Elderfield, Otterbourne, Winchester.
June 1st 1865

MS British Library Add MSS 54920: 90-91

My dear Mr Macmillan
I waited to answer till I had my proofs back again. I am not quite sure what is the best line now to take. Indeed I suppose after all that it is never quite possible for one person’s idea to be thoroughly realized by another. My notion was to show first why the Incarnation was needed, and then to trace the gradually expanding promises and stages of preparation – making each of these as it were a scene round which to collect description and character. I am afraid I am hardly up to the Cradle Songs. At least the ideas do not present themselves. I had once tried to say more about the birth of Cain, but I did not like what I was saying, and destroyed it.

And about the actual infancy of Isaac we know nothing but Ishmael’s mocking, and I do not think imagination can quite be employed on those sacred persons. I believe my power is very small of composing reflections or meditations. I can describe an incident, real or imaginary, and put in a thought; but I do not think I have the capacity of doing more – and where I am afraid to say more than there is direct inspired evidence to bear me out in saying, I am sure to fail.

I had meant to keep the Annunciation and the Blessed Mother as the culmination of the Jewish path leading to the Manger – thinking that it would come most fitly after the long waiting. My view was of a History of the Promise of the Seed, both in the Jewish and the Gentile world. I had fancied this was what we both meant, but I think yours was of a much more poetical, beautiful book than I am afraid lies within my capacity. Perhaps Mrs Alexander could do it. Would it be the best way for me to relinquish the attempt – and leave you just to put it into better hands?

Do not think I say this from any dislike to criticism. I have been used to it all my life, and really like and am grateful for it, but I think this is a region above my powers, which can hardly rise above dealing with things positive. If I went on, I am afraid it would have to be as best I could, subject of course to criticism or improvement in details of execution. In which case I would do my best such as it is. In the other I can only say I am sorry for my stupidity and rashness leading to disappointment or expense.

Yours sincerely
C M Yonge

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/2039/to-alexander-macmillan-46

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