Conclusion: The Vacant Chair on Monday

  • George Mills Harper


So far as the hope for his friend’s conversion to orthodox Christianity was concerned, it is just as well surely that Horton did not live to read Yeats’s ‘big book’. Nevertheless, Horton occupied a minor but prominent position in the dramatis personae of that strange spiritual autobiography. In less than a month after the birth of their daughter, the Yeatses renewed their recording of Automatic Script. Following some six weeks of intense experiments in Dublin, they crossed to London (after 6 and before 21 May) for a few days before moving to Ballylee for the summer. On 24 May, in a session devoted primarily to a discussion of contraries, Yeats asked Thomas, the Control, several questions which appear to be about Yeats’s relationship to his recently dead friend. These questions suggest that Yeats considered Horton a contrary or opposite and a kind of spiritual Daimon. Although the entire session is relevant, several of the nineteen questions and answers are particularly significant:

Yeats. Is anything in “correspondence” with its contrary?

George. [indecipherable]

Yeats. When you spoke of the spiritual as the contrary to the emotional in what sense did you use word spirit?

George. Your [s] emotional Daimons spiritual

Yeats. Can the “spiritual” be contrary to emotional all contraries being in daimonic P[assionate] B[ody]?

George. Why not

Yeats. PB is then spiritual?

George. Yes because Fate

Yeats. Contrary of emotion a form of fate?

George. Yes

Yeats. Has Thomas anything to say about Horton?

George. Thomas—He says he believes now much that he denied before he says you are right he says he is so happy that he weeps he is very anxious to know where your child is he cant see it & wants to know if it is a boy or girl——He says leave a chair for him on Monday


Spiritual Welfare Prominent Position Entire Session Love Affair Intense Experiment 
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  1. 1.
    In his well-known journal entitled Borderland Stead published the correspondence of the dead Julia A. Ames in a series of Letters from Julia (1893), later enlarged and published as a book entitled After Death (1897, new ed. 1914).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Control was perhaps recalling the girl in Blake’s poem ‘Mary’, which E.J. Ellis and Yeats published in The Works of William Blake (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1893), III, 81 – 2Google Scholar
  3. it is also included in Yeats’s collection of The Poems of William Blake (London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1893), PP. 133 – 5.Google Scholar

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© George Mills Harper 1980

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  • George Mills Harper

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