7 Amalie Gade [ca. 12. April 1864].
I do not know whether your numerous English Translators may have rendered the English language as familiar to you, as they have certainly rendered you familiar to it, - but I venture to address you in my own language, rather than in any other, - because when a man has anything to say in the nature either af an apology, an explanation, or a request, he is doubly embarassedby the necessity of expressing himself in a foreign idiom; and I am particularly anxious to offer you the most direct and sincere assurance that, - in calling upon you a few days ago, nothing was further from my feelings and motives than to attempt a vulgar intrusion upon the acquaintance of a mart whose celebrity may have made him justly wary of volunteer visitors.
I have been many months (nearly a year) in Denmark; and my first sensation on entering this country was caused by the prospect - I will not say of making your acquaintance, but af personally expressing to you a stranger's acknowledgements for a previous acquaintance with yourworks. Nevertheless having found no ordinary means of approaching you I should have abstained from any attempt to do so, had it not been for the kindness of my cultivated and accomplished Countryman Mr. Hamilton which afforded me an opportunity of calling upon you, exempted by his friendly introduction from the appearance of an intrusion which would have been as distasteful to me as it could possibly be to yourself. Nor, altho' I greatly regret my misfortune in having been absent from home when you did me the honour of returning my visit, should I now venture to write to you, were it not that I have reason to think that my residence in Denmark will be exceedingly brief, and that I am so placed as to feel the truth of what Goethe, or some other authority (who I hope may equally serve for my justification in this instance) has said - viz. that emotions are like oysters and must be enjoyed fresh - or not at all. It is an old proverb, that af "Licet videre Virgilium"; - or, in plain English, "a cat may look at a King", And men make long journeys to distant countries in order to visit great mountains and great rivers. I think we should do better to make long journeys in order to visit great men - were it not (alas!) that our intercourse with rivers and mountains is easier than our intercourse with men, - exacts less reciprocity and involves less trouble to the recipients of our admiration. That is why I have hitherto shrunk from any effort to solicit admission to an intercourse in which I shou1d have so much to receive, and so little to give. Something, however, encourages me in certain schoolboy recollections of that kindly custom of the old Greeks which held it as a duty to erect an a1tar then, wherever a fresh source was discovered. Such a fresh source exists wherever a true Poet exists, and every admirer is, in some sense, a discoverer. Such a source was opened to me - many years ago - in the perusal of some of your works - time has not deadened my sense of the first exhilarating taste of its waters - and being now so near the Fountain Head - a reverent wish that I too may there erect my little altar, is my sole excuse for this long letter. Still, if I may put in a further plea on behalf af my wish to meet you - suffer me to add that this wish is increased from the fact of having but recently heard of you - both much and worthily, - from one whose memory is among the dearest and most sacred possessions of my life. I mean Mrs. Browning - the English Poetess whose acquaintance you made at Rome. If then, there is anything in a remembrance partly common to us both which may induce you at all to reciprocate the wish I have ventured to express, may I hope that you will not esteem it a liberty if I say that Mr. Hamilton has kind1y consented to dine with me next Thursday at 5 o'clock, and that if you will do me the honour to join him you will thereby confer a great pleasure upon
yours very respectfully,
Rt. Bulwer Lytton