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Title: Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton, B. A. Of Trinity College, Cambridge - Extracted From His Letters And Diaries, With Reminiscences Of His Conversation By His Friend Christopher Carr Of The Same College
Author: Benson, Arthur Christopher, 1862-1925
Language: English
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Etext preparer's note: This text was first published anonymously in 1886.


  MEMOIRS OF
  ARTHUR HAMILTON, B.A.
  OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE


  Extracted from his letters and diaries, with reminiscences of his
  conversation by his friend CHRISTOPHER CARR
  of the same college

  By
  Arthur Christopher Benson

     "Pro jucundis aptissima quaeque dabunt di;
     Carior est illis homo quam sibi."
        Juvenal



DEDICATION

To H. L. M.


My dear Friend,

When you were kind enough to allow me to dedicate this book to
you—you, to whose frank discussion of sacred things and kindly
indifference to exaggerations of expression I owe so much—I felt
you were only adding another to the long list of delicate benefits
for which a friend can not be directly repaid.

My object has throughout been this: I have seen so much of what
may be called the dissidence of religious thought and religious
organization among those of my own generation at the Universities,
and the unhappy results of such a separation, that I felt bound to
contribute what I could to a settlement of this division, existing
so much more in word than in fact—a point which you helped me very
greatly to grasp.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen and known both sides of the
battle. I have seen men in the position of teachers, both anxious and
competent to position of teachers, both anxious and competent to
settle differences, when brought into contact with men of serious
God-seeking souls, with the nominal intention of dropping the
bandying of words and cries and of attacking principles, meet and
argue and part, almost unconscious that they have never touched the
root of the matter at all, yet dissatisfied with the efforts which
only seem to widen the breach they are intended to fill.

And why? Both sides are to blame, no doubt: the teachers, for being
more anxious to expound systems than to listen to difficulties, to
make their theories plain than to analyse the theories of their—I
will not say adversaries—but opponents; the would-be learners,
for hasty generalization; for bringing to the conflict a deliberate
prejudice against all traditional authority, a want of patience in
translating dogmas into life, a tendency to flatly deny that such a
transmutation is possible.

Fortunately, the constructive side is in no want of an exponent;
but I have tried to give a true portrait in this arrangement, or
rather selection, of realities, of what a serious and thoughtful
soul-history may in these days be: to depict the career of a
character for which no one can fail to have the profoundest sympathy,
being as it is, by the nature of its case, condemned to a sadder
sterner view of life than its uprightness justifies, and deprived of
the helpful encouragement of so many sweet natures, whose single aim
in life is to help other souls, if they only knew how.

And so, as I said before, it is with a most grateful remembrance of
certain gracious words of yours, let fall in the stately house of God
where we have worshipped together, in lecture-rooms where I have sat
to hear you, and in conversations held in quiet college rooms or
studious gardens, that I place your name at the head of these pages,
the first I have sent out to shift for themselves, or rather to pass
whither the Inspirer of all earnest endeavour may appoint.

       I remain ever affectionately yours,
                   Christopher Carr.
  Ashdon, Hants.



PREFACE


There are several forms of temperament. The kind that mostly
issues in biography is the practical temperament. Poets have the
shortest memoirs, and the most uninteresting. The politician, the
philanthropist, the general, make the best, the most graphic Lives.
The fact remains, however, that the question, "What has he done?"
though a specious, is an unsatisfactory test of greatness.

But there is a temperament called the Reflective, which works slowly,
and with little apparent result. The very gift of expression is a
practical gift: with the gift of expression the reflective man
becomes a writer, a poet, an artist; without it, he is unknown.

The reflective temperament, existing without any particular gift of
expression, wants an exponent in these times. Reflection is lost
sight of; philanthropy is all the rage. I assert that for a man to
devote himself to a reflective life, that is, in the eyes of the
world, an indolent one, is often a great sacrifice, and even on that
account, if not essentially, valuable. Philanthropy is generally
distressing, often offensive, sometimes disastrous.

Nothing, in this predetermined world, fails of its effect, as nothing
is without its cause. There is a call to reflection which a man must
follow, and his life then becomes an integral link in the chain of
circumstance. Any intentional life affects the world; it is only the
vague drifting existences that pass it by.

The subject of this memoir was, as the world counts reputation,
unknown. His only public appearance, as far as I know, besides the
announcement of his birth, is the fact that his initials stand in a
dedication on the title-page of a noble work of fiction.

Arthur Hamilton left me his manuscripts, papers, and letters; from
these, and casual conversations I have had with him in old days,
this little volume is constructed.

                         C.C.


CHAPTER I


He was born November 2, 1852. He was the second son of a retired
cavalry officer, who lived in Hampshire. Besides his elder brother,
there were three sisters, one of whom died. His father was a wealthy
man, and had built himself a small country house, and planted the few
acres of ground round it very skillfully. Major Hamilton was a very
religious man, of the self-sufficient, puritanical, and evangelical
type, that issues from discipline; a martinet in his regiment, a
domestic tyrant, without intending to be. He did not marry till
rather late in life; and at the time when Arthur was growing up—the
time when memory intwines itself most lingeringly with its
surroundings, the time which comes back to us at ecstatic moments
in later, sadder days—all the _entourage_ of the place was at its
loveliest. Nothing ever equalled the thrill, he has told me, of
finding the first thrush's nest in the laurels by the gate, or of
catching the first smell of the lilac bushes in spring, or the
pungent scent of the chamomile and wild celery down by the little
stream.

The boy acquired a great love for Nature, though not of the intimate
kind that poets have by instinct. "In moments of grief and despair,"
he wrote in later life, "I do not, as some do, crouch back to the
bosom of the great Mother; she has, it seems, no heart for me when I
am sorry, though she smiles with me when I am glad." But he has told
me that he is able to enjoy a simple village scene in a way that
others can not easily understand: a chestnut crowded with pink
spires, the clack of a mill-wheel, the gush of a green sluice out
of a mantled pool, a little stream surrounded by flags and water
lobelias, gave him all his life a keen satisfaction in his happy
moments. "I always gravitate to water," he writes. "I could stop
and look at a little wayside stream for hours; and a pool—I never
tire of it, though it awes me when I am alone."

The boy was afraid of trees, as many children are. If he had to go
out alone he always crossed the fields, and never went by the wood;
wandering in a wood at night was a childish nightmare of a peculiarly
horrible kind.

I quote a few childish stories about him, selecting them out of a
large number.

His mother saying to him one day that the gardener was dead, he burst
out laughing (with that curious hysteria so common in children), and
then after a little asked if they were going to bury him.

His mother, wishing to familiarize him with the idea of continued
existence after death, dwelt on the fact that it was only his body
that was going to be buried: his soul was in heaven.

The boy said presently, "If his body is in the churchyard, and his
soul in heaven, where is David?"

Upon which his mother sent him down to the farm.

He was often singularly old-fashioned in his ways. If he was kept
indoors by a childish ailment, he would draw his chair up to the
fire, by his nurse, and say, "Now that the children are gone out,
nurse, we can have a quiet talk." And he always returned first of all
his brothers and sisters, if they were playing in the garden, that he
might have the pleasure of clapping his hands from the nursery window
to summon them in. "Children, children, come in," he used to say.

A curious little dialogue is preserved by his aunt in a diary. He
laughed so immoderately at something that was said at lunch by one of
his elders, that when his father inquired what the joke was, he was
unable to answer. "It must be something very funny," said his mother
in explanation. "Arthur never laughs unless there is a joke." The
little boy became grave at once, and said severely, "There's hardly
ever anything to laugh at in what you say; but I always laugh for
fear people should be disappointed."

He was very sensitive to rebuke. "I am not so sensitive as I am
always supposed to be," he said to me once. "I am one of those people
who cry when they are spoken to, and do it again."

For instance, he told me that, being very fond of music when he was
small, he stole down one morning at six to play the piano. His
father, a very early riser, was disturbed by the gentle tinkling, and
coming out of his study, asked him rather sharply why he couldn't do
something useful—read some Shakespeare. He never played on the piano
again for months, and for years never until he had ascertained that
his father was out. "It was a mistake," he told me once, apropos of
it. "If he had said that it disturbed him, but that I might do it
later, I should have been delighted to stop. I always liked feeling
that I was obliging people."

He disliked his father, and feared him. The tall, handsome gentleman,
accustomed to be obeyed, in reality passionately fond of his
children, dismayed him. He once wrote on a piece of paper the words,
"I hate papa," and buried it in the garden.

For the rest, he was an ordinary, rather clever, secretive child,
speaking very little of his feelings, and caring, as he has told me
since, very little for anybody except his nurse. "I cared about her
in a curious way. I enjoyed the sensation of crying over imaginary
evils; and I should not like to say how often in bed at night I used
to act over in my mind an imaginary death-bed scene of my nurse, and
the pathetic remarks she was to make about Master Arthur, and the
edifying bearing I was to show. This was calculated within a given
time to produce tears, and then I was content."

He went to a private school, which he hated, and then to Winchester,
which he grew to love. The interesting earnest little boy merged into
the clumsy loose-jointed schoolboy, silent and languid. There are
hardly any records of this time.

"My younger sister died," he told me, "when I was at school. I
experienced about ten minutes of grief; my parents were overwhelmed
with anguish, and I can remember that, like a quick, rather clever
child, I soon came to comprehend the sort of remark that cheered
them, and almost overdid it in my zeal. I am overwhelmed with shame,"
he said, "whenever I look at my mother's letters about that time when
she speaks of the comfort I was to them. It was a _fraus pia_, but it
was a most downright _fraus_."

I think I may relate one other curious incident among his public
school experiences: it may seem very incredible, but I have his word
for it that it is true.

"A sixth-form boy took a fancy to me, and let me sit in his room, and
helped me in my work. The night before he left the school I was
sitting there, and just before I went away, being rather overcome
with regretful sentiments, he caught hold of me by the arm and said,
among other things, 'And now that I am going away, and shall probably
never see you again, I don't believe you care one bit.' I don't know
how I came to do it," he said, "because I was never demonstrative;
but I bent down and kissed him on the cheek, and then blushed up to
my ears. He let me go at once; he was very much astonished, and I
think not a little pleased; but it was certainly a curious incident."

During this time his intellectual development was proceeding slowly.
"I went through three phases," he said. "I began by a curious love
for pastoral and descriptive poetry. I read Thomson and Cowper,
similes from 'Paradise Lost,' and other selections of my own; I read
Tennyson, and revelled in the music of the lines and words. I
intended to be a poet.

"Then I became omnivorous, and read everything, whether I understood
it or not, especially biographies. I spent all my spare time in the
school library; one only valuable thing have I derived from that—a
capacity for taking in the sense of a page at a glance, and having a
verbal memory of a skimmed book for an hour or two superior to any
one that I ever met."

Then there came an ebb, and he read nothing, but loafed all day,
and tried to talk. He had a notion he said, that he could argue
Socratically; and he was always trying to introduce metaphors into
his conversation. But his remarks in a much later letter to a friend
on childish reading are so pertinent that I introduce them here.

"Never take a book away from a child unless it is positively vicious;
that they should learn how to read a book and read it quickly is the
great point; that they should get a habit of reading, and feel a void
without it, is what should be cultivated. Never mind if it is trash
now; their tastes will insensibly alter. I like a boy to cram himself
with novels; a day will come when he is sick of them, and rejects
them for the study of facts. What we want to give a child is
'bookmindedness,' as some one calls it. They will read a good deal
that is bad, of course; but innocence is as slippery as a duck's
back; a boy really fond of reading is generally pure-minded enough.
When you see a robust, active, out-of-door boy deeply engrossed in a
book, then you may suspect it if you like, and ask him what he has
got; it will probably have an animal bearing."

Friendships more or less ardent, butterfly-hunting, school games,
constant visits to the cathedral for service, to which he was always
keenly devoted, uneventful holidays, filled up most of his school
life. His letters at this date are very ordinary; his early precocity
seemed, rather to the delight of his parents, to have vanished.
He was not a prig, though rather exclusive; not ungenial, though
retiring. "A dreadful boy," he writes of himself, "who is as mum as
a mouse with his elders, and then makes his school friends roar with
laughter in the passage: dumb at home, a chatterbox at school."

"I had no religion at that time," he writes, "with the exception of
six months, when I got interested in it by forming a friendship
with an attractive ritualistic curate; but my confirmation made no
impression on me, and I think I had no moral feelings that I could
distinguish. I had no inherent hatred of wrong, or love for right;
but I was fastidious, and that kept me from being riotous, and
undemonstrative, which made me pure."



CHAPTER II


Arthur went up to the University, Trinity College, Cambridge, in
1870; he did not distinguish himself there, or acquire more than he
had done at Winchester: "The one thing I learnt at Winchester that
has been useful to me since, was how to tie up old letters: my
house-master taught me how to do that—it was about all he was fit
for. The thing I learnt at Cambridge was to smoke: my cousin Fred
taught me that, and he was hardly fit for that."

As it was at Cambridge that I first met him, I will give a short
description of him as far as I can remember.

He was a tall, lounging fellow, rather clumsy in his movements, but
with a kind of stateliness about him; he looked, and was, old for his
years. He was a little short-sighted and wore glasses; without them
his brow had that puzzled, slightly bothered look often seen in
weak-sighted people. His face was not unattractive, though rather
heavy; his hair was dark and curly—he let it grow somewhat long from
indolence—and he had a drooping moustache. He was one of the men
who, without the slightest idea of doing so, always managed to create
rather an impression. As he lounged along the street with his hands
in his pockets, generally alone, people used to turn and look at him.
If he had taken a line of any kind he would have been known
everywhere—but he did nothing.

The occasion on which I met him first was in the rooms of a common
friend; there was a small gathering of men. He was sitting in a low
chair, smoking intently. It was the one occupation he loved; he
hardly said anything, though the conversation was very animated;
silence was his latest phase; but as it was his first term, and he
was not very well acquainted with the party, it appeared natural; not
that being surrounded by dukes and bishops would have made the
slightest difference to him if he had been disposed to talk, but he
was not talkative, and held his tongue.

There had been some discussion about careers and their relative
merits. One rather cynical man had broken in upon the ambitious
projects that were being advanced with, "Well, we must remember that
we are after all only average men."

"Yes," said Arthur, slowly, from the depths of his chair, "no doubt;
only not quite so average."

The gentleman addressed, who was a senior man, stared for a moment at
the freshman who had ventured to correct him, to whom he had not even
been introduced; but Arthur was staring meditatively at the smoke
rising from his pipe, and did not seem inclined to move or be moved,
so he concluded not to continue the discussion.

The only other thing I heard him say that night was as follows. An
ardent enthusiast on the subject of missions was present, who,
speaking of an Indian mission lately started and apparently wholly
ineffective, said, "But we must expect discouragement at first. The
Church has always met with that."

"Yes," said Arthur; "but we must also remember, what people are very
apt to forget, that ill success is not an absolute proof that God is
on our side."

These two remarks, slight as they were, struck me; and, indeed, I
have never quite forgotten that indefinable first impression of the
man. There was a feeling about him of holding great things in
reserve, an utter absence of self-consciousness, a sensation that he
did not value the opinions of other people, that he did not regulate
his conduct by them, which is very refreshing in these social days,
when everybody's doings and sayings are ventilated and discussed so
freely. He had none of the ordinary ambitions; he did not want a
reputation, I thought, on ordinary grounds; he struck me as liking
to observe and consider, not to do or say.

I am fond of guessing at character and forming impressions; and I
very soon found out that these were not mistaken. My way that night
lay with him as far as the gate of his college. We struck up a kind
of acquaintanceship, though I felt conscious that he did not in the
least care about doing so, that he probably would not give me another
thought. It seems strange, reflecting on that evening, that I should
now come to be his biographer.

However, I was interested in the type of character he displayed, and
did not let the acquaintance drop. I invited him to my rooms. He
would not come of his own accord at first, but by-and-by he got
habituated to me, and not unfrequently strolled in.

He never let any one into the secret of his motives; he never
confessed to any plans for the future, or to taking any interest in
one line of life more than another. He was well off and did not spend
much, except on his books, which were splendid. His rooms were untidy
to the last degree, but liberally supplied with the most varied
contrivances for obtaining a comfortable posture. Deep chairs and
sofas, with devices for books and light, and for writing in any
position. "When my mind is at work," he said to me once, "I don't
like to be reminded of my body at all. I want to forget that I have
one; and so I always say my prayers lying down."

He dressed badly, or rather carelessly, for he never gave the subject
a moment's thought. If his friends told him that a suit was shabby,
he appeared in a day or two in a new one, till that was similarly
noticed; then it was discarded altogether. He always wore one suit
till he had worn it out, never varying it. But he consulted fashion
to a certain extent. "My object," he said, "is to escape notice, to
look like every one else. I think of all despicable people, the
people who try to attract attention by a marked style of dress, are
perhaps the lowest."

His life at Cambridge was very monotonous, for he enjoyed monotony;
he used to say that he liked to reflect on getting up in the morning,
that his day was going to be filled by ordinary familiar things. He
got up rather late, read his subjects for an hour or two, strolled
about to see one or two friends, lunched with them or at home,
strolled in the afternoon, often dropping in to King's for the
anthem, went back to his rooms for tea, the one time at which he
liked to see his friends, read or talked till hall, and finally
settled down to his books again at ten, reading till one or two in
the morning.

He read very desultorily and widely. Thus he would read books on
Arctic voyages for ten days and talk of nothing else, then read
novels till he sickened for facts and fact till he sickened for
fiction; biographies, elementary science, poetry, general philosophy,
particularly delighting in any ideal theories of life and discipline
in state or association, but with a unique devotion to "Hamlet"
and "As You Like It," the "Pilgrim's Progress," and Emerson's
"Representative Men." He rarely read the Bible, he told me, and then
only in great masses at a sitting; and the one thing that he disliked
with an utter hatred was theology of a settled and orthodox type,
though next to the four books I have mentioned, "The Christian Year"
and "Ecce Homo" were his constant companions.

He did not care for history; he used to lament it. "I have but a
languid interest in facts, qua facts," he said; "and I try to arrive
at history through biography. I like to disentangle the separate
strands, one at a time; the fabric is too complex for me."

He had the greatest delight in topography. "That is why," he used to
say, "I delight in a flat country. The idea of _space_ is what I want.
I like to see miles at a glance. I like to see clouds league-long
rolling up in great masses from the horizon—cloud perspective. I
rejoice in seeing the fields, hedgerow after hedgerow, farm after
farm, push into the blue distance. It makes me feel the unity and the
diversity of life; a city bewilders and confuses me, but a great
tract of placid country gives me a broad glow of satisfaction."

He went for a walking tour in the fens, and returned enchanted. "By
Ely," he said, "the line crosses a gigantic fen—Whittlesea mere in
old days—and on a clear day you can see at least fifteen miles
either way. As we crossed it a great skein of starlings rose out of
a little holt, and streamed north; the herons or quiet cattle stood
along the huge dykes. You could see the scattered figures of old
labourers in the fields, and then for miles and miles the squat
towers, at which you were making, staring over the flat, giving you
a thrill every time you sighted them, and right away west the low
hills that must have been the sandy downs that blocked the restless
plunging sea; they must have looked for centuries over rollers and
salt marsh and lagoon, felt the tread of strange herds and beasts
about them till they have become the quiet slopes of a sunny park
or the simple appendages of a remote hill farm."

But his greatest delight was in music. He knew a smattering of it
scientifically, enough to follow up subjects and to a certain extent
to recognize chords. There occurs in one of his letters to me the
following passage, which I venture to quote. He is speaking of the
delight of pure sound as apart from melody:

"I remember once," he writes, "being with a great organist in a
cathedral organ-loft, sitting upon the bench at his side. He was
playing a Mass of Schubert's, and close to the end, at the last chord
but two—he was dying to a very soft close, sliding in handles all
over the banks of stops—he nodded with his head to the rows of pedal
stops with their red labels, as though to indicate where danger
lay. 'Put your hand on the thirty-two foot,' he said. There it
was '_Double open wood 32 ft._' And just as his fingers slid on to
the last chord, 'Now,' he said.

"Ah! that was it; the great wooden pipe close to my ear began to blow
and quiver; and hark! not sound, but sensation—the great rapturous
stir of the air; a drowsy thunder in the roof of nave and choir; the
grim saints stirred and rattled ill their leaded casements, while
the melodious roar died away as softly as it had begun, sinking to
silence with many a murmurous pulsation, many a throb of sighing
sound."

Organ-playing, organ music, was the one subject on which I have heard
him wax enthusiastic. His talk and his letters always become
rhetorical when he deals with music; his musical metaphors are always
carefully worked out; he compares a man of settled purpose, in whose
life the "motive was very apparent," to "the great lazy horns, that
you can always hear in the orchestra pouring out their notes hollow
and sweet, however loud the violins shiver or the trumpets cry." He
often went up to London to hear music. The St. James's Hall Concerts
were his especial delight. I find later a description of the effect
produced on him by Wagner.

"I have just come back from the Albert Hall, from hearing the
'Meistersänger,' Wagner himself conducting. I may safely say I
think that I never experienced such absolute artistic rapture before
as at certain parts of this; for instance, in the overture, at one
place where the strings suddenly cease and there comes a peculiar
chromatic waft of wind instruments, like a ghostly voice rushing
across. I have never felt anything like it; it swept one right away,
and gave one a sense of deep ineffable satisfaction. I shall always
feel _for the future_ that there is an existent region, _into which
I have now actually penetrated_, in which that entire satisfaction
is possible, a fact which I have always hitherto doubted. It is
like an initiation.

"But I can not bear the 'Tannhäuser;' it seems to paint with a
fatal fascination the beauty of wickedness, the rightness, so to
speak, of sensuality. I feel after it as if I had been yielding to
a luscious temptation; unnerved, not inspired."

In another letter he writes, "Music is the most hopeful of the arts;
she does not hint only, like other expressions of beauty—she takes
you straight into a world of peace, a world where law and beauty are
the same, and where an ordered discord, that is discord working by
definite laws, is the origin of the keenest pleasure."

I remember, during the one London season which he subsequently went
through, his settling himself at a Richter concert next me with an
air of delight upon his face. "Now," he said, "let us try and
remember for an hour or two that we have souls."



CHAPTER III


I must here record one curious circumstance which I have never
explained even to my own satisfaction.

He had been at Cambridge about two years, when, in the common consent
of all his friends, his habits and behaviour seemed to undergo a
complete and radical change.

I have never discovered what the incident was that occasioned this
change; all I know is that suddenly, for several weeks, his geniality
of manner and speech, his hilarity, his cheerfulness, entirely
disappeared; a curious look of haunting sadness, not defined, but
vague, came over his face; and though he gradually returned to his
old ways, yet I am conscious myself, and others would support me in
this, that he was never quite the same again; he was no longer young.

The only two traces that I can discover in his journals, or letters,
or elsewhere, of the facts are these.

He always in later diaries vaguely alludes to a certain event which
changed his view of things in general; "ever since," "since that
November," "for now nearly five years I have felt." These and similar
phrases constantly occur in his diary. I will speak in a moment of
what nature I should conjecture it to have been.

A packet of letters in his desk were marked "to be burnt unopened;"
but at the same time carefully docketed with dates: these dates were
all immediately after that time, extending over ten days.

The exact day was November 8, 1872. It is engraved in a small silver
locket that hung on his watch-chain, where he was accustomed to have
important days in his life marked, such as the day he adopted his
boy, his mother's death. It is preceded by the Greek letters ΒΠ,
which from a certain entry in his diary I conceive to be
βάπτισμα πυρὸς, "the baptism of fire."

Lastly, in a diary for that year, kept with fair regularity up till
November 8, there here intervenes a long blank, the only entry being
November 9: "Salvum me fac, Dne."

I took the trouble, incidentally, to hunt up the files of a Cambridge
journal of that date, to see if I could link it on to any event, and
I found there recorded, in the course of that week, what I at first
imagined to be the explanation of the incidents, and own I was a good
deal surprised.

I found recorded some Revivalist Mission Services, which were then
held in Cambridge with great success. I at once concluded that he
underwent some remarkable spiritual experience, some religious
fright, some so-called conversion, the effects of which only
gradually disappeared. The contagion of a Revivalist meeting is a
very mysterious thing. Like a man going to a mesmerist, an individual
may go, announcing his firm intention not to be influenced in the
smallest degree by anything said or done. Nay more, he may think
himself, and have the reputation of being, a strong, unyielding
character, and yet these are the very men who are often most
hopelessly mesmerized, the very men whom the Revival most
absolutely—for the occasion—enslaves. And thus, knowing that one
could form no _prima facie_ judgments on the probabilities in such a
matter, I came to the conclusion that he had fallen, in some degree,
under the influence of these meetings.

But in revising this book, and carefully recalling my own and
studying others' impressions, I came to the conclusion that it was
impossible that this should be the case.

1. In the first place, he was more free than any man I ever saw from
the influence of contagious emotions; he dissembled his own emotions,
and contemned the public display of them in other people.

2. He had, I remember, a strange repugnance, even abhorrence, to
public meetings in the later days at Cambridge. I can now recall that
he would accompany people to the door, but never be induced to enter.
A passage which I will quote from one of his letters illustrates
this.

"The presence of a large number of people has a strange, repulsive
physical effect on me. I feel crushed and overwhelmed, not stimulated
and vivified, as is so often described. I can't listen to a concert
comfortably if there is a great throng, unless the music is so good
as to wrap one altogether away. There is undoubtedly a force abroad
among large masses of people, the force which forms the basis of the
principle of public prayer, and I am conscious of it too, only it
distresses me; moreover, the worst and most afflicting nightmare I
have is the sensation of standing sightless and motionless, but with
all the other senses alert and apprehensive, in the presence of a
vast and hostile crowd."

3. He never showed the least sign of being influenced in the
direction of spiritual or even religious life by this crisis. He
certainly spoke very little at all for some time to any one on any
subject; he was distrait and absent-minded in society—for the
alteration was much observed from its suddenness—but when he
gradually began to converse as usual, he did not, as is so often the
case in similar circumstances, do what is called "bearing witness to
the truth." His attitude toward all enthusiastic forms of religion
had been one, in old days, of good-natured, even amused tolerance. He
was now not so good-natured in his criticisms, and less sparing of
them, though his religious-mindedness, his seriousness, was
undoubtedly increased by the experience, whatever it was.

On the whole, then, I should say that the coincidence of the revival
is merely fortuitous. It remains to seek what the cause was.

We must look for it, in a character so dignified as Arthur's, in some
worthy cause, some emotional failure, some moral wound. I believe the
following to be the clew; I can not develop it without treading some
rather delicate ground.

He had formed, in his last year at school, a very devoted friendship
with a younger boy; such friendships like the εἰσπνήλας and the
ἀϊτάς of Sparta, when they are truly chivalrous and absolutely
pure, are above all other loves, noble, refining, true; passion at white
heat without taint, confidence of so intimate a kind as can not even
exist between husband and wife, trust such as can not be shadowed,
are its characteristics. I speak from my own experience, and others
will, I know, at heart confirm me, when I say that these things are
infinitely rewarding, unutterably dear.

Arthur left Winchester. A correspondence ensued between the two
friends. I have three letters of Arthur's, so passionate in
expression, that for fear of even causing uneasiness, not to speak
of suspicion, I will not quote them. I have seen, though I have
destroyed, at request, the letters of the other.

This friend, a weak, but singularly attractive boy, got into a bad
set at Winchester, and came to grief in more than one way; he came
to Cambridge in three years, and fell in with a thoroughly bad set
there. Arthur seems not to have suspected it at first, and to have
delighted in his friend's society; but such things as habits betray
themselves, and my belief is that disclosures were made on November
8, which revealed to Arthur the state of the case. What passed I
can not say. I can hardly picture to myself the agony, disgust,
and rage (his words and feelings about sensuality of any kind were
strangely keen and bitter), loyalty fighting with the sense of
repulsion, pity struggling with honour, which must have convulsed
him when he discovered that his friend was not only yielding, but
deliberately impure.

The other's was an unworthy and brutal nature, utterly corrupted at
bottom. He used to speak jestingly of the occurrence. "Oh yes!" I
have heard him say; "we were great friends once, but he cuts me now;
he had to give me up, you see, because he didn't approve of me.
Justice, mercy, and truth, and all the rest of it."

It was certainly true; their friendship ended. I find it hard to
realize that Arthur would voluntarily have abandoned him; and yet I
find passages in his letters, and occasional entries in his diaries,
which seem to point to some great stress put upon him, some enormous
burden indicated, which he had not strength to attempt and adopt.
"May God forgive me for my unutterable selfishness; it is irreparable
now," is one of the latest entries on that day in his diary. I
conceive, perhaps, that his outraged ideal was too strong for his
power of forgiveness. He was very fastidious, always.

How deep the blow cut will be shown by these following extracts:

"I once had my faith in human nature rudely wrecked, and it has never
attempted a long voyage again. I hug the coast and look regretfully
out to sea; perhaps the day may come when I may strike into it ...
believe in it always if you can; I do not say it is vanity ... the
shock blinded me; I can not see if I would."

And again—

"Moral wounds never heal; they may be torn open by a chance word, by
a fragment of print, by a sentence from a letter; and there we have
to sit with pale face and shuddering heart, to bleed in silence and
dissemble it. Then, too, there is that constant dismal feeling which
the Greeks called ὕπουλος: the horrible conviction, the grim
memory lurking deep down, perhaps almost out of sight, thrust away by
circumstance and action, but always ready to rise noiselessly up and
draw you to itself."

"'A good life, and therefore a happy one,' says my old aunt, writing
to me this morning; it is marvellous and yet sustaining what one can
pass through, and yet those about you—those who suppose that they
have the key, if any, to your heart—be absolutely ignorant of it.
'He looks a little tired and worn: he has been sitting up late;' 'all
young men are melancholy: leave him alone and he will be better in a
year or two,' was all that was said when I was actually meditating
suicide—when I believe I was on the brink of insanity."

All these extracts are from letters to myself at different periods.
Taking them together, and thus arranged, my case seems irresistible;
still I must concede that it is all theory—all inference: I do not
wholly know the facts, and never shall.



CHAPTER IV


I found the first hint that occurs to indicate the lines of his later
life, in a letter to his father, written in his last week at
Cambridge. In the Classical Tripos Arthur contrived to secure a
second; in the translations, notably Greek, we heard he did as well
as anybody; but history and other detailed subjects dragged him down:
it was an extraordinarily unequal performance.

His father, being ambitious for his sons, and knowing to a certain
extent Arthur's ability, was altogether a good deal disappointed. He
had accepted Arthur's failure to get a scholarship or exhibition, not
with equanimity, but with a resolute silence, knowing that strict
scholarship was not his son's strong point, but still hoping that he
would at least do well enough in his Tripos to give him a possibility
of a Fellowship.

Arthur would himself have been happier with a Fellowship than with
any other position, but the possibility did not stimulate him to work
with that aim in view. He wrote: "Existence generally is so extremely
problematical, that I can not consent to throw away three birds in
the hand for one which I do not believe to be in the bush—my present
life for a doubtful future provision. I think I am ambitious after
the event. Every normal human being ought to be capable either
of strong expectation or strong disappointment, according as the
character lives most in the future or in the past. Those capable of
both generally succeed and are unhappy men; but an entire want of
ambition argues a low vitality. If a man tells me loftily he has no
ambition, I tell him I am very sorry for him, and say that it is
almost as common an experience as having no principles, and often
accompanying it, only that people are generally ashamed to confess
the latter."

On his appearing in the second class, his father wrote him rather an
indignant letter, saying that he had suspected all along that he was
misusing his time and wasting his opportunities, but that he had
refrained from saying so because he had trusted him; that his one
prayer for his children was that they might not turn out useless,
dilettante, or frivolous, selfish men. "I had hoped that whatever
they engaged in my sons would say, 'If this is worth doing, it is
worth doing well.' I did not want them to say, 'I mean to work in
order to be first in this or that, to beat other people, to court
success'—I do not suspect you of that—but to say, 'I mean to do my
best, and if I am rewarded with honours to accept them gratefully, as
a sign that my endeavours have been blest.' I fear that in your case
you have done what pleased yourself—sucked the honey of the work, or
tried to; that always ends in bitterness. You were capable of taking
the higher ground; it seems to me that you have taken neither—and
indecision in such matters is the one thing that does not succeed
either in this world or the next; the one thing which the children of
this world unanimously agree with the children of light in despising
and censuring.

"P.S.—You used to speak of possibly taking orders; set to work
seriously on that if you haven't changed your mind; for that is what
I have always hoped and prayed for you. Let me see that you are
capable of executing as well as planning a high resolve finely."

Arthur's behaviour on receiving this letter was very characteristic.
He did not answer it.

It was a habit he had which got him into considerable odium with
people. Whenever a letter entailed making up his mind—an invitation
which had two sides to it—a decision—a request for advice or
immediate action—these rarely extorted an answer from him. "It did
not seem to me to be very important," he used to say. Neither would
he be dictated to. A friend who had asked him to form one of a
football eleven, receiving no reply, inclosed two post-cards
addressed to himself, on one of which was written "Yes," and on
the other "No." Arthur posted them both.

But a casual letter, implying friendliness, a statement of mental
or moral difficulties, criticisms on an interesting book, requests
involving principles, drew out immediate, full, and interesting
replies, of apparently almost unnecessary urgency and affection. A
boy who wrote to him from school about a long and difficult moral
case, infinitely complicated by side issues and unsatisfactory
action, got back the following day an exhaustive, imperative, and yet
pleading reply, indicating the proper action to take. It is far too
private to quote; but for pathos and lucidity and persuasiveness it
is a wonderful document.

But this letter of his father's he did not answer for ten days, till
the last day but one before his leaving Cambridge, neither did he
mention the subject. I do not think he gave it a thought, except as
one might consider an unpleasant matter of detail which required to
be finished sometime.

On that day there arrived another note from his father,
recapitulating what he had said, and saying that he supposed from his
silence that he had not received the former letter.

To this Arthur returned the following letter:

        "Trinity College, Cambridge,
           Thursday evening (early in 1874).

"My Dear Father:

"I don't wish you to be under any misapprehension about your
former letter. I did receive it and have been carefully considering
the subject; it seemed to me that I could better say what I wished in
a personal interview, and I therefore refrained from writing till I
came home; but you seem to wish me to make an immediate statement,
which I will briefly do.

"You must not think that what I am going to say is in the least
disrespectful. I assure you that I gave your letter, as coming from
you, a consideration that I should not have thought of extending for
a moment to any other man except one or two friends for whose opinion
I have the highest respect; but it is a subject upon which, though I
can not exactly say that my mind is made up, yet I see so distinctly
which way my disposition lies and in what direction my opinions are
capable of undergoing change, that I may say I have very little
doubt—it is, in short, almost a fixed conviction.

"The moment when any one finds himself in radical opposition to the
traditions in which he was brought up is very painful—I can assure
you of that—to himself, as I fear it is painful to those from whom
he dissents; and nothing but a desire for absolute sincerity would
induce me to enter upon it. But knowing and trusting you as I do,
with a firm and filial confidence in your loving thoughts and candid
open-mindedness, I venture to say exactly what I think, believing
that it would be a far more essential disrespect to endeavour to
blink those opinions.

"Shortly, I do _not_ believe that practical usefulness of a direct
kind is the end of life. I do _not_ believe that success is either a
test of greatness nor, as you suggest, an adequate aim for it, though
you will perhaps excuse me if I say that the reasons you give seem to
me to be only the material view skillfully veiled.

"I do not feel in my own mind assured that the highest call in my case
is to engage in a practical life. In fact, I feel fairly well assured
that it is not. I do not know that I intend deliberately to shirk
the responsibilities of moral action which fall in every feeling
man's way. I rather mean that I shall face them from the ordinary
standpoint, and not thrust myself into any position where helping my
fellow-creatures is merely an official act. I think shortly that by
the plan I have vague thoughts of pursuing I may gain an influence
among minds which will certainly be, if I win it, of a very high kind.
I dare not risk the possibilities by flying at lower game.

"Besides, I do not feel nearly enough assured of my ground to say
that active work, as you describe it, is either advisable or
necessary. I want to examine and consider, to turn life and thought
inside out, to see if I can piece together in the least the enormous
problem of which God has flung us the fragments. I do not despair of
arriving at some inkling of that truth. I shall try, if I gain it, to
communicate that glimmering to others, if that is God's will for me;
if not, perhaps I shall be a little wiser or a little happier, at
least a little more capable of receiving my illumination, when the
time for that comes.

"I don't feel as if I understood at all clearly what is God's purpose
for individuals. I can't take public opinion for granted. I will not
let it overwhelm me. I want to stand aside and think; and my own
prayer for my own children, if I had them, would rather be that they
might be saved from being effective, when I see all the evils which
success and mere effectiveness bring.

"What I had thought of doing was of going abroad for a year or two;
but in that matter I am entirely in your hands, because I am
dependent on you. I consider travel not a luxury, but a necessity. If
you will make me an allowance for that purpose I shall very gladly
accept it. If not, I shall endeavour to get some post where I may
make enough money to take me where I wish to go. I shall throw myself
upon the power 'who providently caters for the sparrows' after that.

"I propose to come home on Friday for a week or two. This letter
contains only a draft of what I should have preferred to say there in
words.

  "I am your affectionate son,
      "Arthur Hamilton."

His father curtly acknowledged this letter, but nothing more; and
left the discussion of the subject to be a personal one. They came to
the following compromise.

Arthur was to engage for one year in some active profession,
business, the law, medicine, schoolmastering, taking pupils; at the
end of that time he was to make his choice; if he decided not to take
up any profession, his father promised to allow him £350 a year
as long as he lived, and to secure him the same sum after his own
death. This occupation was to extend from August till the August
following. He was allowed three days for his decision.

He at once decided on schoolmastering, and without much difficulty
secured a post at an upper-class private school, being a substantial
suburban house, in fine timbered grounds, the boys being all destined
for public schools.

He wrote me several letters from that place, but during that time our
correspondence waned, as we were both very busy. He was interested in
his work, and very popular with the boys.

"My experience of life generally gives me a strong impulse in favour
of Determinism; that is to say, the system which considers the
histories of nations, the lives of individuals, their very deeds and
words, to be all part of a vast unalterable design: and whose dealing
with the past, with each event, indeed, as it occurs, is thus nothing
but interpretation, an earnest endeavour to exclude regret or
disappointment, and to see how best to link each fact in our past on
with what we know of ourselves, to see its bearing on our individual
case. Of course this will operate with our view of the future too,
but only in a general way, to minimize ambition and anxiety. It
produces, in fact, exactly the same effect as a perfect 'faith;'
indeed, it is hard to distinguish the two, except that faith is the
instinctive practice of the theory of Determinism.

"Now, the more I work at education, the more I am driven into
Determinism; it seems that we can hardly regulate tendency, in fact
as if the schoolmaster's only duty was to register change. A boy
comes to a place like this, μνημονὶκος and φιλομάθης,
and εὐφύης, as Ascham calls it, in other respects; he is not
exposed, let us say, to any of the temptations which extraordinary
charms of face or manner seem always to entail upon their possessors,
and he leaves it just the same, except that the natural propensities
are naturally developed; whereas a boy with precisely the same
educational and social advantages but without a predisposition to
profit by them leaves school hardly altered in person or mind. It is
true that circumstances alter character—that can not be disputed;
but circumstances are precisely what we can not touch. A boy,
εὐφύης as I have described, brought up as a street-arab, would only
so far profit by it as to be slightly less vicious and disgusting than
his companions. But education, which we speak of as a panacea for all
ills, only deals with what it finds, and does not, as we ought to
claim, rub down bad points and accentuate good, and it is this, that
perhaps more than anything else has made me a Determinist, that
the very capacity for change and improvement is so native to some
characters, and so utterly lacking to others. A man can in real truth
do nothing of himself, though there are all possible varieties—from
the man who can see his deficiencies and make them up, through the
man who sees his weak points and can not strengthen them, to the
spiritually blind who can not even see them. I may of course belong to
the latter class myself—it is the one thing about which no one can
decide for himself—but an inherent contempt for certain parts of my
character seems to hint to me that it is not so."

It will be seen from the last two letters that his ethical position
was settling itself.

I therefore think, before I go any further, it will be as well to
give a short account of his religious opinions at this time, as they
were very much bound up with his life. He told me not unfrequently
that religion had been nothing whatever to him at school, and he came
up to the University impressionable, ardent, like a clean paper ready
for any writing.

It is well known that at the Universities there is a good deal of
proselytizing; that it is customary for men of marked religious views
and high position to have a large _clientèle_ of younger men
whom they influence and mould; schools of the prophets.

Arthur was not drawn into any one of these completely, though I fancy
that he was to a certain extent influenced by the teaching of one of
these men. The living original of these words will pardon me if I
here insert the words of my friend relating to him; many Cambridge
men have been and are everlastingly grateful for his simple noble
influence and example.

"Why are there certain people in this world, who whenever they enter
a room have a strange power of galvanizing everybody there into
connection with themselves? what mysterious currents do they set in
motion to and from them, so that those who do not talk to them or at
them, begin to talk with reference to them, hedged about as they are
with an atmosphere of desire and command?

"There is one of these at Cambridge now, a man for whom I not only
have the profoundest respect, but whose personal presence exercises
on me just the fascination I describe; and influential as he is, it
is influence more utterly unconscious of its own power than any I
have seen—a rare quality. He finds all societies into which he
enters, stung by his words and looks, serious, sweet, interested in,
if not torn by moral and social problems of the deepest import; yet
he always fancies that it is they, not he, that are thus potent. He
is not aware that it is he who is saintly; he thinks it is they that
are good; and all this, not for want of telling him, for he must be
weary of genuine praise and thanks."

To write thus of any one must imply a deep attraction. I do not
think, however, that the admiration ever extended itself to imitation
in matters theoretical or religious. Arthur was not one of those
indiscriminate admirers, blinded by a single radiant quality to
accept the whole body as full of light.

Very slowly his convictions crystallized; he had a period of very
earnest thought—during the time of which I have just been
speaking—in which he shunned the subject in conversation; but I have
reason to believe from the books he read, and from two or three
letters to his friend, the curate of whom I have been speaking, that
he was thinking deeply upon revealed religion.

It must, however, be remembered that he never went through that
period of agonized uprooting of venerated and cherished sentiment
that many whose faith has been very keen and integral in their lives
pass through, the dark valley of doubt. His religion had not intwined
itself into his life; it was not shrined among his sacred memories or
laid away in secret storehouses of thought.

"I have never felt the agony of a dying faith," he wrote to a friend
who was sorely troubled, "so you will forgive me if I do not seem to
sympathize very delicately with you, or if I seem not to understand
the darkness you are in. But I have been in deep waters myself,
though of another kind. I have seen an old ideal foully shattered in
a moment, and a hope that I had held and that had consecrated my life
for many years, not only crushed in an instant—that would have been
bad enough—but its place filled by an image of despair ... so you
will see that I _can_ feel for you, as I _do_.

"Leading to the light is a sad, terribly sad, and wearying process; I
have not won it yet, but I have seen glimpses which have dispelled a
gloom which I thought was hopeless. My dear friend, I _know_ that God
will bring you out into a place of liberty, as He has brought me; in
the day when you come and tell me that He has done so, the smile that
will be on your face will be no sort of symbol, I know, of the
unutterable content within. _Expertus novi_, you have my thoughts and
hopes."

The letters I shall now quote are taken out of a considerable period,
and give a fair picture of what he believed. Tolerance was his great
characteristic.

Below all principles of his own was a deep resolve not to interfere
in any way with the principles of others, however erroneous he deemed
them.

With his definition of sincerity that comes out in the following
extracts I have myself often found fault in conversation and by
letter, but I never produced any change. I thought, and still think,
that it is sophistical in tone, and tampers with one of the most
sacred of our instincts. It never in his case, I think, made any
difference to his presentment of the truth, but it is a principle
that I should not dare to advocate; however, it was so integral a
part of his faith that in this delineation, which shall be as
accurate as I can make it, I dare not omit it.

His convictions were then a steady accumulation, not the shreds of
one system worked into the fabric by the overmastering new impulse
communicated by another, as is so often the case. He writes:

"The strong man's house entered by the stronger, and his goods
despoiled, is a parable more frequently true of the conversion of
a 'believer' into a sceptic than _vice versa_. The habit of firm
adherence to principle, the capacity for trust, the adaptation of
intellectual resources to uphold a theory—all these go to swell the
new emotion; no man is so effective a sceptic as the man who has been
a fervent believer.

"But in the rare cases of the conversion of an intellectual man from
scepticism into belief (like Augustine and a very few others) the
spirit suffers by the change. A great deal of cultivation, of logical
readiness, of eloquence, seem to be essentially secular, to belong
essentially to the old life, and to need imperatively putting away
together with the garment spotted by the flesh. Augustine suffered
less perhaps than others; but some diminution of force seems an
inevitable result.

"I never had a great change of that kind to make. I had a moral
awakening, which was rude but effective, never a conversion; I had
not to strike my old colours."

Thus, though he was a strong Determinist, his capacity for idealism,
and a natural enthusiasm, saved him from the paralysis which in some
cases results from such speculations.

"I look upon all philosophical theories as explanations of an
ontological problem, not as a basis of action. The appearance of
free-will in adopting or discontinuing a course of action is a
deception, but it is a complete deception—so complete as not to
affect in the slightest my interest in what is going to happen, nor
my unconscious posing as a factor in that result. Though I am only a
cogwheel in a vast machine, yet I am conscious of my cogs, interested
in my motions and the motions of the whole machine, though ignorant
of who is turning, why he began, and whether he will stop, and why.

"If I saw the slightest loophole at which free-will might creep in, I
would rush to it, but I do not; if man was created with a free will,
he was also created with predispositions which made the acting of
that will a matter of mathematical certainty.

"But the idea that it diminishes my interest in life or its issues is
preposterous; I am inclined to credit God with larger ideas than
my own, and His why and wherefore, and the part I bear in it, is
extraordinarily fascinating to me because it is so hidden; and the
least indication of law that I can seize upon—such as this law of
necessity—is an entrancing glimpse into reality. It may not be quite
so delightful as some other theories, but it is true, and real, and
therefore has an actual working in you and me and every one else,
which can not fail to attach a certain interest to it which other
systems lack."

He gives a very graphic illustration of the phenomena of free-will.
He says—

"It seems to me closely to resemble a very ordinary phenomenon: the
principle that things as they are farther off appear to us to be
smaller. Logical reflection assures us that they are not so, but the
effect upon our senses is completely illusive; and, what is more, we
act as though they were smaller; we act as if what they gained in
distance they lost in size; we aim at a target which is many feet
high and broad as if it was but a few inches; we say the sun is about
as big as a soup-plate, and having once made these allowances the
knowledge does not affect our conduct of life at all.

"Just so with free-will; we know by our reason that the thing is
impossible; we act as though it were a prevailing possibility."

His position with regard to Christianity was shortly as follows;
it is settled by an extract from his diary:

"I have often puzzled over this: Why in the Gospels did Christ say
nothing about the whole fabric of nature which in His capacity as
Creator ('through whom He made all things') He must have had the
moulding of? All His teaching was personal and individual, dealing
with man alone, an infinitesimal part of His creation ... for compare
the shred, the span of being which man's existence represents with
the countless æons of animal and vegetable life which have
preceded, and surround, and will in all probability succeed it—and
not a word of all this from the Being who gave and supported their
life, calling it out of the abyss for inscrutable and useless
ends—to minister, as the theologians tell us, to the wants and
animal cravings of pitiful mankind.

"Why is it that He there takes no cognizance of the whole frame of
things of which I am a part, but only deals with human feelings and
emotions as if they were the end of all these gigantic works—the
Milky Way, the blazing sun, the teeming earth—only to raise thoughts
of reverence in the heart of this pitiful being, and failing too, so
hopelessly, so constantly to do so?...

"'I will accept Christ,' said Herbert, 'as my superior, yes! as my
master, yes! but not as my God.'" One sees, I think, where the
difficulty lies; it must be felt by any man whose idea of God is
very high, whose belief in humanity very low.

And again—

"I believe in a revelation which is coming, which may be among us
now, though we do not suspect it, in the words and deeds of some
simple-minded heroic man.

"No one who preceded the Christian revelation could possibly, from
the fabric of the world as it then was, have anticipated the form it
was about to take. This revelation, too, will be as unexpected as it
will be new—it will come in the night as a thief; the '_quo modo_'
I can not even attempt to guess, except that it will take the form
of some vast simplification of the myriad and complicated issues of
human life."

But such entries as these were left to his diaries and most private
correspondence; he never attempted a crusade against ordinary forms
of belief, mistaken though he deemed them, often putting a strong
constraint upon himself in conversation. If he was pressed to give an
account of his religious principles he used smilingly to say that he
belonged to the great Johnsonian sect, who practised the religion of
all sensible men, and who kept what it was to themselves.

There were two views of life with which he had no patience only—the
men who preached the open confession of agnosticism, "if you have
anything to tell us for goodness sake let us have it, but if you have
not, hold your tongue; you are like a clock that has gone wrong, but
insists on chiming to show everybody that it hasn't the least idea
of the time;" and secondly, the men who "took no interest" in the
problems of religion and morals; for a deliberate avoidance of them
he had some respect, but for a professional moralist who took
everything for granted, and for feeble materialists who did not
"trouble their head" about such things, he had a profound contempt.

The following remarks that he gave vent to on the subject of orthodox
Christianity and an Established Church are very striking, and after
what has preceded might appear paradoxical and ridiculous. But they
are in reality absolutely consistent.

"When people tell me," he said, "as you have been doing, that the old
methods are _passés_, and compare the crude new ideas with
them for effectiveness, as working theories, I snap my fingers
mentally in their face.

"These new ideas may, and doubtless do, contain all the good of the
world's future, all the seed of progress in them—but as working
ideas! A system that has been mellowed and coloured, that has
insinuated itself year by year into all the irregularities and
whimsical, capricious, unexpected chinks and crannies of human
nature, accommodating itself gradually to all, to be torn out and
have the bleeding sensitive gap filled with a hard angular heavy
object thrust straight in from an intellectual workshop—the idea
is absolutely preposterous!"

A friend wrote to him once in great perplexity about the following
problem: as to whether, taking as he did, a purely agnostic view of
life, he should continue to receive the Communion with his parents
when at home; as to whether it was not a base concession to his own
weakness; as to whether he should not stand by his principles.

"If you have any principles to stand by," he wrote, "by all means
stand by them; but if all you mean is throwing cold water on other
people's principles, my advice is to make no move. Dissembling your
own uneasiness in the matter and quieting their anxious scruples is
one of those matters which seem so simple that heroism appears to
have no part in it. It would be so much nobler (we are tempted to
think) to stand up and protest and denunciate; to throw gloom and
dissension into a happy home and wreck (if you are the affectionate
son I believe you to be) your own happiness, not to speak of
usefulness. It would be more arduous, I admit; not therefore nobler.
Your duty is most plain; you have no right to cause acute distress to
several people, because you can not take exactly such an exalted view
as they do, of an institution which, from the lowest point of view,
is the dying request of a great and loving soul, to all who can feel
his beauty or listen to his call, a beautiful pledge of family and
national unity, and a touching symbol of all good things."

To another friend, who wrote to him to say that his principles,
though still religious, and faithful in general idea to the Christian
creed, were in so many points different from the principles taught
and demanded by the Church of England, that he felt he ought to take
some definite step to show his state of mind, he wrote as follows:

"The being born into an institution is a thing which must not be
lightly considered: it imposes certain duties upon you—the quiet
examination of its tenets, for example—and unless you are convinced
of its utter inutility, not to say immorality, it is your duty to
bear such a part in relation to it as shall not mar its usefulness;
and you may no more throw it away through caprice or indifferentism
than you may throw away your own life, simply because you did not
agree to be in the world, and it is through no will of your own that
you are there. Similarly, you can not justify murder because you
were not present to give an assent to the framing of the laws which
condemn it and provide for its restraint.

"In fact, by taking such a step you are incurring a very heavy
responsibility, and it is at any rate worth while to give it the
closest consideration.

"And therefore I should suggest that the philosopher who wishes in
any way to affect humanity for the better, should not begin his
crusade by storming one of its chief defences because its title to
that position is not quite so secure as the governor alleges; but
rather accept his religion together with his life, his circumstances,
his disposition, as a condition under which he is born: tacitly
συνειδὼς ἑαύτῳ that it may not be absolute truth, from which
no appeal is possible, but yet fight his best under its colours,
though they may not be quite red enough to suit his own fancy.

"For what is there ignoble in this concealment? Is it not rather
ignoble to demolish a hope on which others build because it does not
appear to us to be quite satisfactory, though we have nothing to
offer in its stead? It is like plucking down a savage's wattled
cabin. 'First-rate stone houses, if you please, or none at
all,'—and, on being questioned as to where the materials are to come
from, point for answer to the eternal hills.

"These are general considerations; but you, in particular, my dear
C——, ought to be very cautious, considering who you are." His
father was a high dignitary of the church. "A secession like yours
will carry far more weight than it ought to from your own and your
father's position. People will say, Mr. C—— ought to know; he has
had opportunities of judging from the inside which other people have
not—whereas you have really less opportunity because your horizon
is far more limited because you have only seen it from the inside.
You are rather in the position of the valet. No gossip and gabble
of yours about braces and sock-suspenders will make your hero less
a hero: you will only establish your title to be considered an
unperceptive and low-minded creature among the only people whose
opinion is worth having."

He was always very decided on what he called "mock sincerity," the
people whom he described as "professional crystals," who always
"speak their mind about a thing." "The art of life," he said,
"consists in knowing exactly what to keep out of sight at any given
moment, and what to produce; when to play hearts and diamonds, ugly
clubs or flat spades; and you must remember that every suit is trumps
in turn."

The following passage from a letter about a leading politician will
illustrate this:

"I have always admired him intensely," he writes, as an instance of a
public man who has succeeded by sheer adherence to principles.

"You can't ensure success; three parts is luck, the genius of time
and place. The only thing you can do seems to me to work hard, and
always take the highest line about things. The highest line, that is
to say, not the line you may _feel_ to be highest, but the line that
you _recognize_ to be so. Not what your fluctuating emotions may
commend, but that which the best moral tact seems to pronounce best.
You can't always expect to feel enthusiasm for the best, so be true
not to your sensations, but your deliberate ideals—that is the
highest sincerity; all the higher because it is so often called
hypocrisy."

But his Determinist, almost Calvinistic, views were mellowed and
tempered by a serene and deep belief in a providence moving to good,
and ordering life down to the smallest details with special reference
to each man's case; in fact, as he said, the two were so closely
connected that they were like the convex and concave sides of a lens.

He wrote to me, "I often feel, when straining after happiness, just
like the child who, anxious to get home, pushes against the side of
the railway carriage which is carrying him so smoothly and serenely
to the haven where he would be, while all he effects is a temporary
disarrangement of particles.

"Life shows me more and more every day that there is something
watching us and working with us, so that now and then in unexpected
moments when I have felt particularly independent for some time back,
I come upon a little fact or incident that reveals to me that I am
like a mouse in the grasp of a cat, allowed sometimes to run a few
inches alone—or more truly like a baby walking along, very proud
of its performance, with a couple of anxious, loving arms poised to
catch it. The extraordinary apportionment not only in balance but in
_kind_ of punishment to sin—long-continued, secret, base desires,
punished by long-hidden suffering—the sharp stress of temptation
yielded to, requited by the sharp pang—the glorious feeling which I
have once or twice felt—the sin once sinned and the punishment
once over, as one is assured supremely sometimes that it is without
doubt—of trustful freedom, and fresh fitness for battling one's self
and helping others to battle—a mood that is soon broken, but is an
earnest while it lasts of infinite satisfaction. The extraordinary
delicacy with which the screw of pain and mental suffering is
adjusted, just lifted when we can bear no more (not when _we_ think
we can bear no more, but when God knows it) and resolutely applied
again when we have gained strength which we propose to devote to
enjoyment, but which God intends us to devote to suffering. The very
beauty, too, of pain itself—the strange flushes of joy that it gives
us, which can only thus be won—the certainty that this is reality,
this is what we are meant to do and be—happiness of different kinds,
art, friends, books, are delusive; they play over the surface; in
suffering we dip below it." This latter thought expanded is the
subject of a passage of a letter to myself that gave me wonderful
comfort.

We know how sickness or sorrow comes down heavily on us, crushing in
what we are pleased to call our "plans," and "interrupting," as we
say, "our opportunities for usefulness," spoiling our life.

"My dear friend, _this is_ life itself. It is this very 'interruption'
that we live for. What does God care about the wretched books you
intend to write, the petty occupations you think you discharge so
gracefully? He means to teach you a great high truth, worth knowing;
and, thank Heaven, He will, however much you shrink and writhe. Do
not pick and choose among events: try and interpret each as it
comes."

At the expiration of the year of work—Easter, 1875—he was unchanged
in his plan of travel; in fact, it had become a resolve by that time.
He confessed that he did not personally at all like giving up the
school work; he had got very much interested in some of the boys, and
in the whole process of the education of character. But there was
also another reason, which the following letter will explain:

"You know, perhaps, that I have been acting as usher here for a year;
it is to be a kind of probation. That is to say, I have promised to
try what it is like for a year, and see if I feel inclined to adopt
it as my profession.

"Now, I am in a very curious position. I do feel inclined, very much
inclined indeed, to stick permanently to the work; it interests,
amuses, occupies me. I hate the want of occupation. I hate making
occupations for myself, and this provides me with regular work at
stated hours, leaving other stated hours free, and free in the best
way; that is to say, it works the vapours off. My brain feels clear
and steady; I can talk, think, write, read better, in those intervals
than I ever can when all my time is my own, and yet—I must, I
believe, give it up.

"You know I pretend to a kind of familiar; like Socrates, I am
forbidden to do certain things by a kind of distant inward voice—not
conscience, for it is not limited to moral choice. I don't mean to
say I do not or have not disobeyed it, but it is always the worse for
me in the end; it is like taking a short cut in the mountains; you
get to your end in time, but far more tired and shaky than if you had
followed the right road, which started so much to the left among the
pines, and moreover, you get there very much behind your party.

"This time it tells me that I am not equal to the direct
responsibility; that I can not, with my habits of mind and temper,
impress a permanent enough mark upon the lads. It is like beginning a
system of education that is to take, say, thirty years, giving them a
year of it, and then taking to another; you not only lose your year,
but you unfit them for other systems. That is what I should do; my
methods do not prepare them for other normal education; it is only
the beginning of a preparation for what I believe to be a higher and
more complete education, but that wouldn't justify my keeping on.

"I do not believe that I have done any harm; in fact, my theory would
forbid me to think so; but it also informs me that my _rôle_ is
not to be that of a schoolmaster.

"I shall be a poor man, of course; poor, that is, for an independent
gentleman. I wish I were a Fellow of a College at Cambridge; I would
try and be as ideal as Gray in that position."



CHAPTER V


In April he was released from his engagement, and he immediately went
abroad, alone. He travelled through Normandy into Brittany, spending
two months at a little village called Chanteuil, not far from the
Point du Sillon. Here he wandered about mostly alone, dressed in
the roughest possible costume, and allowing his beard to grow. "At
Chanteuil I first learnt how to think, or rather how to converse with
myself as I had before done with other persons; I also found for the
first time that I did not dislike my own company."

In June he went south, sailing from Brest to Bordeaux, and then
descending by land into Spain, where he remained till August. Here he
spent a long time in exploring the table-land between the Asturian
Mountains and the sea, and then from Burgos visiting Madrid, Toledo,
Ciudad, and Seville, and so to Gibraltar. From Gibraltar he sailed
up the south-east coast, and settled himself for another month at a
little village called Benigarcia, about five miles east of Sorrion,
on the river Mijares. In November he sailed by Minorca, starting from
Barcelona, to Sicily, and spent the rest of the year in the north of
Italy, sailing from Sicily to Genoa, and settling at a village called
Riviglio, not very far from Verona. He was obliged to adopt this
plan of settling, as his exchequer was not large. From this place
he visited Venice on foot, and early in the year visited Rome and
Florence, sailing from Ancona in March for Spalatro, and worked up
through Hungary to a little place called Bochnia, on the Vistula,
down which river he went by boat to Königsberg, staying in
Warsaw a few weeks. Once on the Baltic, he hired a fishing-boat, and
spent a month in cruising about, during which time he discovered, or
rather unearthed, an island, which formed the subject of the only
letter he wrote to me during his entire absence.

     "Copenhagen, June, 1876.

"My dear Carr,

"I am writing this on board the fishing-smack _Paradys_, which is at
this moment lying in Copenhagen Roads, being myself owner by hire and
supercargo of the same. The first object of my note is to assure you
of my existence, as your letter which was forwarded after me to
Danzig seemed to imply uncertainty on that point, and moreover
expressed a strange solicitude as to my well-being which was by no
means unpleasing to me; then to request you to perform several small
commissions for me....

"Lastly, to tell you of a very curious adventure I met with. Some
weeks ago I was cruising not very far from Danzig, when we sighted a
low wooded island about seven miles off land. I discovered by dint of
arduous questioning, for the lingo of these fellows is very uncouth,
that it was uninhabited, because its owner, a Danish nobleman,
devoted it to the growing of wood for firewood, etc.; a poor
speculation, I should say, as the wind blows very fresh from the sea
and stunts the trees; and also partly because of a bad name attaching
to it, and many horrid superstitions—what, they could not tell me.
It was a curious-looking place, not very large, but with deep
indented bays all round running very far inland, so as to give it
somewhat the shape of a starfish with seven or eight irregular arms;
the woods come down very close to the sea and are mostly fir or
larch. I could see a few trees further inland of a lighter green, but
could not make out to what species they belonged. Between the woods
and the sea there are sands loosely overgrown with that spiky grass
that covers sand-hills, and at the extremity of two of the valleys
a marsh formed by a freshwater spring. The place is frequented by
birds, mostly pigeons, and a good many waterfowl of different kinds.

"We spent a hot oppressive day with very little wind in cruising
leisurely round it as close in shore as we could get. I should guess
that it was about eleven miles round, measuring from the ends of the
promontories. We saw no signs whatever of habitation except the
three or four old boats on props in one of the creeks used by the
woodcutters as cabins when they come. I found out from my men that so
great was the horror of the place, that even smugglers, when hard
pressed, have been known to risk capture rather than put in to the
island; and on my inquiring the cause of these rumours, they gave me
various vague and grotesque stories about dead men and women, and
a figure which sat on the seaward cape and wept, with long hair
drooping all over her; and, worst of all, of two boys, dressed in an
antique dress, whom to see was certain disaster, and to speak with
certain death.

"Toward evening the breeze freshened; and as it was getting dark I
proposed casting anchor in one of the creeks. My men manifested the
greatest alarm; but as the channel is full of shoals and sands
between the island and the mainland (which is at that place very much
deserted), and we were not acquainted with the lie of them, and as
I bound myself by the most solemn promises not to send any of them
ashore, they at last reluctantly consented. However, as none of them
would stir an inch, but crowded together in the most disgusting
proximity into their hole of a cabin, I was left the sole patrol of
the place.

"It was an oppressive evening, and I walked about a long time up and
down, and finally sat down to smoke. The place was curiously silent,
except that every now and then it was broken by those strange
woodland sounds, like smothered cries or groans, seeming to proceed
out of the heart of the wood at a great distance. We lay in a sandy
creek with banks of pines on each side, rising up very black against
the sky, which had that still green enamelled look that it gets on a
very quiet evening. At the far end of the creek was a large marsh
covered with the white cotton rush then in bloom; it caused a strange
glimmering which I could see till it got quite dark. The only other
sound was the wash of the short waves on the sands outside, and the
gurgle and cluck of the water as it crept past the boat and out to
sea.

"Toward midnight I saw a sight that I have never seen before nor
expect to see again. I was surprised to see a light, apparently on
the shore, in the direction of the marsh. It looked exactly like a
lantern carried by a man. It was very indistinct, but wavered about,
always floating about a foot or two from the surface, sometimes
standing still as though he was looking for something on the ground,
and sometimes moving very quickly. It was a will-o'-the-wisp—a
phosphorescent exhalation.

"It was a foul pestilential place, there is no doubt. The mist was
all about us by midnight, and smelt very heavy and cold. I awoke
shivering in the morning, and not feeling by any means as fresh or
vigorous as usual; but nevertheless I determined to explore the
island—singly, if none of the men would accompany me.

"Straight up in front of me, apparently about a mile inland, was a
very marked clump of trees projecting above the other foliage. I had
noticed it several times from the sea the day before. You could see
the red stems clearly above the other trees. It evidently marked a
knoll or rising ground of some kind, and I determined to make that
the object of my journey, and scale, if possible, the trees to get a
bird's-eye view of the place.

"As I had expected, I could not get a single member of the crew to
accompany me further than the shore, and they were frightened at
that. Two of them, who were very much attached to me, implored
me most earnestly not to go, but seeing that I was bent upon it,
shrugged their shoulders and were silent. The instant I was deposited
with my gun on shore, they turned back to the boat and immured
themselves. I arranged that at twelve o'clock, if I did not return,
they should leave the creek and go round the island within hailing
distance, so as to pick me up at any point. I started along the
shore, skirting the marsh which wound through the pines.

"The first thing that I came upon was a heronry. I had noticed
several of these magnificent birds the day before sailing over the
island, and this creek was evidently their settlement; up they went,
floating away in all directions with a marvellous, almost magical
rapidity and silence of flight. This persuaded me more than anything
else that the island was unfrequented, as they are a very shy bird,
and distrustful of human beings. I then left the stream and struck
straight up into the woods, as nearly as possible toward the clump.

"I put up a few rabbits and a great many pigeons. I also saw an
animal that I believe to have been a wolf, but it retreated with such
rapidity that I lost sight of it among the tree stems. There was very
little undergrowth, as often happens under pines, but the boughs
overhead formed a close screen, and the heat was very oppressive.
After about an hour's walking I emerged on a cliff above the sea,
having mistaken my direction, and crossed the island diagonally. On
getting clear of the trees I could again see the goal of my walk, the
clump, this time a good deal nearer; and now resolutely plunging into
the wood, and keeping always slightly to the right, for I saw that my
bias was to the left, I came at last to a place where I could see the
sides of a mound through the trees rather indistinctly.

"All of a sudden I came to a low wall among the trees, overgrown in
some places, but opposite me almost entirely clear. It was built of
large stones carefully fitted together, like the architecture that I
remembered to have seen called Cyclopean in architectural histories
of Greece. It was easily climbed, and I saw that it surrounded the
mound at the distance of about fifty yards, in an irregular circle.

"The space which intervened between it and the mound was partially
filled with great hewn stones planted all about, some of them lying
on their side, some upright, many of them broken. Going through these
I came upon the mound itself. It was crowned with a group of firs,
which I could see at once to be much older than the surrounding
trees. They were far larger and taller, for the height of the mound
did not entirely account for the extraordinary way in which they
overtopped the rest of the trees. The mound was very steep, and was
apparently constructed of stones built carefully together; but only
very small portions of the masonry were visible, it was so overgrown
and hidden.

"Wandering round it I found a rude flight of steps leading to the
top, also much overgrown. I ascended hastily, and found myself on the
top of a smooth plateau, about fifty by thirty yards, surrounded by
the gigantic firs; but what immediately arrested my attention was a
strange rude altar in the middle, ornamented with uncouth figures and
other ornaments. It was covered with moss at the top, and very much
cracked and splintered in places.

"I concluded at once that I was in the presence of some remains,
probably Druidic in origin, which, owing to the extraordinary
desolation of the spot and the superstition attaching to the island,
had been so long unvisited as to have been forgotten. I could see
that the mound was quite surrounded by the wall, and that it was
evidently a sacred enclosure of some kind.

"And gazing and wondering, the stories attributed to the place seemed
not wholly without cause. There are certain atmospheres, I have
always held, which, as it were, infect one; the very air has caught
some contagion of evil which can not be got rid of. There is a
baneful influence about some places which makes itself felt upon
all sensitive beings who approach. I have felt it on actual
battle-fields, as well as at other places that I have held to be the
scenes of unrecorded, immemorial slaughters; and as I gazed round
it seemed to gather and fall on me here. The very stillness was
appalling, for there was now a good deal of wind blowing from the
sea, as I could tell from the rustling and cracking of the fir boughs
all about, and the sound of the sea on the sand; but here there was
an oppressive heaviness, as if the place was still brooding over the
ancient horror it had seen. And this was succeeded in my mind by a
strange, overpowering, fascinating wonder and speculation as to what
dismal deeds of darkness could have been done in the place; with
whose blood, indeed, whether of innocent sheep and goats, or pleading
men and frightened children, that grim uncouth altar had run and
smoked; whether, in truth, as the ancient tales say, every one of
those gray pillars all about had been set up, and still was based
upon, the mouldering crushed remains of men. The sickening contagion
of the sin of the place grew upon me every moment.

"To rid myself of it I applied myself to climb one of the trees to
get a bird's-eye view of the island. This I effected without much
difficulty, and found that it was of the shape, as I have said, of an
irregular five-pointed star. From extremity to extremity, it must be,
I believe, about five miles.

"But now follows the part of my story that I do not profess to
explain. I marked in my mind the nearest path to the sea, which was
to the north-east—the path I actually pursued—and descended; and
then I became aware that the feeling I had experienced before was not
purely physical—that there _was_ a taint of a real kind in the air,
which strangely affected the emotional atmosphere. I felt helpless,
bewildered, sickened. I descended, however, from the platform, and
walked straight, in what I had determined to be the right direction,
when, just as I was about to scale the wall, heartily glad to be out
of the place, I was—not exactly called, for there was no sound—but
most unmistakably ordered to look round. Am I clear? The sensation
produced mentally and emotionally was precisely like the receiving
an imperative order that one has neither power nor inclination to
resist—so strong and sudden that I kept thinking that my name had
been called. In reflecting, however, I am certain that it was not.

"I turned at once, and saw, standing together, close by the platform,
two boys, about twelve years of age I should have said, in a loose
antique dress, of a bluish-white colour, reaching down to the knees,
and girt about the waist, with leather buskins fastened by straps
reaching up the leg; their heads were bare, and their hair, which was
a dark brown, was loose and flowing. I could not clearly distinguish
their faces, but they looked handsome, though desperately frightened.
Accompanying this was an indescribable sense, which I have sometimes
had in dreams, of an overwhelming intense vastness—space-immensity
rushing over one with a terrible power; and at the same time the
feeling of _numbers_, as if I was in the presence of a multitude
of people. All this quite momentary; in an instant I was conscious
of the tall avenues of red stems, with their dark background, and
the heavy silence of the underwood, and nothing more.

"I went as if dazed through the wood, yet unconsciously obeying the
tacit order of my determination, down a steep fully clad with pine
trees, the needles very soft under my feet, till I suddenly came out
of the stifling wood on to golden sands and blue water, and a great
restful wash of air and sunlight.

"I fired my gun as a signal, and wandering on, as if only half awake,
I came out upon another point, and saw the boat lying close below me,
whereupon I fired again, and was taken on board.

"My sensation was one of strange languor and fatigue; certainly no
fright, and very little wonder; rather as if I had been stunned or
charmed by opiates into a kind of waking slumber. I have never felt
anything like it before or since.

"But by morning I was shivering in an ague caught in that
pestilential fever-swamp, and then the fever fiend himself came and
took up his abode with me, and I am now only just convalescent, and
can sun myself on the deck, and read and write a little; but the
illness and the unconsciousness have done as such things often
do—interposed a sort of blank between me and my past life—have
deadened it, as one deadens sound by wool, so that memories no longer
strike on my mind sharp and clear, but swim along hazy and undefined;
and especially is it the case with later memories.

"What was the sight, my dear Carr, that I saw on that hill-top? Was
it nothing but the uneasiness of mind and memory disturbed and
disorganized by the seething of the foul poison-wine, throwing up
pictures and ideas out of their due course, and without subordination
to the master-will? Was it merely the story of those fisher-folk,
half apprehended, and yet evoked and subtly clad with form and shape
by the strange workshop of imagination?

"To all of these I am quite content to say 'Yes.' The sight does not
trouble me, or, indeed, anything but interest me. I am not
superstitious; I am not nervous in the least. Only I can not help
feeling as if, catching, in my weakened state, the hideous leprosy of
the place, I had received into my mind, then less able than usual to
resist, the stamp and impress of some other mind forced to linger
near that spot, and unable to avoid brooding over some haunting
remorseful thought or image of a deed, ever dismally recalling how
he stood in grim silence watching the tears and prayers of the
two soft-faced smooth-limbed Roman boys, kidnapped from some
sunny Italian villa, and carried to that gloomy place—held them
pitilessly on the altar among the other fork-bearded Druids, with
their white robes and glaring eyes—and smote the cruel blow, in
spite of the trembling touch of the young fingers and the piteous
entreaties, as they looked tearfully from side to side in the damp
sunless Golgotha, among the glens of that sinister isle.

"That is the picture that somehow or other, even in my most material
mood, is evoked by the thought of the place. The rationalist
explanation of the coming fever is far more satisfactory and
scientific; but the other keeps recurring—a curious experience
anyhow.

"If you have nothing to do you might write me a line to Stockholm,
Poste Restante. I am going north to have a look at the ice.
Altogether, what with the East still open before me, I do not expect
to come home for two or three years.

"You are one of the few friends I can rely upon, so I carry about
with me a letter addressed to you; in case of my death you will be
the first to be notified of the fact.

  "Ever yours,
     "Arthur Hamilton."

I have given this letter in full, because it affords a good example
of Arthur's descriptive style, which always struck me as being vivid
and graphic, and also because this little incident, not by the proof
it itself afforded, but by the turn it gave his thoughts—then rather
rapidly drifting into materialism—was the first step in a kind of
conversion from the purely physical views of life he had been apt to
take. The episode itself, too, is a curious one, and may deserve to
be recorded.



CHAPTER VI


Nothing is more hopelessly wearisome than descriptions of travel;
even George Eliot could not make in her diaries Florence anything but
dull. I shall confine myself to sketching his route, to telling one
incident among the few he told me, and describing his return.

I had no more letters from him; but he has told me that he got to
Spitzbergen, and in a whaler to the edge of the great arctic
ice-field. He sailed to America and crossed it. From San Francisco he
visited Peru and the Amazon, on which river he spent a month. Then he
went to Africa, to what part I do not know, except that he came down
the Nile; and then he wandered through Asia Minor, Persia, and India;
he penetrated a little way into Thibet, and saw China and Japan; he
went up to the mouth of the Siberian rivers, travelling for three
months with a party of gipsies, who taught him many curious things,
such as their own language and freemasonry, the use of simples, the
properties of water, and the strange things that can be done with
even such things as docks and nettles, and other plants which we toss
away as weeds. He told me that in that branch of secret knowledge,
as in all others, there was a vast deal of nonsense but a solid
residuum of truth; and he said, half jestingly, that they had sworn
him a member of their brotherhood, and what was more, he had since
discovered many members of the brotherhood in civilized nations, even
in "kings' houses."

But I must suspend my account for a short time to relate the incident
to which I have just referred. It took place during his stay in
Teheran, while on his way home (1878), a period of about six weeks.
This city is situated in a lovely climate—hot, but not unbearable
for Europeans; houses, horses, and servants are extraordinarily
cheap. The house that Arthur took was situated in large gardens or
pleasure-grounds of the natural wilderness type that one finds in
the East, shrubberies relegated to certain limits, but within those
limits left absolutely to their own device and will, with the
exception of arched and shaded paths cut under the thick intertwined
leafage.

This whole place, with horses at his command, and seven servants,
with the whole expense of boarding, cost him, he has told me,
£40 for the entire six weeks that he was there; for he was very
weary of his rough tramping life, and resolutely determined to
recruit his energies by some deliberate luxury, a recipe far more
useful than the normal Englishman is at all inclined to admit,
thinking, as he does so erroneously, that "overtasking the body is
the best restorative for the overworked mind, and _vice versâ_,"
as Arthur said once, "whereas the two instruments, so to speak, have
but one blade though two handles."

The heat of the day was rather overpowering; that period he usually
spent dozing or reading in the court of the house, which was occupied
by a cool flashing fountain in the centre of an oasis of marble
pavement, streaked and veined. About seven it became cooler, and
then in the light native costume he used to ride leisurely about the
picturesque city or among the delightful houses scattered about in
the outskirts like his own.

One evening he was riding in this fashion down a lane running between
high brick walls, fringed with feathery trailing shrubs or gorgeous
red and white flowers, whose fragrance literally streamed into the
evening air, in that delicate dusk when the senses are lulled into
acquiescence, and the mind and emotions become so vivid and lustrous
in their play.

Riding along with his eyes half closed and lost in a delicious
reverie, his horse turned of its own accord to the left, and went for
some distance up an embowered road; Arthur suddenly roused himself
to find that he was passing close to a large sombre house, that had
evidently once been fortified, looming very impressively in the
languorous air; the gate had been opened for some purpose and not
closed again, and he was, in fact, trespassing in some private
grounds.

He checked his horse, looking curiously about him, and was just about
to return when he heard a voice apparently proceeding from the centre
of one of the shrubberies, asking him his business in Persian.
Looking in that direction he managed to distinguish two or three
indistinct figures seated on a low seat on a kind of terrace on his
left.

He rode up, and mustering up the little Persian he possessed,
apologized for his unintentional intrusion, mingling a good deal of
English, as he said, with his rather incoherent explanation.

He was aware that one of the figures disengaged itself from the
group, and coming up close to him, regarded him with some curiosity.
It was a tall man, paler in complexion than the natives are wont to
be, with large dreamy eyes, and an air of indifferent lassitude that
was rather fascinating.

He was amazed to hear, at the conclusion of his lame peroration, a
voice of strange delicacy of intonation proceeding from the figure:
"An Englishman, I presume." The accent was a little affected, but the
speaker was evidently more English than Persian by training: "Not
only English," said Arthur to himself, "but London English of the
best kind."

He confessed his nationality, and, again apologizing, was about to
withdraw, when the stranger courteously invited him to join the
party. "It is very refreshing," he said, "to hear my native tongue
by chance; I can not resist the temptation of begging you to join us
for a little, that I may hear it once more; you will do me a great
kindness if you will accede to my request."

Seeing that the offer was sincere, Arthur dismounted, and walked to
the terrace with the other. The figures rose at their approach, and
Arthur could see that they were two boys of fifteen or sixteen, of
extraordinary beauty and delicacy, and a woman of about thirty-five,
as far as he could judge, evidently their mother.

His host spoke a few words in Persian, the purport of which he could
not catch, and, rapidly presenting him, requested him to be seated,
and produced some cigarettes of a very choice and fragrant kind.

They talked for a long time on general subjects—England, politics,
art, and literature. The stranger seemed well acquainted with
literature and events of a certain date, but not of later departures
in any branch; and finally, Arthur gave a short account of himself
and his wanderings, in which the others appeared most interested.

Before he went back to his house the stranger asked him, with some
earnestness, to return on the following day, which Arthur gladly
accepted. One of the boys conducted him to the gate, speaking a few
English sentences with that delicate and hesitating utterance that
combines with other personal attractions to give an almost unique
charm.

On the following day, and on several others, the invitation was
repeated and accepted. The stranger became more communicative, having
at first consistently maintained a courteous reserve.

The last day of Arthur's stay in his villa he went to see his new
friends. The boys had taken a great fancy to him, and used to wait
for his coming at the gate; but they would never come to his house,
though he asked them more than once. They were not permitted, they
said, to leave their own domain.

On this last evening his host was alone, and after some indifferent
conversation he told Arthur the following story, and made a proposal
which had a strange influence on the rest of his life:

"You may have wondered," he said, "at the cause which brought me
here, and keeps me here. I have often admired your courtesy, which
has made no attempts to discover my antecedents; it is not the usual
characteristic of our nation. If you are disposed to hear, I am
willing to give you a little autobiographical outline, which is a
necessary preface to a request which I am going to make of you."

He then mentioned his name and parentage—facts which I am not at
liberty to repeat. They surprised even Arthur when he heard them;
they surprised me, when he communicated them to me, even more.

He was the son of an English nobleman of high rank and wealth and
aristocratic traditions, and was reported to be long since dead.
Many people will no doubt remember the shock which the news of the
premature death of this individual, when announced in Europe, made.
It took place at Palermo in 1853. More than that I am not at liberty
to state.

"My reasons for this were as follows," said his host. "I meditated a
retirement from the world of a kind which should be absolute, which
should excite no inquiries, no interest, except a retrospective one.
To have merely disappeared would not have suited my purpose; search
would have been instituted. The connections and influence of my
family would have made such a plan liable to constant disaster. From
Palermo, after superintending the making of my tombstone, I came
straight back here, to a house which I had already prepared for
myself under an anonymous name. I travelled with the utmost secrecy;
I married, as you have seen, a native wife; and from that day to this
I have never beheld a European face but yours. Your arrival was so
unexpected as to shiver resolve and habit; but I have no reason
to regret, as far as I can see, my confidence. I feel that I can
unreservedly trust you.

"You will no doubt wonder as to my aim in executing this hazardous
and Quixotic project. I do not mind telling you now, at this lapse
of time, though I have never before opened my reasons to any one,
because I think that I observe in you traces of that temper which
led me to take the step.

"It seemed to me that Western life had got into a confusion and
complication from which nothing could deliver it. The principles now
incorporated with the very existence of the most influential men in
it seemed to me to be radically erroneous, and the disposition of the
Western mind is of a kind which augments with indefinite rapidity the
strength of any prevalent idea.

"What I mean is this. May I explain by a quotation? A sentence from a
certain review of the poet Coleridge's life and work is as follows:
'Devoted as he was to mystic and ideal contemplation, to abstractions
of mind and spirit, he naturally became untrustworthy in every
relation of life.'

"That represents, in an exaggerated form, the ideal of the Western
mind. They are, though they would not so name themselves, gross
materialists; and the tendency is increasing on them daily and
yearly. Those who protest occasionally against current thought, who
appear like prophets with bitter invective and words of warning on
their lips, are swept away by the tide, and write of trade and
treaties, of wars of principle and convenience. The very divines are
tainted. 'Live your life to the uttermost,' they cry.

"And in the Western mind the tendency once rooted gathers force from
every quarter. As a necessary concomitant of the restless habit, the
enshrining of the 'effective man' in their proudest temples, comes an
extreme deference to other people, a heated straining of the ears to
catch the murmurs of that vague uncertain heart—Public Opinion. And
why? It follows: if it is in this life alone that triumphs must be
won—if on this stage alone the drama is to be played out, and the
time is short—it is that imperious will that you must conciliate;
therefore employ every power to gain the art of so doing.

"So intent are the Westerns on this drama, so wrapped up in the
actors, so anxious to declaim and strut, that they forget to what end
the play exists: they have left the spectators out for whom alone
the scenes are enacted, and who, though apparently so silent and
motionless, are the _raison d'être_ of the whole performance.
The play must and will continue through the ages; but the wise, the
enlightened, beat down, and in one sharp encounter overcome, the
lower desire of being seen and applauded, and are content to sit
and watch—the nobler task.

"For we must remember that it is not the drama itself, tragedy or
comedy, fascinating as it be, that we are here to watch—but the
mind of the Being that animates the whole, can be here descried and
here alone, as in a mirror faintly: it is not only the man who fumes
and paces up and down for a few moments and then is called away; but
the vast Existence behind, that knows what the play means and will
not tell us, and that pushes the players on and off as He will.

"And here we find ourselves, with our tiny and uncertain space of
time bounded by the Infinities at either end, with the huge puzzle
set before us. A method has been invented, is now traditional, of
closing the eyes easily and thoughtlessly to the whole; and we are
content to catch that contagion from our predecessors: we eat and
drink, we work and play, and stifle the restless questioning that
springs up so resolutely in our spaces of solitude here; and what
will it do in the immeasurable hereafter?

"When I lived in England I was for a short time the member of a
professional circle of men engaged on high educational aims. They
held, so far as any teachers can be said to hold, many futures in
their hands. We know that lives teach more than words; and how did
these men set themselves to live?

"First, to perform their work with rigid accuracy: I will do them
justice—to do it _perfectly_; but granted that, as speedily as
possible: and, their work over, to amuse themselves—literally: to
play games that they enjoyed with childish keenness, and fill up all
the day with them; to read the papers; to play whist; to smoke in
the sun; to get through a certain amount of general reading for
conversational purposes, and to gossip about one another and their
doings, and talk about their work, in which, it must be confessed,
they were enthusiastically interested, only in a gossipy detailed
way, amassing incident rather than arriving at principles. There
was only one who was engaged in serious work of a kind involving
scientific research, and he forfeited much of his doctrinal and all
his social influence thereby; 'A man should stick to his work,' they
said, 'not pretend to do one thing while he is thinking about
another.'

"A low ideal, faithfully carried out, is the most effective; not
because the high ideal is high, but because so few are capable of
carrying it out; and in that Western world success in aims proposed
is the highest that a man can aspire to.

"And suppose we do make ourselves famous, what then? how do we use
our fame? To make life happier? It might be so, but is it? No, for
ordinary minds the strain is too strong. 'I will gain fame,' the pure
young soul said once, 'as an engine of power, that I may have a
platform where men will listen to me;' but the effort of struggling
thither has been too much, and once arrived there, what is his
object now? merely to remain there, and among the crowd of pushing
selfish figures, that have lost in the fight the very signs of their
humanity, _monstrari digito_, to have the gaze of men, to feel
somebody.

"All this I throw aside, and go straight to God. All around us in
natural things—in the curve of that rose-stem and the passionate
flush of its petals—in those white bells there, looking as if blown
out of veined foam—in the luscious scents that wind and linger
round the garden, He has set, as in a language, the secrets of His
being and ours, of our why and wherefore, if we could but read them.
Like the characters and monuments of a bygone age staring from a
waste of sand or the front of a precipice, these words and phrases
seem to say, not 'There was a king who was mighty, but whose throne
is cut down,' but 'There lives a God who would be all tenderness if
He could, and is more beautiful in His nature than anything you have
ever seen or dreamed of. Win your way to Him, if you can; do not let
Him go till you have His secret. That is a talisman indeed, that
shall shut you in palaces of delight where no torment shall touch
you.'

"And not a selfish paradise. We are but as others, we mystics; it is
only that we take—or rather are led, for it is no will of ours, but
an imperious voice that calls us—the straight and flowery road to
God, pressing through but one hedge of thorns, while you and others
struggle to Him along the dusty road that winds and wanders. But our
paradise would be no paradise if we did not know that our brothers
were coming, coming; the beauty that we behold, sheer ugliness if we
did not believe that you will some day share it too.

"Yes, I am a mystic—have joined the one brotherhood that is eternal
and all-embracing, as young as love and as old as time—the society
that no man suspects till he is close upon it, or hopes to enter till
he finds himself in a moment within the sacred pale. I would that I
could tell you with what different eyes we look on life and death,
God and nature, from this divine vantage-ground on which we stand,
and you would imperil all, run through fire and water, to win it too;
but you must find the way yourself—no man can show it you. If you
enter—and you are destined to enter this side the grave—it will
come when you are least expecting it. In the middle of those that
cry 'Lo, here is Christ and there,' He himself will touch you on the
shoulder, and show you better things than these.

"Oh, if I could only help you there at once—open the door! But my
words would bear other and commoner meanings in your ear; if I opened
the door, you would not see the light. Ay, and I do not wish it; for
every step outside you take is apportioned you; you need them, that
you may appreciate, when you have it, the rest within.

"And now for my request. You need not answer now; you may have a year
to think of it.

"You have seen my two boys. Outwardly they are alike, inwardly very
different—that you could not see.

"The younger will join me soon; he is far advanced upon the way
already, though he little suspects it. I have no fears for him. God
is drawing him.

"But the elder—like as he is in face, form, disposition—will need
another discipline. He must tread the winding road, the road of other
men. His trial will be a sharp one; through many paths he will have
to be taught the truth. I could hardly bear it, when I look at the
tender face, the dreamy eyes, and feel his caressing hand, thinking
of the horrors he must look upon, if I did not know that all will be
well.

"Will you undertake a charge for me? I could not play a part in the
world again, even if I would. I have lost my hold on men. I do not
realize what are their hopes and fears, their ideals, and most of
all, their whims and caprices; and, what is more, I could never
appreciate them now. Ten years' isolation is enough to spoil one for
that; in ten years many social traditions and commonplaces of life
have changed. I should have to ask the reasons for many things. I
should never feel them instinctively, as those do who have grown old
along with them.

"And so I can not undertake the task of guiding him in this harsh
world that he must enter. I have known, however, for some time that
it would be undertaken and accomplished for me. You have been sent to
me, later than I thought, but still sent. I have been waiting; I have
been true to my creed, and have not been impatient.

"I intrust him to you as I intrust the fairest possession I have,
knowing that you will feel the responsibility. You will find him
passionately affectionate, and in danger there; quick to anger, and
in danger there; personally fascinating and beautiful, and in danger
there; and in these three things his trial will be. But he does not
resent nor brood; he is docile, apt to listen, eager to comprehend;
and he is truthful and sincere."

I have given this in a continuous speech, much as Arthur told it me
a few months ago, though it was the essence of a conversation. The
quiet man, with his dreamy eyes fixed on his face, he told me, and
the fragrant Eastern garden seemed from moment to moment of the
strange adventure to swim and become vague and phantasmal; but again
the quiet air of certainty with which questions were asked and
statements made gave him a curious sense of security, and an impulse
to accept the indicated path, together with a sense of shrinking from
such a responsibility.

"I do not, as I told you," said the other, "want your answer now, but
this day one year hence, August 19, 1879, I shall claim it. And I
have no doubt," he added with a smile, "of what that answer will be.
But I beg of you do not give the question a hasty consideration and
then reverse your decision. Do not attempt to decide. Let your choice
be guided by circumstances; they are the safest guide, for they are
not of our own making.

"I do not suppose," he continued, "that I shall ever see you again on
earth, as you proceed with your journey to-morrow; and indeed I think
it will perhaps be as well that this should be our last conversation,
so that nothing else should interfere to blur the impression.

"One last word then." He paused for a moment, and the stillness was
broken only by the faintest stir of odorous wind among the
spice-trees and a waft of distant evening noises.

"You are treading a path, though you do not realize it, which it is
not given to many men to tread. You have had your first intimation of
the goal to-day, and the future will not be wanting in indications of
the same; but, as I have said, you will suddenly, when you least
expect it, step inside the circle, and everything will be changed.

"To you I wish to intrust a future that I can not mould myself, to be
moulded, not for me, but for the great Master of all. You are the
chosen instrument for this. My work lies in another region, which you
will realize on that day when all things are made plain.

"Only remember that your destiny is high and arduous, and that a
single false step may throw you from a precipice that has taken years
to scale once, and that must be scaled again. For you walk among the
clouds, or very near them; you are not defiled by any gross habitual
sin; your heart is pure, and you have known suffering. You are a true
novice.

"In a year, as I have said, I shall claim your answer. And now
farewell for a season. When we next meet we shall have a larger
common ground; we shall be master and pupil no longer.

"You shall see the boy once again, by his wish and my own. He shall
go with you to your house to-night, and travel with you the first
stage to-morrow. I have arranged for his return."

He then conducted Arthur into the house, where he bade adieu to the
mistress and to the younger son; the elder, his charge that was to
be, meeting him as he came out, and accompanying him home. The boy
had formed a great attachment to him, and the idea of their future
relations sent a strange and unwonted glow into Arthur's mind, so
that he parted from him on the next day, "with wonder in his heart,"
and something very like an ache too.

This last episode will appear to my readers to be so fantastic as to
give the work at once a fictional character; they will say that on
some real lines I have constructed a romance of the wildest type,
and that Arthur is no longer an interesting personality, because as
a rule he is too ordinary to be ideal, in the last two chapters too
illusory to be real.

All I can urge is this: the chapters shall be their own defence. If I
had wished to present my readers with nothing but a dry chronicle of
facts I should have toned this down to something more prosaic. But
every one who has had any experience of life will know that her
surprises are sometimes very bewildering; that fiction is nothing but
uncommon experience made ordinary, or heaped inartistically upon a
single character.

It may be said that the man was mentally affected, in the latter
scene; in the former, that Arthur himself was the victim of a mental
disorder; but he left such vivid and detailed descriptions of both
events that I have been enabled to give one (the letter) exactly
as it stands, and the interview in Teheran is taken directly from
diaries—a little amplified and reconstructed, it is true, but only
when interpreted by the light of later events.

And this must be always the task of the true biographer; for the
biographer has to take a life _en masse_, and disentangling the
predominant and central threads, cast the rest away; in this process
rejecting facts and incidents whose isolated interest is often
greater than the interest of what he retains, because it is on the
latter that the pearls of life are, so to speak, strung.

In this case the two incidents I have kept are both so pregnant of
influence upon his later life, so necessary to the logical
development of his principles, that, in spite of their romantic, not
to say wild, character, I have retained them.



CHAPTER VII


About the middle of February, 1879, I was sitting at work in my
lodgings in Newman Street, when I was interrupted by the advent of my
landlady, to inform me that there was a gentleman below who wished to
see me. I told her to show him up, and she returned in a moment,
ushering in, to my extreme surprise, Arthur Hamilton. I confess I
hardly knew him at first. He had grown a beard, and looked thinner
and graver than he used to do. He had the same slow, almost stately
movement, with a slight and not ungraceful suggestion of languor;
his manner was somewhat changed, and very much improved; and he had
contracted, from living so long with strangers, a delightfully frank
and free way of speaking. He never gave me, as he used to, the least
feeling of constraint; he always seemed perfectly at his ease. And
he had acquired, too, the art of asking unobtrusive questions of a
tentative kind, so as to feel out the interests of his companion,
and draw him out; not in that professional way which so-called
influential people often acquire—the melancholy confidential smile,
the intimate manner, and the air of bland inattention with which they
receive your remarks, only to be detected in the fixed or wandering
eye. He had learnt the art of being interested in other people, and
in what they had to say, and of indicating by a subtle tact in speech
that he was following them, and intelligently sympathizing with them.

He did not then tell me much about himself. He confessed that the
most rapturous feeling he had known since he set off on his travels,
was the hour or two as he whirled through the flat pasture-lands and
the pleasant green of Kent.

He gave me no detailed descriptions of adventures, but hinted in a
suggestive way that he had seen much, and thought more. "I think I
have learnt myself very fairly," was the only remark he made about
his own personal experience.

"To finish my tour," he said, "I want to see something of my native
land. I have been away so long, that I don't know where to begin, and
I want you to help me. I want to be introduced to a few Christian
households, that I may see the kind of people that our Western
friends are."

I had an uncle, a Mr. Raymond, who had made a fortune in business,
lived in a fine house in Lancaster Gate, and saw a good deal of
fairly interesting and cultivated people. I took him to dine there
once or twice, and he needed nothing else. He had a real genius
for _tête-à-tête_ conversation; that is, he could listen without
appearing only to listen. He made people feel at their best with
him. My aunt's criticism of him was highly characteristic of the
British matron and her choice of friends.

"I thoroughly approve, Harry," she said to me, "of your friend, Mr.
Hamilton. He is very well-informed and clever, and he doesn't allow
it to make him in the least disagreeable." And starting from this, he
was asked to dinner by, and invited to visit, a fair selection of
pleasant people.

Of the events which immediately succeeded his return to England I
can not, for two reasons, give a very detailed account. In the first
place, dealing as they do with living people, I have thought it
better, after consultation with the friends of both, to leave the
outlines of the story rather vague; and secondly, there are great
gaps and deficiencies in diaries and letters, which, though I believe
I can supply, knowing what I do of the circumstances, I hardly like
to fill in in a narrative of fact.

He took a dose, as I have already said, of the London season. "Those
six weeks," he said, "absolutely knocked me up; my friends told me,
among other things, that my physiognomy, being of a grave and gloomy
cast, was of a kind that was not suitable to a festive occasion; and
so I used to come home at night with my jaws positively aching with
the effort of a perpetually fatuous grin."

The following extract, which I have selected from one of his letters
of this period, will give a good picture of his mind:

"I think that two of the things that move me most, not to sadness nor
indignation, but to those vague tumultuous feelings for which we
have, I think, no name, but which were formerly called melancholy,
are these:

"To come up-stairs after a hot London banquet, where you have been
sitting, talking the poorest trash, between two empty, worldly women;
and then, perhaps, listening to stories that are dull, or worse, and
see dullness personified in every one of the twelve faces that stare
at you with such sodden respectability through the cigarette smoke;
and then, I say, to come up-stairs, and see moving about among the
knowing selfish people a child with hair like gold thread, and
something of the regretful innocence of heaven in her eyes and
motions. If you can get her to talk to you, so much the better for
you; but if you or she are shy, as generally happens, to watch her
is something. God knows the insidious process by which she will be
transformed, step by step, into one of those godless fine ladies; for
it makes me inclined to pray that anything may happen to her first
that may hinder that development.

"The other thing is, under the same circumstances, to sit down and
hear some rippling melody of Bach's, a tender gavotte or a delicate
rapid fugue, just as it stole on to the paper in that quaint German
garden with the clipped yew-hedges and the tall summer-house in the
corner, in the master's pointed handwriting, calling down by his
magic wand the spirits of the air to aid him in the perfecting of the
exquisite phrase that some Ariel had whispered to him as he walked or
sat.

"To hear that little rill of Paradise breaking out in the glaring
room, not echoed or reflected in the rows of listless faces, gives me
a strange turn. It sweeps away for a minute or two, as it goes and
comes and returns upon itself until its sweet course is run, all the
hard and stifling web of convention and opinion that closes us in; it
takes me back for a moment to old-world fancies, till I seem to feel,
as I am always longing to feel, that we are separated only by a very
little flimsy hedge from the secrets of the beautiful, from the
shadow-land which is so real; and that every now and then a breeze
breaks and stirs across, with something of the fragrance of the place
in its wandering air."


He used to come to me in my rooms in Newman Street, on his way back
from an evening party or a ball, to smoke a cigar, and it was very
interesting to watch his growing disgust for the life, and the
grotesque and humorous ways in which he expressed it.

"Do I feel flat?" he used to say—"it isn't the word—bored to death.
Why, my dear Chris, if you'd heard the conversation of the lady next
me to-night, you'd have thought that the premier said, every morning
when his shaving-water was brought him, 'Another day! Whose happiness
can I mar? Whose ruin can I effect? What villainy can I execute
to-day?'"

One night, at dinner, he happened to sit next a young lady in whom
the fashionable world were a good deal interested.

It is impossible to give a fair sketch of her character; she was what
would now be called unconventional, and was then called fast.

She openly avowed her preference for men's society as compared to
female—women, as a rule, did not like her—she used to receive calls
from her own men friends in her own room whenever she liked, and it
was considered rather "compromising" to know her.

She was perfectly reckless about what she said and did. I questioned
Arthur about her conversation, for she was accused of telling
improper stories. "I have often," he said, "heard her allude to
things and tell stories that would be considered unusual, even
indelicate. But I never heard her say a thing in which there could
be any conceivable 'taint,' in which the point consisted in the
violation of the decent sense. The 'doubtful' element was rare and
always incidental."

Arthur told me a delightful story about her. Her father was a testy
old country gentleman, very irritable and obstinate.

It happened that an Eton boy was staying in the house, of the
blundering lumpish type; he had had more than his share of luck in
breaking windows and articles of furniture. One morning Mr. B——,
finding his study window broken, declared in a paroxysm of rage that
the next thing he broke the boy should go.

That same afternoon, it happened he was playing at small cricket with
Maud, and made a sharp cut into the great greenhouse. There was a
crash of glass, followed by Maud's ringing laugh.

They stopped their game, and went to discuss the position of events.
As they stood there, Mr. B——'s garden door, just round the corner,
was heard to open and slam, and craunch, craunch, came his stately
pace upon the gravel.

They stared with a humorous horror at one another. In an instant,
Maud caught up a lawn-tennis racquet that was near, and smashed the
next pane to atoms. Mr. B—— quickened his pace, hearing the crash,
and came round the corner with his most judicial and infuriated air,
rather hoping to pack the culprit out of the place, only to be met
by his favourite daughter. "Papa, I'm so sorry, I've broken the
greenhouse with my racquet. May I send for Smith? I'll pay him out of
my own money."

The Eton boy adored her from that day forth; and so did other people
for similar reasons.

I, personally, always rather wondered that Arthur was ever attracted
by Miss B——, for he was very fastidious, and the least suggestion
of aiming at effect or vulgarity, or hankering after notoriety, would
infallibly have disgusted him. But this was the reason.

She was never vulgar, never self-conscious. She acted on each
occasion on impulse, never calculating effects, never with reference
to other people's opinions.

A gentleman once said, remonstrating with her for driving alone with
a Cambridge undergraduate in his dog-cart down to Richmond after a
ball, "People are beginning to talk about you."

"What fools they must be!" said Miss B——, and showed not the
slightest inclination to hear more of the matter.

There is no question, I think, that Arthur's grave and humorous ways
attracted her. He, when at his best, was a racy and paradoxical
talker—with that natural tinge of veiled melancholy or cynicism
half-suspected which is so fascinating, as seeming to imply a
"_past_," a history. He ventured to speak to her more than once
about her tendency to "drift." He told me of one conversation in
particular.

"I think you have too many friends," he said to her once, at the
conclusion of an evening party at her own house. They were sitting in
a balcony looking out on to the square, where the trees were stirring
in the light morning wind.

"That's curious," she said. "I never feel as if I had enough; I have
room enough in my heart for the whole world." And she spread out her
hands to the great city with all her lights glaring before them.
"God knows I love you all, though I don't know you," she said with a
sudden impulse.

They were silent for a moment.

Then she resumed: "Tell me why you said that," she said. "I like to
be told the truth."

"_You_ may feel large enough," he said, "but they don't appreciate
your capacity; they feel hurt and slighted. Why, only to-night, during
the ten minutes I was talking to you, you spoke and dismissed eight
people, every one of whom was jealous of me, and thinking 'Who's the
new man?' And I began to wonder how I should feel if I came here and
found a new man installed by you, and got a handshake and a smile."

"Shall I tell you?" she said, looking at him. "I should give you a
look which would mean, 'I would give anything to have a quiet talk to
you, Mr. Hamilton, but the exigencies of society oblige me to be
civil to this person.'"

"Yes," he said, "and that's just what I complain of; it gives me, the
new man to-night, a feeling of insecurity—that perhaps you are just
'carrying on' with me because it is your whim, and that the instant
I bore you, you will throw me away like a broken toy, and with even
less regret."

"How dare you speak like that to me?" she said, turning upon him
almost fiercely. "I never forget people." And she rose and went
quickly into the room, and didn't speak to him for the rest of the
evening.

But just as he was going out he passed her, and hardly looked at her,
thinking he had offended her; but she came and put out her hand
quickly, and said, almost pathetically—

"You must forgive me for my behaviour to-night, Mr. Hamilton. What
you said was not true, but you meant it to be true; you believed it.
And please don't stop talking to me openly. I value it very much.
I have so few people to tell me the truth."

I find this conversation narrated in his diary, almost word for word
as I have given it. But there is omitted from it, necessarily
perhaps, the most pregnant comment of all.

"And yet," he said to me once, as he turned to leave the room after
commenting upon their freedom of speech with one another, "I am not
in love with her, though I can't think why I am not."

The sequel must be soon told. Miss B—— suddenly accepted a
gentleman who was in every way a suitable _parti_: heir to a peerage,
of fairly high character.

But to return to Arthur. I can not do better than quote a few
sentences of a letter he wrote to me on the event. It conceals—as he
was wont to do—strong feeling under the bantering tone.

"As you are in possession of most of my moral and mental diagnoses,
I had better communicate to you a new and disturbing element. You
remember what I said to you about Miss B——, that I did not care for
her. A fancied immunity is often a premonitory symptom of disease:
the system is excited into an instantaneous glow by the first contact
of the poisonous seed.

"I don't know, at present, quite how things are with me. I labour
under a great oppression of spirit. I have a strange thirsty longing
to see her face and hear her speech. If I could only hear from
herself that she had done what her best self—of which we have
often spoken—ratifies, I should feel more content. But she trusts
her impulses too much; and the habit of loving all she loves with
passion, blinds her a little. A woman who loves her sister, her pets,
the very sunshine and air with passion, hardly knows what a lover
is. I can not help feeling that I might have shown her a little
better than J——. Still one must accept facts and interpret them,
especially in cases where one has not even been allowed to try and
fail; for I never spoke to her a word of love. Ah, well! perhaps I
shall be stronger soon."



CHAPTER  VIII

Arthur Hamilton as an author


I must give a chapter to this subject, because it entered very
largely into Arthur's life, although he was singularly unsuccessful
as an author, considering the high level of his mental powers.

He lacked somehow, not exactly the gift of expression—his letters
testify to that—but the gift of proportion and combination.

His essays are disjointed—discursive and eloquent in parts, and bare
and meagre in others. Connections are omitted, passages of real and
rare beauty jostling with long passages of the most common-place
rhetoric. His platitudes, however, to myself who knew him, have a
genuine ring about them; he never admitted a truism into his writing
till it had become his own by vivid realization. As he himself says:

"I always find a peculiar interest in the solemn enunciation of a
platitude by a dull person who does not naturally aim at effect.
You feel sure it is the condensation of life and experience. Such
an utterance often brings a platitude home to me as no amount of
rhetorical writing can."

Still, the reading public will not stand this, and Arthur never found
a market.

He wrote voluminously.

I have in my bureau several pigeon-holes crammed with manuscripts in
his curious sprawling hand. He wrote, when he was in the mood, very
quickly, with hardly an erasure. Among them is:

1. A collection of poems (128 in all).

2. A complete novel, called "The Unencumbered Man."

3. Three incomplete novels, called "Physiognomy," "Helena,"
"From Hall to Hall."

4. Essays on historical and literary subjects, such as "Coleridge,"
"Bunyan," "The Earl of Surrey," "Lucian," etc. These, as far as I can
make out, are very poor.

5. A collection of semi-mystical writings and short stories. There is
a great fertility of imagination about these, and they are composed
in a very finished style. It is not improbable that I shall re-edit
these, as they seem to me to be distinctly first-rate work. I give a
short specimen of his mystical writing—a style of which he was very
fond. It is called:

"The Great Assize.

"Now, it came to pass that on a certain day the Gods were weary. Odin
sat upon his throne, and rested his chin upon his hand. And Thor came
in, and threw his hammer upon the earth, and said, 'I am weary of
walking up and down in the earth, of smiting and slaying; and I know
not how to bind or heal up, and I am too old to learn.' And Freya
said, 'I am weary of Valhalla and the birds and trees, the perpetual
sunshine and the feasts and laughter.' So also said all the Gods.

"And Odin, when the clamour was stilled, rose from his throne, and
spoke. He told them of an ancient law of the Gods, so ancient that it
seemed dim even to himself, that when the Gods should be heavy and be
sad at heart, they should appoint a judgment for men, should open
the everlasting records, and call the world to the assize; and Loki
should be the accuser, and Night and Day the witnesses, and Odin
should deliver sentence, with the Gods for assessors.

"So Thor stepped out upon the bar of heaven, and blew the steel
trumpet that is chained to the door-post of the hall.

"Shrill and angry came the sound of the great horn over earth, her
woods and valleys; and terrible was the sound of wailing and
lamentation. They prayed to the mountains to fall upon them, and the
sea to swallow them up; for they said, 'The secrets of the heart must
now be spoken. The Lord and our brethren will hear them. And who can
bear the shame? Oh, that we had not turned away!'

"But the winds of the earth, and the voices of the morning, and the
waves of the moaning sea drove them shrieking into the judgment hall,
and Loki began his accusation.

"And so foul a tale it was, that the men and women folk prayed and
cried no longer, but sank down in dull silence for fear. And the
stars that listened overhead shrank out of the sky, and the sea
stilled his waves to hear, and the very Gods turned pale and red
where they sat, to think that vileness and oppression had thriven so
upon the earth, and that deeds of shame had fallen so thick, and that
they had in no wise hindered it, but rather increased the sum of sin.

"At last the words of Loki were over, and left a burning silence in
the hall; and the sun and moon bowed their heads in witness, and
Night and Day said 'Yea,' and 'Truth, he has told truth.'

"Then there was a silence, and all looked at Odin as he sat, sunk
down and silent, in his chair, staring at the shrinking crowd with
eyes of shame, and majesty, and anger.

"And at the last he rose, and he was clad in grey mists from head to
foot, with a cloud of gleaming gold upon his head, like the sunlight
on white cliffs seen over the sea through the haze of a summer
morning.

"But ere he opened his lips to speak, one who sat among the folk
arose and came up the hall, walking strongly and briskly like a king,
and looking about him with a resolute and cheerful face to left and
right.

"And all held their breath to see him pass, wondering what this thing
might be.

"But the man, when he had reached the middle of the hall, cried with
a loud voice, 'Hold.'

"And Odin's face gleamed white with rage through the fringes of the
mist, and he said between his teeth, 'Who art thou?'

"And at his voice Freya started and blanched, and wrapped herself in
her robe.

"And the man said, in a clear loud voice, not defiant, but with a
certain royalty about it—

"'Lord Odin, I am he of whom thou spokest but now; he of whom the
ancient oracles have spoken, whom thou knowest, and yet knowest not.'

"And Odin said, 'I know thee not; stand aside therefore, that I may
judge thee and thy fellows.'

"And there was a hideous silence for a moment while you might count a
score, and the twain stared upon each other.

"Then the man said, in the same voice that shook not nor quivered,
'When the Gods shall sit in order to judge the earth, then shall one
come out of the midst of created things, through the earth, and
walking upon it; and at his coming the pillars of Valhalla shall be
snapped, and the everlasting halls shall fall.' And he added other
words, which the Gods knew, but not the men or women folk. And when
he ceased speaking there blew as it were a whirlwind out of Valhalla,
and the high Gods passed away, as it were in skeins and fringes of
hanging mist. Then there were lightnings and thunders, and the earth
shook; and terrible voices were heard in heaven, passing to and fro.
And one said, 'Hence, ye that corrupt justice;' and another said,
'The brood of the eagle is come home to roost;' and another, 'The
roof is down.' And then there were yells and groans; and among
mankind there was weeping and laughter, many smiles and tears, and
they cried to the stranger, 'Judge us, thou king of Gods and men.'
But he, turning, said, 'Nay, but ye are judged already.' Then was
there peace on earth."


There are, besides these, several unfinished studies, and two or
three note-books full of jotted conversations and thoughts of all
kinds—a curious mixture.

He carefully left all the publishers' letters which he received in
answer to his application. They are twenty-two in number, and are all
refusals. They are tied carefully up, and are labeled, "My Literary
Career."

All these compositions are the work of about seven years, except some
of the poems which were written at Cambridge. The novel was begun and
finished in about six weeks, in 1878. It is a poor plot, and mawkish
in character, though not without merits of style.

During all this time his interest in writing never flagged. He felt
that he had one or two ideas, on which he had a firm grasp, to
communicate to the world, and he worked at them incessantly in new
and ever-varying forms.

The issue would seem to show that he was not destined to communicate
them directly to others—at least, in his own lifetime; and, indeed,
no one was quicker at interpreting events than himself. He gave the
enterprise a long and severe trial, but the resolute front with which
he was met, showed him clearly that it was not to be. It may be that
the record of his life, little as he ever imagined it would come
before the world, may effect a part of what he himself prepared to
do.

Occasionally, for he was of quick sensibilities, throughout this
period he felt the bitterness of constant rebuff. The following
letter he wrote me shows it:

"I am beginning to feel as if publishers had a code of signals or
private marks like freemasonry, which they scribble sometimes, like
the concealed marks on bank-notes, on the first page of a manuscript,
so as to spare their brother publishers the trouble of looking
through a manuscript which is below market value. I have never had a
manuscript accepted which has been once refused; and I now eagerly
scan the first page, to see if I can discover a wriggling mark in the
margin or among the lines which is to tell Smith and Co. that Brown
and Son has a very poor opinion of the book now under his
consideration."

And again, quite as forcible is a little anecdote with which he
begins an unfinished paper on "Genius." The story is, I now believe,
his own; though, at the time, I fancied it was adopted:

"There was once a king who sat to listen to the sermon of a great
preacher. From minute to minute the great words flowed on, consoling,
wounding, helping, condemning, dividing the marrow from the bones;
and the king wept and smiled.

"And at the end he sent for the preacher, and said, 'Sir, Christ is
the only king; yet let me look at the book from which you made your
discourse. The written words, though half despoiled of their grace,
may perhaps strike an echo in my soul, which rings yet.'

"And for some time the preacher was unwilling, and parleyed with the
king; but at the last he drew out a little pale book with faded
characters traced in ink; and he opened it at a well-worn page, and
held it out before the king.

"And the king looked, and saw nothing except the crabbed printed
lines.

"So he said, 'Not your text-book, sir, but the book from which your
arguments are rehearsed.'

"'Sire,' said the preacher, 'look but once more upon the book.' And
he showed him that four of the words upon the page had a thin line
drawn in ink below them. 'That was the writing of my discourse,' he
said."

Neither, it must be remembered, was Arthur a first-rate
conversationalist. He did not steer a conversation; he could keep
the ball going creditably when it was once started; but he never
communicated to the circle in which he was that indefinable interest
which is so intangible and yet so unmistakable.

The two points that I spoke of that he is always trying to work out
in his books are:

(1) the strength of temperament, and the difficulty, almost
impossibility, of altering it. "The most we can do is to register
change," are the first words of his novel. In this book, the
situation of which is not a very unusual one, the hero falls in love
with one of two sisters, of rare personal beauty and attractiveness,
but no particular intellect. He soon wearies of her, being of
that fantastic, weak, discontented spirit which Arthur invariably
portrayed in his heroes—drawing it I can not conceive whence—and
then falls in love with the other, as he ought to have done all
along, being, as she is, fully his match in intellect, and far above
him in heart and strength of character. The wife at the crisis of
this other love, is killed in a street accident, and remorse ensues.
But the book is a weary one; it bears upon its face the burden of
sorrow. "How could this have been otherwise?" is the keynote of the
story.

Along with this, and indeed as a development of this central
principle, is the tendency to treat and write of "sin" so called,
wrong-doing, failure of ideal, as variations of spiritual health, as
diseases, the ravages of which it is possible for the skilful hand
to palliate, but not to cure; to think of and treat sin as a hideous
contagion, which has power for a season, perhaps inherently, to drag
souls within its grasp, involve and overwhelm them; and consequently
to regard the sinner with the deepest sympathy and pity, but with
hardly any anger: in fact, I have known him very seriously offend the
company he has been in, I have even heard him stigmatized as of loose
principles, from his readiness, even anxiety, to condone a sensual
offence in a man of high intellect and brilliant gifts.

"He went wrong," he said very sternly, "through having too much
passion; and that we can judge him, proves that we have not enough.
Well, we shall both of us have to become different: he to be brought
down to the harmonious mean, we to be screwed up to it. It is easy to
see which will be the most painful process: as soon as _he_ gets an
idea of whither he is being led, how thankful he will be for every
pang that teaches him restraint, and purifies; while we—we shall
suffer blind wrench after wrench, _stung_ into feeling at any cost, and
not till we painfully overtop the barrier shall we guess whither we
are going."

I do not mean from this that he thought lightly of sin—far from
it. I have seen him give all the physical signs of shrinking and
repulsion, at the mention or sight of it. He loathed it with all the
agonized disgust of a high, pure, fastidious nature. Its phenomena
were without the lurid interest for him which it often possesses even
for the sternest moralist.

This loathing had its physical antitype in his horror of the sight or
description of bodily disease. I have seen him several times go off
into a dead faint at even the bare description of bodily suffering. I
went with him once, at his own request, to a seaman's hospital, where
there was a poor fellow who had fallen from a mast and been terribly
smashed. His legs had both been amputated, and he lay looking
terribly white and emaciated with a cradle over the stumps.

He gave us, with great eagerness, an account of the accident, as
people in the lower classes always will. In the middle, Arthur
stepped suddenly to the door and went out. I was not aware at the
time of this failing of his, and the move was executed with such
deliberate directness that I thought he must have forgotten
something. When I went out to the open air I found Arthur, deadly
pale, sitting on the grassy paving-stones of the little yard. He
insisted, as soon as he was restored, in going in to wish good-bye
to the man, which he accomplished with great difficulty.

But I have already digressed too far, and must return to the main
issue.

I am not aware that he ever attempted any theoretical explanation of
the intrusion of sin and disorder into the world. He certainly
regarded them as emanating practically, in some way that he did not
comprehend, from God.

"I can not for a moment believe that these apparent disorders,
physical suffering, and the deeper diseases of the will are the
manifestation of some inimical power, and not under God's direct
control. I have had so much experience of even the immediate blessing
of suffering, that I am content to take the rest on trust. If I
thought there was some ghastly enemy at work all the time, I should
go mad. The power displayed is so calm, so far-reaching, and so
divine, that I should feel that even if some of us were finally
emancipated from it by the working of some superior power, the
contest would be so long and terrible and the issues so dire, that
the limited human mind could not possibly contemplate it, that hope
would be practically eliminated by despair."

In the same connection, he wrote a letter to a friend whose wild and
wayward life had injured his health, and wrote in the greatest agony
of mind:

"Words are such wretched things, my dear friend, in crises like this.
I can only beg of you, with all my heart, to resolutely set your face
against thinking what might have been. Try to feel, I will not say
happy, but stronger in the thought that your punishment is atoning
for your past every hour. Throw remorse and fear down, if you can;
they are only keeping you from God. Many, too many souls are in a far
worse case. Some have more to reproach themselves with. On some it
has come with what appears to be fearful injustice. Accept your
present condition; brace yourself to bear it. I know how much can be
borne. Give your sufferings to God nobly. Your patience is none the
less noble because you have brought this on yourself; nay, it makes
it even nobler....

"Don't say that many worse sinners go unpunished. How can you tell?
How do you know they are not suffering? There are only, I suppose,
two men in the world, besides yourself, who know that you are
suffering now, and why. God visited me with suffering once; He has
brought me through, and I have never ceased to thank Him for it; and
He will bring you through, too, dear friend, I know. 'Pro jucundis
aptissima quæque dabunt di; carior est illis homo quam sibi.'
That thought has left me patient, if not glad, in many a bitter
hour.... You are never out of my thoughts."

And this letter leads me naturally to the second great principle that
pervaded all his writings—"the education of individuals."

"One is inclined to believe that there is a great deal of hopeless
irremediable suffering in the world—suffering of a kind that seems
wantonly inflicted, purposeless anguish.... That 'regret must hurt
and may not heal' is a terrible thought, which, when we get our first
glimpse of human anguish, seems almost sickeningly true. But I have
seen a great deal lately of such suffering, and it amazes me to
discover how _extraordinarily_ rare it is to find the victim taking
this view of his case. Either it seems to be a due reward for past
action—that 'invita religio' which wells up in the blackest heart,
or the sufferer gains a kind of onlook into sweet plains beyond, into
which the troubled passage is taking him, and which can only thus be
reached....

"Of animal suffering, unconscious tortures, it is harder to speak—of
the innocent, for so they are, victims of lust and brutality in
Babylon here, whose sense of suffering is almost gone, and is
succeeded by nothing but the desire for rest; all this seems so
meaningless, so futile....

"It is one of the problems I take up and let drop—take up and let
drop a thousand times; but all sacrifice seems essentially good, and
I do not throw the enigma aside in anger; I will wait for it to be
explained to me.

"Ah, death, death, if we are enlightened enough by that time, what a
storehouse of secrets, dear secrets you will have to tell us! I
thrill all through, in moments like these, to think of it."

"Of course," he said to me once, "there are times when we can only
wait and hope; changing our posture, like a sick man, from time to
time, to win a little ease; but when we reach a fresh standpoint, a
fresh basis—which, thank God, one does from month to month—we are
inclined to say with Albert Dürer, 'It could not be better
done.'"

He was very fond of the doctrine of Special Providences.

"Every now and then I have—I suppose it is common—what may be
called a run of luck in ordinary things; I get out of scrapes in a
way I don't deserve; I find letters I have mislaid; annoyances are
mysteriously shunted aside; money flows in; days of extraordinary
happiness succeed one another; little events save vast complications
of trouble, so that I long to turn round and grasp by the hand
or kiss the cheek of the sweet friend who stands at my elbow,
suggesting, ordering, providing day and night, smiling on me as
I sleep, hovering around me as I work, without a word of praise.
Guardian angels! no fable. God gives you a sudden and particular
thought, and while you are independent of circumstances you master
them as well."

But such portraiture as the above is apt to get very vague and
insipid unless one is able to convey a vivid picture of the man as he
walked, and spoke, and lived. The _sic sedebat_ in Trinity College
(Cambridge) chapel has given more people a thrill at the thought of
Bacon than ever gained one from his books. Personality, personal
characteristics, how one craves for them! To take a late instance,
how far more impressive General Gordon's little cane is, which he
twirled in his hand as he stormed redoubts and directed an action,
than a thousand pages of rhetoric about his philosophy or his views
of life.

He was now, as ever, for strangers meeting him for the first time, an
impressive but rather disappointing man. He had shaved his beard,
keeping only his usual moustache; his face was very spare, with a
pallor that was not unhealthy. His hair, which was dark and lay in
masses, he wore generally rather long. He had got into the way, when
without his glasses, of half closing his eyes, because, as he said,
it did him so little good to keep them open, as it only served to
remind him of people's presence without giving him any more definite
idea of them. He could not, for instance, unassisted, see the play of
features on a face, and, for this reason, in all important interviews
he wore his glasses, giving three reasons.

1. Utilitarian—that he could see by his opponent's face what he was
driving at, and what effect his own remarks had on him.

2. Impressional—it gave a man an "adventitious consequence."

3. Precautional—"I show emotion quickest by the eye, and so,
generally speaking, do most people; some change colour very quick;
some reveal it in the mouth; but the sudden dilatation and
contraction of the eye, the expression it is capable of, make it on
the whole the safest guide.

"I trust the eye on the whole," he said; "guilelessness and an
unstained conscience are not really manifested either in feature or
deportment, but the eye will almost always tell you true."

His conversation, when he was in form, was, without exactly being
very brilliant, very inspiring. He had great freshness of expression,
and told very few stories, and those only in illustration, never on
their own merits. He was very μνημονικός, or retentive—the
first requisite, says Plato, of a philosopher—and was consequently
well supplied with quotations and allusions, not slavishly repeated,
but worked naturally in. I do not mean that he passed for a good
talker by skilful plagiarizing, but I found that the wider my range
of reading became the more I appreciated his talk—drawn, as it was,
from all kinds of sources, and bringing with it that aroma of a
far-reaching mind, the _fascination_ that culture can bestow, the
feeling that, after all, everything is interesting, and that no
knowledge is unworthy of the attention of the philosopher.

He hardly ever discussed current politics, though he would argue on
political principles with the greatest keenness: neither had he
accurate historical knowledge, or antiquarian; but he enjoyed
listening to such talk. For the principles, the poetic aspect, of
science he had a devoted interest. In literary matters I seldom heard
his equal. Many and many is the book which I have been induced to
read solely by hearing him sketch the purport in little sentences of
extraordinary felicity. "The birth and fatal effects of Impulse in a
prosaic soul," was a sketch he gave of a celebrated novel. On one
subject he was always dumb—Economics. "It is the one subject on
which I have never hazarded a remark successfully," he said to me
once. "I can never appreciate the value of an economic statement;
I hardly know whether it is interesting."

As he never talked for talking's sake, he was always ready to give
his whole attention to the person he was talking to, or none at all;
and consequently he never had a middle reputation—some praising
his courtesy, as an old lady with whose querulous complaints about
ingratitude and rheumatism he had borne and sympathized; others, his
abrupt atrocious manner—"Turned his back on me with a scowl, and
didn't say another word," as a sporting fast married lady said to me,
who had attempted to tell him an improper story. "I didn't mean to
offend him; young men generally like it. I hate a young man to be a
prude and a Puritan. Why, he isn't even going into the church, I
understand!"

One of his colleagues in the school where he was a master, told me
that Arthur had once given him a most delicate and pointed rebuke on
the practice into which he had fallen, of appealing to a boy's home
feelings before the class.

"Some things ought to be said to people when they are alone; besides,
we must not _seethe the kid in his mother's milk_."

The same man told me that he heard him give a little address to the
boys in his class, on the two main virtues of a schoolboy—purity and
honesty—on the words, "And they said, Lord, behold, here are two
swords; and he said unto them, It is enough."

Those are the only two anecdotes I have heard of his professional
life, both illustrating that extraordinary gift of apt quotation and
seeing unexpected connections, which, to my mind, is as adequate an
external symbol of genius as can be found, though sometimes illusory.

He took the greatest delight in the society of children. He writes—

"What wonderful lines those are of Tennyson's"—they had just come
out,—"'Who pleased her with a babbling heedlessness Which often
lured her from herself!' There is nothing more absolutely refreshing
when one is overdone or anxious, or oppressed by the vague anxieties
of the world, than the conversation and the society of children,
the unconscious ignoring of all grave possibilities, yet often
accompanied by that curious tact which divines that all is not
well with their older friend, and prompts them to employ all their
resources to beguile it. I have been thanked by worldly mothers, in
country houses, with something like a touch of nature, for being so
good to their boys—'I am so afraid they must have been troublesome
to you,'—when they have not only saved me from vapid hard gabble and
slanderous gossip, but let in a little breath of paradise as well.
I often accept an invitation with reference to the children I shall
see. 'To meet Lord and Lady D——, and Mrs. G——, such an amusing
woman—tells _such_ stories, they make you _scream!_' the invitation
runs; and I accept it, to see Johnny and Charlie, to play at Red
Indians in the wilderness, and to dig up the tin box of date-stones
and cartridge-cases that we buried in the bed of the stream."

If I seem to have given rather a priggish picture of Arthur, it is a
totally erroneous one. He was far too casual and too retiring to be
that; he had no appearance of self-importance, though an invincible
reserve of self-respect. The prig wears chain armor outside, and
runs at you with his lance when he catches a glimpse of you. Arthur
wore his chain armor under his shirt, and it was not till you closed
with him that you felt how sharp his dagger was.

I give a perfectly disinterested sketch of him, which a lady, who met
him several times, wrote out at my request. It is hard for me to help
speaking from inside knowledge.

"Dear Mr. Carr,

"You ask me to give you my impression of Mr. Hamilton, in writing.
What your motive is I can't conceive, as he was not a person I took
much interest in, though I know that some people do. Unless, perhaps,
you mean to put him into a book.

"I met him at a country house in Shropshire. He came down rather late
for breakfast, and when he was asked how he was, he quoted something
about 'being apt to be rather fatigued with his night's rest.' I
remember it very clearly, because it struck me as being so pointless
at the time. He went out shooting most of the day, and I think,
as far as I can remember, he was a good shot. He smoked a fearful
amount, 'all the time,' in fact; they were always attacking him for
that. When he came in he used to have some tea in the nursery. We
found that out the last day—the children were sent for, and Mr.
Hamilton came down with them, looking rather sheepish, and saying
that he had tried sitting on at one side of the table, with the
nursery maid at the other, after the children had gone, but that
it didn't do. I remember we were very much amused at the idea;
the picture was such a ridiculous one.

"The children certainly seemed to like him extraordinarily—they
would talk to no one else: and I can't think why, because children
are so impressionable, and he had quite the gravest face I ever
saw—almost forbidding. However, so it was.

"He used to disappear to his room, to read and write, before dinner.
At dinner he was often very good fun. I have heard him tell some very
funny stories, not very racy perhaps, but amusing; and these, coming
from that grave face, were very ridiculous. He always made friends
with the younger ladies. He never seemed to flirt, and yet he used to
say things to them in public that even I felt inclined to pull him up
for. And then he used to ask them to go out walks with him, and,
what's more, he went out with certainly two, alone; and you know that
is rather a marked thing.

"He looked about forty, but he always gravitated toward the young
people; made great friends with boys, and in a curious way, too.
Generally, if men make friends with schoolboys in a country house
it is at the loss of their dignity—they run the risk of having to
swallow all sorts of practical jokes, such as getting water thrown
on their head and salt put into their tea; but he never compromised
himself, and they always behaved to him with respect, but were quite
impatient if he wouldn't come with them everywhere. I overheard him
talking to a boy once, and I didn't so much wonder; he spoke in such
an affectionate way, and boys like to feel that grown-up people take
the trouble to like them.

"He was very friendly with the governess, and would try to include
her in the conversation. I can't say he succeeded, for we were down
on that. I don't myself consider it good form to encourage your
governess to have opinions.

"Everybody was always very deferential to him. He always made a
sensation if he came into the room. No one could help looking at him.
He wasn't one of those tame sneaking creatures that are to be met
in country houses, of whom no one takes the least notice; he was
much more inclined to take no notice of any one else; but it was
impossible to forget he was in the room. And the servants were
invariably respectful to him, quite as if he was a real swell; and
yet he didn't dress well and hadn't a servant of his own. He was just
the sort of man you would have thought flunkeys would have despised.

"But I have let my pen run on to an unconscionable length. It reminds
me of the remark with which he dismissed the subject of poor old Sir
Charles W—— who was staying there. We had been discussing him, and
asked Mr. Hamilton what he thought of him. 'A talking jackass,' was
his only reply, in his most chilling tones.

"I fear I am open to the same imputation.

  "Very truly yours,
      "Laura F——.

"I should like to know what you want this for; however, happily, I
have put it in a form you can't make much use of."


I was much amused at the way in which he treated gossip about himself.

I told him some stories about him that I had picked up. They related
to a certain absent-mindedness which he was supposed to possess.

"I am afraid they are not true," he said first. "I should welcome any
hint of absence of mind in myself as a sign that the abstract could
exclude the concrete, which is unfortunately not the case with me."
Then, in a moment, he said, "People have no business to tell such
stories. I should not mind their not being true, if they were only
characteristic."

"By which you mean," said a gentleman who was sitting next him, "that
you don't care about veracity, only you can't stand dullness."

"Not at all," said Arthur, quickly. "Veracity is not the question in
gossip at all. It is all hearsay. You have not to judge of the actual
truth of a scandalous story, but you have to judge of the probable
truth of it, and if it is obviously uncharacteristic it is wrong to
repeat it. It becomes scandal then, and not till then."

When he was living in London, which was, for the time being, his
home, he lived a regular life, combining more reading with a sociable
life than many people would have thought possible. He had two rooms
in a house in Russell Square. He breakfasted at half-past nine and
read till four, when he went down to his club and talked, or strolled
in the park. He made hardly any engagements, except for the evening;
and admitted hardly anyone, except two or three friends, to see him
at his rooms, and then only after one o'clock, before which hour
he was absolutely invisible. He was so dreadfully angry with his
landlady for showing a gentleman in once in the middle of the
morning, that she literally refused ever to do it again. "He's a good
regular lodger, sir, and doesn't think of money, but he said to me,
'Mrs. Laing, I _don't choose to be disturbed_ before one. If I find
my orders disregarded again, I shall leave the house _that day_.'
I daren't do it, sir. You wouldn't like to deprive me of my lodger,
I know, sir." The last pathetic plea could not be gainsaid, so Arthur
had his way.

Four evenings he devoted to going out, and the other three dining
quietly at home and reading. By the time he left London his reading,
always wide, had become prodigious. His own library was good, and he
had a ticket for the British Museum Reading-room and belonged to two
circulating libraries. He made a point of reading new books (1) if he
was strongly recommended them by specialists; (2) if they reached a
second edition within a month; (3) if they were republished after a
period of neglect—this he held to be the best test of a book.

It was characteristic of his natural indolence that he chose the very
easiest method of reading—that is to say, he always read, if he
could, _in_ a translation, or if the style of the original was the
object, _with_ one. This, like his posture, nearly recumbent, was
deliberately adopted. "I find," he said, "that the _reflective_ part
of my brain works best when I have as little either bodily or _purely_
intellectual to distract me as possible. And it is the reflective
part," he says, "that I always preferred to cultivate, and that
latterly I have devoted my whole attention to. It is through the
reflective part that one gets the highest influence over people.
Training the reflective function is the training of character, while
the training of the purely physical side often, and the training of
the intellectual side not uncommonly, have a distinctly deteriorative
effect.

"By the reflective part, I mean all that deals with the _connection_ of
things, the discovery of principles, the laws that regulate emotion
and influence, the motives of human nature, the basis of existence,
the solution of the problem of life and being—that vast class of
subjects which lie just below, and animate concrete facts, and which
are the only things worthy of the devotion of a philosopher, though
no knowledge is unworthy of his _attention_.

"I am not quite clear what position I intend to take up in the world
at large. This only is certain, that if I am going to teach, and I
have a vague sense that I am destined for that, it is necessary first
to know something, to be _sure_ of something."

All his days were alike, except that on Sunday he used to frequent
city churches in the afternoon, or go to Westminster Abbey and St.
Paul's. His father was a friend of a canon at the former place, and
Arthur was generally certain of a stall; and I used often to see his
tall form there, with his eyes "indwelling wistfully," "reputans
secum," as Virgil says, lost in speculations and wonders, and a whole
host of melancholy broodings over life and death to which he rarely
gave voice, but which formed a perpetual background to his thoughts.
He varied this by visits to his father in Hampshire, and occasional
trips to the country, not unfrequently alone, the object and
occupation of which he never told me, except to say once that he had
explored, he thought, every considerable "solitude" in England.

There is one thing that I must not forget to mention—his dreams. He
never slept, he told me, without innumerable dreams, and he not
unfrequently told me of them. They always struck me as curiously
vivid. I subjoin the following from one of his diaries. They are
often given at full length. This is one of the most interesting I
can find.

"_January_ 8.—Slept badly; toward morning dreamed that I was walking
with two or three friends, and accompanied by a tall man whom I did
not know, wrapped in a cloak, through a very dark wood. I seemed to
be in a very heavy mood. We came upon a building brightly lighted,
and, entering, found a hall with many people dining. There was
much wine and talk, and a great deal of laughing and merriment.
We appeared to be invisible.

"I began to moralize aloud. I said, 'Yes, and this is the way in
which lives pass: a little laughter and a few jests and a song or
two; forgetful, all the time, that the lights must be extinguished
and the wine spilled, and that night laps them round,'—catching,
as I said this, a glimpse of the dark trees swaying outside.

"But the man in the cloak took me up. 'This shows,' he said, 'how
superficial your view is—how little you look below the surface
of things. This laughter and light talk are but the signs and
symbols of qualities of which your bitter character knows
nothing—goodfellowship, kindliness, brave hopefulness, and many
things beside.'

"Then he turned to me impressively, and said, 'What you want is
_deepening_.'

"I woke with the word ringing in my ears."


Besides this, there was a curious little peculiarity in him that I
have never heard of in anyone else: a capacity for seeing little
waking visions with strange distinctness.

His description of this is as follows:

"I have the power, or rather something in me is able (for I can not
resist it), of suddenly producing a picture on the retina, of such
vividness as to blot out everything around me. I have it generally
when I am a little tired with exercise or brain-work or people: it is
prefaced by seeing a bright blue spot, which moves, or rather rushes,
across my field of vision, and is immediately succeeded by the
picture.

"A crumbling sandstone temple, among fields of blue flowers—an
obelisk carved with figures, in a wood—a gray indistinct marsh, with
mist rising from it, and by the edge a white bird, egret or something
similar, of dazzling whiteness—a green lane, with cows in it. I
could go on for ever enumerating them. They pass in a fraction of a
second, three or four succeeding one another. My eyes are not shut,
nor do I look different. I have always seen them. I was alarmed about
them once, and went to a doctor; but he said he could not explain
it—it was probably a nervous idiosyncrasy: and I felt all the better
for my habit having a name."

One more thing I must mention about him, which I have discovered
since his death. I must add _that I never had the least suspicion of
it in his life_.

He was the victim during this time of a depression of mind; not
constant, but from which he never felt secure. I subjoin a few
entries from his diaries.

"Very troubled and gloomy: a strange heart-sinking—a blank misgiving
without any adequate cause upon me all day. One can not help feeling
during such times—and, alas! they are becoming very familiar to
me—that some mysterious warfare may be being fought out somewhere
over one's only half-conscious soul: that some strange decision may
be pending." And again: "For the last week, my mind—though I have
reiterated again and again to myself that it is purely physical—has
steadily refused to take any view of life, to have any outlook,
except the most dismal. I am a little better to-day—well enough to
see the humour of it, though God knows it is black enough while it
lasts."

In one letter he wrote to me, I find the following words: it never
occurred to me at the time that they were the gradual fruits of his
own experience on the subject:

"Physical and mental depression is a most fearful enemy. Other things
give you trouble at intervals—toothache, headache, etc., are all
spasmodic afflictions, and, moreover, can be much mitigated by
circumstances. But with depression it is not so: it poisons any
cup—it turns all the cheerful little daily duties of life into
miseries, unutterable burdens; death is the only future event which
you can contemplate with satisfaction. It admits of no comfort: the
whispered suggestion of the mind, 'You will be better soon,' falls on
deaf ears. No physical suffering that I have ever felt, and I have
not been without my share, is in the least comparable to it; the
agony of foreboding remorse and gloom with which it involves past,
present, and future—there is nothing like it. It is the valley of
the Shadow of Death.

"But when one first realizes how purely physical it is, it is an era.
I endured it for two years first: now I am prepared. I may even say
that though all sense of enjoyment dies under it, my friends, the
company I am in, generally suspect nothing."

This was literally the case. I knew his spirits were never very high;
but he seemed to me to maintain, what is far more valuable, a genial
equable flow of cheerfulness, such as one would give much to possess.

Among his occasional diversions at this time, I must place visiting
some of the worst houses in one of the worst quarters in London.

It was not then a fashionable habit, and he never spoke of it or made
capital out of his experience; but he went to have an acquaintance
that should be _teres et rotundus_ with all phases of life. He never
attempted to relieve misery by indiscriminate charity; his principles
were strongly against it.

"I don't profess to understand the economical condemnation of
indiscriminate charity. I don't see why one set of people should not
spend in necessaries what another set would only spend in luxuries.

"But I do understand this: that it does infinite harm, by accustoming
the poor to think that all the help they will get from the upper
classes till they rise up themselves and lay hands upon it, will be
indiscriminate half-sovereigns. The clergy are beginning to disabuse
them of this idea. It is a fact which does appeal to them when they
see a man that they recognize belongs by right to the 'high life' and
could drive in his carriage, or at any rate in somebody else's, and
have meat four times a day—when they see such a man coming and
staying among them, certainly not for pleasure or money, or even,
for a long time, at least, love, it impresses them far more than the
Non-conformists or Revivalists who attempt the same kind of thing.

"And that's the sort of help I want them to look for—intelligent
sympathy and interest in them. To most of them no amount of relief or
education could do any good now; it would only produce a rank foliage
of vice, which is slightly restrained by hard labour and hard food.
Sensualism is a taint in their blood now.

"They want elevating and refining in some way, and you can only do it
with brutes through their affections."

His manner with poor people was very good—direct, asking
straightforward questions and not making his opinions palatable, and
yet behaving to them with perfect courtesy, as to equals.

We were staying in a house together in the country once, and heard
that a certain farmer was in trouble of some kind—we were not
exactly told what.

Arthur had struck up a friendship with this man on a previous visit,
and so he determined to go over and see him. He asked me to ride with
him, and I agreed. I will describe the episode precisely as I can
remember it:

We rode along, talking of various things, over the fresh Sussex
downs, and at last turned into a lane, overhung on both sides with
twisted tree-roots of fantastic shape, writhing and sprawling out of
the crumbling bank of yellow sand. Presently we came to a gap in the
bank, and found we were close to the farm. It lay down to the right,
in a little hollow, and was approached by a short drive inclosed by
stone walls overgrown by stonecrop and pennywort, and fringed with
daffodils and snap-dragons: to the left, the wall was overtopped by
the elders of a copse; to the right, it formed one side of a fruit
garden.

The drive ended in a flagged yard, upon which our horse's hoofs made
a sudden clatter, scaring a dozen ducks into pools and other coigns
of vantage, and rousing the house-dog, who, with ringing chain and
surly grumbles, came out blinking, to indulge in several painful
barks, waiting, as dogs will, with eyes shut and nose strained in
the air, for the effect of each bark, and consciously enjoying the
tuneful echo. A stern-featured, middle-aged woman came out quickly,
almost as if annoyed at the interruption, but on seeing who it was
she dropped a quick courtsey, and spoke sharply to the dog.

Arthur went forward, holding out his hand.

"We were so sorry to hear at the house," he said, "that there was
trouble here. I did not learn quite clearly what it was, but I
thought I would ride over to see if there was anything I could do."

Arthur knew quite enough of the poor to be sure that it was always
best to plunge straight into the subject in hand, be it never so
grim or painful. Life has no veneering for them; they look hard
realities in the face and meet them as they can. They are the true
philosophers, and their straightforwardness about grief and disease
is not callousness; it is directness, and generally means as much,
if not more, feeling than the hysterical wailings of more cultivated
emotion, more organized nerves.

"Yes, sir," she said to me, with that strange dignity of language
that trouble gives to the poor, just raising her apron to her eyes,
"it's my master, sir—Mr. Keighley, sir. The doctor has given him
up, and he's only waiting to die. It don't give him much pain, his
complaint; and it leaves his head terrible clear. But he's fearful
afraid to die, sir; and that's where it is.

"Not that he's not lived a good life; been to church and paid his
rent and tithe reg'lar, been sober and industrious and good to his
people; but I think, sir," she said, "that there's one kind of
trembling and fearfulness that we can't get over: he keeps saying
that he's afraid to meet his God. He won't say as he's got anything
on his mind; and, truthfully, I don't think he has. But he can't go
easy, sir; and I think a sight of your face, if I may make so bold,
would do him, maybe, a deal of good."

"I shall be very glad to see him, if he cares to see me," said
Arthur. "Has Mr. Spencer" (the clergyman) "been here?"

"Yes, sir," said the woman; "but he don't seem to do George no good.
He's prayed with him—the Church prayers out of his blue prayer-book;
but, after that, all he could say was, 'you must prepare to meet your
God; are you at peace with Him? Remember the judgment;' when I can't
help thinking that God would be much more pleased if George could
forget it. He can't like to see us crawling to meet Him, and cryin'
for fear, like as Watch does if his master has beat him for stealin'.
But I dare not say so to him, sir—we never know, and I have no
right to set myself up over the parson's head."

I confess that I felt frightfully helpless as we followed her into
the house. There was a bright fire burning; a table spread in a
troubled untidy manner, with some unfinished food, hardly tasted,
upon it.

She said apologetically, "You see, sir, it's hard work to keep things
in order, with George lying ill like this. I have to be always with
him."

"Of course," said Arthur, gently. "I know how hard it is to keep up
heart at all; still it is worth trying: we often do better than we
expect."

His sweet voice and sympathetic face made the poor woman almost break
down; she pushed hastily on, and, saying something incoherently about
leading the way, ushered us through a kitchen and up a short flight
of stairs. I would have given a great deal to have been allowed to
stay behind. But Arthur walked simply on behind the woman.

"I won't tell him you're here," she said; "he'd say he wasn't fit to
see you. But it won't harm him; maybe it'll even cheer him up a bit."
She pushed the door open just above; I could distinguish the sound of
hard breathing, with every now and then a kind of catch in the
breath, and a moan; then we found ourselves inside the room.

The sick man was lying propped up on pillows, with a curious wistful
and troubled look on his face, which altered very quickly as we came
in. Much of his suffering was nervous, so-called; and a distraction,
any new impression which diverted his mind, was very helpful to him.

"George," said the woman, "here is Mr. Hamilton and his friend come
over from the Squire's to see you."

He gave a grateful murmur, and pointed to a chair.

"I am so sorry," said Arthur, simply, "to see you in such suffering,
Mr. Keighley. We heard you were in trouble, so we thought we would
ride over and see if we could do anything for you."

"Thank you, sir, kindly," said the sick man, feebly. "But I'm past
doin' anything for now. Doctor's giv'n me up; he gives me a week. But
thank you all the same."

He closed his eyes for a moment; and then, looking round quickly,
fingering the counterpane, he said, "Ah, sir, this isn't a place for
you to be in; but I take it very kindly of you. Ah! Ah! It seems as
if it might have been made a bit easier, might dyin'. It's hard
work—it's terrible hard. It's bad enough by itself, having to go out
into the dark—and all alone; but it's full of worse terrors than
even that. The air's full of them. When I am lyin' here still, with
my eyes shut, prayin' for it all to be over, I seem to hear them
buzzin' and whisperin' in the air. Then it comes, all on a sudden,
on me—here"—putting his hand to his heart. "It makes me sick and
trembling—with fear and horror—I can't bear it. It's comin' now.
Ah! Ah! Ah!"

I remember feeling inexpressibly shocked and horrified. I was not
used to such scenes. The room seemed to swim; I could hardly stand
or see. To settle myself, I spoke to the woman about wines and
medicines; but I seemed to hear my own voice hollow and from a
distance, and started at the sound of it.

But Arthur knelt simply down by the bedside and said, "I think it
will make it easier if you can only fix your thoughts on one thing. I
know the effort is hard; but think that there's a loving hand waiting
to take yours; there's One that loves you, better than you have
ever loved anyone yourself, waiting the other side of the darkness.
Oh, only think of that, and it will not be hard! Dear friend," he
said—"for I may call you that—we have all of us the same passage
before us, but we have all the same hope: and He hears the words you
speak to Him. He has been here, He is here now, to listen to your
very thoughts. He has seen your trouble, and wished He could help
you—why He can not I am not able to tell you; but it will all be
well.

"Let me say one prayer with you." And he began in his low quiet
voice. The woman knelt down beside him, shaken with sobbing. Till, at
the words "Suffer us not, for any pains of death, to fall from thee,"
poor George put out his old withered hand and took Arthur's, and
smiled through his pain—"the first time he ever smiled since his
illness began," his wife told us after his death, "and he smiled
many times after that."

He did not speak to us again; the effort had been too great. The
woman accompanied us down-stairs, showing, in her troubled officious
hurry to anticipate Arthur's wishes, and the way in which she hung
about the gate as we rode out, what it had been to her.

We rode home almost in silence. Arthur, as we got near to the lodge,
turned to me, and said, half apologetically, "We must speak to simple
people in the language that they can understand. Fortunately, there
is one language we can all understand."



CHAPTER IX


It was a hot summer, and Arthur a little overtasked his strength.
London, and a London season, is far more tiring than far greater
physical exertions in pure air and with rational hours. He complained
of feeling liable to faintness after standing about in hot rooms. It
did not cause him, however, any serious alarm, till one evening he
fainted after a dinner-party at which I was present, and we had some
difficulty in bringing him round.

After this, for several days he spoke of an invincible languor which
held him throughout the day, which he could not get rid of; and he
was altogether so unlike his usual self, and so prostrate, that at
last, with the greatest difficulty, I prevailed on him to see a
doctor—a thing he particularly disliked.

He made an appointment with a celebrated physician in Wimpole Street.
As he was far from well on the morning he was to go there, I insisted
on accompanying him.

He was in very cheerful spirits, and was eagerly discussing a book
which had just been published; he could not make up his mind whether
it had been written by a man or a woman. He said that there was
always one character in a book, not always the hero or heroine,
through whose eyes the writer seemed to look, whose mental analysis
seemed to have the ring not of description, but confession, and this
would be found to be, he maintained, of the sex of the writer. In
the particular case under discussion, where the hero was a man, he
professed to discover the "spy," as he called this character, in a
woman.

In the middle of the discussion we drew up at Dr. Hall's door, and
were immediately shown into one of those rooms with a professional
and suspicious calm about it. "'Five minutes before the drop falls,'
it seems to say; 'make your mind quite easy; feel chatty,'" said
Arthur.

He looked curiously about him, and commented humorously on the
selection of literature, till a patient was ushered out, and we were
called in.

Dr. Hall was not the least what one is inclined to think a celebrated
doctor should be. Arthur had been describing his ideal to me—"tall
and pale; stoops slightly, but very distinguished-looking, with
piercing grey eyes, a kindly reassuring manner, and grey whiskers cut
straight."

Dr. Hall was a small sallow man, with rather an agitated fussy
manner, and eyes that never seemed to be looking at you. He was neat,
almost dapper, in his dress, and was rather like the butler in a
small establishment.

He put one or two questions to Arthur; stethoscoped him, hovering all
about restlessly; suddenly caught up his left hand and pushed aside
the first finger; "Ah, cigarette-smoker—we must put a stop to that
at once, if you please. What is your usual allowance?"

"It varies," said Arthur, "but I fear it is never less than twenty."

"Four, after this date," said Dr. Hall.

"Just come into my other room a moment," he said presently, and led
the way.

Arthur followed, giving me a cheerful wink. They remained about ten
minutes, during which time I speculated, and read a little book about
Epping Forest, which was on the table; looked out of the window, and
felt rather ill myself.

At last, the tall door creaked, and Arthur came out, followed by the
doctor.

"I hope you will see, sir," he said to me, "that Mr. Hamilton is
particular in following my directions, if you have any influence
with him."

"I am afraid I haven't got the temperament of a patient," said
Arthur, smiling. "But I am very much obliged to you. Good morning."

"What did he say to you?" I said, as soon as we were in our cab
again.

"Oh, he spoke to me like a father," said Arthur: "gave me a lot of
wretched directions which I know I shan't attend to. But we have
wasted much too much time medically already this morning." And he
changed the subject to the discussion which we had been carrying on
before.

A few days after this I went to see him, and found him much better.

"What do you think?" he said: "I am going to undertake the charge of
a human being. Do you remember our conversation about adopting
children, and the educational experiments we meant to try? I shall
have the chance now."

On my inquiring what had happened, he told me his experience at
Teheran, related in a former chapter; and said that, on reflection,
he had thought well to accept the commission, adding that he had been
surprised to find waiting for him, when he had returned home at a
late hour a few nights before his visit to Dr. Hall, a tall foreign
gentleman, who had introduced himself as a friend of Mr. Bruce's (so
the recluse chose to call himself), and as the bearer of a message
from him, the purport of which was to ask whether he would accept
Mr. Bruce's commission.

"I am authorized to state," the stranger added, "in the event of your
acquiescing, that the method of procedure will be left entirely to
yourself; that no question will be asked or conditions made; the boy
will be sent to London or to any other address you may appoint; that
£400 a year, quarterly, will be placed to your credit at the
Westminster Bank for all necessary expenses; and that a draft in your
name, for any further sum that you may think requisite, will be
honoured.

"If you would forward your answer to Morley's Hotel, to the address
on my card, any time within the next week, I shall be grateful. My
instructions are not to press for an immediate answer." And the
gentleman bowed himself out.

He showed me a short letter which he had written accepting the
charge; and, shortly after, I rose to go. But he detained me rather
pointedly; and after a short time, in which he appeared to be
considering something, he begged me to sit down again, and consider
whether I would listen to a short statement of facts on which he
wanted my advice. "They are," he said, "I fear, a little painful,
and therefore I do not press it; but I should be sincerely obliged
to you."

He then said, "I did not at the time tell you, my dear Chris, what
Doctor Hall said to me the other day, because I thought it better to
tell no one; but the events of the last week have caused me to change
my mind. I feel that I must be perfectly open.

"The fact was, that he warned me that I showed unequivocal symptoms
of a dangerous heart disease. He could not answer for anything, he
said. I had seen that something was wrong from his expression, so I
insisted on knowing everything."

I can hardly describe my sensations at this announcement—I felt the
room swim and shake; and yet it was made in such a deliberate
matter-of-fact tone, that it flashed across me for an instant that
Arthur was joking, and together with it came a curiously dismal sense
of unreality, that is well known to all those who have passed through
any great strain or emotional crisis, as if, suddenly, the soul had
fallen out of everything, and they were nothing but lifeless empty
husks, hollow and phantasmal.

"But," I gasped, "you never said anything of this at the time:
you—you behaved just as usual."

"I certainly tried to," he said. "And curiously enough, I did not
either realize or fear the news at the time; it left my feelings
almost blank. I won't deny that it has caused me some painful thought
since.... He gave me a few simple directions: I was to avoid bracing
climates, hard physical work, or, indeed, mental effort—anything
exhausting; to keep regular hours, avoid hot rooms and society and
smoking; but that I might do, in moderation, anything that interested
me, write or read; and, above all things, I was to avoid agitation.

"I think I intend to put his ideas into practice; not much with the
idea of saving my life, for I don't feel particularly anxious about
that, but because I think that, on the whole, it is the most sensible
kind of life to lead. And the fact that I had already accepted the
charge of this boy has finally decided me; it was too late to draw
back. I shall settle in some quiet place, and try and educate him for
the University. I don't at all expect to be dull; and it evidently
wouldn't do to thrust him straight into English life yet—he wants
Anglicizing gradually. I hope he will be an average Englishman by the
time he gets to Cambridge."

Arthur heard the next day, from Mr. Bruce's agent, that the boy would
arrive in the course of a month, so he determined to try and have
things ready by then for their retirement.

We went energetically to house agents, and the result was that we
were at last blessed by success.

Cornwall was the county that we selected; its warm indolent climate
seemed to answer our requirements best, and Arthur would not leave
England.

Close to Truro there is a little village called St. Uny Trevise. You
have to leave the high-road to get to it. Its grey church tower is a
conspicuous landmark for several miles round, standing out above a
small wood of wind-swept oaks, on the top of a long broad-backed
down, lately converted into farm-land, and ploughed up. About half a
mile from this, going by strangely winding deep lanes, you reach the
bottom of a wooded dell, very lonely and quiet, with a stream running
at the bottom, that spreads out into marshes and rush-beds, with here
and there a broad brown pool. Crossing the little ford, for there is
only a rude bridge for foot-passengers, and ascending the opposite
hill, you find yourself at last, after going up the steep overhung
road, at the gate of a somewhat larger house than usual in those
desolations.

The gate-posts are stone, with granite balls at the top, and there is
a short drive, which brings you to a square mottled front of brown
stone, with two large projections, or small wings, on each side.

This is a small manor, known as Tredennis, anciently belonging to the
Templeton family, whose pictures ornament the hall. It had been used
latterly merely as a farmhouse; but a local solicitor, desiring that
a somewhat more profitable arrangement might be made respecting it,
had the manor put up at the extremely moderate rent of £60, and
banished the farmer to an adjoining tenement.

There was a terraced garden, very rich in flowers in the summer. It
faced south and west, commanding a view of a winding valley, very
peaceful and still, a great part of which was overgrown with stunted
oak copses, or divided into large sloping fields. At the end, the
water of a tidal creek—Tressillian water—caught the eye. The only
sounds that ever penetrated to the car were the cries of birds, or
the sound of sheep-bells, or the lowing of cows, with an occasional
halloo from the farm, children calling among the copses, or the
shrill whistle from over the hills, telling of the train, that,
burrowing among the downs, tied one to the noisier world.

Truro has been much opened up since then. It has a bishop, and the
rudiments of a cathedral. It has burst into a local and spasmodic
life. But when I knew it through Arthur, it was the sleepiest and
laziest town alive, with the water rippling through the streets.
Old-world farmers, with their strange nasal dialect, used to haunt
the streets on market day, like the day on which we first drove
through it on our way to Tredennis. Arthur was well and serene. He
took the keenest delight in the fragrance of retirement that hung
about the place: people to whose minds and ears modern ideas, modern
weariness, had never penetrated; who lived a serious indolent life,
their one diversion the sermon and the prayer-meeting, their one
dislike "London ways."

We reached the house in the evening, losing our way more than once in
our endeavour to discover it. Two sitting-rooms were furnished,
both large airy rooms looking upon the garden, and a bedroom and
dressing-room up-stairs, which Arthur and his charge were to occupy.
The housekeeper and her handmaiden, who were to be his servants, were
already installed, and had arranged in a certain fashion the new
furniture that Arthur had sent down, jostling with the old, and his
books. As we sat, the first evening, with our cigarettes, in the
dusk, watching the green sky over the quiet hills, a wonderful
sensation of repose seemed to pass into one from the place. "I feel
as if I might be very happy here," said Arthur, "if I were allowed;
and perhaps work out my old idea a little more about the meaning of
external things."

I was to return to London in a day or two, to see about any
commission that might have been neglected, and to bring down the
boy, who was now daily expected.

In my absence I received the following letter from Arthur. The serene
mood had had its reaction.

"I have told you, I think, of the depressing effect that a new place
has on me till I get habituated to it. There is a constant sense of
unrest, just as there is about a new person, that racks the nerves.

"I have been very anxious and 'heavy' to-day, as the Psalms have it:
dispirited about the future and the present, and remorseful about the
past. You don't mind my speaking freely, do you? I feel so weak and
womanish, I must tell some one. I have no one to lean on here.

"I can't see what to make of my life, or, rather, what can possibly
be made of it. I have taken hitherto all the rebuffs I have had—and
they have not been few—as painful steps in an education which was to
fit me for something. I was having, I hoped, experience which was to
enable me to sympathize with human beings fully, when I came to speak
to them, to teach them, to lead them, as I have all my life believed
I some day should.

"You won't think it conceited if I say this to you, my dear Chris?
I don't feel to myself as if I was like other people. I have met
several people better and on a higher level than myself, but no one
on quite the same level—no one, to put it shortly, quite so _sure_
as I am.

"Does that explain itself? I mean that I have for many years been
conscious of a kind of inward law that I dare not disobey, and which
has constrained me into obedience—once unwilling, now willing, and
even enthusiastic. In others, it has always seemed to me that there
is strife and διψυχία—one great factor pulling one way
and one another; but it has never been so with me—there has never
been a serious strain. I have always known what I meant, and have
generally done it; and little by little, as I have lived, comparing
this inner presence with what I can see of moral laws, of Divine
government, I have come to observe that the two are almost identical,
though there are certain variations which I have not yet accounted
for.

"Mind, this has been in my case a _negative_ influence; it has never
urged a course upon me; it has always withheld me. Even in a dilemma
of any kind, it never has said, 'Do this;' it is always, 'Avoid
that.' So that I have had to take my line, as I have done in
practical things, though never in opposition to its warnings.

"I had always thought that I was being educated to the point of
describing this subjective law to others, and helping them to some
such position. I have always felt that I had a message to deliver,
though the manner and method of delivering it I felt I had to
discover.

"And so I was led from point to point. I was educated without any
special domestic attachments. I was shown that I was not to believe
in my friends. And then, at Cambridge, it came upon me that this was
what was meant—that I was not to devote myself to mean, selfish
objects; that I was not even to be solaced by individual love: but
that I was to speak to the world the way of inward happiness by the
simplification of the complex issues, the human intricacies, which
have gathered round and obscured the whole problem.

"Then I gradually gave up, or thought I was giving up, human
ambitions. I took a course which I saw was not to end in human fame,
or wealth, or happiness of the ordinary kinds; and that I might test
my capacities a little more and learn myself, and also familiarize
myself with more aspects of the great question which I was going to
face, I travelled among the cities of men and the solitudes of the
earth.

"And at last I thought I had found the way; but I will not tell you
what it was, for I now see that I was mistaken. I thought I saw that
my duty was to come back and speak the first words to the society in
which most naturally I moved; and I came to London, as you know. And
then I began to write; but I failed there. I was not disheartened,
for I felt that I was being led, and that that was not the way. And
once I thought that I was to be pointed out the path by the love of a
daring woman; but that went from me too, as you know, and so I waited
to be shown how to speak.

"But it is not to be; for while I waited, this has fallen upon me;
and this is more than I can bear. It is terrible enough, as a human
being, to look Death in the face, and question of the blind eye what
are the secrets he knows; but I have passed through that before, and
I can truly say I do not dread that now. It is rather with an intense
and reverent curiosity that I look forward to death, as the messenger
that will tell me that my work here is over, and I am to learn God's
ways elsewhere. No, it is not that; but it is the utter aimlessness
and failure of my life. I have not attracted men's praise—I did not
hope to do that. I have not even attracted their attention. I have
not communicated the least grain of what I feel I _know_.

"Far from looking upon me as a man who at least sees clearer than
others, as having a truth of price which they might be glad to learn,
they look upon me as a man who has failed even to live life upon
their basis, classing me with those utter failures who fail in life
because they have no sense of proportion, because they can not
comprehend the complex issues among which they have to fight.

"And now I am laid aside, a useless weapon; I am not even physically
capable of writing, even if the world would hear me; and I am forced
back upon myself, upon a feeble life, necessarily self-centered, to
nurse and coddle myself as though I was a poor failing dotard, with
one avenue alone—and how precarious!—through which I may perhaps
speak my little message to the world—the education of a child to
carry on my torch.

"I have written to you my whole mind, not because I want you to
reassure me—no, that is impossible; but because I am weak and
miserable. I must unburden myself to some one—must confess that I
have indeed broken down.

"And, further, what is the Death, into whose antechamber I have
already passed? Is it indeed true that, as I have so passionately
denied, I have fallen into the grasp of a power which is waging an
equal war with truth and light and goodness? Shall I be sacrificed to
the struggle, without having made the world a whit better, or richer,
or stronger, with the only memory of me a quiet life with few follies
and fewer deeds of power, to be laid away in the dark?

"And yet I have a lingering hope that this is a leading too; that I
shall somehow emerge. My dear Chris, come and see me again as soon as
you can. You will be even more welcome if you bring my boy, Edward
Bruce, as I understand we are to call him—_attamen ipse veni_.

      "I am your affectionate friend,
            "Arthur Hamilton.

"Flora"—his collie, of whom he was very fond—"is sitting watching
me with such liquid eyes that I must go and take her out. We have not
walked as far as the creek yet; the first effect of valetudinarian
habits is, I find, to make one feel really ill."


On the 4th of August, Tuesday, at 11.15, a card was brought to me,
and immediately afterward a tall gentleman appeared, with a boy of
about fourteen, whom I knew at once to be Edward Bruce.

The gentleman, after a few polite words of inquiry after Arthur,
retired, the boy saying good-bye to him affectionately. He left me
his address for a few days, in case I should wish to see him.

Edward Bruce was a boy of extraordinary beauty—there was no denying
that. Personal descriptions are always disappointing; but, not to be
prolix, he had such eyes, with so much passion and fire in them, that
they could only be the inheritance of many generations of love and
hate and quick emotions; his eyelids drooped languidly, but when he
opened his eyes and looked full at you!—I felt relieved to think I
should not have to conduct his education; I could not have denied
him anything. His hair was brown and curly, cut short, but of that
fineness and glossy aspect that showed that till lately it had been
allowed its own way.

The boy had beautiful lips and white regular teeth, with that
exquisite complexion that is the result of perfect health and
physical condition. He did not speak English very well, but acquired
it fast. He always spoke slowly, and with a very pure articulation.
His voice was clear, high-pitched, and thrilling—I have no other
word for it.

On the following day I took him down to Tredennis. The boy was
interested and excited, and asked many questions of a very
unsophisticated kind.

"Why do people stare at me so?" he said, turning round from the
window of the carriage, in Bristol, where he stood devouring the
crowd with hungry eyes. I could not explain to him. He thought it was
because of his foreign look, and was much disgusted. "I made them
_dress_ me like an Englishman," he said, surveying himself. To be
English, that was his aim.

I found that his father had inculcated this idea in him thoroughly,
and had impressed upon him the dignity of the position. It was, I was
told afterward, the one argument that never failed to make him
attentive in his lessons.

It was not till he was driving away from Truro into the country that
he found leisure to think of his father and brother, and wonder what
they would be doing. I had the greatest difficulty in explaining that
the hours of the day were different, and that it was early morning
there.

"No," he said, "it is impossible; I feel like the evening—Martin
can not be feeling like the morning."

He was rather disappointed as we got further and further into the
lovely country. "I have lived among trees all my life," he said. "I
want to live among people now, in cities, and hear what they say and
do what they do. I love them." And he waved his hand to the lights of
the town in the valley below us, as a sign of farewell.

At last we drove into the dark gates of Tredennis, and drew up before
the house.

Arthur came out to meet us. "Where is Edward?" he said.

The boy sprang out to meet him, and would have kissed him; but Arthur
just grasped his hand, retaining it for a moment, and then let him
go. The boy kept close to him, examining him attentively, when we got
inside the house, with restless, affectionate glances.

"What makes you so pale?" he said.

"Ah!" said Arthur, with a smile, "no one else can tell except
ourselves what makes our face so white; but you will be white like
this soon," he said: "it is our dark English days, not like your
Persian sun."

"Then I shall be glad to be like that," said the boy, "if that is how
the English look."

He went off on a tour of exploration about the house, soon
discovering his room, with which he was enraptured.

In the garden, later on in the evening, he came to Arthur with a
letter in his hand. "This is for you," he said. "I had almost
forgotten it. But it is too dark to read it here; I shall fetch you a
light." And he brought the lamp out of the house, and stood holding
it, as it burnt unwavering in the still night air.

Arthur read it and handed it to me, while the great moths and
transparent delicate flies came and blundered against it.


"Edward will give you this letter himself. His hand will touch your
hand. It has come about as I anticipated, neither sooner nor later;
and I am glad.

"Dear friend, all is not well with you; I heard it in the night. But
the passages of the house are often dark, though the hills are full
of light; yet the Master's messengers pass to and fro between the
high halls bearing lamps; such a messenger I send you.

"You must not be dismayed, either now or later, for all is well. In
our mysteries, when the youth first tastes the chalice, he can hardly
keep his mind upon the Red Wine of Life, the Blood of the Earth, as
he would fain do, for thinking of the cup, and how tremblingly he
holds it, and for fear that the crimson juice be spilt; but all the
while, though he sees it not, the priest's hand encircles the gold
stem.

"Martin, _my_ son (for Edward is now yours—mine no longer), is even
nearer the end than when I spoke with you; and you too are nearer,
far nearer, though you know it not. And even in this little letter,
I have spoken words to you which, if you had but light to read them,
would make all plain.

"The hour is at hand; the clock has jarred and is silent again, but
the gear murmurs on in the darkness, waiting for the silver chiming
of the bell.

        "I am your friend always,
                  "B.
   "TEHERAN,
     "Midsummer."

"A curious document," I said.

"Yes," said Arthur, musingly; "curious too, as literally true." And
he pointed to the boy holding the lamp.

"Edward," he said to the boy, "put back that lamp, and come here and
speak to me."

The boy went quickly and promptly, delighting in little acts of
obedience, as the young do.

When he returned, Arthur said, "Your father says in this letter that
you are to be my son for the future. Will you? are you content to
change?"

"Yes," said the boy, shyly; but he came and leant against his new
father's shoulder where he sat, and, in the pretty demonstrative
manner so natural to unsophisticated children, encircled his arm with
his hands.

Arthur put his arm round the boy's neck, and stroked his hair
caressingly.

"Very well," he said, "then you must always obey me as well as you
did just now; and we will make an Englishman of you, and, what is
more, a good man."

And we sat in silence, looking down the valley. Every now and then an
owl called in his flute-like notes across the thickets, and we heard
the cry of the seabirds from the creek; and the soft wind came gently
up, rustling the fir over our heads, stirring among the leaves of the
tall syringa, and wandering off into the warm dusk.



CHAPTER X


The next day I had to return to London on business, taking leave of
the strange household with some regret. Arthur insisted on driving me
to the station. He talked very brightly of his experiment, and argued
at some length as to how far association could be depended upon as an
element in education; and how to distinguish those natures early that
were loyal to association and those to whom it would be of no
authority.

"I have always divided," he said, "the great influences by which
ordinary people are determined to action into two classes; and I have
connected them with the two staves that the prophet cut, and named
'Beauty and Bands.'

"Some people are worked upon by Beauty—direct influences of good;
they choose a thing because it is fair; they refrain from action
because it is unlovely; they take nothing for granted, but have an
innate fastidious standard which the ugly and painful offend.

"Others are more amenable to Bands—home traditions, domestic
affections: they do not act and refrain from action on a thing's own
merits because it is good or bad; but because some one that they have
loved would have so acted or so refrained from acting—'My mother
would not have done so;' 'Henry would have disliked it.' The idea is
fancifully put, but it holds good, I think."

Shortly after my return to London, I got two letters from him of
considerable importance. I give them both. The first is apropos of
the education of Edward Bruce.

                 "Tredennis, August 30.

"My Dear Friend,

"I want you to get me the inclosed list of books, which I find are
culpably absent from my library. It is a very engrossing prospect,
this child's mind: it is a blank parchment, ready for any writing,
and apparently anxious for it too.

"'Insight into all seemly and generous acts and affairs,' wrote
Milton, as the end of his self-education—something like that I
intend, if I am allowed, to give this child. I have the greatest
contempt for knowledge and erudition _qua_ knowledge and erudition.
A man who has laboriously edited the Fathers seems to me only to
deserve the respect due to a man who has carried through an arduous
task, and one that must have been, to anyone of human feelings and
real enthusiasm for ideas, uncongenial at first. Erudition touches
the human race very little, but on the 'omne ignotum' principle, men
are always ready to admire it, and often to pay it highly, and so
there is a constant hum of these busy idlers all about the human
hive. The man who works a single practical idea into ordinary
people's minds, who adds his voice to the cry, 'It is better to give
up than to take: it is nobler to suffer silently than to win praise:
better to love than to organize,' whether it be by novel, poem,
sermon, or article, has done more, far more, to leaven humanity. I
long to open people's eyes to that; I learnt it late myself. Before
God, if I can I will make this boy enlightened, should I live to do
it; or at least not at the mercy of every vagrant prophet and bawler
of conventional ideas.

  "Ever your friend,
     "Arthur Hamilton"

The next explains itself.

                "Tredennis, September 15.

"My Dear Friend,

"As you write to inquire so affectionately about my health, I
think it would be very wrong of me not to answer you fully; so I will
take 'health' to mean well-being, and not confine myself to its
paltry physiological usage.

"In the last month I have really turned a corner, and gained serenity
and patience in my outlook. I do not mean that I am either patient or
serene yet, but I have long and considerable spaces of both, when I
feel content to let God make or mar me as He will, and realise that
perhaps in His mind those two words may bear a precisely contrary
sense.

"One thing I wish to tell you, which I am afraid you will be rather
shocked to hear. I have not told you before, from a culpable
reticence; for I believe that there must be either complete
confidence between friends or none at all—

"Do you remember a very gloomy and depressed letter that I wrote to
you the other day? When I wrote it I was deliberately contemplating
an action which I have now given up: I mean a voluntary exit from
this world's disappointments—suicide, in fact.

"For many years I have carried about a quietus with me. I began the
habit at Cambridge. Men have often asked me what is the curious
little flask with a secret fastening, that stands on my
dressing-table. It is prussic acid. The morning before I wrote that
letter, the impulse was so strong upon me that I determined, if
matters should not shift a little, to take it on the following
evening. I made, in fact, most methodical arrangements. I seemed so
completely to have missed my mark. The superstitions against the
practice I did not regard, as they are merely the produce of a more
imaginative and anxious system of morality. I did not see why God,
for His own purposes—and, what is more, I believe He does—should
not remove a man by suicide, if He allows him to die by a horrible
disease or relegates him to insanity. Suicide is only a symptom of a
certain pitch of mental distress: its incidental result is death, but
so it is of many practices not immoral.

"It required considerable nerve, I confess, to make the resolution;
but once made, I did not flinch. I considered the impulse to be a
true leading, quite as true as the other intuitions which I have
before now successfully followed, so I made my arrangements all day.
It gave me a wonderful sense of calm and certainty—there was a
feeling of repose about the completion of a restless existence, as
if I was at last about to slide into quiet waters, and be taught
directly, and not by obscure and painful monitions.

"At nine o'clock I went to my room. There was a full moon, which
shone in at the open window; the garden was wonderfully still and
fragrant.

"I found myself wondering whether, when the thing was over, I should
awake to consciousness at once; whether the freed soul would have, so
to speak, a local origin, a _terminus a quo_: in plain words, whether
my spirit would pass through the house and through the quiet garden
to some mysterious home, taking in the earthly impression as it
soared past with a single complete undimmed sense—or whether I
should step, as it were, straight into a surrounding sea of sensation
and be merged at once, feeling through all space and time and matter
by the spiritual fibres of which I should make a part. Do you
understand me? I have often wondered at that.

"At last I drew out the flask, and touched the spring. It opens by
pressing a penknife into one of a number of rivets; you can then
unscrew it.

"When it was open I discovered that the little vial inside had been
broken, and that somehow or other the life-giving fluid had
evaporated unperceived. I had not opened it for a year or more.

"I saw at once that God intended it not to be at _my_ time—that
was very clear; and after considerable reflection and a wakeful
night, I came to the conclusion that my divine Impulse did not lead
me to adopt a course of action, but only to _avoid_ a course—the
fact which I developed in my letter to you. And then came the resolve,
tardy and weak at first, but gaining ground, warning me that perhaps
it was an inglorious flight; though I knew it was pardonable, I felt
as if God might meet me with 'Not wrong, but if you are really bent
on the highest, you must do better than this.' It might, I felt, be
losing a great opportunity—the opportunity of facing a hopeless
situation, a thing I had never done.

"And so I came to the conclusion to fight on, and my reward is coming
slowly; contentment seems to return, and Edward is an ever-increasing
joy; he fills my life and thoughts. Oh, if I can only make him good;
put him in the way of inward happiness! I break out into prayer and
aspirations for him in his presence when I think of the utterly
heedless way in which he regards the future, and the awful, the
momentous issues it contains. He, dear lad, thinks nothing of it,
except as a sign of my love for him. We have no misunderstandings,
and I seem somehow to love the world better, more passionately, since
he came to me.

"I send you a few flowers from our garden, and Edward sends his love,
if that is respectful enough.

        "I am your affectionate friend,
           "Arthur Hamilton."


CHAPTER XI


Down at Tredennis the year begun to fly with the speed of which
uneventful enjoyable monotony alone possesses the secret.

"Our days are very similar here, and I find them very agreeable.
Edward thinks the same, he assures me, though I feel it may arise
in his case from a want of breadth of view and lack of experience
to argue from.

"In the summer months we get up early, and generally bathe in the
stream, where I have contrived to get one of the pools sufficiently
enlarged; as the weather gets colder I am compelled by my doctor to
relinquish this. Then we read and write till breakfast, which we have
at eight o'clock. In winter this is the first event of the day; in
the morning we work for an hour or two and then go out, returning to
lunch; after which we sun ourselves till five o'clock, or drive; and
then, after tea, work again for three hours: the day thus concludes.

"I certainly don't coddle my boy, and I don't think I pet him, for I
have the deepest horror of that practice: nothing is so weakening
for both parties; it develops sentimentalism, and all mawkishness I
abhor!—though I am what you would call ridiculously fond of him.
However, you must come and see us, and give me your most candid
opinion, criticism, and censure on my educational methods.

"We drive into Truro once a week to market, and Edward goes in on
messages, and for some mathematical training to the clergyman there.
I should like to find some _æqualis_ to make a companion for him.
He is English enough for anything, but I am afraid of his not keeping
his appropriate boyishness if he is always hanging about with an old
and serious valetudinarian like myself. But I don't like any of the
families hereabouts, and can't get to know the ones I _do_ like well
enough to find some one to my mind. I am very fastidious about my
selection."

And again:

"Our Sundays are very peaceful days in this lazy land of the West.
We go to church—a very necessary part of an Englishman's
education—lunch immediately, and then loaf on the downs over the
creek, and I read to him till he yawns or goes to sleep; then we
both play with Flora among the heather—or botanize—and go to
church again."

This letter led me, knowing as I did how pronounced Arthur's views
were, to ask him why he took Edward to church, and the line that he
intended to take with him generally with regard to religious matters.

"I have given the question," he writes, "a great deal of thought, and
feel my way fairly clear now. Ideally, as an experiment, I should
like to tell a boy nothing about religion—teach him merely his moral
duty—till he is of age; then put the Bible into his hands. There
would be, of course, a great deal—the 'purely mythological or
Herodotean element,' as Strauss calls it—and the miraculous element
generally, that he would probably at first reject; but if he was
of an appreciative nature—and I am presupposing that, because
I don't think the theory of education is for the apathetic and
unsensitive—he would see, I believe, not only the extraordinary
sublimity of language and expression, but the unparalleled audacity
and magnificence of thought and aspiration. That he would realize the
points in which these conceptions were wild, deficient, or childish,
would not blind him, I think, to the grandeur of the other side.

"As a matter of fact, we mix up moral duty with intellectual and
spiritual so clumsily, and force it so inopportunely and immaturely
upon our children, that if in later years questionings begin to
arise, or complications in any part of life, the smash that follows
is terrific: the whole thing goes by the board.

"For instance: many a man who undergoes a moral conversion will
reject his whole intellectual growth angrily and contemptuously as
savoring of the times of vanity. In my scheme such a waste would be
impossible; the two would be on different planes and not inextricably
intertwined.

"Besides, I think that young men suffer terribly from the shock
inflicted on their affection and traditional sentiment.

"They grow up with certain stereotyped conceptions on religious
subjects, certain dogmas imperfectly understood but crudely imagined
and gradually crystallized into some uncouth shape.

"The prejudices of children, and ideas that have grown with them,
are, I think, ineradicable in many cases.

"Let us take three instances of such ordinary conceptions—'Grace,'
'the Resurrection of the Body,' 'The Holy Spirit.'

"Here are three vast conceptions. The anxious parent endeavours to
explain them to the child: who, in his turn, receives three grotesque
and whimsical ideas which represent themselves to him something in
the following shape:

"_Grace_. The quality which he detests in his schoolfellows; in
which the 'model boys' are pre-eminent; which he knows he dislikes
and loathes, and yet is rather ashamed to say so. The boy who
'rebukes' his schoolfellows for irreverent or loose conversation, the
boy who is always ready in his odious way to do a kindness, the boy
who is never late for school—these seem to him to be the kind of
figures that the clergyman is holding up in his sermon as ideal types
of character, to be imitated and reverenced, and for whom he has in
his young soul the most undisguised and wholesome loathing.

"Of course it is a misconception—but whose fault? Do you blame a
tender wayward mind for not having a philosophical grasp of the
ideal? Whereas, if you weren't ashamed to let him understand that the
young rascal who is always in mischief and behindhand with his work,
but who is yet affectionate, generous, and pure, though he is
quarrelsome and not particular in his talk, is a far finer fellow,
both in point of view of this world and the next than the smooth-faced
prig who thanks his Lord that he is not as this publican.

"_The Resurrection of the Body_. Intelligent people who are also
reverent and good, in their anxiety to be faithful to the letter of
dogma as well as to its spirit, prefer to cling to these words rather
than confess, what is quite certain, that an absolutely literal
sense was attached to these words by the framers of them; they were
scientifically ignorant of the fact that matter is disintegrated and
disseminated so rigorously that there may be component particles of
a hundred of his predecessors in one human body now existent. No
symbolical _interpretation_ of the words nowadays will account for
their being the expression of what was erroneously believed to be
a possibility; and to say, as I have heard a Church dignitary of
poetical and metaphysical mind say, that the phrase means that the
power resident in every individuality to assimilate to itself certain
particles will not desert the individuality even after death, but
will continue to assert itself in some way—possibly in a spiritual
or unmaterial manner—to say this, is to state a strong scientific
probability; but, after all, it is only a probability at best, and is
certainly not what the words as they stand in the Creed were meant
to mean by the persons who framed them and the first worshippers
who repeated them. In the case of children the effect is at once
laughable and lamentable. They are made to retain the phrase; no
explanation is offered, and, if sought for, shirked. And so it
resolves itself into a wonder, dimly conscious of profanity, as to
whether Tim Jones the carpenter with the wooden leg, will have a new
one; and whether papa will have the wart on his cheek or not, and how
he will look without it. Of course these are elementary speculations;
but they are true ones, for they were literally my own at an early
age. Such speculations are certainly better avoided; and, indeed,
all early speculation on dogmatic questions at all is better not
suggested.

"_The Holy Spirit_. When I was a child, the dogma of the Trinity caused
me the most terrible perplexity, which was all the more distressing
because it was shrouded in a kind of awful remoteness, by the
reticence, the bewildered and serious reticence, with which my elders
approached the subject; but besides the identification with and the
appearance as a dove, the term Comforter—and Paraclete, as some of
the hymn-books had it—the expression, '_proceeding from_ the
Father and the Son,' mystified me completely. The three aspects of
the central Unity—God as Creator, as the Ideal of Humanity, as
the Inspirer of it—is a very subtle and advanced idea; yet it is
maintained that symbols should be taught first, before they are
understood, so that gradually the growing mind should come to realize
and appropriate what it already knows.

"This is a very sophistical and ingenious defence. But it seems to
break down in practice. How many people reject the idea when
realized, simply, as I hold, on account of the grotesque and
fantastic conceptions that the immature and overstrained mind
collected about it—conceptions which no amount of _reason_ is later
able to overcome! And how many never grow to realize it at all!
Besides, even of those who do, it is admitted that almost all need a
reconstruction _some time_, a breaking-up of what would otherwise be
crystallized formulæ, a _conversion_, in fact. Have you ever seen
a high nature grow up from boyhood to manhood in undisturbed
possession of a vital faith? I confess that I never have!

"I can not help feeling a dismal possibility, that future students of
religion, looking over a nineteenth century 'child's catechism,' will
laugh, or rather drop their hands in blind amazement—for in truth it
is no laughing matter—at the metaphysical conglomerate of dogma,
driven like a nail into the heads of careless and innocent children
(such, at least, as have had, like myself, the advantage of a
religious bringing-up), just as we turn over with regretful amusement
and pathetic wonder the doctrinal farrago of a Buddhist or a Hindu.

"And all this because people can't wait. He must have a 'dogmatic
basis,' they say, the sinew and bone of religion, when the poor
child's head can not even take in their ideas, let alone his emotion
appreciate them.

"The consequence is, that I can't bring myself to use these words
except in societies where I know I shall not be misunderstood.

"Influence, the indestructibility of matter, aspiration—those are
what Grace, the Resurrection of the Body, the Holy Spirit mean to me
now; great and living and integral parts of my creed, which I not
only glow to reflect about, but which surround and penetrate my life
daily and hourly with ever-increasing thankfulness.

"Yet, on the other hand, some people depend so much on tradition:
they never have a reconstruction of ideas; memories and associations
are all in all to them. They are the 'Bands' people of my former
classification.

"And so I want to give Edward both. I take him to church. When he
asks me questions I will answer them, but I am glad to say he does
not at present. I send him out before the sermon: that is responsible
for a good deal of harm. 'Ye shall call upon him to avoid sermons'
should be in the rubric of _my_ baptismal service.

"Then we read some of the Old Testament history as 'history of the
Jews,' and Job and Isaiah and the Psalms as poetry—and I am glad to
say he is very fond of them; and parts of the Gospels in Greek, as
the life and character of a hero. It is the greatest mistake to
impose them upon children as authoritative and divine all at once. It
at once diminishes their interest: we ought to work slowly up through
the human side.

"The Pauline Epistles I have given him to read in extracts. I believe
they are best in extracts—one can omit the controversial element.
And he has taken, as children do, to the Revelation enormously, and
gets much mysterious delight from it.

"A long and wearisome letter this, and not, I feel, satisfactory. I
haven't done justice to the side of tradition, the _jussum et
traditum_, but that is the fault of my mind. I have only been
professing to represent the other side.

"I would like to thrash the matter out further. I wish you would come
down and see us. Tredennis has a sombre beauty, even in winter—a
'season of mists' with us. The magnolia on the south wall is
blooming, though we are only two days off Christmas. Our love to you.

      "Arthur Hamilton."

I subjoin another extract, on the education of the moral faculty.

"I have always held that the concentration of thought upon morality
is a very dangerous system of life. Morality should be an incidental
basis to life, not to be brooded over unless some grave disorder
should arise. We breathe, and eat, and sleep, and pay no heed to
those processes; and indeed both physiologists and moralists exclaim,
in the case of those natural processes, that the healthier we are the
more unconscious will those processes be.

"So it should be with moral things. If a grave obstruction or
contradiction befall any one; if he behaves in a way that violates
his usefulness, or his own or others' self-respect; then, if he will
not reform himself, we must warn him, or treat him as a physician
would: but to abuse a healthy nature for not considering the reasons
of things, not having a moral system, not 'preparing for death,'
when, by the very constitution of his nature, he does not require
one, is a very grave blunder. Moral anxiety is a sign of moral
_malaise_, or, far more commonly, a sign of physical disorder.

"It is an ascertained fact that those periods when morals have been
imposed on man as his sole and proper business and subject for
contemplation have been unprogressive, introspective, feeble times.

"No, leave morals out of the question directly, unless you see there
is grave cause for interference. Give one or two plain warnings, or
rather commands.

"Try to raise the _tone_ generally; try to make the young soul
generous, ardent, aspiring. If you can do that, the fouler things
will fall off like husks. Above all things, make him devoted to
you—that is generally possible with a little trouble; and let him
never see or hear you think or say a low thought, or do a sordid
thing. If he loves you he will imitate you; and while the virtuous
habit is forming, he will have the constant thought, 'Would my father
have done this? What would he say, how would he look, if he could see
me?' Imagination is sometimes a saving power."

I venture to insert a letter in which he touches delicately on the
subject of sexual sin. He would never speak of it, but this was
written in answer to a definite question of mine apropos of a common
friend of ours.

"I must confess that I do not realize the strength of this particular
temptation, but I am willing to allow for its being almost infinitely
strong. I don't know what has preserved me. It is the one thing about
which I never venture to judge a man in the least, because, from all
I hear and see, it must hurry people away in a manner of which those
who have not experienced it can not form any conception.

"You ask me what I think the probable effect that yielding to such
temptation has on a man's character. Of course, some drift into
hopeless sensualists. About those I have my own gospel, though I do
not preach it; it is a scarcely formulated hope. But of those that
recover, or are recovered, all depends upon the kind of repentance.
The morbid repentance that sometimes ensues is very disabling. All
dwelling on such falls is very fatal: all thoughts of what might have
been, all reflections about the profaned temple and the desecrated
shrine, though they can not be escaped, yet must not be indulged.
I always advise people resolutely to try and forget them in _any_
possible way—banish them, drown them, beat them down.

"But a manly repentance may temper and brace the character in a way
that no other repented fall can. It is the brooding natures which
make me tremble; in healthier natures it is the refiner's fire which
stings and consecrates: '_Sanat dum ferit_.'

"But the subject is very repugnant to me. I don't like thinking or
talking about it, because it has its other side; the thought of a
woman in connection with such things is so unutterably ghastly; it is
one of the problems about which I say most earnestly 'God knows.'"

One other letter of this period, is worth, I think, inserting here.

                   "Tredennis, August 29.

"I had an instructive parable thrown in my way to-day, containing an
obvious lesson for Eddy, and a further meaning for myself. Eddy came
running to me about eleven, to tell me there was a man in the garden.
I hurried to the spot he indicated; and there, in a kind of nook
formed by a fernery, his head resting in a great glowing circle of
St. John's wort, and his feet tucked up under him, lay a drunken
tramp, asleep. He was in the last stage of disease; his face was
white and fallen away, except his nose and eyes, which were red and
bloodshot; he had a horrible sore on his neck; he was unshaven and
fearfully dirty; he had on torn trousers; a flannel shirt, open at
the neck; and a swallow-tail coat, green with age, buttoned round
him. His hat, such as it was, lay on the ground at his side. Edward
regarded him with unfeigned curiosity and dismay. While we stood
watching him, he began to stir and shift uneasily in his sleep, as a
watched person will, and presently woke and rolled to his feet with
a torrent of the foulest language. He was three-parts drunk. He
watched us for a moment suspiciously, and then gave a bolt. How he
accomplished it I don't know, for he was very unsteady on his feet;
but he got to the wall, and dropped over it into the road, and was
out of sight before we could get there. He evidently had some dim
idea that he had been trespassing.

"Edward inquired what sort of a man he was.

"'An English gentleman, in all probability,' I said, 'who has got
into that state by always doing as he liked.' And I went on to point
out, as simply as I could, that everybody has two sets of desires,
and that you must make up your mind which to gratify early in life,
determining to face this kind of ending if you fix upon one set.
'Early in life,' I said, 'when this gentleman was a well-dressed
clean boy like you, one of the voices used to whisper to him at his
ear, "Eat as much as you can; that is what you really like best;"
while the other said, "If you eat rather less, you will be able to
play football, or read your book better; besides, you will be your
own master and less of a beast."

"'But he wouldn't listen; and this is the result.'

"Edward seemed to ponder it deeply. He tried to starve himself to-day
at lunch; and I refrained from pointing out to him that abstinence
from meat at lunch was not the _unum necessarium_, for fear of
confusing the ingenuous mind. I like to see people grasp the concrete
issue in one of its bearings. The principle will gradually develop
itself; from denying themselves in one point, they will or may grow
to be generally temperate; when confronted with overmastering and
baser impulses, it may be they will say, 'Let me be ἐγκράτης
ἐμαυτοῦ even here.'

"So much for Edward's lesson; now for my own. My first impulse was to
loathe and reject the poor object, body and soul. He was merely the
embodiment of long-continued vice. His body was a diseased framework,
breaking quickly up, conscious of no pleasure but appetite, and now
merely existing and held together by the desire of gratifying it; the
little vitality it possessed, just gathering enough volume in the
quiet intervals to satiate one of its three jaded cravings—lust,
hunger, and thirst, and feebly groping after alcoholic and other
stimulants to repair its exhaustion; the soul in her dreamy intervals
drowsily recounting or contemplating lust past and to come—a ghastly
spectacle!

"And yet I am bound to think, and do record it as my deliberate
belief, that that poor, wretched, withered, gross soul is destined
to as sure a hope of glory as any of us: ay, and may be nearer it,
too, than many of us, as it is expiating its willfulness in more
terrible and direct punishment. There is not a single spasm in that
decayed and nerveless frame, not a single horror of all the gloomy
forebodings and irrational shudderings of the sickening delirium, not
a single mile of the grim dusty roads he wearily traverses, which is
not needed to bring him to the truth. The soul may be so clouded that
it may not even be taking note of its punishment, may not be even
conscious of it, may hardly calculate how low it has fallen and how
wretched and hopeless the remainder of its earthly days are bound to
be; but I assert that it is none of it blind suffering; that not
a pang is unintentionally given, or thrown away; that I shall
hand-in-hand with that soul go some day up the golden stairs that
lead to the Father, and we shall say one to another, 'My brother, you
despised me on earth; you took for a mark of the neglect and
disfavour of God what was only a sign of His constant care; you took
for an indwelling of foul spirits what was only a testimony of my
distance from the truth.'

"And we shall speak together of new things, so marvellous that they
will banish memory for ever.

"Who would have thought that the sight of a drunken tramp in a
hedgerow would have brought one so close to a sight of God's
purposes?

"Yet so it is, my friend. God keeps showing me by the strangest of
surprises that He is all about us. This very incident, so seemingly
trivial, is yet a part of my life already, it has set its mark upon
me. All his life he has been led, from bad to worse, into drink,
and haunted by all the other devils of sin, and piloted across the
country thus, so that the lines of our lives cut at this instant
never to cut again. There are no such things as _chance_ meetings.
There is no smaller or greater in the sight of God. It is as much a
purpose of his life that he should preach this sermon to Edward and
myself to-day, as that he should be shown by God's own strokes what
happiness really is, by the strong contrast of the bitterness of
sin."

The idea of the purpose of God underlying every incident, however
apparently trivial, was much in his thoughts just then.

"We often are taught how momentous every thing and every moment is,
by the charging of some trivial incident with tremendous issues. A
man fires off his gun. He has done so thousands of times already, and
yet, like Mr. Jamieson, my neighbour, on this one January morning he
kills his own son, converting in a single instant, by a trivial
incident, the whole of the rest of his life from sweet into bitter,
by the terrible punishment which falls upon 'carelessness.' God seems
to be asking us to weigh the fact, that in a chain of events the
tiniest link is every bit as important and necessary in its place as
the largest.

"And so I begin to take more and more account of little things. The
very people we pass in the street once, it may be never to pass
again, the stream of faces that flows past us in London—has all
that no real connection with our life, except to stir a faint and
vague emotion about the size of life and our own infinitesimal share
in it? I think it must be something more. Of course, one lets drop
grain after grain of golden truth that God slips into our hands. I
keep feeling that if we could only truly yield ourselves up for a
single instant, put ourselves utterly and wholly in God's hands for a
second, the meaning of the whole would flash upon us, and our lesson
would be learnt. I think perhaps that comes in death. I remember the
only time I took an anæsthetic (when the body really momentarily
dies—that is, the functions are temporarily suspended), the great
sensation was, after a brief passage of storm and agony, the sense of
serenity and repose upon a lesson learnt, a truth grasped, so remote
and so connected with infinite ideas, that the coming back into life
was like the waking after years of experience; a phantom emotion,
I expect; but, like many phantoms, a very good copy of the real one.
That is what I expect dying to be like.

"I was going to say that I try not to let even little things—things
that are thrust in my way curiously and without apparent reason that
is—go uninterpreted. Why should I, for instance, have been
introduced by my clergyman to the friend who was staying with him
this morning, when I met them in the lane? and why should he have
come in to lunch, and talked dull and trivial talk till three
o'clock, and interrupted all our plans? There seems some design in
it all; and yet one is so impotent to grasp what it can be.

"Yet I suppose no one has failed to notice several small coincidences
in their lives, of what might almost be called a providential kind.

"I read in a book about Laennec's method, without the vaguest idea of
who Laennec was, or what his method was. The next day, I see, in
a chart in the village school-room, 'Laennec, inventor of the
stethoscope;' and, the day following, I find and read his biography
in a volume that I happen to take up to pass five minutes. And yet we
say 'by chance.'

"Or I come across an expression of which I haven't grasped the
precise meaning, 'gene,' let us say, or 'eclectic,' and the next day
I hear the rector and curate discussing them. These are real cases.

"Or I am interrupted in my writing by Edward, who takes the letters
to the post, and forces this from under my hand, as I write: not,
surely, only to spare you the receipt of a dull and immature letter.

      "Arthur Hamilton."

I have only one other letter of any especial interest about this
date.

"If only a book could be written about a hermit, a man that
deliberately left the world, retiring, not to an impracticable
distance—let us say to a small farm, in a country village, with half
an acre of garden—and there let no sound from the world without
reach him, except incidentally, and lived a pure and uncontaminated
life, watching his garden, and turning over, very slowly, such
experience as he had gained in life, with the intention, if anything
came of it, of telling the world any solution that occurred to him
of the great question—'Is one bound to meet life in the ordinary
manner, by plunging into it and swimming up the stream, or does one
meet it best by abjuring it?' There is much to be said for both
views. I am not at all sure that these or similar lives are not
lived, and that the only practical bearing of them is that a man
is _not_ bound to tell his discoveries of our enigmas. I mean, I
can conceive a man, under such circumstances, reaching a very high
standpoint, arriving at very lofty knowledge of the problems of fate
and life, and at the same time finding a ban laid upon him, a tacit
ἀνάγκη, not to reveal it to others, it being hinted to
him that those who would attain to it at all must attain to it as he
has himself attained, by finding out the way themselves."



CHAPTER  XII


About this time he made the acquaintance of some neighbours whom he
approved, and found companions for Edward Bruce in the boys of the
family, who were home for the holidays. The boy brightened up so much
under the new surroundings, that Arthur determined to get a boy of
the same age to educate with Edward, and he accordingly inserted an
advertisement in the _Times_. I have it before me now, in the
fast-yellowing paper.

"A gentleman is anxious to find a companion to be educated with his
adopted son; he offers him board and teaching free, but must see,
personally, both the parent or guardian and the boy whom it is
proposed to send."

But the advertisement was withdrawn, as a friend of mine, a certain
General Ellis, not very well off, and with a large family, offered
to send a boy of his to Tredennis—an offer which Arthur accepted
provisionally. He had the boy to stay with him for a fortnight, and
at the end of the time agreed to take him.

As the boys were not to go to a public school, and as neither of them
looked forward to teaching as a career, the object of their teaching
was to make them as quick in grasp of a subject as possible, as
enthusiastic as possible, and as cultivated. Arthur favoured me with
a letter, or rather a treatise, upon their education, fragments of
which I submit to my readers.

"My aim will be to make them, generally speaking, as adequate as
possible to playing a worthy part in the world. I want them to be as
open-minded on all subjects as possible, to have no fixed prejudices
on any subject, and yet to have an adequate basis of knowledge on
important matters, enough not to leave them at the mercy of any new
book or theory on any subject which handles its facts in at all a
one-sided way—so that on reading a brilliant but narrow book on any
point, they may be able to say, 'This and that argument have weight,
they are valid; but he has suppressed this, and distorted that,
which, if seen fairly and in a good light, would go far to contradict
the other.' Then they must be without _prejudice_; they must not close
their eyes or turn their backs on any view, because it is 'dangerous'
or 'damaging' or 'subversive' or 'unpractical.' They must not be
afraid to face an idea because of its probable consequences if its
truth is proved. They must not call anything common or unclean.

"For this they must have a basis of knowledge on these points;
history, political economy, philosophy, science. The first three I am
fairly competent to give them; that is to say, I am studying these
hard myself now, and I can, at any rate, keep well ahead of them; and
I have managed to win their educational confidence, which is a great
thing. They take for granted that a thing which is dull is necessary,
and follow me with faith; while, I am thankful to say, they are keen
enough not to want driving when a thing is interesting.

"Then they must know French and German, and a modicum of Greek and
Latin. These last I teach them by a free use of translations;
rudiments of grammar first, and then we attack the books, and let
grammar be incidental. We don't compose in any of these languages;
it's a mere waste of time.

"I teach them logic and Euclid, and get them taught some mathematics.
Then as to science, by reading myself with them we get on very well
together. And I have bought a few chemicals, and we try experiments
freely, which is very satisfactory.

"Music I teach them both, and harmony. They don't much like it, but
they will be glad some day. I make them practise regularly. I don't
believe any but very exceptionally gifted boys like that; but they
are so awfully thankful when they get to my age if they have been
kept at it.

"Then as to the external παιδεία, there is my difficulty. I am
not allowed to take any active exertion myself, and, indeed, it tells
on me if I do, so that I have become a kind of thermometer, hopeless
and headachy and listless the next day, if I overdo myself the very
least; so that I have merely to encourage them by precept, not by
example. They have ponies and bicycles, and scamper about all over
the country. Edward has been brought home once in a cart, but not
seriously damaged; and I like to leave them to themselves in these
things—they won't damage themselves a bit the less for fussing and
fretting over them, and they will lose ever so much independence and
go. Then I teach them to shoot, and they are very fair shots with a
pea-gun. And we also do a little carpentering, so we are well
employed. They aren't showy performers at any game, but, as they
won't be at school, that makes very little difference to them; it is
handiness in general sports that is valuable afterward.

"You would think that this was a tremendous programme, but it is not;
it is mostly reading and talking, with a certain amount of writing.
They have to analyse a chapter of a book of some kind every day;
sometimes history, sometimes philosophy. We do both history and
philosophy as much as possible by means of biographies. Lewes's book
is an excellent text-book, and not a bit too advanced if you will
talk it over with them carefully; clever boys are never really
puzzled by meanings of words. In history we get the greatest man we
can find in a period, and work out his view of all current events;
and they have to write dialogues in character, and enjoy it immensely
too. I don't press them to read for themselves very much, and I don't
make ordinary English literature their task-books, because one always
may be boring a boy, and I don't want to run the risk of boring them
with things that I want them to enjoy as much as I did.

"I read to them for an hour or so every evening—novels, plays,
anything that they seem to like. They are at liberty to choose.

"I don't know that they would 'go down' at present—certainly not
among their compeers. They talk quite naturally and straightforwardly
about all kinds of topics of general interest, and they are
tremendously keen about their games, but I think some people might
call them prigs. However, I keep them in a constant and wholesome
contempt of their own abilities, and never let them despise or
criticize anyone unfavourably; not by 'rebuking' it, but by
indicating a point of view—and one can always find one—in which
the person under fire is infinitely their superior.

"And they are as affectionate as they can be—they like one another
and me; and they aren't easily disturbed by circumstances, not having
had their morbid sensibilities developed, their innocent perceptions
dimmed by alcoholic or other dissipations."

I select, rather at random, one or two other passages from his
letters at this time.

"I have just been reading Emerson's Essays. They certainly kindle
one's belief in the greatness of life and the nobility of little
things; but, after all, the great refreshment of such books to me
is—not that they give me new working ideas; I hardly know a book
that has ever done that; the stock of ideas is almost constant in the
world; but because they show that others are on the same track of
admiration and hope as one's self for a goal only hinted at and
conjectured to be glorious—on the same track, and farther advanced
upon it; like older people, they fill in with experience what one has
only guessed at. I find myself saying, 'I expect that life will be
like this and that: it will confirm this and that idea in startling
ways:' and then one of these great souls comes softly to me, and
says, 'It is true.'"

And again:

"There are a great number of conventional ideas which are largely
current, not only conversationally and among ordinary people,
but in books—good and sensible books, written by people of
experience—which are, in my opinion, radically and absolutely
false, and yet no one takes the trouble to question them. I am always
coming across them. Such as this: _No one is more incapable of
affection than a profligate._ This, in my judgement, is a ludicrous
error, though it is the statement of no less a moral physician than
Lacordaire. If by affection you mean 'sustained, pure, disinterested
emotion,' such as patriotism—well and good; but affection!—the two
most affectionate persons I have ever known were thoroughly
dissolute; and I mean by affection, not a slobbering sentimental
passion of a purely sensual type, but an affection quite untainted,
to all appearances leading them to make considerable sacrifices for
the sake of it, and causing them the acutest misery when not
reciprocated. In so far as profligates are selfish brutal natures,
as they often are, it is true; but that is not the case with half
of them. They are not unfrequently people of infirm will, strong
affections, and a violent animal nature. It is selfishness, regard to
personal _comfort_ at all hazards, which is the hopeless nature,
and can not be raised except through pain.

"Speaking of Lacordaire, another favourite position of his will
illustrate my point. He was constantly inveighing in his seminary
against desultory reading. Homer, Plutarch, Racine, Bossuet, and a
few other books, are all he wishes a man to have read. He calls
miscellaneous reading a subtle dissipation, a moral poison.

"It seems to me to depend entirely upon temperament. Some natures are
like _mills_, converting everything that comes in their way into grist;
and in that case, no doubt, it is deleterious. They are people of
slow-revolving mind, to whom statements in books are of the nature of
authorities. Lacordaire was one, I think.

"But there are others who are like sieves; who want a constant
passing of materials of all kinds over them to let a little fall
through; people who draw from a huge jumble of miscellaneous facts,
theories, and thoughts, a little sediment of truth of the precise
size to suit them. Such a person was Macaulay.

"I believe that interference does more harm than good. If you thrust
books upon a mind of the first type, the result is confusion and
weariness. If you deny them to the latter, all you get is poverty of
ideas, and morbidity, and mawkishness. I make a rule never to
interfere with anybody's reading."


Four years passed. I went during that time once to Tredennis—in the
summer, when I took my scanty holiday; for I was in a Government
office where only six weeks were allowed. Arthur was generally away
in the summer. He took Edward Bruce to several friends' houses;
to his own home in Hampshire, now for a long time in the hands of
strangers. He wanted to make him a real Englishman. It was arranged
that he should go to Cambridge in October. He matriculated at
Trinity, Arthur's own college; and he was looking forward with great
delight to the prospect.

I went down to stay at Tredennis for a week in July. I got to the
house through the quiet sultry lanes about the middle of the
afternoon, having started very early from town. As I came up the
little drive I could see through the trees an animated game of
lawn-tennis proceeding on the lawn in front of the house, between two
flannelled combatants. At the sound of the wheels they broke off the
game, and Edward came up to greet me. He was now nearly nineteen, and
had lost none of the beauty of his boyhood; a small brown moustache
which fringed his upper lip being, to my eyes, almost the only sign
of his advancing years. He introduced me to his friend, a young Eton
man, possessed of that frank nonchalance which it is the privilege of
that institution to bestow. I inquired where Arthur was. Edward told
me that he had gone down to the stream for a stroll. "We'll go down
and find him," he said, putting his arm in mine, with that same
demonstrativeness that had always characterized him, and that won
people to him so quickly.

We crossed one or two adjacent fields which sloped down to the
stream, conspicuous by its fringe of alder and hazel; and after
crossing by a gravel-pit, we came on a level reach of it, all stifled
with high water-plants, figwort, and loosestrife, and willow-herb,
and great sprawling docks, till, down by a little runnel where it
took a sudden turn round a shoal of gravel, we came upon the faint
fragrance of a cigarette; then Flora ran forward to meet us; and, on
turning the corner, we found a great long figure lying on the bank,
with hat half pulled over his eyes, gazing dreamily up into the
shifting willow leaves and the blue above.

Our voices, which had been drowned by the sound of the running water,
aroused him, and he sat up, and, on seeing me, got slowly to his feet
with a delightful smile of welcome on his face. "How are you, my dear
man?" he said. "I didn't expect you so early, or I should have been
at home to meet you—in fact, I should have driven down to Truro,
only I am not quite the thing to-day."

I looked rather anxiously at him, to see how he appeared to be, and
was much struck with the change in him. There had crept into his face
what has been called a look of "doom." The Stuarts are said to have
had it. I can not describe it in any other way. It was that of a man
waiting for something, bravely and calmly, but still with a certain
sort of apprehension. He looked very solemn and grave when he was not
speaking, and he was apt to get a kind of brooding look, which did
not disperse till one spoke to him. He was thinner, too, and paler,
though the old lock of hair still dangled over his forehead, and his
eyes had the old affectionate look.

He was playful and humorous in a quiet way. I have forgotten what we
talked about—we discussed people and things vaguely; I can only
remember one little remark he made which struck me as being highly
characteristic. I had said, in reply to some question as to one of
our friends, "Oh, he's perfectly crazy." "Yes," said Arthur, mildly:
"he has certainly got some curious mannerisms."

I ventured to remonstrate with him about the cigarette, but he said
gravely that he had given up thinking about his health, it was so
very inferior, and that he had come to the conclusion that nothing
in moderation made him either better or worse; "and an occasional
cigarette," he said, "adds so much to my general serenity, that I
feel sure it is perfectly justifiable."

I had a very delightful week there. He talked a good deal, when he
was in the mood, about the books he had been reading and the thoughts
he had been thinking; but his physical languor at times, especially
in the mornings, was very painful to see. He did not get up till very
late, and complained to me more than once of a terrible listlessness
and dejection to which he was liable during the earlier part of the
day. But he spoke little of his own sufferings, or rather _malaise_,
which I gathered was very great, only saying once or twice, "It is
fortunate how habituated one gets to things, even to enduring
discomfort. If I can only get my mind occupied, it hardly ever
distracts me now." And again—"I think the only really valuable
experiences are those that we can not lay down and take up at will,
but which continue with us, invariable, unaltering, day after day,
meeting us at every moment and tempering every mood." And once—"In
spite of everything, I would not for an instant go back. I have every
now and then, on breezy sunny mornings or after rain, an intense gush
of yearning for the peculiar unconscious delight—the index of
perfect physical health—of childhood; but I never deliberately wish
that things were otherwise. I enjoy nature more, far more, than ever
I did. The signs of spring are a deep and constant joy to me. I can
lie down by the stream, and watch the water flowing and the flowers
bending and stirring and the animals that run busily about, and be
absolutely absorbed, without a thought of myself or even other
people. This I never could do before, and it has been sent me, I
often think, as a kind of alleviation. I have had it ever since I
settled here at Tredennis; and altogether I feel the stronger and
the more content for all this suffering and the inevitable end, which
can not be far off. No; I wouldn't change, even with you, my dear
Chris, or even with Edward"—as that superb piece of physical
vitality crossed the lawn.

"When I first came," he told me, "quite at first, I seemed to have
lost my hold of nature—to be discordant and out of joint with her.
On those bright still mornings we so often have here in the early
summer, I seemed to be only a sad spectator, not a part of it all.
The sunset over the hills there, and the deliberate red glow of the
creek, all seemed to mock me. Even Edward, fond as he was of me,
seemed to have no real connection with me. I was isolated and
despairing. But very gradually, like the dispersing of a cloud, it
came back. I began again to feel myself a performer in the drama, not
a gloomy spectator of it—there must be the sufferer, the condemned,
to make the tragedy complete, and they may be enacted well—till the
sense of God's Fatherhood came back to me. So that I can be and feel
myself a part of the vast economy, diseased and inefficient though I
am—feel that I am one with the life that throbs in the trees and
water, and that forces itself up at every cranny and nestles in every
ledge—can wait patiently for my move, the transference of my vital
energy—as strong as ever, it seems to me, though the engines are
weaker—to some other portion of the frame of things."

He spoke of spiritualism with great contempt. "The more I see of
spiritualists and the less I see of phenomena," he said, "the more
discontented with it I am. It is nothing but a fashionable
drawing-room game."

He dwelt a good deal on the subjective interpretation of nature. One
evening—we had been listening to the owls crying—he said,
abstractedly:

"We put strange meanings enough, God knows, into faces that never
owned them. We hear dreary hopelessness in the moaning of the wind;
wild sorrow in the tossing of the trees; and read into the work-a-day
cries of birds, content, humour, melancholy, and a thousand other
unknown feelings."

He spoke much about the country and its effect on people. "Wisdom,"
he said, "is generally reared among fields and woody places, and when
she is nearly grown she wanders into the cities of men, to see if she
can not rule there; and then the test really comes. If she is genuine
and strong, she says her say and makes her protest, and passes back
again, uncontaminated, into the quiet villages, as pure and free as
ever. That is the case with genius. But if the spring of her energy
is not all her own—is not quite untainted, she parts with her
old grace and glory, losing it in hard unloving talk, in selfish
intercourse, in striving after the advantages of comfort and wealth.
She stays, and is dissipated—she is conformed to the image of the
world. That is what happens to mere talent."

The only other conversation with him that impressed itself very
distinctly upon my mind was about religion. He had been thinking—so
he told me—very deeply about Christianity, its strength and
weakness. "Its weakness, nowadays," he said, "is the mistake of
confusing it with the principles advocated by any one of the bodies
that profess to represent it. When one sees in the world so many
bodies—backed by wealth, tradition, prestige—shouting, 'We are the
only authorized exponents of Christ's truth; we are the only genuine
succession of the apostles;' when we see Churches who claim and
make much of possessing the succession (which they have in reality
forfeited by secession), and yet demand the right to be heretical
if the main stream is, as they say, 'corrupted' (for once introduce
that principle, and you can never limit subdivision, and equitable
subdivision too)—it is no wonder weaker intellects are confused and
distressed, and from their inability to decide between five or six
sole possessors of the truth, fall outside teaching and encouragement
altogether, though they could have got what they wanted in any of
these bodies.

"But, in spite of the hopeless strife of Churches, the fundamental
attraction of Christianity for human nature remains every bit as
strong—to be able to say to all people, 'Imagine and idealize the
best human being possible; put into him all the best qualities of all
the best people you have ever known—give him strength, sympathy,
power beyond the most powerful on earth, and add to that a great
deep individual affection for _you yourself_, of a kind that is
never moved by insults, or chilled by coldness, or diverted by
ingratitude;'—say to them, 'And he has been waiting quietly for
you for years, for the least sign of affection on your part, never
disgusted, never impatient, always ready to turn and welcome you.'

"Think what a hold you establish, saying this, over all people
conscious of unhappiness of any kind, over all those refined natures
coarsening under a vile _entourage_, over all unsatisfied hearts
craving for a friend that their surroundings can not give them, over
all who have lost delight for whatever cause in common familiar
things, and have nowhere to turn. When one reflects how many human
beings fall under one or other of these heads, one does not wonder
at it."

I returned to London, feeling wonderfully refreshed and invigorated,
both in body and mind, by my visit. Then, as ever, I could not help
feeling a subtle influence in Arthur's conversation and presence,
that defied analysis and yet was undoubtedly there. He seemed to
encourage one to hope, or rather believe, in the ultimate tendency to
good in all things, to wait and watch the developments and the bents
of life, rather than to fret over particular events—and this without
a vague optimism that refuses to take count of what is unsatisfactory
and foul, but looking causes and consequences fairly in the face. "I
never quite understood the parable of the tares," he said to me, just
before I went, "till I found these words in a book the other day:
'The root of the common darnel (_lolium_) or dandelion, with
saltpeter, make a very cheap and effective sheep-drench. It can be
applied successfully in cases of fluke.'"


In October, 1883, as had been arranged, Edward went up to Trinity
College, Cambridge. I had a short letter from Arthur telling me. It
ended characteristically thus: "I don't in the least care that Edward
should be distinguished academically. I do care very much what sort
of a character he is. What one does, matters so very much less than
how one does it. It is the method, not the thing, which shows what
the man is. I shall be very much disgusted if he _means_ to work and
doesn't, but merely drifts; whereas, if he is idle on principle, I
don't much care. 'Do what you mean to do,' is what I have always told
him. If I hear that he is doing fairly well and making friends, and
finds himself at home, I shall be content, but nothing more. But if I
hear that he is influential and takes his own line, I shall be very
much pleased, even if that line is not quite the most respectable, or
that influence is not now for the best."

This letter was dated November 1st. On November the 9th, Edward Bruce
was killed by a fall from a dog-cart, driving into Cambridge from
Ely. He had driven over there with a friend, a pleasant but somewhat
reckless man. They had dined at Ely, and were returning in the
evening, both in the highest spirits. Edward was driving; the horse
took fright, in a little village called Drayton, at a dog that ran
across the road. Edward was thrown out on to his head, and, entangled
in the reins, was dragged for some distance. The other escaped with a
few bruises.

Arthur was acquainted with the terrible news by telegraph. He came up
to Cambridge at once, ill and broken with the shock as he was. They
told me that he looked terribly pale, but with a quiet self-possessed
manner he made all arrangements and settled all bills. The poor boy
was buried in the north-west corner of the cemetery at Cambridge.
Arthur put up a little tablet to him at Trinity and at St. Uny
Trevise.

                In Memory of
                    E. B.,
             BORN AT TEHERAN;
    DIED AT CAMBRIDGE, NOV. 9, 1883.
  "What I do thou knowest not now, but
         thou shalt know hereafter."

Arthur had an interview with Edward's companion on the fatal
occasion. I subjoin the latter's account of it. He requested me, when
I wrote to him to ask him for some particulars relating to Edward
Bruce, to make what use I wished of the letter.

"I can't describe the effect the accident had on me. It half drove me
mad, I think. I was very much attached to Edward Bruce, as, indeed,
we all were. I don't attempt to condone the fault. It was due
entirely to my carelessness. I pressed him to drive faster than he
was willing to do. I laughed at his scruples. I whipped the horse on
myself. I never clearly knew what happened—for I was stunned
myself—till I woke up and was told.

"When Mr. Hamilton came to see me, I was sitting in my room, over my
breakfast, which I could not eat. His card was brought in by my gyp,
and it made me faint and sick. He came in with his hand out, looking
very pale, but smiling just as he used to smile, only more sadly.
'Don't reproach me,' I said; 'I can't bear it.' 'Reproach you!' he
said—and I shall never forget the tone of affectionate wonder with
which it came, or the relief it was to me to hear it—'Reproach you!
I know how you loved him.' I broke down at that, and cried
wretchedly. I found him sitting by me. He put his hand on my shoulder
and stroked my hair. 'I have only one more thing to say,' he said, at
last. 'You will not mind my saying it, will you? Eddy had told me all
about you—he was very open with me—that you were not doing justice
to your opportunities here, not fulfilling your own ideals and
possibilities. All I ask of you is to let this be the impulse to
rise; do not let any morbid or fantastic remorse stand in your way,
and baffle you. You know that he would have been the first to have
forgiven any share of the fault that may be yours. What I wish most
earnestly for you—it is what he, if he had lived, would have wished
most—is that you should become a nobler man—as you can, I know; as
you will, I believe.' I could not speak, or answer him then; but I
have tried to do what he begged me. Perhaps you do not know—I hope
you do not—what a struggle an attempt to forget is. I could not have
believed that a memory could hang so heavily round my neck.

"He wrote to me once after, and sent me Edward's riding-whip and
flask. I never saw him again. From what Edward told me, and from the
little I saw of him myself, I knew that he was the humblest and
gravest of men. In his dealing with me, he showed himself the most
truly loving."

I was at Tredennis for a week just after this. At the end of that
time he begged me not to stay—he could bear it better alone. My
impression was that he was like a man half dazed with grief. He sat
very silent, and would do nothing; if he ever spoke, it was with
evident effort. He did not appear to be ill, only crushed and
overwhelmed. Once he broke down. He was looking over some books, and
found a notebook of Edward's, of some subject they had been reading
together. Edward had tired of the subject, and the last page was
occupied with a pen-and-ink sketch of Arthur himself, the discovery
of which, done as it had been during working hours, had been the
occasion of some affectionate strictures. He shut the book up
quickly, and literally moaned.

Then, after a little, his frosty silence broke up, and he wrote me
several letters about his boy, very full and detailed, with numbers
of little stories, and ending with a passionate burst of grief at the
loss. They are too private for publication.

One very notable one, some six months after, must be given here.

"People talk and write about instantaneous momentary _conversions_—I
never realized what was meant till a week ago. Day after day, all
that time, I had been filled with gloomy, reproachful, or bitter
thoughts of God and the providence which took Edward from me. It was
intolerable that he should be swept away into silence, leaving me
so worn and hopeless, and, worst of all, so dissatisfied and
discontented with the hand that did it—my vaunted philosophy
failing and giving out utterly. I _knew_ it was right, but could
not _feel_ it.

"But last night as I sat, as I have so often done, burning and racked
with recollection and regret, a kind of peace stole over me. It was
quite sudden, quite abnormal; not that afterglow of hope that
sometimes follows a dark plunge of despair, but a gentle firm trust
that seemed, without explaining, yet to make all things plain; not
ebbing and flowing, not changing with physical sensation or mental
weariness, but deep, abiding, sustaining. You may think it rash of me
thus, after so short an interval, to write so assuredly of it; but
even if I lost the sense (and I shall not) the memory of that moment
would support me; 'If I go down into hell, thou art there also,' is
the only sentence that expresses it.

"But I shall not lose it; it has been with me in many moods—and my
moods are many and very variable, as you know. I can't express it in
words; but I feel no more doubt about Edward's well-being, no more
inclination to fret or murmur, besides an all-embracing and pervading
sense of satisfied content that penetrates everywhere and applies
itself to everything; those are the chief manifestations.

"It is as if he had come to me himself and whispered that all was
well, or, better still, as if the great Power that held both him and
me and all men within His grasp, had sent His messenger to strengthen
me. My friend, all the struggles and miseries of my life have paled
to nothing in the light of this. If this is to be won by suffering,
pray that you may suffer; though I feel, indeed, as if I had not
earned or deserved a tenth part of it—it is the free gift of God.
It is to this that we shall all come."

He still lived at Tredennis; spending much of his time in visiting
and talking to the people round about, the cottagers and farmers.
He was very weak in the mornings, and mostly read, or often was too
feeble even for that; but later in the day his strength used somewhat
to revive, and he would walk along the lanes with Flora, now growing
older and more sedate, trotting by him. He was known and loved in
the circle of the hills. "Oh, sir," as a poor woman said to me,
with tears in her eyes, after he was gone, "I can't tell you how it
was—he spoke very little of Him—but he seemed to remind me of the
Lord Jesus, if I am not wrong to say it, more than all Mr. Robert's
sermons or the pictures in the school-house. He was so kind and
gentle; he seemed to bring God with him!"

But the end was not far off. He got very much weaker in the spring:
he suffered from violent paroxysms of pain, depriving him of sight
and power of speech, and wearing him out terribly. On the 21st of
April I was telegraphed for; he wished to see me.

I came in the evening; he was conscious, and seemed glad to see me,
though he was very weak. He said to me, "When I was at Cambridge, my
windows overlooked a space of grass, very evenly green in the spring;
but in a hot summer the lines of old foundations and buildings
used to come out, burning the grass above them with the heat they
retained; it is just the same," he added, "with things that I thought
I had forgotten—they come out very truthfully now."

He often spoke to me of his grief that he had never seen Edward's
face after he left Tredennis to go to Cambridge, for he had been
fearfully disfigured, cut and bruised by the accident, and he had
no picture of him; "But perhaps it is because I was too fond of his
face," he said.

He had several terrible spasms while I was with him, and the doctor
said that if he had such another he could not last out the night.
Once, after waking from the prolonged and weary sleep of prostration
which used to follow these collapses, he said to me, with a smile,
"I saw him."

Once he said, "I have just dreamed of a tall man, who came to me and
said, 'You will be surprised when you meet Edward; he is delighting
everyone there with his conversation; he is so much wiser; and he has
grown so much handsomer," adding, with a smile, "though I still think
that an impossibility."

About six o'clock on the morning of the 24th he seemed very uneasy in
his sleep. On waking, he said, "I should like to receive the
Sacrament."

I confess that I thought that he was wandering; he had given up this
religious observance for years. He repeated it, adding, "I am not
wandering; I know what I am saying."

I went at once to the rectory. The rector was away, and I was
directed to the curate, who lived in the village.

I went straight to him, and made my request. He refused to comply. I
will do him the justice to say that he appeared to be profoundly
concerned and distressed. "I can't act without my rector in this," he
said. "I daren't take the responsibility. He hasn't attended the
Communion for years; I know his opinions are distinctly unchristian;
and in my last talk to the rector, he confessed to me that if Mr.
Hamilton (speaking hypothetically) were to present himself for
Communion, he should be obliged to refuse him."

I spoke very hastily, and I think unfairly. Mr. J—— tried to
remonstrate, but I would not hear him.

When I came back, Arthur was asleep. As soon as he awoke, before he
was quite conscious, he said, "It is like a river; it flows very
smoothly, and carries me off my feet; but the sun is on it, and it is
very clear."

I told him about the _rencontre_. He smiled faintly, and said, "Ask
him to come and see me, at any rate; he can't refuse that." I sent
the message at once.

At nine o'clock he had a fearful spasm; so terrible that I could not
endure to see it, and left the room. While I was down-stairs, the
curate arrived. He had come of his own accord, bringing the vessels
with him. It had been, he pleaded, only a momentary hesitation.

In half an hour I was told that he would like to see us. The doctor
was with him; as we entered, he told me, "He can not last an hour."
Then, to the curate, "You may begin the service, if you like, though
I doubt if he can hear you; he certainly will not be able to
receive."

He was very gray about the eyes and temples, and looked fearfully
exhausted. His eyes were closed. The curate began in a quiet voice,
rather agitated. When he was near the end, Arthur opened his eyes
fully and saw him. The curate went forward. Arthur held out his hand.
"Thank you for coming," he said.

The curate grasped his hand, and said, "Can you forgive me for not
coming at once?"

"You were doing your duty," said Arthur; adding, with a half-smile,
"and you are doing it now," as he saw the open book.

Then he began to wander. I heard him say this: "He seems to halt.
Yes! but it is only seeming."

Then for ten minutes he was very still. Then he gave an uneasy
movement, and half raised himself.

"He is going," said the doctor.

Suddenly he opened his eyes. "All three," he said. They were his last
words. The curate began to say a prayer; we none of us interrupted
him. There was a convulsive movement, and all was over. The doctor
went out. We cried like children by the bed.



RECAPITULATION


I had rather intended to say no more; to let the Life speak for
itself. I had imagined that a moral destroyed, rather than enhanced,
the effect of a story; that a descriptive catalogue rather interfered
with one's appreciation of a picture than otherwise; but a friend to
whom I showed my little collection, and to whose opinion I greatly
defer, expressed surprise at the abruptness of the close. "You seem
to leave the end," he said, "tangled and unravelled; one wants the
threads just gathered together again." So I will try and discharge
this task.

The difficulty is not to arrive at a deterministic theory of life for
most men. Anyone who will take things as he finds them, and fairly
come to a conclusion about them, not hampered by fetters of authority
or tradition, but independently arriving at his own solution, must
inevitably arrive at this; there is no logical escape. But the
difficulty lies in the application of this determinism to life. So
many people persist in saying that it is only a logical account of
the existence of the world, only an ontological solution, not a
life-philosophy. The best man, who can not confute it, only says
mournfully that it will not do for an ethical system; nothing good
can come out of it in practice.

The writer is one of those who believe that truth, however painful,
is essentially practical. That truth when seen must be applied, must
be worked out into life, is his cherished idea. But he, as much as
anyone, has felt the usual (alas!) and bitter consequences of
determinism; has seen the victim of the thought sit, as it were,
with his hands tied; has seen the determinist sink into temporary
fatalism, and has seen effort relaxed and ideals growing hourly dim.

He was beginning to suffer in this manner himself when, at Cambridge,
he met Arthur; and met in him not only an inspiring acquaintance, an
encouraging friend, but a man who was far ahead of him on the same
path where he had only ventured to imprint a few trembling footsteps,
and then draw back appalled at the sombre prospect. Arthur was like
one further up the pass, who had turned a corner, so to speak, and
saw the road plain.

He found a thoroughgoing determinist who was still faithful to the
voice of duty, still striving upwards; he found that his theories,
far from giving him a sense of gloom and hopelessness, rather
bestowed on him a frank expectant habit of soul; a readiness to weigh
circumstances, however small, to overlook nothing as trivial or
common; and a serene trust in an invisible all-ruling Father
(παντοκράτωρ, as he used to say), who really was
ordering the world in the smallest details when He seemed to be
ordering it least, and who wished the best for His children—far
better than they had insight to wish for themselves, and who
thus could be trusted not to be inflicting any useless blow, any
meaningless torment, even when things looked blackest and the world
most unintelligible.

I do not maintain that Arthur never flagged or swerved from this; the
letter on page 164 will show it was far otherwise: but this was his
deliberate habit of mind; this was the ideal that he was faithful to,
with all allowances for a humanity, and a humanity sorely tried.

He was an ambitious man by nature; I am sure of that: _that_ he
conquered. He was indolent by nature, averse to detail, and motion,
and change: _that_ he conquered by deliberate rough travel. He
disliked new people: _that_ he set himself to conquer. In the prime
of his life, being of a nature to which health and ordinary enjoyments
of life were very delightful and precious, death was suddenly and
hopelessly set before him; he loved and was disappointed; and the
one charge that was given him, the education of his friend's boy,
was overwhelmed and ended in a moment by a little act of boyish
carelessness. Keenly sensitive to physical pain, the last years of
his life were racked with it, every week, almost every day.

Such are the materials of a life. Apparently self-regarding in idea,
and prematurely cut short in fact, it has left results on a small
circle of friends that will never die. And why?

Because, in spite of every trial and every rebuff, he preserved at
heart a serenity that was not thoughtlessness, a cheerfulness that
was not hilarity, a humour that was not cynicism. The biographer has
thought fit to give expression to his darkest hours, and they were
not few; they may appear in the life to have the preponderance,
but he would not cut them out. No life is inspiriting that is not
occasionally weak and faulty. What would David be without his sins;
Peter, without his fall? There was no depth of the despairing spirit,
I say it deliberately, that Arthur had not sounded—and he had not
been, as it were, lowered—deaf, blind, and unconscious—into the
abysmal deeps; it was with an eye alert to mark every ledge of the
dark walls, an ear quick to catch the smallest murmur from below, a
sense keen to experience and record every new depth gained, every
qualm of heart-sickness encountered. Naturally prone to serious
contemplation of life's enigmas, there was not one that life did not
bring with shocking vividness to his touch.

Further, I believe that some will be found to say, "The teaching of
this life is so selfish; it is all self-contemplation, miserable
self-weariness, gloomy reveries bounded by the narrowest horizons.
If ever he turns to others' evil case, it is with the melancholy
satisfaction of the hypochondriac, who finds his own symptoms
repeated with less or greater variations in others' cases." To these
I could only reply, "You have totally misunderstood the life. It is
not a selfish one. The deepest self-communings are necessary to one
who would know human nature, because self is the only human creature
that can be known with a perfect intimacy. 'No one but yourself can
tell,' as Arthur once wrote to me, 'what ruled the lines in your
face.'" But Arthur, above all others that I have ever known, had
passed from the particular to the general. Plato's praise of love
was based on the principle that the philosopher passed from the love
of one fair form to the love of abstract beauty. The fault is that
so many never pass the initiation. Arthur did cross the threshold;
he passed from the contemplation of his own suffering to the
consideration of the root of all human suffering. He found his best
comfort in doing all he could (and God allowed him little latitude)
to alleviate the sufferings of others. I have letters from various of
his friends, dealing, with his firm and faithful touch, with crisis
after crisis in their lives. No one who had trusted him with his
confidence once, ever shrank from doing it again. I am forced to
admit that, far more than many of his authorized brethren, he
discharged the priestly office. He was self-constituted, or rather
called, to be a priest of God.

The great mystery of _effectiveness_ he never solved, I think, quite
to his own satisfaction. His life has solved it for me ever since I was
able to regard it _en masse_. It was a great puzzle to him what to
make, for instance, of infants who died at or before birth. "'Saved
from this wicked world' is such a horrible statement in such cases,"
he used to say. "If that is the best that can happen to us, what
_can_ we make of life?" And so he was always very urgent about the
influence of example opposed to the influence of precept. "My
father," he said to me, "once spoke to me rather sharply about not
attending at family prayers. He did not attend very closely himself.
I was an observant boy, and I knew it. The very fact that he should
have noticed me proved it. So all I felt was that prayer didn't
matter really, but that, however I felt, I must behave as if I was
devout; whereas, if he had prayed in rapt fervency, unconscious of
anything, I should have been ashamed, I think, to wander. I should
have perceived the beauty of prayer. Ah, my dear friend," he added,
"never speak to a child about a thing unless you _know_ you always
do it yourself, and even then with extreme and tender caution."

Acting then, on this principle, he did not give us lectures and
rules: but we saw how a man was meeting life, not shirking any of its
problems, and beset by most of its trials. And we wondered what was
the secret spring of his well-being; and when we came to examine it,
we were amazed to find that it was in the strength of principles
resulting from a rigid and logical classification of phenomena.

So much is said nowadays about the dissidence of the spiritual and
intellectual worlds. Many people, conscious of intellect, are yet
strangely at sea when they are told of their _spiritual_ side. There
appears to be nothing within them answering to that description.
There are, indeed, certain qualities or characteristics, but those
seem not to exist independent of their intellectual and physical
economies, but to permeate both. They do not understand that what is
meant is the faculty of emotional generalization. _That_ they could
understand. Arthur arrived at his principles purely through logical
methods and intellectual operations. He could not, he often
confessed, separate the intellectual and the spiritual. From some
expressions, however, which dropped from him in a letter, part of
which is given on p. 209, I am vaguely aware that he was
reconsidering that point (and it has been suggested to me that such
an explanation will suit his last words); but, in any case, he was of
the greatest possible comfort to us who knew him, because he was an
instance (the only one) of a man who had arrived at his principles
from a purely intellectual basis.

And let me, finally, correct the impression, if I have by chance, in
developing this latter point, given any colour to the idea that his
character was hard, logical, unaffectionate, unloving. Arthur was
the tenderest, most sympathetic, most loving soul I have ever met;
nothing else would explain his influence. He was not demonstrative,
and was often misunderstood. His tendency was to dissimulate the
strongest of his feelings. Yet I have seen him turn red and pale at
the sight of a letter in the handwriting of a friend he loved; I have
seen him literally tremble with emotion when Edward Bruce, in his
impulsive boyish way, would, with eager demonstrative affection,
throw his arm round his neck, or take his hand. The tears gather in
my eyes as I write, when I recall a few words of his a few days
before he died, when he called me to him. It was after one of those
terrible paroxysms of pain. He was very white and feeble, but
smiling. He took my hand, and said, "What a wonderful thing it is
that pain takes away one's power of thinking of anything except
people. It hurries one away, somewhere, deep, deep down; yet one can
bear to touch the bottom. But when loving anyone carries one away,
one goes down deeper and deeper, and yet feels that there is a
fathomless gulf beyond."





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