W.C.
Dec. 6.

Dear Lady Monckton,

                   I send you 3 acts of the play herewith, not having had time to revise it as I intended—for I am very busy. My intention is to somewhat elaborate & strengthen the 2nd & 3rd Acts.
         Act 4 is not copied, but if you take to the part of the Countess, it can soon be ready for your inspection.
         Will you glance thro’ the play at your first convenience, & let me know how it impresses you?

                   Very truly yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

Lady Monckton.

[Notes:
Letter No. 22 in collection.
The address is written above the printed address, ‘HAMLET COURT, SOUTHEND, ESSEX’, which has been struck through. The date is written below.
‘3 acts of’ is inserted between ‘I send you’ and ‘the play’.
After ‘herewith,’ there is a word which is difficult to make out. Since the second part of the word seems to be ‘not’ and the first part could be crossed out, and since this fits the sense, I have gone with that.

In 1858 Maria Louisa Long (1837-1920) married Sir John Braddick Monckton, who was the Town Clerk of London from 1873 to 1902.
In the Chatto correspondence there are several letters from the Gower Street address between 13th October, 1887 and 7th December, 1888. This was Buchanan’s London base while his permanent address was Hamlet Court, Southend, and there are letters from there from 24th October, 1887 to 8th May, 1888. This gives only an approximate date range. The cast list for Buchanan’s new play, Henry Neville, Edward Righton and Harriett Jay seems to tie the date down to the first matinée performance of Fascination on 6th October, 1887, since this was the only time this trio of actors shared the stage. At first I did wonder whether these letters to Lady Monckton possibly referred to Fascination and the part offered was Mrs. Delamere (not exactly the ‘leading part’ but that could be a producer’s exaggeration, and not a Countess either, but her partner-in-crime is Comte de la Grange) however the dates are all wrong. Although Fascination was written by Buchanan and Jay while they were in America, I don’t think it’s reasonable to place these letters in 1886, as an early attempt to cast the play, since that would mean a year’s gap before the play reached the stage in England. Plus Fascination only had three acts. Also, on the strength of the first matinée, Buchanan and Jay had placed the play with the Vaudeville Theatre according to an advert in The Era of 22nd October, 1887, which offered “the temporary use of the Novelty Theatre, on Share or Rental”. Buchanan and Jay had taken on the management of the Novelty Theatre in July, 1887 but, apart from the matinée of Fascination, the only play produced was The Blue Bells of Scotland which ran from 12th September to 8th October, 1887. So, I would suggest, that these letters refer to another, unknown, play of Buchanan’s (in four acts, with a Countess as the leading character) which he was preparing to try out, with members of the cast from Fascination, at a matinée at the Novelty Theatre, after it had gone ‘dark’. If the letters are from 1888, which is, of course, perfectly possible, it falls into the period when Buchanan was writing Lady Gladys for Lillie Langtry, A Man’s Shadow for Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and preparing for the first performance of That Doctor Cupid at a Vaudeville matinée on 14th January, 1889. So, I think the letters were written in 1887. Of course, it goes without saying that Lady Monckton turned Buchanan down, since there is no record at all of her ever performing in any of Buchanan’s plays.]

_____

 

20. Letter to F. Grove - 27th April [1888].

Private

Hamlet Court
Southend
Essex
April 27

Dear Sir,

                   Can you play for me at a matinée early in May?—Also, would you care to play Mr Brookfield’s part in the provincial tour of Partners?
         Kindly consider this letter confidential.

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

F. Grove Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 27 in collection.
‘Private’ is written at a slant, in the top left-hand corner.
The address is written, not printed.

Fred Grove appeared in Fascination at the Vaudeville Theatre from 19th January to 29th February, 1888. Partners ran at the Haymarket Theatre from 5th January to 24th March, 1888. Although I’ve not found any record of a provincial tour of Partners, nor any matinée in May, 1888, I do favour 1888 as the year of this letter. Otherwise it seems strange for Buchanan to expect Fred Grove to remember which part Charles Brookfield had played in Partners (Algernon Bellair) a year after the play had closed. One reason for considering 1889 is that there was a series of matinée performances of Angelina! (by W. Cooper, but there is convincing evidence that it was by Robert Buchanan) at the Vaudeville which did include Fred Grove. There is still no tour of Partners that year and although Hamlet Court may still have been the ‘family residence’ at that time, Buchanan had rented a house in Arkwright Road, Hampstead in February, 1889, and there is a letter to James Cotton of The Academy dated 23rd April, 1889 from that address.]

_____

 

21. Letter to Kineton Parke[s] - 15th June [1888]

Hamlet Court
Southend
Essex
June 15

Dear Sir,

                   I find I have omitted to answer your letter of May 12. None of my plays are pubd, for a very good reason—that publication destroys copyright in America.
         I shall be happy to give you any further information.

                   Truly yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

Kineton Parke Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 24 in collection.

William Kineton Parkes was an English novelist and art historian who, from 1891 to 1911, was principal of the Nicholson Institute in Leek (which I only mention since it’s only 7 miles down the road). He also edited The Painter Poets, published in 1890 for ‘The Canterbury Poets’ series, and was the art editor of the magazine, Igdrasil. The only other link between Parkes and Buchanan occurred in this item from the Pall Mall Gazette of 21st May 1890:

pmgkinetonparkes02

The year of the letter is speculative. The actual dates of Buchanan’s residence at Hamlet Court are not known, so one depends on letters (as mentioned above the letters to Chatto & Windus run from October 1887 to May 1888) and other sources. A letter with the Hamlet Court address was dated 7th July and published a week later in The Academy, the ‘Dramatic Directory’ in the December issue of The Theatre, lists Harriett Jay as residing at Hamlet Court, and an item in The Globe of 2nd February, 1889 also gives Hamlet Court as Buchanan’s home. Although it could be from 1887, I think it more probable to be from 1888.]

_____

 

22. Letter to Sir Edwin Arnold - 24th July [1889].

17 Cavendish Place
         W.
July 24.

My dear Sir,

                   I should like sooner or later, if you will give me the opportunity, to ventilate more fully my views on the duties of individuals & society. My feeling on the subject amounts to a passion, for I feel convinced that unless the air can be cleared of the present egoistic poison, unless in other words men can be recalled to their belief in some sort of divine sanction, corruption will spread far and wide.
         I have read with infinite pleasure your beautiful poems—a monument aere perennius—to Lady Arnold. To such noble sorrow I cannot add a word, but the corruption of which I speak would soon make such sorrows & such books impossible—it would, in fact, as I have said elsewhere, drive all poetry out of the world—kill the one truth which is the germ of everything beautiful in Nature and Humanity. I have been fighting all my life, often agt heavy odds, against Pessimism, which in baser moments of the strenuous sense becomes a seeming reality, but in moments of insight, of clear spiritual sunlight, passes wholly away. And of late years the poets have helped us so little, so that, but for a few noble exceptions like your own, the sacer vates, the vindicator of insight against outsight, is almost a forgotten factor in the world’s progress.
         I send you these few inadequate lines, which you will readily be able to interpret. When I fight for the sanctities which many now think conventions, I fight for all I care for, all I live for, in the world. Science has been pulling up the innumerable weeds which have grown up around morality & religion, and now, in its wild eagerness to uproot those weeds, it is pulling up the flowers as well.
         With great respect & sympathy

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Sir Edwin Arnold.

[Notes:
Letter No. 33 in collection.
‘to’ inserted between ‘amounts’ and ‘a passion’.
‘but’ inserted before ‘the corruption’ at the start of the second page.
There is a correction before ‘sorrows & such’.
There is a correction before ‘out of the world’.
‘is’ is inserted between ‘truth which’ and ‘the germ’.
‘been’ is inserted between ‘I have’ and ‘fighting’.
The ‘A’ of ‘And of late’ is double-underlined.
‘like your own’ is inserted between ‘exceptions’ and ‘, the sacer vates,’.
A word is crossed out and ‘Science’ written above and the next word has been altered to read ‘has’.

Sir Edwin Arnold’s second wife died on 15th March, 1889. In June of that year he published a book of poetry dedicated to his late wife, In My Lady’s Praise.
After renting the house in Arkwright Road, Hampstead, Buchanan moved in May, 1889 to a furnished flat at 17, Cavendish Place, Marylebone.
Sir Edwin Arnold had also lived at Hamlet Court, Southend, prior to Buchanan. In My Lady’s Praise is available at the Internet Archive and there is a review from Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (16 June, 1889 - p.5) available here.]

St James’s Gazette (16 March, 1889 - p.7)

ladyarnolddeath

23. Fragment of letter to an unnamed newspaper - 1st November [1890].

him “soft sawder”. If Mrs Lancaster-Wallis is “grateful” to the critics for emptying her treasury, I am not. I can accept my punishment, & even shake hands with my opponents, but I cannot flatter & insult them in the same breath. This may be tact in a manager, but it would be cowardice in an author. The result may be seen in the immediate future, when Mrs Lancaster-Wallis produces a play by one of the very critics to whom she is so “grateful”,—one of those gentlemen who write plays themselves and “damn” the plays of others. I await the ‘critical paean’ which is being prepared for this masterpiece, and am,

                   Your obedient servant,
                   Robert Buchanan.

Royalty Theatre, Nov. 1. 1890

[Notes:
Letter No. 10 in collection.
‘is’ is crossed out before ‘cowardice’ and ‘would be’ is written above.
After ‘cowardice in an author’ several words are crossed out, a full stop is added and a new sentence begins with ‘The result’ written above.
A word is inserted between ‘may’ and ‘be seen’ but has been crossed out.
A word is crossed out after ‘by one of’.
‘many’ is inserted before ‘critics’.
After ‘critics’ ‘to whom she is so “grateful”’ is inserted above.
After ‘who write plays themselves and’ ‘criticise’ is crossed out and “damn” written above.
‘critical’ is inserted between ‘I await the’ and ‘paean’.
After the fragment of the letter, the following has been added by another hand:
‘Part of an autograph letter of Robert Buchanan – poet, dramatist, novelist, theatrical manager & generally quarrelsome, cantankerous man of genius.’

This is a fragment of a letter to a newspaper or magazine concerning Buchanan’s play The Sixth Commandment (an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment) which ran at the Shaftesbury Theatre (managed by Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis) from 8th October to 14th November, 1890. The critical reception for the play had not been good and Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis decided to ask the audience whether the play should close. The question was put on 18th October, the following Saturday, Clement Scott wrote a letter to The Era about the whole affair, to which Buchanan responded, in The Observer on 26th October. The Era reprinted Buchanan’s letter on 1st November, and Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis responded to it in the same issue. I would suggest that this particular fragment comes from another letter to The Era, responding to that of Mrs. Lancaster-Wallis. However, I’ve not been able to confirm this, so, perhaps it was never printed. The rest of the correspondence on the matter is available in the Letters to the Press section.]

_____

 

24. Letter to Justin H. MacCarthy - 24th May [1891].

TELEPHONE No 7442.

MERKLAND,
25, MARESFIELD GARDENS,
SOUTH HAMPSTEAD.
May 24th.

Dear Mr MacCarthy,

                   I’m not quite sure whether our Dress Rehearsal will be on Thursday or Friday—we may, indeed, have two; but Ive no objection whatever to your coming, & Ill let you know the day. Dress rehearsals, however, are dreary things as a rule, for ’tis acting to an empty house.
         Although you’re an ardent Ibsenite, I know you’re far too sensible to see any malice in certain allusions to your favourite plays. Parody in fact is always a compliment, & if Shakspere can be chaffed good humouredly, any lesser man is fair game. I shall be very sorry if it gets abroad that there is the least bit of malice or ill-feeling in my play. As I have pointed out in to-day’s Observer, I have from the first protested against the journalistic attempt to suppress Ibsen on the grounds of indecency & immorality. Whatever may be my estimate of the man as a dramatist, I believe him to be in earnest, & it is fudge to call any earnest work of art ‘immoral.’
         With my best wishes

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Justin H. MacCarthy Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 17 in collection.
The telephone number is printed, at a slant, in the top left-hand corner.
The address is printed at the top, in the centre.
‘plays’ is inserted after ‘favourite’.
‘journalistic’ is inserted between ‘against the’ and ‘attempt’.

The play referred to is Buchanan’s spoof of Ibsen, The Gifted Lady, which ran at the Avenue Theatre from 2nd to 9th June, 1891. Justin Huntly McCarthy (1859-1936) was an Irish author and in 1891 was also an M.P.]

_____

 

25. Letter to Arthur Fish - 7th November 7th [1893].

25 Maresfield Gardens
S. Hampstead
         N.W.
Nov. 7.

Dear Sir,

                   We wont fall out on the question of lucre, & if you desire it I will send you the poems & accept the five guineas. I should like you tell me, tho’, what sort of verses to select. Could you send me a sample number? I know I have seen some illustrated pieces in your magne, but I forget whether the pictures were or were not simply decorative.

                   Faithfully yours
                   Robt Buchanan.

Arthur Fish Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 11 in collection.
The envelope is addressed to:

Arthur Fish Esq
The Magazine of Art
La Belle Sauvage
Ludgate Hill
         E.C.

The letter has ‘1893’ added to the date, in pencil, by another hand. This seems to be confirmed by the date on the envelope’s postmark.

There are copies of The Magazine of Art at the Internet Archive. I have checked the editions from 1892 to 1895 but have found nothing by Buchanan.

_____

 

26. Letter to Fred Grove - 20th August [1895].

Muirhead House
Craigengelt
by Denny
Stirlingshire
         N.B.
Augt 20

Dear Mr Grove,

                   Your letter has just reached me here among the mountains, & I have dropt a line to Mr Kerr saying that I strongly recommend you for a leading part in the tour.
         With all good wishes

                   Yours truly
                   R. Buchanan.

F. Grove Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 12 in collection.
‘/95’ has been added to the date, in pen, but different ink, so presumably by another hand.

There are other letters from this holiday address, two to Chatto & Windus dated 17th and 26th August and a telegram on 4th September, 1895, and a letter to Archibald Stodart-Walker from 2nd September, 1895.
The play referred to is The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, which was produced by Frederick Kerr at the Vaudeville Theatre on 26th June, 1895. One of the most successful of Buchanan and Jay’s later plays, it ran in London until 8th February, 1896. I have not found any mention of Fred Grove being in the cast of the touring productions, but he was in the tour of Dr. and Mrs Neill by Brandon Thomas featuring Miss Kate Rorke and selected London Company from September to October 1895.

_____

 

27. Letter to Leonard Smithers - 5th March [1898].

55 Christchurch Road
Streatham Hill
         S.W.
March 5.

Dear Sir,

                   Would you care to undertake the publication of a new work of mine, which will I think cause some discussion, especially in view of the recent Burns’ criticisms, & which is at any rate bold and audacious enough to provoke controversy. The title is as follows:

“The Land o’ the Deil”:
A Discourse on Robert Burns & the
Paradox of Scottish Civilization,
with a Preface from the Devil;

and the scheme embraces a rapid survey of Scottish genius, with the view of showing that Scotland owes everything to its temperamental immorality. Incidentally, there is a thoroughly unsparing denunciation of the discrediting view of Burns taken by W. Henley & others. In good hands, the work would I believe find a large number of readers, both here & in America. Whatever its merits may be, it is certainly not dull or conventional.
         My reasons for wishing to publish it through a new channel are two-fold; – (1) I have been so unwell that I am removing permanently to Brighton, and (2) I do not possess the publishing machinery to plant a popular book on the great reading public. If you entertain the idea at all, we might meet and talk it over, either at your place or at my offices at 36 Gerrard Street, when I could give you further details. I have no doubt whatever of the inherent interest of the book, & in any case I shall issue it without delay.
         Will you kindly forward the enclosed letter to Mr Wilde?  It is merely a line congratulating him on his reappearance in literary life, at which I am more than pleased, as I was almost solitary among men of letters in trying to procure him justice & fair-play.
         Your reply will oblige

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Leonard Smithers Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 34 in collection.
‘(1898)’ is added, in pencil, by another hand, after the date. There is another letter to Marie Corelli from this address, which is from 8th June, 1898, so the year is correct.

Leonard Smithers, according to the brief entry in Wikipedia, “was a London publisher associated with the Decadent movement”. At this point Buchanan had abandoned his own publishing business - the final book to appear from 36, Gerrard Street was a new edition of The Outcast on 21st January, 1898. In March of that year his science fiction novel, The Rev. Annabel Lee was published by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd. In October, 1898, John Long published one of Buchanan’s most popular novels, Father Anthony, and in December, Walter Scott Ltd. published Buchanan’s final book of poetry, The New Rome. So this attempt to interest Leonard Smithers in his work was probably just part of the same process of trying to get books published wherever possible and nothing more, but there is still a whiff of delicious irony in the reviled author of ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry’ reaching out to a notorious publisher of erotica and pornography, as well as the works of Aubrey Beardsley, Aleister Crowley and Arthur Symons. Smithers had published Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, anonymously, on 13th February, 1898. The third edition, published on 4th March was ‘signed by the author’. Perhaps this edition, revealing Wilde’s authorship, prompted Buchanan’s decision to contact Smithers, and through Smithers, Wilde. The “enclosed letter to Mr Wilde”, is, of course, missing. On the other hand, Wilde may have sent Buchanan a copy of the book and this was Buchanan’s response. More information about the current whereabouts of Buchanan’s copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol is available here. There is no evidence that Leonard Smithers published anything by Buchanan and The Land o’ the Deil: A Discourse on Robert Burns & the Paradox of Scottish Civilization, with a Preface from the Devil never saw the light of day.]

_____

 

28. Letter to Leonard Smithers - 28th March [1898].

55 Christchurch Road
Streatham Hill
         S.W.
March 28

Dear Sir,

                   I’m still a prisoner, but I’m hoping to get about by the middle of the week & if so I propose to call upon you. Perhaps you will let me know whether you will be in Town?
         With regard to the Burns book, I’m rather thinking of holding it over till the Fall & adding certain matter to it in the meantime.

                   Faithfully yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

Leonard Smithers Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 35 in collection.]

_____

 

29. Letter to Leonard Smithers - 1st April [1898].

55 Christchurch Road
Streatham Hill
         S.W.
April 1st.

Dear Sir,

                   I called upon you to-day, but did not succeed in catching you. I rather wanted to see you, as I am going tomorrow to Brighton.
         In view of what you said, I propose to go ahead with the Burns book. I will post you the earlier pages for the printer to go on with, and if you will make the page fairly light (tho’ not to look too light) the book I think will run to about 200 pp. We can fix the price later on, when we see how the work actually bulks.
         Now, as to terms, I dont quite know what you propose, & should like a definite proposition, if you will kindly make it.
         I wanted to ask your advice about the reissue of my Complete Poetical Works, a copy of which shall be sent on by hand tomorrow. It is a very closely printed book, price 7/6, & in very constant demand. Chatto bought it & pubd it some years ago, & I afterwards repurchased the copyright & stereos. It is now entirely out of print; and I fancy that the public would expect me to add my later writings in any reissue. If I did this, the work would have to be in 2 vols; and I was thinking of issuing them at 6s each, or 12s the two. The question in my mind, however, is whether the work would go so well in that form as in one vol. at 7/6?
         I dont know how many Chatto printed—I only know all are sold, & I have constant enquiries for the work. The expense of adding the new matter, however, would be considerable.
         Perhaps you will look at the work & let me know whether the 2 vol edition at the price named would be likely to go as well as the one vol at 7/6. It would not, of course, be a net book.
         I’m sorry I didn’t catch you, as it is very difficult to make myself clear on paper. But perhaps you gather my meaning, & may have some idea of the relative advantages of the one & the two vol. idea. Of one thing I’m convinced, & that is, that the public are eager to buy editions which are advd as complete, & somewhat shy of editions which cannot be so announced.
         With all good wishes

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Leonard Smithers Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 36 in collection.
The first page is written on black-edged notepaper.
‘as’ inserted between ‘to go’ and ‘well’.

There is a letter to Chatto & Windus, dated April 1st (no year), but from the Gerrard Street address, which asks several questions about the 1884 edition of Buchanan’s ‘Complete Poetical Works’, so I would suggest that the two letters are connected. Chatto & Windus published the two volume edition of Buchanan’s Complete Poetical Works in November, 1901. The final letter in the collection of Buchanan’s correspondence with Chatto & Windus (dated 30th November, 1899) seems to imply that he is contemplating selling his ‘poetical copyrights’ back to Chatto & Windus.]

_____

 

30. Letter to Leonard Smithers - 6th April [1898].

2 Lower Rock Gardens
Brighton
April 6

Dear Mr Smithers,

                   Thanks for your letter. As you say, there is no immediate need to discuss the matter; but with regard to the additional matter, it would only run to about 100 extra pages, or possibly 150.

                   Faithfully yours
                   R. Buchanan.

Leonard Smithers Esq

[Notes:
Letter No. 37 in collection.
Written on black-edged notepaper.

Presumably the ‘additional matter’ refers to the other poems which Buchanan wants to add to his ‘Complete Poetical Works’.]

_____

 

31. Letter to Leonard Smithers - 19th April [1898]

55 Christchurch Road
Streatham Hill
         S.W.
April 19

Dear Mr Smithers,

                   I’ve just returned to Town & purpose calling on you as soon as possible. Shall you be chez vous on Tuesday?
         I find twill be impossible to get the Burns book out before the Fall, my hands being so very full of stage-work. I’m thinking, by the way, of publishing my forbidden Play—the New Don Quixote—which the Licenser shied at so. How do you think it would go? I have never printed any of my pieces yet, tho’ I am often asked for them, & some of them have had prodigious runs.

                   Yours truly
                   Robt Buchanan.

Leonard Smithers Esq.

I saw somewhere that you had done some translations of Catullus? Where could I get them? Catullus is a pet of mine, & I’ve myself done some of his pieces into English.

[Notes:
Letter No. 38 in collection.
The first page is written on black-edged notepaper.

The comment about his ‘hands being so very full of stage-work’ is a little odd, since Buchanan’s last play had been The Mariners of England, which closed in April, 1897 and his next (and last, during his lifetime) was Two Little Maids From School which ran for a week in November, 1898.
The New Don Quixote was never published as a play, but a novelisation was announced in an item in The Academy of 10th December, 1898.
The only other connection I’ve found between Robert Buchanan and Leonard Smithers is the decidedly odd chapter on Buchanan, ‘The Devil and a Modern Knight Errant’, in W. P. Ryan’s Literary London: Its Lights & Comedies, which was published by Smithers in 1898.]

_____

 

32. Letter to the Publisher of the London Review - 11th February 1899.

3 MOUNT VERNON,
HAMPSTEAD.
Feb. 11. 1899

Sir

                     I have taken in the “London Review” from its commencement, but have great difficulty in obtaining it regularly and should be glad to know if you can explain this in any way. A neighbouring newsagent supplies me and he is dependent upon the wholesale agent. Latterly I have not received it until Sunday mg and sometimes not even then. Last Saturday’s number I have not received at all but I believe it may come tomorrow with the other one. A short time ago I ordered 2 copies of a particular number and these I never obtained tho’ I enquired frequently.
         As this must have an injurious effect upon your paper I trouble you with these few lines. I may mention I have had other experiences of newsagents and it strikes me they are a particularly careless set of people.

                   Yours faithfully
                   R. Buchanan.

The Publisher
‘London Review’

[Notes:
Letter No. 13 in collection.
‘MOUNT VERNON’ is printed, but the ‘3’ is handwritten.
‘come’ inserted between ‘may’ and ‘tomorrow’.
‘it’ inserted between ‘received’ and ‘until’.

The London Review ceased publication in February, 1899, which could explain Buchanan’s difficulty in obtaining copies. This from page 3 of The Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette of 7th February, 1899:

londonrevdefunct

The address is interesting. It actually occurs in Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore by Basil Champneys as the January, 1855 address of one of the letters from Patmore’s sister, Emily. In the edition of the Hampstead & Highgate Express for the 30th May, 1896, there are two adverts for furnished rooms to let in the building:

mountvernonad2

Buchanan was ill during the first three months of 1899, suffering an angina attack in January, then, according to newspaper reports, influenza and congestion of the lungs. I would therefore suggest that he rented rooms at 3, Mount Vernon, Hampstead while he was attending the nearby North London Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, aka Mount Vernon Hospital.]

_____

 

33. Letter to W. S. Blunt - 25th May [1899].

88 South Side
Clapham Common
         S.W.
May 25

Dear Mr Blunt,

                   I hope you acquit me of any secret desire to secure the gift wh: you have sent me so generously & for which, I thank you with all my heart? I am taking it with me to the seaside, to study carefully, but a glance thro’ the poems shows me that it appeals to me deeply, & I am thanking God that I have found in you another of the Forlorn Hope who are struggling towards the Light. I am very sick of modern poetry & poets, as of modern civilization, & it is a treat to discover work like yours, essentialy opposed to the barbaric parade of our social & political life.
         It is a poor acknowledgement, but herewith I send you the Devil’s Case & a thing which followed it, Mary the Mother. I dont ask you to read them—only put them on your shelves, somewhere near your eye, to remind you of one who feels very much as you do on many of the burning problems of this strange world.
         With kind regards

                   Yours very truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

W. S. Blunt Esq

                                                                                                   over

My eyes have just fallen on the lovely lines spoken on page 44 by the Angel of Pity, & need I say that they have filled with tears? I know nothing more tender & true in all literature.

                   B.

[Notes:
Letter No. 14 in collection.
‘1899’ has been added in pencil, by another hand, to the date and is correct since the address is the same as that of two letters to Alfred Russel Wallace in June and July, 1899.
‘me’ is inserted between ‘acquit’ and ‘of’.
‘in you’ inserted between ‘found’ and ‘another’

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was, according to wikipedia, “an English poet and writer ... also known for his views against imperialism, viewed as relatively enlightened for his time.”
The book referred to in the letter is Satan Absolved: A Victorian Mystery (London: John Lane, 1899), which is available at the Internet Archive.]

_____

 

34. Letter 34 to the Editor of The Star - 19th October [1900].

9 Duchess Street
Portland Place
         W.
Oct 19

Dear Sir,

                   I am not surprised. If I wrote to any ordinary Editor that I had been bludgeoned & half killed in a dark lane by one of his brethren, he would reply, as you do, that he must first submit the matter to the discretion of the ruffian who had assaulted me! A wrong is done—a cowardly insult given—but it is all the same to the newspapers, which invariably protect each other, while playing the farce of being belligerents. — I had hoped better things of the Star.

                   Truly yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

The Editor of
         The Star.

[Notes:
Letter No. 15 in collection.
‘had’ is inserted between ‘who’ and ‘assaulted’
‘1900’ has been added in pencil, by another hand, to the date and this is confirmed by the address.
‘Buchanan’ has been written in pencil, by another hand, above the address, and, in ink, at the foot of the page: ‘author dramatist & publisher of own writings’. Apart from these identifying marks, there are several others, which may relate to the response of the Editor of The Star.

Since copies of The Star are not available online, I can’t verify whether the letter was published. Nor, to what it refers. However the letter is significant regarding its date. From Chapter XXX of Harriett Jay’s biography of Robert Buchanan, the year is 1900:

     ‘The next morning, Friday, October 19th, his high spirits had not deserted him, for I heard him whistling merrily before he came in to breakfast. I asked him if the muddled vision had troubled him again, and he replied in the negative, assuring me that he felt particularly well in every way. Breakfast over and the morning papers read, we set off on our bicycles together.
     After a ride in Regent’s Park, which lasted close upon two hours, we returned home. He partook of a hearty lunch, and then fell asleep in an easy chair beside the fire. He awoke refreshed, and after he had drunk a cup of tea and had written some half-dozen letters, proposed that we should cycle again. “I should like to have a good spin down Regent Street,” he said. Those were the last words he ever spoke, for five minutes later the cruel stroke had descended upon him which rendered him helpless as a little child.’

This is therefore one of the last letters ever written by Robert Buchanan.]

__________

 

Undated Letters and others:

 

35. Letter to Alexander Strahan - No date.

Warlies
Waltham Abbey
Tuesday morng

Dear Strahan,

                   I find I cannot get in until to-morrow; but I suppose that will do.

                   Yours truly
                   Robert Buchanan.

Alex. Strahan Esq.

[Notes:
Letter No. 18 in collection.

Buchanan’s connection to Alexander Strahan stretches over twenty years so it’s difficult to tie this letter down to any year between 1861 and 1881. The address is no help either since there are no other letters from Warlies and no mention of it anywhere else in the Buchanan saga. However, the Warlies estate belonged to Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who was married to Victoria Noel (Roden Noel’s sister), which would push the earliest date to June, 1865, when Buchanan and Roden Noel first met.]

_____

 

36. Letter to [unknown] - [February 1887].

 

Dear Sir,

                   Thanks for your kind letter. You will find the article on Dobell in my Look round Literature, just pubd by Ward & Downey.

                   Truly yours
                   Robert Buchanan.

[Notes:
Letter No. 25 in collection.

This could be the text of the ‘letter’ with Buchanan’s address and the recipient’s name cut from the notepaper. It’s difficult to tell from a photocopy. I have added the speculative date since Buchanan’s Look Round Literature was published in February, 1887.]

_____

 

37. Letter from James Collier to Robert Buchanan - 21st March 1871.

14 Percy Circus,
London     W.C
21 March 1871

Dear Sir,

                   I ought to have thanked you before for the promptness & kindly tone of your note. But I was waiting till I should have completed some negotiations into which I had entered with Mr. Herbert Spencer with a view to becoming his literary assistant. We have now come to terms & I go down to Bayswater, where he lives, at the end of the month.
         I do not however intend to give up any of my literary work except the purely political part of it, & shall be glad of any assistance I can at any time get from you in that way.
         As you cannot give me an introduction to the Athenaeum, there are none of the names you mention, I fear, who are much in my line, & now that I have got a basis, hack-work from the publishers will be no longer necessary.
         But if you care to see me when you come to town, I shall be happy to call on you in the afternoon or after 7 in the evening—the times when I shall be at leisure. My address will remain as above till the 31st ; after that it will be

2 St James Street West,
Porchester Terrace,
Bayswater,
         W.

         I am,

                   Yours truly
                   James Collier.

R. Buchanan Esq.

[Notes:
This letter is separate from the rest of the collection, although it has the same library details. It is one of those rare letters to Buchanan rather than from, which has survived.

The following is the opening paragraph of the entry for James Collier in the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

“James Collier (1846-1925), writer, was born on 12 July 1846 at Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, son of James Collier, handloom weaver, and his wife Janet, née Dickson. At 12 he became a clerk with Erskine Beveridge and in 1863 went to the University of St Andrews where he read classics and mathematics until 1867 but failed to pay the fee that graduation entailed. In 1868-69 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In 1870 he was a leader-writer and reviewer for the Scotsman. He soon moved to London where he wrote for newspapers and journals, including Mind. He impressed Herbert Spencer, who was embarking on his scheme of Descriptive Sociology and in March 1871 employed Collier as an assistant.”

Wiliam Hepworth Dixon had left The Athenæum in 1869, and Buchanan’s contributions to the magazine had ceased in that year, so that probably explains why he could not use any influence to help Collier in that area. His major dispute with the magazine would come later, during the ‘Fleshly School’ period. The letter does seem to confirm the stories of Buchanan’s willingness to help fellow-writers, particularly those from Scotland.]

_____

 

38. Letter to Mrs Davenport Adams from the Walter Scott Publishing Company. 16th September 1902.

walterscottlhead

Mrs Davenport Adams,
17 Burstock Road,
Putney,
London S.W.                                                                                                          16th. September 1902.

Madam,

                   We regret very much that we cannot grant you permission to use the lines from Mr. Buchanan’s “New Rome”. It will be necessary for you to apply to Mr. Buchanan’s executors, and we regret we can give you no information as to who they are. Mr. Buchanan’s address was 88 South Side, Clapham Common, S.W.
         You have our permission, as publishers, to make the extract you desire, upon your acknowledging the same in your volume.

                   Yours faithfully
                   FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PUBLISHING CO LTD
                  
Fredk J. Crowest
                   Editor-Manager

[Notes:
Letter No. 16 in collection.
The letter is typewritten apart from the remainder of the sentence after ‘you desire’, and the signature of Frederick J. Crowest, who was the general manager and editor of the Walter Scott Publishing Company from 1901 to 1917.

Buchanan’s final book of poetry (apart from the posthumously published Complete Poetical Works) was The New Rome, which was published by the Walter Scott Publishing Company in December, 1898. Mrs. Estelle Davenport Adams was married to William Davenport Adams and both produced books, mainly anthologies of poetry. There is a letter from W. Davenport Adams to Robert Buchanan here, with some additional information.]

_____

 

39. A page from an undated letter from one of the many wrong Robert Buchanans.

[Notes:
Letter No. 29 in collection.

This particular ‘wrong Robert Buchanan’ is the Very Rev. Dr. Robert Buchanan DD (1802-1875). The wikipedia entry states that he lived at 2 Sandyford Place, which is the address on the letter.]

_____

 

Back to Letters from Collections - List

or Letters

 

Home
Biography
Bibliography

 

Poetry
Plays
Fiction

 

Essays
Reviews
Letters

 

The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

 

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay
Miscellanea

 

Links
Site Diary
Site Search