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Title: A Writer's Recollections (In Two Volumes), Volume II

Author: Mrs. Humphry Ward

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A WRITER'S RECOLLECTIONS (IN TWO VOLUMES), VOLUME II

BY MRS. HUMPHRY WARD

Published November, 1918







[Illustration: HENRY JAMES]




CONTENTS


CHAPTER

   I. LONDON IN THE 'EIGHTIES

  II. LONDON FRIENDS

 III. THE PUBLICATION OF "ROBERT ELSMERE"

  IV. FIRST VISITS TO ITALY

   V. AMALFI AND ROME. HAMPDEN AND "MARCELLA"

  VI. "HELBECK OF BANNISDALE"

 VII. THE VILLA BARBERINI. HENRY JAMES

VIII. ROMAN FRIENDS. "ELEANOR"

EPILOGUE


ILLUSTRATIONS

HENRY JAMES

ARTHUR BALFOUR

GOLDWIN SMITH

M. JUSSERAND






CHAPTER I


LONDON IN THE 'EIGHTIES


The few recollections of William Forster that I have put together in the
preceding volume lead naturally, perhaps, to some account of my
friendship and working relations at this time with Forster's most
formidable critic in the political press--Mr. John Morley, now Lord
Morley. It was in the late 'seventies, I think, that I first saw Mr.
Morley. I sat next him at the Master's dinner-table, and the impression
he made upon me was immediate and lasting. I trust that a great man, to
whom I owed much, will forgive me for dwelling on some of the incidents
of literary comradeship which followed!

My husband and I, on the way home, compared notes. We felt that we had
just been in contact with a singular personal power combined with a
moral atmosphere which had in it both the bracing and the charm that,
physically, are the gift of the heights. The "austere" Radical, indeed,
was there. With regard to certain vices and corruptions of our life and
politics, my uncle might as well have used Mr. Morley's name as that of
Mr. Frederick Harrison, when he presented us, in "Friendship's Garland,"
with Mr. Harrison setting up a guillotine in his back garden. There was
something--there always has been something--of the somber intensity of
the prophet in Mr. Morley. Burke drew, as we all remember, an
ineffaceable picture of Marie Antoinette's young beauty as he saw it in
1774, contrasting it with the "abominable scenes" amid which she
perished. Mr. Morley's comment is:

    But did not the protracted agonies of a nation deserve the tribute
    of a tear? As Paine asked, were men to weep over the plumage and
    forget the dying bird? ... It was no idle abstraction, no
    metaphysical right of man for which the French cried, but only the
    practical right of being permitted, by their own toil, to save
    themselves and the little ones about their knees from hunger and
    cruel death.

The cry of the poor, indeed, against the rich and tyrannous, the cry of
the persecuted Liberal, whether in politics or religion, against his
oppressors--it used to seem to me, in the 'eighties, when, to my
pleasure and profit, I was often associated with Mr. Morley, that in his
passionate response to this double appeal lay the driving impulse of his
life and the secret of his power over others. While we were still at
Oxford he had brought out most of his books: _On Compromise_--the fierce
and famous manifesto of 1874--and the well-known volumes on the
Encyclopedists, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot. It was not for nothing that
he had been a member of Pattison's college; and a follower of John
Stuart Mill. The will to look the grimmest facts of life and destiny in
the face, without flinching, and the resolve to accept no "anodyne" from
religion or philosophy, combined with a ceaseless interest in the human
fate and the human story, and a natural, inbred sympathy for the many
against the few, for the unfortunate against the prosperous; it was
these ardors and the burning sincerity with which he felt them, that
made him so great a power among us, his juniors by half a generation. I
shall never lose the impression that _Compromise_, with its almost
savage appeal for sincerity in word and deed, made upon me--an
impression which had its share in _Robert Elsmere_.

But together with this tragic strenuousness there was always the
personal magic which winged it and gave it power. Mr. Morley has known
all through his life what it was to be courted, by men and women alike,
for the mere pleasure of his company; in which he resembled another man
whom both he and I knew well--Sir Alfred Lyall. It is well known that
Mr. Gladstone was fascinated by the combination in his future biographer
of the Puritan, the man of iron conviction, and the delightful man of
letters. And in my own small sphere I realized both aspects of Mr.
Morley during the 'eighties. Just before we left Oxford I had begun to
write reviews and occasional notes for the _Pall Mall_, which he was
then editing; after we settled in London, and he had become also editor
of _Macmillan_, he asked me, to my no little conceit, to write a monthly
_causerie_ on a book or books for that magazine. I never succeeded in
writing nearly so many; but in two years I contributed perhaps eight or
ten papers--until I became absorbed in _Robert Elsmere_ and Mr. Morley
gave up journalism for politics. During that time my pleasant task
brought me into frequent contact with my editor. Nothing could have been
kinder than his letters; at the same time there was scarcely one of them
that did not convey some hint, some touch of the critical goad,
invaluable to the recipient. I wrote him a letter of wailing when he
gave up the editorship and literature and became Member for Newcastle.
Such a fall it seemed to me then! But Mr. Morley took it patiently. "Do
not lament over your friend, but pray for him!" As, indeed, one might
well do, in the case of one who for a few brief months--in 1886--was to
be Chief Secretary for Ireland, and again in 1892-95.

It was, indeed, in connection with Ireland that I became keenly and
personally aware of that other side of Mr. Morley's character--the side
which showed him the intransigent supporter of liberty at all costs and
all hazards. It was, I suppose, the brilliant and pitiless attacks in
the _Pall Mall_ on Mr. Forster's Chief-Secretaryship, which, as much as
anything else, and together with what they reflected in the Cabinet,
weakened my uncle's position and ultimately led to his resignation in
the spring of 1882. Many of Mr. Forster's friends and kinsfolk resented
them bitterly; and among the kinsfolk, one of them, I have reason to
know, made a strong private protest. Mr. Morley's attitude in reply
could only have been that which is well expressed by a sentence of
Darmesteter's about Renan: "So pliant in appearance, so courteous in
manner, he became a bar of iron as soon as one sought to wrest from him
an act or word contrary to the intimate sense of his conscience."

But no man has a monopoly of conscience. The tragedy was that here were
two men, both democrats, both humanitarians, but that an executive
office, in a time of hideous difficulty, had been imposed upon the one,
from which the other--his critic--was free. Ten years later, when Mr.
Morley was Chief Secretary, it was pointed out that the same statesman
who had so sincerely and vehemently protested in the case of William
Forster and Mr. Balfour against the revival of "obsolete" statutes, and
the suppression of public meetings, had himself been obliged to put
obsolete statutes in operation sixteen times, and to prohibit twenty-six
public meetings. These, however, are the whirligigs of politics, and no
politician escapes them.

In my eyes Lord Morley's crowning achievement in literature is his
biography of Mr. Gladstone. How easy it would have been to smother Mr.
Gladstone in stale politics!--and how stale politics may become in that
intermediate stage before they pass finally into history! English
political literature is full of biography of this kind. The three
notable exceptions of recent years which occur to me are Mr. Churchill's
_Life_ of his father, the Disraeli biography still in progress, and the
_Gladstone_. But it would be difficult indeed to "stale" the story of
either Lord Randolph or Dizzy. A biographer would have to set about it
of malice prepense. In the case, however, of Mr. Gladstone, the danger
was more real. Anglican orthodoxy, eminent virtue, unfailing decorum; a
comparatively weak sense of humor, and a literary gift much inferior to
his oratorical gift, so that the most famous of his speeches are but
cold reading now; interminable sentences, and an unfailing relish for
detail all important in its day, but long since dead and buried; the
kind of biography that, with this material, half a dozen of Mr.
Gladstone's colleagues might have written of him, for all his greatness,
rises formidably on the inward eye. The younger generation waiting for
the historian to come--except in the case of those whose professional
duty as politicians it would have been to read it--might quite well have
yawned and passed by.

But Mr. Morley's literary instinct, which is the artistic instinct,
solved the problem. The most interesting half of the book will always, I
think, be the later half. In the great matters of his hero's earlier
career--Free Trade, the Crimean War, the early budgets, the slow
development of the Liberal leader from the Church and State Conservative
of 1832, down to the franchise battle of the 'sixties and the "great
Ministry," as Mr. Morley calls it, of 1868, the story is told, indeed,
perhaps here and there at too great length, yet with unfailing ease and
lucidity. The teller, however, is one who, till the late 'seventies, was
only a spectator, and, on the whole, from a distance, of what he is
describing, who was indeed most of the time pursuing his own special
aims--i.e., the hewing down of orthodoxy and tradition, together with
the preaching of a frank and uncompromising agnosticism, in the
_Fortnightly Review_; aims which were, of all others, most opposed to
Mr. Gladstone's. But with the 'eighties everything changes. Mr. Morley
becomes a great part of what he tells. During the intermediate
stage--marked by his editorship of the _Pall Mall Gazette_--the tone of
the biography grows sensibly warmer and more vivid, as the writer draws
nearer and nearer to the central scene; and with Mr. Morley's election
to Newcastle and his acceptance of the Chief-Secretaryship in 1885, the
book becomes the fascinating record of not one man, but two, and that
without any intrusion whatever on the rights of the main figure. The
dreariness of the Irish struggle is lightened by touch after touch that
only Mr. Morley could have given. Take that picture of the somber,
discontented Parnell, coming, late in the evening, to Mr. Morley's room
in the House of Commons, to complain of the finance of the Home Rule
Bill--Mr. Gladstone's entrance at 10.30 P.M., after an exhausting
day--and he, the man of seventy-seven, sitting down to work between the
Chief Secretary and the Irish leader, till at last, with a sigh of
weariness at nearly 1 A.M., the tired Prime Minister pleads to go to
bed. Or that most dramatic story, later on, of Committee Room No. 15,
where Mr. Morley becomes the reporter to Mr. Gladstone of that moral and
political tragedy, the fall of Parnell; or a hundred other sharp lights
upon the inner and human truth of things, as it lay behind the political
spectacle. All through the later chapters, too, the happy use of
conversations between the two men on literary and philosophical matters
relieves what might have been the tedium of the end. For these vivid
notes of free talk not only bring the living Gladstone before you in the
most varied relation to his time; they keep up a perpetually interesting
comparison in the reader's mind between the hero and his biographer. One
is as eager to know what Mr. Morley is going to say as one is to listen
to Mr. Gladstone. The two men, with their radical differences and their
passionate sympathies, throw light on each other, and the agreeable
pages achieve a double end, without ever affecting the real unity of the
book. Thus handled, biography, so often the drudge of literature, rises
into its high places and becomes a delight instead of an edifying or
informing necessity.

I will add one other recollection of this early time--i.e., that in
1881 the reviewing of Mr. Morley's _Cobden_ in the _Times_ fell to my
husband, and as those were the days of many-column reviews, and as the
time given for the review was _exceedingly_ short, it could only be done
at all by a division of labor. We divided the sheets of the book, and we
just finished in time to let my husband rush off to Printing House
Square and correct the proofs as they went through the press for the
morning's issue. In those days, as is well known, the _Times_ went to
press much later than now, and a leader-writer rarely got home before 4,
and sometimes 5, A.M.

       *       *       *       *       *

I find it extremely difficult, as I look back, to put any order into the
crowding memories of those early years in London. They were
extraordinarily stimulating to us both, and years of great happiness. At
home our children were growing up; our own lives were branching out into
new activities and bringing us always new friends, and a more
interesting share in that "great mundane movement" which Mr. Bottles
believed would perish without him. Our connection with the _Times_ and
with the Forsters, and the many new acquaintances and friends we made at
this time in that happy meeting-ground of men and causes--Mrs. Jeune's
drawing-room--opened to us the world of politicians; while my husband's
four volumes on _The English Poets_, published just as we left Oxford,
volumes to which all the most prominent writers of the day had
contributed, together with the ever-delightful fact that Matthew Arnold
was my uncle, brought us the welcome of those of our own _metier_ and
way of life; and when in 1884 my husband became art critic of the paper,
a function which he filled for more than five and twenty years, fresh
doors opened on the already crowded scene, and fresh figures stepped in.

The setting of it all was twofold--in the first place, our dear old
house in Russell Square, and, in the next, the farm on Rodborough
Common, four miles from Godalming, where, amid a beauty of gorse and
heather that filled every sense on a summer day with the mere joy of
breathing and looking, our children and we spent the holiday hours of
seven goodly years. The Russell Square house has been, so to speak,
twice demolished and twice buried, since we lived in it. Some of its
stones must still lie deep under the big hotel which now towers on its
site. That it does not still exist somewhere, I can hardly believe. The
westerly sun seems to me still to be pouring into the beautiful little
hall, built and decorated about 1750, with its panels of free scrollwork
in blue and white, and to be still glancing through the drawing-rooms to
the little powder-closet at the end, my tiny workroom, where I first
sketched the plan of _Robert Elsmere_ for my sister Julia Huxley, and
where, after three years, I wrote the last words. If I open the door of
the back drawing-room, there, to the right, is the children's
school-room. I see them at their lessons, and the fine plane-trees that
look in at the window. And up-stairs there are the pleasant bedrooms and
the nurseries. It was born, the old house, in the year of the Young
Pretender, and, after serving six generations, perhaps as faithfully as
it served us, it "fell on sleep." There should be a special Elysium,
surely, for the houses where the fates have been kind and where people
have been happy; and a special Tartarus for those--of Oedipus or
Atreus--in which "old, unhappy, far-off things" seem to be always
poisoning the present.

As to Borough Farm--now the head-quarters of the vast camp which
stretches to Hindhead--it stood then in an unspoiled wilderness of
common and wood, approached only by what we called "the sandy track"
from the main Portsmouth Road, with no neighbors for miles but a few
scattered cottages. Its fate had been harder than that of 61 Russell
Square. The old London house has gone clean out of sight, translated,
whole and fair, into a world of memory. But Borough and the common are
still here--as war has made them. Only--may I never see them again!

It was in 1882, the year of Tel-el-Kebir, when we took Peperharrow
Rectory (the Murewell Vicarage of _Robert Elsmere_) for the summer, that
we first came across Borough Farm. We left it in 1889. I did a great
deal of work, there and in London, in those seven years. The _Macmillan_
papers I have already spoken of. They were on many subjects--Tennyson's
"Becket," Mr. Pater's "Marius," "The Literature of Introspection," Jane
Austen, Keats, Gustavo Becquer, and various others. I still kept up my
Spanish to some extent, and I twice examined--in 1882 and 1888--for the
Taylorian scholarship in Spanish at Oxford, our old friend, Doctor
Kitchin, afterward Dean of Durham, writing to me with glee that I should
be "making history" as "the first woman examiner of men at either
University." My colleague on the first occasion was the old Spanish
scholar, Don Pascual de Gayangos, to whom the calendaring of the Spanish
MSS. in the British Museum had been largely intrusted; and the second
time, Mr. York Powell of Christ Church--I suppose one of the most
admirable Romance scholars of the time--was associated with me. But if I
remember right, I set the papers almost entirely, and wrote the report
on both occasions. It gave me a feeling of safety in 1888, when my
knowledge, such as it was, had grown very rusty, that Mr. York Powell
overlooked the papers, seeing that to set Scholarship questions for
postgraduate candidates is not easy for one who has never been through
any proper "mill"! But they passed his scrutiny satisfactorily, and in
1888 we appointed as Taylorian Scholar a man to whom for years I
confidently looked for _the_ history of Spain--combining both the
Spanish and Arabic sources--so admirable had his work been in the
examination. But, alack! that great book has still to be written. For
Mr. Butler Clarke died prematurely in 1904, and the hope died with him.

For the _Times_ I wrote a good many long, separate articles before 1884,
on "Spanish Novels," "American Novels," and so forth; the "leader" on
the death of Anthony Trollope; and various elaborate reviews of books on
Christian origins, a subject on which I was perpetually reading, always
with the same vision before me, growing in clearness as the
years passed.

But my first steps toward its realization were to begin with the short
story of _Miss Bretherton_, published in 1884, and then the translation
of Amiel's _Journal Intime_, which appeared in 1885. _Miss Bretherton_
was suggested to me by the brilliant success in 1883 of Mary Anderson,
and by the controversy with regard to her acting--as distinct from her
delightful beauty and her attractive personality--which arose between
the fastidious few and the enchanted many. I maintained then, and am
quite sure now, that Isabel Bretherton was in no sense a portrait of
Miss Anderson. She was to me a being so distinct from the living actress
that I offered her to the world with an entire good faith, which seems
to myself now, perhaps thirty years later, hardly less surprising than
it did to the readers of the time. For undoubtedly the situation in the
novel was developed out of the current dramatic debate. But it became to
me just _a_ situation--_a_ problem. It was really not far removed from
Diderot's problem in the _Paradoxe sur le Comedien_. What is the
relation of the actor to the part represented? One actress is
plain--Rachel; another actress is beautiful, and more than beautiful,
delightful--Miss Anderson. But all the time, is there or is there not a
region in which all these considerations count for nothing in comparison
with certain others? Is there a dramatic _art_--exacting, difficult,
supreme--or is there not? The choice of the subject, at that time, was,
it may be confessed, a piece of naivete, and the book itself was young
and naive throughout. But something in it has kept it in circulation all
this while; and for me it marks with a white stone the year in which it
appeared. For it brought me my first critical letter from Henry James;
it was the first landmark in our long friendship.

Beloved Henry James! It seems to me that my original meeting with him
was at the Andrew Langs' in 1882. He was then forty-two, in the prime of
his working life, and young enough to be still "Henry James, Junior," to
many. I cannot remember anything else of the Langs' dinner-party except
that we were also invited to meet the author of _Vice Versa_, "which Mr.
Lang thinks"--as I wrote to my mother--"the best thing of its kind since
Dickens." But shortly after that, Mr. James came to see us in Russell
Square and a little incident happened which stamped itself for good on a
still plastic memory. It was a very hot day; the western sun was beating
on the drawing-room windows, though the room within was comparatively
dark and cool. The children were languid with the heat, and the
youngest, Janet, then five, stole into the drawing-room and stood
looking at Mr. James. He put out a half-conscious hand to her; she came
nearer, while we talked on. Presently she climbed on his knee. I suppose
I made a maternal protest. He took no notice, and folded his arm round
her. We talked on; and presently the abnormal stillness of Janet
recalled her to me and made me look closely through the dark of the
room. She was fast asleep, her pale little face on the young man's
shoulder, her long hair streaming over his arm. Now Janet was a most
independent and critical mortal, no indiscriminate "climber up of
knees"; far from it. Nor was Mr. James an indiscriminate lover of
children; he was not normally much at home with them, though _always_
good to them. But the childish instinct had in fact divined the profound
tenderness and chivalry which were the very root of his nature; and he
was touched and pleased, as one is pleased when a robin perches on
one's hand.

From that time, as the precious bundle of his letters shows, he became
the friend of all of us--myself, my husband, and the children; though
with an increased intimacy from the 'nineties onward. In a subsequent
chapter I will try and summarize the general mark left on me by his
fruitful and stainless life. His letter to me about _Miss Bretherton_ is
dated December 9, 1884. He had already come to see me about it, and
there was never any critical discussion like his, for its suggestion of
a hundred points of view, its flashing of unexpected lights, its witness
to the depth and richness of his own artistic knowledge.

    The whole thing is delicate and distinguished [he wrote me] and the
    reader has the pleasure and security of feeling that he is with a
    woman (distinctly a woman!) who knows how (rare bird!) to write. I
    think your idea, your situation, interesting in a high degree--But
    [and then come a series of most convincing "buts"! He objects
    strongly to the happy ending]. I wish that your actress had been
    carried away from Kendal [her critical lover, who worships herself,
    but despises her art] altogether, carried away by the current of her
    artistic life, the sudden growth of her power, and the excitement,
    the ferocity and egotism (those of the artist realizing success, I
    mean; I allude merely to the normal dose of those elements) which
    the effort to create, to "arrive" (once she had had a glimpse of her
    possible successes) would have brought with it. (Excuse that
    abominable sentence.) Isabel, the Isabel you describe, has too much
    to spare for Kendal--Kendal being what he is; and one doesn't feel
    her, see her, enough, as the pushing actress, the _cabotine_! She
    lapses toward him as if she were a failure, whereas you make her out
    a great success. No!--she wouldn't have thought so much of him at
    such a time as that--though very possibly she would have come back
    to him later.

The whole letter, indeed, is full of admirable criticism, sprung from a
knowledge of life, which seemed to me, his junior by twelve years,
unapproachably rich and full. But how grateful I was to him for the
criticism!--how gracious and chivalrous was his whole attitude toward
the writer and the book! Indeed, as I look over the bundle of letters
which concern this first novel of mine, I am struck by the good fortune
which brought me such mingled chastening and praise, in such long
letters, from judges so generous and competent. Henry James, Walter
Pater, John Morley, "Mr. Creighton" (then Emmanuel Professor at
Cambridge), Cotter Morrison, Sir Henry Taylor, Edmond Scherer--they are
all there. Besides the renewal of the old throb of pleasure as one reads
them, one feels a sort of belated remorse that so much trouble was taken
for so slight a cause! Are there similar friends nowadays to help the
first steps of a writer? Or is there no leisure left in this choked
life of ours?

The decisive criticism, perhaps, of all, is that of Mr. Creighton: "I
find myself carried away by the delicate feeling with which the
development of character is traced." But--"You wrote this book as a
critic not as a creator. It is a sketch of the possible worth of
criticism in an unregenerate world. This was worth doing once; but if
you are going on with novels you must throw criticism overboard and let
yourself go, as a partner of common joys, common sorrows, and common
perplexities. There--I have told you what I think, just as I think it."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Miss Bretherton_ was a trial trip, and it taught me a good deal. When
it came out I had nearly finished the translation of Amiel, which
appeared in 1885, and in March of that year some old friends drove me up
the remote Westmorland valley of Long Sleddale, at a moment when the
blackthorn made lines of white along the lanes; and from that day onward
the early chapters of _Robert Elsmere_ began to shape themselves in my
mind. All the main ideas of the novel were already there. Elsmere was to
be the exponent of a freer faith; Catharine had been suggested by an old
friend of my youth; while Langham was the fruit of my long communing
with the philosophic charm and the tragic impotence of Amiel. I began
the book in the early summer of 1885, and thenceforward it absorbed me
until its appearance in 1888.

The year 1885, indeed, was one of expanding horizons, of many new
friends, of quickened pulses generally. The vastness of London and its
myriad interests seemed to be invading our life more and more. I can
recall one summer afternoon, in particular, when, as I was in a hansom
driving idly westward toward Hyde Park Gate, thinking of a hundred
things at once, this consciousness of _intensification_, of a heightened
meaning in everything--the broad street, the crowd of moving figures and
carriages, the houses looking down upon it--seized upon me with a rush.
"Yes, it is good--the mere living!" Joy in the infinite variety of the
great city as compared with the "cloistered virtue" of Oxford; the sheer
pleasure of novelty, of the kind new faces, and the social discoveries
one felt opening on many sides; the delight of new perceptions, new
powers in oneself--all this seemed to flower for me in those few minutes
of reverie--if one can apply such a word to an experience so vivid. And
meanwhile the same intensity of pleasure from nature that I had always
been capable of flowed in upon me from new scenes; above all, from
solitary moments at Borough Farm, in the heart of the Surrey commons,
when the September heather blazed about me; or the first signs of spring
were on the gorse and the budding trees; or beside some lonely pool; and
always heightened now by the company of my children. It was a stage--a
normal stage, in normal life. But I might have missed it so easily! The
Fates were kind to us in those days.

As to the social scene, let me gather from it first a recollection of
pure romance. One night at a London dinner-party I found myself sent
down with a very stout gentleman, an American Colonel, who proclaimed
himself an "esoteric Buddhist," and provoked in me a rapid and vehement
dislike. I turned my back upon him and examined the table. Suddenly I
became aware of a figure opposite to me, the figure of a young girl who
seemed to me one of the most ravishing creatures I had ever seen. She
was very small, and exquisitely made. Her beautiful head, with its mass
of light-brown hair; the small features and delicate neck; the clear,
pale skin, the lovely eyes with rather heavy lids, which gave a slight
look of melancholy to the face; the grace and fire of every movement
when she talked; the dreamy silence into which she sometimes fell,
without a trace of awkwardness or shyness. But how vain is any mere
catalogue to convey the charm of Laura Tennant--the first Mrs. Alfred
Lyttelton--to those who never saw her!

I asked to be introduced to her as soon as we left the dining-room, and
we spent the evening in a corner together.

I fell in love with her there and then. The rare glimpses of her that
her busy life and mine allowed made one of my chief joys thenceforward,
and her early death was to me--as to so many, many others!--a grief
never forgotten.

The recent biography of Alfred Lyttelton--War Minister in Mr. Balfour's
latest Cabinet--skilfully and beautifully done by his second wife, has
conveyed to the public of thirty years later some idea of Laura's
imperishable charm. And I greatly hope that it may be followed some day
by a collection of her letters, for there are many in existence, and,
young as she was, they would, I believe, throw much light upon a crowded
moment in our national life. Laura was the fourth daughter of Sir
Charles Tennant, a rich Glasgow manufacturer, and the elder sister of
Mrs. Asquith. She and her sisters came upon the scene in the early
'eighties; and without any other extrinsic advantage but that of wealth,
which in this particular case would not have taken them very far, they
made a conquest--the younger two, Laura and Margot, in particular--of a
group of men and women who formed a kind of intellectual and social
_elite_; who were all of them accomplished; possessed, almost all of
them, of conspicuous good looks, or of the charm that counts as much;
and among whom there happened to be a remarkable proportion of men who
have since made their mark on English history. My generation knew them
as "The Souls." "The Souls" were envied, mocked at, caricatured, by
those who were not of them. They had their follies--why not? They were
young, and it was their golden day. Their dislike of convention and
routine had the effect on many--and those not fools--of making
convention and routine seem particularly desirable. But there was not, I
think, a young man or woman admitted to their inner ranks who did not
possess in some measure a certain quality very difficult to isolate and
define. Perhaps, to call it "disinterestedness" comes nearest. For they
were certainly no seekers after wealth, or courters of the great. It
might be said, of course, that they had no occasion; they had as much
birth and wealth as any one need want, among themselves. But that does
not explain it. For push and greed are among the commonest faults of an
aristocracy. The immortal pages of Saint Simon are there to show it.
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," says the
Gospel. Now the "treasure" among The Souls was, ultimately--or at least
tended to be--something spiritual. The typical expression of it, at its
best, is to be found in those exquisite last words left by Laura
Lyttelton for her husband, which the second Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton has,
as I think, so rightly published. That unique "will," which for thirty
years before it appeared in print was known to a wide circle of persons,
many of whom had never seen the living Laura, was the supreme expression
of a quality which, in greater or lesser degree, The Souls seemed to
demand of one another, and of those who wished to join their band. Yet,
combined with this passion, this poetry, this religious feeling, was
first the maddest delight in simple things--in open air and physical
exercise; then, a headlong joy in literature, art, music, acting; a
perpetual spring of fun; and a hatred of all the solemn pretenses that
too often make English society a weariness.

No doubt there is something--perhaps much--to be said on the other side.
But I do not intend to say it. I was never a Soul, nor could have been.
I came from too different a world. But there were a certain number of
persons--of whom I was one--who were their "harborers" and spectators. I
found delight in watching them. They were quite a new experience to me;
and I saw them dramatically, like a scene in a play, full of fresh
implications and suggestions. I find in an old letter to my mother an
account of an evening at 40 Grosvenor Square, where the Tennants lived.

    It was not an evening party--we joined a dinner party there, after
    dining somewhere else. So that the rooms were empty enough to let
    one see the pretty creatures gathered in it, to perfection. In the
    large drawing-room, which is really a ball-room with a polished
    floor, people were dancing, or thought-reading, or making music, as
    it pleased them.

Mr. Balfour was there, with whom we had made friends, as fellow-guests,
on a week-end visit to Oxford, not long before; Alfred Lyttelton, then
in the zenith of his magnificent youth; Lord Curzon, then plain Mr.
Curzon, and in the Foreign Office; Mr. Harry Gust; Mr. Rennell Rodd, now
the British Ambassador in Rome, and many others--a goodly company of
young men in their prime. And among the women there was a very high
proportion of beauty, but especially of grace. "The half-lit room, the
dresses and the beauty," says my letter, "reminded one of some _festa_
painted by Watteau or Lancret." But with what a difference! For, after
all, it was English, through and through.

A little after this evening, Laura Tennant came down to spend a day at
Borough Farm with the children and me. Another setting! Our principal
drawing-room there in summer was a sand-pit, shaded by an old ash-tree
and haunted by innumerable sand-martins. It was Ascension Day, and the
commons were a dream of beauty. Our guest, I find, was to have come down
"with Mr. Balfour and Mr. Burne-Jones." But in the end she came down
alone; and we talked all day, sitting under hawthorns white with bloom,
wandering through rushy fields ablaze with marsh marigold and orchis.
She wrote to me the same evening after her return to London:

    I sit with my eyes resting on the medieval purple of the
    sweet-breathing orchis you gave me, and my thoughts feasting on the
    wonderful beauty of the snowy blossom against the blue.... This has
    been a real Ascension Day.

Later in the year--in November--she wrote to me from Scotland--she was
then twenty-one:

    I am still in Scotland, but don't pity me, for I love it more than
    anything else in the wide world. If you could only hear the wind
    throwing his arm against my window, and sobbing down the glen. I
    think I shall never have a Lover I am so fond of as the wind. None
    ever serenaded me so divinely. And when I open my window wide and
    ask him what he wants, and tell him I am quite ready to elope with
    him now--this moment--he only moans and sighs thro' my outblown
    hair--and gives me neuralgia.... I read all day, except when I am
    out with my Lover, or playing with my little nephew and niece, both
    of whom I adore--for they are little poets. We have had a houseful
    ever since August, so I am delighted to get a little calm. It is so
    dreadful never, never to be alone--and really the housemaid would do
    just as well! and yet, whenever I go to my sanctum I am routed out
    as if I was of as much use as plums to plum pudding, and either made
    to play lawn-tennis or hide-and-seek, or to talk to a young man
    whose only idea of the Infinite is the Looking-glass. All these are
    the trials that attend the "young lady" of the house. Poor devil!
    Forgive strong language--but really my sympathy is deep.

    I have, however, some really nice friends here, and am not entirely
    discontented. Mr. Gerald Balfour left the other day. He is very
    clever--and quite beautiful--like a young god. I wonder if you know
    him. I know you know Arthur.... Lionel Tennyson, who was also here
    with Gerald Balfour, has a splendid humor--witty and "fin," which is
    rare in England. Lord Houghton, Alfred Lyttelton, Godfrey Webb,
    George Curzon, the Chesterfields, the Hayters, Mary Gladstone, and a
    lot more have been here. I went north, too, to the land of Thule and
    was savagely happy. I wore no hat--no gloves--I bathed, fished,
    boated, climbed, and kissed the earth, and danced round a cairn. It
    was opposite Skye at a Heaven called Loch Ailsa.... Such
    beauty--such weather--such a fortnight will not come again. Perhaps
    it would be unjust to the crying world for one human being to have
    more of the Spirit of Delight; but one is glad to have tasted of the
    cup, and while it was in my hands I drank deeply.

    I have read very little. I am hungering for a month or two's
    silence.

But there was another lover than the west wind waiting for this most
lovable of mortals. A few days afterward she wrote to me from a house in
Hampshire, where many of her particular friends were gathered, among
them Alfred Lyttelton.

    The conversation is pyrotechnic--and it is all quite delightful. A
    beautiful place--paradoxical arguments--ideals raised and
    shattered--temples torn and battered--temptations given way
    to--newspapers unread--acting--rhyming--laughing--_ad infinitum_. I
    wish you were here!

Six weeks afterward she was engaged to Mr. Lyttelton. She was to be
married in May, and in Easter week of that year we met her in Paris,
where she was buying her trousseau, enjoying it like a child, making
friends with all her dressmakers, and bubbling over with fun about it.
"It isn't 'dressing,'" she said, "unless you apply main force to them.
What they _want_ is always--_presque pas de corsage, et pas du
tout de manches!_"

One day she and Mr. Lyttelton and Mr. Balfour and one or two others came
to tea with us at the Hotel Chatham to meet Victor Cherbuliez. The
veteran French novelist fell in love with her, of course, and their
talk--Laura's French was as spontaneous and apparently as facile as her
English--kept the rest of us happy. Then she married in May, with half
London to see, and Mr. Gladstone--then Prime Minister--mounted on the
chair to make the wedding-speech. For by her marriage Laura became the
great man's niece, since Alfred Lyttelton's mother was a sister of Mrs.
Gladstone.

Then in the autumn came the hope of a child--to her who loved children
so passionately. But all through the waiting time she was overshadowed
by a strangely strong presentiment of death. I went to see her sometimes
toward the end of it, when she was resting on her sofa in the late
evening, and used to leave her listening for her husband's step, on his
return from his work, her little weary face already lit up with
expectation. The weeks passed, and those who loved her began to be
anxious. I went down to Borough Farm in May, and there, just two years
after she had sat with us under the hawthorn, I heard the news of her
little son's birth, and then ten days later the news of her death.

With that death a ray of pure joy was quenched on earth. But Laura
Lyttelton was not only youth and delight--she was also embodied love. I
have watched her in a crowded room where everybody wanted her, quietly
seek out the neglected person there, the stranger, the shy secretary or
governess, and make her happy--bring her in--with an art that few
noticed, because in her it was nature. When she died she left an
enduring mark in the minds of many who have since governed or guided
England; but she was mourned also by scores of humble folk, and by
disagreeable folk whom only she befriended. Mrs. Lyttelton quotes a
letter written by the young wife to her husband:

    Tell me you love me and always will. Tell me, so that when I dream I
    may dream of Love, and when I sleep dreamless Love may be holding me
    in his wings, and when I wake Love may be the spirit in my feet, and
    when I die Love may be the Angel that takes me home.

And in the room of death, when the last silence fell on those gathered
there, her sister Margot--by Laura's wish, expressed some time
before--read aloud the "will," in which she spoke her inmost heart.
Since its publication it belongs to those records of life and feeling
which are part of our common inheritance.

"She was a flame, beautiful, dancing, ardent," writes the second Mrs.
Lyttelton. "The wind of life was too fierce for such a spirit; she could
not live in it."

I make no apology for dwelling on the life and earthly death of this
young creature who was only known to a band--though a large band--of
friends during her short years. Throughout social and literary history
there have been a few apparitions like hers, which touch with peculiar
force, in the hearts of men and women, the old, deep, human notes which
"make us men." Youth, beauty, charm, death--they are the great themes
with which all art, plastic or literary, tries to conjure. It is given
to very few to handle them simply, yet sufficiently; with power, yet
without sentimentality. Breathed into Laura's short life, they affected
whose who knew her like the finest things in poetry.



CHAPTER II


LONDON FRIENDS


It was in 1874, as I have already mentioned, that on an introduction
from Matthew Arnold we first made friends with M. Edmond Scherer, the
French writer and Senator, who more than any other person--unless,
perhaps, one divides the claim between him and M. Faguet--stepped into
the critical chair of Sainte Beuve, after that great man's death. For M.
Scherer's weekly reviews in the _Temps_ (1863-78) were looked for by
many people over about fifteen years, as persons of similar tastes had
looked for the famous "Lundis," in the _Constitutionnel_ of an earlier
generation.

We went out to call upon the Scherers at Versailles, coupling with it,
if I remember right, a visit to the French National Assembly then
sitting in the Chateau. The road from the station to the palace was deep
in snow, and we walked up behind two men in ardent conversation, one of
them gesticulating freely. My husband asked a man beside us, bound also,
it seemed, for the Assembly, who they were. "M. Gambetta and M. Jules
Favre," was the answer. So there we had in front of us the intrepid
organizer of the Government of National Defense, whose services to
France France will never forget, and the unfortunate statesman to whom
it fell, under the tyrannic and triumphant force of Germany (which was
to prove, as we now know, in the womb and process of time, more fatal to
herself than to France!), to sign away Alsace-Lorraine. And we had only
just settled ourselves in our seats when Gambetta was in the tribune,
making a short but impassioned speech. I but vaguely remember what the
speech was about, but the attitude of the lion head thrown back, and the
tones of the famous voice, remain with me--as it rang out in the
recurrent phrase: _"Je proteste!--Messieurs, je proteste!"_ It was the
attitude of the statue in the Place du Carrousel, and of the
_meridional_, Numa Roumestan, in Daudet's well-known novel. Every word
said by the speaker seemed to enrage the benches of the Right, and the
tumult was so great at times that we were still a little dazed by it
when we reached the quiet of the Scherers' drawing-room.

M. Scherer rose to greet us, and to introduce us to his wife and
daughters. A tall, thin man, already white-haired, with something in his
aspect which suggested his Genevese origin--something at once ascetic
and delicately sensitive. He was then in his sixtieth year, deputy for
the Seine-et-Oise, and an important member of the Left Center. The year
after we saw him he became a Senator, and remained so through his life,
becoming more Conservative as the years went on. But his real importance
was as a man of letters--one of the recognized chiefs of French
literature and thought, equally at war with the forces of Catholic
reaction, then just beginning to find a leader in M. Bourget, and with
the scientific materialism of M. Taine. He was--when we first knew
him--a Protestant who had ceased to believe in any historical religion;
a Liberal who, like another friend of ours, Mr. Goschen, about the same
time was drifting into Conservatism; and also a man of strong and subtle
character to whom questions of ethics were at all times as important as
questions of pure literature. Above all, he was a scholar, specially
conversant with England and English letters. He was, for instance, the
"French critic on Milton," on whom Matthew Arnold wrote one of his most
attractive essays; and he was fond of maintaining--and proving--that
when French people _did_ make a serious study of England, and English
books, which he admitted was rare, they were apt to make fewer mistakes
about us than English writers make about France.

Dear M. Scherer!--I see him first in the little suite of carpetless
rooms, empty save for books and the most necessary tables and chairs,
where he lived and worked at Versailles; amid a library "read, marked,
learned, and inwardly digested," like that of Lord Acton, his English
junior. And then, in a winter walk along the Champs-Elysees, a year or
two later, discussing the prospects of Catholicism in France: "They
haven't a man--a speaker--a book! It is a real drawback to us Liberals
that they are so weak, so negligible. We have nothing to hold us
together!" At the moment Scherer was perfectly right. But the following
years were to see the flowing back of Catholicism into literature, the
Universities, the Ecole Normale. Twenty years later I quoted this remark
of Scherer's to a young French philosopher. "True, for its date," he
said. "There was then scarcely a single Catholic in the Ecole Normale
[i.e., at the headwaters of French education]. There are now a great
many. _But they are all Modernists!_" Since then, again, we have seen
the growing strength of Catholicism in the French literature of
imagination, in French poetry and fiction. Whether in the end it will
emerge the stronger for the vast stirring of the waters caused by the
present war is one of the most interesting questions of the present day.

But I was soon to know Edmond Scherer more intimately. I imagine that it
was he who in 1884 sent me a copy of the _Journal Intime_ of Henri
Frederic Amiel, edited by himself. The book laid its spell upon me at
once; and I felt a strong wish to translate it. M. Scherer consented and
I plunged into it. It was a delightful but exacting task. At the end of
it I knew a good deal more French than I did at the beginning! For the
book abounded in passages that put one on one's mettle and seemed to
challenge every faculty one possessed. M. Scherer came over with his
daughter Jeanne--a _schoene Seele_, if ever there was one--and we spent
hours in the Russell Square drawing-room, turning and twisting the most
crucial sentences this way and that.

But at last the translation and my Introduction were finished and the
English book appeared. It certainly obtained a warm welcome both here
and in America. There is something in Amiel's mystical and melancholy
charm which is really more attractive to the Anglo-Saxon than the French
temper. At any rate, in the English-speaking countries the book spread
widely, and has maintained its place till now.

    The _Journal_ is very interesting to me [wrote the Master of
    Balliol]. It catches and detains many thoughts that have passed over
    the minds of others, which they rarely express, because they must
    take a sentimental form, from which most thinkers recoil. It is all
    about "self," yet it never leaves an egotistical or affected
    impression. It is a curious combination of skepticism and religious
    feeling, like Pascal, but its elements are compounded in different
    proportions and the range of thought is far wider and more
    comprehensive. On the other hand, Pascal is more forcible, and looks
    down upon human things from a higher point of view.

    Why was he unhappy? ... But, after all, commentaries on the lives of
    distinguished men are of very doubtful value. There is the
    life--take it and read it who can.

    Amiel was a great genius, as is shown by his power of style.... His
    _Journal_ is a book in which the thoughts of many hearts are
    revealed.... There are strange forms of mysticism, which the
    poetical intellect takes. I suppose we must not try to explain them.
    Amiel was a Neo-Platonist and a skeptic in one.

    For myself [wrote Walter Pater], I shall probably think, on
    finishing the book, that there was still something Amiel might have
    added to those elements of natural religion which he was able to
    accept at times with full belief and always with the sort of hope
    which is a great factor in life. To my mind, the beliefs and the
    function in the world of the historic Church form just one of those
    obscure but all-important possibilities which the human mind is
    powerless effectively to dismiss from itself, and might wisely
    accept, in the first place, as a workable hypothesis. The supposed
    facts on which Christianity rests, utterly incapable as they have
    become of any ordinary test, seem to me matters of very much the
    same sort of assent we give to any assumptions, in the strict and
    ultimate sense, moral. The question whether those facts are real
    will, I think, always continue to be what I should call one of the
    _natural_ questions of the human mind.

A passage, it seems to me, of considerable interest as throwing light
upon the inner mind of one of the most perfect writers, and most
important influences of the nineteenth century. Certainly there is no
sign in it, on Mr. Pater's part, of "dropping Christianity"; very much
the contrary.

       *       *       *       *       *

But all this time, while literary and meditative folk went on writing
and thinking, how fast the political world was rushing!

Those were the years, after the defeat of the first Home Rule Bill, and
the dismissal of Mr. Gladstone, of Lord Salisbury's Government and Mr.
Balfour's Chief-Secretaryship. As I look back upon them--those five
dramatic years culminating first in the Parnell Commission, and then in
Parnell's tragic downfall and death, I see everything grouped round Mr.
Balfour. From the moment when, in succession to Sir Michael Hicks Beach,
Mr. Balfour took over the Chief-Secretaryship, his sudden and swift
development seemed to me the most interesting thing in politics. We had
first met him, as I have said, on a week-end visit to the Talbots at
Oxford. It was then a question whether his health would stand the rough
and tumble of politics. I recollect he came down late and looked far
from robust. We traveled up to London with him, and he was reading Mr.
Green's _Prolegomena to Ethics_, which, if I remember right, he was to
review for _Mind_.

He was then a member of the Fourth Party, and engaged--though in a
rather detached fashion--in those endless raids and excursions against the
"Goats"--i.e., the bearded veterans of his own party, Sir Stafford
Northcote in particular, of which Lord Randolph was the leader. But
compared to Lord Randolph he had made no Parliamentary mark. One thought
of him as the metaphysician, the lover of music, the delightful
companion, always, I feel now, in looking back, with a prevailing
consciousness of something reserved and potential in him, which gave a
peculiar importance and value to his judgments of men and things. He was
a leading figure among "The Souls," and I remember some delightful
evenings in his company before 1886, when the conversation was entirely
literary or musical.

Then, with the Chief-Secretaryship there appeared a new Arthur Balfour.
The courage, the resource, the never-failing wit and mastery with which
he fought the Irish members in Parliament, put down outrage in Ireland,
and at the same time laid the foundation in a hundred directions of that
social and agrarian redemption of Ireland on which a new political
structure will some day be reared--is perhaps even now about to
rise--these things make one of the most brilliant, one of the most
dramatic, chapters in our modern history.

[Illustration: ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR]

It was in 1888, two years after Mr. Forster's death, that we found
ourselves for a Sunday at Whittinghame. It was, I think, not long before
the opening of the Special Commission which was to inquire into the
charges brought by the _Times_ against the Parnellites and the Land
League. Nothing struck me more in Mr. Balfour than the absence in him of
any sort of excitement or agitation, in dealing with the current charges
against the Irishmen. It seemed to me that he had quietly accepted the
fact that he was fighting a revolution, and, while perfectly clear as to
his own course of action, wasted no nervous force on moral reprobation
of the persons concerned. His business was to protect the helpless, to
punish crime, and to expose the authors of it, whether high or low. But
he took it as a job to be done--difficult--unpleasant--but all in the
way of business. The tragic or pathetic emotion that so many people were
ready to spend upon it he steadily kept at a distance. His nerve struck
me as astonishing, and the absence of any disabling worry about things
past. "One can only do one's best at the moment," he said to me once, _a
propos_ of some action of the Irish government which had turned out
badly--"if it doesn't succeed, better luck next time! Nothing to be
gained by going back upon things." After this visit to Whittinghame, I
wrote to my father:

    I came away more impressed and attracted by Arthur Balfour than
    ever. If intelligence and heart and pure intentions can do anything
    for Ireland, he at least has got them all. Physically he seems to
    have broadened and heightened since he took office, and his manner,
    which was always full of charm, is even brighter and kindlier than
    it was--or I fancied it. He spoke most warmly of Uncle Forster.

And the interesting and remarkable thing was the contrast between an
attitude so composed and stoical, and his delicate physique, his
sensitive, sympathetic character. All the time, of course, he was in
constant personal danger. Detectives, much to his annoyance, lay in wait
for us as we walked through his own park, and went with him in London
wherever he dined. Like my uncle, he was impatient of being followed and
guarded, and only submitted to it for the sake of other people. Once, at
a dinner-party at our house, he met an old friend of ours, one of the
most original thinkers of our day, Mr. Philip Wicksteed, economists
Dante scholar, and Unitarian minister. Ha and Mr. Balfour were evidently
attracted to each other, and when the time for departure came, the two,
deep in conversation, instead of taking cabs, walked off together in the
direction of Mr. Balfour's house in Carlton Gardens. The detectives
below-stairs remained for some time blissfully unconscious of what had
happened. Then word reached them; and my husband, standing at the door
to see a guest off, was the amused spectator of the rush in pursuit of
two splendid long-legged fellows, who had, however, no chance whatever
of catching up the Chief Secretary.

Thirty years ago, almost! And during that time the name and fame of
Arthur Balfour have become an abiding part of English history. Nor is
there any British statesman of our day who has been so much loved by his
friends, so little hated by his opponents, so widely trusted by
the nation.

       *       *       *       *       *

As to the Special Commission and the excitement produced by the _Times_
attack on the Irish Members, including the publication of the forged
Parnell letter in 1887, our connection with the _Times_ brought us, of
course, into the full blast of it. Night after night I would sit up,
half asleep, to listen to the different phases of the story when in the
early hours of the morning my husband came back from the _Times_,
brimful of news, which he was as eager to tell as I to hear. My husband,
however, was only occasionally asked to write upon Ireland, and was not
in the inner counsels of the paper on that subject. We were both very
anxious about the facsimiled letter, and when, after long preliminaries,
the Commission came to the _Times_ witnesses, I well remember the dismay
with which I heard the first day of Mr. Macdonald's examination. Was
that _all_? I came out of the Court behind Mr. Labouchere and Sir George
Lewis, and in Mr. Labouchere's exultation one read the coming
catastrophe. I was on the Riviera when Pigott's confession, flight, and
suicide held the stage; yet even at that distance the shock was great.
The _Times_ attack was fatally discredited, and the influence of the
great paper temporarily crippled. Yet how much of that attack was sound,
how much of it was abundantly justified! After all, the report of the
Commission--apart altogether from the forged letter or letters--
certainly gave Mr. Balfour in Ireland later on the reasoned support of
English opinion in his hand-to-hand struggle with the Land League
methods, as the Commission had both revealed and judged them. After
thirty years one may well admit that the Irish land system had to go,
and that the Land League was "a sordid revolution," with both the crimes
and the excuses of a revolution. But at the time, British statesmen had
to organize reform with one hand, and stop boycotting and murder with
the other; and the light thrown by the Commission on the methods of
Irish disaffection was invaluable to those who were actually grappling
day by day with the problems of Irish government.


It was probably at Mrs. Jeune's that I first saw Mr. Goschen, and we
rapidly made friends. His was a great position at that time. Independent
of both parties, yet trusted by both; at once disinterested and
sympathetic; a strong Liberal in some respects, an equally strong
Conservative in others--he never spoke without being listened to, and
his support was eagerly courted both by Mr. Gladstone, from whom he had
refused office in 1880, without, however, breaking with the Liberal
party, and by the Conservatives, who instinctively felt him their
property, but were not yet quite clear as to how they were to finally
capture him. That was decided in 1886, when Mr. Goschen voted in the
majority that killed the Home Rule Bill, and more definitely in the
following year when Randolph Churchill resigned the Exchequer in a fit
of pique, thinking himself indispensable, and not at all expecting Lord
Salisbury to accept his resignation. But, in his own historic phrase, he
"forgot Goschen," and Mr. Goschen stepped easily into his shoes and
remained there.

I find from an old diary that the Goschens dined with us in Russell
Square two nights before the historic division on the Home Rule Bill,
and I remember how the talk raged and ranged. Mr. Goschen was an
extremely agreeable talker, and I seem still to hear his husky voice,
with the curious deep notes in it, and to be looking into the large but
short-sighted and spectacled eyes--he refused the Speakership mainly on
the grounds of his sight--of which the veiled look often made what he
said the more racy and unexpected. A letter he wrote me in 1886, after
his defeat at Liverpool, I kept for many years as the best short
analysis I had ever read of the Liberal Unionist position, and the
probable future of the Liberal party.

Mrs. Goschen was as devoted a wife as Mrs. Gladstone or Mrs. Disraeli,
and the story of the marriage was a romance enormously to Mr. Goschen's
credit. Mr. Goschen must have been a most faithful lover, and he
certainly was a delightful friend. We stayed with them at Seacox, their
home in Kent, and I remember one rainy afternoon there, the greater part
of which I spent listening to his talk with John Morley, and--I
think--Sir Alfred Lyall. It would have been difficult to find a trio of
men better worth an audience.

Mrs. Goschen, though full of kindness and goodness, was not literary,
and the house was somewhat devoid of books, except in Mr. Goschen's
study. I remember J.R.G.'s laughing fling when Mrs. Goschen complained
that she could not get _Pride and Prejudice_, which he had recommended
to her, "from the library." "But you could have bought it for sixpence
at the railway bookstall," said J.R.G. Mr. Goschen himself, however, was
a man of wide cultivation, as befitted the grandson of the intelligent
German bourgeois who had been the publisher of both Schiller and Goethe.
His biography of his grandfather in those happy days before the present
life-and-death struggle between England and Germany has now a kind of
symbolic value. It is a study by a man of German descent who had become
one of the most trusted of English statesmen, of that earlier German
life--with its measure, its kindness, its idealism--on which Germany has
turned its back. The writing of this book was the pleasure of his later
years, amid the heavy work which was imposed upon him as a Free-Trader,
in spite of his personal friendship for Mr. Chamberlain, by the Tariff
Reform campaign of 1903 onward; and the copy which he gave me reminds me
of many happy talks with him, and of my own true affection for him. I am
thankful that he did not live to see 1914.

Lord Goschen reminds me of Lord Acton, another new friend of the
'eighties. Yet Lord Acton had been my father's friend and editor, in the
_Home and Foreign Review_, long before he and I knew each other. Was
there ever a more interesting or a more enigmatic personality than Lord
Acton's? His letters to Mrs. Drew, addressed, evidently, in many cases,
to Mr. Gladstone, through his daughter, have always seemed to me one of
the most interesting documents of our time. Yet I felt sharply, in
reading them, that the real man was only partially there; and in the new
series of letters just published (October, 1917) much and welcome light
is shed upon the problem of Lord Acton's mind and character. The
perpetual attraction for me, as for many others, lay in the contrast
between Lord Acton's Catholicism and the universalism of his learning;
and, again, between what his death revealed of the fervor and simplicity
of his Catholic faith, and the passion of his Liberal creed.
Oppression--tyranny--persecution--those were the things that stirred
his blood. He was a Catholic, yet he fought Ultramontanism and the
Papal, Curia to the end; he never lost his full communion with the
Church of Rome, yet he could never forgive the Papacy for the things it
had done, and suffered to be done; and he would have nothing to do with
the excuse that the moral standards of one age are different from those
of another, and therefore the crimes of a Borgia weigh more lightly and
claim more indulgence than similar acts done in the nineteenth century.

    There is one moral standard for all Christians--there has never been
    more than one [he would say, inexorably]. The Commandments and the
    Sermon on the Mount have been always there. It was the wickedness of
    men that ignored them in the fifteenth century--it is the wickedness
    of men that ignores them now. Tolerate them in the past, and you
    will come to tolerate them in the present and future.

It was in 1885 that Mr.--then recently made Professor--Creighton, showed
me at Cambridge an extraordinarily interesting summary, in Lord Acton's
handwriting, of what should be the principles--the ethical
principles--of the modern historian in dealing with the past. They were,
I think, afterward embodied in an introduction to a new edition of
_Machiavelli_. The gist of them, however, is given in a letter written
to Bishop Creighton in 1887, and printed in the biography of the Bishop.
Here we find a devout Catholic attacking an Anglican writer for applying
the epithets "tolerant and enlightened" to the later medieval Papacy.

    These men [i.e., the Popes of the thirteenth and fourteenth
    centuries] [he says] instituted a system of persecution.... The
    person who authorizes the act shares the guilt of the person who
    commits it.... Now the Liberals think persecution a crime of a worse
    order than adultery, and the acts done by Ximenes [through the
    agency of the Spanish Inquisition] considerably worse than the
    entertainment of Roman courtesans by Alexander VIth.

These lines, of course, point to the Acton who was the lifelong friend
of Dollinger and fought, side by side with the Bavarian scholar, the
promulgation of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, at the Vatican Council
of 1870. But while Dollinger broke with the Church, Lord Acton never
did. That was what made the extraordinary interest of conversation with
him. Here was a man whose denunciation of the crimes and corruption of
Papal Rome--of the historic Church, indeed, and the clergy in
general--was far more unsparing than that of the average educated
Anglican. Yet he died a devout member of the Roman Church in which he
was born; after his death it was revealed that he had never felt a
serious doubt either of Catholic doctrine or of the supernatural mission
of the Catholic Church; and it was to a dearly loved daughter on her
death-bed that he said, with calm and tender faith, "My child, you will
soon be with Jesus Christ." All his friends, except the very few who
knew him most intimately, must, I think, have been perpetually puzzled
by this apparent paradox in his life and thought. Take the subject of
Biblical criticism. I had many talks with him while I was writing
_Robert Elsmere_, and was always amazed at his knowledge of what Liddon
would have called "German infidel" books. He had read them all, he
possessed them all, he knew a great deal about the lives of the men who
had written them, and he never spoke of them, both the books and the
writers, without complete and, as it seemed to me, sympathetic
tolerance. I remember, after the publication of the dialogue on "The New
Reformation," in which I tried to answer Mr. Gladstone's review of
_Robert Elsmere_ by giving an outline of the history of religious
inquiry and Biblical criticism from Lessing to Harnack, that I met Lord
Acton one evening on the platform of Bletchley station, while we were
both waiting for a train. He came up to me with a word of congratulation
on the article. "I only wish," I said, "I had been able to consult you
more about it." "No, no," he said. "_Votre siege est faite_! But I think
you should have given more weight to so-and-so, and you have omitted
so-and-so." Whereupon we walked up and down in the dusk, and he poured
out that learning of his, in that way he had--so courteous, modest,
thought-provoking--which made one both wonder at and love him.

As to his generosity and kindness toward younger students, it was
endless. I asked him once, when I was writing for _Macmillan_, to give
me some suggestions for an article on Chateaubriand. The letter I
received from him the following morning is a marvel of knowledge,
bibliography, and kindness. And not only did he give me such a "scheme"
of reading as would have taken any ordinary person months to get
through, but he arrived the following day in a hansom, with a number of
the books he had named, and for a long time they lived on my shelves.
Alack! I never wrote the article, but when I came to the writing of
_Eleanor_, for which certain material was drawn from the life of
Chateaubriand, his advice helped me. And I don't think he would have
thought it thrown away. He never despised novels!

Once on a visit to us at Stocks, there were nine books of different
sorts in his room which I had chosen and placed there. By Monday morning
he had read them all. His library, when he died, contained about 60,000
volumes--all read; and it will be remembered that Lord Morley, to whom
Mr. Carnegie gave it, has handed it on to the University of Cambridge.

In 1884, when I first knew him, however, Lord Acton was every bit as
keen a politician as he was a scholar. As is well known, he was a poor
speaker, and never made any success in Parliament; and this was always,
it seemed to me, the drop of gall in his otherwise happy and
distinguished lot. But if he was never in an English Cabinet, his
influence over Mr. Gladstone through the whole of the Home Rule struggle
gave him very real political power. He and Mr. Morley were the constant
friends and associates to whom Mr. Gladstone turned through all that
critical time. But the great split was rushing on, and it was also in
1884 that, at Admiral Maxse's one night at dinner, I first saw Mr.
Chamberlain, who was to play so great a part in the following years. It
was a memorable evening to me, for the other guest in a small party was
M. Clemenceau.

M. Clemenceau was then at the height of his power as the maker and
unmaker of French Ministries. It was he more than any other single man
who had checkmated the Royalist reaction of 1877 and driven MacMahon
from power; and in the year after we first met him he was to bring Jules
Ferry to grief over _L'affaire de Tongkin_. He was then in the prime of
life, and he is still (1917), thirty-three years later,[1] one of the
most vigorous of French political influences. Mr. Chamberlain, in 1884,
was forty-eight, five years older than the French politician, and was at
that time, of course, the leader of the Radicals, as distinguished from
the old Liberals, both in the House of Commons and Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet.

How many great events, in which those two men were to be concerned, were
still in the "abysm of time," as we sat listening to them at Admiral
Maxse's dinner-table!--Clemenceau, the younger, and the more fiery and
fluent; Chamberlain, with no graces of conversation, and much less ready
than the man he was talking with, but producing already the impression
of a power, certain to leave its mark, if the man lived, on English
history. In a letter to my father after the dinner-party, I described
the interest we had both felt in M. Clemenceau. "Yet he seems to me a
light weight to ride such a horse as the French democracy!"

[Footnote 1: These lines were written shortly before, on the overthrow
of M. Panleve. M. Clemenceau, at the age of seventy-seven, became Prime
Minister of France, at what may well be the deciding moment of French
destiny (January, 1918).]

In the following year, 1885, I remember a long conversation on the
Gordon catastrophe with Mr. Chamberlain at Lady Jeune's. It was evident,
I thought, that his mind was greatly exercised by the whole story of
that disastrous event. He went through it from step to step, ending up
deliberately, but with a sigh, "I have never been able to see, from day
to day, and I do not see now, how the Ministry could have taken any
other course than that they did take."

Yet the recently published biography of Sir Charles Dilke shows clearly
how very critical Mr. Chamberlain had already become of his great
leader, Mr. Gladstone, and how many causes were already preparing the
rupture of 1886.

       *       *       *       *       *

I first met Mr. Browning in 1884 or 1885, if I remember right, at a
Kensington dinner-party, where he took me down. A man who talked loud and
much was discoursing on the other side of the table; and a spirit of
opposition had clearly entered into Mr. Browning.

_A propos_ of some recent acting in London we began to talk of Moliere,
and presently, as though to shut out the stream of words opposite, which
was damping conversation, the old poet--how the splendid brow and the
white hair come back to me!--fell to quoting from the famous sonnet
scene in "Le Misanthrope": first of all, Alceste's rage with Phillinte's
flattery of the wretched verses declaimed by Oronte--"_Morbleu! vil
complaisant, vous louez des sottises_"; then the admirable fencing
between Oronte and Alceste, where Alceste at first tries to convey his
contempt for Oronte's sonnet indirectly, and then bursts out:

    "_Ce n'est que jeu de mots, qu'affectation pure,
    Et ce n'est point ainsi que parle la nature_!"

breaking immediately into the _vieille chanson_, one line of which is
worth all the affected stuff that Celimene and her circle admire.

Browning repeated the French in an undertone, kindling as he went, I
urging him on, our two heads close together. Every now and then he would
look up to see if the plague outside was done, and, finding it still
went on, would plunge again into the seclusion of our tete-a-tete; till
the _chanson_ itself--"_Si le roi m'avoit donne--Paris, sa grand'
ville"_--had been said, to his delight and mine.

The recitation lasted through several courses, and our hostess once or
twice threw uneasy glances toward us, for Browning was the "lion" of the
evening. But, once launched, he was not to be stopped; and as for me, I
shall always remember that I heard Browning--spontaneously, without a
moment's pause to remember or prepare--recite the whole, or almost the
whole, of one of the immortal things in literature.

He was then seventy-two or seventy-three. He came to see us once or
twice in Russell Square, but, alack! we arrived too late in the London
world to know him well. His health began to fail just about the time
when we first met, and early in 1889 he died in the Palazzo Rezzonico.

He did not like _Robert Elsmere_, which appeared the year before his
death; and I was told a striking story by a common friend of his and
mine, who was present at a discussion of the book at a literary house.
Browning, said my friend, was of the party. The discussion turned on the
divinity of Christ. After listening awhile, Browning repeated, with some
passion, the anecdote of Charles Lamb in conversation with Leigh Hunt,
on the subject of "Persons one would wish to have seen"; when, after
ranging through literature and philosophy, Lamb added:

    "But without mentioning a name that once put on a semblance of
    mortality ... there is only one other Person. If Shakespeare was to
    come into the room, we should rise up to meet him; but if that
    Person was to come into it, we should fall down and try to kiss the
    hem of His garment."

Some fourteen years after his death I seemed to be brought very near in
spirit to this great man, and--so far as a large portion of his work is
concerned--great poet. We were in Venice. I was writing the _Marriage of
William Ashe_, and, being in want of a Venetian setting for some of the
scenes, I asked Mr. Pen Browning, who was, I think, at Asolo, if he
would allow me access to the Palazzo Rezzonico, which was then
uninhabited. He kindly gave me free leave to wander about it as I liked;
and I went most days to sit and write in one of the rooms of the
_mezzanin_. But when all chance of a tourist had gone, and the palace
was shut, I used to walk all about it in the rich May light, finding it
a little creepy! but endlessly attractive and interesting. There was a
bust of Mr. Browning, with an inscription, in one of the rooms, and the
place was haunted for me by his great ghost. It was there he had come to
die, in the palace which he had given to his only son, whom he adored.
The _concierge_ pointed out to me what he believed to be the room in
which he passed away. There was very little furniture in it. Everything
was chill and deserted. I did not want to think of him there. I liked to
imagine him strolling in the stately hall of the palace with its vast
chandelier, its pillared sides and Tiepolo ceiling, breathing in the
Italian spirit which through such long years had passed into his, and
delighting, as a poet delights--not vulgarly, but with something of a
child's adventurous pleasure--in the mellow magnificence of the
beautiful old place.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Lowell is another memory of these early London days. My first sight
of him was at Mr. and Mrs. Westlake's house--in a temper! For some one
had imprudently talked of "Yankeeisms," perhaps with some "superior"
intonation. And Mr. Lowell--the Lowell of _A Certain Condescension in
Foreigners_--had flashed out: "It's you English who don't know your own
language and your own literary history. Otherwise you would realize that
most of what you call 'Yankeeisms' are merely good old English which you
have thrown away."

Afterward, I find records of talks with him at Russell Square, then of
Mrs. Lowell's death in 1885, and finally of dining with him in the
spring of 1887, just before his return to America. At that dinner was
also the German Ambassador, Count Hatzfeldt, a handsome man, with a
powerful, rather somber face. I remember some talk with him after dinner
on current books and politics. Just thirty years ago! Mr. Lowell had
then only four years to live. He and all other diplomats had just passed
through an anxious spring. The scare of another Franco-German war had
been playing on the nerves of Europe, started by the military party in
Germany, merely to insure the passing of the famous Army law of that
year--the first landmark in that huge military expansion of which we see
the natural fruit in the present Armageddon.

A week or two before this dinner the German elections had given the
Conservatives an enormous victory. Germany, indeed, was in the full
passion of economic and military development--all her people growing
rich--intoxicated, besides, with vague dreams of coming power. Yet I
have still before me the absent, indecipherable look of her
Ambassador--a man clearly of high intelligence--at Mr. Lowell's table.
Thirty years--and at the end of them America was to be at grips with
Germany, sending armies across the Atlantic to fight in Europe. It would
have been as impossible for any of us, on that May evening in Lowndes
Square, even to imagine such a future, as it was for Macbeth to credit
the absurdity that Birnam wood would ever come to Dunsinane!

A year later Mr. Lowell came back to London for a time in a private
capacity, and I got to know him better and to like him much.... Here is
a characteristic touch in a note I find among the old letters:

    I am glad you found something to like in my book and much obliged to
    you for saying so. Nobody but Wordsworth ever got beyond need of
    sympathy, and he started there!



CHAPTER III


THE PUBLICATION OF _ROBERT ELSMERE_


It was in 1885, after the completion of the Amiel translation, that I
began _Robert Elsmere_, drawing the opening scenes from that expedition
to Long Sleddale in the spring of that year which I have already
mentioned. The book took me three years, nearly, to write. Again and
again I found myself dreaming that the end was near and publication only
a month or two away, only to sink back on the dismal conviction that the
second, or the first, or the third volume--or some portion of each--must
be rewritten, if I was to satisfy myself at all. I actually wrote the
last words of the last chapter in March, 1887, and came out afterward,
from my tiny writing-room at the end of the drawing-room, shaken with
tears, and wondering, as I sat alone on the floor, by the fire, in the
front room, what life would be like, now that the book was done! But it
was nearly a year after that before it came out, a year of incessant
hard work, of endless rewriting, and much nervous exhaustion. For all
the work was saddened and made difficult by the fact that my mother's
long illness was nearing its end and that I was torn incessantly between
the claim of the book and the desire to be with her whenever I could
possibly be spared from my home and children. Whenever there was a
temporary improvement in her state, I would go down to Borough alone to
work feverishly at revision, only to be drawn back to her side before
long by worse news. And all the time London life went on as usual, and
the strain at times was great.

The difficulty of finishing the book arose first of all from its length.
I well remember the depressed countenance of Mr. George Smith--who was
to be to me through fourteen years afterward the kindest of publishers
and friends--when I called one day in Waterloo Place, bearing a
basketful of typewritten sheets. "I am afraid you have brought us a
perfectly unmanageable book!" he said; and I could only mournfully agree
that so it was. It was far too long, and my heart sank at the thought of
all there was still to do. But how patient Mr. Smith was over it! and
how generous in the matter of unlimited fresh proofs and endless
corrections. I am certain that he had no belief in the book's success;
and yet, on the ground of his interest in _Miss Bretherton_ he had made
liberal terms with me, and all through the long incubation he was always
indulgent and sympathetic.

The root difficulty was of course the dealing with such a subject in a
novel at all. Yet I was determined to deal with it so, in order to reach
the public. There were great precedents--Froude's _Nemesis of Faith_,
Newman's _Loss and Gain_, Kingsley's _Alton Locke_--for the novel of
religious or social propaganda. And it seemed to me that the novel was
capable of holding and shaping real experience of any kind, as it
affects the lives of men and women. It is the most elastic, the most
adaptable of forms. No one has a right to set limits to its range. There
is only one final test. Does it interest?--does it appeal? Personally, I
should add another. Does it make in the long run for _beauty_? Beauty
taken in the largest and most generous sense, and especially as
including discord, the harsh and jangled notes which enrich the
rest--but still Beauty--as Tolstoy was a master of it?

But at any rate, no one will deny that _interest_ is the crucial matter.

    There are five and twenty ways
    Of constructing tribal lays--
    And every single one of them is right!

always supposing that the way chosen quickens the breath and stirs the
heart of those who listen. But when the subject chosen has two aspects,
the one intellectual and logical, the other poetic and emotional, the
difficulty of holding the balance between them, so that neither
overpowers the other, and interest is maintained, is admittedly great.

I wanted to show how a man of sensitive and noble character, born for
religion, comes to throw off the orthodoxies of his day and moment, and
to go out into the wilderness where all is experiment, and spiritual
life begins again. And with him I wished to contrast a type no less fine
of the traditional and guided mind, and to imagine the clash of two such
tendencies of thought as it might affect all practical life, and
especially the life of two people who loved each other.

Here then, to begin with, were Robert and Catharine. Yes, but Robert
must be made intellectually intelligible. Closely looked at, all
novel-writing is a sort of shorthand. Even the most simple and broadly
human situation cannot really be told in full. Each reader in following
it unconsciously supplies a vast amount himself. A great deal of the
effect is owing to things quite out of the picture given--things in the
reader's own mind, first and foremost. The writer is playing on common
experience; and mere suggestion is often far more effective than
analysis. Take the paragraph in Turguenieff's _Lisa_--it was pointed out
to me by Henry James--where Lavretsky on the point of marriage, after
much suffering, with the innocent and noble girl whom he adores,
suddenly hears that his intolerable first wife, whom he had long
believed dead, is alive. Turguenieff, instead of setting out the
situation in detail, throws himself on the reader: "It was dark.
Lavretsky went into the garden, and walked up and down there till dawn."

That is all. And it is enough. The reader who is not capable of sharing
that night walk with Lavretsky, and entering into his thoughts, has read
the novel to no purpose. He would not understand, though Lavretsky or
his creator were to spend pages on explaining.

But in my case, what provoked the human and emotional crisis--what
produced the _story_--was an intellectual process. Now the difficulty
here in using suggestion--which is the master tool of the novelist--is
much greater than in the case of ordinary experience. For the conscious
use of the intellect on the accumulated data of life, through history
and philosophy, is not ordinary experience. In its more advanced forms,
it only applies to a small minority of the human race.

Still, in every generation, while a minority is making or taking part in
the intellectual process itself, there is an atmosphere, a diffusion,
produced around them, which affects many thousands who have but little
share--but little _conscious_ share, at any rate--in the actual process.

Here, then, is the opening for suggestion--in connection with the
various forms of imagination which enter into Literature; with poetry,
and fiction, which, as Goethe saw, is really a form of poetry. And a
quite legitimate opening. For to use it is to quicken the intellectual
process itself, and to induce a larger number of minds to take part
in it.

The problem, then, in intellectual poetry or fiction, is so to suggest
the argument, that both the expert and the popular consciousness may
feel its force, and to do this without overstepping the bounds of poetry
or fiction; without turning either into mere ratiocination, and so
losing the "simple, sensuous, passionate" element which is their
true life.

It was this problem which made _Robert Elsmere_ take three years to
write, instead of one. Mr. Gladstone complained, in his famous review of
it, that a majestic system which had taken centuries to elaborate, and
gathered into itself the wisest brains of the ages, had gone down in a
few weeks or months before the onslaught of the Squire's arguments; and
that if the Squire's arguments were few, the orthodox arguments were
fewer! The answer to the first part of the charge is that the
well-taught schoolboy of to-day is necessarily wiser in a hundred
respects than Sophocles or Plato, since he represents not himself, but
the brainwork of a hundred generations since those great men lived. And
as to the second, if Mr. Gladstone had seen the first redactions of the
book--only if he had, I fear he would never have read it!--he would
hardly have complained of lack of argument on either side, whatever he
might have thought of its quality. Again and again I went on writing for
hours, satisfying the logical sense in oneself, trying to put the
arguments on both sides as fairly as possible, only to feel despairingly
at the end that it must all come out. It might be decent controversy;
but life, feeling, charm, _humanity_, had gone out of it; it had ceased,
therefore, to be "making," to be literature.

So that in the long run there was no other method possible than
suggestion--and, of course, _selection_!--as with all the rest of one's
material. That being understood, what one had to aim at was so to use
suggestion as to touch the two zones of thought--that of the scholar and
that of what one may call the educated populace; who, without being
scholars, were yet aware, more or less clearly, of what the scholars
were doing. It is from these last that "atmosphere" and "diffusion"
come; the atmosphere and diffusion which alone make wide penetration for
a book illustrating an intellectual motive possible. I had to learn
that, having read a great deal, I must as far as possible wipe out the
traces of reading. All that could be done was to leave a few sign-posts
as firmly planted as one could, so as to recall the real journey to
those who already knew it, and, for the rest, to trust to the floating
interest and passion surrounding a great controversy--the _second_
religious battle of the nineteenth century--with which it had seemed to
me, both in Oxford and in London, that the intellectual air was charged.

I grew very weary in the course of the long effort, and often very
despairing. But there were omens of hope now and then; first, a letter
from my dear eldest brother, the late W.T. Arnold, who died in 1904,
leaving a record as journalist and scholar which has been admirably told
by his intimate friend and colleague, Mr. (now Captain) C.E. Montague.
He and I had shared many intellectual interests connected with the
history of the Empire. His monograph on _Roman Provincial
Administration_, first written as an Arnold Essay, still holds the
field; and in the realm of pure literature his one-volume edition of
Keats is there to show his eagerness for beauty and his love of English
verse. I sent him the first volume in proof, about a year before the
book came out, and awaited his verdict with much anxiety. It came one
May day in 1889. I happened to be very tired and depressed at the
moment, and I remember sitting alone for a little while with the letter
in my hand, without courage to open it. Then at last I opened it.

    Warm congratulation--Admirable!--Full of character and color....
    _Miss Bretherton_ was an intellectual exercise. This is quite a
    different affair, and has interested and touched me deeply, as I
    feel sure it will all the world. The biggest thing that--with a few
    other things of the same kind--has been done for years.

Well!--that was enough to go on with, to carry me through the last
wrestle with proofs and revision. But by the following November nervous
fatigue made me put work aside for a few weeks, and we went abroad for
rest, only to be abruptly summoned home by my mother's state.
Thenceforward I lived a double life--the one overshadowed by my mother's
approaching death, the other amid the agitation of the book's appearance
and all the incidents of its rapid success.

I have already told the story in the Introduction to the Library Edition
of _Robert Elsmere_, and I will only run through it here as rapidly as
possible, with a few fresh incidents and quotations. There was never any
doubt at all of the book's fate, and I may repeat again that, before Mr.
Gladstone's review of it, the three volumes were already in a third
edition, the rush at all the libraries was in full course, and Matthew
Arnold--so gay and kind, in those March weeks before his own sudden
death!--had clearly foreseen the rising boom. "I shall take it with me
to Bristol next week and get through it there, I hope [but he didn't
achieve it!]. It is one of my regrets not to have known the Green of
your dedication." And a week or two later he wrote an amusing letter to
his sister, describing a country-house party at beautiful Wilton, Lord
Pembroke's home near Salisbury, and the various stages in the book
reached by the members of the party, including Mr. Goschen, who were all
reading it, and all talking of it. I never, however, had any criticism
of it from him, except of the first volume, which he liked. I doubt very
much whether the second and third volumes would have appealed to him. My
uncle was a Modernist long before the time. In _Literature and Dogma_ he
threw out in detail much of the argument suggested in _Robert Elsmere_,
but to the end of his life he was a contented member of the Anglican
Church, so far as attendance at her services was concerned, and belief
in her mission of "edification" to the English people. He had little
sympathy with people who "went out." Like Mr. Jowett, he would have
liked to see the Church slowly reformed and "modernized" from within. So
that with the main theme of my book--that a priest who doubts must
depart--he could never have had full sympathy. And in the course of
years--as I showed in a later novel written twenty-four years after
_Robert Elsmere_--I feel that I have very much come to agree with him!
These great national structures that we call churches are too precious
for iconoclast handling, if any other method is possible. The strong
assertion of individual liberty within them, as opposed to the attempt
to break them down from without; that seems to me now the hopeful
course. A few more heresy trials like those which sprang out of _Essays
and Reviews_, or the persecution of Bishop Colenso, would let in fresh
life and healing nowadays, as did those old stirrings of the waters. The
first Modernist bishop who stays in his place forms a Modernist chapter
and diocese around him, and fights the fight where he stands, will do
more for liberty and faith in the Church, I now sadly believe, than
those scores of brave "forgotten dead" who have gone out of her for
conscience' sake, all these years.

But to return to the book. All through March the tide of success was
rapidly rising; and when I was able to think of it I was naturally
carried away by the excitement and astonishment of it. But with the
later days of March a veil dropped between me and the book. My mother's
suffering and storm-beaten life was coming rapidly to its close, and I
could think of nothing else. In an interval of slight improvement,
indeed, when it seemed as though she might rally for a time, I heard Mr.
Gladstone's name quoted for the first time in connection with the book.
It will be remembered that he was then out of office, having been
overthrown on the Home Rule Question in 1886, and he happened to be
staying for an Easter visit with the Warden of Keble, and Mrs. Talbot,
who was his niece by marriage. I was with my mother, about a mile away,
and Mrs. Talbot, who came to ask for news of her, reported to me that
Mr. Gladstone was deep in the book. He was reading it, pencil in hand,
marking all the passages he disliked or quarreled with, with the Italian
"_Ma_!"--and those he approved of with mysterious signs which she who
followed him through the volumes could not always decipher. Mr. Knowles,
she reported, the busy editor of the _Nineteenth Century_, was trying to
persuade the great man to review it. But "Mr. G." had not made up
his mind.

Then all was shut out again. Through many days my mother asked
constantly for news of the book, and smiled with a flicker of her old
brightness when anything pleased her in a letter or review. But finally
there came long hours when to think or speak of it seemed sacrilege. And
on April 7th she died.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day after her death I saw Mr. Gladstone at Keble. We talked for a
couple of hours, and then when I rose to go he asked if I would come
again on the following morning before he went back to town. I had been
deeply interested and touched, and I went again for another long visit.
My account, written down at the time, of the first day's talk, has been
printed as an appendix to the Library Edition of the book. Of the second
conversation, which was the more interesting of the two since we came to
much closer quarters in it, my only record is the following letter to
my husband:

    I have certainly had a wonderful experience last night and this
    morning! Last night two hours' talk with Gladstone, this morning,
    again an hour and a half's strenuous argument, during which the
    great man got quite white sometimes and tremulous with interest and
    excitement.... The talk this morning was a battle royal over the
    book and Christian evidences. He was _very_ charming personally,
    though at times he looked stern and angry and white to a degree, so
    that I wondered sometimes how I had the courage to go on--the drawn
    brows were so formidable! There was one moment when he talked of
    "trumpery objections," in his most House of Commons manner. It was
    as I thought. The new lines of criticism are not familiar to him,
    and they really press him hard. He meets them out of Bishop Butler,
    and things analogous. But there is a sense, I think, that question
    and answer don't fit, and with it ever-increasing interest
    and--sometimes--irritation. His own autobiographical reminiscences
    were wonderfully interesting, and his repetition of the 42d
    psalm--"Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks"--_grand_!

    He said that he had never read any book on the hostile side written
    in such a spirit of, "generous appreciation" of the Christian side.

Yes, those were hours to which I shall always look back with gratitude
and emotion. Wonderful old man! I see him still standing, as I took
leave of him, one hand leaning on the table beside him, his lined,
pallid face and eagle eyes framed in his noble white hair, shining amid
the dusk of the room. "There are still two things left for me to do!" he
said, finally, in answer to some remark of mine. "One is to carry Home
Rule; the other is to prove the intimate connection between the Hebrew
and Olympian revelations!"

Could any remark have been more characteristic of that double life of
his--the life of the politician and the life of the student--which kept
him fresh and eager to the end of his days? Characteristic, too, of the
amateurish element in all his historical and literary thinking. In
dealing "with early Greek mythology, genealogy, and religion," says his
old friend, Lord Bryce, Mr. Gladstone's theories "have been condemned by
the unanimous voice of scholars as fantastic." Like his great
contemporary, Newman--on whom a good deal of our conversation turned--he
had no critical sense of evidence; and when he was writing on _The
Impregnable Rock of Scripture_ Lord Acton, who was staying at Hawarden
at the time, ran after him in vain, with Welhausen or Kuenen under his
arm, if haply he might persuade his host to read them.

But it was not for that he was born; and those who look back to the
mighty work he did for his country in the forty years preceding the Home
Rule split can only thank the Powers "that hold the broad Heaven" for
the part which the passion of his Christian faith, the eagerness of his
love for letters--for the Homer and the Dante he knew by heart--played
in refreshing and sustaining so great a soul. I remember returning,
shaken and uplifted, through the April air, to the house where my mother
lay in death; and among my old papers lies a torn fragment of a letter
thirty years old, which I began to write to Mr. Gladstone a few days
later, and was too shy to send.

    This morning [says the letter, written from Fox How, on the day of
    my mother's funeral] we laid my dear Mother to rest in her grave
    among the mountains, and this afternoon I am free to think a little
    over what has befallen me personally and separately during this past
    week. It is not that I wish to continue our argument--quite the
    contrary. As I walked home from Keble on Monday morning, I felt it a
    hard fate that I should have been arguing, rather than listening....
    Argument, perhaps, was inevitable, but none the less I felt
    afterward as though there were something incongruous and unfitting
    in it. In a serious discussion it seemed to me right to say plainly
    what I felt and believed; but if in doing so I have given pain, or
    expressed myself on any point with a too great trenchancy and
    confidence, please believe that I regret it very sincerely. I shall
    always remember our talks. If consciousness lasts "beyond these
    voices"--my inmost hope as well as yours--we shall know of all these
    things. Till then I cherish the belief that we are not so far apart
    as we seem.

But there the letter abruptly ended, and was never sent. I probably
shrank from the added emotion of sending it, and I found it again the
other day in a packet that had not been looked at for many years. I
print it now as evidence of the effect that Mr. Gladstone's personality
could produce on one forty years younger than himself, and in sharp
rebellion at that time against his opinions and influence in two main
fields--religion and politics.

       *       *       *       *       *

Four days later, Monday, April 16th, my husband came into my room with
the face of one bringing ill tidings. "Matthew Arnold is dead!" My
uncle, as many will remember, had fallen suddenly in a Liverpool street
while walking with his wife to meet his daughter, expected that day from
America, and without a sound or movement had passed away. The heart
disease which killed so many of his family was his fate also. A merciful
one it always seemed to me, which took him thus suddenly and without
pain from the life in which he had played so fruitful and blameless a
part. That word "blameless" has always seemed to me particularly to fit
him. And the quality to which it points was what made his humor so
sharp-tipped and so harmless. He had no hidden interest to serve--no
malice--not a touch, not a trace of cruelty--so that men allowed him to
jest about their most sacred idols and superstitions and bore him
no grudge.

To me his death at that moment was an irreparable personal loss. For it
was only since our migration to London that we had been near enough to
him to see much of him. My husband and he had become fast friends, and
his visits to Russell Square, and our expeditions to Cobham, where he
lived, in the pretty cottage beside the Mole, are marked in memory with
a very white stone. The only drawback to the Cobham visits were the
"dear, dear boys!"--i.e., the dachshunds, Max and Geist, who, however
adorable in themselves, had no taste for visitors and no intention of
letting such intruding creatures interfere with their possession of
their master. One would go down to Cobham, eager to talk to "Uncle Matt"
about a book or an article--covetous, at any rate, of _some_ talk with
him undisturbed. And it would all end in a breathless chase after Max,
through field after field where the little wretch was harrying either
sheep or cows, with the dear poet, hoarse with shouting, at his heels.
The dogs were always _in the party_, talked to, caressed, or scolded
exactly like spoiled children; and the cat of the house was almost
equally dear. Once, at Harrow, the then ruling cat--a tom--broke his
leg, and the house was in lamentation. The vet was called in, and hurt
him horribly. Then Uncle Matt ran up to town, met Professor Huxley at
the Athenaeum, and anxiously consulted him. "I'll go down with you,"
said Huxley. The two traveled back instanter to Harrow, and, while Uncle
Matt held the cat, Huxley--who had begun life, let it be remembered, as
surgeon to the _Rattlesnake_!--examined him, the two black heads
together. There is a rumor that Charles Kingsley was included in the
consultation. Finally the limb was put in splints and left to nature.
All went well.

Nobody who knew the modest Cobham cottage while its master lived will
ever forget it; the garden beside the Mole, where every bush and
flower-bed had its history; and that little study-dressing-room where
some of the best work in nineteenth-century letters was done. Not a
great multitude of books, but all cherished, all read, each one the
friend of its owner. No untidiness anywhere; the ordinary litter of an
author's room was quite absent. For long after his death the room
remained just as he had left it, his coat hanging behind the door, his
slippers beside his chair, the last letters he had received, and all the
small and simple equipment of his writing-table ready to his hand,
waiting for the master who would never know "a day of return." In that
room--during fifteen years, he wrote _God and the Bible_, the many
suggestive and fruitful Essays, including the American addresses, of his
later years--seeds, almost all of them, dropped into the mind of his
generation for a future harvesting; a certain number of poems, including
the noble elegiac poem on Arthur Stanley's death, "Geist's Grave" and
"Poor Matthias"; a mass of writing on education which is only now,
helped by the war, beginning to tell on the English mind; and the
endlessly kind and gracious letters to all sorts and conditions of
men--and women--the literary beginner, the young teacher wanting advice,
even the stranger greedy for an autograph. Every little playful note to
friends or kinsfolk he ever wrote was dear to those who received it; but
he--the most fastidious of men--would have much disliked to see them all
printed at length in Mr. Russell's indiscriminate volumes. He talked to
me once of his wish to make a small volume--"such a little one!"--of
George Sand's best letters. And that is just what he would have wished
for himself.

Among the letters that reached me on my uncle's death was one from Mr.
Andrew Lang denouncing almost all the obituary notices of him. "Nobody
seems to know that he _was a poet_!" cries Mr. Lang. But his poetic
blossoming was really over with the 'sixties, and in the hubbub that
arose round his critical and religious work--his attempts to drive
"ideas" into the English mind, in the 'sixties and 'seventies--the main
fact that he, with Browning and Tennyson, _stood for English poetry_, in
the mid-nineteenth century, was often obscured and only slowly
recognized. But it was recognized, and he himself had never any real
doubt of it, from the moment when he sent the "Strayed Reveller" to my
father in New Zealand in 1849, to those later times when his growing
fame was in all men's ears. He writes to his sister in 1878:

    It is curious how the public is beginning to take my poems to its
    bosom after long years of comparative neglect. The wave of thought
    and change has rolled on until people begin to find a significance
    and an attraction in what had none for them formerly.

But he had put it himself in poetry long before--this slow emergence
above the tumult and the shouting of the stars that are to shine upon
the next generation. Mr. Garnett, in the careful and learned notice of
my uncle's life and work in the _Dictionary of National Biography_, says
of his poetry that "most of it" is "immortal." This, indeed, is the
great, the mystic word that rings in every poet's ear from the
beginning. And there is scarcely any true poet who is not certain that
sooner or later his work will "put on immortality." Matthew Arnold
expressed, I think, his own secret faith, in the beautiful lines of his
early poem, "The Bacchanalia--or the New Age":

    The epoch ends, the world is still.
    The age has talk'd and work'd its fill--

       *       *       *       *       *

    And in the after-silence sweet,
    Now strife is hush'd, our ears doth meet,
    Ascending pure, the bell-like fame
    Of this or that down-trodden name,
    Delicate spirits, push'd away
    In the hot press of the noonday.
    And o'er the plain, where the dead age
    Did its now silent warfare wage--
    O'er that wide plain, now wrapt in gloom,
    Where many a splendor finds its tomb,
    Many spent fames and fallen nights--
    The one or two immortal lights
    Rise slowly up into the sky
    To shine there everlastingly,
    Like stars over the bounding hill.
    The epoch ends, the world is still.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was on the way home from Laleham, after my uncle's burial there, that
Mr. George Smith gave me fresh and astonishing news of _Robert
Elsmere's_ success. The circulating libraries were being fretted to
death for copies, and the whirlwind of talk was constantly rising. A
little later in the same month of April, if I remember right, I was
going from Waterloo to Godalming and Borough Farm, when, just as the
train was starting, a lady rushed along the platform, waving a book
aloft and signaling to another lady who was evidently waiting to see her
off. "I've got it--I've got it!" she said, triumphantly. "Get in,
ma-am--get in!" said the porter, bundling her into the compartment where
I sat alone. Then she hung out of the window, breathlessly talking.
"They told me no chance for weeks--not the slightest! Then--just as I
was standing at the counter, who should come up but somebody bringing
back the first volume. Of course it was promised to somebody else; but
as I was _there_, I laid hands on it, and here it is!" The train went
off, my companion plunged into her book, and I watched her as she turned
the pages of the familiar green volume. We were quite alone. I had half
a mind to say something revealing; but on the whole it was more amusing
to sit still!

And meanwhile letters poured in.

"I try to write upon you," wrote Mr. Gladstone; "wholly despair of
satisfying myself--cannot quite tell whether to persevere or desist."
Mr. Pater let me know that he was writing on it for the _Guardian_. "It
is a _chef d'oeuvre_ after its kind, and justifies the care you have
devoted to it." "I see," said Andrew Lang, on April 30th, "that _R.E._
is running into as many editions as _The Rights of Man_ by Tom Paine....
You know he is not _my_ sort (at least unless you have a ghost, a
murder, a duel, and some savages)." Burne-Jones wrote, with the fun and
sweetness that made his letters a delight:

    Not one least bitter word in it!--threading your way through
    intricacies of parsons so finely and justly.... As each new one came
    on the scene, I wondered if you would fall upon him and rend
    him--but you never do.... Certainly I never thought I should devour
    a book about parsons--my desires lying toward--"time upon once there
    was a dreadful pirate"--but I am back again five and thirty years
    and feeling softened and subdued with memories you have wakened up
    so piercingly--and I wanted to tell you this.


And in the same packet lie letters from the honored and beloved Edward
Talbot, now Bishop of Winchester, Stopford Brooke--the Master of
Balliol--Lord Justice Bowen--Professor Huxley--and so many, many more.
Best of all, Henry James! His two long letters I have already printed,
naturally with his full leave and blessing, in the Library Edition of
the novel. Not his the grudging and faultfinding temper that besets the
lesser man when he comes to write of his contemporaries! Full of
generous honor for what he thought good and honest work, however faulty,
his praise kindled--and his blame no less. He appreciated so fully
_your_ way of doing it; and his suggestion, alongside, of what would
have been _his_ way of doing it, was so stimulating--touched one with so
light a Socratean sting, and set a hundred thoughts on the alert. Of
this delightful critical art of his his letters to myself over many
years are one long illustration.

And now--"There is none like him--none!" The honeyed lips are silent and
the helping hand at rest.

With May appeared Mr. Gladstone's review--"the refined criticism of
_Robert Elsmere_"--"typical of his strong points," as Lord Bryce
describes it--certainly one of the best things he ever wrote. I had no
sooner read it than, after admiring it, I felt it must be answered. But
it was desirable to take time to think how best to do it. At the moment
my one desire was for rest and escape. At the beginning of June we took
our eldest two children, aged eleven and thirteen, to Switzerland for
the first time. Oh! the delight of Glion! with its hay-fields thick with
miraculous spring flowers, the "peak of Jaman delicately tall," and that
gorgeous pile of the Dent du Midi, bearing up the June heaven, to the
east!--the joy of seeing the children's pleasure, and the relief of the
mere physical rebound in the Swiss air, after the long months of strain
and sorrow! My son, a slip of a person in knickerbockers, walked over
the Simplon as though Alps were only made to be climbed by boys of
eleven; and the Defile of Gondo, Domo d'Ossola, and beautiful
Maggiore--they were all new and heavenly to each member of the party.
Every year now there was growing on me the spell of Italy, the historic,
the Saturnian land; and short as this wandering was, I remember, after
it was over, and we turned homeward across the St. Gothard, leaving
Italy behind us, a new sense as of a hidden treasure in life--of
something sweet and inexhaustible always waiting for one's return; like
a child's cake in a cupboard, or the gold and silver hoard of Odysseus
that Athene helped him to hide in the Ithacan cave.

Then one day toward the end of June or the beginning of July my husband
put down beside me a great brown paper package which the post had just
brought. "There's America beginning!" he said, and we turned over the
contents of the parcel in bewilderment. A kind American friend had made
a collection for me of the reviews, sermons, and pamphlets that had been
published so far about the book in the States, the correspondences, the
odds and ends of all kinds, grave and gay. Every mail, moreover, began
to bring me American letters from all parts of the States. "No book
since _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ has had so sudden and wide a diffusion among
all classes of readers," wrote an American man of letters, "and I
believe that no other book of equal seriousness ever had so quick a
hearing. I have seen it in the hands of nursery-maids and of shopgirls
behind the counters; of frivolous young women who read every novel that
is talked about; of business men, professors, and students.... The
proprietors of those large shops where anything--from a pin to a
piano--can be bought, vie with each other in selling the cheapest
edition. One pirate put his price even so low as four cents--two pence!"
(Those, it will be remembered, were the days before Anglo-American
copyright.)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, to whom I was personally a stranger, wrote to me
just such a letter as one might have dreamed of from the "Autocrat":
"One of my elderly friends of long ago called a story of mine you may
possibly have heard of--_Elsie Venner_--'a medicated novel,' and such
she said she was not in the habit of reading. I liked her expression; it
titillated more than it tingled. _Robert Elsmere_ I suppose we should
all agree is 'a medicated novel'--but it is, I think, beyond question,
the most effective and popular novel we have had since _Uncle
Tom's Cabin_."

A man of science, apparently an agnostic, wrote, severely: "I regret the
popularity of _Robert Elsmere_ in this country. Our Western people are
like sheep in such matters. They will not see that the book was written
for a people with a State Church on its hands, so that a gross
exaggeration of the importance of religion was necessary. It will revive
interest in theology and retard the progress of rationalism."

Another student and thinker from one of the universities of the West,
after a brilliant criticism of the novel, written about a year after its
publication, winds up, "The book, here, has entered into the evolution
of a nation."

Goldwin Smith--my father's and uncle's early friend--wrote me from
Canada:

    The Grange, Toronto, _Oct. 31, 1888._

    My dear Mrs. Ward,--You may be amused by seeing what a stir you are
    making even in this sequestered nook of the theological world, and
    by learning that the antidote to you is _Ben-Hur_. I am afraid, if
    it were so, I should prefer the poison to the antidote.

    The state of opinion on this Continent is, I fancy, pretty much that
    to which Robert Elsmere would bring us--Theism, with Christ as a
    model of character, but without real belief in the miraculous part
    of Christianity. Churches are still being everywhere built, money is
    freely subscribed, young men are pressing into the clerical
    profession, and religion shows every sign of vitality. I cannot help
    suspecting, however, that a change is not far off. If it comes, it
    will come with a vengeance; for over the intellectual dead level of
    this democracy opinion courses like the tide running in over a flat.

    As the end of life draws near I feel like the Scotchman who, being
    on his death-bed when the trial of O'Connell was going on, desired
    his Minister to pray for him that he might just live to see what
    came of O'Connell. A wonderful period of transition in all things,
    however, has begun, and I should like very much to see the result.
    However, it is too likely that very rough times may be coming and
    that one will be just as well out of the way.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Yours most truly, GOLDWIN SMITH.

Exactly twenty years from the date of this letter I was in Toronto for
the first time, and paid my homage to the veteran fighter who, living as
he did amid a younger generation, hotly resenting his separatist and
anti-Imperial views and his contempt for their own ideal of an equal and
permanent union of free states under the British flag, was yet
generously honored throughout the Dominion for his services to
literature and education. He had been my father's friend at
Oxford--where he succeeded to Arthur Stanley's tutorship at University
College--and in Dublin. And when I first began to live in Oxford he was
still Regius Professor, inhabiting a house very near that of my parents,
which was well known to me afterward through many years as the house of
the Max Muellers. I can remember the catastrophe it seemed to all his
Oxford friends when he deserted England for America, despairing of the
republic, as my father for a while in his youth had despaired, and sick
of what seemed to him the forces of reaction in English life. I was
eighteen when _Endymion_ came out, with Dizzy's absurd attack on the
"sedentary" professor who was also a "social parasite." It would be
difficult to find two words in the English language more wholly and
ludicrously inappropriate to Goldwin Smith; and the furious letter to
the _Times_ in which he denounced "the stingless insults of a coward"
might well have been left unwritten. But I was living then among Oxford
Liberals, and under the shadow of Goldwin Smith's great reputation as
historian and pamphleteer, and I can see myself listening with an angry
and sympathetic thrill to my father as he read the letter aloud. Then
came the intervening years, in which one learned to look on Goldwin
Smith as _par excellence_ the great man "gone wrong," on that vital
question, above all, of a sane Imperialism. It was difficult, after a
time, to keep patience with the Englishman whose most passionate desire
seemed to be to break up the Empire, to incorporate Canada in the United
States, to relieve us of India, that "splendid curse," to detach from us
Australia and South Africa, and thereby to wreck forever that vision of
a banded commonwealth of free nations which for innumerable minds at
home was fast becoming the romance of English politics.

So it was that I went with some shrinking, yet still under the glamour
of the old Oxford loyalty, to pay my visit at the Grange in 1908,
walking thither from the house of one of the stanchest Imperialists in
Canada, where I had been lunching. "You are going to see Mr. Goldwin
Smith?" my host had said. "I have not crossed his threshold for twenty
years. I abhor his political views. All the same, we are proud of him in
Canada!" When I entered the drawing-room, which was rather dark, though
it was a late May afternoon, there rose slowly from its chair beside a
bright fire a figure I shall never forget. I had a fairly clear
remembrance of Goldwin Smith in his earlier says. This was like his
phantom, or, if one may say so, without disrespect--his mummy. Shriveled
and spare, yet erect as ever, the iron-gray hair, closely shaven beard,
dark complexion, and black eyes still formidably alive, made on me an
impression at once of extreme age and unabated will. A prophet!--still
delivering his message--but well aware that it found but few listeners
in a degenerate world. He began immediately to talk politics, denouncing
English Imperialism, whether of the Tory or the Liberal type. Canadian
loyalty to the Empire was a mere delusion. A few years, he said, would
see the Dominion merged in the United States; and it was far best it
should be so. He spoke with a bitter, almost a fierce energy, as though
perfectly conscious that, although I did not contradict him, I did not
agree with him; and presently, to my great relief, he allowed the talk
to slip back to old Oxford days.

[Illustration: GOLDWIN SMITH]

Two years later he died, still confident of the future as he dreamt it.
The "very rough times" that he foresaw have indeed come upon the world.
But as to the rest, I wish he could have stood with me, eight years
after this conversation, on the Scherpenberg Hill, held by a Canadian
division, the approach to its summit guarded by Canadian sentries, and
have looked out over that plain, where Canadian and British graves,
lying in their thousands side by side, have forever sealed in blood the
union of the elder and the younger nations.

As to the circulation of _Robert Elsmere_, I have never been able to
ascertain the exact figures in America, but it is probable, from the
data I have, that about half a million copies were sold in the States
within a year of the book's publication. In England, an edition of 5,000
copies a fortnight was the rule for many months after the one-volume
edition appeared; hundreds of thousands have been circulated in the
sixpenny and sevenpenny editions; it has been translated into most
foreign tongues; and it is still, after thirty years, a living book.
Fifteen years after its publication, M. Brunetiere, the well-known
editor of the _Revue des deux Mondes_ and leader--in some sort--of the
Catholic reaction in France, began a negotiation with me for the
appearance of a French translation of the whole or part of the book in
his _Revue_. "But how," I asked him (we were sitting in his editor's
sanctum, in the old house of the Rue de l'Universite), "could it
possibly suit you, or the _Revue_, to do anything of the kind? And
_now_--after fifteen years?"

But, according to him, the case was simple. When the book first
appeared, the public of the _Revue_ could not have felt any interest in
it. France is a logical country--a country of clear-cut solutions. And
at that time either one was a Catholic or a free thinker. And if one was
a Catholic, one accepted from the Church, say, the date of the Book of
Daniel, as well as everything else. Renan, indeed, left the Church
thirty years earlier because he came to see with certainty that the Book
of Daniel was written under Antiochus Epiphanes, and not when his
teachers at St. Sulpice said it was written. But while the secular world
listened and applauded, the literary argument against dogma made very
little impression on the general Catholic world for many years.

But now [said M. Brunetiere] everything is different. Modernism has
arisen. It is penetrating the Seminaries. People begin to talk of it in
the streets. And _Robert Elsmere_ is a study in Modernism--or at any
rate it has so many affinities with Modernism, that _now_--the French
public would be interested.

The length of the book, however, could not be got over, and the plan
fell through. But I came away from my talk with a remarkable man, not a
little stirred. For it had seemed to show that with all its many
faults--and who knew them better than I?--my book had yet possessed a
certain representative and pioneering force; and that, to some extent,
at least, the generation in which it appeared had spoken through it.



CHAPTER IV


FIRST VISITS TO ITALY


I have already mentioned in these papers that I was one of the examiners
for the Spanish Taylorian scholarship at Oxford in 1883, and again in
1888. But perhaps before I go farther in these _Recollections_ I may put
down here--somewhat out of its place--a reminiscence connected with the
first of these examinations, which seems to me worth recording. My
Spanish colleague in 1883 was, as I have said, Don Pascual Gayangos,
well known among students for his _History of Mohammedan Dynasties in
Spain_, for his edition of the Correspondence of Cardinal Cisneros, and
other historical work. _A propos_ of the examination, he came to see me
in Russell Square, and his talk about Spain revived in me, for the time,
a fading passion. Senor Gayangos was born in 1809, so that in 1883 he
was already an old man, though full of vigor and work. He told me the
following story. Unfortunately, I took no contemporary note. I give it
now as I remember it, and if any one who knew Don Pascual, or any
student of Shakespearian lore, can correct and amplify it, no one will
be better pleased than I. He said that as quite a young man, somewhere
in the thirties of the last century, he was traveling through Spain to
England, where, if I remember right, he had relations with Sir Thomas
Phillipps, the ardent book and MSS. collector, so many of whose
treasures are now in the great libraries of Europe. Sir Thomas employed
him in the search for Spanish MSS. and rare Spanish books. I gathered
that at the time to which the story refers Gayangos himself was not much
acquainted with English or English literature. On his journey north from
Madrid to Burgos, which was, of course, in the days before railways, he
stopped at Valladolid for the night, and went to see an acquaintance of
his, the newly appointed librarian of an aristocratic family having a
"palace" in Valladolid. He found his friend in the old library of the
old house, engaged in a work of destruction. On the floor of the long
room was a large _brasero_ in which the new librarian was burning up a
quantity of what he described as useless and miscellaneous books, with a
view to the rearrangement of the library. The old sheepskin or vellum
bindings had been stripped off, while the printed matter was burning
steadily and the room was full of smoke. There was a pile of old books
whose turn had not yet come lying on the floor. Gayangos picked one up.
It was a volume containing the plays of Mr. William Shakespeare, and
published in 1623. In other words, it was a copy of the First Folio,
and, as he declared to me, in excellent preservation. At that time he
knew nothing about Shakespeare bibliography. He was struck, however, by
the name of Shakespeare, and also by the fact that, according to an
inscription inside it, the book had belonged to Count Gondomar, who had
himself lived in Valladolid and collected a large library there. But his
friend the librarian attached no importance to the book, and it was to
go into the common holocaust with the rest. Gayangos noticed
particularly, as he turned it over, that its margins were covered with
notes in a seventeenth-century hand.

He continued his journey to England, and presently mentioned the
incident to Sir Thomas Phillipps, and Sir Thomas's future son-in-law,
Mr. Halliwell--afterward Halliwell-Phillipps. The excitement of both
knew no bounds. A First Folio--which had belonged to Count Gondomar,
Spanish Ambassador to England up to 1622--and covered with contemporary
marginal notes! No doubt a copy which had been sent out to Gondomar from
England; for he was well acquainted with English life and letters and
had collected much of his library in London. The very thought of such a
treasure perishing barbarously in a bonfire of waste paper was enough to
drive a bibliophile out of his wits. Gayangos was sent back to Spain
posthaste. But, alack! he found a library swept and garnished; no trace
of the volume he had once held there in his hand, and on the face of his
friend the librarian only a frank and peevish wonder that anybody should
tease him with questions about such a trifle.

But just dream a little! Who sent the volume? Who wrote the thick
marginal notes? An English correspondent of Gondomar's? Or Gondomar
himself, who arrived in England three years before Shakespeare's death,
was himself a man of letters, and had probably seen most of the plays?

In the few years which intervened between his withdrawal from England
and his own death (1626), did he annotate the copy, storing there what
he could remember of the English stage, and of "pleasant Willy" himself,
perhaps, during his two sojourns in London? And was the book overlooked
as English and of no importance in the transfer of Gondomar's own
library, a hundred and sixty years after his death, to Charles III of
Spain? And had it been sold, perhaps, for an old song, and with other
remnants of Gondomar's books, just for their local interest, to some
Valladolid grandee?

Above all, did those marginal notes which Gayangos had once idly looked
through contain, perhaps--though the First Folio does not, of course,
include the Poems--some faint key to the perennial Shakespeare
mysteries--to Mr. W.H., and the "dark lady," and all the impenetrable
story of the Sonnets?

If so, the gods themselves took care that the veil should not be rent.
The secret remains.

    Others abide our question--Thou art free.
    We ask and ask. Thou standest and art still,
    Outtopping knowledge.

       *       *       *       *       *

One other recollection of the _Robert Elsmere_ year may fitly end my
story of it. In September we spent an interesting afternoon at
Hawarden--the only time I ever saw "Mr. G." at leisure, amid his own
books and trees. We drove over with Sir Robert and Lady Cunliffe, Mr.
Gladstone's neighbors on the Welsh border, with whom we were staying.
Sir Robert, formerly an ardent Liberal, had parted from Mr. Gladstone in
the Home Rule crisis of 1886, and it was the first time they had called
at Hawarden since the split. But nothing could have been kinder than the
Gladstones' reception of them and of us. "Mr. G." and I let theology
alone!--and he was at his best and brightest, talking books and poetry,
showing us the octagonal room he had built out for his 60,000 selected
letters--among them "hundreds from the Queen"--his library, the park,
and the old keep. As I wrote to my father, his amazing intellectual and
physical vigor, and the alertness with which, leading the way, he
"skipped up the ruins of the keep," were enough "to make a Liberal
Unionist thoughtful." Ulysses was for the time in exile, but the "day of
return" was not far off.

Especially do I remember the animation with which he dwelt on the
horrible story of Damiens, executed with every conceivable torture for
the attempted assassination of Louis Quinze. He ran through the
catalogue of torments so that we all shivered, winding up with a
contemptuous, "And all that for just pricking the skin of that scoundrel
Louis XV."

I was already thinking of some reply both to Mr. Gladstone's article and
to the attack on _Robert Elsmere_ in the _Quarterly_; but it took me
longer than I expected, and it was not till March in the following year
(1889) that I published "The New Reformation," a Dialogue, in the
_Nineteenth Century_. Into that dialogue I was able to throw the reading
and the argument which had been of necessity excluded from the novel.
Mr. Jowett was nervous about it, and came up on purpose from Oxford to
persuade me, if he could, not to write it. His view--and that of Mr.
Stopford Brooke--was that a work of art moves on one plane, and
historical or critical controversy on another, and that a novel cannot
be justified by an essay. But my defense was not an essay; I put it in
the form of a conversation, and made it as living and varied as I could.
By using this particular form, I was able to give the traditional as
well as the critical case with some fullness, and I took great pains
with both. From a recently published letter, I see that Lord Acton wrote
to Mr. Gladstone that the role played by the orthodox anti-rational and
wholly fanatical Newcome in the novel belonged "to the infancy of art,"
so little could he be taken as representing the orthodox case. I wonder!
I had very good reasons for Newcome. There are plenty of Newcomes in the
theological literature of the last century. To have provided a more
rational and plausible representative of orthodoxy would, I think, have
slackened the pace and chilled the atmosphere of the novel. After all,
what really supplied "the other side" was the whole system of things in
which the readers of the book lived and moved--the ideas in which they
had been brought up, the books they read, the churches in which they
worshiped, the sermons to which they listened every week. The novel
challenged this system of things; but it was always there to make reply.
It was the eternal _sous-entendu_ of the story, and really gave the
story all its force.

But in the dialogue I could put the underlying conflict of thought into
articulate and logical form, and build up, in outline at least, the
history of "a new learning." When it was published, the dear Master,
with a sigh of relief, confessed that it had "done no harm," and "showed
a considerable knowledge of critical theology." I, too, felt that it had
done no harm--rather that it had vindicated my right to speak, not as an
expert and scholar--to that I never pretended for a moment--but as the
interpreter of experts and scholars who had something to say to the
English world, and of whom the English world was far too little aware.
In the preface to one of the latest editions of his Bampton Lectures,
Canon Liddon wrote an elaborate answer to it, which, I think, implies
that it was felt to have weight; and if Lord Acton had waited for its
appearance he might not, perhaps, have been so ready to condemn the
character of Newcome as belonging "to the infancy of art." That
Newcome's type might have been infinitely better presented is indeed
most true. But in the scheme of the book, it is _right_. For the
ultimate answer to the critical intellect, or, as Newman called it, the
"wild living intellect of man," when it is dealing with Christianity and
miracle, is that reason is _not_ the final judge--is, indeed, in the
last resort, the enemy, and must at some point go down, defeated and
trampled on. "Ideal Ward," and Archdeacon Denison, and Mr. Spurgeon--and
not Doctor Figgis or Doctor Creighton--are the apologists who in the end
hold the fort.

But with this analysis of what may be called the intellectual
presuppositions of _Robert Elsmere_, my mind began to turn to what I
believed to be the other side of the Greenian or Modernist
message--i.e., that life itself, the ordinary human life and
experience of every day as it has been slowly evolved through history,
is the true source of religion, if man will but listen to the message in
his own soul, to the voice of the Eternal Friend, speaking through
Conscience, through Society, through Nature. Hence _David Grieve_, which
was already in my mind within a few months of the publication of _Robert
Elsmere_. We were at Borough Farm when the vision of it first came upon
me. It was a summer evening of extraordinary beauty, and I had been
wandering through the heather and the pine woods. "The country"--to
quote an account written some years ago--"was drenched in sunset; white
towering thunder-clouds descending upon and mingling with the crimson of
the heath, the green stretches of bracken, the brown pools upon the
common, everywhere a rosy suffusion, a majesty of light interweaving
heaven and earth and transfiguring all dear familiar things--the old
farm-house, the sand-pit where the children played and the sand-martins
nested, the wood-pile by the farm door, the phloxes in the tumble-down
farm-yard, the cottage down the lane." After months of rest, the fount
of mental energy which had been exhausted in me the year before had
filled again. I was eager to be at work, and this time on something
"more hopeful, positive, and consoling" than the subject of the
earlier book.

A visit to Derbyshire in the autumn gave me some of the setting for the
story. Then I took the first chapters abroad during the winter to
Valescure, and worked them in that fragrant, sunny spot, making
acquaintance the while with a new and delightful friend, Emily Lawless,
the author of _Hurrish_ and _Grania_, and of some few poems that
deserve, I think, a long life in English anthologies. She and her most
racy, most entertaining mother, old Lady Cloncurry, were spending the
winter at Valescure, and my young daughter and I found them a great
resource. Lady Cloncurry, who was a member of an old Galway family, the
Kirwans of Castle Hackett, seemed to me a typical specimen of those
Anglo-Irish gentry who have been harshly called the "English garrison"
in Ireland, but who were really in the last century the most natural and
kindly link between the two countries. So far as I knew them, they loved
both, with a strong preference for Ireland. All that English people
instinctively resent in Irish character--its dreamy or laughing
indifference toward the ordinary business virtues, thrift, prudence,
tidiness, accuracy--they had been accustomed to, even where they had not
been infected with it, from their childhood. They were not Catholics,
most of them, and, so far as they were landlords, the part played by the
priests in the Land League agitation tried them sore. But Miss Lawless's
_Grania_ is there to show how delicate and profound might be their
sympathy with the lovely things in Irish Catholicism, and her best
poems--"The Dirge of the Munster Forest" and "After Aughrim"--give a
voice to Irish suffering and Irish patriotism which it would be hard to
parallel in the Nationalist or rebel literature of recent years. The
fact that they had both nations in their blood, both patriotisms in
their hearts, infused a peculiar pathos often into their lives.

Pathos, however, was not a word that seemed--at first sight, at any
rate--to have much to do with Lady Cloncurry. She was the most energetic
and sprightly _grande dame_ as I remember her, small, with vivid black
eyes and hair, her head always swathed in a becoming black lace coif,
her hands in black mittens. She and her daughter Emily amused each other
perennially, and were endless good company, besides, for other people.
Lady Cloncurry's clothes varied very little. She had an Irish contempt
for too much pains about your appearance, and a great dislike for
_grande tenue_. When she arrived at an Irish country-house, of which the
hostess told me the story, she said to the mistress of the house, on
being taken to her room: "My dear, you don't want me to come down smart?
I'm sure you don't! Of course I've brought some smart gowns. _They_
[meaning her daughters] make me buy them. But they'll just do for my
maid to show your maid!" And there on the wardrobe shelves they lay
throughout her visit.

At Valescure we were within easy reach of Cannes, where the Actons were
settled at the Villa Madeleine. The awkwardness of the trains prevented
us from seeing as much of them as we had hoped; but I remember some
pleasant walks and talks with Lord Acton, and especially the vehement
advice he gave us, when my husband joined us and we started on a short,
a very short, flight to Italy--for my husband had only a meager holiday
from the _Times: "Go to Rome_! Never mind the journeys. Go! You will
have three days there, you say? Well, to have walked through Rome, to
have spent an hour in the Forum, another on the Palatine; to have seen
the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's; to have climbed the
Janiculum and looked out over the Alban hills and the Campagna--and you
can do all that in three days--well!--life is not the same afterward. If
you only had an afternoon in Rome it would be well worth while. But
_three days_!"

We laughed, took him at his word, and rushed on for Rome. And on the way
we saw Perugia and Assisi for the first time, dipping into spring as
soon as we got south of the Apennines, and tasting that intoxication of
Italian sun in winter which turns northern heads. Of our week in Rome I
remember only the first overwhelming impression--as of something
infinitely old and _pagan_, through which Christianity moved about like
a _parvenu_ amid an elder generation of phantom presences, already gray
with time long before Calvary--that, and the making of a few new
friends. Of these friends, one, who was to hold a lasting place in my
admiration and love through after-years, shall be mentioned
here--Contessa Maria Pasolini.

Contessa Maria for some thirty years has played a great role in the
social and intellectual history of Italy. She is the daughter of one of
the leading business families of Milan, sister to the Marchese Ponti,
who was for long Sindaco of that great city, and intimately concerned in
its stormy industrial history. She married Count Pasolini, the head of
an old aristocratic family with large estates in the Romagna, whose
father was President of the first Senate of United Italy. It was in the
neighborhood of the Pasolini estates that Garibaldi took refuge after
1848; and one may pass through them to reach the lonely hut in which
Anita Garibaldi died.

Count Pasolini's father was also one of Pio Nono's Liberal Ministers,
and the family, at the time, at any rate, of which I am speaking,
combined Liberalism and sympathies for England with an enlightened and
ardent Catholicism. I first made friends with Contessa Maria when we
found her, on a cold February day, receiving in an apartment in the
Piazza dei Santi Apostoli--rather gloomy rooms, to which her dark head
and eyes, her extraordinary expressiveness and grace, and the vivacity
of her talk, seemed to lend a positive brilliance and charm. In her I
first came to know, with some intimacy, a cultivated Italian woman, and
to realize what a strong kindred exists between the English and the
Italian educated mind. Especially, I think, in the case of the educated
_women_ of both nations. I have often felt, in talking to an Italian
woman friend, a similarity of standards, of traditions and instincts,
which would take some explaining, if one came to think it out.
Especially on the practical side of life, the side of what one may call
the minor morals and judgments, which are often more important to
friendship and understanding than the greater matters of the law. How an
Italian lady manages her servants and brings up her children; her
general attitude toward marriage, politics, books, social or economic
questions--in all these fields she is, in some mysterious way, much
nearer to the Englishwoman than the Frenchwoman is. Of course, these
remarks do not apply to the small circle of "black" families in Italy,
particularly in Rome, who still hold aloof from the Italian kingdom and
its institutions. But the Liberal Catholic, man or woman, who is both
patriotically Italian and sincerely religious, will discuss anything or
anybody in heaven or earth, and just as tolerantly as would Lord Acton
himself. They are cosmopolitans, and yet deep rooted in the Italian
soil. Contessa Maria, for instance, was in 1889 still near the
beginnings of what was to prove for twenty-five years the most
interesting _salon_ in Rome. Everybody met there. Grandees of all
nations, ambassadors, ecclesiastics, men of literature, science,
archeology, art, politicians, and diplomats--Contessa Pasolini was equal
to them all, and her talk, rapid, fearless, picturesque, full of
knowledge, yet without a hint of pedantry, gave a note of unity to a
scene that could hardly have been more varied or, in less skilful hands,
more full of jarring possibilities. But later on, when I knew her
better, I saw her also with peasant folk, with the country people of the
Campagna and the Alban hills. And here one realized the same ease, the
same sympathy, the same instinctive and unerring _success_, as one might
watch with delight on one of her "evenings" in the Palazzo Sciarra. When
she was talking to a peasant woman on the Alban ridge, something broad
and big and primitive seemed to come out in her, something of the _Magna
parens_, the Saturnian land; but something, too, that our Englishwomen,
who live in the country and care for their own people, also possess.

But I was to see much more of Contessa Maria and Roman society in later
years, especially when we were at the Villa Barberini and I was writing
_Eleanor_, in 1899. Now I will only recall a little saying of the
Contessa's at our first meeting, which lodged itself in memory. She did
not then talk English fluently, as she afterward came to do; but she was
learning English, with her two boys, from a delightful English tutor,
and evidently pondering English character and ways--"Ah, you
English!"--I can see the white arm and hand, with its cigarette, waving
in the darkness of the old Roman apartment; the broad brow, the smiling
eyes, and glint of white teeth. "You English! Why don't you _talk_?--why
_won't_ you talk? If French people come here, there is no trouble. If I
just tear up an envelope and throw down the pieces, they will talk about
it a whole evening, and so _well_! But you English!--you begin, and then
you stop; one must always start you again--always wind you up!"

Terribly true! But in her company, even we halting English learned to
talk, in our bad French, or whatever came along.


The summer of 1889 was filled with an adventure to which I still look
back with unalloyed delight, which provided me, moreover, with the
setting and one of the main themes of _Marcella_. We were at that time
half-way through the building of a house at Haslemere, which was to
supersede Borough Farm. We had grown out of Borough and were for the
moment houseless, so far as summer quarters were concerned. And for my
work's sake, I felt that eagerness for new scenes and suggestions which
is generally present, I think, in the story-teller of all shades.
Suddenly, in a house-agent's catalogue, we came across an astonishing
advertisement. Hampden House, on the Chiltern Hills, the ancestral home
of John Hampden, of ship-money fame, was to let for the summer, and for
a rent not beyond our powers. The new Lord Buckinghamshire, who had
inherited it, was not then able to live in it. It had, indeed, as we
knew, been let for a while, some years earlier, to our old friends, Sir
Mountstuart and Lady Grant Duff, before his departure for the
Governorship of Madras. The agents reported that it was scantily
furnished, but quite habitable; and without more ado we took it! I have
now before me the letter in which I reported our arrival, in mid-July,
to my husband, detained in town by his _Times_ work.

    Hampden is enchanting!--more delightful than even I thought it would
    be, and quite comfortable enough. Of course we want a multitude of
    things--(baths, wine-glasses, tumblers, cans, etc.!) but those I can
    hire from Wycombe. Our great deficiency is lamps! Last night we
    crept about in this vast house, with hardly any light.... As to the
    ghost, Mrs. Duval (the housekeeper) scoffs at it! The ghost-room is
    the tapestry-room, from which there is a staircase down to the
    breakfast-room. A good deal of the tapestry is loose, and when there
    is any wind it flaps and flaps. Hence all the tales.... The servants
    are rather bewildered by the size of everything, and--like me--were
    almost too excited to sleep.... The children are wandering
    blissfully about, exploring everything.

And what a place to wander in! After we left it, Hampden was restored,
beautified, and refurnished. It is now, I have no doubt, a charming and
comfortable country-house. But when we lived in it for three months--in
its half-finished and tatterdemalion condition--it was Romance pure and
simple. The old galleried hall, the bare rooms, the neglected
pictures--among them the "Queen Elizabeth," presented to the owner of
Hampden by the Queen herself after a visit; the gray walls of King
John's garden, and just beyond it the little church where Hampden lies
buried; the deserted library on the top floor, running along the
beautiful garden-front, with books in it that might have belonged to the
patriot himself, and a stately full-length portrait--painted about
1600--which stood up, torn and frameless, among lumber of various kinds,
the portrait of a beautiful lady in a flowered dress, walking in an
Elizabethan garden; the locked room, opened to us occasionally by the
agent of the property, which contained some of the ancestral treasures
of the house--the family Bible among them, with the births of John
Hampden and his cousin, Oliver Cromwell, recorded on the same fly-leaf;
the black cedars outside, and the great glade in front of the house,
stretching downward for half a mile toward the ruined lodges, just
visible from the windows--all this mingling of nature and history with
the slightest, gentlest touch of pathos and decay, seen, too, under the
golden light of a perfect summer, sank deep into mind and sense.

Whoever cares to turn to the first chapters of _Marcella_ will find as
much of Hampden as could be transferred to paper--Hampden as it was
then--in the description of Mellor.

Our old and dear friend, Mrs. J.R. Green, the widow of the historian,
and herself the most distinguished woman-historian of our time, joined
us in the venture. But she and I both went to Hampden to work. I set up
in one half-dismantled room, and she in another, with the
eighteenth-century drawing-room between us. Here our books and papers
soon made home. I was working at _David Grieve_; she, if I remember
right, at the brilliant book on _English Town Life_ she brought out in
1891. My husband came down to us for long week-ends, and as soon as we
had provided ourselves with the absolute necessaries of life, visitors
began to arrive: Professor and Mrs. Huxley; Sir Alfred Lyall; M.
Jusserand, then _Conseiller d'Ambassade_ under M. Waddington, now the
French Ambassador to Washington; Mr. and Mrs. Lyulph Stanley, now Lord
and Lady Sheffield; my first cousin, H. O. Arnold-Forster, afterward War
Minister in Mr. Balfour's Cabinet, and his wife; Mrs. Graham Smith,
Laura Lyttelton's sister, and many kinsfolk. In those days Hampden was
six miles from the nearest railway station; the Great Central Railway
which now passes through the valley below it was not built, and all
round us stretched beechwoods and commons and lanes, untouched since the
days of Roundhead and Cavalier, where the occasional sound of
wood-cutters in the beech solitudes was often, through a long walk, the
only hint of human life. What good walks and talks we had in those
summer days! My sister had married Professor Huxley's eldest son, so
that with him and his wife we were on terms always of the closest
intimacy and affection. "Pater" and "Moo," as all their kith and kin and
many of their friends called them, were the most racy of guests. He had
been that year pursuing an animated controversy in the _Nineteenth
Century_ with Doctor Wace, now Dean of Canterbury, who had also--about a
year before--belabored the author of _Robert Elsmere_ in the _Quarterly
Review_. The Professor and I naturally enjoyed dancing a little on our
opponents--when there was none to make reply!--as we strolled about
Hampden; but there was never a touch of bitterness in Huxley's nature,
and there couldn't have been much in mine at that moment, life was so
interesting, and its horizon so full of light and color! Of his wife,
"Moo," who outlived him many years, how much one might say! In this very
year, 1889, Huxley wrote to her from the Canaries, whither he had gone
alone for his health:

    Catch me going out of reach of letters again. I have been horridly
    anxious. Nobody--children or any one else--can be to me what you
    are. Ulysses preferred his old woman to immortality, and this
    absence has led me to see that he was as wise in that as in
    other things.

They were indeed lovers to the end. He had waited and served for her
eight years in his youth, and her sunny, affectionate nature, with its
veins both of humor and of stoicism, gave her man of genius exactly what
he wanted. She survived him for many years, living her own life at
Eastbourne, climbing Beachy Head in all weathers, interested in
everything, and writing poems of little or no technical merit, but
raised occasionally by sheer intensity of feeling--about her
husband--into something very near the real thing. I quote these lines
from a privately printed volume she gave me:

    If you were here,--and I were where you lie,
    Would you, beloved, give your little span
    Of life remaining unto tear and sigh?
    No!--setting every tender memory
    Within your breast, as faded roses kept
    For giver's sake, of giver when bereft,
    Still to the last the lamp of work you'd burn
    For purpose high, nor any moment spurn.
    So, as you would have done, I fain would do
    In poorer fashion. Ah, how oft I try,
    Try to fulfil your wishes, till at length
    The scent of those dead roses steals my strength.

As to our other guests, to what company would not Sir Alfred Lyall have
added that touch of something provocative and challenging which draws
men and women after it, like an Orpheus-music? I can see him sitting
silent, his legs crossed, his white head bent, the corners of his mouth
drooping, his eyes downcast, like some one spent and wearied, from whom
all virtue had gone out. Then some one, a man he liked--but still
oftener a woman--would approach him, and the whole figure would wake to
life--a gentle, whimsical, melancholy life, yet possessed of a strange
spell and pungency. Brooding, sad and deep, seemed to me to hold his
inmost mind. The fatalism and dream of those Oriental religions to which
he had given so much of his scholar's mind had touched him profoundly.
His poems express it in mystical and somber verse, and his volumes of
_Asiatic Studies_ contain the intellectual analysis of that background
of thought from which the poems spring.

Yet no one was shrewder, more acute, than Sir Alfred in dealing with the
men and politics of the moment. He swore to no man's words, and one felt
in him not only the first-rate administrator, as shown by his Indian
career, but also the thinker's scorn for the mere party point of view.
He was an excellent gossip, of a refined and subtle sort; he was the
soul of honor; and there was that in his fragile and delicate
personality which earned the warm affection of many friends. So gentle,
so absent-minded, so tired he often seemed; and yet I could imagine
those gray-blue eyes of Sir Alfred's answering inexorably to any public
or patriotic call. He was a disillusioned spectator of the "great
mundane movement," yet eternally interested in it; and the man who loves
this poor human life of ours, without ever being fooled by it, at least
after youth is past, has a rare place among us. We forgive his insight,
because there is nothing in it Pharisaical. And the irony he uses on us
we know well that he has long since sharpened on himself.

When I think of M. Jusserand playing tennis on the big lawn at Hampden,
and determined to master it, like all else that was English, memory
leads one back behind that pleasant scene to earlier days still. We
first knew the future Ambassador as an official of the French Foreign
Office, who spent much of his scanty holidays in a scholarly pursuit of
English literature. In Russell Square we were close to the British
Museum, where M. Jusserand, during his visits to London, was deep in
Chaucerian and other problems, gathering the learning which he presently
began to throw into a series of books on the English centuries from
Chaucer to Shakespeare. Who introduced him to us I cannot remember, but
during his work at the Museum he would drop in sometimes for luncheon or
tea; so that we soon began to know him well. Then, later, he came to
London as _Conseiller d'Ambassade_ under M. Waddington, an office which
he filled till he became French Minister to Denmark in 1900. Finally, in
1904, he was sent as French Ambassador to the United States, and there
we found him in 1908, when we stayed for a delightful few days at the
British Embassy with Mr. and Mrs. Bryce.

It has always been a question with me, which of two French friends is
the more wonderful English scholar--M. Jusserand or Andre Chevrillon,
Taine's nephew and literary executor, and himself one of the leaders of
French letters; with whom, as with M. Jusserand, I may reckon now some
thirty years of friendship. No one could say that M. Jusserand speaks
our tongue exactly like an Englishman. He does much better. He uses
it--always, of course, with perfect correctness and fluency--to express
French ideas and French wits, in a way as nearly French as the foreign
language will permit. The result is extraordinarily stimulating to our
English wits. The slight differences both in accent and in phrase keep
the ear attentive and alive. New shades emerge; old _cliches_ are broken
up. M. Chevrillon has much less accent, and his talk is more flowingly
and convincingly English; for which, no doubt, a boyhood partly spent in
England accounts. While for vivacity and ease there is little or nothing
to choose.

But to these two distinguished and accomplished men England and America
owe a real debt of gratitude. They have not by any means always approved
of _our_ national behavior. M. Jusserand during his official career in
Egypt was, I believe, a very candid critic of British administration and
British methods, and in the days of our early acquaintance with him I
can remember many an amusing and caustic sally of his at the expense of
our politicians and our foreign policy.

[Illustration: JEAN JULES JUSSERAND]

M. Chevrillon took the Boer side in the South African war, and took it
with passion. All the same, the friendship of both the diplomat and the
man of letters for this country, based upon their knowledge of her, and
warmly returned to them by many English friends, has been a real factor
in the growth of that broad-based sympathy which we now call the
Entente. M. Chevrillon's knowledge of us is really uncanny. He knows
more than we know ourselves. And his last book about us--_L'Angleterre
et la Guerre_--is not only photographically close to the facts, but full
of a spiritual sympathy which is very moving to an English reader. Men
of such high gifts are not easily multiplied in any country. But,
looking to the future of Europe, the more that France and England--and
America--can cultivate in their citizens some degree, at any rate, of
that intimate understanding of a foreign nation which shines so
conspicuously in the work of these two Frenchmen the safer will that
future be.



CHAPTER V


AMALFI AND ROME. HAMPDEN AND _MARCELLA_


It was in November, 1891, that I finished _David Grieve_, after a long
wrestle of more than three years. I was tired out, and we fled south for
rest to Rome, Naples, Amalfi, and Ravello. The Cappucini Hotel at
Amalfi, Madame Palumbo's inn at Ravello, remain with me as places of
pure delight, shone on even in winter by a more than earthly sun.

Madame Palumbo was, as her many guests remember, an Englishwoman, and
showed a special zeal in making English folk comfortable. And can one
ever forget the sunrise over the Gulf of Salerno from the Ravello
windows? It was December when we were there; yet nothing spoke of
winter. From the inn, perched on a rocky point above the coast, one
looked straight down for hundreds of feet, through lemon-groves and
olive-gardens, to the blue water. Flaming over the mountains rose an
unclouded sun, shining on the purple coast, with its innumerable
rock-towns--"_tot congesta manu praeruptis oppida saxis_"--and sending
broad paths over the "wine-dark" sea. Never, I think, have I felt the
glory and beauty of the world more rapturously, more _painfully_--for
there is pain in it!--than when one was standing alone on a December
morning, at a window which seemed to make part of the precipitous rock
itself, looking over that fairest of scenes. From Ravello we went back
to Rome, and a short spell of its joys. What is it makes the peculiar
pleasure of society in Rome? A number of elements, of course, enter in.
The setting is incomparable; while the clashing of great world policies,
represented by the diplomats, and of the main religious and Liberal
forces of Europe, as embodied in the Papacy and modern Italy, kindles a
warmth and animation in the social air which matches the clearness of
the Roman day, when the bright spells of the winter weather arrive, and
the omnipresent fountains of the Eternal City flash the January or
February sun through its streets and piazzas. Ours, however, on this
occasion, was only a brief stay. Again we saw Contessa Maria, this time
in the stately setting of the Palazzo Sciarra; and Count Ugo Balzani, an
old friend of ours and of the Creightons since Oxford days, historian
and thinker, and, besides, one of the kindest and truest of men. But the
figure, perhaps, which chiefly stands out in memory as connected with
this short visit is that of Lord Dufferin, then our Ambassador in Rome.
Was there ever a greater charmer than Lord Dufferin? In the sketch of
the "Ambassador" in _Eleanor_, there are some points caught from the
living Lord Dufferin, so closely, indeed, that before the book came out
I sent him the proofs and asked his leave--which he gave at once, in one
of the graceful little notes of which he was always master. For the
diplomatic life and successes of Lord Dufferin are told in many official
documents and in the biography of him by Sir Alfred Lyall; but the key
to it all lay in cradle gifts that are hard to put into print.

In the first place, he was--even at sixty-five--wonderfully handsome. He
had inherited the beauty, and also the humor and the grace, of his
Sheridan ancestry. For his mother, as all the world knows, was Helen
Sheridan, one of the three famous daughters of Tom Sheridan, the
dramatist's only son. Mrs. Norton, the innocent heroine of the Melbourne
divorce suit, was one of his aunts, and the "Queen of Beauty" at the
Eglinton Tournament--then Lady Seymour, afterward Duchess of
Somerset--was the other. His mother's memory was a living thing to him
all his life; he published her letters and poems; and at Clandeboye, his
Ulster home,--in "Helen's Tower"--he had formed a collection of
memorials of her which he liked to show to those of whom he made
friends. "You must come to Clandeboye and let me show you Helen's
Tower," he would say, eagerly, and one would answer with hopeful
vagueness. But for me the time never came. My personal recollections of
him, apart from letters, are all connected with Rome, or Paris, whither
he was transferred the year after we saw him at the Roman Embassy, in
December, 1891.

It was, therefore, his last winter at Rome, and he had only been
Ambassador there a little more than two years--since he ceased to be
Viceroy of India in 1889. But he had already won everybody's affection.
The social duties of the British Embassy in Rome--what with the Italian
world in all its shades, the more or less permanent English colony, and
the rush of English tourists through the winter and spring--seemed to me
by no means easy. But Lady Dufferin's dignity and simplicity, and Lord
Dufferin's temperament, carried them triumphantly through the tangle.
Especially do I remember the informal Christmas dance to which we took,
by the Ambassador's special wish, our young daughter of seventeen, who
was not really "out." And no sooner was she in the room, shyly hiding
behind her elders, than he discovered her. I can see him still, as he
made her a smiling bow, his noble gray head and kind eyes, the blue
ribbon crossing his chest. "You promised me a dance!" And so for her
first waltz, in her first grown-up dance, D. was well provided, nervous
as the moment was.

There is a passage in _Eleanor_ which commemorates first this playful
sympathy and tact which made Lord Dufferin so delightful to all ages,
and next, an amusing conversation with him that I remember a year or two
later in Paris. As to the first--Lucy Foster, the young American girl,
is lunching at the Embassy.

    "Ah! my dear lady!" said the Ambassador, "how few things in this
    world one does to please one's self! This is one of them."

    Lucy flushed with a young and natural pleasure. She was on the
    Ambassador's left, and he had just laid his wrinkled hand for an
    instant on hers--with a charming and paternal freedom.

    "Have you enjoyed yourself?--have you lost your heart to Italy?"
    said her host stooping to her....

    "I have been in fairyland," said she, shyly, opening her blue eyes
    upon him. "Nothing can ever be like it again."

    "No--because one can never be twenty again," said the old man,
    sighing. "Twenty years hence, you will wonder where the magic came
    from. Never mind--just now, anyway, the world's your oyster."

    Then he looked at her a little more closely.... He missed some of
    that quiver of youth and enjoyment he had felt in her before; and
    there were some very dark lines under the beautiful eyes. What was
    wrong? Had she met the man--the appointed one?

    He began to talk to her with a kindness that was at once simple and
    stately.

    "We must all have our ups and downs," he said to her, presently.
    "Let me just give you a word of advice. It'll carry you through most
    of them. Remember you are very young, and I shall soon be very old."

    He stopped and surveyed her. His eyes blinked through their blanched
    lashes. Lucy dropped her fork and looked back at him with smiling
    expectancy.

    "Learn Persian!" said the old man, in an urgent whisper--"and get
    the dictionary by heart!"

    Lucy still looked--wondering.

    "I finished it this morning," said the Ambassador, in her ear.
    "To-morrow I shall begin it again. My daughter hates the sight of
    the thing. She says I overtire myself, and that when old people have
    done their work they should take a nap. But I know that if it
    weren't for my dictionary I should have given up long ago. When too
    many tiresome people dine here in the evening--or when they worry me
    from home--I take a column. But generally half a column's
    enough--good tough Persian roots, and no nonsense. Oh! of course I
    can read Hafiz and Omar Khayyam, and all that kind of thing. But
    that's the whipped cream. That don't count. What one wants is
    something to set one's teeth in. Latin verse will do. Last year I
    put half Tommy Moore into hendecasyllables. But my youngest boy,
    who's at Oxford, said he wouldn't be responsible for them--so I had
    to desist. And I suppose the mathematicians have always something
    handy. But, one way or another, one must learn one's dictionary. It
    comes next to cultivating one's garden."

The pretty bit of kindness to a very young girl, in 1892, which I have
described, suggested part of this conversation; and I find the
foundation of the rest in a letter written to my father from Paris
in 1896.

    We had a very pleasant three days in Paris ... including a most
    agreeable couple of hours with the Dufferins. Lord Dufferin showed
    me a number of relics of his Sheridan ancestry, and wound up by
    taking me into his special little den and telling me Persian stories
    with excellent grace and point! He is wild about Persian just now,
    and has just finished learning the whole dictionary by heart. He
    looks upon this as his chief _delassement_ from official work. Lady
    Dufferin, however, does not approve of it at all! His remarks to
    Humphry as to the ignorance and inexperience of the innumerable
    French Foreign Ministers with whom he has to do, were amusing. An
    interview with Berthelot (the famous French chemist and friend of
    Renan) was really, he said, a deplorable business. Berthelot
    (Foreign Minister 1891-92) knew _everything_ but what he should have
    known as French Foreign Minister. And Jusserand's testimony was
    practically the same! He is now acting head of the French Foreign
    Office, and has had three Ministers in bewildering succession to
    instruct in their duties, they being absolutely new to everything.
    Now, however, in Hanotaux he has got a strong chief at last.

I recollect that in the course of our exploration of the Embassy, we
passed through a room with a large cheval-glass, of the Empire period.
Lord Dufferin paused before it, reminding me that the house had once
belonged to Pauline Borghese. "This was her room and this glass was
hers. I often stand before it and evoke her. She is there somewhere--if
one had eyes to see!"

And I thought, in the darkening room, as one looked into the shadows of
the glass, of the beautiful, shameless creature as she appears in the
Canova statue in the Villa Borghese, or as David has fixed her,
immortally young, in the Louvre picture.

But before I leave this second Roman visit of ours, let me recall one
more figure in the _entourage_ of the Ambassador--a young attache,
fair-haired, with all the good looks and good manners that belong to the
post, and how much else of solid wit and capacity the years were then to
find out. I had already seen Mr. Rennell Rodd in the Tennant circle,
where he was everybody's friend. Soon we were to hear of him in Greece,
whence he sent me various volumes of poems and an admirable study of the
Morea, then in Egypt, and afterward in Sweden; while through all these
arduous years of war (I write in 1917) he has been Ambassador in that
same Rome where we saw him as second Secretary in 1891.

The appearance of _David Grieve_ in February, 1892, four years after
_Robert Elsmere_, was to me the occasion of very mixed feelings. The
public took warmly to the novel from the beginning; in its English
circulation and its length of life it has, I think, very nearly equaled
_Robert Elsmere_; only after twenty-five years has it now fallen behind
its predecessor. It has brought me correspondence from all parts and all
classes, more intimate and striking, perhaps, than in the case of any
other of my books. But of hostile reviewing at the moment of its
appearance there was certainly no lack! It was violently attacked in the
_Scots Observer_, then the organ of a group of Scotch Conservatives and
literary men, with W.E. Henley at their head, and received unfriendly
notice from Mrs. Oliphant in _Blackwood_. The two _Quarterlies_ opened
fire upon it, and many lesser guns. A letter from Mr. Meredith Townsend,
the very able, outspoken, and wholly independent colleague of Mr. Hutton
in the editorship of the _Spectator_, gave me some comfort under these
onslaughts!

    I have read every word of _David Grieve_. Owing to the unusual and
    unaccountable imbecility of the reviewing--(the _Athenaeum_ man, for
    example, does not even comprehend that he is reading a
    biography!)--it may be three months or so before the public fully
    takes hold, but I have no doubt of the ultimate verdict.... The
    consistency of the leading characters is wonderful, and there is not
    one of the twenty-five, except possibly Dora--who is not human
    enough--that is not the perfection of lifelikeness.... Louie is a
    vivisection. I have the misfortune to know her well ... and I am
    startled page after page by the accuracy of the drawing.

Walter Pater wrote, "It seems to me to have all the forces of its
predecessor at work in it, with perhaps a mellower kind of art." Henry
James reviewed it--so generously!--so subtly!--in the _English
Illustrated_. Stopford Brooke and Bishop Creighton wrote to me with a
warmth and emphasis that soon healed the wounds of the _Scots Observer_;
and that the public was with them, and not with my castigators, was
quickly visible from the wide success of the book.

Some of the most interesting letters that reached me about it were from
men of affairs who were voracious readers, but not makers of books--such
as Mr. Goschen, who "could stand an examination on it"; Sir James,
afterward Lord Hannen, one of the Judges of the Parnell Commission; and
Lord Derby, the Minister who seceded, with Lord Carnarvon, from
Disraeli's Government in 1878. We had made acquaintance not long before
with Lord Derby, through his niece, Lady Winifred Byng (now Lady
Burghclere), to whom we had all lost our hearts--children and
parents--at Lucerne in 1888. There are few things I regret more in
relation to London social life than the short time allowed me by fate
wherein to see something more of Lord Derby. If I remember right, we
first met him at a small dinner-party at Lady Winifred's in 1891, and he
died early in 1893. But he made a very great impression upon me, and,
though he was generally thought to be awkward and shy in general
society, in the conversations I remember with him nothing could have
been more genial or more attractive than his manner. He had been at
Rugby under my grandfather, which was a link to begin with; though he
afterward went to Cambridge, and never showed, that I know of, any signs
of the special Rugby influence which stamped men like Dean Stanley and
Clough. And yet of the moral independence and activity which my
grandfather prized and cultivated in his boys, there was certainly no
lack in Lord Derby's career. For the greater part of his political life
he was nominally a Conservative, yet the rank and file of his party only
half trusted a mind trained by John Stuart Mill and perpetually brooding
on social reform. As Lord Stanley, his close association and personal
friendship with Disraeli during the Ministries and politics of the
mid-nineteenth century have been well brought out in Mr. Buckle's last
volume of the Disraeli _Life_. But the ultimate parting between himself
and Dizzy was probably always inevitable. For his loathing of
adventurous policies of all kinds, and of any increase whatever in the
vast commitments of England, was sure at some point to bring him into
conflict with the imagination or, as we may now call it, the prescience,
of Disraeli. It was strange to remember, as one watched him at the
dinner-table, that he had been offered the throne of Greece in 1862.

If he accepts the charge [wrote Dizzy to Mrs. Bridges Williams] I shall
lose a powerful friend and colleague. It is a dazzling adventure for the
House of Stanley, but they are not an imaginative race, and I fancy they
will prefer Knowsley to the Parthenon, and Lancashire to the Attic
plain. It is a privilege to live in this age of rapid and brilliant
events. What an error to consider it an utilitarian age! It is one of
infinite romance. Thrones tumble down and crowns are offered like a
fairy-tale.

Sixteen years later came his famous resignation, in 1878, when the Fleet
was ordered to the Dardanelles, and Lord Derby, as he had now become,
then Foreign Secretary, refused to sanction a step that might lead to
war. That, for him, was the end as far as Toryism was concerned. In 1880
he joined Mr. Gladstone, but only to separate from him on Home Rule in
1886; and when I first knew him, in 1891, he was leader of the Liberal
Unionist peers in the House of Lords. A little later he became President
of the great Labor Commission in 1892, and before he could see
Gladstone's fresh defeat in 1893, he died.

Speculatively he was as open-minded as a reader and follower of Mill
might be expected to be. He had been interested in _Robert Elsmere_, and
the discussion of books and persons, to which it led him in conversation
with me, showed him fully aware of the new forces abroad in literature
and history. Especially interested, too, as to what Labor was going to
make of Christianity, and well aware--how could he fail to be, as
Chairman of that great, that epoch-making Commission of 1892?--of the
advancing strength of organized labor on all horizons. He appeared to
me, too, as a typical North-countryman--a son of Lancashire, proud of
the great Lancashire towns, and thoroughly at home in the life of the
Lancashire countryside. He could tell a story in dialect admirably. And
I realized that he had thought much--in his balanced, reticent way--on
matters in which I was then groping: how to humanize the relations
between employer and employed, how to enrich and soften the life of the
workman, how, in short, to break down the barrier between modern
industrialism and the stored-up treasures--art, science, thought--of
man's long history.

So that when _David Grieve_ was finished I sent it to Lord Derby, not
long after our first meeting, in no spirit of empty compliment, and I
have always kept his letter in return as a memento of a remarkable
personality. Some day I hope there may be a Memoir of him; for none has
yet appeared. He had not the charm, the versatility, the easy classical
culture, of his famous father--"the Rupert of debate." But with his
great stature--he was six feet two--his square head, and strong,
smooth-shaven face, he was noticeable everywhere. He was a childless
widower when I first knew him, and made the impression of a lonely man,
for all his busy political life and his vast estates. But he was
particularly interesting to me as representing a type I have once or
twice tried to draw--of the aristocrat standing between the old world,
before railways and the first Reform Bill, which saw his birth, and the
new world and new men of the later half of the century. He was
traditionally with the old world; by conviction and conscience, I think,
with the new; yet not sorry, probably, that he was to see no more than
its threshold!

The year 1892, it will be remembered, was the first year of American
copyright: and the great success of _David Grieve_ in America, following
on the extraordinary vogue there of _Robert Elsmere_, in its pirated
editions, brought me largely increased literary receipts. It seemed that
I was not destined, after all, to "ruin my publishers," as I had
despondently foretold in a letter to my husband before the appearance of
_Robert Elsmere;_ but that, with regular work, I might look forward to a
fairly steady income. We therefore felt justified in seizing an
opportunity brought to our notice by an old friend who lived in the
neighborhood, and migrating to a house north of London, in the real
heart of Middle England. After leaving Borough Farm, we had built a
house on a hill near Haslemere, looking south over the blue and purple
Weald; but two years' residence had convinced me that Surrey was almost
as populous as London, and that real solitude for literary work was not
to be found there--at any rate, in that corner of it where we had chosen
to build, and, also, while we were nursing our newly planted shrubberies
of baby pines and rhododendrons, there was always in my mind, as I find
from letters of the time, a discontented yearning for "an old house and
old trees"! We found both at Stocks, whither we migrated in the summer
of 1892. The little estate had then been recently inherited by Mrs.
Grey, mother of Sir Edward Grey, now Lord Grey of Falloden. We were at
first tenants of the house and grounds, but in 1896 we bought the small
property from the Greys, and have now been for more than twenty years
its happy possessors. The house lies on a high upland, under one of the
last easterly spurs of the Chilterns. It was built in 1780 (we rebuilt
it in 1908) in succession to a much older house of which a few fragments
remain, and the village at its gates had changed hardly at all in the
hundred years which preceded our arrival. A few new cottages had been
built; more needed to be built; and two residents, intimately connected
with the past of the village, had built houses just outside it. But
villadom did not exist. The village was rich in old folk, in whom were
stored the memories and traditions of its quiet past. The postmaster,
"Johnny Dolt," who was nearing his eighties, was the universal referee
on all local questions--rights of way, boundaries, village customs, and
the like; and of some of the old women of the village, as they were
twenty-five years ago, I have drawn as faithful a picture as I could in
one or two chapters of _Marcella_.

But the new novel owed not only much of its scenery and setting, but
also its main incident, to the new house. We first entered into
negotiation for Stocks in January, 1892. In the preceding December two
gamekeepers had been murdered on the Stocks property, in a field under a
big wood, not three hundred yards from the house; and naturally the
little community, as it lay in its rural quiet beneath its wooded hills,
was still, when we first entered it, under the shock and excitement of
the tragedy. We heard all the story on the spot, and then viewed it from
another point of view--the sociopolitical--when we went down from London
to stay at one of the neighboring country-houses, in February, and found
the Home Secretary, Mr. Matthews, afterward Lord Llandaff, among the
guests. The trial was over, the verdict given, and the two murderers
were under sentence of death. But there was a strong agitation going on
in favor of a reprieve; and what made the discussion of it, in this
country-house party, particularly piquant was that the case, at that
very moment, was a matter of close consultation between the judge and
the Home Secretary. It was not easy, therefore, to talk of it in Mr.
Matthews's presence. Voices dropped and groups dissolved when he
appeared. Mr. Asquith, who succeeded Mr. Matthews that very year as Home
Secretary, was also, if I remember right, of the party; and there was a
good deal of rather hot discussion of the game laws, and of English
landlordism in general.

With these things in my mind, as soon as we had settled into Stocks, I
began to think of _Marcella_. I wrote the sketch of the book in
September, 1892, and finished it in February, 1894. Many things went to
the making of it--not only the murdered keepers and the village talk,
not only the remembered beauty of Hampden which gave me the main setting
of the story, but a general ferment of mind, connected with much else
that had been happening to me.

For the New Brotherhood of _Robert Elsmere_ had become in some sort a
realized dream; so far as any dream can ever take to itself the
practical garments of this puzzling world. To show that the faith of
Green and Martineau and Stopford Brooke was a faith that would wear and
work--to provide a home for the new learning of a New Reformation, and a
practical outlet for its enthusiasm of humanity--were the chief aims in
the minds of those of us who in 1890 founded the University Hall
Settlement in London. I look back now with emotion on that astonishing
experiment. The scheme had taken shape in my mind during the summer of
1889, and in the following year I was able to persuade Doctor Martineau,
Mr. Stopford Brooke, my old friend Lord Carlisle, and a group of other
religious Liberals, to take part in its realization. We held a crowded
meeting in London, and an adequate subscription list was raised without
difficulty. University Hall in Gordon Square was taken as a residence
for young men, and was very soon filled. Continuous teaching by the best
men available, from all the churches, on the history and philosophy of
religion, was one half the scheme; the other half busied itself with an
attempt to bring about some real contact between brain and manual
workers. We took a little dingy hall in Marchmont Street, where the
residents of the Hall started clubs and classes, Saturday mornings, for
children and the like. The foundation of Toynbee Hall--the Universities
Settlement--in East London, in memory of Arnold Toynbee, was then a
fresh and striking fact in social history. A spirit of fraternization
was in the air, an ardent wish to break down the local and geographical
barriers that separated rich from poor, East End from West End. The new
venture in which I was interested attached itself, therefore, to a
growing movement. The work in Marchmont Street grew and prospered. Men
and women of the working class found in it a real center of comradeship,
and the residents at the Hall in Gordon Square, led by a remarkable man
of deeply religious temper and Quaker origin, the late Mr. Alfred
Robinson, devoted themselves in the evenings to a work marked by a very
genuine and practical enthusiasm.

Soon it was evident that larger premises were wanted. It was in the days
when Mr. Passmore Edwards was giving large sums to institutions of
different kinds in London, but especially to the founding of public
libraries. He began to haunt the shabby hall in Marchmont Street, and
presently offered to build us a new hall there for classes and social
gatherings. But the scheme grew and grew, in my mind as in his. And when
the question of a site arose we were fortunate enough to interest the
practical and generous mind of the chief ground landlord of Bloomsbury,
the Duke of Bedford. With him I explored various sites in the
neighborhood, and finally the Duke offered us a site in Tavistock Place,
on most liberal terms, he himself contributing largely to the building,
granting us a 999 years' lease, and returning us the ground rent.

And there the Settlement now stands, the most beautiful and commodious
Settlement building in London, with a large garden behind it, made by
the Duke out of various old private gardens, and lent to the Settlement
for its various purposes. Mr. Passmore Edwards contributed L14,000 to
its cost, and it bears his name. It was opened in 1898 by Lord Peel and
Mr. Morley, and for twenty years it has been a center of social work and
endeavor in St. Pancras. From it have sprung the Physically Defective
Schools under the Education Authority, now so plentiful in London, and
so frequent in our other large towns. The first school of the kind was
opened at this Settlement in 1898; and the first school ambulance in
London was given to us by Sir Thomas Barlow for our Cripple Children.
The first Play Center in England began there in 1898; and the first
Vacation School was held there in 1902.

During those twenty years the Settlement has played a large part in my
life. We have had our failures and our successes; and the original idea
has been much transformed with time. The Jowett Lectureship, still
devoted to a religious or philosophical subject, forms a link with the
religious lecturing of the past; but otherwise the Settlement, like the
Master himself, stands for the liberal and spiritual life, without
definitions or exclusions. Up to 1915 it was, like Toynbee Hall, a
Settlement for University and professional men who gave their evenings
to the work. Since 1915 it has been a Women's Settlement under a
distinguished head--Miss Hilda Oakeley, M.A., formerly Warden of King's
College for Women. It is now full of women residents and full of work.
There is a Cripple School building belonging to the Settlement, to the
East; our cripples still fill the Duke's garden with the shouts of their
play; and hundreds of other children crowd into the building every
evening in the winter, or sit under the plane-trees in summer. The
charming hall of the Settlement is well attended every winter week by
people to whom the beautiful music that the Settlement gives is a
constant joy; the Library, dedicated to the memory of T. H. Green, has
400 members; the classes and popular lectures have been steadily held
even during this devastating war; the Workers' Educational Association
carry on their work under our roof; mothers bring their babies to the
Infant Welfare Center in the afternoon; there are orchestral and choral
classes, boys' clubs and girls' clubs. Only one club has closed
down--the Men's Club, which occupied the top floor of the Invalid
Children's School before the war. Their members are scattered over
France, Salonika, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, and the Roll of Honor is
a long one.

Twenty years! How clearly one sees the mistakes, the lost opportunities,
of such an enterprise! But so much is certain--that the Settlement has
been an element of happiness in many, many lives. It has had scores of
devoted workers, in the past--men and women to whom the heart of its
founder goes out in gratitude. And I cannot imagine a time when the
spacious and beautiful house and garden, with all the activities that
have a home there, will not be necessary and welcome to St. Pancras. I
see it, in my dreams, at least, half a century hence, when all those who
first learned from it and in it have gone their way, still serving "the
future hour" of an England reborn. To two especially among the early
friends of the Settlement let me turn back with grateful
remembrance--George Howard, Lord Carlisle, whom I have already
mentioned, and Stopford Brooke. Lord Carlisle was one of the most
liberal and most modest of men, an artist himself, and the friend of
artists. On a Sunday in Russell Square, when the drawing-room door
opened to reveal his fine head and shy, kind eyes, one felt how well
worth while it was to stay at home on Sunday afternoons! I find a little
note from him in 1891, the year in which we left Russell Square to move
westward, regretting the "interesting old house" "with which I associate
you in my mind." He was not an easy talker, but his listening had the
quality that makes others talk their best; while the sudden play of
humor or sarcasm through the features that were no less strong than
refined, and the impression throughout of a singularly upright and
humane personality, made him a delightful companion. There were those
who would gladly have seen him take a more prominent part in public
life. Perhaps a certain natural indolence held him back; perhaps a
wonderful fairness of mind which made him slow to judge, and abnormally
sensitive to "the other side." It is well known that as a landlord he
left the administration of his great estates in the north almost wholly
to his wife, and that, except in the great matter of temperance, he and
she differed in politics, Lady Carlisle--who was a Stanley of
Alderley--going with Mr. Gladstone at the time of the Home Rule split,
while Lord Carlisle joined the Liberal Unionists. Both took a public
part, and the political differences of the parents were continued in
their children. Only a very rare and selfless nature could have carried
through so difficult a situation without lack of either dignity or
sweetness. Lord Carlisle, in the late 'eighties and early 'nineties,
when I knew him best, showed no want of either. The restrictions he laid
upon his own life were perhaps made natural by the fact that he was
first and foremost an artist by training and temperament, and that the
ordinary occupations, rural, social, or political, of the great
land-owning noble, had little or no attraction for him. In the years, at
any rate, when I saw him often, I was drawn to him by our common
interest in the liberalizing of religion, and by a common love of Italy
and Italian art. I remember him once in the incomparable setting of
Naworth; but more often in London, and in Stopford Brooke's company.

For he was an intimate friend and follower of Mr. Brooke's, and I came
very early under the spell of that same strong and magnetic personality.
While we were still at Oxford, through J.R.G. we made acquaintance with
Mr. Brooke, and with the wife whose early death in 1879 left desolate
one of the most affectionate of men. I remember well Mr. Brooke's last
sermon in the University pulpit, before his secession, on grounds of
what we should now call Modernism, from the Church of England. Mrs.
Brooke, I think, was staying with us, while Mr. Brooke was at All Souls,
and the strong individuality of both the husband and wife made a deep
impression upon one who was then much more responsive and recipient than
individual. The sermon was a great success; but it was almost Mr.
Brooke's latest utterance within the Anglican Church. The following year
came the news of Mrs. Brooke's mortal illness. During our short meeting
in 1877 I had been greatly attracted by her, and the news filled me with
unbearable pain. But I had not understood from it that the end itself
was near, and I went out into our little garden, which was a mass of
summer roses, and in a bewilderment of feeling gathered all I could
find--a glorious medley of bloom--that they might surround her, if only
for a day, with the beauty she loved. Next day, or the day after, she
died; and that basket of roses, arriving in the house of death--belated,
incongruous offering!--has stayed with me as the symbol of so much else
that is too late in life, and of our human helplessness and futility in
the face of sorrow.

After our move to London, my children and I went for a long time
regularly to hear Mr. Brooke at Bedford Chapel. At the time, I often
felt very critical of the sermons. Looking back, I cannot bring myself
to say a critical word. If only one could still go and hear him! Where
are the same gifts, the same magnetism, the same compelling personality
to be found to-day, among religious leaders? I remember a sermon on
Elijah and the priests of Baal, which for color and range, for
modernness, combined with ethical force and power, remains with me as
perhaps the best I ever heard. And then, the service. Prayers
simplified, repetitions omitted, the Beatitudes instead of the
Commandments, a dozen jarring, intolerable things left out; but for the
rest, no needless break with association. And the relief and consolation
of it! The simple Communion service, adapted very slightly from the
Anglican rite, and administered by Mr. Brooke with a reverence, an
ardor, a tenderness one can only think of with emotion, was an example
of what _could_ be done with our religious traditions, for those who
want new bottles for new wine, if only the courage and the imagination
were there.

The biography of Mr. Brooke, which his son-in-law, Principal Jacks, has
just brought out, will, I think, reveal to many what made the spell of
Stopford Brooke, to a degree which is not common in biography. For _le
papier est bete_!--and the charm of a man who was both poet and artist,
without writing poems or painting pictures, is very hard to hand on to
those who never knew him. But, luckily, Stopford Brooke's diaries and
letters reflect him with great fullness and freedom. They have his
faults, naturally. They are often exuberant or hasty--not, by any means,
always fair to men and women of a different temperament from his own.
Yet, on the whole, there is the same practical, warm-hearted wisdom in
them that many a friend found in the man himself when they went to
consult him in his little study at the back of Bedford Chapel, where he
wrote his sermons and books, and found quiet, without, however, barring
out the world, if it wanted him. And there breathes from them also the
enduring, eager passion for natural and artistic beauty which made the
joy of his own life, and which his letters and journals may well kindle
in others. His old age was a triumph in the most difficult of arts. He
was young to the end, and every day of the last waiting years was happy
for himself, and precious to those about him. He knew what to give up
and what to keep, and his freshness of feeling never failed. Perhaps his
best and most enduring memorial will be the Wordsworth Cottage at
Grasmere, which he planned and carried out. And I like to remember that
my last sight of him was at a spot only a stone's-throw from that
cottage on the Keswick Road, his gray hair beaten back by the light
breeze coming from the pass, and his cheerful eyes, full often, as it
seemed to me, of a mystical content, raised toward the evening glow over
Helm Crag and the Easedale fells.

On the threshold also of the Settlement's early history there stands the
venerable figure of James Martineau--thinker and saint. For he was a
member of the original Council, and his lectures on the Gospel of St.
Luke, in the old "Elsmerian" hall, marked the best of what we tried to
give in those first days. I knew Harriet Martineau in my childhood at
Fox How. Well I remember going to tea with that tremendous woman when I
was eight years old; sitting through a silent meal, in much awe of her
cap, her strong face, her ear-trumpet; and then being taken away to a
neighboring room by a kind niece, that I might not disturb her further.
Once or twice, during my growing up, I saw her. She lived only a mile
from Fox How, and was always on friendly terms with my people. Matthew
Arnold had a true admiration for her--sturdy fighter that she was in
Liberal causes. So had W.E. Forster; only he suffered a good deal at her
hands, as she disapproved of the Education Bill, and contrived so to
manage her trumpet when he came to see her as to take all the argument
and give him all the listening! When my eldest child was born, a
cot-blanket arrived, knitted by Miss Martineau's own hands--the busy
hands (soon then to be at rest) that wrote the _History of the Peace_,
_Feats on the Fiord_, the _Settlers at Home_, and those excellent
biographical sketches of the politicians of the Reform and Corn Law days
in the _Daily News_, which are still well worth reading.

Between Harriet Martineau and her brother James, as many people will
remember, there arose an unhappy difference in middle life which was
never mended or healed. I never heard him speak of her. His standards
were high and severe, for all the sensitive delicacy of his long,
distinguished face and visionary eyes; and neither he nor she was of the
stuff that allows kinship to supersede conscience. He published a
somewhat vehement criticism of a book in which she was part author, and
she never forgave it. And although to me, in the University Hall
venture, he was gentleness and courtesy itself, and though his presence
seemed to hallow a room directly he entered it, one felt always that he
was _formidable_. The prophet and the Puritan lay deep in him. Yet in
his two famous volumes of Sermons there are tones of an exquisite
tenderness and sweetness, together with harmonies of prose style, that
remind me often how he loved music and how his beautiful white head
might be seen at the Monday Popular Concerts, week after week, his
thinker's brow thrown back to catch the finest shades of
Joachim's playing.

The year after _David Grieve_ appeared, Mr. Jowett died. His long letter
to me on the book contained some characteristic passages, of which I
quote the following:

    I should like to have a good talk with you. I seldom get any one to
    talk on religious subjects. It seems to me that the world is growing
    rather tired of German criticism, having got out of it nearly all
    that it is capable of giving. To me it appears one of the most
    hopeful signs of the present day that we are coming back to the old,
    old doctrine, "he can't be wrong whose life is in the right." Yet
    this has to be taught in a If new way, adapted to the wants of the
    age. We must give up doctrine and teach by the lives of men,
    beginning with the life of Christ, instead. And the best words of
    men, beginning with the Gospels and the prophets, will be our Bible.

At the end of the year we spent a weekend with him at Balliol, and that
was my last sight of my dear old friend. The year 1893 was for me one of
illness, and of hard work both in the organization of the new Settlement
and in the writing of _Marcella_. But that doesn't reconcile me to the
recollection of how little I knew of his failing health till, suddenly,
in September the news reached me that he was lying dangerously ill in
the house of Sir Robert Wright, in Surrey.

    "Every one who waited on him in his illness loved him," wrote an old
    friend of his and mine who was with him to the end. What were almost
    his last words--"I bless God for my life!--I bless God for my
    life!"--seemed to bring the noble story of it to a triumphant close;
    and after death he lay "with the look of a little child on his
    face.... He will live in the hearts of those who loved him, as well
    as in his work."

He lives indeed; and as we recede farther from him the originality and
greatness of his character will become more and more clear to Oxford and
to England. The men whom he trained are now in the full stream of
politics and life. His pupils and friends are or have been everywhere,
and they have borne, in whatever vocation, the influence of his mind or
the mark of his friendship. Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Asquith, Lord Justice
Bowen, Lord Coleridge, Lord Milner, Sir Robert Morier, Matthew Arnold,
Tennyson, Lord Goschen, Miss Nightingale, and a hundred others of the
nation's leaders--amid profoundest difference, the memory of "the
Master" has been for them a common and a felt bond. No other religious
personality of the nineteenth century--unless it be that of Newman--has
stood for so much. In his very contradictions and inconsistencies of
thought he was the typical man of a time beset on all sides by new
problems to which Jowett knew very well there was no intellectual
answer; while through the passion of his faith in a Divine Life, which
makes itself known to man, not in miracle or mystery, but through the
channels of a common experience, he has been a kindling force in many
hearts and minds, and those among the most important to England.
Meanwhile, to these great matters the Jowettan oddities and
idiosyncrasies added just that touch of laughter and surprise that makes
a man loved by his own time and arrests the eye and ear of posterity.



CHAPTER VI


_HELBECK OF BANNISDALE_


The coming out of _Marcella_, in April, 1894, will always mark for me
perhaps the happiest date in my literary life. The book, for all the
hard work that had gone to it, had none the less been a pleasure to
write; and the good-will that greeted it made the holiday I had
earned--which again was largely spent in Rome--a golden time. Not long
after we left England, "Piccadilly," my sister wrote me, was "placarded
with _Marcella_," the name appearing on the notice-boards of most of the
evening papers--a thing which never happened to me before or since; and
when we arrived in Rome, the content-bills of the London newspapers,
displayed in the Piazza di Spagna, announced her no less flamingly. The
proof-sheets of the book had been tried on various friends, as usual,
with some amusing results. Bishop Creighton, with only the first
two-thirds of the book before him, wrote me denunciations of Marcella.

    I am greatly interested in the book and pine for the _denoument_. So
    far Marcella, though I know her quite well, does not in the least
    awaken my sympathy. She is an intolerable girl--but there are many
    of them.... I only hope that she may be made to pay for it. Mr. and
    Mrs. Boyce are good and original, so is Wharton. I hope that condign
    vengeance awaits him. He is the modern politician entirely.... I
    really hope Marcella may be converted. It would serve her right to
    marry her to Wharton; he would beat her.

Another old friend, one of the industrial leaders of the north, carried
off half the proofs to read on his journey to Yorkshire.

    I so ravened on them that I sat still at Blosworth instead of
    getting out! The consequence is that all my plans are disarranged. I
    shall not get to M---- in time for my meeting, and for all this
    Marcella is to blame.... The station-master assured me he called out
    "Change for Northampton," but I was much too deep in the scene
    between Marcella, Lord Maxwell, and Raeburn to heed anything
    belonging to the outer world.

Mr. Goschen wrote:

    I don't know how long it is since I have enjoyed reading anything so
    much. I can't satisfy myself as to the physical appearance of
    Wharton.... I do know some men of a _character_ not quite unlike
    him, but they haven't the boyish face with curls. Marcella I see
    before me. Mrs. Boyce and Lord Maxwell both interested me very
    much....Alack! I must turn from Marcella's enthusiasm and
    aspirations to Sir W. Harcourt's speech--a great transition.

And dear Alfred Lyttelton wrote:

    I feel a ridiculous pride in her triumphs which I have had the joy
    of witnessing on every side.... At least permit an expert to tell
    you that his heart beat over the ferrets (in the poaching scene) and
    at the intense vividness and truth of the legal episodes.

But there is no one letter in this old packet which moves me specially.
It was on the 1st of March, 1894, that Mr. Gladstone said "Good-by" to
his Cabinet in the Cabinet room at Downing Street, and a little later in
the afternoon walked away for the last time from the House of Commons.
No one who has read it will forget the telling of that episode, in Mr.
Morley's biography, with what concentration, what dignity!--worthy alike
of the subject and of the admirable man of letters--himself an
eye-witness--who records it.

While Lord Kimberley and Sir William Harcourt, on behalf of the rest of
their colleagues, were bidding their great chief farewell, "Mr.
Gladstone sat composed and still as marble, and the emotion of the
Cabinet did not gain him for an instant." When the spokesmen ceased, he
made his own little speech of four or five minutes in reply: "then
hardly above a breath, but every accent heard, he said, 'God bless you
all.' He rose slowly and went out of one door, while his colleagues with
minds oppressed filed out by the other."

On this moving scene there followed what Mr. Gladstone himself described
as the first period of comparative leisure he had ever known, extending
to four and a half months. They were marked first by increasing
blindness, then by an operation for cataract, and finally by a moderate
return of sight. In July he notes that "during the last months of
partial incapacity I have not written with my own hand probably so much
as one letter a day." In this faded packet of mine lies one of these
rare letters, written with his own hand--a full sheet--from Dollis Hill,
on April 27th.

    When _Marcella_ arrived my thankfulness was alloyed with a feeling
    that the state of my eyesight made your kindness for the time a
    waste. But Mr. Nettleship has since then by an infusion supplied a
    temporary stimulus to the organ, such that I have been enabled to
    begin, and am reading the work with great pleasure and an agreeable
    sense of congeniality which I do not doubt I shall retain to
    the close.


Then he describes a book--a novel--dealing with religious controversy,
which he had lately been reading, in which every character embodying
views opposed to those of the author "is exhibited as odious." With this
he warmly contrasts the method and spirit of _David Grieve_, and then
continues:

    Well, I have by my resignation passed into a new state of existence.
    And in that state I shall be very glad when our respective stars may
    cause our paths to meet. I am full of prospective work; but for the
    present a tenacious influenza greatly cripples me and prevents my
    making any definite arrangement for an expected operation on my eye.

Eighty-five!--greatly crippled by influenza and blindness--yet "full of
prospective work"! The following year, remembering _Robert Elsmere_
days, and _a propos_ of certain passages in his review of that book, I
ventured to send him an Introduction I had contributed to my
brother-in-law Leonard Huxley's translation of Hausrath's _New Testament
Times._ This time the well-known handwriting is feebler and the old
"fighter" is not roused. He puts discussion by, and turns instead to
kind words about a near relative of my own who had been winning
distinctions at Oxford.

    It is one of the most legitimate interests of the old to watch with
    hope and joy these opening lives, and it has the secondary effect of
    whispering to them that they are not yet wholly frozen up.... I am
    busy as far as my limited powers of exertion allow upon a new
    edition of Bishop Butler's Works, which costs me a good deal of
    labor and leaves me, after a few hours upon it, good for very little
    else. And my perspective, dubious as it is, is filled with other
    work, in the Homeric region lying beyond. I hope it will be very
    long before you know anything of compulsory limitations on the
    exercise of your powers. Believe me always,

    Sincerely yours,

    W. E. GLADSTONE.

But it was not till 1897, as he himself records, that the indomitable
spirit so far yielded to these limitations as to resign--or rather
contemplate resigning--the second great task of which he had spoken to
me at Oxford, nine years before. "I have begun seriously to ask myself
whether I shall ever be able to face--_The Olympian Religion_."

It was, I think, in the winter of 1895 that I saw him for the last time
at our neighbors', the Rothschilds, at Tring Park. He was then full of
animation and talk, mainly of things political, and, indeed, not long
before he had addressed a meeting at Chester on the Turkish massacres in
Armenia, and was still to address a large audience at Liverpool on the
same subject--his last public appearance--a year later. When _George
Tressady_ appeared he sent me a message through Mrs. Drew that he feared
George Tressady's Parliamentary conduct "was inconceivable in a man of
honor"; and I was only comforted by the emphatic and laughing dissent of
Lord Peel, to whom I repeated the verdict. "Nothing of the kind! But of
course he was thinking of _us_--the Liberal Unionists."

Then came the last months when, amid a world's sympathy and reverence,
the great life, in weariness and pain, wore to its end. The "lying in
state" in Westminster Hall seemed to me ill arranged. But the burying
remains with me as one of those perfect things, which only the Anglican
Church at its best, in combination with the immemorial associations of
English history, can achieve. After it, I wrote to my son:

    I have now seen four great funerals in the Abbey--Darwin, Browning,
    Tennyson, and the funeral service for Uncle Forster, which was very
    striking, too. But no one above forty of those in the Abbey
    yesterday will ever see the like again. It was as beautiful and
    noble as the "lying in state" was disappointing and ugly. The music
    was exquisite, and fitting in every respect; and when the high
    sentence rang out, "and their name liveth for evermore," the effect
    was marvelous. One seemed to hear the voice of the future already
    pealing through the Abbey--as though the verdict were secured, the
    judgment given.

    We saw it all, admirably, from the Muniment Room, which is a sort of
    lower Triforium above the south Transept. To me, perhaps, the most
    thrilling moment was when, bending forward, one saw the
    white-covered coffin disappear amid the black crowd round it, and
    knew that it had sunk forever into its deep grave, amid that same
    primeval clay of Thorny Island on which Edward's Minister was first
    reared and the Red King built his hall of judgment and Council. The
    statue of Dizzy looked down on him--"So you have come at last!"--and
    all the other statues on either side seemed to welcome and receive
    him.... The sloping seats for Lords and Commons filled the
    transepts, a great black mass against the jeweled windows, the Lords
    on one side, the Commons on the other; in front of each black
    multitude was the glitter of a mace, and in the hollow between, the
    whiteness of the pall--perhaps you can fancy it so.

But the impetus of memory has carried me on too fast. There are some
other figures and scenes to be gathered from these years--1893-98--that
may still interest this present day. Of the most varied kind! For, as I
turn over letters and memoranda, a jumble of recollections passes
through my mind. Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, on the one hand, a
melancholy, kindly man, amid the splendors of Waddesden; a meeting of
the Social Democratic Federation in a cellar in Lisson Grove; days of
absorbing interest in the Jewish East End, and in sweaters' workshops,
while _George Tressady_ was in writing; a first visit to Mentmore while
Lady Rosebery was alive; a talk with Lord Rosebery some time after her
death, in a corner of a local ball-room, while _Helbeck_ was shaping
itself about the old Catholic families of England, which revealed to me
yet another and unsuspected vein of knowledge in one of the best
furnished of minds; the Asquith marriage in 1894; new acquaintances and
experiences in Lancashire towns, again connected with _George Tressady_,
and in which I was helped by that brilliant writer, worker, and fighter,
Mrs. Sidney Webb; a nascent friendship with Sir William Harcourt, one of
the most racy of all possible companions; happy evenings in the Tadema
and Richmond studios with music and good talk; occasional meetings with
and letters from "Pater," the dear and famous Professor, who, like my
uncle, fought half the world and scarcely made an enemy; visits to
Oxford and old friends--such are the scenes and persons that come back
to me as I read old letters, while all through it ran the continual
strain of hard literary work mingled with the new social and religious
interests which the foundation of the Passmore Edwards Settlement had
brought me.

    We have been at Margot Tennant's wedding to-day [I wrote to my son
    on May 10, 1894]--a great function, very tiring, but very brilliant
    and amusing--occasionally dramatic, too, as, when after the service
    had begun, the sound of cheering in the street outside drowned the
    voice of the Bishop of Rochester, and warned us that Mr. Gladstone
    was arriving. Afterward at the house we shook hands with three
    Cabinet Ministers on the door-step, and there were all the rest of
    them inside! The bride carried herself beautifully and was as
    composed and fresh as though it were any ordinary party. From our
    seat in the church one saw the interior of the vestry and Mr.
    Gladstone's white head against the window as he sat to sign the
    register; and the greeting between him and Mr. Balfour when he
    had done.


This was written while Lord Rosebery was Prime Minister and Mr. Balfour,
still free, until the following year, from the trammels of office, was
finishing his brilliant _Foundations of Belief_, which came out in 1895.
In acknowledging the copy which he sent me, I ventured to write some
pages on behalf of certain arguments of the Higher Criticism which
seemed to me to deserve a fuller treatment than Mr. Balfour had been
willing to give them--in defense also of our English idealists, such as
Green and Caird, in their relation to orthodoxy. A year or two earlier I
find I had been breaking a lance on behalf of the same school of writers
with a very different opponent. In the controversy between Professor
Huxley and Doctor Wace, in 1889, which opened with the famous article on
"The Gadarene Swine," the Professor had welcomed me as an ally, because
of "The New Reformation," which appeared much about the same time; and
the word of praise in which he compared my reply to Mr. Gladstone, to
the work "of a strong housemaid brushing away cobwebs," gave me a
fearful joy! I well remember a thrilling moment in the Russell Square
drawing-room in 1889, when "Pater" and I were in full talk, he in his
raciest and most amusing form, and suddenly the door opened, and "Doctor
Wace" was announced--the opponent with whom at that moment he was
grappling his hardest in the _Nineteenth Century_. Huxley gave me a
merry look--and then how perfectly they both behaved! I really think the
meeting was a pleasure to both of them, and when my old chief in the
_Dictionary of Christian Biography_ took his departure, Huxley found all
kinds of pleasant personal things to say about him.

But the Professor and I were not always at one. Caird and Green--and,
for other reasons, Martineau--were to me names "of great pith and
moment," and Christian Theism was a reasonable faith. And Huxley, in
controversy, was no more kind to my _sacra_ than to other people's. Once
I dared a mild remonstrance--in 1892--only to provoke one of his most
vigorous replies:

    MY DEAR M.--Thanks for your pleasant letter. I do not know whether I
    like the praise or the scolding better. They, like pastry, need to
    be done with a light hand--especially praise--and I have swallowed
    all yours, and feel it thoroughly agrees with me.

    As to the scolding I am going to defend myself tooth and nail. In
    the first place, by all my Gods and No Gods, neither Green, nor
    Martineau, nor the Cairds were in my mind when I talked of
    "Sentimental Deism," but the "Vicaire Savoyard," and Charming, and
    such as Voysey. There are two chapters of "Rousseauism," I have not
    touched yet--Rousseauism in Theology, and Rousseauism in Education.
    When I write the former I shall try to show that the people of whom
    I speak as "sentimental deists" are the lineal descendants of the
    Vicaire Savoyard. I was a great reader of Channing in my boyhood,
    and was much taken in by his theosophic confectionery. At present I
    have as much (intellectual) antipathy to him as St. John had to the
    Nicolaitans.

    ... Green I know only from his Introduction to Hume--which reminds
    me of nothing so much as a man with a hammer and chisel knocking out
    bits of bad stone in the Great Pyramid, with the view of bringing it
    down.... As to Caird's _Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion_,
    I will get it and study it. But as a rule "Philosophies of Religion"
    in my experience turn out to be only "Religions of
    Philosophers"--quite another business, as you will admit.

    And if you please, Ma'am, I wish to add that I think I am _not_
    without sympathy for Christian feeling--or rather for what you mean
    by it. Beneath the cooled logical upper strata of my microcosm there
    is a fused mass of prophetism and mysticism, and the Lord knows what
    might happen to me, in case a moral earthquake cracked the
    superincumbent deposit, and permitted an eruption of the demonic
    element below.... Luckily I am near 70, and not a G.O.M.--so the
    danger is slight.

    One must stick to one's trade. It is my business to the best of my
    ability to fight for scientific clearness--that is what the world
    lacks. Feeling Christian or other, is superabundant....

    Ever yours affectionately,

    T. H. HUXLEY.

A few more letters from him--racy, and living as himself--and then in
1895, just after his first article on the "Foundations of Belief," we
heard with dismay of the illness which killed him. There was never a man
more beloved--more deeply mourned.

The autumn of 1896 brought me a great loss in the death of an intimate
friend, Lady Wemyss--as marked a personality in her own circle as was
her indomitable husband, the famous Lord Elcho, of the Volunteer
movement, on the bigger stage. It was at Balliol, at the Master's table,
and in the early Oxford days, that we first made friends with Lord and
Lady Wemyss, who were staying with the Master for the Sunday. I was
sitting next to Lord Wemyss, and he presently discovered that I was
absent-minded. And I found him so attractive and so human that I soon
told him why. I had left a sick child at home, with a high temperature,
and was fidgeting to get back to him.

"What is the matter?--Fever?--throat? Aconite, of course! You're a
homeopath, aren't you? All sensible people are. Look here--I've got a
servant with me. I'll send him with some aconite at once. Where do you
live?--in the Parks? All right. Give me your address."

Out came an envelope and a pencil. A message was sent round the
dinner-table to Lady Wemyss, whose powerful dreaming face beside the
Master lit up at once. The aconite was sent; the child's temperature
went down; and, if I remember right, either one or both of his new
medical advisers walked up to the Parks the next day to inquire for him.
So began a friendship which for just twenty years, especially from about
1885 to 1896, meant a great deal to me.

How shall I describe Lady Wemyss? An unfriendly critic has recently
allowed me the power of "interesting fashionable ladies in things of the
mind." Was Lady Wemyss a "fashionable lady"? She was the wife,
certainly, of a man of high rank and great possessions; but I met her
first as a friend--a dear and intimate friend, as may be seen from his
correspondence--of Mr. Jowett's; and Mr. Jowett was not very tolerant of
"fashionable ladies." She was in reality a strong and very simple
person, with a natural charm working through a very reserved and often
harsh manner, like the charm of mountain places in spring. She was a
Conservative, and I suppose an aristocrat, whatever that word may mean.
She thought the Harcourt death-duties "terrible" because they broke up
old families and old estates, and she had been brought up to think that
both were useful. Yet I never knew anybody with a more instinctive
passion for equality. This means that she was simply and deeply
interested in all sorts of human beings and all sorts of human lots;
also that, although she was often self-conscious, it was the
self-consciousness one sees in the thoughtful and richly natured young,
whose growth in thought or character has outrun their means of
expression, and never mean or egotistical. Her deep voice; her fine,
marked features; and the sudden play of humor, silent, self-restrained,
yet most infectious to the bystander, that would lighten through them;
her stately ways; and yet, withal, her childlike love of loving and
being loved by the few to whom she gave her deepest affection--in some
such phrases one tries to describe her; but they go a very little way.

I can see her now at the dinner-table at Gosford, sardonically watching
a real "fashionable lady" who had arrived in the afternoon and was
sitting next Lord Wemyss at the farther end--with a wonderful frizzled
head, an infinitesimal waist sheathed in white muslin and blue ribbons,
rouged cheeks, a marvelous concatenation of jewels, and a caressing,
gesticulating manner meant, at fifty, to suggest the ways of "sweet and
twenty." The frizzled head drew nearer and nearer to Lord Wemyss, the
fingers flourished and pointed; and suddenly I heard Lady Wemyss's deep
voice, meditatively amused, beside me:

"Her fingers will be in Frank's eyes soon!" Or again, I see her, stalled
beneath the drawing-room table, on all-fours, by her imperious
grandchildren, patiently playing "horse" or "cow," till her scandalized
daughter-in-law discovered her and ran to her release. Or in her last
illness, turning her noble head and faint, welcoming smile to the few
friends that were admitted; and finally, in the splendid rest after
death, when those of us who had not known her in youth could guess what
the beauty of her youth had been.

She was an omnivorous and most intelligent reader, and a friend that
never failed. Matthew Arnold was very fond of her, and she of him; Laura
Lyttelton, who was nearly forty years her junior, loved her dearly and
never felt the bar of years; the Master owed much to her affection, and
gratefully acknowledged it. The _Commonplace Book_, privately printed
after her death, showed the range of interests which had played upon her
fresh and energetic mind. It was untrained, I suppose, compared to the
woman graduate of to-day. But it was far less tired; and all its
adventures were of its own seeking.

It was in 1896, not long after the appearance of _George Tressady_, that
a conversation in a house on the outskirts of the Lakes suggested to me
the main plot of _Helbeck of Bannisdale._ The talk turned on the
fortunes of that interesting old place, Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, and
of the Catholic family to whom it then still belonged, though mortgages
and lack of pence were threatening imminently to submerge an ancient
stock that had held it unbrokenly, from father to son, through many
generations.

The relation between such a family--pinched and obscure, yet with its
own proud record, and inherited consciousness of an unbroken loyalty to
a once persecuted faith--and this modern world of ours struck me as an
admirable subject for a novel. I thought about it next day, all through
a long railway journey from Kendal to London, and by the time I reached
Euston the plot of _Helbeck of Bannisdale_ was more or less clear to me.

I confided it to Lord Acton a little while afterward. We discussed it,
and he cordially encouraged me to work it out. Then I consulted my
father, my Catholic father, without whose assent I should never have
written the book at all; and he raised no difficulty. So I only had
to begin.

But I wanted a setting--somewhere in the border country between the
Lakes mountains and Morecambe Bay. And here another piece of good luck
befell, almost equal to that which had carried us to Hampden for the
summer of 1889. Levens Hall, it appeared, was to be let for the
spring--the famous Elizabethan house, five miles from Kendal, and about
a mile from Sizergh. I had already seen Levens; and we took the
chance at once.

Bannisdale in the novel is a combination, I suppose, of Sizergh and
Levens. The two houses, though of much the same date, are really very
different, and suggest phases of life quite distinct from each other.
Levens compared to Sizergh is--or was then, before the modern
restoration of Sizergh--the spoiled beauty beside the shabby ascetic.
Levens has always been cared for and lived in by people who had money to
spend upon the house and garden they loved, and the result is a
wonderful example of Elizabethan and Jacobean decoration, mellowed by
time into a perfect whole. Yet, for my purposes, there was always
Sizergh, close by, with its austere suggestions of sacrifice and
suffering under the penal laws, borne without flinching by a long
succession of quiet, simple, undistinguished people.

We arrived there in March, 1897. The house greeted us on a clear and
chilly evening under the mingled light of a frosty sunset, and the blaze
of wood fires which had been lit everywhere to warm its new guests.

    At last we arrived--saw the wonderful gray house rising above the
    river in the evening light, found G---- waiting at the open door for
    us, and plunged into the hall, the sitting-rooms, and all the
    intricacies of the upper passages and turrets with the delight and
    curiosity of a pack of children. Wood and peat fires were burning
    everywhere; the great chimneypieces in the drawing-room, the arms of
    Elizabeth over the hall fire, the stucco birds and beasts running
    round the Hall, showed dimly in the scanty lamplight (we shall want
    about six more lamps!)--and the beauty of the marvelous old place
    took us all by storm. Then through endless passages and kitchens,
    bright with long rows of copper pans and molds, we made our way out
    into the gardens among the clipped yews and cedars, and had just
    light enough to see that Levens apparently is like nothing else
    but itself.
    ... The drawback of the house at present is certainly _the cold_!

Thus began a happy and fruitful time. We managed to get warm in spite of
a treacherous and tardy spring. Guests came to stay with us--Henry
James, above all; the Creightons, he then in the first months of that
remarkable London episcopate, which in four short years did so much to
raise the name and fame of the Anglican Church in London, at least for
the lay mind; the Neville Lytteltons, who had been since 1893 our summer
neighbors at Stocks; Lord Lytton, then at Cambridge; the Sydney Buxtons;
old Oxford friends, and many kinsfolk. The damson blossom along the
hedgerows that makes of these northern vales in April a glistening
network of white and green, the daffodils and violets, the
lilies-of-the-valley in the Brigsteer woods came and went, the _Helbeck_
made steady progress.

But we left Levens in May, and it took me another eight months to finish
the book. Except perhaps in the case of _Bessie Costrell_, I was never
more possessed by a subject, more shut in by it from the outer world.
And, though its contemporary success was nothing like so great as that
of most of my other books, the response it evoked, as my letters show,
in those to whom the book appealed, was deep and passionate.

My first anxiety was as to my father, and after we had left England for
abroad I was seized with misgivings lest certain passages in the talk of
Doctor Friedland, who, it will perhaps be remembered, is made the
spokesman in the book of certain points in the _intellectual_ case
against Catholicism, should wound or distress him. I, therefore, no
sooner reached Italy than I sent for the proofs again, and worked at
them as much as fatigue would let me, softening them, and, I think,
improving them, too. Then we went on to Florence, and rest, coming home
for the book's publication in June.

The joy and emotion of it were great. George Meredith, J. M. Barrie,
Paul Bourget, and Henry James--the men who at that time stood at the
head of my own art--gave the book a welcome that I can never forget.
George Meredith wrote:

    Your _Helbeck of Bannisdale_ held me firmly in the reading and
    remains with me.... If I felt a monotony during the struggle, it
    came of your being faithful to your theme--rapt--or you would not
    have had such power over your reader. I know not another book that
    shows the classic so distinctly to view.... Yet a word of thanks for
    Doctor Friedland. He is the voice of spring in the book.


J.M. Barrie's generous, enthusiastic note delights and inspires me again
as I read it over. Mr. Morley, my old editor and critic, wrote: "I find
it intensely interesting and with all the elements of beauty, power, and
pathos." For Leslie Stephen, with whom I had only lately made warm and
close friends, I had a copy bound, without the final chapter, that the
book might not, by its tragic close, depress one who had known so much
sorrow. Sir Alfred Lyall thought--"the story reaches a higher pitch of
vigor and dramatic presentation than is to be found even in your later
books"; while Lord Halifax's letter--"how lovable they both are, each in
his way, and how true to the ideal on both sides!"--and others, from Mr.
Godkin, of the American _Nation_, from Frederic Harrison, Lord Goschen,
Lord Dufferin, and many, many more, produced in me that curious mood
which for the artist is much nearer dread than boasting--dread that the
best is over and that one will never earn such sympathy again. One
letter not written to myself, from Mr. George Wyndham to Mr. Wilfred
Ward, I have asked leave to print as a piece of independent criticism:

    On Sunday I read _Helbeck of Bannisdale_, and I confess that the
    book moved me a great deal. It is her best book. It is a true
    tragedy, because the crash is inevitable. This is not so easy to
    effect in Art as many suppose. There are very few characters and
    situations which lead to inevitable crashes. It is a thousand to one
    that a woman who thinks she ought not to marry a man, but loves him
    passionately, will, in fact, marry him. She will either discover an
    ingenious way out of her woods or else just shut her eyes and "go it
    blind," relying on his strength and feeling that it is really right
    to relinquish to him her sense of responsibility. In choosing a girl
    with nothing left her in the world but loyalty to a dead father and
    memory of his attitude toward religion, without knowledge of his
    arguments for that attitude, I think that Mrs. Ward has hit on the
    only possible _persona_. Had Laura, herself, been a convinced
    rationalist, or had her father been still alive, she would have
    merged herself and her attitude in Helbeck's strength of character.
    Being a work of art, self-consistent and inevitable, the book
    becomes symbolic. It is a picture of incompatibility, but, being a
    true picture, it is a symbolic index to the incompatible which plays
    so large a part in the experience of man.

For the rest, I remember vividly the happy holiday of that summer at
Stocks; the sense of having come through a great wrestle, and finding
everything--my children, the garden, my little Huxley nephews, books and
talk, the Settlement where we were just about to open our Cripple
School, and all else in life, steeped in a special glamour. It faded
soon, no doubt, "into the light of common day"; but if I shut my
thoughts and eyes against the troubles of these dark hours of war, I can
feel my way back into the "wind-warm space" and look into the faces that
earth knows no more--my father, Leslie Stephen, Alfred Lyall, Mr.
Goschen, Alfred Lyttelton, H. O. Arnold-Forster, my sister, Julia
Huxley, my eldest brother--a vanished company!

And in the following year, to complete the story, I owed to _Helbeck_ a
striking and unexpected hour. A message reached me in November, 1898, to
the effect that the Empress Frederick, who had just arrived at Windsor,
admired the book and would like to see the writer of it.

A tragic figure at that moment--the Empress Frederick! That splendid
Crown Prince, in his white uniform, whom we had seen at Schwalbach in
1872, had finished early in 1890 with his phantom reign and tortured
life, and his son reigned in his stead. Bismarck, "the Englishwoman's"
implacable enemy, had died some four months before I saw the Empress,
after eight years' exclusion from power. The Empress herself was on the
verge of the terrible illness which killed her two years later. To me
her life and personality--or, rather, the little I knew of them--had
always been very interesting. She had, of course, the reputation of
being the ablest of her family, and the bitterness of her sudden and
irreparable defeat at the hands of Fate and her son, in 1889-90, had
often struck me as one of the grimmest stories in history. One incident
in it, not, I think, very generally known, I happened to hear from an
eye-witness of the scene, before 1898. It was as follows:

    The Empress Frederick in the midst of the Bismarck crisis of March,
    1890, when it was evident that the young Emperor William II was bent
    on getting rid of his Chancellor, and so "dropping the pilot" of his
    House, was sitting at home one afternoon, with the companion from
    whom I heard the story, when a servant, looking a good deal scared,
    announced that Prince Bismarck had called and wished to know whether
    her Majesty would receive him.

    "Prince Bismarck!" said the Empress, in amazement. She had probably
    not seen him since the death of her husband, and relations between
    herself and him had been no more than official for years. Turning to
    her companion, she said, "What can he possibly want with me!"

    She consented, however, to receive him, and the old Prince, agitated
    and hollow-eyed, made his appearance. He had come, as a last hope of
    placating the new Kaiser, to ask the Empress to use what influence
    she could on his behalf with her son. The Empress listened in
    growing astonishment. At the end there was a short silence. Then she
    said, with emotion: "I am sorry! You, yourself, Prince Bismarck,
    have destroyed all my influence with my son. I can do nothing."

In a sense, it must have been a moment of triumph. But how tragic are
all the implications of the story! It was in my mind as I traveled to
Windsor on November 18, 1898. The following letter was written next day
to one of my children:


    D---- and I met at Windsor, and we mounted into the quadrangle,
    stopped at the third door on the right as Mrs. M---- had directed
    us, interviewed various gorgeous footmen, and were soon in Mrs.
    M----'s little sitting-room. Then we found we should have some
    little time to wait, as the Empress was just going out with the
    Queen and would see me at a quarter to 1. So we waited, much amused
    by the talk around us. (It turned, if I remember right, on a certain
    German Princess, who had arrived a day or two before as the old
    Queen's guest, and had been taken since her arrival on such a
    strenuous round of tombs and mausoleums that, hearing on this
    particular morning that the Queen proposed to take her in the
    afternoon to see yet another mausoleum, she had stubbornly refused
    to get up. She had a headache, she said, and would stay in bed. But
    the ladies in waiting, with fits of laughter, described how the
    Queen had at once ordered her phenacetin, and how there was really
    no chance at all for the poor lady. The Queen would get her way, and
    the departed would be duly honored--headache or no headache. As
    indeed it turned out.)

    Presently we saw the Queen's little pony-carriage pass along beyond
    the windows with the Empress Frederick, and the Grand Duke and
    Duchess Serge walking beside it, and the Indians behind. Then in a
    little while the Empress Frederick came hurrying back alone, and
    almost directly came my summons. Countess Perponcher, her lady in
    waiting, took me up through the Long Corridor, past the entrance to
    the Queen's rooms on one side, and Gordon's Bible, in its glass
    case, on the other, till we turned to the left, and I was in a small
    sitting-room, where a lady, gray-haired and in black, came forward
    to meet me.... We talked for about 50 minutes:--of German books and
    Universities--Harnack--Renan, for whom she had the greatest
    admiration--Strauss, of whom she told me various interesting
    things--German colonies, that she thought were "all
    nonsense"--Dreyfus, who in her eyes is certainly innocent--reaction
    in France--the difference between the Greek Church in Russia and the
    Greek Church in Greece, the hopes of Greece, and the freeing of
    Crete. It is evident that her whole heart is with Greece and her
    daughter there [the young Queen Sophia, on whose character recently
    deciphered documents have thrown so strong a light], and she spoke
    bitterly, as she always does, about the English hanging-back, and
    the dawdling of the European Concert. Then she described how she
    read _George Tressady_ aloud to her invalid daughter till the
    daughter begged her to stop, lest she should cry over it all
    night--she said charming things of _Helbeck_, talked of Italy,
    D'Annunzio, quoted "my dear old friend Minghetti" as to the
    fundamental paganism in the Italian mind, asked me to write my name
    in her book, and to come and see her in Berlin--and it was time to
    go.... She is a very attractive, sensitive, impulsive woman, more
    charming than I had imagined, and, perhaps, less
    intellectual--altogether the very woman to set up the backs of
    Bismarck and his like. Never was there a more thorough Englishwoman!
    I found myself constantly getting her out of focus, by that
    confusion of mind which made one think of her as German.

And to my father I wrote:

    The Empress began by asking after Uncle Matt, and nothing could have
    been kinder and more sympathetic than her whole manner. But of
    course Bismarck hated her. She is absolutely English, parliamentary,
    and anti-despotic.... When I ventured to say in bidding her Good-by,
    that I had often felt great admiration and deep sympathy for her,
    which is true--she threw up her hands with a little sad or bitter
    gesture--"Oh!--admiration!--for _me_!"--as if she knew very well
    what it was to be conscious of the reverse. A touching, intelligent,
    impulsive woman, she seemed to me--no doubt often not a wise
    one--but very attractive.

Nineteen years ago! And two years later, after long suffering, like her
husband, the last silence fell on this brave and stormy nature. Let us
thank God for it as we look out upon Europe and see what her son has
made of it.



CHAPTER VII


THE VILLA BARBERINI. HENRY JAMES


It was in the summer of 1898 that some suggestions gathered from the
love-story of Chateaubriand and Madame de Beaumont, and jotted down on a
sheet of note-paper, led to the writing of _Eleanor_. Madame de
Beaumont's melancholy life came to an end in Rome, and the Roman setting
imposed itself, so to speak, at once. But to write in Rome itself,
played upon by all the influences of a place where the currents of life
and thought, so far as those currents are political, historical, or
artistic, seem to be running at double tides, would be, I knew,
impossible, and we began to make inquiries for a place outside Rome, yet
not too far away, where we might spend the spring. We tried to get an
apartment at Frascati, but in vain. Then some friend suggested an
apartment in the old Villa Barberini at Castel Gandolfo, well known to
many an English and French diplomat, especially to the diplomat's wife
and children, flying to the hills to escape the summer heat of Rome. We
found by correspondence two kind little ladies living in Rome, who
agreed to make all the preparations for us, find servants, and provide
against a possibly cold spring to be spent in rooms meant only for
_villegiatura_ in the summer. We were to go early in March, and fires or
stoves must be obtainable, if the weather pinched.

The little ladies did everything--engaged servants, and bargained with
the Barberini Steward, but they could not bargain with the weather! On a
certain March day when the snow lay thick on the olives, and all the
furies were wailing round the Alban hills--we arrived. My husband, who
had journeyed out with us to settle us in, and was then returning to his
London work, was inclined to mocking prophecies that I should soon be
back in Rome at a comfortable hotel. Oh, how cold it was that first
night!--how dreary on the great stone staircase, and in the bare,
comfortless rooms! We looked out over a gray storm-swept Campagna, to a
distant line of surf-beaten coast; the kitchen was fifty-two steps below
the dining-room; the Neapolitan cook seemed to us a most formidable
gentleman, suggesting stilettos, and we sat down to our first meal
wondering whether we could possibly stay it out.


    But with the night (as I wrote some years ago) the snow vanished and
    the sun emerged. We ran east to one balcony, and saw the light
    blazing on the Alban lake, and had but to cross the apartment to
    find ourselves, on the other side, with all the Campagna at our
    feet, sparkling in a thousand colors to the sea. And outside was the
    garden, with its lemon-trees growing in vast jars--like the jars of
    Knossos--but marked with Barberini bees; its white and red camellias
    be-carpeting the soft grass with their fallen petals; its dark and
    tragic recesses where melancholy trees hung above piled fragments of
    the great Domitian villa whose ruins lay everywhere beneath our
    feet; its olive gardens sloping to the west, and open to the sun,
    open, too, to white, nibbling goats, and wandering _bambini_; its
    magical glimpse of St. Peter's to the north, through a notch in a
    group of stone-pines; and, last and best, its marvelous terrace that
    roofed a crypto-porticus of the old villa, whence the whole vast
    landscape, from Ostia and the mountains of Viterbo to the Circaean
    promontory, might be discerned, where one might sit and watch the
    sunsets burn in scarlet and purple down through the wide west into
    the shining bosom of the Tyrrhenian sea.



And in one day we had made a home out of what seemed a desert. Books had
been unpacked, flowers had been brought in, the stoves were made to
burn, the hard chairs and sofas had been twisted and turned into
something more human and sociable, and we had begun to realize that we
were, after all, singularly fortunate mortals, put in possession for
three months--at the most moderate of rents!--of as much Italian beauty,
antiquity, and romance as any covetous soul could hope for--with Rome at
our gates, and leisurely time for quiet work.

Our earliest guest was Henry James, and never did I see Henry James in a
happier light. A new light, too. For here, in this Italian country, and
in the Eternal City, the man whom I had so far mainly known as a
Londoner was far more at home than I; and I realized, perhaps more fully
than ever before, the extraordinary range of his knowledge and
sympathies.

Roman history and antiquities, Italian art, Renaissance sculpture, the
personalities and events of the Risorgimento, all these solid
_connaissances_ and many more, were to be recognized perpetually as rich
elements in the general wealth of Mr. James's mind. That he had read
immensely, observed immensely, talked immensely, became once more
gradually and delightfully clear on this new field. That he spoke French
to perfection was of course quickly evident to any one who had even a
slight acquaintance with him. M. Bourget once gave me a wonderful
illustration of it. He said that Mr. James was staying with himself and
Madame Bourget at their villa at Hyeres, not long after the appearance
of Kipling's "Seven Seas." M. Bourget, who by that time read and spoke
English fluently, complained of Mr. Kipling's technicalities, and
declared that he could not make head or tail of McAndrew's Hymn.
Whereupon Mr. James took up the book and, standing by the fire, fronting
his hosts, there and then put McAndrew's Hymn into vigorous idiomatic
French--an extraordinary feat, as it seemed to M. Bourget. Something
similar, it will be remembered, is told of Tennyson. "One evening," says
F. T. Palgrave of the poet, "he read out, offhand, Pindar's great
picture of the life of Heaven, in the Second Olympian, into pure modern
prose splendidly lucid and musical." Let who will decide which _tour de
force_ was the more difficult.

But Mr. James was also very much at home in Italian, while in the
literature, history, and art of both countries he moved with the
well-earned sureness of foot of the student. Yet how little one ever
thought of him as a student! That was the spell. He wore his
learning--and in certain directions he was learned--"lightly, like a
flower." It was to him not a burden to be carried, not a possession to
be proud of, but merely something that made life more thrilling, more
full of emotions and sensations--emotions and sensations which he was
always eager, without a touch of pedantry, to share with other people.
His knowledge was conveyed by suggestion, by the adroitest of hints and
indirect approaches. He was politely certain, to begin with, that you
knew it all; then to walk _with you_ round and round the subject,
turning it inside out, playing with it, making mock of it, and catching
it again with a sudden grip, or a momentary flash of eloquence, seemed
to be for the moment his business in life. How the thing emerged, after
a few minutes, from the long involved sentences!--only involved because
the impressions of a man of genius are so many, and the resources of
speech so limited. This involution, this deliberation in attack, this
slowness of approach toward a point which in the end was generally
triumphantly rushed, always seemed to me more effective as Mr. James
used it in speech than as he employed it--some of us would say, to
excess--in a few of his latest books. For, in talk, his own living
personality--his flashes of fun--of courtesy--of "chaff"--were always
there, to do away with what, in the written word, became a difficult
strain on attention.

I remember an amusing instance of it, when my daughter D----, who was
housekeeping for us at Castel Gandolfo, asked his opinion as to how to
deal with the Neapolitan cook, who had been anything but satisfactory,
in the case of a luncheon-party of friends from Rome. It was decided to
write a letter to the ex-bandit in the kitchen, at the bottom of the
fifty-two steps, requesting him to do his best, and pointing out recent
shortcomings. D----, whose Italian was then rudimentary, brought the
letter to Mr. James, and he walked up and down the vast _salone_ of the
villa, striking his forehead, correcting and improvising. "A really nice
pudding" was what we justly desired, since the Neapolitan genius for
sweets is well known. Mr. James threw out half phrases--pursued
them--improved upon them--withdrew them--till finally he rushed upon the
magnificent bathos--"_un dolce come si deve_!"--which has ever since
been the word with us for the tiptop thing.

With the country people he was simplicity and friendship itself. I
recollect him in close talk with a brown-frocked, barefooted monk,
coming from the monastery of Palazzuola on the farther side of the Alban
lake, and how the super-subtle, supersensitive cosmopolitan found not
the smallest difficulty in drawing out the peasant and getting at
something real and vital in the ruder, simpler mind. And again, on a
never-to-be-forgotten evening on the Nemi lake, when, on descending from
Genzano to the strawberry-farm that now holds the site of the famous
temple of Diana Nemorensis, we found a beautiful youth at the
_fattoria_, who for a few pence undertook to show us the fragments that
remain. Mr. James asked his name. "Aristodemo," said the boy, looking,
as he spoke the Greek name, "like to a god in form and stature." Mr.
James's face lit up, and he walked over the historic ground beside the
lad, Aristodemo picking up for him fragments of terra-cotta from the
furrows through which the plow had just passed, bits of the innumerable
small figurines that used to crowd the temple walls as ex-votos, and are
now mingled with the _fragole_ in the rich alluvial earth. It was a
wonderful evening; with a golden sun on the lake, on the wide stretches
where the temple stood, and the niched wall where Lord Savile dug for
treasure and found it; on the great ship timbers also, beside the lake,
wreckage from Caligula's galleys, which still lie buried in the deepest
depth of the water; on the rock of Nemi, and the fortress-like Orsini
villa; on the Alban Mount itself, where it cut the clear sky. I
presently came up with Mr. James and Aristodemo, who led us on serenely,
a young Hermes in the transfiguring light. One almost looked for the
winged feet and helmet of the messenger god! Mr. James paused--his eyes
first on the boy, then on the surrounding scene. "Aristodemo!" he
murmured, smiling, and more to himself than me, his voice caressing the
word. "What a name! What a place!"

On another occasion I recall him in company with the well-known
antiquary, Signer Lanciani, who came over to lunch, amusing us all by
the combination of learning with _le sport_ which he affected. Let me
quote the account of it given by a girl of the party:


    Signor Lanciani is a great man who combines being _the_ top
    authority in his profession with a kindness and _bonhomie_ which
    make even an ignoramus feel happy with him--and with the frankest
    love for _flanerie_ and "sport." We all fell in love with him. To
    hear him after lunch, in his fluent, but lisping English, holding
    forth about the ruins of Domitian's villa--"what treasures are still
    to be found in ziz garden if somebody would only _dig_!"--and saying
    with excitement--"ziz town, ziz Castello Gandolfo was built upon the
    site of Alba Longa, not Palazzuola at all. _Here_, Madame, beneath
    our feet, is Alba Longa"--And then suddenly--a pause, a deep sigh
    from his ample breast, and a whisper on the summer air--"I
    vonder--vether--von could make a golf-links around ziz garden!"



And I see still Mr. James's figure strolling along the terrace which
roofed the crypto-porticus of the Roman villa, beside the professor--the
short coat, the summer hat, the smooth-shaven, finely cut face, now
alive with talk and laughter, now shrewdly, one might say coldly,
observant; the face of a satirist--but so human!--so alive to all that
underworld of destiny through which move the weaknesses of men and
women. We were sorry indeed when he left us. But there were many other
happy meetings to come through the sixteen years that remained--meetings
at Stocks and in London; letters and talks that were landmarks in my
literary life and in our friendship. Later on I shall quote from his
_Eleanor_ letter, the best, perhaps, of all his critical letters to me,
though the _Robert Elsmere_ letters, already published, run it hard.
That, too, was followed by many more. But as I do not intend to give
more than a general outline of the years that followed on 1900, I will
record here the last time but one that I ever saw Henry James--a vision,
an impression, which the retina of memory will surely keep to the end.
It was at Grosvenor Place in the autumn of 1915, the second year of the
war. How doubly close by then he had grown to all our hearts! His
passionate sympathy for England and France, his English
naturalization--a _beau geste_ indeed, but so sincere, so moving--the
pity and wrath that carried him to sit by wounded soldiers and made him
put all literary work aside as something not worth doing, so that he
might spend time and thought on helping the American ambulance in
France--one must supply all this as the background of the scene.

It was a Sunday afternoon. Our London house had been let for a time, but
we were in it again for a few weeks, drawn into the rushing tide of
war-talk and war anxieties. The room was full when Henry James came in.
I saw that he was in a stirred, excited mood, and the key to it was soon
found. He began to repeat the conversation of an American envoy to
Berlin--a well-known man--to whom he had just been listening. He
described first the envoy's impression of the German leaders, political
and military, of Berlin. "They seemed to him like men waiting in a room
from which the air is being slowly exhausted. They _know_ they can't
win! It is only a question of how long, and how much damage they can
do." The American further reported that after his formal business had
been done with the Prussian Foreign Minister, the Prussian, relaxing his
whole attitude and offering a cigarette, said, "Now then, let me talk to
you frankly, as man to man!"--and began a bitter attack on the attitude
of President Wilson. Colonel ---- listened, and when the outburst was
done, said: "Very well! Then I, too, will speak frankly. I have known
President Wilson for many years. He is a very strong man, physically and
morally. You can neither frighten him nor bluff him--"

And then, springing up in his seat, "And, by Heaven! if you want war
with America, you can have it to-morrow!"

Mr. James's dramatic repetition of this story, his eyes on fire, his
hand striking the arm of his chair, remains with me as my last sight of
him in a typical representative moment.

Six months later, on March 6, 1916, my daughter and I were guests at the
British Headquarters in France. I was there at the suggestion of Mr.
Roosevelt and by the wish of our Foreign Office, in order to collect the
impressions and information that were afterward embodied in _England's
Effort_. We came down ready to start for the front, in a military motor,
when our kind officer escort handed us some English telegrams which had
just come in. One of them announced the death of Henry James; and all
through that wonderful day, when we watched a German counter-attack in
the Ypres salient from one of the hills southeast of Poperinghe, the
ruined tower of Ypres rising from the mists of the horizon, the news was
intermittently with me as a dull pain, breaking in upon the excitement
and novelty of the great spectacle around us.

    "_A mortal, a mortal is dead_!"


I was looking over ground where every inch was consecrated to the dead
sons of England, dead for her; but even through their ghostly voices
came the voice of Henry James, who, spiritually, had fought in their
fight and suffered in their pain.

One year and a month before the American declaration of war. What he
would have given to see it--my dear old friend--whose life and genius
will enter forever into the bonds uniting England and America!

       *       *       *       *       *

    Yes!--
    ... He was a priest to us all
    Of the wonder and bloom of the world,
    Which we saw with his eyes and were glad.


For that was indeed true of Henry James as of Wordsworth. The "wonder
and bloom," no less than the ugly or heartbreaking things, which, like
the disfiguring rags of old Laertes, hide them from us--he could weave
them all, with an untiring hand, into the many-colored web of his art.
Olive Chancellor, Madame Mauve, Milly, in _The Wings of a Dove_--the
most exquisite, in some ways, of all his women--Roderick Hudson, St.
George, the woman doctor in the _Bostonians,_ the French family in the
_Reverberation_, Brooksmith--and innumerable others--it was the wealth
and facility of it all that was so amazing! There is enough observation
of character in a chapter of the _Bostonians,_ a story he thought little
of, and did not include in his collected edition, to shame a Wells novel
of the newer sort, with its floods of clever, half-considered journalism
in the guise of conversation, hiding an essential poverty of creation.
_Ann Veronica_ and the _New Machiavelli_, and several other tales by the
same writer, set practically the same scene, and handle the same
characters under different names. Of an art so false and confused Henry
James could never have been capable. His people, his situations, have
the sharp separateness--and something of the inexhaustibleness--of
nature, which does not mix her molds.

As to method, naturally I often discussed with him some of the difficult
problems of presentation. The posthumous sketches of work in progress,
published since his death, show how he delighted in these problems, in
their very difficulties, in their endless opportunities. As he often
said to me, he could never read a novel that interested him without
taking it mentally to pieces and rewriting it in his own way. Some of
his letters to me are brilliant examples of this habit of his.
Technique, presentation, were then immensely important to him; important
as they never could have been to Tolstoy, who probably thought very
little consciously about them. Mr. James, as we all know, thought a
great deal about them--sometimes, I venture to think, too much. In _The
Wings of a Dove_, for instance, a subject full of beauty and tragedy is
almost spoiled by an artificial technique, which is responsible for a
scene on which, as it seems to me, the whole illusion of the book is
shattered. The conversation in the Venice apartment where the two
fiance's--one of whom, at least, the man, is commended to our sympathy
as a decent and probable human being--make their cynical bargain in the
very presence of the dying Milly, for whose money they are plotting, is
in some ways a _tour de force_ of construction. It is the central point
on which many threads converge and from which many depart. But to my
mind, as I have said, it invalidates the story. Mr. James is here
writing as a _virtuoso_, and not as the great artist we know him to be.
And the same, I think, is true of _The Golden Bowl._ That again is a
wonderful exercise in virtuosity; but a score of his slighter sketches
seem to me infinitely nearer to the truth and vitality of great art. The
book in which perhaps technique and life are most perfectly blended--at
any rate, among the later novels--is _The Ambassador_. There, the skill
with which a deeply interesting subject is focused from many points of
view, but always with the fascinating unity given to it, both by the
personality of the "Ambassador" and by the mystery to which every
character in the book is related, is kept in its place, the servant, not
the master, of the theme. And the climax--which is the river scene, when
the "Ambassador" penetrates at last the long-kept secret of the
lovers--is as right as it is surprising, and sinks away through
admirable modulations to the necessary close. And what beautiful things
in the course of the handling!--the old French Academician and his
garden, on the _rive gauche_, for example; or the summer afternoon on
the upper Seine, with its pleasure-boats, and the red parasol which
finally tells all--a picture drawn with the sparkle and truth of a
Daubigny, only the better to bring out the unwelcome fact which is its
center. _The Ambassador_ is the masterpiece of Mr. James's later work
and manner, just as _The Portrait of a Lady_ is the masterpiece of
the earlier.

And the whole?--his final place?--when the stars of his generation rise
into their place above the spent field? I, at least, have no doubt
whatever about his security of fame; though very possibly he may be no
more generally read in the time to come than are most of the other great
masters of literature. Personally, I regret that, from _What Maisie
Knew_ onward, he adopted the method of dictation. A mind so teeming, and
an art so flexible, were surely the better for the slight curb imposed
by the physical toil of writing. I remember how and when we first
discussed the _pros_ and _cons_ of dictation, on the fell above Cartmel
Chapel, when he was with us at Levens in 1887. He was then enchanted by
the endless vistas of work and achievement which the new method seemed
to open out. And indeed it is plain that he produced more with it than
he could have produced without it. Also, that in the use of dictation,
as in everything else, he showed himself the extraordinary craftsman
that he was, to whom all difficulty was a challenge, and the conquest of
it a delight. Still, the diffuseness and over-elaboration which were the
natural snares of his astonishing gifts were encouraged rather than
checked by the new method; and one is jealous of anything whatever that
may tend to stand between him and the unstinted pleasure of those to
come after.

But when these small cavils are done, one returns in delight and wonder
to the accomplished work. To the _wealth_ of it, above all--the deep
draughts from human life that it represents. It is true indeed that
there are large tracts of modern existence which Mr. James scarcely
touches, the peasant life, the industrial life, the small-trading life,
the political life; though it is clear that he divined them all, enough,
at least, for his purposes. But in his vast, indeterminate range of busy
or leisured folk, men and women with breeding and without it, backed
with ancestors or merely the active "sons of their works," young girls
and youths and children, he is a master indeed, and there is scarcely
anything in human feeling, normal or strange, that he cannot describe or
suggest. If he is without passion, as some are ready to declare, so are
Stendhal and Turguenieff, and half the great masters of the novel; and
if he seems sometimes to evade the tragic or rapturous moments, it is
perhaps only that he may make his reader his co-partner, that he may
evoke from us that heat of sympathy and intelligence which supplies the
necessary atmosphere for the subtler and greater kinds of art.

And all through, the dominating fact is that it is "Henry James"
speaking--Henry James, with whose delicate, ironic mind and most human
heart we are in contact. There is much that can be _learned_ in fiction;
the resources of mere imitation, which we are pleased to call realism,
are endless; we see them in scores of modern books. But at the root of
every book is the personality of the man who wrote it. And in the end,
that decides.




CHAPTER VIII


ROMAN FRIENDS. _ELEANOR_


The spring of the following year (1900) saw us again in Rome. We spent
our April fortnight there, of which I specially remember some amusing
hours with Sir William Harcourt. I see myself, for instance, as a rather
nervous tourist in his wake and that of the very determined wife of a
young diplomat, storming the Vatican library at an hour when a bland
_custode_ assured us firmly it was _not_ open to visitors. But Sir
William's great height and bulk, aided by his pretty companion's
self-will, simply carried us through the gates by their natural
momentum. Father Ehrle was sent for and came, and we spent a triumphant
and delightful hour. After all, one is not an ex-British Cabinet
Minister for nothing. Sir William was perfectly civil to everybody, with
a blinking smile like that of the Cheshire cat; but nothing stopped him.
I laugh still at the remembrance. On the way home it was wet, and he and
I shared a _legno_. I remember we talked of Mr. Chamberlain, with whom
at that moment--May, 1899--Sir William was not in love; and of Lord
Hartington. "Hartington came to me one day when we were both serving
under Mr. G., and said to me in a temper, 'I wish I could get Gladstone
to answer letters.' 'My dear fellow, he always answers letters.' 'Well,
I have been trying to do something and I can't get a word out of him.'
'What have you been trying to do?' 'Well, to tell the truth, I've been
trying to make a bishop.' 'Have you? Not much in your line, I should
think. Now if it had been something about a horse--' 'Don't be absurd.
He would have made a very good bishop. C---- and S---- [naming two
well-known Liberals] told me I must--so I wrote--- and not a word! Very
uncivil, I call it.' 'Who was it?' 'Oh, I can't remember. Let me think.
Oh yes, it was a man with a double name--Llewellyn-Davies.' Sir William,
with a shout of laughter, 'Why, it took me five years to get him made
a Canon!'"

The following year I sent him _Eleanor_, as a reminder of our meeting in
Rome, and he wrote:

    To me the revisiting of Rome is the brightest spot of the day-dreams
    of life, and I treasure all its recollections. After the
    disappointment of the day when we were to have seen Albano and Nemi
    under your guidance, we managed the expedition, and were entranced
    with the scene even beyond our hopes, and since that time I have
    lived through it again in the pages of _Eleanor_, which I read with
    greediness, waiting each number as it appeared.

    Now about Manisty. What a fortunate beggar, to have two such
    charming women in love with him! It is always so. The less a man
    deserves it the more they adore him. That is the advantage you women
    writers have. You always figure men as they are and women as they
    ought to be. If I had the composition of the history I should never
    represent two women behaving so well to one another under the
    circumstances. Even American girls, according to my observation, do
    not show so much toleration to their rivals, even though in the end
    they carry off their man....

    Your sincerely attached

    W. V. HARCOURT.

Let me detach a few other figures from a gay and crowded time, the
ever-delightful and indefatigable Boni--Commendatore Boni--for instance.
To hear him talk in the Forum or hold forth at a small gathering of
friends on the problems of the earliest Italian races, and the causes
that met in the founding and growth of Rome, was to understand how no
scholar or archeologist can be quite first-rate who is not also
something of a poet. The sleepy blue eyes, so suddenly alive; the
apparently languid manner which was the natural defense against the
outer world of a man all compact of imagination and sleepless energy;
the touch in him of "the imperishable child," combined with the brooding
intensity of the explorer who is always guessing at the next riddle; the
fun, simplicity, _bonhomie_ he showed with those who knew him well--all
these are vividly present to me.

So, too, are the very different characteristics of Monseigneur Duchesne,
the French Lord Acton; like him, a Liberal, and a man of vast learning,
tarred with the Modernist brush in the eyes of the Vatican, but at heart
also like Lord Acton, by the testimony of all who know, a simple and
convinced believer.

When we met Monseigneur Duchesne at the house of Count Ugo Balzani, or
in the drawing-room of the French Embassy, all that showed, at first,
was the witty ecclesiastic of the old school, an abbe of the eighteenth
century, _fin_, shrewd, well versed in men and affairs, and capable of
throwing an infinity of meaning into the inflection of a word or the
lift of an eyebrow. I remember listening to an account by him of certain
ceremonies in the catacombs in which he had taken part, in the train of
an Ultramontane Cardinal whom he particularly disliked. He himself had
preached the sermon. A member of the party said, "I hear your audience
were greatly moved, Monsignore." Duchesne bowed, with just a touch of
irony. Then some one who knew the Cardinal well and the relation between
him and Duchesne, said, with _malice prepense_, "Was his Eminence moved,
Monsignore?" Duchesne looked up and shook off the end of his cigarette.
"_Non, Monsieur_," he said, dryly, "his Eminence was not moved--oh, not
at all!" A ripple of laughter went round the group which had heard the
question. For a second, Duchesne's eyes laughed, too, and were then as
impenetrable as before. My last remembrance of him is as the center of a
small party in one of the famous rooms of the Palazzo Borghese which
were painted by the Caracci, this time in a more serious and
communicative mood, so that one realized in him more clearly the
cosmopolitan and liberal scholar, whose work on the early Papacy, and
the origins of Christianity in Rome, is admired and used by men of all
faiths and none. Shortly afterward, a Roman friend of ours, an
Englishman who knew Monseigneur Duchesne well, described to me the
impressions of an English Catholic who had gone with him to Egypt on
some learned mission, and had been thrown for a time into relations of
intimacy with him. My friend reported the touch of astonishment in the
Englishman's mind, as he became aware of the religious passion in his
companion, the devotion of his daily mass, the rigor and simplicity of
his personal life; and we both agreed that as long as Catholicism could
produce such types, men at once so daring and so devout, so free, and
yet so penetrated with--so steeped in--the immemorial life of
Catholicism, the Roman Church was not likely to perish out of Europe.

Let me, however, contrast with Monseigneur Duchesne another Catholic
personality--that of Cardinal Vaughan. I remember being asked to join a
small group of people who were to meet Cardinal Vaughan on the steps of
St. Peter's, and to go with him, and Canon Oakley, an English convert to
Catholicism, through the famous crypt and its monuments. We stood for
some twenty minutes outside St. Peter's, while Cardinal Vaughan, in the
manner of a cicerone reeling off his task, gave us _in extenso_ the
legendary stories of St. Peter's and St. Paul's martyrdoms. Not a touch
of criticism, of knowledge, of insight--a childish tale, told by a man
who had never asked himself for a moment whether he really believed it.
I stood silently by him, inwardly comparing the performance with certain
pages by the Abbe Duchesne, which I had just been reading. Then we
descended to the crypt, the Cardinal first kneeling at the statue of St.
Peter. The crypt, as every one knows, is full of fragments from
Christian antiquity, sarcophagi of early Popes, indications of the
structures that preceded the present building, fragments from papal
tombs, and so on. But it was quite useless to ask the Cardinal for an
explanation or a date. He knew nothing, and he had never cared to know.
Again and again, I thought, as we passed some shrine or sarcophagus
bearing a name or names that sent a thrill through one's historical
sense--"If only J.R. Green were here!--how these dead bones would live!"
But the agnostic historian was in his grave, and the Prince of the Roman
Church passed ignorantly and heedlessly by.

A little while before, I had sat beside the Cardinal at a
luncheon-party, where the case of Doctor Schell, the Rector of the
Catholic University of Wuerzburg, who had published a book condemned by
the Congregation of the Index, came up for discussion. Doctor Schell's
book, _Catholicismus und Fortschritt_, was a plea on behalf of the
Catholic Universities of Bavaria against the Jesuit seminaries which
threatened to supplant them; and he had shown with striking clearness
the disastrous results which the gradual narrowing of Catholic education
had had on the Catholic culture of Bavaria. The Jesuit influence at Rome
had procured the condemnation of the book. Doctor Schell at first
submitted; then, just before the luncheon-party at which I was present,
withdrew his submission.

I saw the news given to the Cardinal. He shrugged his shoulders. "Oh,
poor fellow!" he said. "Poor fellow!" It was not said unkindly, rather
with a kind of easy pity; but the recollection came back to me in the
crypt of St. Peter's, and I seemed to see the man who could not shut his
ear to knowledge and history struggling in the grip of men like the
Cardinal, who knew no history.

Echoes and reflections from these incidents will be found in _Eleanor_,
and it was the case of Doctor Schell that suggested Father Benecke.

So the full weeks passed on. Half _Eleanor_ had been written, and in
June we turned homeward. But before then, one visitor came to the Villa
Barberini in our last weeks there, who brought with him, for myself, a
special and peculiar joy. My dear father, with his second wife, arrived
to spend a week with us. Never before, throughout all his ardent
Catholic life, had it been possible for him to tread the streets of Rome
or kneel in St. Peter's. At last, the year before his death, he was to
climb the Janiculum, and to look out over the city and the plain whence
Europe received her civilization and the vast system of the Catholic
Church. He felt as a Catholic; but hardly less as a scholar, one to whom
Horace and Virgil had been familiar from his boyhood, the greater
portion of them known by heart, to a degree which is not common now. I
remember well that one bright May morning at Castle Gandolfo, he
vanished from the villa, and presently, after some hours, reappeared
with shining eyes.

"I have been on the Appian Way--I have walked where Horace walked!"

In his own autobiography he writes: "In proportion to a man's good sense
and soundness of feeling are the love and admiration, increasing with
his years, which he bears toward Horace." An old-world judgment, some
will say, which to us, immersed in this deluge of war which is changing
the face of all things, may sound, perhaps, as a thin and ghostly voice
from far away. It comes from the Oxford of Newman and Matthew Arnold, of
Jowett and Clough; and for the moment, amid the thunder and anguish of
our time, it is almost strange to our ears. But when the tumult and the
shouting die, and "peace has calmed the world," whatever else may have
passed, the poets and the thinkers will be still there, safe in their
old shrines, for they are the "ageless mouths" of all mankind, when men
are truly men. The supposed reformers, who thirst for the death of
classical education, will not succeed, because man doth not live by
bread alone, and certain imperishable needs in him have never been so
fully met as by some Greeks and some Latins, writing in a vanished
society, which yet, by reason of their thought and genius, is still in
some real sense ours. More science? More foreign languages? More
technical arts? Yes! All these. But if democracy is to mean the
disappearance of the Greek and Latin poets from the minds of the future
leaders of our race, the history of three thousand years is there to
show what the impoverishment will be.

As to this, a personal experience, even from one who in Greek literature
is only a "proselyte of the gate," may not be without interest. I shall
never forget the first time, when, in middle life, I read in the Greek,
so as to understand and enjoy, the "Agamemnon" of AEschylus. The feeling
of sheer amazement at the range and power of human thought--and at such
a date in history--which a leisurely and careful reading of that play
awakened in me, left deep marks behind. It was as though for me,
thenceforward, the human intellect had been suddenly related, much more
clearly than ever before, to an absolute, ineffable source, "not
itself." So that, in realizing the greatness of the mind of Aeschylus,
the creative Mind from which it sprang had in some new and powerful way
touched my own; with both new light on the human Past, and mysterious
promise for the Future. Now, for many years, the daily reading of Greek
and Latin has been not only a pleasure, but the only continuous bit of
mental discipline I have been able to keep up.

I do not believe this will seem exaggerated to those on whom Greek
poetry and life have really worked. My father, or the Master, or Matthew
Arnold, had any amateur spoken in similar fashion to them, would have
smiled, but only as those do who are in secure possession of some
precious thing, on the eagerness of the novice who has just laid a
precarious hold upon it.

At any rate, as I look back upon my father's life of constant labor and
many baffled hopes, there are at least two bright lights upon the scene.
He had the comfort of religious faith, and the double joy of the scholar
and of the enthusiast for letters. He would not have bartered these
great things, these seeming phantoms--

    Eternal as the recurrent cloud, as air
    Imperative, refreshful as dawn-dew--

for any of the baser goods that we call real. A year and a half after
his visit to Rome, he died in Dublin, where he had been for years a
Fellow and Professor of the Irish University, occupied in lecturing on
English literature, and in editing some of the most important English
Chronicles for the Rolls Series. His monument, a beautiful medallion by
Mr. Derwent Wood, which recalls him to the life, hangs on the wall of
the University Church, in Stephen's Green, which was built in Newman's
time and under his superintendence. The only other monument in the
church is that to the great Cardinal himself. So once more, as in 1886,
they--the preacher and his convert--are together. "_Domine, Deus meus,
in Te speravi_." So, on my father's tablet, runs the text below the
quiet, sculptured face. It expresses the root fact of his life.

A few weeks before my father's death _Eleanor_ appeared. It had taken me
a year and a quarter to write, and I had given it full measure of work.
Henry James wrote to me, on receipt of it, that it gave him

    . . . the chance to overflow into my favorite occupation of rewriting
    as I read, such fiction as--I can read. I took this liberty in an
    inordinate degree with Eleanor--and I always feel it the highest
    tribute I can pay. I recomposed and reconstructed her from head to
    foot--which I give you for the real measure of what I think of her.
    I think her, less obscurely--a thing of rare beauty, a large and
    noble performance, rich, complex, comprehensive, deeply interesting
    and highly distinguished. I congratulate you heartily on having
    _mene a bonne fin_ so intricate and difficult a problem, and on
    having seen your subject so wrapped in its air and so bristling with
    its relations. I should say that you had done nothing more
    homogeneous, nor more hanging and moving together. It has
    Beauty--the book, the theme and treatment alike, is magnificently
    mature, and is really a delightful thing to have been able to do--to
    have laid at the old golden door of the beloved Italy. You deserve
    well of her. I can't "criticize"--though I _could_ (that is, I
    _did_--but can't do it again)--rewrite. The thing's infinitely
    delightful and distinguished, and that's enough. The success of it,
    specifically, to my sense is Eleanor, admirably sustained in the
    "high-note" way, without a break or a drop. She is a very exquisite
    and very rendered conception. I won't grossly pretend to you that I
    think the book hasn't a weakness and rather a grave one, or you will
    doubt of my intelligence. It _has_ one, and in this way, to my
    troubled sense: that the anti-thesis on which your subject rests
    isn't a real, valid anti-thesis. It was utterly built, your subject,
    by your intention, of course, on one; but the one you chose seems to
    me not efficiently to have operated, so that if the book is so
    charming and touching even so, that is a proof of your affluence.
    Lucy has in respect to Eleanor--that is, the image of Lucy that you
    have tried to teach yourself to see--has no true, no adequate, no
    logical antithetic force--and this is not only, I think, because the
    girl is done a little more _de chic_ than you would really have
    liked to do her, but because the _nearer_ you had got to her type
    the less she would have served that particular condition of your
    subject. You went too far for her, or, going so far, should have
    brought her back--roughly speaking--stronger. (Irony--and various
    things!--should at its hour have presided.) But I throw out that
    more imperfectly, I recognize, than I should wish. It doesn't
    matter, and not a solitary reader in your millions, or critic in
    your hundreds, will either have missed, or have made it! And when a
    book's beautiful, nothing _does_ matter! I hope greatly to see you
    after the New Year. Good night. It's my usual 1.30 A.M.

    Yours, dear Mrs. Ward, always,

    HENRY JAMES.

I could not but feel, indeed, that the book had given great pleasure to
those I might well wish to please. My old friend, Mr. Frederic Harrison,
wrote to me:--"I have read it all through with great attention and
delight, and have returned to it again and again.... I am quite sure
that it is the most finished and artistic of all your books and one of
the most subtle and graceful things in all our modern fiction." And
Charles Eliot Norton's letter from Shady Hill, the letter of one who
never praised perfunctorily or insincerely, made me glad:


    "It would be easier to write about the book to any one else but
    you.... You have added to the treasures of English imaginative
    literature, and no higher reward than this can any writer hope to
    gain." The well-known and much-loved editor of the _Century_,
    Richard Watson Gilder, "on this the last Sunday of the nineteenth
    century"--so he headed his letter--sat down to give a long hour of
    precious time to _Eleanor's_ distant author.

    How can you reconcile it to your conscience to write a book like
    _Eleanor_ that keeps a poor fellow reading it to a finish till after
    three in the morning? Not only that--but that keeps him sobbing and
    sighing "like a furnace," that charms him and makes him angry--that
    hurts and delights him, and will not let him go till all is done!
    Yes, there are some things I might quarrel with--but, ah, how much
    you give of Italy--of the English, of the American--three nations so
    well-beloved; and how much of things deeper than peoples or
    countries.

    Imagine me at our New England farm--with the younger part of the
    family--in my annual "retreat." Last year at this time I was here,
    with the thermometer a dozen degrees below zero; now it is milder,
    but cold, bleak, snowy. Yesterday we were fishing for pickerel
    through the ice at Hayes's Pond--in a wilderness where fox
    abound--and where bear and deer make rare appearances--all within a
    few miles of Lenox and Stockbridge. The farmer's family is at one
    end of the long farm-house--I am at the other. It is a great place
    to read--one reads here with a sort of lonely passion. You know the
    landscape--it is in _Eleanor_. Last night (or this morning) I wanted
    to talk with you about your book--or telegraph--but here I am calmly
    trying to thank you both for sending us the copy--and, too, for
    writing it.

    Of the "deeper things" I can really say nothing--except that I feel
    their truth, and am grateful for them. But may I not applaud (even
    the Pope is "applauded," you know) such a perfect touch as--for
    instance--in Chapter XVI--"the final softening of that sweet
    austerity which hid Lucy's heart of gold"; and again "Italy without
    the _forestieri_" "like surprising a bird on its nest"; and the
    scene beheld of Eleanor--Lucy pressing the terra-cotta to her
    lips;--and Italy "having not enough faith to make a heresy"--(true,
    too, of France, is it not?) and Chapter XXIII--"a base and
    plundering happiness"; and the scene of the confessional; and that
    sudden phrase of Eleanor's in her talk with Manisty that makes the
    whole world--and the whole book--right, "_She loves you!"_ That is
    art.... But, above all, my dear lady, acknowledgments and praise for
    the hand that created "Lucy"--that recreated, rather--my dear
    countrywoman! Truly, that is an accomplishment and one that will
    endear its author to the whole new world.

And again one asks whether the readers that now are write such generous,
such encouraging things to the makers of tales, as the readers of twenty
years ago! If not, I cannot but think it is a loss. For praise is a
great tonic, and helps most people to do their best.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was during our stay on the Alban hills that I first became conscious
in myself, after a good many springs spent in Italy, of a deep and
passionate sympathy for the modern Italian State and people; a sympathy
widely different from that common temper in the European traveler which
regards Italy as the European playground, picture-gallery, and
curiosity-shop, and grudges the smallest encroachment by the needs of
the new nation on the picturesque ruin of the past. Italy in 1899 was
passing through a period of humiliation and unrest. The defeats of the
luckless Erythrean expedition were still hot in Italian memory. The
extreme Catholic party at home, the sentimental Catholic tourist from
abroad, were equally contemptuous and critical; and I was often
indignantly aware of a tone which seemed to me ungenerous and unjust
toward the struggling Italian State, on the part of those who had really
most cause to be grateful for all that the youngest--and oldest--of
European Powers had done in the forty years since 1860 to furnish itself
with the necessary equipment, moral, legal, and material, of a modern
democracy.

This vein of feeling finds expression in _Eleanor_. Manisty represents
the scornful dilettante, the impatient accuser of an Italy he does not
attempt to understand; while the American Lucy, on the other side draws
from her New England tradition a glowing sympathy for the Risorgimento
and its fruits, for the efforts and sacrifices from which modern Italy
arose, that refuses to be chilled by the passing corruptions and
scandals of the new _regime_. Her influence prevails and Manisty
recants. He spends six solitary weeks wandering through middle Italy, in
search of the fugitives--Eleanor and Lucy--who have escaped him--and at
the end of it he sees the old, old country and her people with new
eyes--which are Lucy's eyes.

    "What rivers--what fertility--what a climate! And the industry of
    the people! Catch a few English farmers and set them to do what the
    Italian peasant does, year in and year out, without a murmur! Look
    at all the coast south of Naples. There is not a yard of it,
    scarcely, that hasn't been made by human hands. Look at the hill
    towns; and think of the human toil that has gone to the making and
    maintaining of them since the world began.... _Ecco!_--there they
    are"--and he pointed down the river to the three or four distant
    towns, each on its mountain spur, that held the valley between them
    and Orvieto, pale jewels on the purple robe of rock and wood--"So
    Virgil saw them. So the latest sons of time shall see them--the
    homes of a race that we chatter about without understanding--the
    most laborious race in the wide world.... Anyway, as I have been
    going up and down their country, ... prating about their poverty,
    and their taxes, their corruption, the incompetence of their
    leaders, the mischief of their quarrel with the Church; I have been
    finding myself caught in the grip of things older and
    deeper--incredibly, primevally old!--that still dominate everything,
    shape everything here. There are forces in Italy, forces of land and
    soil and race--only now fully let loose--that will remake Church no
    less than State, as the generations go by. Sometimes I have felt as
    though this country were the youngest in Europe; with a future as
    fresh and teeming as the future of America. And yet one thinks of it
    at other times as one vast graveyard; so thick it is with the ashes
    and the bones of men! The Pope--and Crispi!--waves, both of them, on
    a sea of life that gave them birth 'with equal mind'; and that 'with
    equal mind' will sweep them both to its own goal--not theirs! ...
    No--there are plenty of dangers ahead.... Socialism is serious;
    Sicily is serious; the economic difficulties are serious; the House
    of Savoy will have a rough task, perhaps, to ride the seas that may
    come.--But _Italy_ is safe. You can no more undo what has been done
    than you can replace the child in the womb. The birth is over. The
    organism is still weak, but it lives. And the forces behind it are,
    indefinitely, mysteriously stronger than its adversaries think."

In this mood it was that, when the book came out in the autumn of 1900,
I prefixed to it the dedication--"To Italy, the beloved and beautiful,
Instructress of our past, Delight of our present, Comrade of our future,
the heart of an Englishwoman offers this book."

"_Comrade of our future_." As one looks out to-day upon the Italian
fighting-line, where English troops are interwoven with those of Italy
and France for the defense of the Lombard and Venetian plain against the
attack of Italy's old and bitter enemy, an attack in which are concerned
not only the fortunes of Italy, but those also of the British Empire, I
wonder what touch of prophecy, what whisper from a far-off day,
suggested these words written eighteen years ago?




EPILOGUE


And here, for a time at least, I bring these _Recollections_ to an
end with the century in which I was born, and my own fiftieth year.
Since _Eleanor_ appeared, and my father died, eighteen years have
gone--years for me of constant work, literary and other. On the one
hand, increasing interest in and preoccupation with politics, owing to
personal links and friendships, and a life spent, as to half the year,
in London, have been reflected in my books; and on the other, the
English rural scene, with its country houses and villages, its religion,
and its elements of change and revolution, has been always at my home
gates, as a perpetually interesting subject. Old historic situations,
also, have come to life for me again in new surroundings, as in _Lady
Rose's Daughter_, _The Marriage of William Ashe_, and _Fenwick's
Career;_ in _Richard Meynell_ I attempted the vision of a Church
of England recreated from within, with a rebel, and not--as in
_Robert Elsmere_--an exile, for a hero; _Lady Connie_ is a picture
of Oxford as I saw her in my youth, as faithful as I can now
make it; _Eltham House_ is a return to the method of _William
Ashe_, and both _Lady Connie_ and _Missing_ have been written
since the war. _Missing_ takes for its subject a fragment
from the edge of that vast upheaval which no novel of real life
in future will be able to leave out of its ken. In the first two years
of the war, the cry both of writers and public--so far as the literature
of imagination was concerned--tended to be--"anything but the war"!
There was an eager wish in both, for a time, in the first onrush of the
great catastrophe, to escape from it and the newspapers, into the world
behind it. That world looks to us now as the Elysian fields looked to
Aeneas as he approached them from the heights--full not only of souls in
a blessed calm, but of those also who had yet to make their way into
existence as it terribly _is_, had still to taste reality and pain.
We were thankful, for a time, to go back to that kind, unconscious,
unforeseeing world. But it is no longer possible. The war has become our
life, and will be so for years after the signing of peace.

As to the three main interests, outside my home life, which, as I look
back upon half a century, seem to have held sway over my
thoughts--contemporary literature, religious development, and social
experiment--one is tempted to say a few last summarizing things, though,
amid the noise of war, it is hard to say them with any real detachment
of mind.

When we came up to London in 1881, George Eliot was just dead (December,
1880); Browning and Carlyle passed away in the course of the 'eighties;
Tennyson in 1892. I saw the Tennyson funeral in the Abbey, and remember
it vividly. The burying of Mr. Gladstone was more stately; this of
Tennyson, as befitted a poet, had a more intimate beauty. A great
multitude filled the Abbey, and the rendering, in Sir Frederick Bridge's
setting, of "Crossing the Bar" by the Abbey Choir sent the "wild echoes"
of the dead man's verse flying up and on through the great arches
overhead with a dramatic effect not to be forgotten. Yet the fame of the
poet was waning when he died, and has been hotly disputed since; though,
as it seems to me, these later years have seen the partial return of an
ebbing tide. What was merely didactic in Tennyson is dead years ago; the
difficulties of faith and philosophy, with which his own mind had
wrestled, were, long before his death, swallowed up in others far more
vital, to which his various optimisms, for all the grace in which he
clothed them, had no key, or suggestion of a key, to offer. The
"Idylls," so popular in their day, and almost all, indeed, of the
narrative and dramatic work, no longer answer to the needs of a
generation that has learned from younger singers and thinkers a more
restless method, a more poignant and discontented thought. A literary
world fed on Meredith and Henry James, on Ibsen or Bernard Shaw or
Anatole France, or Synge or Yeats, rebels against the versified
argument, however musical or skilful, built up in "In Memoriam," and
makes mock of what it conceives to be the false history and weak
sentiment of the "Idylls." All this, of course, is true, and has been
said a thousand times, but--and here again the broad verdict is
emerging--it does not touch the lyrical fame of a supreme lyrical poet.
It may be that one small volume will ultimately contain all that is
really immortal in Tennyson's work. But that volume, it seems to me,
will be safe among the golden books of our literature, cherished alike
by young lovers and the "drooping old."

I only remember seeing Tennyson twice--once in a crowded drawing-room,
and once on the slopes of Blackdown, in his big cloak. The strong set
face under the wide-awake, the energy of undefeated age that breathed
from the figure, remains with me, stamped on my memory, like the gentle
face of Mrs. Wordsworth, or a passing glimpse--a gesture--of George
Meredith as we met on the threshold of Mr. Cotter Morison's house at
Hampstead, one day perhaps in 1886 or 1887, and he turned his handsome
curly head with a smile and a word when Mr. Morison introduced us. He
was then not yet sixty, already a little lame, but the radiant physical
presence scarcely marred. We had some passing talk that day, but--to my
infinite regret--that was the only time I ever saw him. Of his work and
his genius I began to be aware when "Beauchamp's Career"--a much
truncated version--was coming out in the _Fortnightly_ in 1874. I
had heard him and his work discussed in the Lincoln circle, where both
the Pattisons were quite alive to Meredith's quality; but I was at the
time and for long afterward under the spell of the French limpidity and
clarity, and the Meredithian manner repelled me. About the same time,
when I was no more than three or four and twenty, I remember a visit to
Cambridge, when we spent a week-end at the Bull Inn, and were the guests
by day of Frederic Myers, and some of his Trinity and King's friends.
Those two days of endless talk in beautiful College rooms with men like
Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, Mr. Gerald Balfour, Mr. George Prothero,
and others, left a deep mark on me. Cambridge seemed to me then a hearth
whereon the flame of thought burnt with far greater daring and freedom
than at Oxford. Men were not so afraid of one another; the sharp
religious divisions of Oxford were absent; ideas were thrown up like
balls in air, sure that some light hand would catch and pass them on.
And among the subjects which rose and fell in that warm electric
atmosphere, was the emergence of a new and commanding genius in George
Meredith. The place in literature that some of these brilliant men were
already giving to _Richard Feverel_, which had been published some
fifteen years earlier, struck me greatly; but if I was honest with
myself, my enthusiasm was much more qualified than theirs. It was not
till _Diana of the Crossways_ came out, after we had moved to
London, that the Meredithian power began to grip me; and to this day the
saturation with French books and French ideals that I owed to my uncle's
influence during our years at Oxford, stands somewhat between me and a
great master. And yet, in this case, as in that of Mr. James, there is
no doubt that difficulty--even obscurity!--are part of the spell. The
man behind is _great enough_, and rewards the reader's effort to
understand him with a sense of heightened power, just as a muscle is
strengthened by exercise. In other words, the effort is worth while; we
are admitted by it to a world of beauty or romance or humor that without
it we should not know; and with the thing gained goes, as in
Alpine-climbing, the pleasure of the effort itself.

Especially is this the case in poetry, where the artist's thought
fashions for itself a manner more intimate and personal than in prose.
George Meredith's poetry is still only the possession of a minority,
even among those who form the poetic audience of a generation. There are
many of us who have wanted much help, in regard to it, from others--the
young and ardent--who are the natural initiates, the "Mystae" of the
poetic world. But once let the strange and poignant magic of it, its
music in discord, its sharp sweetness, touch the inward
ear--thenceforward we shall follow its piping.

Let me record another regret for another lost opportunity. In spite of
common friends, and worlds that might have met, I never saw Robert Louis
Stevenson--the writer who more, perhaps, than any other of his
generation touched the feeling and won the affection of his time. And
that by a double spell--of the life lived and the books written.
Stevenson's hold both upon his contemporaries, and those who since his
death have had only the printed word of his letters and tales whereby to
approach him, has not been without some points of likeness--amid great
difference--to the hold of the Brontes on their day and ours. The sense
of an unsurpassable courage--against great odds--has been the same in
both cases; and a great tenderness in the public mind for work so
gallant, so defiant of ill fortune, so loyal to its own aims. In
Stevenson's case, quite apart from the claims of his work as literature,
there was also an added element which, with all their genius, the
Brontes did not possess--the element of charm, the _petit
carillon,_ to which Renan attributed his own success in literature:
undefinable, always, this last!--but supreme.[1] There is scarcely a
letter of Stevenson's that is without it, it plays about the slender
volumes of essays or of travel that we know so well; but it is present
not only in the lighter books and tales, not only in the enchanting
fairy-tale, "Prince Otto," but in his most tragic, or his most
intellectual work--in the fragment "Weir of Hermiston," or in that fine
piece of penetrating psychology and admirable narrative, _The Master
of Ballantrae_. It may, I think, be argued whether in the far future
Stevenson will be more widely and actively remembered--whether he will
enter into the daily pleasure of those who love literature--more as a
letter-writer, or more as a writer of fiction. Whether, in other words,
his own character and personality will not prove the enduring thing,
rather than the characters he created. The volumes of letters, with
their wonderful range and variety, their humor, their bravery, their
_vision_--whether of persons or scenes--already mean to some of us
more than his stories, dear to us as these are.

He died in his forty-fifth year, at the height of his power. If he had
lived ten--twenty--years longer, he might well have done work that would
have set him with Scott in the history of letters. As it is, he remains
the most graceful and appealing, the most animated and delightful,
figure in the literary history of the late nineteenth century. He is
sure of his place. "Myriad-footed Time will discover many other
inventions; but mine are mine!" And to that final award his poems no
less than his letters will richly contribute--the haunting beauty of the
"Requiem," the noble lines "To my Father," the lovely verses "In memory
of F.A.S."--surely immortal, so long as mother-hearts endure.

[Footnote 1: Greek: Ti gar chariton agapaton Anthropois apaneuthen;]

Another great name was steadily finding its place during our first
London years. Thomas Hardy had already published some of his best novels
in the 'seventies, and was in full production all through the 'eighties
and 'nineties. The first of the Hardy novels that strongly affected me
was the _Return of the Native_, and I did not read it till some
time after its publication. Although there had been a devoted and
constantly growing audience for Mr. Hardy's books for twenty years
before the publication of _Tess of the Durbervilles,_ my own
recollection is that Tess marked the conversion of the larger public,
who then began to read all the earlier books, in that curiously changed
mood which sets in when a writer is no longer on trial, but has, so to
speak, "made good."

And since that date how intimately have the scenes and characters of Mr.
Hardy's books entered into the mind and memory of his country,
compelling many persons, slowly and by degrees--I count myself among
this tardy company--to realize their truth, sincerity, and humanity, in
spite of the pessimism with which so many of them are tinged; their
beauty also, notwithstanding the clashing discords that a poet, who is
also a realist, cannot fail to strike; their permanence in English
literature; and the greatness of Mr. Hardy's genius! Personally, I would
make only one exception. I wish Mr. Hardy had not written _Jude the
Obscure!_ On the other hand, in the three volumes of _The
Dynasts_ he has given us one of the noblest, and possibly one of the
most fruitful, experiments in recent English letters.

Far more rapid was the success of Mr. Kipling, which came a decade later
than Mr. Hardy's earlier novels. It thrills one's literary pulse now to
look back to those early paper-covered treasures, written by a youth, a
boy of genius; which for the first time made India interesting to
hundreds of thousands in the Western world; which were the heralds also
of a life's work of thirty years, unfailingly rich, and still unspent!
The debt that two generations owe to Mr. Kipling is, I think, past
calculating. There is a poem of his specially dear to me--"To the True
Romance." It contains, to my thinking, the very essence and spirit of
his work. Through all realism, through all technical accomplishment,
through all the marvelous and detailed knowledge he has accumulated on
this wonderful earth, there rings the lovely Linos-song of the higher
imagination, which is the enduring salt of art. Whether it is Mowgli, or
Kim, or the Brushwood Boy, or McAndrew, or the Centurion of the Roman
Wall, or the trawlers and submarines and patrol-boats to which he lends
actual life and speech, he carries through all the great company the
flag of his lady--the flag of the "True Romance." It was Meredith's
flag, and Stevenson's and Scott's--it comes handed down in an endless
chain from the story-tellers of old Greece. For a man to have taken
undisputed place in that succession is, I think, the best and most that
literary man can do. And that it has fallen to our generation to watch
and rejoice in Rudyard Kipling's work may be counted among those gifts
of the gods which bring no Nemesis with them.

Another star--was it the one that danced when Beatrice was born?--was
rising about the same time as Rudyard Kipling's. _The Window in
Thrums_ appeared in 1889--a masterpiece to set beside the French
masterpiece, drawn likewise from peasant life, of almost the same date,
_Pecheur d'Islande._ Barrie's gift, also, has been a gift making
for the joy of his generation; he too has carried the flag of the True
Romance--slight, twinkling, fantastic thing, compared to that of
Kipling, but consecrate to the same great service.

And then beside this group of men, who, dealing as they constantly are
with the most prosaic and intractable material, are yet poets at heart,
there appears that other group who, headed perhaps by Mr. Shaw, and
kindred in method with Thomas Hardy, are the chief gods of a younger
race, as hostile to "sentimentalism" as George Meredith, but without
either the power--or the wish--to replace it by the forces of the
poetic imagination. Mr. Shaw, whose dramatic work has been the goad, the
gadfly of a whole generation, stirring it into thought by the help of a
fascinating art, will not, I think, elect to stand upon his novels;
though his whole work has deeply affected English novel-writing. But Mr.
Wells and Mr. Arnold Bennett have been during the last ten or fifteen
years--vitally different as they are--the leaders of the New Novel--of
that fiction which at any given moment is chiefly attracting and
stimulating the men and women under forty. There is always a New Novel,
and a New Poetry, as there was once, and many times, a New Learning. The
New Novel may be Romantic, or Realist, or Argumentative. In our day it
appears to be a compound of the last two--at any rate, in the novels of
Mr. Wells.

Mr. Wells seems to me a journalist of very great powers, of unequal
education, and much crudity of mind, who has inadvertently strayed into
the literature of imagination. The earlier books were excellent
story-telling, though without any Stevensonian distinction; _Kipps_
was almost a masterpiece; _Tono-Bungay_ a piece of admirable
fooling, enriched with some real character-creation, a thing extremely
rare in Mr. Wells's books; while _Mr. Britling Sees It Through_ is
perhaps more likely to live than any other of his novels, because the
subject with which it deals comes home so closely to so vast an
audience. Mr. Britling, considered as a character, has neither life nor
joints. He, like the many other heroes from other Wells novels, whose
names one can never recollect, is Mr. Wells himself, talking this time
on a supremely interesting topic, and often talking extraordinarily
well. There are no more brilliant pages, of their kind, in modern
literature than the pages describing Mr. Britling's motor-drive on the
night of the declaration of war. They compare with the description of
the Thames in _Tono-Bungay_. These, and a few others like them,
will no doubt appear among the _morceaux choisis_ of a coming day.

But who, after a few years more, will ever want to turn the restless,
ill-written, undigested pages of _The New Machiavelli_ again--or
of half a dozen other volumes, marked often by a curious monotony both
of plot and character, and a fatal fluency of clever talk? The only
thing which can keep journalism alive--journalism, which is born of the
moment, serves the moment, and, as a rule, dies with the
moment--is--again the Stevensonian secret!--_charm_. Diderot, the
prince of journalists, is the great instance of it in literature; the
phrase "_sous le charme_" is of his own invention. But Mr. Wells
has not a particle of charm, and the reason of the difference is not far
to seek. Diderot wrote for a world of friends--"_C'est pour moi et
pour mes amis que je lis, que je reflechis, que j'ecris_"--Mr. Wells
for a world of enemies or fools, whom he wishes to instruct or show up.
_Le Neveu de Rameau_ is a masterpiece of satire; yet there is no
ill-nature in it. But the snarl is never very long absent from Mr.
Wells's work; the background of it is disagreeable. Hence its complete
lack of magic, of charm. And without some touch of these qualities, the
_a peu pres_ of journalism, of that necessarily hurried and
improvised work which is the spendthrift of talent, can never become
literature, as it once did--under the golden pen of Denis Diderot.

Sainte Beuve said of Stendhal that he was an _excitateur d'idees_.
Mr. Wells no doubt deserves the phrase. As an able journalist, a
preacher of method, of foresight, and of science, he has much to say
that his own time will do well to heed. But the writer among us who has
most general affinity with Stendhal, and seems to me more likely to live
than Mr. Wells, is Mr. Arnold Bennett. Mr. Bennett's achievement in his
three principal books, the _Old Wives' Tale_, _Clayhanger_,
and _Hilda Lessways_, has the solidity and relief--the ugliness
also!--of Balzac, or of Stendhal; a detachment, moreover, and a
coolness, which Mr. Wells lacks. These qualities may well preserve them,
if "those to come" find their subject-matter sufficiently interesting.
But the _Comedie Humaine_ has a breadth and magnificence of general
conception which govern all its details, and Stendhal's work is linked
to one of the most significant periods of European history, and reflects
its teeming ideas. Mr. Bennett's work seems to many readers to be choked
by detail. But a writer of a certain quality may give us as much detail
as he pleases--witness the great Russians. Whenever Mr. Bennett
succeeds in offering us detail at once so true and so exquisite as the
detail which paints the household of Lissy-Gory in _War and Peace_,
or the visit of Dolly to Anna and Wronsky in _Anna Karenin_, or the
nursing of the dying Nicolas by Kitty and Levin, he will have justified
his method--with all its _longueurs_. Has he justified it yet?

One great writer, however, we possess who can give us any detail he
likes without tedium, because of the quality of the intelligence which
presents it. Mr. Conrad is not an Englishman by race, and he is the
master, moreover, of a vast exotic experience of strange lands and
foreign seas, where very few of his readers can follow him with any
personal knowledge. And yet we instinctively feel that in all his best
work he is none the less richly representative of what goes to make the
English mind, as compared with the French, or the German, or the Italian
mind--a mind, that is, shaped by sea-power and far-flung
responsibilities, by all the customs and traditions, written and
unwritten, which are the fruit of our special history, and our
long-descended life. It is this which gives value often to Mr. Conrad's
slightest tales, or intense significance to detail, which, without this
background, would be lifeless or dull. In it, of course, he is at one
with Mr. Kipling. Only the tone and accent are wholly different. Mr.
Conrad's extraordinary intelligence seems to stand outside his subject,
describing what he sees, as though he were crystal-gazing at figures and
scenes, at gestures and movements, magically clear and sharp. Mr.
Kipling, on the other hand, is part of--intimately one with--what he
tells us; never for a moment really outside it; though he has at command
every detail and every accessory that he needs.

Mr. Galsworthy, I hope, when this war is over, on which he has written
such vivid, such moving pages (I know! for in some of its scenes--on the
Somme battle-fields, for instance--I have stood where he has stood), has
still the harvest of his literary life before him. Since _The Country
House_ it does not seem to me that he has ever found a subject that
really suits him--and "subject is everything." But he has passion and
style, and varied equipment, whether of training or observation; above
all, an individuality it is abundantly worth while to know.


On the religious development of the last thirty years I can find but
little that is gladdening, to myself, at any rate, to say. There are
ferments going on in the Church of England which have shown themselves
in a series of books produced by Oxford and Cambridge men, each of them
representing some greater concession to modern critical and historical
knowledge than the one before it. The war, no doubt, has gripped the
hearts and stirred the minds of men, in relation to the fundamental
problems of life and destiny, as nothing else in living experience has
ever done. The religious minds among the men who are perpetually
fronting death in the battle-line seem to develop, on the one hand, a
new and individual faith of their own, and, on the other, an instinctive
criticism of the faiths hitherto offered them, which in time may lead us
far. The complaints, meanwhile, of "empty churches" and the failing hold
of the Church of England, are perhaps more persistent and more
melancholy than of old; and there is a general anxiety as to how the
loosening and vivifying action of the war will express itself
religiously when normal life begins again. The "Life and Liberty"
movement in the Anglican Church, which has sprung up since the war, is
endeavoring to rouse a new Christian enthusiasm, especially among the
young; and with the young lies the future. But the war itself has
brought us no commanding message, though all the time it may be silently
providing the "pile of gray heather" from which, when the moment comes,
the beacon-light may spring.

The greatest figure in the twenty years before the war seems to me to
have been George Tyrrell. The two volumes of his biography, with all
their absorbing interest, have not, I think, added much to the effect of
his books. _A Much-abused Letter, Lex Orandi, Scylla and
Charybdis_, and _Christianity at the Cross-Roads_ have settled
nothing. What book of real influence does? They present many
contradictions; but are thereby, perhaps, only the more living. For one
leading school of thought they go not nearly far enough; for another a
good deal too far. But they contain passages drawn straight from a
burning spiritual experience, passages also of a compelling beauty,
which can hardly fall to the ground unfruitful. Whether as Father
Tyrrell's own, or as assimilated by other minds, they belong, at least,
to the free movement of experimental and inductive thought, which, in
religion as in science, is ever the victorious movement, however
fragmentary and inconclusive it may seem at any given moment to be.
Other men--Doctor Figgis, for instance--build up shapely and plausible
systems, on given material, which, just because they are plausible and
shapely, can have very little to do with truth. It is the seekers, the
men of difficult, half-inspired speech, like T. H. Green and George
Tyrrell, through whose work there flashes at intervals the "gleam" that
lights human thought a little farther on its way.

Meanwhile, it must often seem to any one who ponders these past years,
as if what is above all wanting to our religious moment is courage and
imagination. If only Bishop Henson had stood his trial for
heresy!--there  would have been a seed of new life in this lifeless day.
If only, instead of deserting the churches, the Modernists of to-day
would have the courage _to claim them!_--there again would be a
stirring of the waters. Is it not possible that Christianity, which we
have thought of as an old faith, is only now, with the falling away of
its original sheath-buds, at the beginning of its true and mightier
development? A religion of love, rooted in and verified by the simplest
experiences of each common day, possessing in the Life of Christ a
symbol and rallying cry of inexhaustible power, and drawing from its own
corporate life of service and aspiration, developed through millions of
separate lives, the only reasonable hope of immortality, and the only
convincing witness to a Divine and Righteous Will at work in the
universe;--it  is under some such form that one tries to dream the
future. The chaos into which religious observance has fallen at the
present day is, surely, a real disaster. Religious services in which men
and women cannot take part, either honestly or with any spiritual gain,
are better let alone. Yet the ideal of a common worship is an infinitely
noble one. Year after year the simplest and most crying reforms in the
liturgy of the Church of England are postponed, because nobody can agree
upon them. And all the time the starving of "the hungry sheep" goes on.

But if religious ideals have not greatly profited by the war, it is
plain that in the field of social change we are on the eve of
transformations--throughout Europe--which  may well rank in history with
the establishment of the Pax Romana, or the incursion of the northern
races upon the Empire; with the Renaissance, or the French Revolution.
In our case, the vast struggle, in the course of which millions of
British men and women have been forcibly shaken out of all their former
ways of life and submitted to a sterner discipline than anything they
have ever known, while, at the same time, they have been roused by mere
change of circumstance and scene to a strange new consciousness both of
themselves and the world, cannot pass away without permanently affecting
the life of the State and the relation of all its citizens to each
other. In the country districts, especially, no one of my years can
watch what is going on without a thrilling sense, as though, for us who
are nearing the last stage of life, the closed door of the future had
fallen mysteriously ajar and one caught a glimpse through it of a coming
world which no one could have dreamt of before 1914. Here, for instance,
is a clumsy, speechless laborer of thirty-five, called up under the
Derby scheme two years ago. He was first in France and is now in
Mesopotamia. On his first leave he reappears in his native village. His
family and friends scarcely know him. Always a good fellow, he has risen
immeasurably in mental and spiritual stature. For him, as for Cortez, on
the "peak in Darien," the veil has been drawn aside from wonders and
secrets of the world that, but for the war, he would have died without
even guessing at. He stands erect; his eyes are brighter and larger; his
speech is different. Here is another--a boy--a careless and troublesome
boy he used to be--who has been wounded, and has had a company officer
of whom he speaks, quietly indeed, but as he could never have spoken of
any one in the old days. He has learned to love a man of another social
world, with whom he has gone, unflinching, into a hell of fire and
torment. He has seen that other dare and die, leading his men, and has
learned that a "swell" can reckon _his_ life--his  humble,
insignificant life as it used to be--as worth more than his own.

And there are thousands on whom the mere excitement of the new scenes,
the new countries, cities, and men, has acted like flame on invisible
ink, bringing out a hundred unexpected aptitudes, developing a mental
energy that surprises themselves. "On my farm," says a farmer I know, "I
have both men that have been at the front, and are allowed to come back
for agricultural purposes, and others that have never left me. They were
all much the same kind of men before the war; but now the men who have
been to the front are worth twice the others. I don't think they
_know_ that they are doing more work, and doing it better than they
used to do. It is unconscious. Simply, they are twice the men they
were."

And in the towns, in London, where, through the Play Centers, I know
something of the London boy, how the discipline, the food, the open air,
the straining and stimulating of every power and sense that the war has
brought about, seems to be transforming and hardening the race! In the
noble and Pauline sense, I mean. These lanky, restless lads have indeed
"endured hardness."

Ah, let us take what comfort we can from these facts, for they are
facts--in face of these crowded graveyards in the battle zone, and all
the hideous wastage of war. They mean, surely, that a new heat of
intelligence, a new passion of sympathy and justice, has been roused in
our midst by this vast and terrible effort, which, when the war is over,
will burn out of itself the rotten things in our social structure, and
make reforms easy which, but for the war, might have rent us in sunder.
Employers and employed, townsman and peasant, rich and poor--in the ears
of all, the same still small voice, in the lulls of the war tempest,
seems to have been urging the same message. More life--more
opportunity--more leisure--more joy--more beauty!--for the masses of
plain men and women, who have gone so bare in the past and are now
putting forth their just and ardent claim on the future.


Let me recall a few more personal landmarks in the eighteen years that
have passed since _Eleanor_ appeared, before I close.

Midway in the course of them, 1908 was marked out for me, for whom a
yearly visit to Italy or France, and occasionally to Germany, made the
limits of possible travel, by the great event of a spring spent in the
United States and Canada. We saw nothing more in the States than every
tourist sees--New  York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and a few
other towns; but the interest of every hour seemed to renew in me a
nervous energy and a capacity for enjoyment that had been flagging
before. Our week at Washington at the British Embassy with Mr. and Mrs.
Bryce, as they then were, our first acquaintance with Mr. Roosevelt,
then at the White House, and with American men of politics and affairs,
like Mr. Root, Mr. Garfield, and Mr. Bacon--set all of it in spring
sunshine, amid a sheen of white magnolias and May leaf--will always stay
with me as a time of pleasure, unmixed and unspoiled, such as one's
fairy godmother seldom provides without some medicinal drawback! And to
find the Jusserands there so entirely in their right place--he so
unchanged from the old British Museum days when we knew him first--was
one of the chief items in the delightful whole. So, too, was the
discussion of the President, first with one Ambassador and then with
another. For who could help discussing him! And what true and admiring
friends he had in both these able men who knew him through and through,
and were daily in contact with him, both as diplomats and in social
life.

Then Philadelphia, where I lectured on behalf of the London Play
Centers; Boston, with Mrs. Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett--a pair of
friends, gentle, eager, distinguished, whom none who loved them will
forget; Cambridge, and our last sight of Charles Eliot Norton, standing
to bid us farewell on the steps of Shady Hill; Hawthorne's house at
Concord; and the lovely shore of Newport. The wonderful new scenes
unrolled themselves day by day; kind faces and welcoming voices were
always round us, and it was indeed hard to tear ourselves away.

But at the end of April we went north to Canada for yet another chapter
of quickened life. A week at Montreal, first with Sir William van Horne,
then Ottawa, and a week with Lord and Lady Grey; and finally the
never-to-be-forgotten experience of three weeks in the "Saskatchewan,"
Sir William's car on the Canadian Pacific Railway, which took us first
from Toronto to Vancouver, and then from Vancouver to Quebec. So in a
swallow's flight from sea to sea I saw the marvelous land wherein,
perhaps, in a far hidden future, lies the destiny of our race.

Of all this--of the historic figures of Sir William van Home, of beloved
Lord Grey, of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and Sir Robert Borden, as they were
ten years ago, there would be much to say. But my present task is done.

Nor is there any room here for those experiences of the war, and of the
actual fighting front, to which I have already given utterance in
_England's Effort_ and _Towards the Goal._ Some day, perhaps,
if these _Recollections_ find an audience, and when peace has
loosened our tongues and abolished that very necessary person, the
Censor, there will be something more to be written. But now, at any
rate, I lay down my pen. For a while these _Recollections_, during
the hours I have been at work on them, have swept me out of the shadow
of the vast and tragic struggle in which we live, into days long past on
which there is still sunlight--though it be a ghostly sunlight; and
above them the sky of normal life. But the dream and the illusion are
done. The shadow descends again, and the evening paper comes in,
bringing yet another mad speech of a guilty Emperor to desecrate yet
another Christmas Eve.

The heart of the world is set on peace. But for us, the Allies, in whose
hands lies the infant hope of the future, it must be a peace worthy of
our dead and of their sacrifice. "Let us gird up the loins of our minds.
In due time we shall reap, if we faint not."

And meanwhile across the western ocean America, through these winter
days, sends incessantly the long procession of her men and ships to the
help of the Old World and an undying cause. Silently they come, for
there are powers of evil lying in wait for them. But "still they come."
The air thickens, as it were with the sense of an ever-gathering host.
On this side, and on that, it is the Army of Freedom, and of Judgment.

_Christmas Eve, 1917._



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