Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A. E. Housman on coroner's juries and author-publisher relations.

"We sat on five bodies: one laundryman who tied a hundred-weight to his neck and tipped over into the water-butt; one butcher's man who cut his throat with a rusty knife and died a week after of erysipelas (moral: use a clean knife on these occasions); one old lady who dropped down in a fit; one baby who died of convulsions; and one young woman who died of heart disease after eating spring onions for supper. I really do not know what is the good of a Jury or of witnesses either: the Coroner does it all: his mind seemingly is lighted by wisdom from on high, so he tells the Jury what their verdict is and the witnesses what their evidence is: if they make mistakes he corrects them."

—Letter from poet A. E. Housman to his stepmother Lucy Housman, June 10, 1885.
Letters of A. E. Housman, vol. 2, ed. Archie Bennett (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007) 56–57. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

And, as a special bonus, an extract from a June 8, 1905, letter from Housman to his publisher, Grant Richards:
. . . I shall be there about 9 o'clock, just drunk enough to be pleasant, but not so incapable as a publisher would like an author to be.
— Letters of A. E. Housman
2: 177.

No comments: