Appendix 16: Swinburne’s “Laus Veneris” as a response to FitzGerald’s “Rubaiyat”: A Problem of Dates.

Prefatory Note: The following was originally written as an article quite separate from the Rubaiyat material, and is reproduced here as such, in only a slightly edited form. This involves a fair amount of repetition of material already in the main Rubaiyat essay, but it does save the reader the inconvenience of going back and forth for key quotes etc.

We know about the genesis of Swinburne’s Laus Veneris – not from Swinburne himself, for he seems never to have set down anything about it! – but from George Meredith. In a letter to The Times on the occasion of Swinburne’s death in April 1909, already quoted in chapter 11 of the main essay, Meredith described the occasion thus:

“It happened that he was expected one day on a visit to me, and he being rather late I went along the road to meet him. At last he appeared waving the white sheet of what seemed to be a pamphlet. He greeted me with a triumphant shout of a stanza new to my ears. This was FitzGerald’s Omar Khayyam, and we lay on a heathery knoll beside my cottage reading a stanza alternately, indifferent to the dinner-bell, until a prolonged summons reminded us of appetite. After the meal we took to the paper-covered treasure again. Suddenly Swinburne ran upstairs, and I had my anticipations. He returned with feather-pen, blue folio-sheet, and a dwarf bottle of red ink. In an hour he had finished 13 stanzas of his ‘Laus Veneris’, and rarely can one poet have paid so high a compliment to another as FitzGerald received.” (1)

But when did this take place?  Meredith doesn’t say, unfortunately, but C.L.Cline, following Lionel Stevenson, dates it precisely to 14th June 1862 (2) and, by and large, biographers of Swinburne agree that the poem was begun in this year (3), though finally published only in 1866.

Laus Veneris, which uses the same metre and rhyming pattern as The Rubaiyat, is Swinburne’s version of the Tannhäuser legend. The basic theme of the legend is that of a mortal Christian knight doomed to hell on account of his lustful, and therefore sinful, passion for the sexually devouring Pagan goddess, Venus, who lives, with her Court, on the inside of a hollow mountain – the Venusberg or Mountain of Venus (for further details, see the Notes on Gallery 7E). So, an immediately obvious question is: how did the verses of The Rubaiyat come to inspire such an erotically charged poem as Laus Veneris, even given the mildly hedonistic nature of Khayyam’s verses and Swinburne’s own sexual proclivities? Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Swinburne himself seems never to have written down – or mentioned to anyone who bothered to record it – just what it was that fired him up that day and set him writing about Tannhäuser in particular.

True, The Rubaiyat was an ‘oriental’ poem, and in the imaginations of many (mostly male) ‘oriental’ carried with it erotic overtones of harems and dancing girls, most graphically depicted by French artists like Ingres, Delacroix and Gérôme, but with more reserved contributions from British and American artists like Joseph Douglas and Frederick Arthur Bridgman (for examples, see Gallery 1A.) Inevitably, then, one recalls the more erotic illustrations of The Rubaiyat by the likes of Ronald Balfour and John Yunge Bateman, though as anyone familiar with The Rubaiyat knows, there is such minimal erotic content in FitzGerald’s poem that one does wonder if the likes of Bateman and Balfour weren’t just using naked and semi-naked women as a means of selling books! But at the time Swinburne began Laus Veneris, FitzGerald’s poem had hardly had chance to develop such a reputation, and illustrated versions of it were still many years in the future (4).

A largely imagined eroticism of The Rubaiyat seems rather an inadequate explanation of something as extreme as Laus Veneris, then, and in any case, eroticism alone fails to explain the particular choice of the Tannhäuser legend as a theme. It seems more likely that it was simply the catchy metre and rhyming pattern of The Rubaiyat – nothing to do with subject matter at all –  that so excited Swinburne, because it provided him with such an excellent structure for a poem on the Tannhauser theme that he was mulling over at the time. Later, Rudyard Kipling was to use the same structure for his poem The Last Department (1886), and later still, Robert Frost was to use it in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (1923). Plus, of course, there are the many parodies of The Rubaiyat, the first of which was also by Kipling (5).

The question then becomes: if it was FitzGerald who gave him the perfect metre and rhyming pattern for a poem, what made Swinburne seize on the Tannhäuser legend for the subject of that poem? Various possibilities have been suggested (6), amongst which the following seem to be the most likely.

The first is Wagner’s opera of the same name. It is certainly true that Swinburne was a fan of Wagner (7). But though Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser was completed and first performed in Dresden in 1845, it cannot have been a source of inspiration for Swinburne, since prior to the writing of “Laus Veneris” the opera had not been performed in England – its first performance here was in London in May 1876. It was performed in Paris in March 1861, the troubles surrounding the performance prompting Baudelaire to champion it in his essay, published that same year, Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris. The opera thus entered the ‘Decadent’ canon, which again seems like a promising source of inspiration for Swinburne (he was a fan of Baudelaire), but in actual fact he only saw the essay after “Laus Veneris” had been written (8).

It is also true that by the time he penned Laus Veneris, Swinburne had probably long been familiar with the Tannhäuser legend, through two poems by his friend Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton), which had been published in his Poems, Legendary and Historical (1844).(9) The two poems were “Venus and the Christian Knight” and “The Northern Knight in Italy”, and they were accompanied by an interesting note by Milnes on “The Goddess Venus in the Middle Ages” (basically, the pagan goddess Venus became transformed into an agent of the Devil, tempting the unwary from the paths of chastity, into those of lust, with her Palace of Sensual Delights.) But though Swinburne may well have been long familiar with Milnes’ poems and the notes on them, clearly something more immediate must have happened at the time he got so excited by The Rubaiyat that it sparked off the birth of “Laus Veneris” But what?

In 1861 there appeared a little book called Tannhäuser; or, The Battle of the Bards. A Poem. Ostensibly by Neville Temple and Edward Trevor, it turned out that these were the pen-names of, respectively, Julian Fane and Robert Lytton – the latter being the son of Bulwer Lytton the famous novelist, and destined to become the Viceroy of India in 1876. Fane and Lytton Jr had met and written their poem in Vienna (10). It was written, in the space of a few days, “in the style and spirit of the Tennysonian Idyll”, and was inspired by Wagner’s opera – the two authors had actually dined with Wagner in Vienna in May 1861! (11). Because it was written as “a literary sport”, the two men decided to use pen-names, though Lytton Jr had already published three volumes of poetry under the pen-name of “Owen Meredith”(12). The book was reviewed as early as June 1861 in The Saturday Review (the issue of June 15th), and the authors were certainly giving out signed copies of it in July 1861. It became popular enough to have run to a 4th edition in 1862. So was it this which sparked off Swinburne? Samuel Chew certainly thought it “likely that he may have derived a first impulse to recreate the story” from reading the poem by Fane and Lytton Jr (13), though the convoluted nature of Chew’s phrasing does suggest some doubts! Unfortunately, Swinburne himself never seems to have mentioned Tannhäuser; or, The Battle of the Bards in any of his letters or his essays, either as a poem or still less as a source of inspiration for Laus Veneris.

Another interesting possibility is that Swinburne had recently read a poem on the Tannhäuser legend (actually a translation of an old German ballad) by “L.D.G.” which had appeared in the literary publication Once a Week on August 17th 1861 (14). Swinburne certainly knew of this publication, for he contributed to it in February and October 1862 (15)

L.D.G was, in fact, Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, now famous principally for her Letters from Egypt. She had translated a number of works from German into English, and it is an odd coincidence that it was George Meredith who encouraged her to publish her translation of Tannhäuser in Once a Week. In fact, Meredith had had a copy of what he called her “capital translation” as early as January 1860 (16), and it was only the tardiness of Samuel Lucas, the editor, that delayed its publication till August 1861 (17).

It is entirely possible that Swinburne was aware of the Tannhäuser legend via more than one source, of course, but as a ‘sudden’ source of inspiration that actually triggered Laus Veneris, both Fane & Lytton’s little book and LDG’s translation do seem likely candidates. Indeed, since the latter came so hot on the heels of the former, both of them may well have played their part. As Clyde K. Hyder has pointed out, in Laus Veneris Swinburne names the mountain within which the Palace of Venus lies as the Horsel, which no other likely source besides Fane & Lytton’s poem does (18), and, to take but one example of a number of such parallels (19), in his concocted medieval French preface to Laus Veneris, Swinburne refers to Venus as “ma doulce dame Vénus”, which is the exact equivalent of “my sweet ladye Venus” in LDG’s poem (20).

But getting back to dates, Swinburne needn’t have read either Fane & Lytton’s or LDG’s poems when they first came out, but on the other hand, to have been inspired by either of them as late as June 1862 seems to stretch things somewhat. But is that 14th June 1862 date correct? Let us come at things from another angle.

We know quite precisely the date at which copies of The Rubaiyat – remaindered, as we would now say, and priced at 1 penny per copy – came to the attention of Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites via the Celtic scholar Whitley Stokes, for in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, there is the copy of the Rubaiyat which Stokes gave to Rossetti, and it is dated July 10th, 1861. (21)

We also know that it was Rossetti who gave Swinburne a copy. As already seen in note 8 of the main essay, in early 1896 Swinburne was invited to dinner with the Omar Khayyam Club. In his reply to Clement K. Shorter, who had invited him, he wrote:

“I am sorry that I must – with many thanks – decline the invitation of the Omar Khayyam Club. As to the immortal tent-maker himself, I believe I may claim to be one of his earliest English believers. It is upwards of thirty-six years since I was introduced to him by D.G.Rossetti, who had just been introduced himself, I believe, by Mr Whitley Stokes. At that time the first and best edition of FitzGerald’s wonderful version was being sold off at a penny a copy, having proved hopelessly unsaleable at the published price of a shilling. We invested (I should think) in hardly less than six-pennyworth apiece – and on returning to the stall next day for more, found that we had sent up the market to the sinfully extravagant sum of twopence – an imposition which evoked from Rossetti a fervent and impressive remonstrance. Not so very long afterwards, if I mistake not, the price of a copy was thirty shillings.” (22)

Clearly “upwards of thirty six years” cannot be correct, but the key point is that Swinburne was introduced to The Rubaiyat soon after its ‘discovery’ – hence soon after July 10th 1861. Since Meredith’s account of the genesis of Laus Veneris suggests that Swinburne began the poem in the first flush of his enthusiasm for The Rubaiyat, this suggests that the visit to Meredith’s took place not long after 10th July 1861, which hardly tallies with 14th June 1862 attributed to it by Lionel Stevenson. It does, however, tally with the recent publication of Fane & Lytton’s and LDG’s poems.

Stevenson’s 14th June 1862 date for the visit to Meredith, as quoted in note 2, seems to rest mainly on the assumption that it is referred to in Meredith’s letter to William Hardman of 12th June 1862:

“Edward Peacock and his boy are staying with me till Saturday. Rossetti and Swinburne come on Saturday. Will you come the week following?” (23)

Since 12th June 1862 was a Thursday, that would make the Saturday the 14th June. However, as already stated in note 2 of the present article, Meredith’s account of the visit makes no reference to Rossetti being there, and, so far as I have been able to discover, Rossetti, in his extant letters, makes no reference to the visit either. He may, of course, have been invited and intended to go, but then had to drop out for some reason. But there is no mention of that in his letters either, which in Rossetti’s case is not necessarily surprising: he seems to have made no reference to the discovery of The Rubaiyat either! (24)  Nevertheless, Stevenson has Rossetti present, adding the detail (whose source is not clear) that he and Swinburne “walked to Copsham from Esher.”

Why did Stevenson latch onto that letter of 12th June 1862? Possibly he was just following the lead of S.M.Ellis, who in his biography of Meredith felt that this letter “perhaps” (the italics are mine) referred to the visit during which Swinburne would famously arrive brandishing his copy of The Rubaiyat.(25) But, like Stevenson, Ellis rather ignores Rossetti’s absence from Meredith’s account in his letter to The Times. Indeed, he also ignores Rossetti’s absence in another account which Meredith gave of that day. This second account was given verbally to Constantin Photiadès, who visited Meredith at Flint Cottage on 22nd September 1908. I here quote the account as related by Photiadès, since the version in Ellis is slightly edited, as we shall see:

“In 1859 I was with some friends at Copsham Cottage, near Esher, and on a certain afternoon, in full view of all, came Swinburne brandishing a pamphlet which resembled in the distance a Pietistic or Methodist tract. He looked like an ecstatic visionary. Perhaps we should have feared a religious invocation from him, had we not been well aware of his religious beliefs. When Swinburne came near, he began to recite in a high-pitched voice the beginning of that splendid paraphrase which he had just discovered. His enthusiasm infected us; and so much so, that the shades of night found us still under the trees, reciting those voluptuous and musical verses. Upon our return, after dinner, Swinburne sought for something upon which to write; and then, under our eyes, in one attempt, he completed the poem Laus Veneris, one of the most perfect in our language.” (26)

Crucially, Ellis edited out the 1859 date at the beginning of this account, presumably because he realised that Meredith had mistakenly given the date of publication of The Rubaiyat, and not the date of the visit, which had to post-date the publication of FitzGerald’s poem by a couple of years. (Note, again, that Meredith himself gave no date at all for this event in his letter to The Times.) Here again, as stated above, Rossetti is absent from the proceedings. But more than this, in this account Meredith is “with some friends”, who are not mentioned in his letter to The Times; in this account he does not go out to meet the unduly late Swinburne, as he does in his letter to The Times; and in this account, Swinburne seemingly composes the whole of Laus Veneris “under our eyes”, and does not run upstairs to write down some thirteen stanzas of it, as he does in his letter to The Times. (27)

Humphrey Hare, in his biography of Swinburne, wrote:

“FitzGerald’s poem certainly profoundly influenced Swinburne. George Meredith, whose evidence is not however altogether to be trusted, declared that, inspired by a re-reading of it, Swinburne composed the first verses of Laus Veneris when on a visit to Copsham in June 1862.” (28)

Here again, then, we have the origins of Laus Veneris dated to June 1862, and the two differing accounts given by Meredith, quoted above, certainly tell us why Hare thought Meredith’s evidence was “not altogether to be trusted”. Unfortunately, Hare gives no source for his claim that “Meredith….declared” Laus Veneris to have been inspired by “a re-reading” of The Rubaiyat. Certainly Meredith does not say this in either of the two quoted accounts. Nevertheless, one way to make sense of the date discrepancies under discussion here would be to have Swinburne inspired by a re-reading of The Rubaiyat in 1862, following its initial discovery in 1861. This doesn’t seem very likely, though, since the most promising Tannhäuser sources of inspiration are firmly rooted back in the summer of 1861.

There is one further chronological indicator to be mentioned and it is this: Swinburne cannot have visited Meredith at his cottage between about July 3rd and August 24th or 31st 1861, as Meredith was abroad between those dates. He left England for Switzerland, probably on July 4th, and was certainly in Milan on August 17th, his next letter from Copsham Cottage being written on an unspecified Saturday, which seems to have been either the 24th or the 31st of August. (29)

Copsham Cottage: a Postscript.

Ellis closes chapter 5 of his biography of Meredith with this rather haunting image:

“So The Mound by Copsham Cottage can claim to be the spot where Swinburne composed Laus Veneris on that long evening of a far-away June when, after the sun had set beyond the woods of Claremont, ‘Night falls like fire; the heavy lights run low.’ Surely if ever mortal scenes are revisited by the shades of those who met there in the happy past, in the days of vigorous life and youth and bright mental power, it is a famous company that passes silently along the misty vistas of Copsham woods and lingers regretfully by The Mound and The Black Pool in the wan light of a waning moon.”

As a fan of both Swinburne and FitzGerald, I wanted to visit this historic site – ideally the cottage itself, if it was still standing. At the very least I hoped to find a blue plaque marking the place it had once stood, and, hopefully, the “heathery knoll” nearby.

It was not to be. The bulk of Meredith’s Mound (named on modern maps as Round Hill) was bulldozed away in 1975 to make way for the Esher by-pass, but the Cottage itself survived until 2005, when it was demolished to make way for a care home for the elderly. The whole sorry story was told in Stephen Spark’s article “The Ghosts of Round Hill” in the Autumn 2010 issue of the Magazine of FEDORA (Federation of Oxshott Residents and Associations), p.39-43. Of Copsham Cottage (whose spelling had changed to Copseham since Meredith’s day) he wrote:

“By the time the Esher Bypass was being planned … Meredith’s fame had been forgotten and his name was never mentioned in the public enquiry; there was no suggestion that either his home or Round Hill should be spared for their literary and artistic connections. In 1975, bulldozers cut through three-quarters of Meredith’s Mound, flattening his beloved pines and dividing the once nightjar-haunted wilderness of Esher Common into two, leaving it blighted by noise, light and air pollution.

Thirty years later, Copseham itself was demolished to make way for the Sunrise care home. Today, the Copsem Lane interchange stands as Oxshott’s own monument to 20th century vandalism, symbolising the triumph of expediency over history, culture and the environment.”

The Copsem Lane interchange is the junction of the A244 and the A3, to the south of Esher. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

(Published accounts of the sequence of events leading up to the demolition of Copsham Cottage do vary somewhat, but Stephen Spark’s account is the true one. With the generous help of Sue Webber of the Elmbridge Museum it was possible to document the sequence of events quite precisely, and a report on, and file of, that documentation is now held at the Elmbridge Museum for reference.)

Notes to Appendix 16.

App. 16, Note 1
The Letters of George Meredith, ed. C.L.Cline (1970), vol.3, p.1691-2. The letter appeared in The Times on 15th April, 1909.

App. 16, Note 2
Cline, vol.3, p.1692 (footnote), the reference being to Lionel Stevenson, The Ordeal of George Meredith (1953), p.113. Stevenson refers to Swinburne’s defence of Meredith’s controversial poem “Modern Love” in The Spectator for June 7th 1862, adding: “A week after the publication of this letter Swinburne and Rossetti spent a week-end with Meredith at Copsham. They arrived on June 14, following a visit from Edward Peacock and his son…”  Rossetti’s presence, of course, is not mentioned in Meredith’s letter.

App. 16, Note 3
Thus Edmund Gosse, The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne (1917), p.94, puts the discovery of The Rubaiyat “early in this year 1862”, adding that “the form of the Persian quatrain charmed him, and led almost immediately (as Meredith picturesquely described in the latest public letter of his life) to the composition of Laus Veneris.” Likewise, Georges Lafourcade, Swinburne – A Literary Biography (1932; 1967), p.99 says that “in the early summer of 1862 he composed under Meredith’s roof at Copsham some of the stanzas of Laus Veneris.

App. 16, Note 4
For a full history of illustrated editions of The Rubaiyat, see William H. Martin and Sandra Mason, The Art of Omar Khayyam. (2007), where examples of Balfour’s illustrations (first published in 1920) and Bateman’s (first published in 1958) can be found. Even the very first illustrated edition, which appeared in America in 1884 and was illustrated by Elihu Vedder, contained several naked women, albeit in a relatively tame classical style. See more particularly Gallery 1C and the Notes on it.

App. 16, Note 5
Kipling’s parody was entitled The Rupaiyat of Omar Kal’vin. Basically it was a poetic complaint against a 2% income tax introduced into India that year by Sir Auckland Colvin. Rupaiyat derives from Rupee and Kal’vin from Colvin, of course. It appeared in Kipling’s Departmental Ditties in 1886, as did The Last Department. On the various parodies of Fitzgerald, see Jos Biegstraaten, “Omar with a Smile”, in Persica 20 (2005), p.1-37 and Annmarie S. Drury’s article “’Some for the Glories of the Sole’: The Rubaiyat and FitzGerald’s Sceptical American Parodists” in Adrian Poole, Christine van Ruymbeke, William H. Martin and Sandra Mason., Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Popularity and Neglect (2011), ch.12. See more particularly note 65 of the main essay.

App. 16, Note 6
For an excellent survey of these, see Clyde K.Hyder, “Swinburne’s Laus Veneris and the Tannhäuser Legend” in PMLA, vol.45, no.4 (Dec. 1930), p.1202-1213.

App. 16, Note 7
Francis Jacques Sypher Jr, “Swinburne and Wagner”, Victorian Poetry 9:1/2 (Spring/Summer 1971), p.165-183.

App. 16, Note 8
Hyder, p.1203; Swinburne, Notes on Poems and Reviews (1866), p.16.

App. 16, Note 9
Hyder p.1210-1. Hyder seems to have been the first to point out Milnes as a possible source.

App. 16, Note 10
Lady Betty Balfour, Personal & Literary Letters of Robert, First Earl of Lytton (1906), vol.1, p.121-126.

App. 16, Note 11
Aurelia Brooks Harlan, Owen Meredith – a Critical Biography of Robert, First Earl of Lytton (1946), p.149. The sub-title “Battle of the Bards” of Fane & Lytton’s poem links it directly to Wagner’s opera, in fact, for the singing contest was a strand added to the original Tannhäuser legend by Wagner – for details see the Notes on Gallery 7E.

App. 16, Note 12
For a convenient list, see Harlan, p.267.

App. 16, Note 13
Samuel Chew, Swinburne (1966), p.88-9.

App. 16, Note 14
Hyder p.1206-1210. Hyder seems to have been the first to point out LDG as a possible source.

App. 16, Note 15
Hyder p.1209. For the record, Swinburne’s first two contributions were his poem “The Fratricide” in the issue for Feb.15th, p.215-6, and his story “Dead Love”, in the issue for Oct.11th, p.432-4. His next contribution was nearly a decade later – his poem “Sestina”, on the front page of the issue for Jan.6th 1872.

App. 16, Note 16
Cline vol.1, p.52 & p.55.

App. 16, Note 17
Cline vol.1, p.89

App. 16, Note 18
Hyder p.1206. Other sources refer to it as the Venusberg, the Mountain of Venus or Mons Veneris. Monckton Milnes, in his prefatory note, names the Horselberg, near Eisnach in Germany, as one of a number of mountains believed to mark the actual location of the Palace of Venus.

App. 16, Note 19
Hyder p.1207-1209.

App. 16, Note 20
Hyder, p.1211. The line “my sweet ladye, Venus bright” occurs in verse 23 of LDG’s poem.

App. 16, Note 21
See, for example, Rosalie Glynn Grylls, Portrait of Rossetti (1964), Appendix D, p.226. The Pierpont Morgan Library catalogue entry for Rossetti’s copy of The Rubaiyat, says, under Provenance, that a blank flyleaf is inscribed with Rossetti’s autograph (scored through – presumably when the book passed into the possession of James Hutton) and “from Whitley Stokes July 10 ’61”. Full details of the inscription can be found at: http://corsair.themorgan.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=kbSearch by typing in rubaiyat stokes as Keyword or Phrase. The Terhunes, in their edition of FitzGerald’s Letters (II.417), refer both to Rossetti’s copy and to another in the Widener Collection at Harvard, which is inscribed to Samuel Ferguson “with W. Stokes’ kind regards July 10 / 61.” This inscription can also easily be found in the Harvard Library catalogue at: http://hollis.harvard.edu/ , again by typing in rubaiyat stokes. The July 10th 1861 date is thus confirmed.

App. 16, Note 22
Cecil Y.Lang, The Swinburne Letters (1962), vol.6, p.96; Swinburne repeated the story in a letter to A.C.Benson written in October 1904, for which see Lang, vol.6, p.187-8. (This letter to Benson is quoted in note 8 of the main essay.)

App. 16, Note 23
Cline vol.1, p.150.

App. 16, Note 24
The only reference to the discovery of The Rubaiyat that I can trace in William E. Fredeman, The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 9 vols (2002-9), is in the Chronological Note for January 1862 (vol.2, p.434), where he dates the “discovery of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat in a stall outside Quaritch’s; DGR and ACS purchase several copies (see GBJ 1:234.)”  DGR is Dante Gabriel Rossetti and ACS is Algernon Charles Swinburne, of course. GBJ refers to Georgiana Burne-Jones’s Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones (1904), vol.1, p.234, where, talking of the events at the end of 1861 and beginning of 1862, she simply says: “Somewhere about this time – whether before or after the New Year I cannot say – belongs the story of the happy discovery of FitzGerald’s Omar Khayyam, which Swinburne brought one day to Edward in triumph, having just purchased it for the sum of twopence, and marvelling who the anonymous translator could be.” This is a vague statement on which to base any sort of dating, of course. (A fuller context is quoted in note 8 of the main essay.)

App. 16, Note 25
S.M.Ellis, George Meredith – his Life and Friends in relation to his Work (1919), p.134. Ellis says: “Perhaps the occasion noted in the letter of 12th June 1862, previously quoted, of a forthcoming visit from Rossetti and Swinburne was destined to be that memorable one when Swinburne read aloud his recent discovery – the Omar Khayyam of Edward FitzGerald.” The letter of 12th June can be found on Ellis p.130-131.

App. 16, Note 26
Constantin Photiadès, George Meredith: his Life, Genius and Teaching (1913), p.7-8.

App. 16, Note 27
Curiously, Ellis made no comment on these discrepancies, but it is interesting that in his second edition of 1920 (p.129) he did not quote the two divergent accounts at all, but instead combined them together in an ‘acceptable’ paraphrase in which “some other friends” were present besides Meredith & Swinburne, and in which Swinburne composed the first thirteen stanzas of his poem. In addition, since Ellis edited out all the letters from Meredith to William Hardman (including the one of June 12th 1862), the sentence quoted in note 25 above is replaced by: “On one famous occasion at Copsham in June 1862, Swinburne read aloud his recent discovery – the Omar Khayyam of Edward FitzGerald.” Thus, a June 1862 date is retained, but the name of Rossetti is not.

App. 16, Note 28
Humphrey Hare, Swinburne – a Biographical Approach (1949) p.74.    .

App. 16, Note 29
The July 4th date is implied by the letter to Edward Walford on Cline vol.1, p.90, and the August return dates by the letters to W.C. Bonaparte Wyse and Samuel Lucas on Cline vol.1, p.100.