Reprint: The Yorick 2. - Letters of Marcus Clarke Part 2

What follows is the second part of a selection of letters sent by Marcus Clarke (author of such works as His Natural Life) to his friend and fellow writer George Gordon McCrae in the 1870s).

(e) Anxious as ever for McCrae to do well in the world; asks for his companionship, offers him work, and suggests political illustration:
To G.G. McC.--
O where and O where is my Highland laddie gone? I received the Johnsonian episode with Boswellian comments; but not the little book.
A confiding publisher wishes to publish "Pretty Dick" with etchings, but I am trying to get him to do "Shadow and Shine" with woodcuts. "Will you be in it, Mr. P.?" (Thackeray at Honeyman's party.) The publisher stands the racket and we share the plunder if there is any, and the honor and glory if there isn't. Come and see a cove. The pipe of peace, and the bowl that maddens but does not exhilarate shall be thine.
At home at Public Library on Thursday at 4 pm.
Historical fresco for the new Law Courts -- the "Portonian" whacking A.T. Clark with the "Zulu bodyguard" sharpening his teeth in the background.
'Ow's 'Icks?


(f) Clarke not in good health. Contemplates moving his household. Great welcome promised to McCrae. Clarke's whimsical address: "The Lodge in the Garden of Cucumbers":

Dear McCrae.--
Many thanks for your kind note. I have been deuced bad, and am now a little better, and visit the Library -- at the glimpses of the moon -- with goggles concealing my manly optics.
To add to my delight, the eldest boy has indulged in a little spree of measles all to himself, and, as we are going to move next week to a place nearer Balaclava, you can guess that the young rascal's selfish sport has a little incommoded us.
Do not address again to the Lodge in the Garden of Cucumbers, but to the Library. The new house is called "Sunnyside" -- principally because it is as damp as blazes (rather Oirish this) -- and is elegantly situated in Chapel-street, next to the residence of Tom Miller (be God, sir!) and opposite the Wesleyan Chapel (God be good to us!), the State School (och the haythins!) is forninst the door, and a mighty civil butcher round the corner, me dear, who shall (wid the mercy of Mary!) have the providin' a cut av the primest for ye when you do us the honor of puttin' your legs under the Filtre-and-Clarico mahogany!
'Ow's 'Icks?

Yours always,

(g) An invitiation for McCrae to see Clarke's play "A Daughter of Eve":

The O'Crae,--
Sor. -- A select parthy of the nobilitee visit the Bijou Theatre on Monday nixt, whin Oi have the pleasure to projuice a new comedee entoitled " A Daughter of Eve." I take the liberthee to enclose to yez an order of admission, and hope to have the hoight of happiness to see yez or some of your friends occupoying the sates resarved for yez.
Recave, Sor, the assurance of me distinguished considerayshun, and belave me to remane, Sor,

Your most obarydynt,
De Philthre and Clarryco.

(h) Clarke speaks lightly to his old companion about hard times. He makes fun of his illness, congestion of the liver, the disease that finally killed him:

Misther O'Donahoo -- ye divil -- It is mesilf that confisses ye to be the pink of purloightness, but if ye call sometime when I'm in the way, honey, 'twould be more plazing to me.
Och, Mister O'D, but ye don't know what I've gone through of late. Me sainted ancesthor the Juke -- God rest his sowl in glory -- left the family diamonds just a trifle encumbered, and 'tis Oi that have the negociatshuns with the Damned Derondas. I've been likewise laid up with a pain in me timpir -- a calamitee which, I trust, yer free from, Misther O'd -- and the lift lobe of me liver has done himsilf the honor to git congisted. Och, wirrastrue, and it is far to Munster, me dear!
But I can guess what you'll be sayin', Macre of the Mountain, whin you read these few and unpretendin' lines. You'll be sayin': "A weel!" and "Ay mon!" and "A's aw for that, ma jo," and other remairkable oberservaitions diggit oot o' your wame ma mannie! By the little toenail of a fastin' priest on the twentieth Tuesday after Thrinity (and that' a big oath) it's me that ye want behoind ye with me paadeen, my spalpeen and me sprig of the right rale plant that grows grim and gory out of Saxon blood on the rare ould soil, the Immerald Oile, ye black-hearted Sassanach! Faix, Oi'd rattle the ash twigs about the ears of the dragoons of Killermany and send that bloody Beruadotte to the roight-about wid wan of the largest fleas in his avincular anathomy that iver took up habitation in the corpus humanum, Misther O'Donahoo! By the ninth sthripe on the left-leg garter of the varginal Saint Bridgit, but 'tis Terry O'Flynn, O'Philtre Juke of Clarico and Marquis of Poldoody's Nook, in the bight of the Divil's Bit that would make them shake their shirt-tails to the tune of "Wigs on the Green."

Yours in disgust,

First published in The Bulletin, 6 February 1929

Note: the first part of this essay was published last week.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 4, 2009 10:18 AM.

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