The Nation (essay date 1909)
SOURCE: A review of My Story, by Hall Caine, Vol. 88, No. 2280, 1909, pp. 256-57.
[In the following review, the critic offers a favorable assessment of Caine's autobiography.]
It is a curious commentary on the literary life that the one chapter of Hall Caine's memoirs [My Story] to rouse wide discussion in England was the account of his income at the beginning of his career. One would never guess, from this discussion of pounds and pence, that the heart of the book was an intimate story of Rossetti's life in that muffled house at No. 16 Cheyne Walk and of his two incursions into the country for health. These memoirs, in fact, are merely the outcome, as Mr. Caine states in his introduction, of a desire to enlarge the little volume of recollections of Rossetti published immediately after the poet's death. Mr. Caine was a young clerk in Liverpool when he first attracted Rossetti's attention by a printed lecture in support of the morals of Rossetti's verse—just then a tender point with the author. A brisk correspondence ensued, chiefly on literary topics, half of which we shall no doubt have in print some day. For Rossetti's letters are preserved and make a bulk of writing greater than all his published works. Then the younger man went to live with the elder and was at his side through all the trying months until Rossetti's death.
There is little that is new in the picture of Rossetti as we now get it. He was ailing in body, suffering from his chloral habit, convinced of a general conspiracy against him, a melancholy recluse, yet still showing on occasions those flashes of intellectual power that...
(The entire section is 688 words.)