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Arthur's dying notes, some in his own hand, some i

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(A page of notes in Margaret Ll.D.’s hand – no date, and difficult to place with any accuracy, but it must belong nearly here).Prospice – had always known it.Wrote down “I shd. hate”– felt last lines melodramaticHenley’s too mel: the only time it was a help was when he was uncomfortable after the op(Read More)



(A page of notes in Margaret Ll.D.’s hand – no date, and difficult to place with any accuracy, but it must belong nearly here).

Prospice – had always known it.
Wrote down “I shd. hate”
– felt last lines melodramatic

Henley’s too mel: the only time it was a help was when he was uncomfortable after the operation. (“Cap[tain] of my fate)

The Unseen – must be B[rowning].
Tennyson’s From out of the deep, etc. – the soul – same idea in last of In Memoriam.

Emily Bronte
all too melodr.
said to him “With wide emb[racing love]

Theo’s Barburan poems on stream and Fit to survive.
“He was almost as fond of bathing as I was.” (Serpentine).
. . . . . .

Told George – said probably, tho’ always a chance. Asked him if he wd like to see Mr. B. or me.
Sylvia distressed.
Arthur said all had gone wrong. – better talk to G. of other things that night.
I told him not to alarm them downstairs.
His other hand patting my head and resting upon it.

[Peter's comments:]

The foregoing note is rather a scrawl and difficult to follow precisely; it may seem obscurer still when typed.

“Prospice” is the title of Browning’s (to me) rather unattractively death-defying poem beginning “Fear death? – to feel the fog in my throat,” etc. I can’t guess to which line in A’s words “I shd. hate” referred.
[AB: I imagine it referred to this line: “I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, / And bade me creep past.”]

The Henley poem is the well-known “Out of the night that covers me“ etc.
[AB: Entitled Invictus and ending “I am the master of my fate, / I am the captain of my soul.”]
A copy of it, in Henley’s own writing, used to hang, framed, in J.M.B’s study. I remember once in talking about this poem, he expressed the opinion (with which I quite agree) that the celebrated line “my head is bloody but unbowed” was really rather an unconvincing piece of braggadocio, and that a bowed head is a more appropriate attitude. This may possibly have been a recollection of a conversation J.M.B. had had with the dying Arthur at this time.
It has come as a bit of a surprise to me to find what a reader of Henley Arthur was. There were several volumes of his works in the shelves at 23 C.H.S., but I had assumed they were originally J.M.B’s, he having, of course, been one of “Henley’s young men” when H. was editing the National Observer in the ’eighties. Many of H’s best poems were written while he was in hospital in great pain, and he was under sentence of death (locomotor ataxia) for years.

The Unseen: presumably a reference to the line “Greet the unseen with a cheer!” in Browning’s poem Epilogue.
The Emily Brontë allusion is doubtless to her Last Lines beginning “No coward soul is mine.”
I had not known of any verses by Theodore Ll.D. and have not been able to trace them.

The episode, so obscurely hinted that, of an attempt to explain to George that Arthur was dying, is grizzly enough without any attempt on my part to elucidate it any further.

[AB: Nico had a few further scraps of paper in Arthur’s handwriting, not included in Peter’s Morgue, as follows:]

Curious numbness over left forehead
Roughton said quite harmless.

Result of pressure
Seems hardly any feeling on surface.

Walker’s No 1 refill.


Are you very tired
It is rather hard to have to go. – Low Gill
– Crewe etc. – Bletchley – B’sted station.


Jimmy just off – returning Sunday.
You are staying at least to Sunday.
S. gets very much done up –
Last night she was very tired –
I wish she cd be made to go to bed earlier tonight.


That was so certainly y’day. But very often everything depends on her gen’l cond’n – if that is good she can stand the callers, if bad she cannot. She wants more sleep



Morphia 8.45 to 9.15
Doctor any time after 9.

Pain worst on waking in mornings
Pain sometimes troublesome on waking.
I can get morphia then. We try to manage morphia acc. to pain.
Will you tell nurse now that I am ready for morphia (& come back here)

Evening morphia – largest dose
5 min – better
10 min – discomfort much diminished
15 “ – “ banished & vanished


Especially The Way of Peace
When you go, bring me Matthew Arnold & Henley’s first vol (beginning with Hospital verses)
But don’t bother this evening if difft to find
Bound in green rather prettily
Brown much smaller

It’s all so easy – as I’ve read. I feel selfish
Tu quoque who make it so.
Make it all as cheerful as you can afterwards

Send Jimmy


Is milk & soda good
Make the milk & water quite weak.
What have the boys been doing?
I leave it entirely to you & Jimmy – subject to Sylvia’s wishes.
He’s been a wonderful son – you can always tell him that.
You see I can only write.


I wd hate that death bandaged my eyes, & forbore,
And bade me creep past
(from “Prospice”)

[Underneath the quote from Prospice and in Margaret’s handwriting:]

I don’t know that those are to be taken as my sentiment. I’ve had enough fighting.

Through the tender mercy of our God:
whereby the dayspring from on high
hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness & in the shadow of death:
& to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(He thought this the finest thing in literature) M

[AB: This passage is from Luke 1:78-79. “The Way of Peace” almost certainly refers to this, but coincidentally The Way of Peace by James Allen was first published in this year, 1907. Although Allen is more widely known for his As a Man Thinketh (1903), The Way of Peace reflects more accurately his ‘New Thought’ movement, drawing on Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.]

[Another single sheet of notes, in Margaret’s handwriting, not in the Morgue:]

Stay a little
Your hair looks very pretty now.
(I don’t think anyone has ever done so much for me)
It’s about time I began to do something. (No one done so much)
He /Peter ought to see something (than Victory)

p.89 – Henley (Hospital) Read this now – about the Child, Nurse & Death.

[AB: Henley’s poem is entitled “A Child”, being the first in the collection In Hospital.]


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