Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/628

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Meredith
Meredith
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now in that of Leontes) upon his first love and his disillusion in 'Modern Love (perhaps 'the most intensely modern poem ever written') and Poems of the English Roadside.' The book included 'Juggling Jerry,' 'The Old Chartist,' and other poems reprinted from 'Once a Week,' besides twelve new poems. He became a contributor to the 'Morning Post,' and in 1862 began reading for the publishers Messrs. Chapman & Hall, in addition to his editorial contributions to the 'Ipswich Journal.' His connection with Chapman & Hall was soon close. Batches of manuscripts were forwarded periodically, and on blank enclosed slips headed by the titles, Meredith inscribed crisp, sharp, and epigrammatic criticism. Once a week or thereabouts he interviewed authors in the firm's old office, 193 Piccadilly. By rejecting 'East Lynne' it has been estimated that he lost the firm a round sum of money. He also declined works by Hugh Conway, Mrs. Lynn Linton, Mr. Baring Gould, Herman Merivale, Cuthbert Bede, Stepniak's 'Underground Russia,' 'The Heavenly Twins,' and 'Some Emotions and a Moral.' Samuel Butler's 'Erewhon' he dismissed with a 'Will not do,' and Shaw's 'Immaturity' with a 'No.' On the other hand he encouraged William Black, Sir Edwin Arnold, Thomas Hardy, Olive Schreiner, and George Gissing. Meredith was deeply interested in the work of his younger contemporaries; Gissing and Thomas Hardy confessed no small obligation to his encouragement. But he often vacillated in his opinions of both current and past literature.

Meredith was now earning probably over 500l. a year; the death of his wife in 1861 and of her mother-in-law. Lady Nicolls, within two years, meant the ultimate as well as the actual pecuniary responsibility for his son Arthur, to whom he had become perilously devoted. He was in Tirol and Italy with his son during the summer of 1861. Arthur was first sent in October 1862 to Norwich grammar school under Dr. Jessopp, who had become a close friend, and then to a Pestalozzi school near Berne (recommended by G. H. Lewes, suggestive in some ways of Weyburn's school in 'Lord Ormont'), and eventually to Stuttgart. A post was afterwards obtained for him in the De Koninck's firm at Havre and later (through Benecke) in a Unseed warehouse at Lille. He was provided for subsequently by a legacy from a great-aunt, and resided at Bergamo and Salo on Lake Guarda; he wrote some agreeable travel sketches (one of a raft journey from Bale to Rotterdam in 'Macmillan's Magazine '), Meredith sent him many stimulating, sympathetic, and profoundly touching letters, rarely of reproof, more often of reconciliation and bracing exhortation. Spoiled in childhood, of a jealous, self-conscious temperament, suspicious, not without just cause, of a certain lack of consideration on the part of his father, Arthur became, in spite of welcome offered, an incompatible figure at his father's home; his health was ever declining, and he died at Woking at the house of his half-sister, Mrs. Clarke (Edith Nicolls).

Meredith was still in the early 'sixties living economically at Copsham, but his friendships were extending and his visitors were numerous. His intimate circle included William Hardman (later of the 'Morning Post'), Mr. H. M. Hyndman, Frederick Jameson, Frederic Chapman the publisher, J. A. Cotter Morison, Rossetti, Swinburne (who interchanged satires and squibs with him), William Tinsley, Mr. Lionel Robinson, and Frederic Maxse. He was known among them as 'Robin,' Hardman as 'Friar Tuck,' and Mr. Robinson as 'Poco.' To Frederick Augustus Maxse [q. v. Suppl. I.], a very close associate, he dedicated 'By the Rosanna' (Oct. 1861), as well as 'Modern Love' (1862); with him he sailed on a stormy voyage to Cherbourg in The Grebe, a cutter yacht, in 1858, and he took a brief walking tour round Godalming in July 1861; In May 1862 Meredith and Hardman tramped round Mickleham and Dorking. Entertainment was drawn from the associations of Burford Bridge (Keats), The Rookery (Malthus), and Albury (Tupper), and many aphorisms were read by 'Robin' from his note-books. Soon after this Meredith paid a visit to his friend Hyndman at Trinity College, Cambridge, and made acquaintance with university life for the first time. He spent Christmas 1862 with the Hardmans. In the early summer of 1863 he was at Seaford with Bumand, Hjudman, and the FitzGeralds, and Hyndman relates how, after much fine open talk, a good deal of it monologue, upon the beach, Bumand exclaimed 'Damn you, George, why don't you write as you talk?' In August, Meredith and Hyndman were at Paris together, reading Renan's 'Vie de Jesus,' and visiting Vefour's, Versailles, Sevres, and admiring the ædileship of Napoleon III. On 23 August Meredith left to join his friend Mr. Lionel Robinson at Grenoble, trudging thence like a packman through Dauphiné and the Graian Alps. He went abroad