Biographical Study of A.W. Kinglake HTML version

"Eothen" appeared in 1844. Twice, Kinglake tells us, he had essayed the story of his
travels, twice abandoned it under a sense of strong disinclination to write. A third attempt
was induced by an entreaty from his friend Eliot Warburton, himself projecting an
Eastern tour; and to Warburton in a characteristic preface the narrative is addressed. The
book, when finished, went the round of the London market without finding a publisher. It
was offered to John Murray, who cited his refusal of it as the great blunder of his
professional life, consoling himself with the thought that his father had equally lacked
foresight thirty years before in declining the "Rejected Addresses"; he secured the
copyright later on. It was published in the end by a personal friend, Ollivier, of Pall Mall,
Kinglake paying 50 pounds to cover risk of loss; even worse terms than were obtained by
Warburton two years afterwards from Colburn, who owned in the fifties to having cleared
6,000 pounds by "The Crescent and the Cross." The volume was an octavo of 418 pages;
the curious folding-plate which forms the frontispiece was drawn and coloured by the
author, and was compared by the critics to a tea-tray. In front is Moostapha the Tatar; the
two foremost figures in the rear stand for accomplished Mysseri, whom Kinglake was
delighted to recognize long afterwards as a flourishing hotel keeper in Constantinople,
and Steel, the Yorkshire servant, in his striped pantry jacket, "looking out for gentlemen's
seats." Behind are "Methley," Lord Pollington, in a broad-brimmed hat, and the booted
leg of Kinglake, who modestly hid his figure by a tree, but exposed his foot, of which he
was very proud. Of the other characters, "Our Lady of Bitterness" was Mrs. Procter,
"Carrigaholt" was Henry Stuart Burton of Carrigaholt, County Clare. Here and there are
allusions, obvious at the time, now needing a scholiast, which have not in any of the
reprints been explained. In their ride through the Balkans they talked of old Eton days.
"We bullied Keate, and scoffed at Larrey Miller and Okes; we rode along loudly
laughing, and talked to the grave Servian forest as though it were the Brocas clump." {9}
Keate requires no interpreter; Okes was an Eton tutor, afterwards Provost of King's.
Larrey or Laurie Miller was an old tailor in Keate's Lane who used to sit on his open
shop-board, facing the street, a mark for the compliments of passing boys; as frolicsome
youngsters in the days of Addison and Steele, as High School lads in the days of Walter
Scott, were accustomed to "smoke the cobler." The Brocas was a meadow sacred to
badger-baiting and cat-hunts. The badgers were kept by a certain Jemmy Flowers, who
charged sixpence for each "draw"; Puss was turned out of a bag and chased by dogs, her
chance being to reach and climb a group of trees near the river, known as the "Brocas
Clump." Of the quotations, "a Yorkshireman hippodamoio" (p. 35) is, I am told, an obiter
dictum of Sir Francis Doyle. "Striving to attain," etc. (p. 33), is taken not quite correctly
from Tennyson's "Timbuctoo." Our crew were "a solemn company" (p. 57) is probably a
reminiscence of "we were a gallant company" in "The Siege of Corinth." For "'the own
armchair' of our Lyrist's 'Sweet Lady'" Anne'" (p. 161) see the poem, "My own armchair"
in Barry Cornwall's "English Lyrics." "Proud Marie of Anjou" (p. 96) and "single-sin--"
(p. 121), are unintelligible; a friend once asked Kinglake to explain the former, but
received for answer, "Oh! that is a private thing." It may, however, have been a pet name
for little Marie de Viry, Procter's niece, and the chere amie of his verse, whom Eothen
must have met often at his friend's house. The St. Simonians of p. 83 were the disciples