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O'Gorman, Mrs. See: Benson, Stella, Anderson, J. Robert Edward , M. In , during his married life, he published his volume of translations The Early Italian Poets , now entitled Dante and his Circle. By the time therefore of the death of his wife he had a certain restricted yet far from inconsiderable reputation as a poet, along with his recognized position as a painter—a non-exhibiting painter, it may here be observed, for, after the first two or three years of his professional course, he ad- hered with practical uniformity to the plan of abstaining from exhibition altogether.
He had contemplated bring- ing out in or about a volume of original poems; but, in the grief and dismay which overwhelmed him in losing his wife, he determined to sacri- fice to her memory this long-cherished project, and he buried in her coffin the manuscripts which would have furnished forth the volume. With the lapse of years he came to see that, as a final settlement of the matter, this was neither obligatory nor desirable; so in the page: xix.
Few brothers were more constantly together, or shared one another's feelings and thoughts more intimately, in childhood, boyhood, and well on into mature manhood, than Dante Gabriel and myself. I have no idea of limning his character here at any length, but will de- fine a few of its leading traits. He was always and essentially of a dominant turn, in intellect and in temperament a leader. He was impetuous and vehe- ment, and necessarily therefore impatient; easily angered, easily appeased, although the embittered feelings of his later years obscured this amiable quality to some extent; constant and helpful as a friend where page: xxi.
Of his manner I can perhaps convey but a vague impression. I have said that it was natural; it was likewise eminently easy, and even of the free-and-easy kind. There was a certain British bluffness, streaking the finely poised Italian suppleness and facility. As he was thoroughly unconventional, caring not at all to page: xxii. The appearance of my brother was to my eye rather Italian than English, though I have more than once heard it said that there was nothing observable to bespeak foreign blood.
He was of rather low middle stature, say five feet seven and a half, like our father; and, as the years advanced, he resembled our father not a little in a characteristic way, yet with highly obvious divergences. Meagre in youth, he was at times decidedly fat in mature age. The complexion, clear and warm, was also dark, but not dusky or sombre. The hair was dark and somewhat silky; the brow grandly spacious and solid; the full-sized eyes blueish-grey; the nose shapely, decided, and rather projecting, with an aquiline tendency and large nostrils, and perhaps no detail in the face was more noticeable at a first glance than the very strong indentation at the spring of the nose below the forehead; the mouth moderately well- shaped, but with a rather thick and unmoulded under- page: xxiii.
My brother was very little of a traveller; he disliked the interruption of his ordinary habits of life, and the flurry or discomfort, involved in locomotion. In boy- hood he knew Boulogne: he was in Paris three or four times, and twice visited some principal cities of Belgium. This was the whole extent of his foreign travelling.
From page: xxiv. From an early period of life he had a large circle of friends, and could always have commanded any amount of intercourse with any number of ardent or kindly well-wishers, had he but felt elasticity and cheerfulness of mind enough for the purpose. I should do injustice to my own feelings if I were not to mention here some of his leading friends. First and foremost I name Mr. Madox Brown, his chief intimate throughout life, on the unexhausted resources of whose affection and con- verse he drew incessantly for long years; they were at last separated by the removal of Mr.
Brown to Man- chester, for the purpose of painting the Town Hall frescoes. William Bell Scott was, like Mr. Brown, a close friend from a very early period until the last; Scott being both poet and painter, there was a strict bond of affinity between him and Rossetti. Ruskin was extremely intimate with my brother from till about , and was of material help to his professional career. As he rose towards celebrity, Rossetti knew Burne Jones, and through him Morris and Swinburne, all staunch and fervently sympathetic friends.
Shields was a rather later acquaintance, who soon became an intimate, equally respected and cherished. Then Mr. Hueffer the musical critic now page: xxv. Before proceeding to some brief account of the sequence, etc. The first poet with whom he became partially familiar was Shakespeare. Then fol- lowed the usual boyish fancies for Walter Scott and Byron.
The Bible was deeply impressive to him, perhaps above all Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Apocalypse. Byron gave place to Shelley when my brother was about sixteen years of age; and Mrs. Browning and the old English or Scottish ballads rapidly ensued.
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It may have page: xxvi. The reader may perhaps be surprised to find some names unmentioned in this list: I have stated the facts as I remember and know them. It should not be supposed that he read them not at all, or cared not for any of them; but, if we except Chaucer in a rather loose way and at a late period of life Marlowe in some of his non-dramatic poems, they were compara- tively neglected.
Thomas Hood he valued highly; also very highly Burns in mature years, but he was not a constant reader of the Scottish lyrist. Of Italian poets he earnestly loved none save Dante: Cavalcanti in his degree, and also Poliziano and Michelangelo — not page: xxviii.
I now pass to a specification of my brother's own writings. Of his merely childish or boyish performances I need have said nothing, were it not that they have been mentioned in other books regarding Rossetti. It is of course simple nonsense.
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If what they do is meaningless, what they say when they deviate from prose is probably unmetrical; but it is so long since I read The Slave that I speak about this with uncertainty. Towards his thirteenth year he began a romantic prose-tale named Roderick and Rosalba. I page: xxix. Other original verse, not in any large quantity, succeeded, along with the version of Der Arme Heinrich , and the beginning of his translations from the early Italians. These must, I think, have been in full career in the first half of , if not in They show a keen sensitiveness to whatsoever is poetic in the originals, and a sinuous strength and ease in providing English equivalents, with the command of a rich and romantic vocabulary.
In his nineteenth year, or before 12th May , he wrote The Blessed Damozel. Note: Page is misnumbered as xx. Dante Rossetti's published works were as follows: three volumes, chiefly of poetry. I shall transcribe the title-pages verbatim. Together with Dante's Vita Nuova. Translated by D. Part I. Poets chiefly before Dante. Part II. Dante and his Circle. London: Smith, Elder and Co. The rights of translation and reproduction, as regards all editorial parts of this work, are reserved. Revised and rearranged edition. Poets of Dante's Circle. London: F. Ellis, 33 King Street, Covent Garden.
A new edition. The reader will understand that 1 b is essentially the same book as 1 a , but altered in arrangement, chiefly by inverting the order in which the poems of Dante and of the Dantesque epoch, and those of an earlier period, are printed.
In the present collection, I reprint 1 b , taking no further count of 1 a. The volume 2 b is to a great extent the same as 2 a , yet by no means identical with it. It thus became impossible for me to reproduce 2 a : but the question had to be considered whether I should reprint 2 b and 3 exactly as they stood in , adding after them a section of poems not hitherto printed in any one of my brother's volumes; or whether I should recast, in point of arrangement, the entire contents of 2 b and 3, inserting here and there, in their most appro- priate sequence, the poems hitherto unprinted.
I have chosen the latter alternative, as being in my own opinion the only arrangement which is thoroughly befitting for an edition of Collected Works.
I am aware that some readers would have preferred to see the old order— i. Indeed, one of my brother's friends, most worthy, whether as friend or as critic, to be consulted on such a subject, decidedly advocated that plan.