From novelist and poet Hermann Melville’s London diary 1849:

“I sat next to Lockhart, and seeing that he was a customer, who was full of himself & expected great homage; & knowing him to be a thorough going Tory & fish-blooded Churchman & conservative, & withall, Editor of the Ouarterly–I refrained from playing the snob to him, like the rest–& the consequence was he grinned at me his ghastly smiles.–After returning to the drawing room, coffee & tea were served, & I soon after came away. Such is a publisher’s dinner. A comical volume might be written upon it.–Oh Conventionalism, what a ninny, thou art, to be sure. And now, I must turn in. But first, let me add, that upon coming home, I found a note for me from Bogue, the publisher. I knew its contents at once–there seemed little use in opening it.–He declined; alleging among other reasons, the state of the copyright question.–So we go.”

If only Rimbaud and every other writer had kept such a London diary. This is a brilliant oasis.

Photo: Julie Goldsmith

About Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt > poet > author of b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012) > urban explorer > radical pedestrian who leads Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud /Yeats walks, among others.
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