I should have been stifled within the four walls of that house in Montagu Place.
For the moment I was as a god among gods. My veins were filled with celestial ichor, not human blood ; and my mind saw what it brought — the infinity of glory because of that intensity of joy. The following note referring to her appearance at this period, kindly contributed by Captain F. Fox, will be read with interest. I cannot recall the colour of her eyes, but I know she wore spectacles, which probably made her look more serious than she would naturally.
She appeared to me to be about six or seven and twenty years of age, but she might have been younger. Bridell-Fox also says — "As an artist I was charmed with Miss Lynn's appear- ance — the pure oval of her face, her delicate and regular features — and also with the low musical voice and exquisitely distinct enunciation. Bridell-Fox's mother about this time explains itself.
Eliza Lynn to Mrs. Fox wife of Mr. Fox, M. Fox, — Your kind fears about me are physically false, but what truth they may have mentally and morally I am afraid to think of. No, but seriously, I bore it all very well until Monday, when four unexpected favourable notices came to light, and as I went to the Museum yesterday I was congratulated, and at a party last night made a great fuss with, and I am fearful lest I should get vain.
It was first published in Nobody can give 'em that, I guess. Give my Love to your Sisters severally — to George and Tom. But then, you know, I laid them by to write with and would stand at bay a fortnight ere they should grab me. If a young man with an idea can once get Jim Burden's attention, can manage to accompany him when he goes off into the wilds hunting for lost parks or exploring new canyons, then the money which means action is usually forthcoming. But you need not mind me. Albina knew that Mrs.
But oh, I would give up all my success rather than do this! My prayer is against all conceit. But just the first flush of triumph is rather too pleasant, like sugar-plums which spoil one's teeth and vitiate one's taste. The approbation of a friend is dearer than even a public and printed review. She had in the meantime produced her second novel, Amymone, dealing with the age of Pericles. This she dedicated to her father. It was sold to Mr. It proved of threefold importance.
First, it roused the enthusiasm of Walter Savage Landor, by whom a favourable review in the Examiner is generally supposed to have been written. Secondly, it brought her into touch with Mr. George Bentley, with whom a lifelong personal and business friendship ensued. Thirdly, as we shall immediately see, it greatly impressed an editor who was second to none but Delane in his gift for recognising journalistic talent.
Back in Montagu Place, the next point was to discover some means of turning her literary powers to remunerative account. The outcome was a social essay no doubt founded on second-hand information obtained at the British Museum on the wrongs of all savage aborigines. This she despatched to the office of the Morning Chronicle as a sample of what she could do, together with a letter asking for employment Then came four days of "restlessness amounting to agony" — of feverish alternations between hope and fear.
On the fifth a proof lay on her plate at breakfast, and with it a letter bidding her go down to the office that very day at four precisely.
The Morning Chronicle had lately been bought by the Peelite party, who had placed John Douglas Cook in the editorial chair. As may be imagined, the young aspirant was up to time. Here I was told to wait till Mr. Cook could see me. In about half an hour the messenger returned, and ushered me into the awful presence.
It was not only my hope and present fortune, but of itself, personally, it was formidable. I call you a whipper- snapper,' he answered, always good-humouredly.
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We'll soon find it out if you have. I say, though, youngster, you never wrote all that rubbish yourself!
Some of your brothers helped you. You never scratched all those queer classics and mythology into your own numskull without help.
At your age it is impossible. I give you my word, no one helped me. No one even saw the manuscript or the proofs,' I added eagerly. But as he laughed while he blas- phemed, and called me 'good girl' in the midst of his wonderful expletives, he evidently did not mean mischief. And I had fortunately enough sense to understand his want of malice, and to accept his manner as of the ordinary course of things. You must take the side of the men; but — d'ye hear? Leave them a leg to stand on, and don't make Adam Smith turn in his grave by any cursed theories smacking of socialism and the devil knows what Do you understand, young woman?
I have had the passages marked which you are to notice, and so you need not bother that silly cocoanut of yours with any others.
Keep to the text; write with strength; and don't talk nonsense. And now be off. Cook so much that he called me a good girl twenty times with as many different oaths, and took me home to dine with him. And from that day he put me on the staff of the paper, and my bread and butter was secure.
She was not, as has been stated erroneously, the first woman newspaper writer; for Miss Martineau, Mrs. Norton, and Mrs. Grote certainly preceded her, and there may have been others. She had now enough to live upon, and was supremely happy. Once or twice she got the paper into trouble because of her "unsound political economy and the trail of the socialistic serpent, which made itself too visible" even for the Peelite following.
But she was a favourite with the irascible editor, and her sins were forgiven. All the employes of the journal did not come off so well as she did.
Cook showed me the place with a peal of laughter and a volley of oaths, in nowise dis- concerted by this narrow escape from committing murder. He made it up to the man with a couple of sovereigns, and when the door had been scraped and revamished, no more was heard of the matter. The men in the office were used to his ways, and dodged him when he let fly — waiting till the dangerous fit was over. All forgave his violence — some because they really loved him, and some because he paid them handsomely for their bruises. It was in these days that she adopted those methodical habits which clung to her all her days.
Not that her work was over by midday.
Indeed, Mrs. Berridge, a niece of Miss Brown's, tells me that she would often have to hurry from her dinner to satisfy the demands of the printer's devil who sat in the hall. Her regular salary on the Chronicle was twenty guineas a month, in return for which her tale of work was six long articles, mainly on social matters. In addition to these, she wrote book reviews, for which she received something more.
From an old account-book I find that from August to February 1 she furnished eighty miscellaneous articles and thirty-six reviews. Early in trouble came between Miss Lynn and her editor, when he so far forgot himself as to shake his fist in her face. This day saw the last of her visits to the office, and after April the Chronicle knew her no more. He was generous and affectionate ; utterly devoid of all treacherous instincts ; and he bore no malice.
With so much that can be said less than laudatory of this fierce Boanerges of the press, it is pleasant to record that which makes for his renown and claims our more tender memories. Milner-Gibson, of whom we shall hear more presently. Berridge well remembers the amusement caused by her practising her curtseys with a long shawl pinned round her for a train, as she was terrified lest, with her short sight, she might when in the royal presence make herself ridiculous.
Berridge also remembers her being visited by her father, " a fine, noble-looking man," and her sisters, from which we see that she was in no sense an outcast from her family. Indeed, her bi-annual visits paid to the old home were pleasant to all. Frank Beard, her friend and doctor, and Miss Cushman, the American actress, "with a box ticket to see her act with Macready at the Princess's Theatre.
Realities, dedicated to Walter Savage Landor, and published in Cullingworth, ex-President of the Obstetrical Society of London and the author of many well-known medical works, a letter enclosing a contribution and ex- pressing his gratitude for the opportunity thus offered him of " acknowledging, however inadequately, his personal indebtedness to Mrs.