Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 20 (1989)
Well, Gabriel, you have completed the first twenty that 'will not come again'. It gives us great pleasure to say "thank you", on behalf of the George Eliot Fellowship, for all you have done for us. After twenty years we regard you as one of the family. Your regular visits have given many people a great deal of enjoyment, and you have garnished and enriched the Fellowship besides.
Your latest programme was received with great pleasure by all who heard it. Its form was intriguing: Inspiration, First Effort, Love up North, Music and Children's Hour. Was it biographical, autobiographical, or perhaps classical sonata form, using key relationships as a means of contrasting and leaking various themes? Possibly it was none of those things, and you will say, like Prufrock's friend: 'That is not what I meant at all."
Your fanciful First Drafts made an allusive beginning, and left us feeling thankful that you did not depart for Schleswig - Holstein, or wherever it was, nor linger long with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Bard of Avon's loss has certainly been the Sibyl of Mercia's gain, and you led us neatly into George Eliot's prophetic essay, Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.
Your second movement introduced a different theme and a different Eliot. The three pieces contrasted agreeably, the hesitant Prufrock being set off by John Donne's confident lover, chiding the sun for intruding at the wrong moment. A sinister note was struck with Browning's Duke, who, having disposed of his last Duchess, was looking forward to his next. Your fine voice did full justice to these fine poems.