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There is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness, in work.
Blessed is he who has found his work ; let him ask no other blessing.
I was thinking the day most splendid till I saw what the not-day
exhibited, I was thinking this globe enough till there sprang out so noiseless
around me myriads of other globes.
( Whispers of Heavenly Deatb.)
That a correspondence covering a period of forty years should have been preserved, is due to the fact of my mother's life-long friendships ; and to the methodical care of those to whom her letters were addressed-1
sincerely thank those friends. Some of “ her most beautiful, characteristic and copious letters” were written to her friend Walt Whitman. I suggested to Mr. Whitman, the giving of these letters or rather extracts from them, for publication in the present volume. But the poet was not entirely favourable or willing. “I do not know," he says in a late letter to me, “ that I can furnish any good reason, but I feel to keep these utterances exclusively to myself. But I cannot let
book go to press without at least saying—and wishing it put on record—that among the perfect women I have known (and it has been my unspeakably good fortune to have had the very best, for mother, sisters and friends)
I have known none more perfect in every relation, than my dear, dear friend, Anne Gilchrist.”
My mother never imagined that her Memoir would be written ; but a fortnight before her death, she placed in my hands a slip of paper containing a list of her published essays faintly written in pencil—a sacred warrant, which has had effect in strengthening my purpose to the execution of this labour of love.
By no means the least pleasant part of my duty is that of acknowledging my indebtedness to a valued friendMr. Rossetti. I thank Mr. and Mrs. Carwardine for furthering the reproduction, which has been made from the beautiful picture by Romney, of “ Mrs. Carwardine and Child,” at Colne Priory.
HERBERT HARLAKENDEN GILCHRIST.
Keats Corner, Well Road, HAMPSTEAD,
November 22, 1886.
HEN Mr. Herbert Gilchrist undertook to write
and edit the life and some of the writings of his mother, he honoured me with an invitation to say something by way of preface. I assented with the utmost readiness; feeling it a satisfaction to associate myself in any such way in a project for honouring the memory of so dear and valued a friend. Nevertheless, now that I sit down to write my preface, I feel a certain embarrassment. The manuscript of the work has been in my hands meanwhile, and I find that the name of Rossetti figures in it more largely than I had fully anticipated. I note that Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his doings bear their part in the book—which was indeed indispensable, and that Christina Rossetti is not wholly below the horizon; and (what is the main point at present) that letters addressed to myself, and extracts from my own letters in reply, occupy no inconsiderable space. It is difficult to avoid feeling that some readers will consider that I am thus amply, and more than amply, represented already in this record, and that a preface from my hand in addition is something delicately poised between a superfluity and an impertinence. However, my duty to the memory of Mrs. Gilchrist, and to her son and biographer, remains. As I really had something to do with two of