Elderfield, Otterbourne, Winchester.
Sept 14th 1864

MS British Library Add MSS 54920: 40-41 1

Dear Mr Macmillan
The first instalment of Golden Deeds shall start tomorrow – it is all ready except one extract.

About the engraving. If a merely typical one, I think a figure rushing between some prostrate form and receiving a murderer’s stroke would express the spirit of the whole.

The individual scenes that seem to tell their story best, and to express the whole in one would be such as Sir Philip Sidney rejecting the water – Horatius defending the bridge – Catherine Douglas holding the door to save James I. Or what strikes my fancy most of all the scene described in the last chapter I send – ‘the last fight in the Coliseum’ – Or perhaps Vercingetorix giving himself up to Julius Caesar instead of his tribe. It is in the chapter called the Chief of the Averni. Any one of these would I think make a good typical illustration but I see it is the only way to let the illustrator choose the subject. I think Millais is very uncertain, and least successful when dealing with scenes not of his own time.

Can you lay your hands upon Irving’s Companions of Columbus, and early in the 1st volume see on what Cathedral town Alonso de Ojeda performed some foolhardy antic? It is hardly worth while for me to get the book down here for one word – and yet it must not be the wrong one. I believe the place was either Cordova or Seville, but I cannot make sure.

I have a Golden Deed for every century from BC 500 to the present, except AD100 and AD1100. One question more, shall I give authorities? I think mine are all pretty correct, but they are seldom the fountain head, and as it is a child’s book I incline to think they had better not be given.

I am much obliged for Karamsin, who is a great prize to us, and full of interest.

I have been thinking about the collection of poetry.2 Would it be too unlike your plan if I introduced it in a frame of conversation – children coming daily to their mother for poetry about their historical lesson? It seems to me that this would be the easiest way of giving such explanations as children would read, and likewise of leaving out any part of a poem that might be undesirable. What do you think of it?

Yours very truly
C. M. Yonge

1Black-edged paper.
2This project seems to have come to nothing at this time. In 1881, however, Marcus Ward published her Aunt Charlotte's evenings at home with the poets : a collection of poems for the young, with conversations, arranged in twenty-five evenings.

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/1976/to-alexander-macmillan-19

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