Open Correspondence

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Walter Thornbury


[Sidenote: Mr. Walter Thornbury]

            "ALL THE YEAR ROUND" OFFICE, _Saturday, Sept. 15th, 1866._


Many thanks for your letter.

In reference to your Shakespeare queries, I am not so much enamoured of
the first and third subjects as I am of the Ariosto enquiry, which
should be highly interesting. But if you have so got the matter in your
mind, as that its execution would be incomplete and unsatisfactory to
you unless you write all the three papers, then by all means write the
three, and I will most gladly take them. For some years I have had so
much pleasure in reading you, that I can honestly warrant myself as what
actors call "a good audience."

The idea of old stories retold is decidedly a good one. I greatly like
the notion of that series. Of course you know De Quincey's paper on the
Ratcliffe Highway murderer? Do you know also the illustration (I have it
at Gad's Hill), representing the horrible creature as his dead body lay
on a cart, with a piece of wood for a pillow, and a stake lying by,
ready to be driven through him?

I don't _quite_ like the title, "The Social History of London." I should
better like some title to the effect, "The History of London's Social
Changes in so many Years." Such a title would promise more, and better
express your intention. What do you think of taking for a first title,
"London's Changes"? You could then add the second title, "Being a
History," etc.

I don't at all desire to fix a limit to the series of old stories
retold. I would state the general intention at the beginning of the
first paper, and go on like Banquo's line.

Don't let your London title remind people, by so much as the place of
the word "civilisation," of Buckle. It seems a ridiculous caution, but
the indolent part of the public (a large part!) on such points tumble
into extraordinary mistakes.

                                              Faithfully yours always.