Otterbourne, Winchester.
Jany 10th1860

MS Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter/ Yonge 1860/21

My dear Miss Smith,

It is a pleasure to have such a letter so answered, after feeling quite uncomfortable to have sent it off. Now I think I must copy off what a very able friend of mine says of the reading of Aggesden, apropos to the Saturday ‘I think that they (the SR) admire Aggesden & in fact it seems to me as little to design a moral as a plot.I should say there was none of either, but a slice of very real life, presenting most life like characters, who work out their own moral. I think its fault is, as you say, in careless diction, and one would like a little rounding off and uniting threads towards the end. However I think it very good & a wonderful contrast to most of the books which attempt that style of story. One most distinctly knows Mr & Mrs Arnold, Mary, Sir Hector & more, like real acquaintance & all the interlacing of different classes is very well done with Mrs Arnold’s lady like treatment of the governess.’

I think that worth having and so would you, if you knew the person.

Thank you for telling me of Professor Whewell,2 I think it a feather in my cap. Do you know I am very sorry to hear you do not feel as if rewriting answered with you, for I believe it is the only way to do more than ephemeral work, for it is nearly impossible to get language, characters and keeping all right at first – and rewriting is the only way to be free of useless words & excrescences, which make a thing lengthy. Here, they tell me that reading aloud a first & second copy of mine is like going over a stony or smooth road. Remember Miss Edgeworth polishing ad unguem3, Miss Bronté [sic], now Miss Mulock, – I believe that what reads the most easily is generally produced by the greatest amounts of work. I generally go back and do over my yesterday’s work, much like the snail of the arithmetical question who climbed 4 ft each day & slipped back 3 each night, besides sometimes going back to write whole masses over again, & get them into keeping or abridge them, but then I am happier rewriting than blocking out

yours sincerely

C M Yonge

1Printed in part by Battiscombe 113. Envelope addressed to Miss A M C Smith/ Rectory/ Old Charlton/ SE and postmarked Winchester 10 January and London SE 11 January 1860.
2William Whewell (1794-1866), son of a carpenter, professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge, 1838-1855, and Master of Trinity College 1841-1866. In September 1854 CMY described his A Plurality of Worlds to Parker as “that remarkable book”. Carter Smith had perhaps met him with her brother-in-law Edward Atkinson. It sounds as if he was a CMY fan.
3“To a nicety”. (Unguis is Latin for a finger nail. The expression is borrowed from the practice in sculptors, who, in modeling, give the finishing touch with the nail; or from joiners, who test the accuracy of joints in wood by the nail.)
Cite this letter

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge(1823-1901) edited by Charlotte Mitchell, Ellen Jordan and Helen Schinske.

URL to this Letter is: https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/1779/to-ann-maria-carter-smith-28

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