16 AUGUST 1935, Page 6


SIR WILLIAM WATSON'S death is a tragedy of poverty and disappointment, the latter intensified in a sense by the devotion of his wife, who could never reconcile herself to the nation's failure to recognize a genius. Actually Watson was not quite a genius. But he was a singularly gifted craftsman, and there is little doubt that the public will come back to his best work yet. And he was fully justified in feeling bitterly the award of the Laureateship to the pedestrian. Alfred Austin after Tennyson's death. But Gladstone and Rosebery hesitated, and Lord Salisbury preferred a good Conservative. If it is still the Laureate's role, as it was in Tennyson's time, to produce ceremonial poems on great occasions, Watson could have discharged the task admirably—better probably than anyone who has attempted it since Tennyson. His Coronation Ode in 1902 is ample proof of that. • Many of Watson's poems, I am glad to recall, first appeared in The Spectator. An autograph manuscript of " Nature's Way "—con, taining the lines quoted in so many of the obituary notices : " Nature I whose lapidary seas Labour a pebble without ease Till they unto perfection bring That miracle of polishing . . . "

hangs on the wall of the room in which I write. It was presented by Lady Watson, with an inscription by the poet, a few months ago. The poem is dated 1914, but the poet's best work was done twenty years before that: * *