Otterbourne, Winchester.
April 28th 1857

MS British Library: Coleridge Family Papers E: Add MSS 86206 Yonge JTC

My dear Fatherly Friend,
For all your letters always make me feel that I must call you, I must thank you with all my heart for your criticisms, though perhaps you will not thank me for beginning on this big piece of paper. Jem would be a great deal worse than I meant. I tried to soften him as I went over it again, but somehow he would not approve himself to me less detestable in each scene.1 Dr Moberly says it is just as if Jem had been reading about Philip and studying to avoid him2; but the curious point is – what the muddled plot betrays to you – that it was two stories married together, Louis and his father being one – Jem and Oliver the other, and Jem was first conceived in his relations to Oliver – so that the two young men only were obliged to act on each other by accident, not on principle. I mean that I did not intend the contrast between them to be the main feature of the story, though I see that it is so. I dare say you are right about Clara, but I think it is to be considered that her grandeur was very solitary and irksome, and that she was only returning to her natural sphere. Of course the matter that I care most about is your liking Louis himself, and Mary for I am always afraid of his being thought too feminine a style of goodness, and I find she strikes people as dull, but I was determined to leave her without the conventional graces of a heroine. I did not mean Isabel to be cured by Louis’s sermon but by her husband’s misfortunes, and I thought her the sort of woman to be altered on the spot rather than gradually, but I think her history is hurried. I was afraid of too much detail, and I found that those who saw it in MS did not like having Louis off the stage.

As to Delaford, you know that Louis was not a Judge, and besides if you look at the note in the last chapter you will see that he transported himself, and is blacking shoes at the Diggings, a very poor trade I should think, but I could not say more about it, because of ‘never too late to mend’. As to Tom, I believe Louis made him a wedding present of the Waverley novels and that he reads them every night to Charlotte. I believe there is one ‘transpired’ but I have such a hatred of the word that I feel pretty sure that it either means ‘brought to light’ or is a reference to the language of some vulgar person. I had the pleasure of sending off the corrections for the 2nd edition last Friday, the 5000 having nearly departed in a fortnight. Still I suspect the public is getting tired of the style, and that a good long pause would be for the benefit of any other, and so I hope I shall employ it in diligent care; but the worst of it is that no workmanship can mend a weak plot. I always am expecting to begin running down hill and repeating myself, and am not much inclined to comply with the request of two Irish children, perfect strangers, who want me to write another volume of the Daisy Chain, and ‘hope it will not be much trouble.’

I think Lord Ormersfield is nearly as much like you as Mr Edmonstone and Jem are to Dr Moberly who regularly appropriates all my bad characters. Sir William seems rather inclined likewise to help himself to his Lordship which does not surprise me quite so much.

I do hope very much to see you all next week, but we are rather uncertain about our doings and whether Mamma will come at all. But though I cannot venture to make any engagements I am asking Jane to be so kind as to tell me whether there is any engagement on which I might venture to offer myself for Tuesday evening.

With all sorts of loving thanks
Your affectionate
C M Yonge

Not a word have I said of the dear May – As if I have not thought of her

[Above heading] My evil minded pen rolled down and made a blot, just as I had finished!

1Jem is a character in her novel Dynevor Terrace, which is the subject of this letter.
2Philip is the anti-hero of The Heir of Redclyffe.
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/7710/7710tosirjohntaylorcoleridge

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