In one of the very few letters in which he ever complained of Meynell , Thompson told Patmore of his distress at having had to leave London before this new friendship had developed further : ``
That was a very absurd and annoying situation in which I was placed by W. M.'s curious methods of handling me .
He never let me know that my visit was about to terminate until the actual morning I was to leave for Lymington .
The result was that I found myself in the ridiculous position of having made a formal engagement by letter for the next week , only two days before my departure from London .
Luckily both women knew my position and if anyone suffered in their opinion it was not I '' .
It need hardly be remarked that Thompson was not generally known for his scrupulosity about keeping his social engagements , which makes his irritation in this letter all the more significant .
When Thompson and her daughter began a correspondence which included fervent verses from Pantasaph , Mrs. King felt a proper Victorian alarm .
Some , she knew , looked upon Thompson almost as a saint , but others read in `` The Hound Of Heaven '' what they took to be the confessions of a great sinner , who , like Oscar Wilde , had -- as one pious writer later put it -- thrown himself `` on the swelling wave of every passion '' .
Consequently , on October 31 , 1896 , Mrs. King wrote to Thompson , quite against her daughter's wishes , asking him not to `` recommence a correspondence which I believe has been dropped for some weeks '' .
Katherine was staying at a convent , and her mother felt that , as Thompson himself seems to have suggested , she might eventually stay there .
This prospect did not please Mrs. King any more than did the possibility that her daughter might marry a Bohemian , but she used it to suggest to Thompson that , `` It is not in her nature to love you '' .
For his part , Thompson had explained in a previous letter that there would be nothing but an honorable friendship between Katie and himself .
At no time does he seem to have proposed marriage , and Mrs. King was evidently torn between a concern for her daughter's emotions and the desire to believe that the friendship might be continued without harm to her reputation .
In any case , she told Thompson that she saw no reason why he might not see Katie again , `` now that this frank explanation has been made & no one can misunderstand '' .
She ended her letter with the assurance that she considered his friendship for her daughter and herself to be an honor , from which she could not part `` without still more pain '' .
After Thompson came to London to live , he received a letter from Katie , which was dated February 8 , 1897 .
She regretted what she described as the `` unwarrantable & unnecessary '' check to their friendship and said that she felt that they understood one another perfectly .
This letter concluded with an invitation : ``
I am a great deal at the little children's Hospital .
Mr. Meynell knows the way .
I know you are very busy now , you are writing a great deal & your book is coming out , isn't it ? ?
But if you are able & care to come , you know how glad I shall be .
Ever yours sincerely ,
Katherine Douglas King '' The invitation was accepted and other letters followed , in which she spoke of her concern for his health and her delight in seeing him so much at home among the crippled children she served .
It is difficult to say what Thompson expected would come of their relationship , which had begun so soon after his emotions had been stirred by Maggie Brien , but when Katie wrote on April 11 , 1900 , to tell him that she was to be married to the Rev. Godfrey Burr , the vicar of Rushall in Staffordshire , the news evidently helped to deepen his discouragement over the failure of his hopes for a new volume of verse .
In a letter to Meynell , which was written in June , less than a month before Katie's wedding , he was highly melodramatic in his despair and once again announced his intention of returning to the life of the streets : ``
A week in arrears , and without means to pay , I must go , it is the only right thing .
Perhaps Mrs. Meynell would do me the undeserved kindness to keep my own copy of the first edition of my first book , with all its mementos of her and the dear ones .
Last , not least , there are some poems which K. King sent me ( addressed to herself ) when I was preparing a fresh volume , asking me to include them .
The terrible blow of the New Year put an end to that project .
I wish you would return them to her .
I have not the heart .
I never had the courage to look at them , when my projected volume became hopeless , fearing they were poor , until now when I was obliged to do so .
O my genius , young and ripening , you would swear , -- when I wrote them ; ;
and now ! !
What has it all come to ? ?
All chance of fulfilling my destiny is over .
I want you to be grandfather to these orphaned poems , dear father-brother , now I am gone ; ;
and launch them on the world when their time comes .
For them a box will be lodgment enough .
Katie cannot mind your seeing them now ; ;
since my silence must have ended when I gave the purposed volume to you .
I ask you to do me the last favour of reading them by 8 to-morrow evening , about which time I shall come to say my sad good-bye .
If you don't think much of them , tell me the wholesome truth .
If otherwise , you will give me a pleasure .
O Wilfrid ! !
It is strange ; ;
but this -- yes , terrible step I am about to take is lightened with an inundating joy by the new-found hope that here , in these poems , is treasure -- or at least some measure of beauty , which I did not know of '' .
Thompson , of course , was persuaded not to take the `` terrible step '' ; ;
Meynell once again paid his debts and it was Katie , rather than Thompson , whose life was soon ended , for she died in childbirth in April , 1901 , in the first year of her marriage .
The `` orphaned poems '' mentioned in the letter to Meynell comprised a group of five sonnets , which were published in the 1913 edition of Thompson's works under the heading `` Ad Amicam '' , plus certain other completed pieces and rough drafts gathered together in one of the familiar exercise books .
The publication of Father Connolly's The Man Has Wings has made more of the group available in print so that a general picture of what it contained can now be had without difficulty .
Some of the poems express a mood of joy in a newly discovered love ; ;
others suggest its coming loss or describe the poet's feelings when he learns of a final separation .
The somewhat Petrarchan love story which these poems suggest cannot obscure the fact that undoubtedly they have more than a little of autobiographical sincerity .
When they were first written , there was evidently no thought of their being published , and those which refer to the writer's love for Mrs. Meynell particularly have the ring of truth .
In `` My Song's Young Virgin Date '' , for example , Thompson wrote : `` Yea , she that had my song's young virgin date Not now , alas , that noble singular she , I nobler hold , though marred from her once state , Than others in their best integrity .
My own stern hand has rent the ancient bond , And thereof shall the ending not have end : But not for me , that loved her , to be fond Lightly to please me with a newer friend Then hold it more than bravest-feathered song , That I affirm to thee , with heart of pride , I knew not what did to a friend belong Till I stood up , true friend , by thy true side ; ;
Whose absence dearer comfort is , by far , Than presences of other women are '' ! !
Taking into account Thompson's capacity for self-dramatization and the possibility of a wish to identify his own life with the misfortunes of other poets who had known unhappy loves , there can be no doubt about his genuine emotion for Katie King .
That she was affected by his protestations seems obvious , but since she was evidently a sensible young woman -- as well as an outgoing and sympathetic type -- it would seem that for her the word friendship had a far less intense emotional significance than that which Thompson gave it .
From the outset , she must have realized that marriage with him was out of the question , and although she was displeased by the `` unwarrantable '' interference , it seems probable that she did agree with her mother's suggestion that the poet was `` perhaps '' a man `` most fitted to live & die solitary , & in the love only of the Highest Lover '' .
The poems which were addressed to her , while they are far more restrained than those of `` Love In Dian's Lap '' , show no great technical advance over those of the `` Narrow Vessel '' group and are , if anything , somewhat more labored .
Their interest remains chiefly biographical , for they throw some light on the utter despair which overtook Thompson in the spring and early summer of 1900 .
Whether or not Danchin is correct in suggesting that Thompson's resumption of the opium habit also dates from this period is , of course , a matter of conjecture .
Reid simply states , without offering any supporting evidence , that `` after he returned to London , he resumed his draughts of laudanum , and continued this right up to his death '' .
There is every reason to recognize that in the very last years of his life , as we shall see , Thompson did take the drug in carefully rationed doses to ease the pains of his illness , but the exact date at which this began has never been determined .
If , as Reid says , `` nearly all his poetry was produced when he was not taking opium '' , there may be some reason to doubt that he was under its influence in the period from 1896 to 1900 when he was writing the poems to Katie King and making plans for another book of verse .
In any event , the critical productivity of that time is abundant proof that if he was taking laudanum , it was never in command of him to the extent that it had been during his vagrant years .
Meynell's remedy for Thompson's despondent mood was typically practical .
He simply found more work for him to do , and the articles and reviews continued without an evident break .
As a reviewer , Thompson generally displayed a judicious attitude .
That he read some of the books assigned to him with a studied carefulness is evident from his notes , which are often so full that they provide an unquestionable basis for the identification of reviews that were printed without his signature .
On the basis of this careful reading , Thompson frequently gave a clear , complete , and interesting description of a prose work or chose effective quotations to illustrate his discussions of poetry .
He was seldom an unmethodical critic , and his reviews generally followed a systematic pattern : a description of what the work contained , a treatment of the things that had especially interested him in it , and , wherever possible , a balancing of whatever artistic merits and faults he might have found .
It was , of course , in this drawing of the balance sheet of judgment that he most clearly displayed his desire to do full justice to an author .
Reviewing Davidson's The Testament Of An Empire Builder , for example , Thompson found that there was `` too much metrical dialectic '' .
Poetry , he said , must be `` dogmatic '' : it must not stoop to argue like a `` K.C. in cloth-of-gold '' .
Yet Davidson impressed him as a poet capable of `` sustained power , passion , or beauty '' , and he cited specific passages to illustrate not only these qualities but Davidson's command of imagery as well .
Similarly , he wrote that Laurence Housman had a `` too deliberate manner '' as well as a lack of `` inevitable felicity in diction '' .
But he admired Housman's `` subtle intellectuality '' and delighted in the inversion by which Divine Love becomes the most `` fatal '' allurement in `` Love The Tempter '' .
Of course , there were books about which nothing good could be said .
Understanding , as he did , the difficulty of the art of poetry , and believing that the `` only technical criticism worth having in poetry is that of poets '' , he felt obliged to insist upon his duty to be hard to please when it came to the review of a book of verse .