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What's really funny from The Proud Tower by

by Ziks511 / July 3, 2011 1:07 PM PDT

Barbara Tuchman.

"Lord Salisbury's appointment of a Poet Laureate at the end of the year could not have provided a greater contrast in men of letters or done more to re-enthrone Respectability. Since the death of Tennyson in 1892, the post had remained vacant because neither Mr Gladstone nor Lord Roseberry [both Liberal Prime Ministers], who took their responsibility to literature seriously, could find a worthy successor.

Swinburne, owing to hs distressing habits [he was addicted to flagellation] and opinions, was, regrettably, "absolutely imposssible" (although Mr. Gladstone "admired his genius"), William Morris [designer, printer, decorator, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement and Liberty Co.] was a Socialist and Thomas Hardy was known so far only by his novels and the younger poetic talents tended to wear the colours of the Yellow Book, and the Mauve Decade. The young Anglo-Indian, Rudyard Kipling, in his Barrack Room Ballads of 1892, had certainly sounded a virile and imperial note but in a rather rough [common] idiom, and neither he nor W.E. Henley nor Robert Bridges was considered.

"All other candidates were mediocrities, one of whom, Sir Lewis Morris, offered an opening to what a contemporary called "the most spontaneously witty thing ever uttered in England". Morris, author of an effusion entitled The Epic of Hades, who wanted the Laureateship badly, complained to Oscar Wilde in the days before his ruin, "There's a conspiracy of silence against me, a conspiracy of silence. What ought I to do, Oscar?"

"Join it", replied Wilde."

Barbara Tuchman. [comments or elucidation in[ ] are mine as is the breaking of part of a single paragraph into 4 , RTB]


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