To “My dear Sir” [i.e., Thomas Hutchinson]
(2 1/3 pp. ALS)
This letter appears on a folded quarto letter sheet, from 20, Fitzroy Street, [London], 21 March 1895, addressed to “My Dear Sir,” [actually Thomas Hutchinson] in which Johnson assails the publication of one of his essays in America by an unnamed publisher, but in fact, Thomas Bird Mosher: “…Yes, to my extreme wrath, that essay of mine has been reprinted. A ruffian in America lately pirated Mr. Bridge’s ‘Growth of Love’: The rascal copied, to the best of his poor ability, Mr. Daniel’s format, and stole his emblematic device: and the scoundrel completed his thefts by annexing my essay, by way of ‘worthily introducing Mr. Bridges to the American public.’ He pleads, that it ‘deserves to be rescued from the obscurity of the magazine in which it first appeared’: as though a pickpocket were to say, that my money deserves to be rescued from the obscurity of my purse, and be put into circulation. Happily, the fellow’s villainous volume is unprocurable in England. It’s more cruel to pirate a magazine article…than to pirate a book: an article of that sort, especially in the case of a young writer, is always full of crudities, which his better [later?] judgment rejects….” Johnson continues on, remarking on Dowson’s, Bailey’s and Lord De Tabley’s essays on Bridges, William Watson (“I have a great personal regard for him, and a rational esteem for his writings“) and other literary matters, he thanks Hutchinson for a sonnet, comments that “My book of verse is just out, and already my friends and colleagues, the critics, are saying pleasant and inconsistent things about it…” and concludes: “When are you going to give us a volume of Wordsworth studies, textual or otherwise? Believe me, faithfully yours, Lionel Johnson.” Mosher published his edition of THE GROWTH OF LOVE in 1894, incorporating as an “Introduction” the text of Johnson’s “Essay on Bridges” from the October 1891 issue of The Century Guild Hobby Horse. For further insight into Lionel Johnson’s quibble with Mosher, see the exchange between Lionel Johnson and T. B. Mosher in The Academy for 1896.
My dear Sir, | Very many thanks for your kind | letter. Yes, to my extreme wrath, that essay of | mine has been reprinted. A ruffian in America | lately pirated the Bridges’ “Growth of Love” : the | rascal copied, to the best of his poor ability, | Mr. Daniel’s format, and stole his emblematic | device : and the scoundrel completed his thefts | by annexing my essay, by way of “worthily in- | troducing Mr. Bridges to the American public.” | He pleads, that it “deserved to be rescued | from the obscurity of the magazine in which | it first appeared”: as though a pickpocket | wou were to say, that my money deserved to | be rescued from the obscurity of my purse, and | be put into circulation. Happily, the fellow’s | villainous volume is unprocurable in England. | It’s more cruel to pirate a magazine article | and print it in a book, than to pirate a | book: an article of that sort, al especially | in the case of a young writer, is always | full of crudities, which his better judgment | rejects. I hope to publish a volume of essays | in the autumn; this among them, redeemed | from its most obvious faults. I am very
[p.2] glad that you like it, even as it stands. Curi- | ously enough, though Mr. Bailey and Prof. Dowden | are both friends of mine, I have not seen | their essays upon Mr. Bridges: I only know Mr. | Warren’s – who, by the way, is not “Hon.”: you | are thinking of the Mr. Warren, who is now | Lord De Tabley – and some criticisms by | Lang in “Longman”. I have an exceeding | great admiration of Mr. Bridges, who has not | won, even among competent judges, anything like | his due fame. || William Watson is indeed pensioned with £100 a | year. I have a great personal regard for him, and | a rational esteem for his writings: but these | pensions are not meant for unmarried men | under fifty, who are neither very poor nor | very infirm, and whose work is not of an | unquestionable and indubitable excellence. In | ten years’ time, it would have been his open | to objection. || Very many thanks for your charming sonnet. My | book of verse is just out, and already my | friends and colleagues, the critics, are saying | pleasant and inconsistent things about it.
[p.3] When are you going to give us a volume of | Wordsworth studies, textual and otherwise? | Believe me, | faithfully yours | Lionel Johnson.