January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO WILLIAM CHARLES MACREADY ; 25 January 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420125-TC-WCM-01; CL 14: 22-23


Chelsea, Tuesday Evg [25 January 1842]

My dear Sir,

Acis and Galatea, I now find, was not written by Dryden, but by Gay of the Beggar's Opera, in 1732.1 Dryden's Acis, Polyphemus and Galatea is a mere Translation of the Tale, in rhyme, from Ovid. There was another Acis and Galatea written by Motteux (Translator of Don Quixote, I suppose) in 1701, the music not by Händel, but by I forget whom;—obsolete now.2

These verses (of Gay's) are very good, write them who might,—superlatively good for an Opera; and if the music, as there is good likelihood, correspond to them, and be fairly given, I will augur a fortunate result.

This I write, tho' perhaps it is but a duplicate of what you too have by this time discovered; and you need not take the trouble of writing any answer.

Handel's music to Dryden's Alexander's Feast,3 as I said last night, gratified me more than any music I had ever heard; indeed it was the one instance in which music seemed to me other than a beautiful ideot; being now married to genuine Poetry she seemed a most lovely wise helpful Wife, not a spendthrift ideot Harlot any more!

Believe me ever / Yours most truly / T. Carlyle