About Me

My photo
Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, July 08, 2017

mortimer collins' editorial dog

thanks british library flickr (PD)

Mortimer Collins (English; 1827-76) sounds like a lost Dark Shadows character, but he was indeed a poet and novelist of a certain colorful renown.  A photo of Collins shows that he was what his wife later fondly recalled as "a splendid big fellow," and that does not seem to have been limited solely to his person.  Here's a comment found in a review of his biography:
That he was a Bohemian to the last is evident from the fact that at a literary dinner given by the Lord Mayor in 1876 he wore his velvet coat, a freedom which seems either to argue a sense of self-importance, or a lazy indifference to the common courtesies of society. A gentleman always shrinks from making himself conspicuous, and to appear at a great public banquet in a shooting-coat and white waistcoat was, to say the least, a proof of execrable taste. (1877, August 4) Mortimer Collins. The Spectator, pp. 20-21.

Doesn't he sound great?  As you can imagine, he earned a reputation for being bold, brusque, and impolite, yet at the same time loved little deer, kept a bunch of owls, and wrote quick love-poems to his wife before dinner.  The following is an excerpt from one of his books, in which he muses on the sudden passing of a problematic, beloved dog:

Oct. 8.
If my notes are dull and brief this day, kind-hearted readers will forgive me when I tell them that I have just put turf on the tomb of a favourite Skye terrier, who died suddenly on Wednesday. He was the most affectionate, irritable, excitable dog in the world; would bite my boot savagely if by accident, I touched him, and then put his cool black nose in my hand by way of apology. He was given me eight years ago by the editor of one of our Quarterlies, because in his jealous moods he would bite the legs of a newly-arrived editorial baby. It is a Liberal review, so I at once accepted Fido as a Tory dog. Tory he was, to the backbone. He loved his mistress and he hated cats. Can a good Constitutional dog's epitaph be written in fewer words? Well, he was skylarking in my bookroom with his heels in the air; and then he rushed out on the lawn in the sunshine; and then we heard a strange scream—and dear old Fido was picked up dead. I suppose it is humiliating to confess that I have shed some tears about him. If my aunt, Miss Angelina Vixen, had died and left me that quiet two thousand a year on which she now maintains missionaries and cats, I might not have wept much; but I did mourn my poor dear irrepressible troublesome Fi, who was wont to interrupt me in the midst of an attempted epigram. With my own hands have I buried my dear friend beneath the yellowing limes. Shall I meet his spirit again? Ah! who can solve that problem?

-- from Collins, M. (1880). Thoughts in my garden. London: Bentley. 14-16.

No comments: