Elderfield, Otterbourne, Winchester.
July 4th [1866]

MS British Library Add MSS 54920: 158-159

Dear Mr Macmillan,
I have now had time to think over the Book of Heroes, and have been making out a list of those whom I think worthy of the name.

But two or three difficulties occur to me.

In the first place is not the name too much like Mr Kingsley’s mythological book? People could never be expected to keep ‘the Heroes’ and the Book of the Heroes distinct in their minds. I think if I had my way I would call it ‘the Book of True Chivalry.’

I find that my notion of parallels will not do, there are not enough really alike and sometimes though there may be a resemblance it may not be to a hero – e g I always thought Belisarius and Marlborough much alike, but Belisarius was a hero, and Marlborough not. I think I have counted up nearly fifty good subjects, but of course any life of each as a real biography could not be given in the compress or even two of your volumes. So it seems to me that the best plan will be that which occurred to me at first about the Golden Deeds, though I gave it up there on finding that each Deed wanted separate working out. I think I would rather try to write a history of the heroic character, as it varied under different influences and times – such as the rigid obedience of the Hebrew hero, as in Joshua and David – the statesman mixture in the great men of Greece, the Roman devotion to the country – then the passive element coming in with Christianity as in the days of martyrdom – the Northern sense of honor[sic] creating chivalry, and consecrating it – the perpetual past dream of a once existing perfect chivalry &c – the change of warfare and the different kind of prowess it needed &c, all illustrated by sketches of the great men and their doings, and allusions to others who need not be brought in so fully. I am afraid this is not quite Mr Craik’s idea, but it seems to me that it would be more feasible for me to work it out in any reasonable space.

Thanks for sending me the British Quarterly’s good words for the Dove

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/2128/to-alexander-macmillan-77

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