Mentions of Lucile in Literature
& in Scholarly Books and Articles
Anonymous. "New English Poets." Putnam's Monthly VI:XXXIII (September 1855). In reviewing Clytemnestra, Meredith's first book, the author of this article writes: "Our readers might be justly curious to know if there really were a new poet. Our reply is that we do not discover the signs of his coming in Owen Meredith's volume. He is not a voice, but only a sweet echo."
Donald F. Bond. "Recollections of the Department of English." The University of Chicago Archives. In a section of this incomplete memoir Bond says of John Matthews Manly: "Although his main interests lay in the medieval period, Manly's acquaintance with more recent literature was amazing. I know of one family who, after long puzzling over some lines of verse, finally suggested to their son that he inquire of Manly for the source. Manly read it over, and after a pause replied, 'I don't recognize the passage, but it sounds as if it might be from Lucile.' It was in fact from this poem (1860) by the Earl of Lytton (diplomat and Viceroy of India), who wrote under the pen-name of 'Owen Meredith.'"
The following paragraph comes from John Matthews Manly, English Poetry (1170-1892) (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1907), page xxvii: ROBERT BULWER LYTTON, "Owen Meredith" (p. 544), "is notable only as an example of the worthlessness of contemporary popularity, however great, as a test of merit. No one can now read his verses without seeing clearly and at once that he had not a single quality of greatness. He had no power of thought, no sensitiveness to beauty, no real charm of manner. His success was a triumph of the commonplace and of cheap and tawdry sensationalism. That we are all now able to see this does not mean that we are wiser than the preceding generation or endowed with better taste, but only that this particular kind of commonplace and sensationalism does not appeal to us. Most of us are still equally ready to praise work different in badness, but just as bad."
Van Wyck Brooks. New England: Indian Summer, 1865-1915 (New York: Dutton, 1940), p7. "... meanwhile, for those who were merely romantic, the atmosphere of Boston had much of the bookish charm of Charles Lamb's London. The auctioneers quoted Shakespeare; and, if you entered a corner grocery, perhaps to buy a codfish, the man would ask you how you liked Lucile, while he was tying it up."
Douglas Bush. Mythology and the Romantic Tradition in English Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1937). “Early Victorian Minor Poets,” pages291-294. "If the faded copies of Lucile on the shelves of every secondhand bookshop in the English-speaking world were ever disturbed in their eternal repose, one might say that "Owen Meredith" still lived...." Essay continues...
Fred D. Crawford. “Conrad Aiken’s Cancelled Debt to T.S. Eliot.” Journal of Modern Literature 7:3 (September 1979), p. 417. "Immediate dismissal of Aiken's influence on Eliot is characteristic of such studies. As Jay Martin states,
Despite Ivor Winters's warning ["Recent Verse," Hound and Horn (1930), p. 454] that "Mr. Aiken's debt to Mr. Eliot has been over-estimated; it really amounts to little or nothing," Aiken has been most frequently accused of imitating Eliot. . . . Aiken was probably influenced most by the very poets whom he was himself influencing.
Among those Martin cites for underestimating Aiken are Dean B. Lyman, Jr., Joseph Warren Beach, Babette Deutsch, and Louis Untermeyer. Aiken was aware of this critical trend and reacted to it:
In a satirical dream dialogue which he wrote in 1928, Aiken expressed his reaction to this criticism:
BODENHEIM: . . . Has Aiken any individuality? Does he exist?
MISS MONROE: He is an echo of Masefield and of Gibson. The Jig of Forslin is like Owen Meredith's Lucile. Turns and Movies is like Hiawatha. The Charnel Rose is like The Old Oaken Bucket.
POUND (wearily): Swinburne plus Fletcher minus Aiken equals Aiken.
UNTERMEYER: Eliot plus Masters minus Aiken equals Aiken.
HERVEY: Baudelaire plus Evans plus De Nerval plus Verlaine plus Mallarme plus Rimbaud minus Aiken equals Aiken.
KREYMBORG: Didn't you leave out somebody? 
 Jay Martin, Conrad Aiken: A Life of His Art, ed. Joseph Killorin (Princeton University Press, 1962), p. 213.
John W. Daniel. "Napoleon's Life of Cesar, vol. 2." Debow's Review 2:6 (December 1866). The reviewer cites Meredith's Vargrave as an example of "men who, with the genius to do any one thing, fritter away existence attempting all things, and accomplishing nothing." "Alfred Vargrave was one of those men who achieve / So little, because of the much they conceive. /."
Paul H. Douglas. In several articles and books (viz., "Are There Laws of Production?," The American Economic Review 38:1 (March 1948), page 3), this prominent economist notes "[Francis Ysidro] Edgeworth, who in his Mathermatical Psychics, had attempted to prove, by quotations from Owen Meredith's Lucille, that men should receive larger incomes than women...." Edgeworth, a barrister at law, does indeed argue in this manner (page 78), but the two lines he quotes, "Woman is the lesser man, and her passions unto mine / Are as moonlight unto sunlight and as water unto wine," unfortunately are drawn not from Lucile but from Tennyson's Locksley Hall (1892), lines 151-2.
Education, A Monthly Magazine. Frank H. Kasson and William A. Mowery, eds. Vol 11: September 1890-June 1891 (Boston: Frank H. Kasson, 1891), Page 324. AMONG THE BOOKS. Worthington Co. of New York, publish dollar editions of a large number of standard books. Among these is Lucile, that rich, sensuous poem in which a woman's heart is open to the reader's inspection as perhaps no man in this century has opened it. Owen Meredith is a lordly master of verse as well as a titled lord.
William Perry Fidler. Augusta Evans Wilson, 1835-1909 (University of Alabama Press, 1951), p130-133. "One late Victorian critic has shrewdly observed, “These novelists of the old type are handicapped for the future by the very excellences which made them popular in the past. Mrs. Wilson was a most vital expression of that Southern taste which, classical rather than imitative, flourished upon Meredith's Lucile and Bulwer's The Lady of Lyons." He cites the “high seriousness of spirituality," her “picturesqueness of abstract statement," her deep love of scholarship, and her opulence of phrase, which help to make her “representative of a literary genre which, while it lasted, brought with it a healthy, wide enjoyment and an emotional appeal which, drawing plentifully upon warm sentiment treasured a romantic spirit the world would be poorer without. [Montrose J. Moser, The Literature of the South (New York: Crowell, 1910), p331]. Not only were the hero and heroine idealized in St. Elmo, but the setting was more elegant than life, and the style more refined than mere thinking. [See a larger except from this biography for background on Wilson's St. Elmo, an 1867 romance that became another American bestseller].
Lewis Barnett Fretz. Bennie, The Pythian of Syracuse and other titles. Chicago: Scroll Publishing Co., 1901 (pages 13-15). INTRODUCTION.
It is with no small degree of hesitancy, yet with an indescribable feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that I approach the reading world, and particularly that part of it known as fraternal, with a creation decidedly new on the line of secret society literature.
At the close of a pleasant summer day I sat by my window, looking out from beneath the spreading branches of a friendly maple and viewed the grandeur of the sun as he hastened toward the Occident.
From far in the North to far in the South, sullen sheets of blackened vapor hung like a leaden sea against the horizon, and spread a shadowy pall over the landscape beneath. As the King of Day approached this Storm-burdened curtain of Night, its refractory rays seemed to press a challenge for supremacy, which, like a mighty stroke of Thor, burst the bands of mark and liberated myriads of entities, emblazoned with all the prismatic colors of the rainbow.
Nearer the background of this electrified picture, a waving mass of translucent purple widened gradually like ripples on the bosom of some placid 1ake until it reached the azure dome above. Here and there delicate tints of pink and amber evolved like polished garnitures, pinning back in graceful folds, as it were, the shifting portierres of Heaven, in such a way that mortality might catch at least a glimpse of the unspeakable glories beyond ere nocturnal shades hid them away in obscurity. From the center and bottom of this thrilling panorama a mirage shaft of molten gold was cast up which, in turn, spread over the firmament, already garbed in transparent prettiness, like a halo of the ethereal.
Magic splendor glowed in spotless sheen on hill and dale, until lost amid the hazy breadths of listless skies, darkening shadows crept like a misty veil abroad. Loiteringly and slow these soothing chariots of the night seemed to rise higher and higher, like fairy spectres in a land of promise and of plenty.
The last gleam of sunlight fell like a heavenly benediction on the heaving bosom of Earth, all beauteous in her wrappings of emerald and blooming flowers. Coy, like some half-grown schoolgirl waiting in arbor for a sweetheart and, with round cheeks flushed by the finer tints of twilight, Dame Nature appeared on the scene, robed in nice fitting sheets of flakey clouds tipped in gold. These seemed fastened at the belt line with a corsage of silver, while the skirt showed evanescing ruffllings, variegated and rubescent. Bearing gracefully and proudly a tiara of stars, she smiled demurely and passed to her apartments, curtained just them with majestic effulgence.
Striking a "fetching" attitude, she seemed to expectantly bide the caresses of Aurora's dawn and the kissings, nectar-steeped, of Heaven's beneficent dews. Magnificent in appointment and attired in regal robes of richest texture, she witched the wooings of eventide as serenely as a happy bride captures her adoring groom at the nuptial altar. From some hidden recess in her matchless costume, fragrance, deep-scented and pleasing, floated in air like some medicinal balm of the Orient, carrying in the depths of its omniscient perfume the power to comfort and to heal.
Each tiny flower and blade of grass, each small bush and shrub, and trees, which unto greater proportion and strength had grown—each, all, seemed to join in one mighty chorus of praise and thanksgiving.
It was while resting within and absorbing the benign influence of this peculiarly entrancing atmosphere, that I recalled a fitting sentiment of Owen Meredith in Lucile: "The thought that thrills our existence most, is one, which, ere we can frame it in language is gone." During a brief season of crystallized ecstacy, the rejoicings of my own wondering soul found expression in something like the following soliloquization:
Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful world. Matchless art thou, and incomprehensible! Where is thy beginning; where thy ending?
Oh, language of Nature, ever peaceful and instructive, thou dost teach us to know how sweet it is to live, how grand to die, with a full knowledge of our power to enjoy the immutableness about us! The world, God's treasure-house for the sublime and infinite, how incomparable its illimitableness; how bewildering its beauty and loveableness; how spiritualizing and inspiring its harmony! Most truly it is a grand galaxy of imperturbable effusiveness and spontaneous coalescence! The mind of mortal man cannot fathom the mysteries of creation. Should there be any one thing above all the rest which, from the very nature of itself is calculated to inspire composition, eloquent, poetic; painting, rich, exceptional; sculpture, exquisite, rare; song, melodious, heavenly; music, thrilling, divine, that thing is a view of some of the master wonders in Nature!
Pausing in these reflections, I crossed the room and, sitting down to my desk, took up my pen and began to write in verse as by the uncontrollable impulse of Inspiration—Bennie, The Pythian of Syracuse, war the surprising and happy result.
Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes (http://www.ohiohistory.org/onlinedoc/hayes/chapterxvii.html). CAMP ROUTINE--WINTER 1862, pages 214-216. RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, March 22, 1862.
DEAREST: -- Your letters, 13th and 15th, reached me yesterday. Also the gloves and [percussion] caps. They suit perfectly. You don't know how I enjoy reading your accounts of the boys. Webb is six years old. Dear little fellow, how he will hate books. Don't be too hard with him. Birch's praying is really beautiful.
We are in the midst of one of the storms so frequent in these mountains. We call it the equinoctial and hope when it is over we shall have settled weather. It is snowing in great flakes which stick to the foliage of the pine and other evergreen trees on the hills, giving the scene in front of the window near me a strangely wintry appearance.
To kill time, I have been reading "Lucile" again, and you may know I think of you constantly and oh, so lovingly as I read. When I read it first we were on the steamer in the St. Lawrence River below Quebec. What a happy trip that was! It increased my affection for you almost as much as my late visit home. Well, well, you know all this. You know "I love you so much."
We are all feeling very hopeful. We expect to move soon and rapidly, merely because Fremont is commander. I do not see but this war must be soon decided. McClellan seems determined, and I think he is able to force the retreating Manassas army to a battle or to an equally disastrous retreat. A victory there ends the contest. I think we shall be months, perhaps even years, getting all the small parties reduced, but the Rebellion as a great peril menacing the Union will be ended.
General Beckley, whose sword-belt Webby wears, came in and surrendered to me a few days ago. Mrs. Beckley brought me his note. She is a lady of good qualities. Of course, there were tears, etc., etc., which I was glad to relieve. The old general is an educated military gentleman of the old Virginia ways -- weak, well-intentioned, and gentlemanly; reminds one of the characters about Chillicothe, from Virginia--probably of less strength of character than most of them. A citizen here described him to Dr. McCurdy as "light of talent but well educated."
Gray, "the blind soldier" you saw at Camp Chase, is, I notice, on duty and apparently perfectly well. Gray, the orderly, you saw drunk is in good condition again, professing contrition, etc. McKinley is bright and clean, looking his best. Inquires if you see his wife.
So, you go to Fremont. You will once in a while see our men there, too. Some five or six Twenty-third men belong in that region.
You ought to see what a snow-storm is blowing. Whew! I had a tent put up a few days ago for an office. Before I got it occupied the storm came on and now it is split in twain.
Our regiment was never so fine-looking as now. It is fun to see them. No deaths, I believe, for two months and no sickness worth mentioning. Chiefly engaged hunting bushwhackers. Our living is hard, the grub I mean, and likely not to improve. Salt pork and crackers. The armies have swept off all fresh meats and vegetables. A few eggs once in a great while.
Love to Grandma and all the boys.
Affectionately, as ever, R.
Hugh Hawkins. Pioneer. A History of the Johns Hopkins University , 1874-1889 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960), p292. "Friendship flourished when it fed on honest and unrestrained talking together. / Sometimes this comradeship would include doing nonacademic reading in co-operation, for example, when two students read aloud together Owen Meredith's Lucile and poems and essays from the Century ."
INDIA AND FLORENCE'S ENGLISH CEMETERY (http://www.florin.ms/India.html). Florence became the final resting place for many persons from England, Scotland and Ireland who had been either born or who had lived under Indian skies. These could be retired military persons like George IV's natural son, Sir William Henry Sewell, or civil servants, like Christopher Webb Smith, and their wives and children. I give the Cemetery's Catalogue concerning them below, recognizing that others may also have seen service there but whose records in the English Cemetery might fail to note this.
In Florence, because of its openness, both English and Americans, especially those with exotic backgrounds, could be friends of each other more readily than could have been the case in either England or in America. Several of the ex-patriot women of the Anglo-Florentine circle came of mixed blood, different colours and other faiths. Elizabeth Barrett Browning herself had referred to her part slave ancestry. Maurice (Moisé) Baruch, the conscientious librarian of the English Church in Florence, found his resting place in the English Cemetery, buried by the Anglican Reverend Tottenham, his tomb inscribed in English and in German, the latter in fraktura script in 1867. Thomas Adolphus Trollope noted that the Hungarian patriot Ferencz Pulszky's talented beautiful Viennese wife, Therese Walther, was Jewish. Their son Gyula is buried here in a tomb showing him above the Florentine cityscape as seen from their villa.
While Thomas Adolphus' friend, Isa Blagden, and his own wife, Theodosia Garrow Trollope, daughter of Joseph Garrow, were part Jewish, part East Indian. Nathaniel Hawthorne creates a composite of these in the exotic and beautiful character of Miriam in The Marble Faun. Elizabeth Barrett Browning described Isa Blagden's hospitable home in Bellosguardo with its view down upon Florence as that for her heroines, Aurora Leigh and Marian Erle. Henry James likewise delighted in visiting this vibrant exotic hostess. John Brett's fine painting from Isa's balcony includes the medieval walls as they were then, and huddled outside of them, to our left, the Hebrew Cemetery.
Robert Lytton, who had attended Elizabeth's funeral along with Isa, was the son of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, had published poetry under the name of 'Owen Meredith' and became Viceroy of India. Elizabeth had hoped Lytton would marry Isa Blagden, for she had saved his life one summer in Bagni di Lucca, when the Brownings were also there, but Isa's mixed blood, part Jewish, part East Indian, prevented the match. They both wrote works about their romance: Lytton's Lucile, a kind of Aurora Leigh, in verse; Isa's Agnes Tremorne in prose. I am hoping someone will write a book about Isa and Lytton.
Walter Learned, (1847 - 1915), American Poet, Translator, Editor, and Banker:
Out of the leaves of my “Lucile”
Falls a faded violet.
Sweet and faint as its fragrance, steal
Out from the leaves of my “Lucile”
Tender memories, and I feel
A sense of longing and regret.
Out of the leaves of my “Lucile”
Falls a faded violet.
(Composition date not yet determined; the reference to the poem kindly provided by Marcia Lynn McClure)
Newman Levy. Sandy MacPherson: Book Collector (Council Bluffs, Iowa: Yellow Barn Press, 1998).
"What was that ?” I asked.
"The last will and testament of an Egyptian nobleman named Thothmes. It was one of the first specimens of Egyptian hieroglyphics I've ever seen. But I had to pass it up," he said sadly.
"But why'" I inquired.
"I hadn't room for it," said Mac. "You see, it was an obelisk and weighed—I don't know how many tons. It was a hundred and eighty feet high. Here's something," he said with awe in his voice, "that would make the Gutenberg Bible look like a padded leather copy of Lucille on the Library table."
He drew a book from the bottom of the tin box and handed it to me. This one was written on vellum in a curious Oriental script that I could not identify.
"I don't suppose you can read it," said Mac with a grin. "Handle with care, son. That's something that's really worth getting excited about."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Those pages," said Mac, "are the original proof-sheets of the Koran with the corrections in Mohammed's own handwriting."
My only answer was a gasp and another large glass of whiskey. I was too dazed for comment.
"Here's something rather good," said Mac, taking from the cupboard a small scroll of the sort commonly used in Jewish synagogues. "This is a presentation copy of the Psalms of David. It's from David to Bathsheba. She was his favorite wife, you'll remember, and the mother of Solomon. I'm afraid though," he added somewhat sadly, "it's not a first."
"Really ?" I said sympathetically. "How can you tell?"
"It hasn't got all the points," Mac replied.
[A colophon notes this is "probably the fifth edition," the spoof of book collectors having first been published in the Quarto Club Papers in 1928.]
Don Marquis. Carter and Other People (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1921), v: “…‘The Penitent’ was originally printed in The Pictorial Review, with the title ‘The Healer and the Penitent.’ The plot of this story is taken from two poems, one by Browning and one by Owen Meredith. Happening to read these two poems, one after the other, I was struck by the fact that Owen Meredith has unwittingly written what was in effect a continuation of a situation invented by Browning; the plot of the one poem, telescoped into the plot of the other, made in effect a complete short story. I pasted the two situations together, so to speak, inventing an ending of my own, and had a short story which neither Browning nor Owen Meredith could claim – and which I scarcely have the nerve to claim as mine. And yet this story, taken piecemeal from the two poets, gave me more trouble than anything else I have ever tried to write; it was all there, apparently; but to transpose the story into a modern American setting was a difficult job. It is my only essay in conscious plagiarism – I hate to call it plagiarism, but what else could one call it? – and I give you my word that it is easier to invent than to plagiarize…” The poems are Browning’s “A Forgiveness” and Meredith’s “The Portrait.”
Don Marquis. "Preface to a Cook Book." Prefaces (D. Appleton and Company, 1919). Decorations by Tony Sarg.
“I am,” he said, putting on a pair of eyeglasses, and looking as if he might look like Whistler if he thought me worth wasting the look on.
“What sort of literature are you fond of?” I asked.
“I am fond of Lord Tennyson's Poems.” he retorted insultingly. I permitted myself a faint superior smile. It maddened him, as I intended it should; his nose turned a whitish blue as the blood receded from his face.
“Did you ever read any of Meredith?” I asked.
“I did!” he replied.
I turned toward the fireplace, as if willing to veil a doubt.
He took off his glasses; he pointed at me a long bony digit that trembled with anger.
“Yes,” I said.
“What?” he demanded.
“For one thing,” I told him, “’The Egoist’”.
I dwelt upon The Egoist as if I tasted a subtle, ulterior jest in mentioning it to him. I hoped that would puzzle him.
“One of Meredith's lesser known pieces, no doubt,” he said.
“Oh, no!” I affirmed.
“Not so well known as ‘Lucile’,” he asserted.
“What -- you do not mean that you have never read Owen Meredith's masterpiece, ‘Lucile’!”
“Owen!” I gasped; but before I could do more than gasp he quoted:
“’We may live without poetry music or art,
We may live without conscience, and live without heart,
We may live without friends, we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.’”
The next instant our hostess was upon us, murmuring with a bright arch smile: “Ah! Locksley Hall! Those old Victorian were wonderful in their way, after all . . . were they not? I knew you two dear men like the vaunting spirit that proclaims, “By heaven, I will conquer that plum pudding or die!”
Let us be sensible about this thing . . . . An Average Man may eat the Dorcas Cooking from infancy on to the age of forty years before he becomes an incurable dyspeptic. Suppose then he must retire to poached eggs and malted milk -- what memories he has to look back upon!
I once had a second cousin, a prudent boy, who thought a great deal of his digestion; Dorcas could not tempt him; he knew all about his alimentary canal and gave himself as many airs as a bumptious young anchorite who has just donned his first hair shirt. He exasperated me; if he had been deliberately saving his digestion for the first thirty-five years of life in order to enjoy it to the full and with more mature discrimination during the latter thirty five I could have understood him. But no -- he intended to eat poached eggs and malted milk to the frugal end.
But the universe is not on the side of frugality; the stars were hurled broadcast from the hand of a spendthrift God. . . . Cousin Tom, going back to his office after a lunch of oatmeal crackers on his twenty-eighth birthday, was killed by a brick which fell from the chimney of a chop house in which I sat eating a steak en casserole with mushrooms and thinking sentimentally of Dorcas. He died without issue, and carried his gastric juices unimpaired to the grave. In a way I took a certain satisfaction in his death, as it proved the folly of prudence; and yet I wept at the funeral, for the thought struck me, “What could I not do with Tom's practically virgin digestive organs if he had but contrived to leave them to me!”
There was a stomach that had never really lived. . . . and now it never would! It is better to go swaggering through the gates of life loose-lipped and genial and greedy, embracing pleasures and suffering pains than to find one's self, in the midst of caution, incontinently slain by chance and eaten by worms.
Mary R. T. McAboy. Roseheath Poems. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1884.
OWEN MEREDITH'S FAIR LUCILE.
To E. H. O. Edwardia.
Owen Meredith's fair Lucile!—
Owen Meredith's rare Lucile!—
The dainty book I hold in my hand,
The leaves by the winds of April fanned;
Daintily bound, in blue and gold,
And the leaves, the Lilies of France enfold!—
Sweet, and stainless, and manifold.
Not more clear could a wizard's glass reveal,
The Duke de Luvois, and the Countess Lucile;—
Than these fair flowers, reveal at a glance ;—
These emblem Lilies of La Belle France !—
Owen Meredith's fair Lucile !—
Owen Meredith's rare Lucile !—
Never held book such fair completeness;
Never held book such honeyed sweetness;
Sweeter than songs, of the forest birds,
Are the musical, magical, marvelous words;
Rich as the hue of the purple gloaming;
Light and bright as the wild waves foaming;
Trenchant and swift as the shining steel,
That flashed from the scabbard for fair Lucile;
When Luvois awoke from his sorrowful trance,
To the old, heroic Knighthood of France;
And the camp was with angel grace besprent,
While Soeur Seraphine watched, in the soldier's tent !—
Never held book such magical words,
Sweeter than songs of the forest birds;
They fall on my heart in ambrosial showers,
Sweet with the breath of a thousand flowers!—
Oh! beautiful spells, that genius hath wrought,
From the pure and passionate depths of thought!
The hand of genius, that deftly hath caught
And wreathed the divinest blossoms of thought.
Yet the dainty book reveals at a glance,
A breath more sweet than the Lilies of France;
My heart alone, owns the mystic spell,
The undertone from the Fairy's Well!—
And the fairy haunts of Point Genevieve,
Where the clouds, their crimson draperies weave;
And a sweeter face, the tones reveal,
Than Owen Meredith's fair Lucile;
Only my heart, can own the spell,
The voice of love from the Fairy's Well.
Frank Luther Mott. Golden Multitudes: the story of best sellers in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1947), p113. "A highly popular narrative poem for half a century was Owen Meredith's Lucile. Ticknor & Fields brought it out in Boston, immediately after its first appearance in London in 1860, in a little blue-and-gold volume at seventy-five cents. In the eighties, the cheap publishers sold it by the hundreds of thousands, but the form in which many oldsters today remember it is that of the Crowell edition with padded leather binding designed for the glory of the centertable. Fluent, Byronic, passionate, Lucile thrilled many a fair reader, and some not so fair. "Owen Meredith" was the pen-name of the first Earl of Lytton, viceroy of India, later ambassador to France, son of the Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii and other best sellers.
Mrs. Lilla Pavy. Archives of the Lady Bay Franklin expedition (1883) at the Explorers Club, Box VII, folder 14, p. 1. Mrs Lilla Pavy to Octave Pavy. March 1st 1881: “Tonight, I sent to you some seaside library books which I hope you will enjoy. The Lucile I sent, intending to mark passages all through when I returned home this evening but the clerk kindly offered to prepare it for the mail and I consented.” Pavy was the surgeon on Adolphus Greely's fateful expedition to the Artic; more of their books survived than participants. [Courtesy of David H. Stam].
Edward Robbins. “Dead Books and Dying Authors.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 51:4 (1927), pp. 309-329 (quote from pages 311-312). "As I look back it seems as if not a few of the poets I enjoyed have gone into permanent and total eclipse, while others, though not totally obscured, shine less brilliantly than of old. … Then there was "Owen Meredith," Lord Lytton, son of Bulwer Lytton. I remember when everybody quoted "Lucille" and really thought it quite devillish in parts. It could now be read in a Sunday school without bringing the blush of shame to the cheek of any scholar -- but what scholar would bother with it?"
G.B. Rose in William Norman Guthrie and G. B. Rose. “Two Poets.” The Sewanee Review 9:3 (July 1901), pages. 328-336. Guthrie writes about Yeats' The Shadowy Waters (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1901; Rose about William Vaughn Moody’s The Masque of Judgement (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1900). "Such poetry will never be popular. It does not appeal to the maidens who wept over "Lucile," nor to the throng that delights in the "Barrack-Room Ballads." But it is great poetry none the less, and will survive, with the "Prometheus Unbound," when Owen Meredith and Kipling are forgotten. Let us hope that it marks the dawn of a new era in American literature, and that Prof. Moody may live to follow it up with other works of equal, or even greater, power. In the meantime we must thank him for demonstrating that American poetry can grapple with the greatest problems, and handle them with masterly vigor. G. B. Rose."
Franklin Barlow Sexton in Mary S. Estill. “Diary of a Confederate Congressman, 1862-1863, part II.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 39:1 (July 1935), pages 40-42.
Sunday 22nd Three months today since I left home. Wonder how my dear ones are & how they are employed. Happy I hope & happily engaged. May God preserve them all & bless them. Went to church; heard a very good sermon from Dr. Doggett on faith. Read much in a poem called "Lucille"  said to be written by Bulwers son. Disappointed in getting no letter from home today. Snow melting very fast. Talked long with Graham. Have to make a final vote on the Tax bill tomorrow. May God enlighten my judgment so that I may vote correctly and patriotically.
Monday 23 … Read some in Lucille, a poem by Owen Meredith, Bulwer's son. Its sentiments are ennobling & refining.
Tuesday 24th. Finished "Lucille". It is a poem the sentiments of which are ennobling and exalting.
. "Lucile," poem by Owen Meredith (Robert, Lord Lytton). Narrative-dramatic poem in six cantos.
[From Estill introduction to Part I]: In 1932, …a diary of Franklin Barlow Sexton was found. … born at New Harmony, Posey County, Indiana, April 29, 1828…. only child of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Sexton, and moved with them in 1838 to San Augustine, Texas. Dr. Sexton died when Barlow was thirteen … attended the Methodist academy in San Augustine, known as Wesleyan College, and studied law in the office of J. Pinckney Henderson and O. M. Roberts, both of whom are closely associated with the history of Texas. Before he reached his twenty-first birthday (1848), Sexton was granted by special legislative action his license to practice law. He began his professional career, which "grew to a high standard of eminence" (Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas), in San Augustine. In 1852 Sexton married Eliza Richardson, daughter of an early Texas settler and Sabine County landowner, Daniel Long Richardson. Thirteen children… In April, 1860 … elected president of the State Democratic Convention … 1861 entered the Confederate service…. elected 1862 to the Confederate Congress… served the remaining years of the Confederacy. At the close of the War, Sexton returned to San Augustine and in 1872 removed his family to Marshall … serving many years as attorney for the T. & P. Railway.... A staunch Episcopalian and a loyal mason, Mr. Sexton's ideals and conscientious conduct are reflected in his diary of the years 1862 and 1863, spent in Richmond, the Confederate capital…. Served 1856 as Grand Master in the masonic order… 1870 as Grand Commander Knights Templar of Texas.
Logan Pearsall Smith. Unforgotten Years (London: Constable and Co., 1838), p77-78. "However, to resume my tale. I had by this time become dimly aware of the prestige to be acquired by some knowledge of the poets, and by the ability to pronounce their names in a knowing way and to murmur their musical lines in the moonlight, and I began, in my conversations with my sister, to introduce shyly, as I have said, the subject of poetry. Yes, there was poetry, my sister answered, musing, and smiling to herself as she mused; and then with a pitying consciousness of my rudimentary culture, and a feeling, no doubt, that I was unworthy as yet of higher initiations,-- that Tennyson and Swinburne and Browning were still far beyond my scope,-- she recommended me to read Macaulay's Lays, which I did read in the little library among the trees on my return to college -- read with real excitement, although I hardly found in these heroic lays many tender lines suitable for quotation in the moonlight. More to my purpose was another book of poems which I found for myself upon those shelves,- Owen Meredith's Lucile,-- which shoddy stuff I read with passion, finding in it the delineation of all that I thought most elegant and distinguished, all that in my most romantic moods I should have liked to be."
Melville E. Stone. Fifty Years a Journalist. (Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1921). The Case of Baron de Palm. ... I made the acquaintance of a remarkable character, one Baron de Palm. At first sight one would recognize him as a decayed voluptuary, of the sort that frequent the Continental watering places of Europe in the season. Habited faultlessly, with hair and beard carefully dressed, washed-out face and eyes, shaky on his legs, he had evidently, like Cousin John's profligate in Owen Meredith's "Lucille," never neglected an occasion to please himself. Such men were almost unknown at the time in bustling Chicago."
Chauncy Hare Townshend. The Three Gates. In Verse. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861. Second Edition. Pages XX-XXI. "A young poet, who may be hailed as the "coming man" amongst poets; who, under the pseudonym of Owen Meredith, conceals a name, illustrious and by him to be still more illustrated, has already achieved a conspicuous specialty. He follows warmly on the track of the forward time, and presents the world with conscientious studies of itself embodied in the frame of an imaginative mind. In the "Wanderer" and " Lucile," he throws aside conventional forms of thought, often of rhythm, and, with a large power of pictorial language, sets before us certain phases of life — that, in fact, which he knows and feels — (would that every poet did the same!) piercing to the hidden realm of passion through the external folds of custom."
Carl Van Vechten. In the Garret (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920), "A Note on Philip Thicknesse," p43-45. Van Vechten speculates on the prices books in his collection would bring at auction:
" What a terrible fate awaits a library when its master dies! The penniless widow and her children, the bereaved pets, cats, dogs, monkeys, and parrots, stand a better chance than the beloved books, which remain to mourn their erstwhile owner..
. . . Nor do I worry over the fate of the English edition of "A Story Teller's Holiday," nor over that of several of George Moore's earlier works, originally the property of James Huneker, who, as is his wont, has plentifully supplied the margins with mirth-provoking comments. . . . But there are books on my shelves whose mere titles will convey nothing to the stolid purchaser in the auction room. Who, for example, will know enough to buy my copy of Frank L. Boyden's "Popular American Composers," unless some one, fifty or sixty years from now when I die, may remember to have read my account of it in "The Merry-goround"? Who will bid for my copy of "Harry" by the author of "Mrs. Jerningham's Journal," also in my possession? These long narrative poems of the seventies, written perhaps in imitation of Owen Meredith's "Lucile" are priceless, and yet I myself picked them up for five and ten cents respectively, and very probably at an auction sale they would go for less. But if a prospective buyer turns to page 62 of "Harry" his eye will light on this marked passage:
"O, women have no temptations at all;
They have only to keep their white lives white;
But men are so tempted, that men must fall -
O wonderful Harry who stands upright!"
and if he further flips the leaves I think he will purchase the book at whatever price. . . ".
Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance, end of Chapter 3.
My dear governess, seeing my perplexity over the structure of English verse, gave me a work called "Quackenbos's Rhetoric", which warned one not to speak of the oyster as a "succulent bivalve", and pointed out that even Shakespeare nodded when he made Hamlet "take arms against a sea of troubles". Mr. Quackenbos disposed of the delicate problems of English metric by squeezing them firmly into the classic categories, so that Milton was supposed to have written in "iambic pentameters", and all superfluous syllables were got rid of (as in the eighteenth century) by elisions and apostrophes. Always respectful of the rules of the game, I tried to cabin my Muse within these bounds, and once when, in a moment of unheard-of audacity, I sent a poem to a newspaper (I think "The World"), I wrote to the editor apologizing for the fact that my metre was "irregular", but adding firmly that, though I was only a little girl, I wished this irregularity to be respected, as it was "intentional". The editor published the poem, and wrote back politely that he had no objection to irregular metres himself; and thereafter I breathed more freely. My poetic experiments, however, were destined to meet with the same discouragement as my fiction. Having vainly attempted a tragedy in five acts I turned my mind to short lyrics, which I poured out with a lamentable facility. My brother showed some of these to one of his friends, an amiable and cultivated Bostonian named Allen Thorndike Rice, who afterward became the owner and editor of the "North American Review". Allen Rice very kindly sent the poems to the aged Longfellow, to whom his mother's family were related; and on the bard's recommendation some of my babblings appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly". Happily this experiment was not repeated; and any undue pride I might have felt in it was speedily dashed by my young patron's remarking to me one day: "You know, writing lyrics won't lead you anywhere. What you want to do is to write an epic. All the great poets have written epics. Homer . . . Milton . . . Byron. Why don't you try your hand at something like 'Don Juan'?" This was a hard saying to a dreamy girl of fifteen, and I shrank back into my secret retreat, convinced that I was unfitted to be either a poet or a novelist. I did, indeed, attempt another novel, and carried this one to its close; but it was destined for the private enjoyment of a girl friend, and was never exposed to the garish light of print. It exists to this day, beautifully written out in a thick copy-book, with a title page inscribed "Fast and Loose", and an epigraph from Owen Meredith's "Lucile":
Let Woman beware
How she plays fast and loose with human despair,
And the storm in Man's heart.
Title and epigraph were terrifyingly exemplified in the tale, but it closed on a note of mournful resignation, with the words: "And every year when April comes the violets bloom again on Georgie's grave."
After this I withdrew to secret communion with the Muse. I continued to cover vast expanses of wrapping paper with prose and verse, but the dream of a literary career, momentarily shadowed forth by one miraculous adventure, soon faded into unreality. How could I ever have supposed I could be an author? I had never even seen one in the flesh!
Hildegard Hoeller. Edith Wharton’s Dialogue with Realism and Sentimental Fiction (Gainsville: University of Florida Press, 2000). Hoeller’s second chapter, pages 38-43, “‘I Did Love Him, I Did Care,’ Sentimental and Ironic Voices in Fast and Loose” discusses Wharton’s “revision of Owen Meredith’s Lucile.”
Ralph Windle. The Poetry of Business Life, An Anthology (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1994). Windle includes 14 lines from Part II, Canto IV, Verse V in his section of verse on money. The link takes you to the whole of that verse -- the moment in which Alfred Vargrave realises he has lost his wealth in a bank failure engineered by a trusted friend. See also Goldsmith in "scholarly" section below.
Celia Parker Wooley, A Girl Graduate (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1889). Summarized (in part) by Bernice E. Gallagher, Illinois Women Novelists in the Nineteenth Century (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994). Maggie Dean is a restless young woman, one of that "large and inevitable class in our American civilization which illustrates both the merits and the difficulties of our peculiar principles, where the spectacle of social difference, based on divergent tastes and standards, may be seen in the two generations of a single household. The daughter of plain, uneducated parents, themselves belonging to a definite sphere, who with honest pride and ambition had fitted their children to occupy a very different one. Maggie felt herself at the same time both promised and cheated of the things she most desired." . She is determined to decide her own future and "prove herself independent pf accidental circumstance" . She reads romantic poetry such as "Lucile" by Owen Meredith, and she "frankly admitted her preference for those stories whether in prose of verse, that ended happily, but she had sufficient literary judgment to know that the best books were apt to end very differently, and she had a certain pride here as elsewhere which made her scorn the cheap delights of the lower order of fiction." . Yet Maggie wonders why women cannot be happy as well as good and why being good usually brings toil and tribulation. Maggie always feels like "something was going to happen"  but is unsure what it would be.
Anonymous. "Nora Perry." Current Literature XVIII:1 (Jul-Dec 1895), p13.
Nora Perry won her public, says Lillian Whiting, when she wrote that rippling rhyme Tying Her Bonnet Under Her Chin, and perpetuated her hold upon the public heart with the famous poem, After the Ball, which probably shares, with Owen Meredith's Lucile, the fidelity of every girl who has reveled in it. Miss Perry's place in poetry has never been exactly fixed -- she captivates too entirely for one to coldly analyze it; but it is not too much to say that, for pure music that sings itself away, it would go hard to find her rival. In the field of stories for girls Miss Perry is equally happy. They are sympathetic, graphic, full of vivacity and movement, and always suggest unobtrusively fine points in personal integrity of character and in good breeding. Her latest story, Hope Benham, is one that emphasizes all these qualities. It is the story of girl-life in a fashionable boarding-school in New York, and it reproduces the drama of school-life, and offers its subtle suggestions of conduct and courtesy in a way as valuable as it is charming. It is really by way of a good education to a young girl to read this story.
Miss Perry has made her home of late years in historic Lexington, a half-hour's ride on the cars from Boston; but in the season she is much of the time in town, and is always a favorite guest at receptions and ladies' lunches. Miss Perry is the purest type of a blonde, and her cordial, winning manners and quick wit and pleasing repartee make her much sought after socially.
"Sightings" in longer essays include:
"The Heroines of the Poets." Women as portrayed by poets, from Current Literature, 1896.
The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic (Chicago: Stone & Kimball, 1896).
"The Lady from Philadelphia." Wedding etiquette, including the gift of a decorated copy of Lucile, from Ladies' Home Journal, 1905.
At the Foot of the Rainbow by Gene Stratton-Porter, 1907.
"Miss Legion." From "A Line-O'-Type Or Two" [humor column], Chicago Daily Tribune, 20 November 1909, p8.
Susan Lennox, Her Rise and Fall by David Graham Phillips, 1917.
"The Dime Museum" by Don Rose. Lucile's are plentiful on the ten-cent racks of booksellers. From The North American Review, 1928.
In scholarly books and essays:
Adam Roberts. Romantic and Victorian Long Poems, a Guide (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999) summarizes Lucile (pp 133-134) and King Poppy (pp119-120) and has a two page note (pp 135136) on Lytton's other work. He concludes, "Lytton's popularity, once great in high society circles, has dwindled to nullitude today... Lucile and King Poppy in particular deserve resurrection.
Robert C. Allen. Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1991) has an interesting section on the Victorian “true woman” on whom the melodramatic heroine was based. Though Lucile is not mentioned, Lucile fits the paradigm remarkably well. Cf. pages 84-85.
Nicholas A. Basbanes. A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World (New York: HarperCollins, 2003). "Another 'teaching tool' that Belanger uses in his courses is a collection of four hundred copies of a romantic novel in verse published in Britain and the United States between 1860 and 1927 in an abundance of formats, designs, and sizes, some of them illustrated, some not. Written by Owen Meredith, the pseudonym of the poet and statesman Edward Robert Bulwer, the first earl of Lytton (1831-1891), Lucile enjoyed a tremendous run of popularity in the years leading up to World War I, but is virtually unknown today. I asked Belanger why it was necessary for a research institute with finite storage space to have so many copies of one obscure book when they all "say" essentially the same thing. "First of all, why not?" he answered, pointing out that the purpose of the center he directs is to study the book as an artifact -- a "container" of information -- not the "intellectual construct" that comprises the content. "This is a laboratory for the book arts, it is not a library," he made clear. "With Lucile, we want to show students what it really means to be a best-seller. We don't read books down here anyway; they do that upstairs in the library. What we do is look at the containers." (p237).
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. "Lord Lytton's Rank in Literature." The Nineteenth Century ( London ) April 1892, p566-576. A memoir and profile by a close friend. "As a novelist in verse, Lytton stands absolutely alone. Lucile is the most brilliant piece of light narrative since Don Juan, and Glenaveril the most splendid failure."-p575.
Matthew P. Brown. "Book History, Sexy Knowledge, and the Challenge of the New Boredom." American Literary History 16:4 (2004), p688-706. Mentions Lucile Project and Book Arts Press collection.
Mary Wilson Carpenter. "Blinding the Hero." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 17:3, p52-68. Carpenter discusses several Victorian novels, notably Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho! and Elizabeth Barrett Brownings' Aurora Leigh in which the hero is blinded in the course of the story. Her first footnote (page 67), begins, "Although I focus on these two mid-nineteenth-century narrative blindings of the hero, there was a least one other: Edward Bulwer-Lytton's long narrative poem, Lucile (1860), published under the pseudonym Owen Meredith.
Dr. Alfred N. Goldsmith, President of the Institute of Radio Engineers, "Address" in Proceedings of the IEEE 16:3 (1928), p252-254. In contemplating "the marvelous strides which have been made by the Institute of Radio Engineers in its fifteen-year growth," Goldsmith notes: "And yet telegraphs and cables were once most romantic. As late as 1885 Owen Meredith in his novel "Lucile" described the plight of a gentleman whose financial fortunes had fallen into sad confusion because there was no way of getting word to him quickly of the impending failure of his banker. Meredith in a quizzical footnote comments poetically on the situation:
These events, it is needless to say, Mr. Morse,
Took place when Bad News as yet travell'd by horse;
Ere the world, like a cockchafer, buzz'd on a wire,
Or Time was calcined by electrical fire;
Ere a cable went under the hoary Atlantic,
Or the word "Telegram" drove grammarians frantic." [Part II, Canto IV, Verse 5]
The odd phrase here is Goldsmith's "As late as 1885...." The footnote appears in the first (1860) edition of Lucile and was simply repeated in the many later editions. Goldsmith probably found it in an edition dated 1885 and assumed that that was the first publication of the book. The note is a bit odd, but Meredith must have felt it necessary to remind his readers that this part of his work is set 20 years, more or less, before the Crimean War of the 1850s, i.e., in the 1830s, about the time the telegraph was being developed but before it was at all widely deployed..
Holbrook Jackson. The Anatomy of Bibliomania (London: The Soncino Press, 1930). Part IX. OF THE BIBLIOPHAGI OR BOOK-EATERS. I. A DIET OF BOOKS CONSIDERED.
Diet, [Greek word], Victus, or Living, is concomitant with all functions, whether natural or artificial; and if some, as they say, live to eat, we must all eat to live,
We may live without poetry, music and art;
We may live without conscience, and live without heart;
We may live without friends; we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks. 
The argument holds, whether we are concerned for the preservation of the body, the mind, or the soul, for cook and poet are alike: the art of each lies in his brain.  Each must be nourished on a proper diet for the retention of its form and the maintenance of its condition in the first place, and the increase or expansion of its power in the second:
The things we eat by various Juice controul
The Narrowness or Largeness of our Soul.
Onions will make ev'n Heirs or Widows weep,
The tender Lettice brings on softer Sleep.
Eat Beef or Pye-crust if you'd serious be:
Your shell-fish raises Venus from the Sea:
For Nature that inclines to Ill or Good,
Still nourishes our Passions by our Food?
 Owen Meredith, Lucile. i, 2.
 Euphron, in Athenaeus. Loeb Ed. i, 7-8.
Catherine Judd. Bedside Seductions, Nursing and the Victorian Imagination, 1830-1880 (New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1998). "As is evident from Alma-Tadema's painting, as well as poems such as Alfred Tennyson's The Princess (1847) and Owen Meredith's Lucile (1860), the image of the nurse was a powerful symbol for many imaginative laborers, regardless of their medium. However, while the cultural impact of nursing was widespread, the nurse became a particularly crucial trope within the mid-nineteenth-century domestic novel." (p7).
Louise Chandler Moulton. "Three English Poets" (i.e., William Morris, Lord Lytton, and Edwin Arnold). The Arena (Boston) 6 [1893?], p46-52. A review of Marah which begins, ". How long, how very long ago it seems since I - a verse-loving girl - bought one summer day, in a little blue and gold volume, the "Poems of Owen Meredith." The book lies before me now. It is very shabby, for I read it a great deal in those long-past days - not critically, but with a girl's eager delight in music and in sentiment. I learned by heart, I remember, "Aux Italiens," and "Madame la Marquise," and "At Home During the Ball": and perhaps I cared most of all for "Astarte," that Don Juan lyric in which the singer grieves for her - the one among the many:-
And again she comes, with all her silent graces,
The lost woman of my youth, yet unpossessed
And her cold face so unlike the other faces
Of the women whose dead lips I since have pressed.
And he consoles himself by thinking that he shall find her in the Hades to which lovers and poets go-
If I fail to find her out by her gold tresses,
Brows and breast, and language of sweet strains,
I shall know her by the traces of dead kisses,
And that portion of myself which she retains."
Gordon N. Ray. "The Importance of Original Editions" in Ray, Carl J. Weber, and John Carter, Nineteenth-Century Books, Some Problems in Bibliography (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1952), p13. "Much is to be learned by placing acknowledged classics among the ephemeral productions that surrounded them when they were first published. Thackeray's Vanity Fair becomes more intelligible in detail and more impressive in general plan when one realizes to how great an extent it is a protest against the shoddy fiction that dominated the literary scene in the eighteen-forties. It is enlightening to know that the characteristics which set Maud off from the rest of Tennyson's works are precisely those which associate that poem most closely with the kind of verse that the "Spasmodics" made briefly popular in the eighteen-fifties. Browning's The Ring and the Book is seen in a new light when one considers it as the culmination of a series of novels in verse that includes his wife's Aurora Leigh and "Owen Meredith's" Lucile.
Byron Herbert Reece. “Owen Meredith: Lucile,” in The Georgia Review IX:1 (Spring 1955). For a period of time each issue of The Georgia Review contained short reviews of a few “Old Books.” Reece begins his review, “I first read Owen Meredith’s Lucile when I was thirteen, or thereabouts, when my ambition to be a poet was taking shape and I was, apparently, trying to discover what there was to do by discovering what had already been done, or perhaps only seeking a suitable model. As I recall, I was able to identify myself emotionally with the characters. It seems now an incredible feat of youthful imagination….”
Adam Roberts. "Lytton's Lucile and Browning's Fifine at the Fair: A Study in Influence." Browning Society Notes 23 (1996), p13-26. Argues that Browning wrote against Lytton to produce a much more sensitive and subtle treatment of similar issues and themes.
Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM. ROBERTS, Howard, sculptor, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 9 April, 1843. He first studied art under Joseph A. Bailly at the Pennsylvania academy. When twenty-three years of age he went to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des beaux-arts, and also under Dumont and Gumery. On his return he opened a studio in Philadelphia, and produced there his first work of note, the statuette "Hester and Pearl," from Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" (1872). It was exhibited at the academy in Philadelphia, where it attracted much attention, and gained him an election to membership. In 1873 he went again to Paris, and while there modelled "La premiere pose" (1876), which received a medal at the Philadelphia centennial exhibition of 1876. Among his other works are "Hypatia" (1870); "Lucille," a bust (1873) ; "Lot's Wife," a statuette ; and numerous ideal and portrait busts. His statue of Robert Fulton is in the capitol at Washington.
George Saintsbury. A History of Nineteenth Century Literature (1780-1895) (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931), p310-312. "No poet of the period, perhaps none of the century, occupies a position less settled by general criticism, or more difficult to settle, than that of Edward Robert, first Earl of Lytton, for a long time known in poetry as "Owen Meredith." . But he suffers more than any other poet of anything like his gifts from two faults, one of which is perhaps the fault that hurts a poet most with the vulgar, and the other that which does him most harm with critics. He was so frankly pleased with, and so apt at imitating the work of his great contemporaries, that he would publish things to which fools gave the name of plagiarisms - when in fact they were studies in the manner of Tennyson, Heine, Browning, and others. And in the second place, though he frequently rewrote, it seemed impossible for him to retrench and concentrate. To this may be added his fondness for extremely long narrative poems, the taste for which has certainly gone out, while it may be doubted whether, unless they are pure romances of adventure, they are ever good things."
Edmund Clarence Stedman. The Nature and Elements of Poetry (London: Watt, 1892), p.237. "But the imagination is manifold and various. Among its offices, though often not as the most poetic, may be counted invention and construction. These, with characterization, are indeed the chief functions of the novelist. But the epic narratives have been each a growth, not a sudden formation, and the effective plots of the grand dramas -- of Shakespeare's, for example -- have mostly been found and utilized, rather than newly invented. "The Princess," "Aurora Leigh," and "Lucile" are almost the only successful modern instances of metrical tale-invention, and the last two are really novels in verse. The epic and dramatic poets give imagination play in depicting the event; the former, as Goethe writes to Schiller, conceiving it "as belonging completely to the past," and the latter "as belonging completely to the present." But neither has occasion to originate his story; his concern is with its ideal reconstruction."
Edmund Clarence Stedman. Victorian Poets (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1893). p267-269. "'Owen Meredith,' - what shall be said of the author of "The Wanderer," "Clytemnestra," and "The Apple of Life"? Certainly not that "Chronicles and Characters," "Orval," and others of his maturer poems are an advance upon these early lyrics which so pleased young readers half a generation ago. They are not open to criticism that will apply to "The Wanderer," etc., but incur the severer charge of dulness which must preclude them from the welcome given to his first books. "Lucile," with all its lightness, remains his best poem, as well as the most popular: a really interesting, though sentimental, parlor-novel, written in fluent verse, -- a kind of production exactly suited to his gift and limitations. It is quite original, for Lytton adds to all inherited talent for melodramatic tale-writing a poetical ear, good knowledge of effect, and a taste for social excitements. His society-poems, with their sensuousness and affected cynicism, present a later aspect of the quality that commended Ernest Maltravers and Pelham to the young people of a former day. Some of his early lyrics are tender, warm, and beautiful; but more are filled with hot-house passion,-- with the radiance, not of stars, but of chandeliers and gas-lights. The Bulwers always have been a puzzle. Their cultured talent and cleverness in many departments have rivalled the genius of other men. We admire their glittering and elaborate structures, though aware of something hollow or stuccoed in tile walls, columns, and ceilings, and even suspicious of the floor on which we stand. Father and son,-- their love of letters, determination, indomitable industry, have commanded praise. The son, writing in poetry as naturally as his father wrote in prose, has the same adroitness, the same unbounded ambition, the same conscientiousness in labor and lack of it in method. In his metaphysical moods we see a reflection of the clearer Tennysonian thought; and, indeed, while interesting and amusing us, he always was something of an imitator. His lyrics were like Browning's dramatic stanzas; his blank-verse appropriated the breaks and cadences of Tennyson, and ventured on subjects which the Laureate was long known to have in hand. The better passages of "Clytemnestra" were taken almost literally from Aeschylus. Those versed in Oriental poetry have alleged that his wanderings upon its borders are mere forays in "fresh woods and pastures new." His volnininous later works, in which every style of poetry is essayed, certainly have not fulfilled the promise of his youth, and those friends are disappointed who once looked to him for signs of a new poetical dawn."
Herbert F. Tucker, "Epic" in Richard Cronin, Anthony Harrison and Allison Chapman, A Companion to Victorian Poetry (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), p.30: "Aurora Leigh's flight abroad stands for the Victorian national poem's. The travails of Italy furnished the plot for Robert Browning's two major achievements in the genre, each of which sought to do for Italy what could not -- or need not -- be done for Britain ... Sordello (1840) ... The Ring and the Book (1868-9) ... When Robert Lytton (under the pseudonym of Owen Meredith) took most seriously the epic pretensions of his verse novel Lucile (1860), he whisked the action to a Crimean battlefield."
Herbert F. Tucker, "Literal Illustration in Victorian Print" in Richard Maxwell, ed. The Victorian Illustrated Book (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002), p206-7, note 28: "There were other "prose Brownings" among the Victorian poets, who drew on fancy typography to thrust an ostensibly magical language into the limelight, always with a view to privileging realist reference and sharpening the ironies of context. . Robert Bulwer-Lytton's lively farrago Lucile (an 1860 verse novel published under the pseudonym Owen Meredith) clinches one doggerel couplet by reproducing on the middle of the page -- centered, rule-bordered, life-sized -- the very facsimile of "a stout card, well printed and plain" left for our hero by Sir Ridley MacNab (Canto I, verse 6, line 20)."
Paul Turner. Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose, 1832-1890 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989 (reprinted 1990))." Edwin's story [i.e., Alexander Smith, Edwin of Deira (1861)] was told in somewhat Tennysonian blank verse, and he even suffered from something very like the 'weird seizures' of The Princess; but as a plagiarist, Smith could not compete with the Earl of Lytton, alias 'Owen Meredith', whose Clytaemnestra (1855) adopted famous phrases, not only from Aeschylus, but also from Marlowe and Shakespeare. He did better imitating Browning's dramatic monologues in poems like `The Portrait', 'Aux Italiens', and `An Evening in Tuscany', and best of all in borrowing the plot of George Sand's Lavinia as the basis of his verse novel, Lucile (186o). His own conclusion to the story, in which George Sand's independent-minded heroine ends as a saintly nun nursing the wounded at Inkerman, was preposterous, but at least half the poem is still very readable, often recalling Byron's Don Juan in its witty and resourceful versification, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest in its sophisticated flippancy. No one can fairly be asked to read Glenaveril, or The Metamorphoses (1885), another verse-novel about two fosterbrothers who may or may not have got mixed up in childhood (`Think what thou wilt, then, Reader!'). The posthumous King Poppy, however, which Lytton liked best of all his works, is quite a strong argument against his classification by Swinburne as 'a Seventh-rate Poet'. This allegorical fairy-tale in blank verse was at least wholly original. Protesting, as the Preface explained, against 'the practical tendency of all the most popular formulas of social and political improvement ... to exclude the imaginative element from the development of character and society, and to ignore its influence', it made delightful fun of democratic government under a constitutional monarchy. As Viceroy of India, Lytton had been personally involved in such government, and he caricatured it in the realm of Diadummiania, which was quite satisfactorily ruled, without any help from the Queen, by her puppet double, a miracle of technology controlled by the administration through 'telephonic apparatus'. This political satire of the 'real' world was preceded by a 'Legend' in which, thanks to a god called Phantasos, the Poppy becomes King of Dreamland, i.e. of the human imagination. This part of the poem creates a world of romantic fantasy in which the real Queen of Diadummiania ends up dreaming for ever, with the Poppy on her breast. The fantasy has a strangely haunting quality, especially in the love-story of the Princess and the Shepherd Boy, who comunicate at night by musical telepathy, but never meet until he is dead and she eternally asleep."
Harry Vredeveld. "Deaf as Ulysses to the Siren's Song": The Story of a Forgotten Topos." Renaissance Quarterly 54 (2002), p846-82. Vredevelt discusses a varient of the Sirens episode in Homer's Odessy which focuses on how Ulysses comes to stop his own ears against allurements. On page 873, he notes two examples from Meredith: "E.R.B.L. Lytton (Owen Meredith) adduces the topos twice. In his oft-reprinted poem Lucile (1860) he wonders:
Is then, Life one vast question without a reply?
Must man, like Ulysses, with stopp'd ears sail by
Where'er Thought and Sense (Sirens only) sing to him
Songs over the deeps, that are sure to undo him
If once he should list to the music that mocks
The frail bark it lures to the whirlpools and rocks? (I.6.22)
And in his Chronicles and Characters (1868) he says of a late renowned botanist:
Beauty peeps in at the casement, he savagely fastens the shutter:
Pleasure trips lights at the threshold, he pushes the bolt in the door:
Fortune, red gold in her right hand, comes fearless with good news to utter,
He seals up his ears like Ulysses, and laughs at her, pround to be poor. (94)
Hugh Walker. The Literature of the Victorian Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931), p601-602. "As a seismograph will register movements of the earth which are never felt, and record shocks which shock nobody, so Lytton's mind recorded the faintest movements of taste, movements imperceptible to those less finely endowed. There is scarcely a contemporary of note whose mark may not be found somwhere or other in Owen Meredith's verse. A little later on the taste for the romance in verse is indicated by such works as Mrs Browning's Aurora Leigh and Tennyson's Enoch Arden; and Lytton quickly responds to it with Lucile (1860). In this he was largely indebted to George Sand."
William Shepard Walsh. Heroes and Heroines of Fiction, Modern Prose and Poetry. Famous Characters and Famous Names in Novels, Romances, Poems, and Dramas Classified, Analyzed, and Criticised with Supplementary Citations from the Best Authorities (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1914), p241. "Lucile, titular heroine of a novel in verse 1860 by Robert, Lord Lytton (“Owen Meredith”). A correspondent of the London Literary World first pointed out that Book I is a mere reproduction in English anapaests of George Sand's prose tale, Lavinia, with the situations and motif so modified as to make them acceptable to the conventional standards of Anglo-Saxon morality.
"Lucile, beautiful, impassioned and accomplished, had been betrothed in extreme youth to Lord Alfred Hargrave [sic]. Circumstances had parted them. For ten years she had borne a smiling face and an aching heart in brilliant French society. He meanwhile, a blasé man of the world, had been seeking peace of mind and conscience in travel. Learning of his engagement to Matilda Darcy, a cousin, Lucile writes the letter which opens the book asking that he return her letters in person. The old passion revives. There is now a rival in the field, a fiery French legitimist, the Duke of Luvois. Lucile refuses him. With diabolical ingenuity he suggests base suspicions to Alfred, thus frustrating a union which could alone have filled up the void in two desolate natures. The Englishman marries his cousin; the Frenchman takes to family pride and military glory. Again and again these two men are brought into collision, and protected from each other by the lonely Lucile. Alfred's son falls in love with the Duke's niece. They are forbidden to think of each other. The boy takes service in the Crimea and, wounded, is tended by Sœur Seraphine, a nursing nun who proves to be Lucile. She learns his secret. The might of the persuasion of one so suffering and so religious ends in the reconciliation of the old enemies and the union of the young people."
Wilfrid Philip Ward. "Robert Earl of Lytton, Statesman and Poet." Ten Personal Studies (New York, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co., 1908), p96-115. A review of Lytton's daughter's two volume edition of his letters (1906); primarily a profile of his professional and literary friendships.
Alfred F. Welsh. Development of English Literature (Chicago: S.C. Griggs and Co., 1886). Seventh edition. Volume, p371-372. "Another elaborate novel in verse, less profound, less imaginative, but more graceful, more musical, and far more readable, is Lucile, by Robert Lytton, [Owen Meredilth, born 1831, son of Edward Lytton Bulwer] to whom friends once looked for signs of a new poetical dawn. In this his masterpiece we must admire the noble features which distinguish all that he has written,-- the generous reach of thought, the disposition to look inward to the duties, onward to the destinies of man, and the doctrine of the gradual education of the race by struggle against evil. The reader may find an indication of the author's spirit and manner, as well as somewhat that may be useful in pleasure or suggestive in reflection, in sentences like these. Of concentration:
'The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets.'
Of courage and self-respect:
'Let any man once show the world that be feels
Afraid of its bark, end 'twill fly at his heels:
Let him fearlessly face it, 'twill leave him alone:
But 'twill fawn at his feet if he flings it a bone.'
What need to remind us that we cannot subsist on visions?
'We way live without poetry, music, and art;
We tear lire without conscience, and live without heart;
We may live without friends; we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.'
Of the beauty and beatitude which we conceive and pursue:
'We but catch at the skirts of the thing we would be,
And fall back on the lap of a false destiny.
So it will be, so has been since this world began:
And the happiest, noblest, and best part of man
Is the part which he ever hath fully play'd out:
For the first and last word in life's volume is-Doubt.
The face the most fair is to our vision allow'd
Is the face we encounter and lose in the crowd.
The thought that most thrills our existence is one
Which, before we can frame it in language, is gone.'
Of the price of excellence:
'Not a truth has to art or to science been given,
But brows have ached for it, and souls toil'd and striven.'
Of the principle of concord, or the law of friendship:
'There are loves in man's life for which time can renew
All that time may destroy. Lives there are, though, in lore,
Which cling to one faith, and die with it: nor move
Though earthquakes may shelter the shrine.'
--------------------------------------- 'No life
Can be pure in its purpose and strong in its strife
And all life not be purer and stronger thereby.'
Of the divine significance of life and the reward of the faithful:
------------------------ 'Honest love, honest sorrow,
honest work for the day, honest hope for the morrow,
Are these worth nothing more than the hand they make weary.
The heart they have sadden'd, the life they leave dreary?'
Last revised: 3 August 2010