Aubrey Beardsley

Enoch Soames:
The Critical Heritage


The Calumny of Beerbohm
The Anxiety of Influence
New Light on Soames
Enoch’s Castle
In Praise of Christian Diabolism
Iconographia Fungosiana
Strange Growths
A Letter to the Editor
List of Illustrations
Le Diaboliste Catholique
Portrait Study of Enoch Soames
En Attendant
Crème de Menthe and Nicotine
A Man of Letters
Enoch Soames, Esq.
The Bad Homburg

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The Arms of a PoetEnoch Soames - The Critical Heritage

The Anxiety of Influence

I have seen mysteries, and if I fail to be explicit, it is because my eyes are dazzled.

Ernest Dowson to Victor Plarr. Note 1 [1] 25 September 1891. The Letters of Ernest Dowson, ed. Desmond Flower and Henry Maas (London, 1967), p.128.


No honest man, Max. Not content with the numberless slanders contained in his “story” Enoch Soames, he dedicated his entire life to propagating the myth that Soames had existed only within the rather modest limits of his own poor imagination. Writing to Robert Ross on 10 June 1916, for example, he listed the various 1890s poets who had “inspired” what he claimed to be his “fictitious caricature”:

    The waterproof cape worn by Enoch was itself suggested, I think, by memory of one worn by Arthur Symons. Otherwise Enoch, as drawn by me, owes nothing to Symons, but much to my imagination of how Ernest Dowson (whom I never saw) might have been if he had been rather like Victor Plarr (whom I never had the pleasure of meeting) with a dash of Theodore Wratislaw and others. Note 2 [2] The Letters of Max Beerbohm, ed. Rupert Hart-Davis (New York, 1989), pp.104-5.

All of these poets were characterised by the mot juste “Enochese” and Beerbohm, for the rest of his days, never tired of his tiresome game of life and death. Riewald, for instance, remembered Beerbohm remembering Enoch Soames, with the words “(he was) purely a satire on the ’Nineties, on writers like Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, and Oscar Wilde” Note 3 [3] J. G. Riewald, Remembering Max Beerbohm (The Hague, 1991), p.101. and countless others in their recollections became accomplices to a man who had obviously learned a great deal from his brief acquaintance with the mendacious A. V. Laider.
    What is distressing, of course, is that Beerbohm’s almost Cromwellian zeal in creating fables and destroying historical evidence has made it almost impossible for modern critics to judge the real impact of Soames’s work on the 1890s. Indeed Beerbohm’s recent critic Richard Presscott can offer his readers nothing more than the following paragraph as a summary of the “story” Enoch Soames:

    Beerbohm’s story is a dazzling evocation of 1890s London, a tale which might be said to have been written in the margins of The Yellow Book. Revelling in the joy of his own absurdity, Beerbohm shifts between, on the one hand, the “real” world of Beardsley and Rothenstein and, on the other, the “unreal” world of Enoch Soames and the future with a kaleidoscopic brilliance. In fact, the intoxicating confusion between life and art is such, that if we removed the false face of Enoch Soames, we might see the real mask of a ’Nineties poet such as Ernest Dowson revealed.
        The original Enoch may have been drawn from any of the men who congregated in The Old Cheshire Cheese public house in Fleet Street for meetings of the Rhymer’s Club. There, over clay pipes, ales and above the noise of a parrot who quoted continually from Hamlet, they would present their bouquets of sick lyrical blooms to each other, and poeticise themselves out of all existence.
        It is said that Beerbohm sketched several caricatures in his own copy of The First Book of the Rhymer’s Club and it is not difficult to imagine the odd apparition of Soames, with his soft black clerical hat and his grey waterproof cape, hidden in the shadows among them. At one meeting an indelicate bard of that Tragic Generation rhymed “fragrant” with “vagrant”—and who but Enoch could have been capable of committing so unpardonable an artistic crime? Note 4[4] R. Presscott, Chichinohana (Flower of Breast Milk) (Kagoshima, 1995), pp.109-110. Prescott’s “Journalistic” style would no doubt have appealed to Beerbohm, but one hardly dares imagine the horror with which Soames himself might have read it.

    We, the poor, banished great-grandchildren of the real 1890s, are left to mourn and weep in this valley of lies, half-truths and journalistic legend: Soames, we are told, is the archetype of the fallen angels of the fin-de-siècle; and yet Soames, we are constantly minded, was not real.
     The truth of the matter is surely much stranger than Beerbohm’s supposed fiction, and it is the aim of this essay to prove that this is so; for Enoch Soames was no synthesis of all that is “Enochese” about the 1890s—rather the 1890s were “Enochese” because they were so thoroughly permeated by his artistic presence. In examining the case of Soames’s pervasive influence on the life and work of the poet Ernest Dowson, it is my aim to convince modern critics of the truth of this contention and, in doing so, to persuade the sceptics that he did, indeed, “exist”. In spite of the fact that Soames’s literary remains consist only of the meagre quotations from Fungoids Note 5 [5] Enoch Soames, Fungoids (London, 1894). Fungoids predates Dowson’s Verses (London, 1896), by two years and his Decorations, (London, 1899) by five. We can only speculate as to the publication date of Negations but, as Rothenstein received a copy in Paris, it is possible to suggest any time between 1890–2 as a likely date.

The way in which the titles of Dowson’s works (Decorations, Dilemmas) echo Soames’s title Negations will not be lost on the attentive reader; moreover the simplicity of the title Verses is perhaps due to Soames’s influence, as it recalls his wonderful disdain for elaborate titles. “If a book is good in itself,” it might have “no title at all.” Even Beerbohm, it seems, found it impossible to suppress this delicious maxim. It is, incidentally, ironic that the British Library’s decrepit copy of Dowson’s Decorations comes with a white slip with the word “frail” written on it.
and the facile summary of Negations contained within Beerbohm’s essay, yet there is, I believe, enough material to serve our purpose.
    Considering first Soames’s “To a Young Woman” it is possible to trace the poet’s influence, unconscious or otherwise, on the verses of Ernest Dowson. The curious felicity of Soames’s “Thou hast”, recalling as it does all the glory of the Elizabethan Renaissance, was not lost on his young disciple, as the following lines show:

    Blossom of youth thou hast plucked of me,
    flower of my days;

        (Libera Me) Note 6 [6] Ernest Dowson, The Poems of Ernest Dowson (New York, 1924), p.162.

Indeed the phrase was to become a commonplace within Dowson’s work. More significant perhaps is Dowson’s continual reference to, and translation of, the vivid imagery contained in Soames’s lines:

    Nor not strange forms and epicene
    Lie bleeding in the dust.

For Dowson writes in “Moritura”:

    A song of a faded flower!
    …In a lady’s hair it stood.
    Now, ah, now,
    Faded it lies in the dust and low. Note 7 [7] Ibid., p.160.

So powerful were Soames’s images, then, that they seemed to become archetypes in the minds of his contemporaries who, in turn, reworked them for their own purposes. “Nocturne” contains many images of this kind and, as such, stands in symbolic relations to the art and culture of its age; Dowson, for one, could never liberate himself from the tyrannous influence of the line:

    And the ring of his laughter and mine…

The poem “Saint Germain-en-Laye”, for instance, contains the stanza:

    Across the terrace that is desolate,
    And rang then with thy laughter, ghost of thee,
    That holds its shroud up with most delicate,
    Dead fingers, and behind the ghost of me,
    Tripping fantastic… Note 8 [8] Ibid., p.133. The use of the word “tripping” may even have been an amplification of the praise Soames had received from the Preston Telegraph. How typical of Dowson to leave, between the lines, a hidden meaning that only Enoch’s admirers could possibly have understood.

and the implied recognition of his debt to Soames is obvious here. But it is in the fugitive piece “Against My Lady Burton” that we see the haunting presence of Soames’s line and the way it changed forever the association of the word “laughter” with joyful emotion in Dowson’s mind:

    To save his soul, whom narrowly she loved
    She did this deed of everlasting shame,
    For Devil’s laughter; and was soulless proved.
    Heaping dishonour on her scholar’s name. Note 9 [9] I am indebted to Mary Dunhanna for permission to quote from this verse.

From the internal evidence of the poetry, then, it is impossible to deny the powerful influence Soames’s work exercised over Dowson. Note 10 [10] The examples could of course be multiplied and we direct the curious reader to such lines as Dowson’s “A song of an old, old man” in “Moritura” and the repetition of the phrase “When I am old” in “In Tempore Senectutis”, (Verses, pp.50–51) for further confirmation of this thesis. Dowson’s imitation of Soames is in fact apparent a er the most cursory glance at any one of his works.

In Dowson’s prose, too, we may immediately recognise the quintessentially Soamesian touch. The epigrammatic style, which Soames had employed with such success in the preface to Negations, is never far beneath the surface of Dowson’s work, even in its lighter moments, and his annotations to the classics clearly demonstrate this: “Theism, Pantheism, Christianity, Positivism” wrote Dowson—under the pseudonym of a German academic—“lie so close together that it is like splitting hairs to consider them apart. The vital issue is between optimism and pessimism.” Note 11 [11] Victor Plarr, Ernest Dowson (London, 1914), p.44.
    And if in art there was imitation, in life, too, Dowson consistently tried to ape Soames’s grand aphoristic manner: the Enochese saying “Tomorrow one dies… and nobody cares—it will not stop the traffic passing over London Bridge” Note 12 [12] Dowson, Letters; Appendix D, p.441. was, apparently, ever on his lips. “Whiskey and beer for fools, absinthe for Poets,” was another of his most obvious plagiarisms. Robert Sherard, writing of Dowson’s propensity to start street brawls, relates an anecdote that is Dowson at his most revealingly Soamesian—or at least it is “Soames and water”: “When at last I induced Dowson to leave the omnibus,” he wrote,

and was remonstrating with him for the folly of provoking a man who could have stunned him with one blow, he answered in French, “Well—and if it pleases me to be beaten?” Note 13[13] Robert Harborough Sherard, Twenty Years in Paris (London, 1905), p.402. My italics.

    T. S. Eliot wrote that “I regard Dowson as a Poet whose technical innovations have been underestimated” Note 14[14] Dowson, Letters, p.5. but, on the basis of the above evidence, it is possible to suggest that the opposite is the case—that Soames’s innovations are those that have been underestimated. It is hardly for us to suggest that Dowson consciously stole from Soames’s work, but even Oscar Wilde, who seated Plagiarism upon the throne of Philosophy, would find it hard to deny that Soames was the real, “the onlie begetter” of Dowson’s ensuing sonnets.
    And, all in all, what shoddy work he made of his imitation! Certainly he has Soames’s literary range—Dowson wrote Poems, Prose, Poems in Prose, Prose in Poems and Prosaic Poems—but really he lacks Soames’s mastery of these various forms. Soames was, in the final reckoning, a symbolist whose work consistently fulfilled the criteria Mallarmé established for the art of Poetry, Note 15[15] Think, for example, of Mallarmé’s definition of poetry as “the miracle by which a natural object is almost made to disappear beneath the magic waving wand of the written word,” and his statement that “it is not description which can unveil the efficacy and beauty of monuments, seas, or the human face, but rather evocation, allusion, suggestion.” Mallarmé, Selected Prose Poems, Essays & Letters (Baltimore, 1956), pp.40–42. whilst Dowson ever writes as though versi¥ing his diary; where Soames’s words are opaque, Dowson’s are transparent; where Soames uses verse to investigate the possibilities of language, Dowson uses language to explore the possibilities of his own soul; and where Soames is Dionysian, Dowson is all Apollo.
    But this is to move too far ahead in our argument.


The Soamesian manner in which Dowson conducted his long and rather unlovely suicide is too well-known to require repetition here. But, though the face of the life-sick and desolate Dowson after his days of Soames, wine and roses is altogether too familiar, certain aspects of his life are so peculiarly Enochese that they lead us to speculate as to where the two poets must have met.
    In order to become the symbol of his tragic generation, Dowson copied Soames’s appearance, his manner and habits with great meticulousness. Where Beerbohm records that Soames put his cigarette out in his glass of Sauterne, Plarr remembers Dowson’s dirty and nicotine-stained hands discarding them in cups and saucers; Note 16[16] Plarr, p.122. Where Rothenstein questions the correctness of Soames’s French, Plarr tells us that Dowson’s “own French was dim”; Note 17[17] Ibid., p.24. My italics. where Soames was Bohemian in his apparel, Dowson deliberately exaggerated his and, we are told, was “pale, emaciated, in clothes that were almost ragged… a youthful ghost stray[ing] among the haunts of men”; Note 18[18] Ibid., pp.125-6. and if Soames could be somewhat reticent and self-effacing at times, Ernest Rhys’s description of Ernest Dowson at a gathering of the Rhymer’s Club reads like a satirical commentary on this Soamesian affectation: “He came late” he writes,

and broke three clays in succession in trying to light up. Then, asked if he had any rhyme to read, he pulled one out of his pocket, looked at it, shook his head as much as to say it wouldn’t do, and thrust it back again. Note 19[19] In Mark Longaker, Ernest Dowson (Pennsylvania 1945), p.107. Again the debt is profound: where Soames said that he did not care about recognition, we read in Dowson’s letters that: “I have long passed the point at which one is seriously moved by hostile criticism of anybody. To take the world so seriously! Enfin, c’est trop bête.” Plarr, p.55.

    The correspondences are then quite uncanny, and even if much of the evidence comes from various creators of the “Dowson Legend” (a legend which Plarr described as “half diabolicNote 20)[20] John Gawsworth, The Dowson Legend (London, 1939), p.105. My italics. there can be little doubt that Dowson and Soames must indeed have met. It would be almost impossible for it to have been otherwise. There follow a few tentative suggestions as to where the two men may have met, collected from the various schools of thought on the subject. Note 21[21] This has been compiled with reference to Sir Edward Saladd, Annie O’Wright, and Martis Mavellen, arguably the only true authorities on Soames.

Poison in Paris.

Dowson visited Paris on numerous occasions between 1889–1900, and, as Beerbohm tells us that Soames once lived there, many scholars believe that it was in the City of Light that he met Enoch. There is a tantalising episode described by Plarr, in which the author alludes enigmatically to a Mephistophelian character Dowson met there: “Paris was a city full of decadents” he wrote “topped by Verlaine and a certain parasite on the genius of others who is dead, and shall remain nameless, who was, in great measure, his perverter.” Note 22[22] Quoted in B. Gardiner, The Rhymer’s Club: A Social and Intellectual History (New York, 1988), p.141. Who could Dowson’s “perverter” have been other than Enoch? If we add to this the fact that Dowson always looked particularly dilapidated in Paris, and even more sick and desolate of old passions than usual, then the evidence seems conclusive: even Dowson’s most forgiving friends could not tolerate him there, and when Vincent O’Sullivan asked Leonard Smithers what had brought him to France’s capital, the learned erotomane and publisher replied “I’ve come to Paris to kill Dowson.” Note 23[23] Vincent O’Sullivan, Aspects of Wilde (London, 1936), p.126. On another occasion, Smithers seemed to take a more favourable view of Dowson’s excesses in Paris, when he praised the resilience of his constitution. On hearing that a young Parisian had died of debauchery he exclaimed “Damned puny Frenchmen! They can’t stand anything. Look at Dowson. Is he dead? Is Conder dead? Am I dead?” O’Sullivan, p.134. What other than Dowson’s mournful nostalgia for Soames, as he walked the same streets they had once strolled together arm in arm, could account for the various forms of self-humiliation he indulged in?

The Reading Room of the British Museum.

Ernest Rhys maintained that in the 1890s “the Reading Room itself was the most extraordinary club in the world, where one met poets and lunatics, beggars and literary big-wigs” Note 24[24] Gardiner, p.70. and Yeats, Davidson, Symons, Moore, Radford, Johnson and Soames himself were all regular readers. From Dowson’s Letters it is clear that he also visited the Reading Room and, in fact, would complain when illness or indolence prevented him from doing so: “O! why am I not now in the British Museum,” he wrote to Arthur Moore; “there are many things I want to do there.” Note 25[25] Letter of 26 July 1889, Dowson, Letters, pp.95-6. On 20 March 1891, he writes to Moore again: “I must go to the Museum— but I know your aversion to it: still if you can compass it, you will find me there from 3–6, among the books.” Note 26[26] Dowson, Letters, p.152. His most interesting allusion to the Reading Room is, however, the unconsciously prescient description he gives of the readers there in a letter of 11 January 1890:

    …the Menagerie were there as usual at the same old desks. Do B.M. readers ever die? I shall have to give up going there if it tends to immortality in this way.

Could he, one wonders, have been describing Enoch?
     The circumstantial evidence then is strongly suggestive of an encounter in the Reading Room, and one can easily imagine the two poets meeting beside those great green catalogues which Yeats was too delicate to lift, or in the Portico as they smoked their cigarettes. Nor is this all.
    The Soames scholar Sir Edward Saladd recently discovered some curious marginalia in the Library’s 1891 edition of The Letters of John Keats, edited by Sir Sidney Colvin. The annotations are clearly in two separate hands, and whilst the first only marks the occasional passage, the second writes more heavily in the margins and even signs some of his annotations “E. D.” It is notable that Dowson, in letters from the last year of his life, quotes many phrases of Keats’s letters from memory, and, considering Soames’s fondness for those “certain passages in Keats”, it is not hard to imagine that the poets read the volume together, side by side, beneath the great dome. Perhaps they had met when Dowson, having discovered that the book was out to one “Soames, Enoch”, plucked up the courage to go over to the desk of the great, unrecognised poet and—but at this late date we can only speculate on the details.

Soames and the Rhymer’s Club.

Scholarship has failed to prove that Soames ever attended meetings of the Rhymer’s Club Note 27[27] The self-explanatory diagram printed at the end of this chapter was published in Gardiner, Rhymer’s, pp.21–2 and is reprinted here, with slight emendations, without the permission of the author. but there remains overwhelming circumstantial evidence to suggest that he did. For example we know that at least one anonymous Rhymer wore a “Renaissance cloak” Note 28[28] Gardiner, p.31. and we also know that three members were bearded. “There was John Todhunter… with one of those flowing beards,” wrote Jepson, “G. A. Greene, with a trimmed beard,” Note 29[29] Longaker, p.93. and then, perhaps, Soames with his… but, as usual, history is silent on this point, and the third “bearded” member remains unidentified.
     Nevertheless it is inconceivable that Soames was absent when the following conversation took place: “Mr. Yeats proposed,” relates Plarr,

    that we should, in the future, debate on poetry, and by way of beginning he made a speech, pointing out that poetry had at one time passed through four stages, which were, I think the Diabolic, the Seraphic, the Celestial, and something else. Note 30 [30] Plarr, p.63. My italics.

Dowson, we are told, was unimpressed by all this “chatter about Shelley” but surely Soames would have agreed with at least the diabolic part of Yeats’s argument; he may even have challenged Dowson’s dismissive attitude to poetic theory on this very point. Finally, Yeats’s words at one meeting seem to have been seared indelibly into Enoch’s mind: “None of us can say who will succeed,” Yeats remarked during a speech on the posthumous life of verse, “or even who has or has not talent.” Note 31 [31] W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies (London, 1955), p.171.

The Art of Wandering.

Dowson frequently slept on the sofa at Victor Plarr’s Great Russell Street rooms during the period 1889–1891, and he was notably fond of Bloomsbury. It was, he remarked, “perfectly deserted” Note 32[32] Dowson, Letters, p.116. and gave him the opportunity to wander its streets in his desultory and no doubt intensely lyrical way. His love of the streets of London was legendary. After a long night in Soho, he often played a game with his friends that he called Blind Chivvy: “the idea was,” wrote Thurston Hopkins, “to find short cuts or round-about-routes from one busy part of London to another by way of the slinking alleys and by-ways which then were not well known.” Note 33[33] See Dowson, Letters, (Appendix D), p.441. On one of these nocturnal journeys he would surely have found himself lost in the maze of alleys that included Dyott Street—the street in which Enoch Soames lived.
    Dyott Street had once been part of one of the most notoriously lawless districts of London—the rookery of Saint Giles—but during the period of Soames’s residence there, it had settled into being a rather quiet road off the New Oxford Street, which would have served Dowson as a short cut on his way back from Soho to Plarr’s home at Museum Mansions. And there, beneath the lamplights that burned with gem-like flames, the two poets might conceivably have met—one looking for a rhyme for “Violet”, the other trying to read his destiny in the stars. The history of what else they said and did on that evening is a blank, but Dowson’s short story “An Orchestral Violin” Note 34[34] Dowson, Dilemmas (London, 1895). provides us with some valuable clues.

In the story Dowson describes a great Hungarian fiddler, fallen on hard times:

    His coat was sadly inefficient, and the nap of his carefully brushed hat did not indicate prosperity—perhaps even because of this suggestion of fallen fortunes, he bore himself with erectness, almost haughtily. I was somewhat in awe of M. Maurice Cristich and his little air of proud humility. Note 35 [35] Ibid., pp.54-5.

Cristich lived in a “shabby room, near the sky” in a “high house in a byway of Bloomsbury,” Note 36[36] Ibid., p.61. and as we enter it we are told of the way he used to set his kettle on the open fire, and of the customary silences that punctuated his conversation as he gazed deep into the flames. It is nearly impossible to turn the pages of the story—an early example of a writer using Enoch for his own fictional purposes—without feeling that we have penetrated to the very heart of the Dowson-Soames relationship.

Soames and Rothenstein.

Rothenstein’s pastel portrait of Soames is well known, but the artist’s depiction of Dowson is less familiar. Tradition has it that: the twenty-one-year-old William Rothenstein returned from Paris in 1893 and in the following year regularly shared Beardsley’s studio in Pimlico. When Dowson shouted below the window Rothenstein admitted him on condition that he would sit for a portrait… Note 37 [37] Dowson, Letters, p.260. and it is possible that the two poets met on that occasion. In fact, Dowson stayed with Rothenstein on many occasions: “[He] arrived at my studio,” the artist later recollected, “…would usually refuse the spare bed, and insist on lying under an old-fashioned piano which stood in the sitting room.” Note 38 [38] William Rothenstein, Men and Memories (London, 1931), p.238.
    Other theories, some of rather questionable value which need barely detain us here, are also current in academic circles: it has been argued, for instance, that Dowson and Soames met at Verlaine’s lecture in Barnard’s Inn in 1893, and a contemporary account of the event is certainly suggestive: “A very English scene,” confided Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper to their (shared) diary. “Satan in a frock coat, reading religious poetry and darting pitch-spark glances at a company incapable of understanding the tragedies of Hell.” Note 39 [39] Quoted, Alford, p.67. It has also been maintained that they first came across each other during Latin mass at Farm Street where, as the great Philip Larkin has it,

    Incense took them to lands invented by Baudelaire
    As they savoured the folded silence that follows prayer. Note 40 [40] Philip Larkin, High Windows (London, 1981), p.27.

And, finally, the Crown and the Domino Room of the Café Royal have been offered as possible venues for the historic meeting. But we are, as in every major point of fact in the life of Enoch Soames, forced to admit that the truth of the matter may never be fully known.


That the Soames/Dowson friendship ended in tragedy is clear. At some point and for some reason—perhaps it was when Dowson began writing for The Yellow Book—the inevitable split came. Its effect upon Dowson was catastrophic: as his rhymes became increasingly delicate, his health became even more so. The unpleasant nature of the conclusion to the relationship is not known, but what few stray hints there are lead us to believe that the break was irrevocable, and left Dowson in a state of hopeless remorse. One such comes from Sherard, who writes poignantly:

    In a side chapel in the Church at Arques, where [Dowson] spent some months of his life, there is the picture of a martyred virgin from whose chin a long beard grows. It is related of him that he used to spend hours on his knees in adoration before the altar over which this painting hangs. Note 41 [41] See Sherard, pp.410–11. My italics.

That it reminded him of Enoch is obvious.
    Yet it would be wrong to pity Ernest Dowson, for his fame, as we have displayed, rests entirely on the work and superior genius of Enoch Soames. Yeats made sure that Dowson defeated devouring time by memorialising him in the words:

    Dowson and Johnson most I praise—
    To troop with those the world’s forgot,
    And copy their proud steady gaze. Note 42 [42] W. B. Yeats, “The Grey Rock”. In Collected Poems (London, 1933), p.117.

How much closer to the truth would it have been if Yeats had written “Soames and Johnson most I praise.” Indeed the man whom Oscar Wilde described as “a tragic reproduction of all tragic poetry, like a symbol, or a scene; a sweet singer, with a note all the lovelier because it reminds us of how thrushes sang in Shakespeare’s day” Note 43 [43] Letter to Leonard Smithers, 24 February 1900. In Oscar Wilde, Letters (New York, 1962), p.816. might just as easily be described as the greatest poetical forger since Chatterton. Though Dowson may have played Erasmus to Soames’s Thomas More, Wordsworth to Soames’s Coleridge, posterity and Max Beerbohm have conspired to deny to Soames his true place in the pantheon of Literary Greats.
    The aim of Soames scholars around the world has been to right these wrongs and to convince the unsatisfied that Soames did indeed exist. That we shall eventually succeed in our aim cannot be seriously doubted, and surely the day will soon come when we will be able to shout the triumphant words of Victor Plarr from the rooftops in praise of Enoch Soames:

      The weak ways and the wandering thought
      Are grown divine because you fell:
      Friend, you have won a rest unsought,
      By Milton’s side! You have conquered Hell. Note 44 [44] Victor Plarr, “Nocturnes”. From In the Dorian Mood (London, 1896), p.89.

Enoch Soames