The Man from Hymettus
Rossetti and His Circle, Plate 19
6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches
[Beerbohm's caption continues below]
Scanned image and text by George P. Landow
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Mr. Frederic Leighton: " Think not for one moment, my dear Mr. Rossetti, that I am insensible to the charm of a life recluded, as yours is, from the dust of the arena, from the mire of the market- place Ah no! — I envy you your ivory tower. How often at some Council Meeting of the R.A. have I murmured within me that phrase of Wordsworth's, 'The world is too much with us'! But alas, in all of us there is a duality of nature. You, O felix nimium, are poet as well as painter. I, separated from my easel, am but a citizen. And the civistic passion — yes, passion, dear Mr. Rossetti — restrains the instinct of the artist in me towards solitude, and curbs the panting of the hart in me for the water-brooks. I feel that I have, in conjunction with my colleagues, a duty to the nation. To improve the taste of the Sovereign, the taste of her ever-genial first-born and of his sweet and gracious consort, of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the faithfull Commons, of the Judicial Bench, of those who direct the Army and Navy and Reserve Forces, of our merchant princes in Threadneedle Street and of our squires in the Shires, and through all these to bring light and improvement to those toiling millions on whom ultimately the glory of Great Britain rests — all this is in me an ambition not to be stiffled and all aspiration not to be foregone. You smile, Mr. Rossetti, yet I am not disemboldened to say to you now, as I have often wished to say to you, in the words of the Apostle Paul, 'Come over and help us I!' Our President — I grant you in confidence — is not of all men the most enlightened. But I, in virtue of what is left to me of youth and ardor, conjoined with the paltly gift of tact, have some little influence at Burlington House. Come now! — let me put your name down in our Candidates' Book.".
Beerbohm, Max. Rossetti and His Circle. London: William Heinemann, 1922.
Last modified 4 July 2007