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Edward FitzGerald and "Posh" "Herring Merchants"   By: (1864-1933)

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First Page:

EDWARD FITZGERALD AND "POSH" "HERRING MERCHANTS"

INCLUDE A NUMBER OF LETTERS FROM EDWARD FITZGERALD TO JOSEPH FLETCHER OR "POSH," NOT HITHERTO PUBLISHED

BY JAMES BLYTH

WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS

LONDON JOHN LONG NORRIS STREET, HAYMARKET MCMVIII

Copyright by John Long, 1908 All Rights Reserved

TO W. ALDIS WRIGHT, ESQ., M.A. VICE MASTER OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE I DEDICATE THIS SKETCH WITH MOST SINCERE THANKS FOR HIS INVALUABLE ASSISTANCE IN CONNECTION THEREWITH AND FOR HIS PERMISSION TO PRINT THE LETTERS OF EDWARD FITZGERALD WHICH ARE NOW PUBLISHED FOR THE FIRST TIME

JAS. BLYTH

March , 1908

{"Posh" Fletcher in 1870. Taken for Edward FitzGerald: p0.jpg}

PREFACE

There can be no better foreword to this little sketch of one of the phases of Edward FitzGerald's life than the following letter, written to Thomas Carlyle in 1870, which was generously placed at my disposal by Dr. Aldis Wright while I was giving the sketch its final revision for the press. The portrait referred to in the letter is no doubt that reproduced as the photograph of 1870.

"DEAR CARLYLE,

"Your 'Heroes' put me up to sending you one of mine neither Prince, Poet, or Man of Letters, but Captain of a Lowestoft Lugger, and endowed with all the Qualities of Soul and Body to make him Leader of many more men than he has under him. Being unused to sitting for his portrait, he looks a little sheepish and the Man is a Lamb with Wife, Children, and dumber Animals. But when the proper time comes abroad at sea or on shore then it is quite another matter. And I know no one of sounder sense, and grander Manners, in whatever Company. But I shall not say any more; for I should only set you against him; and you will see all without my telling you and not be bored. So least said soonest mended, and I make my bow once more and remain your

"Humble Reader, "E. FG."

Too much has been made by certain writers, with more credulity than discretion, of some personal characteristics of a great hearted man. My purpose in tendering this sketch to the lovers of FitzGerald is to show that in many ways he has been calumniated. The man who could write the letters to his humble friend, which are here printed; the man who could show such consistent tenderness and delicacy of spirit to his fisherman partner, and could permit the enthusiasm of his affection to blind him to the truth, was no sulky misanthrope; but a man whose heart, whose intensely human heart, was so great as to preponderate over his magnificent intellect. Edward FitzGerald was a great poet, and a great philosopher. He was a still greater man.

Therefore, my readers, if, during the perusal of these few letters, you "in your . . . errand reach the spot" whether it be at Woodbridge, Lowestoft, or in that supper room in town "Where he made one" ". . . turn down an empty glass" to his memory.

For there is no Saki to do it, either here or with the houris.

JAMES BLYTH

INTRODUCTION

Towards the end of the summer of 1906 I received a letter from Mr. F. A. Mumby, of the Daily Graphic , asking me if I knew if Joseph Fletcher, the "Posh" of the "FitzGerald" letters, was still alive. All about me were veterans of eighty, ay, and ninety! hale and garrulous as any longshoreman needs be. But it had never occurred to me before that possibly the man who was Edward FitzGerald's "Image of the Mould that Man was originally cast in," the east coast fisherman for whom the great translator considered no praise to be too high, might be within easy reach.

My first discovery was that to most of the good people of Lowestoft the name of the man who had honoured the town by his preference was unknown. A solicitor in good practice, a man who is by way of being an author himself, asked me (when I named FitzGerald to him) if I meant that FitzGerald who had, he believed, made a lot of money out of salt! A schoolmaster had never heard of either FitzGerald or Omar.

It was plain that the educated classes of Lowestoft could help me in my search but little... Continue reading book >>




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