The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

At ‘the little Savile’ I remember much kindness and toleration. There was Gosse, of course, sensitive as a cat to all atmospheres, but utterly fearless when it came to questions of good workmanship; Hardy’s grave and bitter humour; Andrew Lang, as detached to all appearances as a cloud, but—one learned to know—never kinder in your behalf than when he seemed least concerned with you; Eustace Balfour, a large, lovable man, and one of the best of talkers, who died too soon; Herbert Stephen, very wise and very funny when he chose; Rider Haggard, to whom I took at once, he being of the stamp adored by children and trusted by men at sight; and he could tell tales, mainly against himself, that broke up the tables; Saintsbury, a solid rock of learning and geniality whom I revered all my days; profoundly a scholar and versed in the art of good living. There was a breakfast with him and Walter Pollock of the Saturday Review in the Albany, when he produced some specially devilish Oriental delicacy which we cooked by the light of our united ignorances. It was splendid!
From Chapter IV of Something of Myself by Rudyard Kipling.

It was indeed an immortal evening. Wordsworth's fine intonation as he quoted Milton and Virgil, Keats' eager inspired look, Lamb's quaint sparkle of lambent humour, so speeded the stream of conversation, that in my life I never passed a more delightful time. All our fun was within bounds. Not a word passed that an apostle might not have listened to. It was a night worthy of the Elizabethan age, and my solemn Jerusalem flashing up by the flame of the fire, with Christ hanging over us like a vision, all made up a picture which will long glow upon

that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude.
Benjamin Robert Haydon, quoted in The Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes [2nd ed.] p172.

The full excerpt is too long to quote in full, but for anyone up for a laugh, let alone having an interest in literary history, I can't recommend looking it up too highly. Note that the 2nd edition is now OP, and the 3rd edition (recently published) contains a completely different selection.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home