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Title: Victorian Worthies - Sixteen Biographies
Author: Blore, George Henry, 1870-
Language: English
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Sixteen Biographies



Assistant Master at Winchester College

'We have undertaken to discourse here for a little on
Great Men, their manner of appearance in our world's
business, how they shaped themselves in the world's
history, what ideas men formed of them, what work they
did;--on Heroes, namely, and on their reception and

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
London Edinburgh Glasgow New York Toronto
Melbourne Cape Town Bombay Calcutta
Printed in England
at the Oxford University Press


2. SIR ROBERT PEEL. Statesman
4. THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY. Philanthropist
5. LORD LAWRENCE. Administrator
6. JOHN BRIGHT. Tribune
7. CHARLES DICKENS. Novelist and Social Reformer
9. CHARLES KINGSLEY. Parish Priest
11. BISHOP PATTESON. Missionary
12. SIR ROBERT MORIER. Diplomatist
13. LORD LISTER. Surgeon
14. WILLIAM MORRIS. Craftsman
16. CECIL RHODES. Colonist


Some excuse seems to be needed for venturing at this time to publish
biographical sketches of the men of the Victorian era. Several have been
written by men, like Lord Morley and Lord Bryce, having first-hand
knowledge of their subjects, others by the best critics of the next
generation, such as Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Clutton-Brock. With their
critical ability I am not able to compete; but they often postulate a
knowledge of facts which the average reader has forgotten or has never
known. Having written these sketches primarily for boys at school I am
not ashamed to state well-known facts, nor have I wished to avoid the

Nor do these sketches aim at obtaining a sensation by the shattering of
idols. I have been content to accept the verdicts passed by their
contemporaries on these great servants of the public, verdicts which, in
general, seem likely to stand the test of time. Boys will come soon
enough on books where criticism has fuller play, and revise the
judgements of the past. Such a revision is salutary, when it is not
unfair or bitter in tone.

At a time when the subject called 'civics' is being more widely
introduced into schools, it seems useful to present the facts of
individual lives, instances chosen from different professions, as a
supplement to the study of principles and institutions. There is a
spirit of public service which is best interpreted through concrete
examples. If teachers will, from their own knowledge, fill in these
outlines and give life to these portraits, the younger generation may
find it not uninteresting to 'praise famous men and our fathers that
begat us'.

It seems hardly necessary in a book of this kind to give an imposing
list of authorities consulted. In some cases I should find it difficult
to trace the essay or memoir from which a statement is drawn; but in the
main I have depended on the standard Lives of the various men portrayed,
from Froude's _Carlyle_ and Forster's _Dickens_ to Mackail's _Morris_
and Michell's _Rhodes_. And, needless to say, I have found the
_Dictionary of National Biography_ most valuable. If boys were not
frightened from the shelves by its bulk, it would render my work
superfluous; but, though I often recommend it to them, I find few signs
that they consult it as often as they should. It may seem that no due
proportion has been observed in the length of the different sketches;
but it must be remembered that, while short Lives of Napier and Lawrence
have been written by well-known authors, it is more difficult for a boy
to satisfy his curiosity about Lister, Patteson, or Green; and of Morier
no complete life has yet been published.

I am indebted to Mr. Emery Walker for assistance in the selection of the

Three of my friends have been kind enough to read parts of the book and
to give me advice: the Rev. A. T. P. Williams and Mr. C. E. Robinson, my
colleagues here, and Mr. Nowell Smith, Head Master of Sherborne. I owe
much also to the good judgement of Mr. Milford's reader. If I venture to
thank them for their help, they are in no way responsible for my
mistakes. Writing in the intervals of school-mastering I have no doubt
been guilty of many, and I shall be grateful if any reader will take the
trouble to inform me of those which he detects.



_April 1920._


Thomas Carlyle
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.

Sir Robert Peel
  From the painting by J. LINNELL in the National Portrait Gallery.

Sir Charles Napier
  From the drawing by EDWIN WILLIAMS in the National Portrait Gallery.

Lord Shaftesbury
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.

Lord Lawrence
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.

John Bright
  From the painting by W. W. OULESS in the National Portrait Gallery.

Charles Dickens
  From the painting by DANIEL MACLISE in the National Portrait Gallery.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.

Charles Kingsley
  From a drawing by W. S. HUNT in the National Portrait Gallery.

George Frederick Watts
  From a painting by himself in the National Portrait Gallery.

John Coleridge Patteson
  From a drawing by WILLIAM RICHMOND.
  (_By kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd._)

Sir Robert Morier
  From a drawing by WILLIAM RICHMOND.
  (_By kind permission of Mr. Edward Arnold._)

Lord Lister
  From a photograph by MESSRS. BARRAUD.

William Morris
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.

John Richard Green
  From a drawing by FREDERICK SANDYS.
  (_By kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd._)

Cecil Rhodes
  From the painting by G. F. WATTS in the National Portrait Gallery.



We like to fancy, when critics are not at our elbow, that each Age in
our history has a character and a physiognomy of its own. The sixteenth
century speaks to us of change and adventure in every form, of ships and
statecraft, of discovery and desecration, of masterful sovereigns and
unscrupulous ministers. We evoke the memory of Henry VIII and Elizabeth,
of Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, of Drake and Raleigh, while the gentler
virtues of Thomas More and Philip Sidney seem but rare flowers by the

The glory of the seventeenth century shines out amid the clash of arms,
in battles fought for noble principles, in the lives and deaths of
Falkland and Hampden, of Blake, Montrose, and Cromwell. If its nobility
is dimmed as we pass from the world of Shakespeare and Milton to that of
Dryden and Defoe, yet there is sufficient unity in its central theme to
justify the enthusiasm of those who praise it as the heroic age of
English history.

Less justice, perhaps, is done when we characterize the eighteenth
century as that of elegance and wit; when, heedless of the great names
of Chatham, Wolfe, and Clive, we fill the forefront of our picture with
clubs and coffee-houses, with the graces of Chesterfield and Horace
Walpole, the beauties of Gainsborough and Romney, or the masterpieces of
Sheraton and Adam. But each generalization, as we make it, seems more
imperfect and unfair; and partly because Carlyle abused it so
unmercifully, this century has in the last fifty years received ample
justice from many of our ablest writers.

Difficult indeed then it must seem to give adequate expression to the
life of a century like the nineteenth, so swift, so restless, so
many-sided, so full of familiar personages, and of conflicts which have
hardly yet receded to a distance where the historian can judge them
aright. The rich luxuriance of movements and of individual characters
chokes our path; it is a labyrinth in which one may well lose one's way
and fail to see the wood for the trees.

The scientist would be protesting (all this time) that this is a very
superficial aspect of the matter. He would recast our framework for us
and teach us to follow out the course of our history through the
development of mathematics, physics, and biology, to pass from Newton to
Harvey, and from Watt to Darwin, and in the relation of these sciences
to one another to find the clue to man's steady progress.

The tale thus told is indeed wonderful to read and worthy of the
telling; but, to appreciate it fully, it needs a wider and deeper
knowledge than many possess. And it tends to leave out one side of our
human nature. There are many whose sympathies will always be drawn
rather to the influence of man upon man than to the extension of man's
power over nature, to the development of character rather than of
knowledge. To-day literature must approach science, her all-powerful
sister, with humility, and crave indulgence for those who still wish to
follow in the track where Plutarch led the way, to read of human
infirmity as well as of human power, not to scorn anecdotes or even
comparisons which illustrate the qualities by which service can be
rendered to the State.

To return to the nineteenth century, some would find a guiding thread in
the progress of the Utilitarian School, which based its teaching on the
idea of pursuing the greatest happiness of the greatest number, the
school which produced philosophers like Bentham and J. S. Mill, and
politicians like Cobden and Morley. It was congenial to the English
mind to follow a line which seemed to lead with certainty to practical
results; and the industrial revolutions caused men at this time to look,
perhaps too much, to the material conditions of well-being. Along with
the discoveries that revolutionized industry, the eighteenth century had
bequeathed something more precious than material wealth. John Wesley,
the strongest personal influence of its latter half, had stirred the
spirit of conscious philanthropy and the desire to apply Christian
principles to the service of all mankind. Howard, Wilberforce, and
others directed this spirit into definite channels, and many of their
followers tinged with a warm religious glow the principles which, even
in agnostics like Mill, lent consistent nobility to a life of service.
The efforts which these men made, alone or banded into societies, to
enlarge the liberties of Englishmen and to distribute more fairly the
good things of life among them, were productive of much benefit to the

Under such leadership indeed as that of Bentham and Wilberforce, the
Victorian Age might have been expected to follow a steady course of
beneficence which would have drawn all the nobler spirits of the new
generation into its main current. Clear, logical, and persuasive, the
Utilitarians seemed likely to command success in Parliament, in the
pulpit, and in the press. But the criterion of happiness, however widely
diffused (and that it had not gone far in 1837 Disraeli's _Sybil_ will
attest), was not enough to satisfy the ardent idealism that blazed in
the breasts of men stirred by revolutions and the new birth of Christian
zeal. In contrast to the ordered pursuit of reform, the spirit of which
the Utilitarians hoped to embody in societies and Acts of Parliament,
were the rebellious impulses of men filled with a prophetic spirit,
walking in obedience to an inward voice, eager to cry aloud their
message to a generation wrapped in prosperity and self-contentment. They
formed no single school and followed no single line. In a few cases we
may observe the relation of master and pupil, as between Carlyle and
Ruskin; in more we can see a small band of friends like the
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the leaders of the Oxford Movement, or the
scientific circle of Darwin and Hooker, working in fellowship for a
common end. But individuality is their note. They sprang often from
surroundings most alien to their genius; they wandered far from the
courses which their birth seemed to prescribe; the spirit caught them
and they went forth to the fray.

The time in which they grew up was calculated to mould characters of
strength. Self-control and self-denial had been needed in the protracted
wars with France. Self-reliance had been learnt in the hard school of
adversity. Imagination was quickened by the heroism of the struggle
which had ended in the final victory of our arms. And to the generations
born in the early days of the nineteenth century lay open fields wider
than were offered to human activity in any other age of the world's
history. Now at last the full fruits of sixteenth-century discovery were
to be reaped. It was possible for Gordon, by the personal ascendancy
which he owed to his single-minded faith, to create legends and to work
miracles in Asia and in Africa; for Richard Burton to gain an intimate
knowledge of Islam in its holiest shrines; for Livingstone, Hannington,
and other martyrs to the Faith to breathe their last in the tropics; for
Franklin, dying, as Scott died nearly seventy years later, in the cause
of Science, to hallow the polar regions for the Anglo-Saxon race.
Darkest Africa was to remain impenetrable yet awhile. Only towards the
end of the century, when Stanley's work was finished, could Rhodes and
Kitchener conspire to clasp hands across its deserts and its swamps: but
on the other side of the globe a new island-empire had been already
created by the energy of Wakefield, and developed by the wisdom of
Parkes and Grey. In distant lands, on stricken fields less famous but no
less perilous, Wellington's men were applying the lessons which they had
learnt in the Peninsula. On distant seas Nelson's ships were carrying
explorers equipped for the more peaceful task of scientific observation.
In this century the highest mountains, the deepest seas, the widest
stretches of desert were to reveal their secrets to the adventurers who
held the whole world for their playground or field of conquest.

And not only in the great expansion of empire abroad but in the growth
of knowledge at home and the application of it to civil life, there was
a field to employ all the vigour of a race capable of rising to its
opportunities. There is no need to remind this generation of such names
as Stephenson and Herschel, Darwin and Huxley, Faraday and Kelvin; they
are in no danger of being forgotten to-day. The men of letters take
relatively a less conspicuous place in the evolution of the Age; but the
force which they put into their writings, the wealth of their material,
the variety of their lives, and the contrasts of their work, endow the
annals of the nineteenth century with an absorbing interest. While
Tennyson for the most part stayed in his English homes, singing the
beauties of his native land, Browning was a sojourner in Italian palaces
and villas, studying men of many races and many times, exploring the
subtleties of the human heart. The pen of Dickens portrayed all classes
of society except, perhaps, that which Thackeray made his peculiar
field. The historians, too, furnish singular contrasts: the vehement
pugnacity of Freeman is a foil to the serene studiousness of Acton; the
erratic career of Froude to the concentration of Stubbs. The influence
exercised on their contemporaries by recluses such as Newman or Darwin
may be compared with the more worldly activities of Huxley and Samuel
Wilberforce. Often we see equally diverse elements in following the
course of a single life. In Matthew Arnold we wonder at the poet of
'The Strayed Reveller' coexisting with the zealous inspector of schools;
in William Morris we find it hard to reconcile the creative craftsman
with the fervent apostle of social discontent. Perhaps the most notable
case of this diversity is the long pilgrimage of Gladstone which led him
from the camp of the 'stern, unbending Tories' to the leadership of
Radicals and Home Rulers. There is an interest in tracing through these
metamorphoses the essential unity of a man's character. On the other
hand, one cannot but admire the steadfastness with which Darwin and
Lister, Tennyson and Watts, pursued the even tenor of their way.

Again we may notice the strange irony of fortune which drew Carlyle from
his native moorlands to spend fifty years in a London suburb, while his
disciple Ruskin, born and bred in London, and finding fit audience in
the universities of the South, closed his long life in seclusion amid
the Cumbrian fells. So two statesmen, who were at one time very closely
allied, present a similarly striking contrast in the manner of their
lives. Till the age of forty Joseph Chamberlain limited himself to
municipal work in Birmingham, and yet he rose in later life to imperial
views wider than any statesman's of his day. Charles Dilke, on the other
hand, could be an expert on 'Greater Britain' at thirty and yet devote
his old age to elaborating the details of Local Government and framing
programmes of social reform for the working classes of our towns.
Accidents these may be, but they lend to Victorian biography the charm
of a fanciful arabesque or mosaic of varied pattern and hue.

Eccentrics, too, there were in fact among the literary men of the day,
even as there are in the fiction of Dickens, of Peacock, of George
Meredith. There was Borrow, who, as an old man, was tramping solitarily
in the fields of Norfolk, as earlier he wandered alone in wild Wales or
wilder Spain. There was FitzGerald, who remained all his life constant
to one corner of East Anglia, and who yet, by the precious thread of his
correspondence, maintained contact with the great world of Victorian
letters to which he belonged.

Some wandered as far afield as Asia or the South Seas; some buried
themselves in the secluded courts of Oxford and Cambridge and became
mythical figures in academic lore. Not many were to be found within hail
of London or Edinburgh in these forceful days. Brougham, the most
omniscient of reviewers, with the most ill-balanced of minds, belongs
more properly to the preceding age, though he lived to 1868; and it is
from this age that the novelists probably drew their eccentric types.
But between eccentricity and vigorous originality who shall draw the
dividing line?

Men like these it is hard to label and to classify. Their individuality
is so patent that any general statement is at once open to attack. The
most that we can do is to indicate one or two points in which the true
Victorians had a certain resemblance to one another, and were unlike
their successors of our own day. They were more evidently in earnest,
less conscious of themselves, more indifferent to ridicule, more
absorbed in their work. To many of them full work and the cares of
office seemed a necessity of life. It was a typical Victorian who, after
sixteen years of public service, writing a family letter, says, 'I feel
that the interest of business and the excitement of responsibility are
indispensable to me, and I believe that I am never happier than when I
have more to think of and to do than I can manage in a given period'.
Idleness and insouciance had few temptations for them, cynicism was
abhorrent to them. Even Thackeray was perpetually 'caught out' when he
assumed the cynic's pose. Charlotte Brontë, most loyal of his admirers
and critics, speaks of the 'deep feelings for his kind' which he
cherished in his large heart, and again of the 'sentiment, jealously
hidden but genuine, which extracts the venom from that formidable
Thackeray'. Large-hearted and generous to one another, they were ready
to face adventure, eager to fight for an ideal, however impracticable it
seemed. This was as true of Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold, and all
the _genus irritabile vatum_, as of the politicians and the men of
action. They made many mistakes; they were combative, often difficult to
deal with. Some of them were deficient in judgement, others in the
saving gift of humour; but they were rarely petty or ungenerous, or
failed from faint-heartedness or indecision. Vehemence and impatience
can do harm to the best causes, and the lives of men like the Napiers
and the Lawrences, like Thomas Arnold and Charles Kingsley, like John
Bright and Robert Lowe, are marred by conflicts which might have been
avoided by more studied gentleness or more philosophic calm. But the
time seemed short in which they could redress the evils which offended
them. They saw around them a world which seemed to be lapped in comfort
or swathed in the dead wrappings of the past, and would not listen to
reasoned appeals; and it would be futile to deny that, by lifting their
voices to a pitch which offends fastidious critics, Carlyle and Ruskin
did sometimes obtain a hearing and kindle a passion which Matthew Arnold
could never stir by his scholarly exhortations to 'sweetness and light'.

But it would be a mistake to infer from such clamour and contention that
the Victorians did not enjoy their fair share of happiness in this
world. The opposite would be nearer the truth: happiness was given to
them in good, even in overflowing measure. Any one familiar with
Trevelyan's biography of Macaulay will remember with what fullness and
intensity he enjoyed his life; and the same fact is noted by Dr. Mozley
in his Essay on that most representative Victorian, Thomas Arnold. The
lives of Delane, the famous editor of _The Times_, of the statesman
Palmerston, of the painter Millais, and of many other men in many
professions, might be quoted to support this view. In some cases this
was due to their strong family affections, in others to their genius for
friendship. A good conscience, a good temper, a good digestion, are all
factors of importance. But perhaps the best insurance against moodiness
and melancholy was that strenuous activity which made them forget
themselves, that energetic will-power which was the driving force in so
many movements of the day.

How many of the changes of last century were due to general tendencies,
how far the single will of this man or that has seriously affected its
history, it is impossible to estimate. To many it seems that the rôle of
the individual is played out. The spirit of the coming era is that of
organized fellowship and associated effort. The State is to prescribe
for all, and the units are, somehow, to be marshalled into their places
by a higher collective will. Under the shadow of socialism the more
ambitious may be tempted to quit the field of public service at home and
to look to enterprises abroad--to resign poor England to a mechanical
bureaucracy, a soulless uniformity where one man is as good as another.
But it is difficult to believe that society can dispense with leaders,
or afford to forget the lessons which may be learnt from the study of
such noble lives. The Victorians had a robuster faith. Their faith and
their achievements may help to banish such doubts to-day. As one of the
few survivors of that Victorian era has lately said: 'Only those whose
minds are numbed by the suspicion that all times are tolerably alike,
and men and women much of a muchness, will deny that it was a generation
of intrepid efforts forward.' Some fell in mid-combat: some survived to
witness the eventual victory of their cause. For all might be claimed
the funeral honours which Browning claimed for his Grammarian. They
aimed high; they 'threw themselves on God': the mountain-tops are their
appropriate resting-place.



1795. Born at Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, December 4.
1809. Enters Edinburgh University.
1814-18. Schoolmaster at Annan and Kirkcaldy. Friendship with Edward
1819-21. Reading law and literature at Edinburgh and Mainhill.
1821. First meeting with Jane Welsh at Haddington.
1822-3. Tutorship in Buller family.
1824-5. German literature, Goethe, _Life of Schiller_.
1826. October 17, marriage; residence at Comely Bank, Edinburgh.
1827. Jeffrey's friendship; articles for _Edinburgh Review_.
1828-34. Craigenputtock, with intervals in London and Edinburgh;
      poverty; solitude; profound study; _Sartor Resartus_ written;
      reading for _French  Revolution_.
1834. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, permanent home.
1834. Begins to read for, 1841 to write, _Cromwell_.
1834-6. _French Revolution_ written; finished January 12, 1837.
1837-40. Four courses of lectures in London. (German literature, _Heroes_.)
1844. Changes plan of, 1845 finishes writing, _Cromwell_.
1846-51. Studies Ireland and modern questions; _Latter-Day Pamphlets_, 1849.
1851. Choice of Frederick the Great of Prussia for next subject.
1857. Two vols. printed; 1865, rest finished and published.
1865. Lord Rector of Edinburgh University.
1866. Death of Mrs. Carlyle, April 21.
1867-9. Prepares Memorials of his wife; friendship with Froude.
1870. Loses the use of his right hand.
1874. Refuses offer of Baronetcy or G.C.B.
1881. Death at Chelsea, February 5; burial at Ecclefechan.



North-west of Carlisle (from which town the Carlyle family in all
probability first took their name), a little way along the border, the
river Annan comes down its green valley from the lowland hills to lose
itself in the wide sands of the Solway Firth. At the foot of these hills
is the village of Ecclefechan, some eight miles inland. Here in the wide
irregular street, down the side of which flows a little beck, stands the
grey cottage, built by the stonemason James Carlyle, where he lived with
his second wife, Margaret Aitken; and here on December 4, 1795, the
eldest of nine children, their son Thomas was born. There is little to
redeem the place from insignificance; the houses are mostly mean, the
position of the village is tame and commonplace. But if a visitor will
mount the hills that lie to the north, turn southward and look over the
wide expanse of land and water to the Cumbrian mountains, then, should
he be fortunate enough to see the landscape in stormy and unsettled
weather, he may realize why the land was so dear to its most famous son
that he could return to it from year to year throughout his life and
could there at all times soothe his most unquiet moods. Through all his
years in London he remained a lowland Scot and was most at home in
Annandale. With this district his fame is still bound up, as that of
Walter Scott with the Tweed, or that of Wordsworth with the Lakes.

In this humble household Thomas Carlyle first learnt what is meant by
work, by truthfulness, and by reverence, lessons which he never forgot.
He learnt to revere authority, to revere worth, and to revere something
yet higher and more mysterious--the Unseen. In _Sartor Resartus_ he
describes how his hero was impressed by his parents' observance of
religious duties. 'The highest whom I knew on earth I here saw bowed
down with awe unspeakable before a Higher in Heaven; such things
especially in infancy, reach inwards to the very core of your being.'
His father was a man of unusual force of character and gifted with a
wonderful power of speech, flashing out in picturesque metaphor, in
biting satire, in humorous comment upon life. He had, too, the Scotch
genius for valuing education; and it was he who decided that Tom, whose
character he had observed, should have every chance that schooling could
give him. His mother was a most affectionate, single-hearted, and
religious woman; labouring for her family, content with her lot, her
trust for her son unfailing, her only fear for him lest in his new
learning he might fall away from the old Biblical faith which she held
so firmly herself.

Reading with his father or mother, lending a hand at housework when
needed, nourishing himself on the simple oatmeal and milk which
throughout life remained his favourite food, submitting himself
instinctively to the stern discipline of the home, he passed, happily on
the whole, through his childhood and soon outstripped his comrades in
the village school. His success there led to his going in his tenth year
to the grammar school at Annan; and before he reached his fourteenth
year he trudged off on foot to Edinburgh to begin his studies at the

Instead of young men caught up by express trains and deposited, by the
aid of cabmen and porters, in a few hours in the sheltered courts of
Oxford and Cambridge, we must imagine a party of boys, of fourteen or
fifteen years old, trudging on foot twenty miles a day for five days
across bleak country, sleeping at rough inns, and on their arrival
searching for an attic in some bleak tenement in a noisy street. Here
they were to live almost entirely on the baskets of home produce sent
through the carriers at intervals by their thrifty parents. It was and
is a Spartan discipline, and it turns out men who have shown their grit
and independence in all lands where the British flag is flown.

The earliest successes which Carlyle won, both at Annan and at
Edinburgh, were in mathematics. His classical studies received little
help from his professors, and his literary gifts were developed mostly
by his own reading, and stimulated from time to time by talks with
fellow students. Perhaps it was for his ultimate good that he was not
brought under influences which might have guided him into more
methodical courses and tamed his rugged originality. The universities
cannot often be proved to have fostered kindly their poets and original
men of letters; at least we may say that Edinburgh was a more kindly
Alma Mater to Carlyle than Oxford and Cambridge proved to Shelley and
Byron. His native genius, and the qualities which he inherited from his
parents, were not starved in alien soil, but put out vigorous growth.
From such letters to his friends as have survived, we can see what a
power Carlyle had already developed of forcibly expressing his ideas and
establishing an influence over others.

He left the university at the age of nineteen, and the next twelve years
of his life were of a most unsettled character. He made nearly as many
false starts in life as Goldsmith or Coleridge, though he redeemed them
nobly by his persistence in after years. In 1814 his family still
regarded the ministry as his vocation, and Carlyle was himself quite
undecided about it. To promote this idea the profession of schoolmaster
was taken up for the time. He continued in it for more than six years,
first at Annan and then at Kirkcaldy; but he was soon finding it
uncongenial and rebelling against it. A few years later he tried reading
law with no greater contentment; and in order to support himself he was
reduced to teaching private pupils. The chief friend of this period was
Edward Irving, the gifted preacher who afterwards, in London, came to
tragic shipwreck. He was a native of Annan, five years older than
Carlyle, and he had spent some time in preaching and preparing for the
ministry. He was one of the few people who profoundly influenced
Carlyle's life. At Kirkcaldy he was his constant companion, shared his
tastes, lent him books, and kindled his powers of insight and judgement
in many a country walk. Carlyle has left us records of this time in his
_Reminiscences_, how he read the twelve volumes of Irving's _Gibbon_ in
twelve days, how he tramped through the Trossachs on foot, how in summer
twilights he paced the long stretches of sand at Irving's side.

It was Irving who in 1822 commended him to the Buller family, with whom
he continued as tutor for two years. Charles Buller, the eldest son, was
a boy of rare gifts and promise, worthy of such a teacher; and but for
his untimely death in 1848 he might have won a foremost place in
politics. The family proved valuable friends to Carlyle in after-life,
besides enabling him at this time to live in comfort, with leisure for
his own studies and some spare money to help his family. But for this
aid, his brother Alexander would have fared ill with the farming, and
John could never have afforded the training for the medical profession.

Again, it was Irving who first took him to Haddington in 1821 and
introduced him to Jane Baillie Welsh, his future wife. Irving's
sincerity and sympathy, his earnest enthusiasm joined with the power of
genuine laughter (always to Carlyle a mark of a true rich nature), made
him through all these years a thoroughly congenial companion. He really
understood Carlyle as few outside his family did, and he never grew
impatient at Carlyle's difficulty in settling to a profession. 'Your
mind,' he wrote, 'unfortunately for its present peace, has taken in so
wide a range of study as to be almost incapable of professional
trammels; and it has nourished so uncommon and so unyielding a
character, as first unfits you for, and then disgusts you with, any
accommodations which for so cultivated and so fertile a mind would
easily procure favour and patronage.' Well might Carlyle in later days
find a hero in tough old Samuel Johnson, whose sufferings were due to
similar causes. The other source which kept the fire in him aglow
through these difficult years was the confidence and affection of his
whole family, and the welcome which he always found at home.
Disappointed though they were at his failure, as yet, to settle to a
profession and to earn a steady income, for all that 'Tom' was to be a
great man; and when he could find time to spend some months at Mainhill,
or later at Scotsbrig,[1] a room could always be found for him, hours of
peace and solitude could be enjoyed, the most wholesome food, and the
most cordial affection, were there rendered as loyal ungrudging tribute.
But new ties were soon to be knit and a new chapter to be opened in his

[Note 1: Farms near Ecclefechan to which his parents moved in 1814
and 1826.]

John Welsh of Haddington, who died before Carlyle met his future wife,
was a surgeon and a man of remarkable gifts; and his daughter could
trace her descent to such famous Scotsmen as Wallace and John Knox. Her
own mental powers were great, and her vivacity and charming manners
caused her to shine in society wherever she was. She had an unquestioned
supremacy among the ladies of Haddington and many had been the suitors
for her hand. When Irving had given her lessons there, love had sprung
up between tutor and pupil, but this budding romance ended tragically in
1822. Before meeting her he had been engaged to another lady; and when a
new appointment gave him a sure income, he was held to his bond and was
forced to crush down his passion and to take farewell of Miss Welsh. At
what date Carlyle conceived the hope of making her his wife it is
difficult to say. Her beauty and wit seem to have done their work
quickly in his case; but she was not one to give her affections readily,
for all the intellectual sympathy which united them. In 1823 she was
contemplating marriage, but had made no promise; in 1824 she had
accepted the idea of marrying him, but in 1825 she still scouted the
conditions in which he proposed to live. His position was precarious,
his projects visionary, and his immediate desire was to settle on a
lonely farm, where he could devote himself to study, if she would do the
household drudgery. Because his mother whom he loved and honoured was
content to lead this life, he seemed to think that his wife could do the
same; but her nature and her rearing were not those of the Carlyles and
their Annandale neighbours. It involved a complete renunciation of the
comforts of life and the social position which she enjoyed; and much
though she admired his talents and enjoyed his company, she was not in
that passion of love which could lift her to such heights of

By this time we can begin to discern in his letters the outline of his
character--his passionate absorption in study, his moodiness, his fits
of despondency, his intense irritability; his incapacity to master his
own tongue and temper. In happy moments he shows great tenderness of
feeling for those whom he loves or pities; but this alternates with
inconsiderate clamour and loud complaints deafening the ears of all
about him, provoked often by slight and even imaginary grievances. It is
the artistic nature run riot, and that in one who preached silence and
stoicism as the chief virtues--an inconsistency which has amused and
disgusted generations of readers. It was impossible for him to do his
work with the regular method, the equable temper, of a Southey or a
Scott. In dealing with history he must image the past to himself most
vividly before he could expound his subject; and that effort and strain
cost him sleepless nights and days of concentrated thought. Nor was he
an easier companion when his work was finished and he could take his
ease. Then life seemed empty and profitless; and in its emptiness his
voice echoed all the louder. The ill was within him, and outward
circumstances were powerless to affect his nature.

At this time he was chiefly occupied in reading German literature and
spreading the knowledge of it among his countrymen. After Coleridge he
was the first of our literary men to appreciate the poets and mystics of
Germany, and he did more even than Coleridge to make Englishmen familiar
with them. He acquired at this time a knowledge of French and Italian
literature too; but the philosophy of Kant and the writings of Goethe
and Schiller roused him to greater enthusiasm. From Kant he learnt that
the guiding principle of conduct was not happiness, but the 'categorical
imperative' of duty; from Goethe he drew such hopefulness as gleams
occasionally through his despondent utterances on the progress of the
human race. He translated Goethe's novel, _Wilhelm Meister_, in 1823,
and followed it up with the _Life of Schiller_. There was no
considerable sale for either of these books till his lectures in London
and his established fame roused a demand for all he had written. In
these days he was practising for the profession of a man of letters, and
was largely influenced by personal ambition and the desire to earn an
income which would make him independent; he was not yet fired with a
mission, or kindled to white heat.

His long courtship was rewarded in October 1826. When the marriage took
place the bride was twenty-five years old and the bridegroom thirty. Men
of letters have not the reputation of making ideal husbands, and the
qualities to which this is due were possessed by Carlyle in exaggerated
measure. It was a perilous enterprise for any one to live with him, most
of all for such a woman, delicately bred, nervous, and highly strung.
She was aware of this, and was prepared for a large measure of
self-denial; but she could not have foreseen how severe she would find
the trial. The morbid sensitiveness of Carlyle to his own pains and
troubles, so often imaginary, joined with his inconsiderate blindness to
his wife's real sufferings, led to many heart-burnings. If she
contributed to them, in some degree, by her wilfulness, jealous temper,
and sharpness of tongue, ill-health and solitude may well excuse her.

His own confessions, made after her death, are coloured by sorrow and
deep affection: no doubt he paints his own conduct in hues darker than
the truth demands. Shallow critics have sneered at the picture of the
philosopher whose life was so much at variance with his creed, and too
much has, perhaps, been written about the subject. If reference must be
made to such a well-worn tale, it is best to let Carlyle's own account
stand as he wished it to stand. His moral worth has been vindicated in a
hundred ways, not least by his humility and honesty about himself, and
can bear the test of time.

For the first two years of married life Carlyle's scheme of living on a
farm was kept at bay by his wife, and their home was at Edinburgh.
Carlyle refers to this as the happiest period of his life, though he did
not refrain from loud laments upon occasions. The good genius of the
household was Jeffrey, the famous editor of the _Edinburgh Review_, who
was distantly related to Mrs. Carlyle. He made friends with the
newly-married pair, opened a path for them into the society of the
capital, and enabled Carlyle to spread the knowledge of German authors
in the _Review_ and to make his bow before a wider public. The prospects
of the little household seemed brighter, but, by generously making over
all her money to her mother, his wife had crippled its resources; and
Carlyle was of so difficult a humour that neither Jeffrey nor any one
else could guide his steps for long. Living was precarious; society made
demands even on a modest household, and in 1828 he at length had his way
and persuaded his wife to remove to Craigenputtock. It was in the
loneliness of the moors that Carlyle was to come to his full stature and
to develop his astonishing genius.

Craigenputtock was a farm belonging to his wife's family, lying seventy
feet above the sea, sixteen miles from Dumfries, among desolate moors
and bogs, and fully six miles from the nearest village. 'The house is
gaunt and hungry-looking. It stands with the scanty fields attached as
an island in a sea of morass. The landscape is unredeemed either by
grace or grandeur, mere undulating hills of grass and heather with peat
bogs in the hollows between them.' So Froude describes the home where
the Carlyles were to spend six years, the wife in domestic labours, in
solitude, in growing ill-health, the husband in omnivorous reading, in
digesting the knowledge that he gathered, in transmuting it and marking
it with the peculiar stamp of his genius. There was no true
companionship over the work. As the moorland gave the fresh air and
stillness required, so the wife might nourish the physical frame with
wholesome digestible food and save him from external cares; the rest
must be done by lonely communing with himself. He needed no Fleet Street
taverns or literary salons to encourage him. Goethe, with whom he
exchanged letters and compliments at times, said with rare insight that
he 'had in himself an originating principle of conviction, out of which
he could develop the force that lay in him unassisted by other men'.

Few were the interruptions from without. His fame was not yet
established. In any case pilgrims would have to undertake a very rough
journey, and the fashion of such pilgrimages had hardly begun. But in
1833 from distant America came one disciple, afterwards to be known as
the famous author Ralph Waldo Emerson; and he has left us in his
_English Traits_ a vivid record of his impression of two or three famous
men of letters whom he saw. He describes Carlyle as 'tall and gaunt,
with a cliff-like brow, self-possessed, and holding his extraordinary
powers of conversation in easy command; clinging to his northern accent
with evident relish; full of lively anecdote, and with a streaming
humour, which floated everything he looked upon'.[2]

[Note 2: Emerson, _English Traits_, 'World's Classics' edition, p.

Much of his time was given to reading about the French Revolution, which
was to be the subject of his greatest literary triumph. But the
characteristic work of this period is _Sartor Resartus_ ('The tailor
patched anew'), in which Carlyle, under a thin German disguise, reveals
himself to the world, with his views on the customs and ways of society
and his contempt for all the pretensions and absurdities which they
involved. In many places it is extravagant and fantastic, as when 'the
most remarkable incident in modern history' proves to be George Fox the
Quaker making a suit of leather to render himself independent of
tailors; in others it rises to the highest pitch of poetry, as in the
sympathetic lament over the hardships of manual labour. 'Venerable to me
is the hard Hand; crooked, coarse; wherein notwithstanding lies a
cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of the Sceptre of this Planet.
Venerable, too, is the rugged face, all weather-tanned, besoiled, with
its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a Man living manlike. O,
but the more venerable for thy rudeness, and even because we must pity
as well as love thee! Hardly-entreated Brother! For us was thy back so
bent, for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed; thou wert
our Conscript on whom the lot fell, and fighting our battles wert so
marred.' It is through such passages that Carlyle has won his way to the
hearts of many who care little for history, or for German literature.

The book evidently contains much that is autobiographical, and helps us
to understand Carlyle's childhood and youth; but it is so mixed up with
fantasy and humour that it is difficult to separate fiction from fact.
Its chief aim seems to be the overthrow of cant, the ridiculing of
empty conventions, and the preaching of sincerity and independence. But
not yet was Carlyle's generation prepared to listen to such sermons.
Jeffrey was bewildered by the tone and offended at the style; publisher
after publisher refused it; and when at length it was launched upon the
world piecemeal in _Fraser's Magazine_, the reading public either
ignored it or abused it in the roundest terms. During all this time
Carlyle was anxiously looking for some surer means of livelihood, and
had not yet decided that literature was to be his profession. He had
hopes at different times of professorships in Edinburgh and St. Andrews,
and of the editorship of various reviews; but these all came to nothing.
For some posts he was not suited; for others his application could find
no support. He even thought of going to America, where Emerson and other
admirers would have welcomed him. But the disappointments in Scotland
decided him to make one more effort in London before accepting defeat,
and in 1834 he found a house at Chelsea and prepared to quit his
hermitage among the moors.

Cheyne Row, Chelsea, was to be his new home, a quiet street running
northward from the riverside in a quarter of London not then invaded by
industrialism. The house, No. 24, with its little garden, has been made
into a Carlyle museum, and may still be seen on the east side of the
street facing a few survivors of the sturdy old pollarded lime-trees
standing there 'like giants in Tawtie wigs'. His bust, by Boehm, is in
the garden on the Embankment not a hundred yards away. With this
district are connected other names famous in literature and art, but its
presiding genius is the 'Sage of Chelsea', who spent the last
forty-seven years of his life in it; and there, in a double-walled room,
in spite of trivial disturbances from without, in spite of far more
serious fits of dejection and discontent within, he composed his three
greatest historical books. At the outset his prospects were not bright,
and at the end of 1834 he confessed 'it is now twenty-three months
since I earned a penny by the craft of literature'. There was need of
much faith; and it was fortunate for him that he had at his side one who
believed in his genius and who was well qualified to judge. He must have
been thinking of this when he wrote of Mahomet in _Heroes_ and of the
prophet's gratitude to his first wife Kadijah: 'She believed in me when
none else would believe. In the whole world I had but one friend and she
was that!' In the same place he quoted the German writer Novalis: 'It is
certain my conviction gains infinitely, the moment another soul will
believe in it.'

So fortified, he worked through the days of poverty and gloom, with
groans and outbursts of fury, kindling to white heat as he imaged to
himself the men and events of the French Revolution, and throwing them
on to paper in lurid pictures of flame. One terrible misadventure
chilled his spirit in 1835, when the manuscript of the first volume was
lent to J. S. Mill, and was accidentally burnt; but, after a short fit
of despair, he set manfully to work to repair the loss, and the new
version was finished in January, 1837. This book marked an epoch in the
writing of history. Hitherto few had realized what potent force there
was in the original documents lying stored in libraries and record
offices. They were 'live shells' buried in the dust of a neglected
magazine; and in the hands of Carlyle they came to life again and worked
havoc among the traditional judgements of history. This book was also
the turning point in his career. Dickens, Thackeray, and others hailed
it with enthusiasm; gradually it made its way with the public at large;
and as in the following years Carlyle, prompted by some friends, gave
successful courses of lectures,[3] his position among men of letters
became assured, and he had no more need to worry over money. Living in
London he became known to a wider circle, and his marvellous powers of
conversation brought visitors and invitations in larger measure than he
desired. The new friends whom he valued most were Mr. and Lady Harriet
Baring,[4] and he was often their guest in London, in Surrey, in
Scotland, and later at The Grange in Hampshire. But he remained faithful
to his older and more humble friends, while he also made himself
accessible to young men of letters who seemed anxious to learn, and who
did not offend one or other of his many prejudices. Such were Sterling,
Ruskin, Tennyson, and James Anthony Froude.

[Note 3: The most famous course, on Hero-Worship, was delivered in
May, 1840.]

[Note 4: Afterwards Lord and Lady Ashburton.]

Despite these successes Carlyle's letters at this time are full of the
usual discontents. London life and society stimulated him for the time,
but he paid dearly for it. Late dinners and prolonged bouts of talk, in
which he put forth all his powers, were followed by dyspepsia and
lassitude next day; and the neighbours, who kept dogs or cocks which
were accused of disturbing his slumbers, were the mark for many plaints
and lamentations. He could not in any circumstances be entirely happy.
Work was so exciting with the imagination on fire, that it kept him
awake at night; idleness was still more fatal in its effects. And so,
after a few years of relative calm, in 1839 we find his active brain
struggling to create a true picture of Oliver Cromwell and to expound
the meaning of the Great Civil War.

It was to be no easy task. For nearly five years he was to wrestle with
the subject, trying in vain to give it adequate shape and form, and then
to scrap the labours of years and to start again on a new plan; but in
the end he was to win another signal victory. While the _French
Revolution_ may be the higher artistic triumph, _Cromwell_ is more
important for one who wishes to understand the life-work of Carlyle and
all for which he stood. The emptiness of political theories and
institutions, the enduring value of character, are lessons which no one
has preached more forcibly. In his opinion the success of the English
revolution, the blow to tyranny and misgovernment in Church and State,
was not due to eloquent members of the Long Parliament, but to plain
God-fearing men, who, if they quoted scripture, did so not from
hypocrisy but because it was the language in which they habitually
thought. Nor could they build up a new England till they had found a
leader. It was the ages which had faith to recognize their worthiest man
and to accept his guidance which had achieved great things in the world,
not those which prated of democracy and progress. To make his
countrymen, in this age of fluent political talk, see the true moral
quality of the men of the seventeenth century--this it was which
occupied seven years of Carlyle's life and filled his thoughts. It was
indeed a labour of Hercules. Much of the material was lost beyond
repair, much buried in voluminous folios and State papers, much obscured
by the cant and prejudice of eighteenth-century authors. To recall the
past, Carlyle needed such help as geography would give him, and he spent
many days in visiting Dunbar, Worcester, and other sites. To Naseby he
went in 1842, in company with Dr. Arnold, and 'plucked two gowans and a
cowslip from the burial heaps of the slain'. A more important task was
to recover authentic utterances of Cromwell and his fellow workers, and
to put these in the place of the second-hand judgements of political
partisans; and this involved laborious researches in libraries. Above
all, he had to interpret these records in a new spirit, exercising true
insight and sympathy, to put life into the dry bones and to present his
readers with the living image of a man. He combined in unique fashion
the laborious research of a student with the moral fervour of a prophet.

Despite the strain of these labours Carlyle showed few signs of his
fifty years. The family were of tough stock; and the years which he had
spent in moorland air had increased the capital of health on which he
could draw. The flight of time was chiefly marked by his growing
antipathy to the political movements of the day, and by a growing
despondency about the future. People might buy his books; but he looked
in vain for evidence that they paid heed to the lessons which he
preached. The year of revolutions, 1848, followed by the setting up of
the French Empire and the collapse of the Roman Republic, produced
nothing but disappointment, and he became louder and more bitter in his
judgements on democracy. 1849 saw the birth of the _Latter-Day
Pamphlets_ in which he outraged Mill and the Radicals by his scornful
words about Negro Emancipation, and by the savage delight with which he
shattered their idols. He loved to expose what seemed to him the
sophistries involved in the conventional praise of liberty. Of old the
mediaeval serf or the negro slave had some one who was responsible for
him, some one interested in his physical well-being. The new conditions
too often meant nothing but liberty to starve, liberty to be idle,
liberty to slip back into the worst indulgences, while those who might
have governed stood by regardless and lent no help. Such from an extreme
point of view appeared the policy of _laisser-faire_; and he was neither
moderate nor impartial in stating his case. 'An idle white gentleman is
not pleasant to me;... but what say you to an idle black gentleman, with
his rum bottle in his hand,... no breeches on his body, pumpkin at
discretion, and the fruitfullest region of the earth going back to
jungle round him?' In a similar vein he dealt with stump oratory, prison
reform, and other subjects, tilting in reckless fashion at the shields
of the reforming Radicals of the day; nor was he less outspoken when he
met in person the champions of these views. A letter to his wife in 1847
tells of a visit to the Brights at Rochdale; how 'John and I discorded
in our views not a little', and how 'I shook peaceable Brightdom as with
a passing earthquake'. From books he could learn: to human teachers he
proved refractory. Had he been more willing to listen to others, his
judgements on contemporary events might have been more valuable. All his
life he was, as George Meredith says, 'Titanic rather than Olympian, a
heaver of rocks, not a shaper'; and this fever of denunciation grew with
advancing years. But with these spurts of volcanic energy alternate
moods of the deepest depression. His journal for 1850 says, 'This seems
really the Nadir of my fortunes; and in hope, desire, or outlook, so far
as common mortals reckon such, I never was more bankrupt. Lonely, shut
up within my contemptible and yet _not_ deliberately ignoble self,
perhaps there never was, in modern literary or other history, a more
solitary soul, _capable_ of any friendship or honest relation to
others.' By this time he was feeling the need of another task, and in
1851 he chose Frederick the Great of Prussia for the subject of his next

To this generation apology seems to be needed for an English author who
lavishes so much admiration on Prussian men and institutions. But
Carlyle, whose chief heroes had been men of intense religious
convictions, like Luther, Knox, and Cromwell, could find no hero after
his heart in English history subsequent to the Civil War. Eloquent Pitts
and Burkes, jobbing Walpoles and Pelhams, were to him types of
politicians who had brought England to her present plight. German
literature had always kept its influence over him and had directed his
attention to German history; Frederick, without religion as he was,
seemed at any rate sincere, recognized facts, and showed practical
capacity for ruling (essential elements in the Carlylean hero), and the
subject would be new to his readers. The labour involved was stupendous;
it was to fill his life and the lives of his helpers for thirteen
years. Of these helpers the chief credit is due to Joseph Neuberg, who
piloted him over German railways, libraries, and battle-fields in the
search for picturesque detail, and to Henry Larkin, who toiled in London
to trace references in scores of authors, and who finally crowned the
work by laborious indexing, which made Carlyle's labyrinth accessible to
his readers. There were masses of material hidden away and unsifted;
and, as in the case of Cromwell, only a man of original genius could
penetrate this inert mass with shafts of light and make the past live
again. The task grew as he continued his researches. He groped his way
back to the beginning of the Hohenzollerns, and sketched the portraits
of the old Electors in a style unequalled for vividness and humour. He
drew a full-length portrait of Frederick William, most famous of
drill-sergeants, and he studied the campaigns of his son with a
thoroughness which has been a model to soldiers and civilians ever
since. We have the record of two tours which he made in Germany to view
the scene of operations;[5] and it is amazing how exact a picture he
could bring away from a short visit to each separate battle-field. His
diligence, accuracy, and wide grasp of the subject satisfied the
severest judges; and the book won him a success as complete and enduring
in Germany as in England and America.

[Note 5: Froude, _Carlyle, Life in London_, vol. ii, pp. 100 and

When this was finished, Carlyle was on the verge of seventy and his work
was done; though the evening of his life was long, his strength was
exhausted. His wife lived just long enough to see the seal set upon his
fame, and to hear of his election to be Lord Rector of Edinburgh
University. But in April 1866, while he was in Scotland for his
installation, which she was too weak to attend, he heard the news of her
sudden death from heart failure in London; and after this he was a
broken man. By reading her journal he learnt, too late, how much his
own inconsiderate temper had added to her trials, and his remorse was
bitter and lasting. He shut himself off from all his friends except
Froude, who was to be his literary executor, and gave himself to
collecting and annotating the memorials which she had left. Each letter
is followed by some words of tender recollection or some cry of
self-reproach. He has erected to her the most singular of literary
monuments, morbid perhaps, but inspired by a feeling which was in his
case natural and sincere.

About 1870 he began to lose the use of his right hand and he found it
impossible to compose by dictation. Of the last years of his life there
is little to narrate. The offer of a baronetcy or the G.C.B. from Mr.
Disraeli in 1874 pleased him for the moment, but he resolutely refused
external honours. He took daily walks with Froude, daily drives when he
became too weak to go on foot. Towards the end the Bible and Shakespeare
were his most habitual reading. He had long ceased to be a member of any
church, but his belief in God and in God's working in history was the
very foundation of his being, and the lessons of the Bible were to him
inexhaustible and ever new. Death came to him peacefully in February,
1881; and as he had expressed a definite wish, he was buried at
Ecclefechan, though a public funeral in the Abbey was offered and its
acceptance would have met with the approval of his countrymen.

The very wealth of records makes it difficult to judge his character
fairly. Few men have so laid bare the thoughts and feelings of their
hearts. It is easy to blame the unmanly laments which he utters over his
health, his solitude, and his sufferings, real or imaginary; few
imaginative writers have the every-day virtues. His egotism, too, is
difficult to defend. If, as he himself admits, he invariably took an
undue share of talk, often in fact monopolizing it, wherever he was, we
must remember that the brilliance of his gifts was admitted by all;
less pardonable is his habit of disparaging other men, and especially
other men of letters. His pen-pictures of Mill, Wordsworth, Coleridge,
and others, are wonderfully vivid but too often sour in flavour; his
sketch of Charles Lamb is an outrage on that generous and kindly soul.
Too often he was unconscious of the pain given by such random words.
When he was brought to book, he was honourable enough to recant. Fearing
on one occasion to have offended even the serene loyalty of Emerson, he
cries out protestingly, 'Has not the man Emerson, from old years, been a
Human Friend to me? Can I ever forget, or think otherwise than lovingly
of the man Emerson?'

But whatever offence Carlyle committed with his ungovernable tongue or
pen, he had rare virtues in conduct. His generosity was as unassuming as
it was persistent; and it began at home. Long before he was free from
anxieties about money for himself, he was helping two of his brothers to
make a career, one in agriculture, and the other in medicine. In his
latter days he regularly gave away large sums in such a way that no one
knew the source from which they came. His letters show a deep tenderness
of affection for his mother, his wife, and others of the family; and the
humble Annandale home was always in his thoughts. His charity embraced
even those whose claim on him was but indirect. When his wife was dead,
he could remember to celebrate her birthday by sending a present to her
old nurse. He was scrupulous in money-dealing and frugal in all matters
of personal comfort; in his innermost thoughts he was always
pure-hearted and sincere; for nothing on earth would he traffic in his
independence or in adherence to the truth.

His style has not largely influenced other historians; and this is as
well, since imitations of it easily fall into mere obscurity and
extravagance. But his historical method has been of great value, the
patient study of original authorities, the copious references quoted,
the careful indexing, all being proof how anxious he was that the
subject should be presented clearly and veraciously, rather than that
the books should shine as literary performances. How far the principles
which he valued and taught have spread it is difficult to say. Party
politicians still appeal to the sacred name of liberty without inquiring
what true liberty means; publicists still speak as if the material gains
of modern life, cheap food and machine-made products, meant nothing but
advance in the history of the human race; but there are others who look
to the spiritual factors and wish to enlarge the bounds of political

The writings of Carlyle, and of Ruskin, on whom fell the prophet's
mantle, certainly made their influence felt in later books devoted to
that once 'dismal' science. Few can be quite indifferent to the man or
to his message. Those who demand moderation, clearness, and Attic
simplicity, will be repelled by his extravagances or by his mysticism.
Others will be attracted by his glowing imagination and by his fiery
eloquence, and will reserve for him a foremost place in their
affections. These will echo the words which Emerson was heard to say on
his death-bed, when his eyes fell on a portrait of the familiar rugged
features, '_That_ is the man, my man'.

[Illustration: SIR ROBERT PEEL

From the painting by J. Linnell in the National Portrait Gallery]



1788. Born near Bury, Lancashire, July 5.
1801-4. Harrow School.
1805. Christ Church, Oxford.
1809. M.P. for Cashel, Ireland.
1811. Under-Secretary for the Colonies.
1812-18. Chief Secretary for Ireland.
1817. M.P. for Oxford University.
1819. President of Bullion Committee.
1820. Marriage to Julia, daughter of General Sir John Floyd.
1822-7. Home Secretary in Lord Liverpool's Government.
1827. Canning's short ministry and death.
1828-30. Home Secretary and leader in Commons under the Duke of Wellington.
1829. Catholic Emancipation carried.
1832. Lord Grey's Reform Bill carried.
1834-5. Prime Minister; Tamworth manifesto.
1839. 'Bedchamber Plot': Peel fails to form ministry.
1841-6. Prime Minister a second time.
1844. Peel's Bank Act.
1846. Corn Laws repealed. Peel, defeated on Irish Coercion Bill, resigns.
1850. Accident, June 29, and death, July 2.



In the years that lay between the Treaty of Utrecht and the close of the
Napoleonic wars British politics were largely dominated by Walpole and
the two Pitts: their great figures only stand out in stronger relief
because their place was filled for a time by such weak ministers as
Newcastle and Bute, as Grafton and North. In the nineteenth century
there were many gifted statesmen who held the position of first
minister of the Crown. Disraeli and Palmerston by shrewdness and force
of character, Canning and Derby by brilliant oratorical gifts, Russell
and Aberdeen by earnest devotion to public service, were all commanding
figures in their day, whose claims to the chieftainship of a party and
of a government were generally admitted. Gladstone, the most versatile
genius of them all, had abilities second to none; but his place in
history will for long be a subject of acute controversy. He stands too
close to our own time to be fairly judged. Of the others no one had the
same combination of gifts as Sir Robert Peel, no one had in the same
measure that particular knowledge, judgement, and ability which
characterize the _statesman_. His career was the most fruitful, his work
the most enduring: he has left his mark in English history to a degree
which no one of his rivals can equal.

The Peel family can be traced back to the misty days of Danish inroads.
Its original home in England is disputed between Yorkshire and
Lancashire; but as early as the days of Elizabeth the branch from which
our statesman was descended is certainly to be found at Blackburn, and
its members lived for generations as sturdy yeomen of that district. The
first of them known to strike out an independent line was his
grandfather, Robert Peel, who with his brother-in-law, Mr. Haworth,
started the first firm for calico-printing in Lancashire about the year
1760, ceasing the practice of sending the material to be printed in
France. This grandfather was a type of the men who were making the new
England, leading the way in the creation of industries that were to
transform the North and Midlands. The business prospered and he moved
from Blackburn to Burton-on-Trent, where he built three new mills. His
third son, named Robert, was also gifted with resource. Beginning as a
member of the family firm, he soon came to be its chief director, and
added another branch at Tamworth, where later he built the house of
Drayton Manor, the family seat in the nineteenth century. He was a Tory
and a staunch follower of the younger Pitt, who rewarded his services
with a baronetcy in 1800. He too was a typical man of his age and class,
an age of material progress and expansion, a class full of
self-confidence and animated by a spirit of stubborn resistance to
so-called un-English ideas. His eldest son, the third Robert and the
second baronet, is our subject. It is impossible to grasp the springs of
his conduct unless we know what traditions he inherited from his

Peel's education was begun at home with a specific purpose. Though his
father had every reason to be satisfied with his own success, for his
son he cherished a yet higher ambition and one which he did not conceal.
He said openly that he intended him to be Prime Minister of his country.
The knowledge of this provoked many jests among the boy's friends and
caused him no slight embarrassment. It conspired with the shyness and
reserve, which were innate in him, to win him from the outset a
reputation for pride and aloofness. If he had not been forced to mix
with those of his own age, and if he had not resolutely set himself to
overcome this feeling, he might have grown into a student and a recluse.
Both at school and college he did 'attend to his book': at Harrow he
roused the greatest hopes. His brilliant schoolfellow, Lord Byron, while
claiming to excel him in general information and history, admits that
Peel was greatly his superior as a scholar. The working of their minds,
now and afterwards, was curiously different. Bagehot[6] illustrates the
contrast by a striking metaphor: Byron's mind, he says, worked by
momentary eruptions of volcanic force from within and then relapsed into
inactivity. Peel on the other hand steadily accumulated knowledge and
opinions, his mind receiving impressions from outward experience like
the alluvial soil deposited by a river in its course. But this is to
anticipate. At Oxford Peel was the first man to win a 'Double First'
(i.e. a first class both in classics and mathematics), in which
distinction Gladstone alone, among our Prime Ministers, equalled him.
But he also found time during the term to indulge in cricket, in rowing,
and in riding, while in the vacation he developed a more marked taste
for shooting, and thus freed himself from the charge of being a mere
bookworm. He was good-looking, rather a dandy in his dress, stiff in his
manner, regular in his habits, conforming to the Oxford standards of
excellence and as yet showing few signs of independence of character.

[Note 6: Walter Bagehot, _Biographical Studies_, p. 17 (Longmans,

Peel went into Parliament early, after the fashion of the day. He was
twenty-one when, in 1809, a seat was offered him at Cashel in Ireland.
The system of 'rotten boroughs' had many faults--our text-books of
history do not spare it--but it may claim to have offered an easy way
into Parliament for some men of brilliant talents. Peel's family
connexions and his own training marked out the path for him. It was
difficult for the young Oxford prizeman not to follow Lord Chancellor
Eldon, that stout survival of the high old Tories: it was impossible for
his father's son not to sit behind the successors of Pitt. We shall see
how far his own reasoning powers and clear vision led him from this
path; but the early influences were never quite effaced. His first
patron was Lord Liverpool, to whom he became private secretary in the
following year. This nobleman, described by Disraeli in a famous passage
as an 'arch-mediocrity' was Prime Minister for fifteen years. He owed
his long tenure of office largely to the tolerance with which he allowed
his abler lieutenants to usurp his power: perhaps he owed it still more
to the victories which Wellington was then winning abroad and which
secured the confidence of the country; but at least he seems to have
been a good judge of men. In 1811 he promoted Peel to be
Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and in 1812 to be Chief Secretary for
Ireland. His abilities must have made a great impression to win him such
promotion: he must have had plenty of self-confidence to undertake such
duties, for he was only twenty-four years old. We are accustomed to-day
to under-secretaries of forty or forty-five; but we must remember that
the younger Pitt led the House of Commons at twenty-four and was Prime
Minister at twenty-five.

At Dublin Castle Peel was not expected to deal with the great political
questions which convulsed Parliament at different periods of the
century. He had to administer the law. It was routine work of a tedious
and difficult kind; it involved the close study of facts--not in order
to make a showy speech or to win a case for the moment, but in order to
frame practical measures which would stand the test of time. Peel
eschewed the usual recreations of Dublin society, and flung himself into
his work whole-heartedly. In Roman history we see how Caesar was trained
in the details of administration as quaestor, aedile, praetor, consul,
while Pompeius passed in a lordly progress from one high command to
another; how Caesar voluntarily exiled himself from Rome for ten years
to conquer and develop Gaul, while Cicero bewailed himself over a few
months' absence from the Forum. Of these three famous men only one
proved himself able to guide the ship of state in stormy waters. Analogy
must not be too closely pressed; but we see that, while Canning for all
his ability established no durable influence, and his oratory burnt
itself out after a brief blaze, while Wellington's fame paled year after
year from his inability to control the course of civil strife, Peel's
light burnt brighter every decade, as he rose from office to office and
faced one difficult situation after another with coolness and success.
He stayed at his post in Dublin for six years: he worked at the details
of his office--education, agriculture, and police--and brought in many
practical reforms. His beneficial activity is still better seen in the
years 1821 to 1827 when he was Home Secretary. To-day he is chiefly
remembered as the eponymous hero of our police; but in many other ways
his tenure of the latter office is a landmark in departmental work. It
may be that he originated little himself: that Romilly was the pioneer
in the humanizing of law, that Horner taught him the doctrines of sound
finance, that Huskisson led the way in freeing trade from the shackles
with which it had been bound. But Peel in all these cases lent generous
support and made their cause his own. He had a cool head and a warm
heart, a knowledge of Parliament and an influence in Parliament already
unrivalled. He saw what could be done, and how it could be done, and so
he was able to push through successfully the reforms which his
colleagues initiated. The value of his work in this sphere has never
been seriously contested.

The point on which Peel's enemies fastened in judging his career was the
number of times that he changed his convictions, abandoned his party,
and carried through a measure which he himself had formerly opposed. To
understand his claim to be called a great statesman it is particularly
necessary to study these changes.

The first instance was the Reform of the Currency. Early in the French
wars the London banks had been in difficulties. The Government was
forced to borrow large sums from the Bank of England in order to give
subsidies to our allies, and was unable to pay its debts. The Bank could
not at the same time meet the demands of the Government and the claims
of its private customers. Since a panic might at any moment cause an
unprecedented run on its reserves, Pitt suspended cash payments till six
months after the conclusion of peace. The Bank was thus allowed to
circulate notes without being obliged to pay full cash value for them
immediately on demand, and the purchasing power of these notes tended to
vary far more than that of a metal currency. Also foreigners refused to
accept a pound note in the place of a pound sterling; foreign payments
had to be made in specie, and the gold was rapidly drained abroad. When
the war was over, Horner and other economists began to draw attention to
the bad effect of this on foreign trade and to the varying price of
commodities at home, due to the want of a fixed currency. As Pitt had
allowed the system of inconvertible paper, the Tories generally
applauded and were ready to perpetuate it. The elder Sir Robert Peel had
been always a firm supporter of these views and his son began by
accepting them. He continued to acquiesce in them till his attention was
definitely turned to the subject. In 1819 he was asked to be a member of
a committee of very eminent men, including Canning and Mackintosh, which
was to investigate the question, and he was elected chairman of it. But,
though his verdict was taken for granted by his party, his mind was so
constituted that he could not shut it against evidence. He listened to
arguments, and judged them fairly; and, being by nature unable to palter
with the truth, once he was convinced of it, he threw in all his weight
with the reformers and reported in favour of a return to cash payments.
History has vindicated his judgement, and he himself crowned his
financial work by the famous Bank Act of 1844, passed when he was Prime

The second question on which Peel's conduct surprised his colleagues was
that of Catholic Emancipation. Since 1793 Roman Catholic electors had
the parliamentary vote; but, since no Roman Catholic could sit in
Parliament, they had hitherto been content to cast their votes for the
more tolerant of the Protestant candidates. Pitt had failed to induce
George III to grant the Catholics civil equality, and George IV, despite
his liberal professions, took up the same attitude as his father on
succeeding to the throne. But the majority of the Whigs, and some even
of the Tories, such as Castlereagh and Canning, were prepared to make
concessions; and since 1820 the Irish agitation led by O'Connell had
been gaining in strength. Peel had several reasons for being on the
other side. His early training by his father, his friendship with Eldon
and Wellington, his attachment to the Established Church, all had
influence upon him. He saw clearly that Disestablishment would follow
closely in Ireland on the granting of the Catholic demands; and since
1817, when he became Member for Oxford University, he felt bound to
resist this. In taking this line he was no better and no worse than any
other Tory member of the day; and in later times many politicians have
allowed their traditions and prejudices to blind them to the existence
of an Irish problem.

For all that, Peel ought earlier to have recognized the facts, to have
looked ahead and formed a policy. As Chief Secretary for Ireland he had
unrivalled opportunities for studying the whole question; but he did not
let it penetrate beneath the surface of his mind. He had continued to
bring up the same arguments on the few occasions when he spoke at
Westminster, and had buried himself in administrative work. He seems to
have hoped that he could evade it. If the Whigs got a majority and
introduced an Emancipation Bill, he would have satisfied his
constituents by formally opposing the measure and would not have gone
beyond this. As he saw it gradually coming, he satisfied his own
conscience by retiring from Lord Liverpool's Government and by refusing
to join Canning, when he became Prime Minister in 1827. As a private
member he would only be responsible for his own vote, and would not feel
that he was settling the question for others. But Canning died after
holding office only a month, and a Government was formed by Wellington
in which Peel returned to office as Home Secretary and became leader of
the House of Commons. Now he had to pay the penalty for his lack of
foresight, and to deal with the tide of feeling which had been rising
for some years on both sides of the Irish Channel. At least he could see
facts which were before his eyes.

In 1828, before he had been twelve months in office, his decision was
aided by a definite event. A by-election had to be fought in Clare, Mr.
Fitzgerald seeking re-election on joining the Government. Against him
came forward no less a person than Daniel O'Connell himself, the most
eloquent and most popular of the Catholic leaders; and, although under
the existing laws his candidature was void, he received an overwhelming
majority. The bewilderment of the Tories was ludicrous. Fitzgerald
himself wrote, 'The proceedings of yesterday were those of madmen; but
the country is mad.' Peel took a careful view of the situation and
decided on his course. He certainly laid himself open to the charge of
giving way before a breach of the law, and the charge was pressed by the
angry Tories. But his judgement was clearly based on a complete survey
of all the facts. A single event was the candle which lit up the scene,
but by the light of it he surveyed the whole room. He still held to his
view about the dangers of Disestablishment ahead, but he maintained that
a crisis had arisen involving graver dangers at the moment, and that the
statesman must choose the lesser of two evils. There is no doubt that
the situation was critical. The Duke of Wellington and Lord Anglesey (a
Waterloo veteran, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) both had fears of
mutiny in the army; and civil war was to be expected, if O'Connell was
not admitted to the House of Commons. Peel's personal consistency was
one matter; the public welfare was another and a weightier. His first
idea was to retire from office and to lend unofficial support to a
measure which he could not advocate in principle. But the only hope of
breaking down the old Tory opposition lay in the influence of the Tory
ministers; no Whig Government could prevail in the temper of that time;
and Wellington appealed in the strongest terms to Peel to remain in
office and to lead the House. Peel yielded from motives of public policy
and made himself responsible for a measure of Catholic Emancipation,
which he had been pledged to resist.

It was a surrender--an undisguised surrender--and Peel did not, as on
the Bullion Committee, profess to have changed his mind. But it was an
honest surrender carried out in the light of day; and, before Parliament
met, Peel announced his decision to resign his seat at Oxford and to
give his constituents the chance of expressing their opinion of his
conduct. The verdict was not long in doubt: the University, which in
1865 rejected another of its brilliant sons, gave a majority of one
hundred and forty-six against him, and his political connexion with
Oxford was severed. The verdict of posterity has been more liberal. The
chief fault laid to Peel's charge is that he should for so many years
have ignored all signs of the danger which was approaching, and not have
made up his mind in time. He could see the crisis clearly, when it came,
and could put the national interest above everything else: he could not
look far enough ahead.

It was a similar want of foresight that led to the fall of the Tory
Government in 1830. The Reform movement, so long delayed by the great
wars, had been gathering force again. Events in France, where Charles X
was driven from the throne and Louis Philippe proclaimed as
Citizen-king, gave it additional impetus. The famous lawyer Brougham was
thundering against the Government in Parliament, while throughout the
country the platforms from which Radical orators declaimed were
surrounded by eager throngs. The history of the movement cannot be told
here. Its chief actors were the Whigs, who on Wellington's resignation
formed a Government under Earl Grey at the end of 1830. Peel was
fighting a losing fight and he did not show his usual judgement or cool
temper. He opposed the Reform Bill to the last: he was haranguing
violently against it when Black Rod arrived to summon the Commons to the
presence of the King. William IV came down in person, at the instance of
the Whig ministers, to dissolve Parliament and so to stay all
proceedings by which, in the as yet unreformed Parliament, the Bill
might have been defeated. In the General Election of 1831 the Whigs
carried all before them, and in July, when Lord Grey carried the second
reading, he could command a majority of 136. Even then it took three
months of stubborn fighting to vanquish the Tory opposition in the House
of Commons. When the Peers rejected the Bill, the question was raised
whether a Tory Government could be formed; but Peel, however he might
dislike the Bill, could recognize facts, and his refusal to co-operate
in defying public opinion was decisive. Lord Grey returned to office
fortified by the King's promise to make any number of new peers, if
required; and the influence of Wellington was effective in dissuading
the Upper House from further futile resistance. Again Peel had shown his
good sense in accepting the situation. So far as he was concerned, there
was no talk of repeal. He explicitly said that he regarded the question
as 'finally and irrevocably disposed of', and he set to work to adapt
his policy to the new situation.

It might well seem a desperate one for the Tories. Here were three
hundred new members, most of whom had just received their seats from the
Whigs against the direct opposition of their rivals. Gratitude and
self-interest impelled them to support the Whig party; and its leaders,
who had for nearly fifty years been out in the cold shade of opposition,
might count on a long spell of power, especially as the Canningites,
stronger in talents than in numbers, joined them at this juncture.
Brougham had gone to the House of Lords, but three future Prime
Ministers--Stanley (afterwards Lord Derby), Lord John Russell, and
Palmerston--were in the House of Commons serving under Lord Althorp,
who, though gifted with no oratorical talent, by his good sense and
still more by his high character, commanded general respect. On the
other side there was only one figure of the first rank, and that was
Peel. Till 1832 he had not grown to his full stature: the Reformed
Parliament gave him his chance and drew forth all his powers. It
represented a new force in politics. No longer were the members sent to
Westminster by a few great land-holders, by the small market towns, and
by the agricultural labourers. The great industrial districts,
Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands, were there in the persons of
well-to-do citizens, experienced in business and serious in temper; and
Peel, who was himself sprung from a notable family of this kind, was
eminently the man to lead these classes and to win their confidence. It
was also a gain to him to stand alone. His judgement was ripened, his
confidence firm; and he could dominate his party, while the able and
ambitious leaders on the other side too often clashed with one another.
Above all, in the years 1832 to 1834, he showed that he had patience.
Instead of snatching at occasions to ally himself with O'Connell, who
was in opposition to every Government, and to embarrass the Whigs in a
factious party-spirit, he showed a marked respect for principle. He
supported or opposed the Whig bills purely on their merits, and
gradually trained his party to be ready for the inevitable reaction when
it should come.

By 1834 the tendencies to disruption in the victorious party were
clearly showing themselves. First Stanley, on grounds of policy, and
then Lord Grey, for personal reasons never quite cleared up, resigned
office. Soon after, Lord Althorp left the House of Commons on
succeeding to his father's earldom, and a little later Melbourne, the
new Premier, was unexpectedly dismissed by the King. At the time Peel,
expecting no immediate crisis, was abroad, in Rome; and we have
interesting details of his slow journey home to meet the urgent call of
Wellington, who was carrying on the administration provisionally. The
changes of the last few years were shown by the fact that the Tories
felt bound to choose their Premier from the Lower House. It was
Wellington who recommended Peel for the place which, under the old
conditions, he might have been expected to take himself. On his return,
Peel accepted the task of forming a ministry, and, conscious of the
numerical weakness of his own party, he made overtures to some of the
Whigs. But Stanley and Graham[7] refused to join him, and he had to fall
back on the Tories of Wellington's last Government. Before going to the
country he laid down his principles in the famous Tamworth Manifesto.[8]
This manifesto is important for its acceptance of the changes
permanently made by the Reform Bill, and for the clear exposition of his
attitude towards the important Church questions which were imminent. It
is an excellent document for any one to study who wishes to understand
the evolution of the old Tories into the modern Conservative party.

[Note 7: Sir James Graham, afterwards Home Secretary under Peel in

[Note 8: Since his father's death, in 1830, Peel had been member for

Peel's first administration was not destined to last long. The Liberal
wave was not spent, and the Tories had little to hope for, at this
moment, from a General Election. As so often happened afterwards, when
the two English parties were evenly balanced, the Irish votes turned the
scale. Peel had been forced into this position by the King: his own
judgement would have led him to wait some years. He fought dexterously
for four months, helped in some measure by Stanley, who had left the
Whigs when they threatened the Established Church in Ireland; but it was
this question which in the end upset him. Lord John Russell, in alliance
with O'Connell, proposed the disendowment of that Church and defeated
Peel by thirty-three votes. It was a question of principle, though it
was raised in a factious way, and subsequent history showed that the
mover, after his tactical victory of the moment, could not effect any
practical solution. Peel was driven to resign. But in this short period,
so far from losing credit, he had won the confidence of his party and
the respect of his opponents; he had put some useful measures on the
Statute Book; and he had shown the country that a new spirit, practical
and enlightened, was growing up in the Tory party, and that there was a
minister capable of utilizing it for the general good.

In the Greville papers and other literature of the time we get many
references to the predominant place which he held in the esteem of the
House of Commons. An entry in Greville's journal for February 1834 shows
Peel's unique power. 'No matter how unruly the House, how impatient or
fatigued, the moment he rises, all is silence, and he is sure of being
heard with profound attention and respect.' Lady Lyttelton,[9] who met
him later at Windsor, shows us another aspect. His readiness and
presence of mind come out in the most trivial matters. When Queen
Victoria suddenly, one evening, issued her command that all who could
dance were to dance, the more elderly guests were much embarrassed. Such
an order was not to Peel's taste. 'He was, in fact, to a close observer,
evidently both shy and cross'; but he was 'much the best figure of all,
so mincing with his legs and feet, his countenance full of the funniest
attempt to look unconcerned and "matter of course".' Another time when
games were improvised in the royal circle, Lady Lyttelton was 'much
struck with the quickness and watchful cautious characteristic sagacity
which Sir Robert showed in learning and playing a new round game'. And
to the ladies-in-waiting he commended himself by his quiet courtesy.
'Sir Robert Peel', we read, 'was in his most conversable mood and so
very agreeable. I never enjoyed an evening more.'

[Note 9: _Correspondence of Sarah, Lady Lyttelton_, by Maud Wyndham
(Murray, 1912).]

Perhaps the best description to show how personally he impressed his
contemporaries at this time is given by Lord Dalling and Bulwer in his
memoir. Sir Robert Peel, he tells us, was 'tall and powerfully built,
his body somewhat bulky for his limbs, his head small and well-formed,
his features regular. His countenance was not what would be generally
called expressive, but it was capable of taking the expression he wished
to give it, humour, sarcasm, persuasion, and command, being its
alternate characteristics. The character of the man was seen more... in
the whole person than in the face. He did not stoop, but he bent rather
forwards; his mode of walking was peculiar, and rather like that of a
cat, but of a cat that was well acquainted with the ground it was moving
over; the step showed no doubt or apprehension, it could hardly be
called stealthy, but it glided on firmly and cautiously, without haste,
or swagger, or unevenness.... The oftener you heard him speak, the more
his speaking gained upon you.... He never seemed occupied with himself.
His effort was evidently directed to convince you, not that he was
_eloquent_, but that he was _right_.... He seemed rather to aim at
gaining the doubtful, than mortifying or crushing the hostile.' These
qualities appealed especially to the practical men of business whom the
Reform Bill had brought into politics. They were suited to the temper of
the day, and his speaking won the favour of the best judges in the
House of Commons. Though he disappointed ardent crusaders like Lord
Shaftesbury by his apparent coldness and calculating caution, he
impressed his fellow members as pre-eminently honest and as anxious to
advance in the most effective manner those causes which his judgement
approved. He was not the man to lead a forlorn hope, but rather the
sagacious commander who directed his troops through a practicable

He was to be in opposition for another six years; but during these years
the Whigs were in constant difficulties, and, as Greville notes, it was
often obvious that Peel was leading the House from the front Opposition
bench. Had he imitated Russell's conduct in 1834 and devoted his chief
energies to overthrowing the Whigs, he could have found many an
occasion. Sedition in Canada and Jamaica, rivalry with France in the
Levant and with Russia in the Farther East, financial troubles and
deficits, the spread of Chartist doctrine, all combined to embarrass a
Government which had no single will and no concentrated resolution. The
accession of Queen Victoria, in 1837, made no change for the moment. But
Wellington's famous remark that the Tories would have no chance with a
Queen because Peel had no manners and he had no small talk, is only
quoted now because of the falsity of the prediction; both politicians
soon came to form a better estimate of her judgement and public spirit.
It was some years before this could be fairly tested. The Tories, while
improving their position, failed to gain an absolute majority in the
elections, and Peel's want of tact in insisting on the Queen changing
all the ladies of her household delayed his triumph from 1839 to 1841.
Meanwhile he spent his energies in training his party and organizing
their resources. He studied measures and he studied men, and he
gradually gathered round him a body of loyal followers who believed in
their chief and were ready to help him in administrative reform when
the time should come. Among his most devoted adherents was Mr.
Gladstone, at this time more famous as a churchman than as a financier;
and even Mr. Disraeli, for all his eccentricities, accepted Peel's
leadership without question. Few could then foresee the very different
careers that lay before his two brilliant lieutenants.

By 1841 the power of the Whigs was spent. A vote of want of confidence
was carried by Peel, the King dissolved Parliament, and the Tories came
back with a majority of ninety in the new House of Commons. Now begins
the most famous part of Peel's career, that associated with the Repeal
of the Corn Laws, the third of his so-called 'betrayals' of his party.
No action of his has been so variously criticized, none caused such
bitterness in political circles. There is no space here to discuss the
value of Protection or the wisdom of the Anti-Corn-Law League, still
less the merits or demerits of a fixed duty as opposed to a
'sliding-scale'. We are concerned with Peel's conduct and must try to
answer the questions--What were Peel's earlier views on the subject?
What caused him to change these views? Was this change effected
honestly, or was he guilty of abandoning his party in order to retain
office himself?

The Corn Laws, introduced in 1670, re-enacted in 1815, forbade any one
to import corn into England till the price of home-grown corn had
reached eighty shillings a quarter. It is easy to attack a system based
on rigid figures applied to conditions varying widely in every century;
but the idea was that the English farmer should be given a decisive
advantage over his foreign rivals, and only when the price rose to a
prohibitive point might the interest of the consumer be allowed to
outweigh that of the producer. The revival of the old law in 1815 met
with strong opposition. England had greatly changed; the agricultural
area had not been widely increased, but there were many more millions of
mouths to feed, thanks to the growth of population in the industrial
districts. But while in 1815 the House of Commons represented almost
exclusively the land-owning and corn-growing classes, between 1815 and
1840 opposition to their policy had lately been growing and had been
organized, outside Parliament, by the famous league of which Richard
Cobden was the leading spirit. Peel, though he had been brought up by
his father a strong Protectionist and Tory, had been largely influenced
by Huskisson, the most remarkable President of the Board of Trade that
this country has ever seen, and had shown on many occasions that he
grasped the principle of Free Trade as well as any statesman of the day.
The Whigs had left the finances of the country in a very bad state, and
Peel had to take sweeping measures to restore credit. From 1842 to 1845
he brought in Budgets of a Free Trade character, designed to encourage
commerce by remitting taxation, especially on raw material; and he made
up the loss thus incurred by the Treasury, by imposing an income-tax. To
this policy there were two exceptions, the Corn Laws and the Sugar
Duties. On the latter he felt that England, since she had abolished
slave-owning, had a duty to her colonies to see that they did not suffer
by the competition of sugar produced by slave labour elsewhere. On the
former he held that England ought, so far as possible, to produce its
own food and to be self-sufficing; and as a practical man he recognized
that it was too much to expect of the agricultural interest, so strongly
represented in both Houses of Parliament, to pronounce what seemed to be
its death-warrant. But through these years he came more and more to see
that the interest of a class must give way to the interest of the
nation; and his clear intellect was from time to time shaken by the
arguments of the Anti-Corn-Law League and its orators. In 1845 he was
probably expecting that he would tide over this Parliament, thanks to
his Budgets and to good harvests, and that at a general election he
would be able to declare for a change of fiscal policy without going
back on his pledges to the party. Meanwhile his general attitude had
been noted by shrewd observers. Cobden himself in a speech delivered at
Birmingham said, 'There can be no doubt that Sir Robert Peel is at heart
as good a Free Trader as I am. He has told us so in the House of Commons
again and again.'

Among the causes which influenced Peel at the moment two are specially
noteworthy as reminding us of the way in which his opinion was changed
over Catholic Emancipation. Severe critics say that, to retain office,
he surrendered to the agitation of Cobden, as he had surrendered to that
of O'Connell. Undoubtedly the increasing size and success of Cobden's
meetings, which were on a scale unknown before in political agitation,
did cause Peel to consider fully what he had only half considered
before: it did help to force open a door in his mind, and to break down
a water-tight compartment. But Peel's mind, once opened, saw far more
than an agitation and a transfer of votes: it looked at the merits of
the question and surveyed the interest of the whole country. He had seen
that the fall of a Protestant Church was less serious than the loss of
Ireland: he now saw that a shock to the agricultural interest was less
serious than general starvation in the country. And as with the Clare
election, so with the Irish potato famine in 1845: a definite event
arrested his attention and clamoured for instant decision. Peel was as
humane a man as has ever presided over the destinies of this country,
and the picture of Ireland's sufferings was brought forcibly before his
imagination by the reports presented to him and by his own knowledge of
the country. His personal consistency could not be put in the balance
against national distress.

That the manner in which he made the change did give great offence to
his followers, there is no room to doubt. Peel was naturally reserved in
manner and in his Cabinet he occupied a position of such unquestioned
superiority that he had no need of advice to make up his mind, and was
apt to keep matters in his own hand. Whether he was preparing to consult
his colleagues or not, the Irish potato famine forced his hand before he
had done so. When in November 1845 he made suddenly in the Cabinet a
definite proposal to suspend the duties on corn, only three members
supported him. Year after year Peel had opposed the motion brought in by
Mr. Villiers[10] for repeal: only those who had been studying the
situation as closely as Peel and with as clear a vision--and they were
few--could understand this sudden declaration of a change of policy.
After holding four Cabinet councils in one week, winning over some
waverers, but still failing to get a unanimous vote, he expressed a wish
to resign. But the Whigs, owing to personal disagreements, could not
form a ministry and Queen Victoria asked Peel to retain office: it was
evident that he alone could carry through the measure which he believed
to be so urgent, and he steeled himself to face the breach with his own
party. As Lord John Russell had already pledged the Whigs to repeal, the
issue was no longer in doubt; but Peel was not to win the victory
without heavy cost. Disraeli, who had been offended at not being given a
place in the ministry in 1841, came forward, rallied the agricultural
interest, and attacked his leader in a series of bitter speeches,
opening old sores, and charging him with having for the second time
broken his pledges and betrayed his party. The Protectionists could not
defeat the Government. In the Commons the Whig votes ensured a
majority: in the Lords the influence of Wellington triumphed over the
resistance of the more obstinate landowners. The Bill passed its third
reading by ninety-eight votes.

[Note 10: The Right Hon. C. P. Villiers, M.P. for Wolverhampton,
began to advocate repeal in 1837, four years before Cobden entered

But Peel knew how uncertain was his position in view of the hostility
aroused. At this very time the Irish question was acute, as a Coercion
Bill was under consideration, and this gave his enemies their chance.
The Protectionist Tories made an unprincipled alliance for the moment
with the Irish members; and on the very day when the Repeal of the Corn
Laws passed the House of Lords, the ministry was defeated in the
Commons. The moment of his fall, when Disraeli and the Protectionists
were loudest in their exultation, was the moment of his triumph. It is
the climax of his career. In the long debate on Repeal he had refused to
notice personal attacks: he now rose superior to all personal rancour.
In defeat he bore himself with dignity, and in his last speech as
minister he praised Cobden in very generous terms, giving him the chief
credit for the benefits which the Bill conferred upon his
fellow-countrymen. This speech gave offence to his late colleagues,
Aberdeen, Sidney Herbert, and Gladstone, and was interpreted as being
designed to mark clearly Peel's breach with the Conservative party. The
whole episode is illustrated in an interesting way in the _Life of
Gladstone_. Lord Morley[11] reports a long conversation between the two
friends and colleagues, where Peel declares his intention to act in
future as a private member and to abstain from party politics.
Gladstone, while fully allowing that Peel had earned the right to retire
after such labours ('you have been Prime Minister in a sense in which no
other man has been since Mr. Pitt's time'), pointed out how impossible
it would be for him to carry out his intentions. His personal
ascendancy in Parliament was too great: men must look to him as a
leader. But Peel evidently was at the end of his strength, and had been
suffering acutely from pains in the head, due to an old shooting
accident but intensified by recent hard work. For the moment repose was

[Note 11: Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, vol. i, pp. 297-300 (cf.
Gladstone's own retirement in 1874).]

It was Gladstone, Peel's disciple and true successor, who seven years
later paid the following tribute to his memory: 'It is easy', he said,
'to enumerate many characteristics of the greatness of Sir Robert Peel.
It is easy to speak of his ability, of his sagacity, of his
indefatigable industry. But there was something yet more admirable...
and that was his sense of public virtue;... when he had to choose
between personal ease and enjoyment, or again, on the other hand,
between political power and distinction, and what he knew to be the
welfare of the nation, his choice was made at once. When his choice was
made, no man ever saw him hesitate, no man ever saw him hold back from
that which was necessary to give it effect.' Though his own political
views changed, Gladstone always paid tribute to the moral influence
which Peel had exercised in political life, purifying its practices and
ennobling its traditions.

For the last four years of his life he was in opposition, but he held a
place of dignity and independence which few fallen ministers have ever
enjoyed. He was the trusted friend and adviser of Queen Victoria and the
Prince Consort; he was often consulted in grave matters by the chiefs of
the Government; his speeches both in the House and in the country
carried greater weight than those of any minister. Despite the
bitterness of the Protectionists he seemed still to have a great future
before him, and in any national emergency the country would unfailingly
have called him to the helm. But on July 29, 1850, when he was just
reaching the age of sixty-two, he had a fall from his horse which
caused very grave injuries, and he only survived three days.

The interest of Peel's life is almost absorbed by public questions. He
was not picturesque like Disraeli; he did not, like Gladstone, live long
enough to be in his lifetime a mythical figure; the public did not
cherish anecdotes about his sayings or doings, nor did he lend himself
to the art of the caricaturist. He was an English gentleman to the
backbone, in his tastes, in his conduct, in his nature. His married life
was entirely happy, he had a few devoted friends, he avoided general
society; he had a genuine fondness for shooting and country life, he was
a judicious patron of art, and his collection of Dutch pictures form
to-day a very precious part of our National Gallery. Just because of his
aloofness, his gravity, the concentration of his energies, he is the
best example that we can study if we want to know how an English
statesman should train himself to do work of lasting value and how he
should bear himself in the hour of trial. Within little more than half a
century three famous politicians, Peel, Gladstone, and Chamberlain, have
split their parties in two by an abrupt change of policy, and their
conduct has been bitterly criticized by those to whom the traditions of
party are dear. It is the glory of British politics that these
traditions remained honourable so long, and no one of these statesmen
broke with them lightly or without regret. For all that, let us be
thankful that from time to time statesmen do arise who are capable of
responding to a still higher call, of following their own individual
consciences and of looking only to what, so far as they can judge, is
the highest interest of the nation.



1782. Born in London, August 10.
1794. Commission in 33rd Regiment.
1800. At Shorncliffe with Sir John Moore.
1809. Wounded and prisoner at Coruña.
1810-11. Peninsula War: Busaco, Fuentes d'Onoro, &c. Lieut.-Colonel, 1811.
1812-13. Bermuda and American War.
1815-17. Military College at Farnham.
1820. Corfu.
1822-30. Cephalonia.
1835. Living quietly in France and England.
1837. Major-General.
1838. K.C.B.
1839. Command in North of England. Chartist agitation.
1841. Command in India at Poona.
1842-7. War and organization in Sind.
1849-50. Commander-in-Chief in India.
1853. Died at Oaklands, near Portsmouth, August 29.



The famous Napier brothers, Charles, George, and William, came of no
mean parentage. Their father, Colonel the Hon. George Napier, of a
distinguished Scotch family, was remarkable alike for physical strength
and mental ability. In the fervour of his admiration his son Charles
relates how he could 'take a pewter quart and squeeze it flat in his
hand like a bit of paper'. In height 6 feet 3 inches, in person very
handsome, he won the admiration of others besides his sons. He had
served in the American war, but his later years were passed in
organizing work, and he showed conspicuous honesty and ability in
dealing with Irish military accounts. One of his reforms was the
abolition of all fees in his office, by which he reduced his own salary
from £20,000 to £600 per annum, emulating the more famous act of the
elder Pitt as Paymaster-general half a century before. Their mother,
Lady Sarah Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond, had been a reigning
toast in 1760. She had even been courted by George III, and might have
been handed down to history as the mother of princes. In her old age she
was more proud to be the mother of heroes; and her letters still exist,
written in the period of the great wars, to show how a British mother
could combine the Spartan ideal with the tenderest personal affection.


From the drawing by Edwin Williams in the National Portrait Gallery]

Their father's appointment involved residence in Ireland from 1785
onwards, and the boys passed their early years at Celbridge in the
neighbourhood of Dublin. Here they were far from the usual amusements
and society of the time, but they were fortunate in their home circle
and in the character of their servants, and they learnt to cherish the
ancient legends of Ireland and to pick up everything that could feed
their innate love of adventure and romance. Close to their doors lived
an old woman named Molly Dunne, who claimed to be one hundred and
thirty-five years of age, and who was ready to fill the children's ears
with tales of past tragedies whenever they came to see her. Sir William
Napier tells us how she was 'tall, gaunt, and with high sharp
lineaments, her eyes fixed in their huge orbs, and her tongue
discoursing of bloody times: she was wondrous for the young and fearful
for the aged'.

Instead of class feeling and narrow interests the boys developed early a
great sympathy for the poor, and a capacity for judging people
independently of rank. Charles Napier himself, born in Whitehall, was
three years old when they moved to Ireland. He was a sickly child, the
one short member of a tall family, but equal to any of them in courage
and resolution. His heroism in endurance of pain was put to a severe
test when he broke his leg at the age of seventeen. It was twice badly
set. He was threatened first by the entire loss of it, next with the
prospect of a crooked leg, but he bore cheerfully the most excruciating
torture in having it straightened by a series of painful experiments,
and in no long time he recovered his activity. In the army he showed his
strength of will by rigid abstinence from drinking and gambling, no easy
feat in those days; and he learned by his father's example to control
all extravagance and to live contentedly on a small allowance. His
earliest enthusiasm among books was for Plutarch's _Lives_, the
favourite reading of so many great commanders. He had many outdoor
tastes: riding, fishing, and shooting, and he was soon familiar with the
country-side. There was no need of classes or prizes to stimulate his
reading, no need of organized games to provide an outlet for his
energies or to fill his leisure time.

The confidence that his father had in the training of his sons is best
shown by the early age at which he put them in responsible positions.
Charles actually received a commission in the 33rd Regiment at the age
of twelve, but he did not see service till he was seventeen. Meanwhile
the young ensign continued his schooling from his father's house at
Celbridge, to which he and his brother returned every evening, sometimes
in the most unconventional manner. Celbridge, like other Irish villages,
had its pigs. The Irish pig is longer in the leg and more active than
his English cousin, and the Napier boys would be seen careering along at
a headlong pace on these strange mounts, with a cheering company of
village boys behind them. They were Protestants among older Roman
Catholic comrades, but they soon became the leaders in the school, and
Charles, despite his youth and small stature, was chosen to command a
school volunteer corps at the age of fourteen. At seventeen he joined
his regiment at Limerick, and for six or seven years he led the life of
a soldier in various garrison towns of southern England, fretting at
inaction, learning what he could, and welcoming any chance of increased
work and danger. At this time his enthusiasm for soldiering was very
variable. In a letter written in 1803 he makes fun of the routine of his
profession, as he was set to practise it, and ends up, 'Such is the
difference between a hero of the present time and the idea of one formed
from reading Plutarch! Yet people wonder I don't like the army!'

But this was a passing mood. When stirring events were taking place, no
one was more full of ardour, and when he came under such a general as
Sir John Moore he expressed himself in a very different tone. In 1805
Moore was commanding at Hythe, and Charles Napier's letters are aglow
with enthusiasm for the great qualities which he showed as an
administrator and army reformer. Like Wolseley seventy or eighty years
later, Moore had the gift of finding the best among his subalterns and
training them in his own excellences. After his own father there was no
one who had so much influence as Moore in the making of Charles Napier.
In 1808 he sailed for the Peninsula with the rank of major, commanding
the 50th Regiment in the colonel's absence; he took an active part in
Moore's famous retreat at Coruña, and in the battle was taken prisoner
after conduct of the greatest gallantry in leading his regiment under
fire. Two months later he was released and again went to the front. In
1810 and 1811 he and his brothers George and William were fighting under
Wellington, and were all so frequently wounded that the family fortunes
became a subject of common talk. On more than one occasion Wellington
himself wrote to Lady Sarah to inform her of the gallantry and
misfortunes of her sons. At Busaco Charles had his jaw broken and was
forced to retire into hospital at Lisbon. In his haste to rejoin the
army, which he did when only half convalescent, he accomplished the feat
of riding ninety miles on one horse in a single day; and in the course
of his ride met two of his brothers being carried down, wounded, to the
base. But in 1811 promotion withdrew Charles Napier from the Peninsula.
A short command in Guernsey was followed by another in Bermuda, which
involved him in the American war. He had little taste for warfare with
men of the same race as himself, and was heartily glad to exchange back
to the 50th in 1813, and to return to England. He started out as a
volunteer to share in the campaign of Waterloo, but all was over before
he could join the army in Flanders, and this part of his soldiering
career ended quietly. He had received far more wounds than honours, and
might well have been discouraged in the pursuit of his profession.

But here we can put to the test how far Napier's expressions of distaste
for the service affected his conduct. He chafed at the inactivity of
peace; but instead of abandoning the army for some more profitable
career, he used his enforced leisure to prepare for further service and
to extend his knowledge of political and military history. He spent the
greater part of three years at the Military College, then established at
Farnham, varying his professional studies with sallies into the domain
of politics, and as a result he developed marked Radical views which he
held through life. His note-books show a splendid grasp of principles
and a close attention to facts; they range from the enforcing of the
death penalty for marauding to the details of cavalry-kit. His Spartan
regime became famous in later years; even now he prescribed a strict
rule, 'a cloak, a pair of shoes, two flannel shirts, and a piece of
soap--these, wrapped up in an oil-skin, must go in the right holster,
and a pistol in the left.' He took no opinions at second hand, but
studied the best authorities and thought for himself; he was as thorough
in self-education as the famous Confederate general 'Stonewall' Jackson,
who every evening sat for an hour, facing a blank wall and reviewing in
his mind the subjects which he had read during the day.

No opportunity for reaping the fruit of these studies and exercising his
great gifts was given him till May 1819. Then he was appointed to the
post of inspecting-officer in the Ionian Islands;[12] and in 1822 he was
appointed Military Resident in Cephalonia, the largest of these islands,
a pile of rugged limestone hills, scantily supplied with water, and
ruined by years of neglect and the oppression of Turkish pashas. So
began what was certainly the happiest, and perhaps the most fruitful,
period in Charles Napier's life. It was not strictly military work, but,
without the authority which his military rank gave him and without the
despotic methods of martial law, little could have been achieved in the
disordered state of the country. The whole episode is a good example of
how a well-trained soldier of original mind can, when left to himself,
impress his character on a semi-civilized people, and may be compared
with the work of Sir Harry Smith in South Africa, or Sir Henry Lawrence
in the Punjab. The practical reforms which he initiated in law, in
commerce, in agriculture, are too numerous to mention. 'Expect no
letters from me', he writes to his mother, 'save about roads. No going
home for me: it would be wrong to leave a place where so much good is
being done.... My market-place is roofed. My pedestal is a tremendous
job, but two months more will finish that also. My roads will not be
finished by me.' And again, 'I take no rest myself and give nobody else
any.' To his superiors he showed himself somewhat impracticable in
temper, and he was certainly exacting to his subordinates, though
generous in his praise of those who helped him. He was compassionate to
the poor and vigorous in his dealings with the privileged classes; and
he gave the islanders an entirely new conception of justice. When he
quitted the island after six years of office he left behind him two new
market-places, one and a half miles of pier, one hundred miles of road
largely blasted out of solid rock, spacious streets, a girls' school,
and many other improvements; and he put into the natives a spirit of
endeavour which outlived his term of office. One sign of the latter was
that, after his departure, some peasants yearly transmitted to him the
profits of a small piece of land which he had left uncared for, without
disclosing the names of those whose labours had earned it.

[Note 12: Ceded to Great Britain in 1815 and given by her in 1864 to

During this period, in visits to Corinth and the Morea, he worked out
strategic plans for keeping the Turks out of Greece. He also made
friends with Lord Byron, who came out in 1823 to help the Greek patriots
and to meet his death in the swamps of Missolonghi. Byron conceived the
greatest admiration for Napier's talents and believed him to be capable
of liberating Greece, if he were given a free hand. But this was not to
be. Reasons of State and petty rivalries barred the way to the
appointment of a British general, though it might have set the name of
Napier in history beside those of Bolivar and Garibaldi; for he would
have identified himself heart and soul with such a cause, and, in the
opinion of many good judges, would have triumphed over the difficulties
of the situation.

From 1830 to 1839 there is little to narrate. The gifts which might have
been devoted to commanding a regiment, to training young officers, or to
ruling a distant province, were too lightly rated by the Government, and
he spent his time quietly in England and France educating his two
daughters,[13] interesting himself in politics, and continuing to learn.
It was the political crisis in England which called him back to active
life. The readjustment of the labour market to meet the use of
machinery, and the occurrence of a series of bad harvests had caused
widespread discontent, and the Chartist movement was at its height in
1839. Labourers and factory owners were alarmed; the Government was
besieged with petitions for military protection at a hundred points, and
all the elements of a dangerous explosion were gathered together. At
this critical time Charles Napier was offered the command of the troops
in the northern district, and amply did he vindicate the choice. By the
most careful preparation beforehand, by the most consummate coolness in
the moment of danger, he rode the storm. He saw the danger of billeting
small detachments of troops in isolated positions; he concentrated them
at the important points. He interviewed alarmed magistrates, and he
attended, in person and unarmed, a large gathering of Chartists. To all
he spoke calmly but resolutely. He made it clear to the rich that he
would not order a shot to be fired while peaceful measures were
possible; he made it equally clear to the Chartists that he would
suppress disorder, if it arose, promptly and mercilessly. With only four
thousand troops under his command to control all the industrial
districts of the north, Newcastle and Manchester, Sheffield and
Nottingham, he did his work effectually without a shot being fired. 'Ars
est celare artem': and just because of his success, few observers
realized from how great a danger the community had been preserved.

[Note 13: His first wife, whom he married in 1827, died in 1832. He
married again in 1835.]

Thus he had proved his versatile talents in regimental service in the
Peninsula, in the reclamation of an eastern island from barbarism, and
in the control of disorder at home. It was not till he had reached the
age of sixty that he was to prove these gifts in the highest sphere, in
the handling of an army in the field and in the direction of a campaign.
But the offer of a command in India roused his indomitable spirit, the
more so as trouble was threatening on the north-west frontier. An
ill-judged interference in Afgh[=a]nist[=a]n had in 1841 caused the
massacre near K[=a]bul of one British force: other contingents were
besieged in Jal[=a]l[=a]b[=a]d and Ghazni, and were in danger of a
similar fate, and the prestige of British arms was at its lowest in the
valley of the Indus. Lord Ellenborough, the new Viceroy, turned to
Charles Napier for advice, and in April 1842 he was given the command in
Upper and Lower Sind, the districts comprising the lower Indus valley.
It was his first experience of India and his first command in war. He
was sixty years old and he had not faced an enemy's army in the field
since the age of twenty-five. As he said, 'I go to command in Sind with
no orders, no instructions, no precise line of policy given! How many
men are in Sind? How many soldiers to command? No one knows!... They
tell me I must form and model the staff of the army altogether! Feeling
myself but an apprentice in Indian matters, I yet look in vain for a
master.' But the years of study and preparation had not been in vain,
and responsibility never failed to call out his best qualities. It was
not many months before British officers and soldiers, Baluch chiefs and
Sindian peasants owned him as a master--such a master of the arts of war
and peace as had not been seen on the Indus since the days of Alexander
the Great.

First, like a true pupil of Sir John Moore, he set to work thoroughly to
drill his army. He experimented in person with British muskets and
Mar[=a]th[=a] matchlocks, and reassured his soldiers on the superiority
of the former. He experimented with rockets to test their efficiency;
and, with his usual luck in the matter of wounds, he had the calf of
his leg badly torn by one that burst. He would put his hand to any
labour and his life to any risk, if so he might stir the activity of
others and promote the cause. He convinced himself, by studying the
question at first hand, that the Baluch Am[=i]rs, who ruled the country,
were not only aliens but oppressors of the native peasantry, not only
ill-disposed to British policy, but actively plotting with the
hill-tribes beyond the Indus, and at the right moment he struck.

The danger of the situation lay in the great extent of the country, in
the difficulty of marching in such heat amid the sand, and in the
possibility of the Am[=i]rs escaping from his grasp and taking refuge in
fortresses in the heart of the desert, believed to be inaccessible. His
first notable exploit was a march northwards one hundred miles into the
desert to capture Im[=a]mghar; his last, crowning a memorable sixteen
days, was a similar descent upon Omarkot, which lay one hundred miles
eastward beyond M[=i]rpur. These raids involved the organization of a
camel corps, the carrying of water across the desert, and the greatest
hardships for the troops, all of which Charles Napier shared
uncomplainingly in person. Under his leadership British regiments and
Bombay sepoys alike did wonders. Who could complain for himself when he
saw the spare frame of the old general, his health undermined by fever
and watches, his hooked nose and flashing eye turned this way and that,
riding daily at their head, prepared to stint himself of all but the
barest necessaries and to share every peril? He had begun the campaign
in January; the crowning success was won on April 6. Between these dates
he fought two pitched battles at Mi[=a]ni and Dabo, and completely broke
the power of the Am[=i]rs.

Mi[=a]ni (February 17, 1843) was the most glorious day in his life. With
2,400 troops, of whom barely 500 were Europeans, he attacked an army
variously estimated between 20,000 and 40,000. Drawn up in a position,
which they had themselves chosen, on the raised bank of a dry river bed,
the Baluch[=i] seemed to have every advantage on their side. But the
British troops, advancing in echelon from the right, led by the 22nd
Regiment, and developing an effective musketry fire, fought their way up
to the outer slope of the steep bank and held it for three hours. Here
the 22nd, with the two regiments of Bombay sepoys on their left,
trusting chiefly to the bayonet, but firing occasional volleys, resisted
the onslaught of Baluch[=i] swordsmen in overwhelming numbers. During
nearly all this time the two lines were less than twenty yards apart,
and Napier was conspicuous on horseback riding coolly along the front of
the British line. The matchlocks, with which many of the Baluch[=i] were
armed, seem to have been ineffective; their national weapon was the
sword. The tribesmen were grand fighters but badly led. They attacked in
detachments with no concerted action. For all that, the British line
frequently staggered under the weight of their courageous rushes, and
irregular firing went on across the narrow gap. Napier says, 'I expected
death as much from our own men as from the enemy, and I was much singed
by our fire--my whiskers twice or thrice so, and my face peppered by
fellows who, in their fear, fired over all heads but mine, and nearly
scattered my brains'. Not even Scarlett at Balaclava had a more
miraculous escape. This exposure of his own person to risk was not due
to mere recklessness. In his days at the Royal Military College he had
carefully considered the occasions when a commander must expose himself
to get the best out of his men; and from Coruña to Dabo he acted
consistently on his principles. Early in the battle he had cleverly
disposed his troops so as to neutralize in some measure the vast
numerical superiority of the enemy; his few guns were well placed and
well served. At a critical moment he ordered a charge of cavalry which
broke the right of their position and threatened their camp; but the
issue had to be decided by hard fighting, and all depended on the morale
which was to carry the troops through such a punishing day.

The second battle was fought a month later at Dabo, near
Hyder[=a]b[=a]d. The most redoubtable of the Am[=i]rs, Sher Muhammad,
known as 'the Lion of M[=i]rpur', had been gathering a force of his own
and was only a few miles distant from Mi[=a]ni when that battle was
fought. Napier could have attacked him at once; but, to avoid bloodshed,
he was ready to negotiate. 'The Lion' only used the respite to collect
more troops, and was soon defying the British with a force of 25,000
men, full of ardour despite their recent defeat. Indeed Napier
encouraged their confidence by spreading rumours of the terror
prevailing in his own camp. He did not wish to exhaust his men
needlessly by long marches in tropical heat; so he played a waiting
game, gathering reinforcements and trusting that the enemy would soon
give him a chance of fighting. This chance came on March 24, and with a
force of 5,000 men and 19 guns Napier took another three hours to win
his second battle and to drive Sher Muhammad from his position with the
loss of 5,000 killed. The British losses were relatively trifling,
amounting to 270, of whom 147 belonged to the sorely tried 22nd
Regiment. They were all full of confidence and fought splendidly under
the general's eye. 'The Lion' himself escaped northwards, and two months
of hard marching and clever strategy were needed to prevent him stirring
up trouble among the tribesmen. The climate took toll of the British
troops and even the general was for a time prostrated by sunstroke; but
the operations were successful and the last nucleus of an army was
broken up by Colonel Jacob on June 15. Sher Muhammad ended his days
ignominiously at Lahore, then the capital of the Sikhs, having outlived
his fame and sunk into idleness and debauchery.

Thus in June 1843 the general could write in his diary: 'We have taught
the Baluch that neither his sun nor his desert nor his jungles nor his
nullahs can stop us. He will never face us more.' But Charles Napier's
own work was far from being finished. He had to bind together the
different elements in the province, to reconcile chieftain and peasant
Baluch, Hindu, and Sindian, to living together in amity and submitting
to British rule; and he had to set up a framework of military and
civilian officers to carry on the work. He held firmly the principle
that military rule must be temporary. For the moment it was more
effective; but it was his business to prepare the new province for
regular civil government as soon as was feasible. He showed his
ingenuity in the personal interviews which he had with the chieftains;
and the ascendancy which he won by his character was marked. Perhaps his
qualities were such as could be more easily appreciated by orientals
than by his own countrymen, for he was impetuous, self-reliant, and
autocratic in no common degree. He was only one of a number of great
Englishmen of this century whose direct personal contact with Eastern
princes was worth scores of diplomatic letters and paper constitutions.
Such men were Henry Lawrence, John Nicholson, and Charles Gordon; in
them the power of Great Britain was incarnate in such a form as to
strike the imagination and leave an ineffaceable impression. Many of the
Am[=i]rs wished to swear allegiance to a governor present in the flesh
rather than to the distant queen beyond the sea, so strongly were they
impressed by Napier's personal character.

He did not forget his own countrymen, least of all that valued friend
'Thomas Atkins' and his comrade the sepoy. By the erection of spacious
barracks he made the soldier's life more pleasant and his health more
secure; and in a hundred other ways he showed his care and affection for
them. In return few British generals have been so loved by the rank and
file. He also gave much thought to material progress, to strengthening
the fortress of Hyder[=a]b[=a]d, to developing the harbour at
Kar[=a]chi, and, above all, to enriching the peasants by irrigation
schemes. It was the story of Cephalonia on a bigger scale; but Napier
was now twenty years older, overwhelmed with work, and he could give
less attention to details. He did his best to find subordinates after
his own heart, men who would 'scorn delights and live laborious days'.
'Does he wear varnished boots?' was a typical question that he put to a
friend in Bombay, when a new engineer was commended to him. His own
rewards were meagre. The Grand Cross of the Bath and the colonelcy of
his favourite regiment, the 22nd, were all the recognition given for a
campaign whose difficulties were minimized at home because he had
mastered them so triumphantly.

Two other achievements belong to the period of his government of Sind.
The campaign against the tribes of the Kachhi Hills, to the north-west
of his province, rendered necessary by continued marauding, shows all
his old mastery of organization. Any one who has glanced into Indian
history knows the danger of these raids and the bitter experience which
our Indian army has gained in them. In less than two months
(January-March 1845) Napier had led five thousand men safely over
burning deserts and through most difficult mountain country, had by
careful strategy driven the marauders into a corner, forcing them to
surrender with trifling loss, and had made an impression on the hill
chieftains which lasted for many a year. This work, though slighted by
the directors of the Company, received enthusiastic praise from such
good judges of war as Lord Hardinge and the Duke of Wellington. The
second emergency arose when the first Sikh war broke out in the Punjab.
Napier felt so confident in the loyalty of his newly-pacified province
that within six weeks he drew together an army of 15,000 men, and took
post at Rohri, ready to co-operate against the Sikhs from the south,
while Lord Hardinge advanced from the east. Before he could arrive, the
decisive battle had been fought, and all he was asked to do was to
assist in a council of war at Lahore. The mistakes made in the campaign
had been numerous. No one saw them more clearly than Napier, and no one
foretold more accurately the troubles which were to follow. For all
that, he wrote in generous admiration of Lord Hardinge the Viceroy and
Lord Gough the Commander-in-Chief at a time when criticism and personal
bitterness were prevalent in many quarters.

After this he returned to Sind with health shattered and a longing for
rest. He continued to work with vigour, but his mind was set on
resignation; and the bad relations which had for years existed between
him and the directors embittered his last months. No doubt he was
impatient and self-willed, inclined to take short cuts through the
system of dual control[14] and to justify them by his own single-hearted
zeal for the good of the country. But the directors had eyes for all the
slight irregularities, which are inevitable in the work of an original
man, and failed entirely to estimate the priceless services that he
rendered to British rule. In July 1847 he resigned and returned to
Europe; but even now the end was not come. 'The tragedy must be re-acted
a year or two hence,' he had written in March 1846, seeing clearly that
the Sikhs had not been reconciled to British rule. In February 1849 the
directors were forced by the national voice to send him out to take
supreme military command and to retrieve the disasters with which the
second Sikh war began. They were very reluctant to do so, and Napier
himself had little wish for further exertions in so thankless a service.
But the Duke of Wellington himself appealed to him, the nation spoke
through all its organs, and he could not put his own wishes in the scale
against the demands of public service.

[Note 14: The dual control of British India by the Crown and the
East India Company lasted from 1778 to 1858.]

He made all speed and reached Calcutta early in May, but he found no
enemy to fight. The issue had been decided by Lord Gough and the hard
fighting of Chili[=a]nw[=a]la. He had been cheated by fortune, as in
1815, and he never knew the joy of battle again. He was accustomed to
settle everything as a dictator; he found it difficult to act as part of
an administrative machine. He was unfamiliar with the routine of Indian
official life, and he was now growing old; he was impatient of forms,
impetuous in his likes and dislikes, outspoken in praise and
condemnation. His relations with the masterful Viceroy, Lord Dalhousie,
were soon clouded; and though he delighted in the friendship of Colin
Campbell and many other able soldiers, he was too old to adapt himself
to new men and new measures. In 1850 the rumblings of the storm, which
was to break seven years later, could already be heard, and Napier had
much anxiety over the mutinous spirit rising in the sepoy regiments. He
did his best to go to the bottom of the trouble and to establish
confidence and friendly relations between British and natives, but he
had not time enough to achieve permanent results, and he was often
fettered by the regulations of the political service. His predictions
were as striking now as in the first Sikh war; but he was not content to
predict and to sit idle. He was unwearied in working for the reform of
barracks, though his plans were often spoiled by the careless execution
of others. He was urgent for a better tone among regimental officers
and for more consideration on their part towards their soldiers. If more
men in high position had similarly exerted themselves, the mutiny would
have been less widespread and less fatal. His resignation was due to a
dispute with Lord Dalhousie about the sepoys' pay. Napier acted _ultra
vires_ in suspending on his own responsibility an order of the
Government, because he believed the situation to be critical, while the
Viceroy refused to regard this as justified. His departure, in December
1850, was the signal for an outburst of feeling among officers,
soldiers, and all who knew him. His return by way of Sind was a
triumphal progress.

He had two years to live when he set foot again in England, and most of
this was spent at Oaklands near Portsmouth. His health had been ruined
in the public service; but he continued to take a keen interest in
passing events and to write on military subjects to Colin Campbell and
other friends. At the same time he devoted much of his time to his
neighbours and his farm. In 1852 he attended as pall-bearer at the Duke
of Wellington's funeral; his own was not far distant. His brother, Sir
William, describes the last scene thus: 'On the morning of August 29th
1853, at 5 o'clock, he expired like a soldier on a naked camp bedstead,
the windows of the room open and the fresh air of Heaven blowing on his
manly face--as the last breath escaped, Montagu McMurdo (his
son-in-law), with a sudden inspiration, snatched the old colours of the
22nd Regiment, the colour that had been borne at Mi[=a]ni and
Hyder[=a]b[=a]d, and waved them over the dying hero. Thus Charles Napier
passed from the world.'

He was a man who roused enthusiastic devotion and provoked strong
resentment. Like Gordon, he was a man who could rule others, but could
not be ruled; and his official career left many heart-burnings behind.
His equally passionate brother, Sir William, who wrote his life, took
up the feud as a legacy and pursued it in print for many years. It is
regrettable that such men cannot work without friction; but in all
things it was devotion to the public service, and not personal ambition,
that carried Charles Napier to such extremes. From his youth he had
trained himself to such a pitch of self-denial and ascetic rigour that
he could not make allowance for the frailties of the average man. His
keen eye and swift brain made him too impatient of the shortcomings of
conscientious officials. He was ready to work fifteen hours a day when
the need came; he was able to pierce into the heart of a matter while
others would be puzzling round the fringes of it. Rarely in his long and
laborious career did an emergency arise capable of bringing out all his
gifts; and his greatest exploits were performed on scenes unfamiliar to
the mass of his fellow countrymen. But a few opinions can be given to
show that he was rated at his full value by the foremost men of the day.

Perhaps the most striking testimony comes from one who never saw him; it
was written three years after his death, when his brother's biography
appeared. It was Carlyle, the biographer of Cromwell and Frederick the
Great, the most famous man of letters of the day, who wrote in 1856:
'The fine and noble qualities of the man are very recognizable to me;
his piercing, subtle intellect turned all to the practical, giving him
just insight into men and into things; his inexhaustible, adroit
contrivances; his fiery valour; sharp promptitude to seize the good
moment that will not return. A lynx-eyed, fiery man, with the spirit of
an old knight in him; more of a hero than any modern I have seen for a
long time.' A second tribute comes from one who had known him as an
officer and was a supreme judge of military genius. Wellington was not
given to extravagant words, but on many occasions he expressed himself
in the warmest terms about Napier's talents and services. In 1844,
speaking of the Sind campaign in the House of Lords, he said: 'My Lords,
I must say that, after giving the fullest consideration to these
operations, I have never known any instance of an officer who has shown
in a higher degree that he possesses all the qualities and
qualifications necessary to enable him to conduct great operations.' In
the House of Commons at the same time Sir Robert Peel--the ablest
administrative statesman of that generation, who had read for himself
some of Napier's masterly dispatches--said: 'No one ever doubted Sir
Charles Napier's military powers; but in his other character he does
surprise me--he is possessed of extraordinary talent for civil
administration.' Again, he speaks of him as 'one of three brothers who
have engrafted on the stem of an ancient and honourable lineage that
personal nobility which is derived from unblemished private character,
from the highest sense of personal honour, and from repeated proofs of
valour in the field, which have made their name conspicuous in the
records of their country'.

Indifferent as Charles Napier was to ordinary praise or blame, he would
have appreciated the words of such men, especially when they associated
him with his brothers; but perhaps he would have been more pleased to
know how many thousands of his humble fellow countrymen walked to his
informal funeral at Portsmouth, and to know that the majority of those
who subscribed to his statue in Trafalgar Square were private soldiers
in the army that he had served and loved.


From the painting by G. F. Watts in the National Portrait Gallery]




1801. Born in Grosvenor Square, London, April 28.
1811. His father succeeds to the earldom. He himself becomes Lord Ashley.
1813-17. Harrow.
1819-22. Christ Church, Oxford.
1826. M.P. for Woodstock.
1828. Commissioner of India Board of Control.
1829. Chairman of Commission for Lunatic Asylums.
1830. Marries Emily, daughter of fifth Earl Cowper.
1832. Takes up the cause of the Ten Hours Bill or Factory Act.
1833. M.P. for Dorset.
1836. Founds Church Pastoral Aid Society.
1839. Founds Indigent Blind Visiting Society.
1840. Takes up cause of Boy Chimney-sweepers.
1842. Mines and Collieries Bill carried.
1843. Joins the Ragged School movement.
1847. Ten Hours Bill finally carried.
1847. M.P. for Bath.
1848. Public Health Act. Chairman of Board of Health.
1851. President of British and Foreign Bible Society.
1851. Succeeds to the earldom.
1855. Lord Palmerston twice offers him a seat in the Cabinet.
1872. Death of Lady Shaftesbury.
1884. Receives the Freedom of the City of London.
1885. Dies at Folkestone, October 1.



The word 'Philanthropist' has suffered the same fate as many other words
in our language. It has become hackneyed and corrupted; it has taken a
professional taint; it has almost become a byword. We are apt to think
of the philanthropist as an excitable, contentious creature, at the
mercy of every fad, an ultra-radical in politics, craving for notoriety,
filled with self-confidence, and meddling with other people's business.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, the greatest philanthropist of the nineteenth
century, was of a different type. By temper he was strongly
conservative. He always loved best to be among his own family; he was
fond of his home, fond of the old associations of his house. To come out
into public life, to take his place in Parliament or on the platform, to
be mixed up in the wrangling of politics was naturally distasteful to
him. It continually needed a strong effort for him to overcome this
distaste and to act up to his sense of duty. It is only when we remember
this that we can do justice to his lifelong activity, and to the high
principles which bore him up through so many efforts and so many
disappointments. For himself he would submit to injustice and be still:
for his fellow countrymen and for his religion he would renew the battle
to the last day of his life.

His childhood was not happy. His parents had little sympathy with
children, his father being absorbed in the cares of public life, his
mother given up to society pleasures. He had three sisters older than
himself, but no brother or companion, and he was left largely to
himself. At the age of seven he went to a preparatory school, where he
was made miserable by the many abuses which flourished there; and it was
not till he went to Harrow at the age of twelve that he began to enjoy
life. He had few of the indulgences which we associate with the early
days of those who are born heirs to high position. But, thus thrown back
on himself, the boy nurtured strong attachments, for the old housekeeper
who first showed him tenderness at home, for the school where he had
learnt to be happy, and for the Dorset home, which was to be throughout
his life the pole-star of his affections. The village of Wimborne St.
Giles lies some eight miles north of Wimborne, in Dorset, on the edge of
Cranborne Forest, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled regions in the
south of England, which 'as late as 1818 contained twelve thousand deer
and as many as six lodges, each of which had its walk and its ranger'.
Here he wandered freely in his holidays for many years, giving as yet
little promise of an exceptional career; here you may find in outlying
cottages those who still treasure his memory and keep his biography
among the few books that adorn their shelves.

From Harrow, Lord Ashley went at the age of sixteen to read for two
years with a clergyman in Derbyshire; in 1819 he went to Christ Church,
Oxford, and three years later succeeded in taking a first class in
classics. He had good abilities and a great power of concentration.
These were to bear fruit one day in the gathering of statistics, in the
marshalling of evidence, and in the presentation of a case which needed
the most lucid and most laborious advocacy.

He came down from Oxford in 1822, but did not go into Parliament till
1826, and for the intervening years there is little to chronicle. In
those days it was usual enough for a young nobleman to take up politics
when he was barely of age, but Lord Ashley needed some other motive than
the custom of the day. It is characteristic of his whole life that he
responded to a call when there was a need, but was never in a hurry to
put himself forward or to aim at high position. We have a few of his own
notes from this time which show the extent of his reading, and still
more, the depth of his reflections. As with Milton, who spent over five
years at Cambridge and then five more in study and retirement at Horton,
the long years of self-education were profitable and left their mark on
his life. His first strong religious impulse he himself dates back to
his school-days at Harrow, when (as is now recorded in a mural tablet
on the spot) in walking up the street one day he was shocked by the
indignities of a pauper funeral. The drunken bearers, staggering up the
hill and swearing over the coffin, so appalled him that the sight
remained branded on his memory and he determined to devote his life to
the service of the poor. But one such shock would have achieved little,
if the decision had not been strengthened by years of thought and
resolution. His tendency to self-criticism is seen in the entry in his
diary for April, 1826 (his twenty-fifth birthday). He blames himself for
indulging in dreams and for having performed so little; but he himself
admits that the visions were all of a noble character, and we know what
abundant fruit they produced in the sixty years of active effort which
were to follow. The man who a year later could write sincerely in his
diary, 'Immortality has ceased to be a longing with me. I desire to be
useful in my generation,' had been little harmed by a few years of
dreaming dreams, and had little need to be afraid of having made a false
start in life.

When he entered the House of Commons as member for Woodstock in 1826,
Lord Ashley had strong Conservative instincts, a fervid belief in the
British constitution, and an unbounded admiration for the Duke of
Wellington, whose Peninsula victories had fired his enthusiasm at
Harrow. It was to his wing of the Conservative party that Ashley
attached himself; and it was the duke who, succeeding to the premiership
on the premature death of Canning, gave him his first office, a post on
the India Board of Control. The East India Company with its board of
directors (abolished in 1858) still ruled India, but was since 1778
subject in many ways to the control of the British Parliament, and the
board to which Lord Ashley now belonged exercised some of the functions
since committed to the Secretary of State for India. He set himself
conscientiously to study the interests of India, but over the work of
his department he had little chance of winning distinction. In fact his
first prominent speech was on the Reform of Lunatic Asylums, not an easy
subject for a new member to handle. He was diffident in manner and
almost inaudible. Without the kindly encouragement of friends he might
have despaired of future success; but his sincerity in the cause was
worth more than many a brilliant speech. The Bill was carried, a new
board was constituted, and of this Lord Ashley became chairman in 1829,
and continued to hold the office till his death fifty-six years later.
This was the first of the burdens that he took upon himself without
thought of reward, and so is worthy of special mention, though it never
won the fame of his factory legislation. But it shows the character of
the man, how ready he was to step into a post which meant work without
remuneration, drudgery without fame, prejudice and opposition from all
whose interests were concerned in maintaining the abuses of the past.

It was this spirit which led him in 1836 to take up the Church Pastoral
Aid Society,[15] in 1839 to found the Indigent Blind Visiting Society,
in 1840 to champion the cause of chimney-sweeps, and in all these cases
to continue his support for fifty years or more. We are accustomed
to-day to 'presidents' and 'patrons' and a whole broadsheet of
complimentary titles, to which noblemen give their names and often give
little else. Lord Ashley understood such an office differently. He was
regular in attendance at meetings, generous in giving money, unflinching
in his advocacy of the cause. We shall see this more fully in dealing
with the two most famous crusades associated with his name.

[Note 15: To help church work by adding to the number of clergy.]

Though these growing labours began early to occupy his time, we find the
record of his life diversified by other claims and other interests. In
1830 he married Emily, daughter of Lord Cowper, who bore him several
children, and who shared all his interests with the fullest sympathy;
and henceforth his greatest joys and his deepest sorrows were always
associated with his family life. At home his first hobby was astronomy.
At the age of twenty-eight he was ardently devoted to it and would spend
all his leisure on it for weeks together, till graver duties absorbed
his time. But he was no recluse, and all through his life he found
pleasure in the society of his friends and in paying them visits in
their homes. Many of his early visits were paid to the Iron Duke at
Strathfieldsaye; in later life no one entertained him more often than
Lord Palmerston, with whom he was connected by marriage. He was the
friend and often the guest of Queen Victoria, and in his twenty-eighth
year he is even found as a guest at the festive board of George IV.
'Such a round of laughing and pleasure I never enjoyed: if there be a
hospitable gentleman on earth it is His Majesty.' And at all times he
was ready to mix freely and on terms of social equality with all who
shared his sympathies, dukes and dustmen, Cabinet ministers and

In the holiday season he delighted to travel. In his journals he sets
down the impressions which he felt among the pictures and churches of
Italy, and in the mountains of Germany and Switzerland; he loves to
record the friendliness of the greetings which he met among the
peasantry of various lands. When he talked to them no one could fail to
see that he was genuinely interested in them, that he wanted to know
their joys and their sorrows, and to enrich his own knowledge by
anything that the humblest could tell him. Still more did he delight in
Scotland, where he had many friends. He was of the generation
immediately under the spell of the 'Wizard of the North', and the whole
country was seen through a veil of romantic and historical association.
There he went nearly every year, to Edinburgh, to Roslin, to Inveraray,
to the Trossachs, and to a hundred other places--and if his heart was
stirred with the glories of the past, his eye was quick to 'catch the
manners living as they rise'. As he commented caustically at Rome on
'the church lighted up and decorated like a ball-room--the bishop with a
stout train of canons, listening to the music precisely like an opera',
so at Newbattle he criticizes the coldness of the kirk, 'all is silent
save the minister, who discharges the whole ceremony and labours under
the weight of his own tautologies'. His bringing up had been in the
Anglican church; he was devoted to her liturgy, her congregational
worship, her moderation and simplicity combined with reverence and
warmth. Although these travels were but interludes in his busy life,
they show that it was not for want of other tastes and interests of his
own that his life was dedicated to laborious service. He was very human
himself, and there were few aspects of humanity which did not attract

With his father relations were very difficult. As his interest in social
questions grew, his attention was naturally turned on the poor nearest
to his own doors, the agricultural labourers of Dorset. Even in those
days of low wages Dorset was a notorious example quoted on many a
Radical platform: the wages of the farm labourers were frequently as low
as seven shillings a week, and the conditions in which they had often to
bring up a large family of children were deplorable. If Lord Ashley had
not himself felt the shame of their poverty, their bad housing and their
other hardships, there were plenty of opponents ready to force them on
his notice in revenge for his having exposed their own sores. He was
made responsible for abuses which he could not remedy. While his father,
a resolute Tory of the old type, still lived, the son was unable to
stir. He sedulously tried to avoid all bitterness; but he could not,
when publicly challenged, avoid stating his own views about fair wages
and fair conditions of living, and his father took offence. For years it
was impossible for the son to come under his father's roof. When the old
earl died in 1851, his son lost no time in proving his sincerity as a
reformer; but meanwhile he had to go into the fray against the
manufacturers with his arms tied behind his back and submit to taunts
which he little deserved. That he could carry on this struggle for so
many years, without embittering the issues, and without open exposure of
the family quarrel, shows the strength of character which he had gained
by years of religious discipline and self-control.

Politics proper played but a small part in his career. The politicians
found early that he was not of the 'available' type--that he would not
lend himself to party policy or compromise on any matter which seemed to
him of national interest. Such political posts as were offered to him
were largely held out as a bait to silence him, and to prevent his
bringing forward embarrassing measures which might split the party.
Ashley himself found how much easier it was for him to follow a single
course when he was an independent member. Reluctantly in 1834 he
accepted a post at the Board of Admiralty and worked earnestly in his
department; but this ministry only lasted for one year, and he never
held office again, though he was often pressed to do so. He was attached
to Wellington; but for Peel, now become the Tory leader, he had little
love. The two men were very dissimilar in character; and though at times
Ashley had friendly communications with Peel, yet in his diary Ashley
often complains bitterly of his want of enthusiasm, of what he regarded
as Peel's opportunism and subservience to party policy. The one had an
instinct for what was practical and knew exactly how far he could
combine interests to carry a measure; the other was all on fire for the
cause and ready to push it forward against all obstacles, at all costs.
Ashley, it is true, had to work through Parliament to attain his chief
ends, and many a bitter moment he had to endure in striving towards the
goal. But if he was not an adroit or successful politician, he
gradually, as the struggle went on, by earnestness and force of
character, made for himself in the House a place apart, a place of rare
dignity and influence; and with the force of public opinion behind him
he was able to triumph over ministers and parties.

It was in 1832 that he first had his attention drawn to the conditions
of labour in factories. He never claimed to be the pioneer of the
movement, but he was early in the field. The inventions of the latter
part of the eighteenth century had transformed the north of England. The
demand for labour had given rise to appalling abuses, especially in the
matter of child labour. From London workhouses and elsewhere children
were poured into the labour market, and by the 'Apprentice System' were
bound to serve their masters for long periods and for long hours
together. A pretence of voluntary contract was kept up, but fraud and
deception were rife in the system and its results were tragic. Mrs.
Browning's famous poem, 'The Cry of the Children,' gives a more vivid
picture of the children's sufferings than many pages of prose. At the
same time we have plenty of first-hand evidence from the great towns of
the misery which went along with the wonderful development of national
wealth. Speaking in 1873 Lord Shaftesbury said, 'Well can I recollect in
the earlier periods of the Factory movement waiting at the factory gates
to see the children come out, and a set of dejected cadaverous creatures
they were. In Bradford especially the proofs of long and cruel toil were
most remarkable. The cripples and distorted forms might be numbered by
hundreds perhaps by thousands. A friend of mine collected together a
vast number for me; the sight was most piteous, the deformities
incredible.' And an eye-witness in Bolton reports in 1792: 'Anything
like the squalid misery, the slow, mouldering, putrefying death by which
the weak and feeble are perishing here, it never befell my eyes to
behold, nor my imagination to conceive.' Some measures of relief were
carried by the elder Sir Robert Peel, himself a cotton-spinner; but
public opinion was slow to move and was not roused till 1830, when Mr.
Sadler,[16] member for Newark, led the first fight for a 'Ten Hours
Bill'. When Sadler was unseated in 1832, Lord Ashley offered his help,
and so embarked on the greatest of his works performed in the public
service. He had the support of a few of the noblest men in England,
including Robert Southey and Charles Dickens; but he had against him the
vast body of well-to-do people in the country, and inside Parliament
many of the most progressive and influential politicians. The factory
owners were inspired at once by interest and conviction; the political
economy of the day taught them that all restrictions on labour were
harmful to the progress of industry and to the prosperity of the
country, while the figures in their ledgers taught them what was the
most economical method of running their own mills.

[Note 16: See articles in _D.N.B._ on Michael Thomas Sadler
(1780-1835) and on Richard Oastler (1789-1861).]

Already it was clear that Lord Ashley was no mere sentimentalist out for
a momentary sensation. At all times he gave the credit for starting the
work to Sadler and his associates; and from the outset he urged his
followers to fix on a limited measure first, to concentrate attention on
the work of children and young persons, and to avoid general questions
involving conflicts between capital and labour. Also he took endless
pains to acquaint himself at first hand with the facts. 'In factories,'
he said afterwards, 'I examined the mills, the machinery, the homes, and
saw the workers and their work in all its details. In collieries I went
down into the pits. In London I went into lodging-houses and thieves'
haunts, and every filthy place. It gave me a power I could not otherwise
have had.' And this was years before 'slumming' became fashionable and
figured in the pages of _Punch_; it was no distraction caught up for a
week or a month, but a labour of fifty years! We have an account of him
as he appeared at this period of his life: 'above the medium height,
about 5 feet 6 inches, with a slender and extremely graceful figure...
curling dark hair in thick masses, fine brow, features delicately cut,
the nose perhaps a trifle too prominent,... light blue eyes deeply set
with projecting eyelids, his mouth small and compressed.' His whole face
and appearance seems to have had a sculpturesque effect and to have
suggested the calm and composure of marble. But under this marble
exterior there was burning a flame of sympathy for the poor, a fire of
indignation against the system which oppressed them.

In 1833 some progress was made. Lord Althorp, the Whig leader in the
Commons, under pressure from Lord Ashley, carried a bill dealing indeed
with some of the worst abuses in factories, but applying only to some of
the great textile industries. That it still left much to be done can be
seen from studying the details of the measure. Children under eleven
years of age were not to work more than nine hours a day, and young
persons under nineteen not more than twelve hours a day. Adults might
still work all day and half the night if the temptation of misery at
home and extra wages to be earned was too strong for them. It seems
difficult now to believe that this was a great step forward, yet for the
moment Ashley found that he could do no more and must accept what the
politicians gave him. In 1840, however, he started a fresh campaign on
behalf of children not employed in these factories, who were not
included in the Act of 1833, and who, not being concentrated in the
great centres of industry, escaped the attention of the general public.
He obtained a Royal Commission to investigate mines and other works, and
to report upon their condition. The Blue Book was published in 1842 and
created a sensation unparalleled of its kind. Men read with horror the
stories of the mines, of children employed underground for twelve or
fourteen hours a day, crouching in low passages, monotonously opening
and shutting the trap-doors as the trollies passed to and fro. Alone
each child sat in pitchy darkness, unable to stir for more than a few
paces, unable to sleep for fear of punishment with the strap in case of
neglect, and often surrounded with vermin. Women were employed crawling
on hands and knees along these passages, stripped to the waist, stooping
under the low roofs, and even so chafing and wounding their backs, as
they hauled the coal along the underground rails, or carrying in baskets
on their backs, up steps and ladders, loads which varied in weight from
a half to one and a half hundredweights. The physical health, the mental
education, and the moral character of these poor creatures suffered
equally under such a system; and well might those responsible for the
existence of such abuses fear to let the Report be published. But copies
of it first reached members of Parliament, then the public at large
learnt the burden of the tale, and Lord Ashley might now hope for enough
support from outside to break down the opposition in the House of
Commons and the delays of parliamentary procedure.

'The Mines and Collieries Bill' was brought in before the impression
could fade, and on June 7, 1842, Ashley made one of the greatest of his
speeches and drove home powerfully the effect of the Report. His mastery
of facts was clear enough to satisfy the most dispassionate politician;
his sincerity disarmed Richard Cobden, the champion of the Lancashire
manufacturers and brought about a reconciliation between them; his
eloquence stirred the hearts of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort,
and drew from the latter words of glowing admiration and promises of
support. In August the bill finally passed the House of Lords, and a
second great blow had been struck. Practices which were poisoning at the
source the lives of the younger generation were forbidden by law; above
all, it was expressly laid down that, after a few years, no woman or
girl should be employed in mines at all. The influence which such a law
had on the family life in the mining districts was incalculable; the
women were rescued from servitude in the mines and restored to their
natural place at home.

There was still much to do. In 1844 the factory question was again
brought to the front by the demands of the working classes, and again
Ashley was ready to champion their cause, and to propose that the
working day should now be limited to eight hours for children, and to
ten hours for grown men. In Parliament there was long and weary fighting
over the details. The Tory Government did not wish to oppose the bill
directly. Neither party had really faced the question or made up its
mind. Expediency rather than justice was in the minds of the official

Such a straightforward champion as Lord Ashley was a source of
embarrassment to these gentlemen, to be met by evasion rather than
direct opposition. The radical John Bright, a strong opponent of State
interference and equally straightforward in his methods, made a personal
attack on Lord Ashley. He referred to the Dorset labourers, as if Ashley
was indifferent to abuses nearer home, and left no one in doubt of his
opinions. At the same time, Sir James Graham, the Home Secretary, did
all in his power to defeat Ashley's bill by bringing forward alternative
proposals, which he knew would be unacceptable to the workers. In face
of such opposition most men would have given way. Ashley, who had been a
consistent Tory all his life, was bitterly aggrieved at the treatment
which his bill met with from his official leaders. He persevered in his
efforts, relying on support from outside; but in Parliament the
Government triumphed to the extent of defeating the Ten Hours Bill in
March 1844 and again in April 1846. Still, the small majority (ten) by
which this last division was decided showed in which direction the
current was flowing, and when a few months later the Tories were ousted
from office, the Whigs took up the bill officially, and in June 1847
Lord Ashley, though himself out of Parliament for the moment, had the
satisfaction of seeing the bill become the law of the land.

There was great rejoicing in the manufacturing districts, and Lord
Ashley was the hero of the day. The working classes had no direct
representative in Parliament in those days: without his constant efforts
neither party would have given a fair hearing to their cause. He had
argued with politicians without giving away principles; he had stirred
the industrial districts without rousing class hatred; he had been
defeated time after time without giving up the struggle. Much has been
added since then to the laws restricting the conditions of labour till,
in the often quoted words of Lord Morley, the biographer of Cobden, we
have 'a complete, minute, and voluminous code for the protection of
labour... an immense host of inspectors, certifying surgeons and other
authorities whose business it is to "speed and post o'er land and ocean"
in restless guardianship of every kind of labour'. But these were the
heroic days of the struggle for factory legislation, and also of the
struggle for cheap food for the people. Reviewing these great events
many years later the Duke of Argyll said, 'During that period two great
discoveries have been made in the science of Government: the one is the
immense advantage of abolishing restrictions on trade, the other is the
absolute necessity of imposing restrictions on labour'. While Sir Robert
Peel might with some justice contest with Cobden the honour of
establishing the first principle, few will challenge Lord Ashley's right
to the honour of securing the second.

Of the many religious and political causes which he undertook during and
after this time, of the Zionist movement to repatriate the Jews, of the
establishing of a Protestant bishopric at Jerusalem, of his attacks on
the war with Sind and the opium trade with China, of his championship of
the Nestorian Christians against the Turk, of his leadership of the
great Bible Society, there is not space to speak. The mere list gives an
idea of the width of his interests and the warmth of his sympathy.

Some of these questions were highly contentious; and Lord Ashley, who
was a fervent Evangelical, was less than fair to churchmen of other
schools. To Dr. Pusey himself he could write a kindly and courteous
letter; but on the platform, or in correspondence with friends, he could
denounce 'Puseyites' in the roundest terms. One cannot expect that a man
of his character will avoid all mistakes. It was a time when feeling ran
high on religious questions, and he was a declared partisan; but at
least we may say that the public good, judged from the highest point,
was his objective; there was no room for self-seeking in his heart. Nor
did this wide extension of his activity mean neglect of his earlier
crusades. On the contrary, he continued to work for the good of the
classes to whom his Factory Bills had been so beneficial. Not content
with prohibiting what was harmful, he went on to positive measures of
good; restriction of hours was followed by sanitation, and this again by
education, and by this he was led to what was perhaps the second most
famous work of his life.

In 1843 his attention had already been drawn to the question of
educating the neglected children, and he was making acquaintance at
first hand with the work of the Ragged Schools, at that time few in
number and poorly supported. He visited repeatedly the Field Lane
School, in a district near Holborn notoriously frequented by the
criminal classes, and soon the cause, at which he was to work
unsparingly for forty years, began to move forward. He went among the
poor with no thought of condescension. Simple as he was by nature, he
possessed in perfection the art of speaking to children, and he was soon
full of practical schemes for helping them. Sanitary reform was not
neglected in his zeal for religion, and emigration was to be promoted as
well as better housing at home; for, till the material conditions of
life were improved, he knew that it was idle to hope for much moral
reform. 'Plain living and high thinking' is an excellent ideal for those
whose circumstances put them out of reach of anxiety over daily bread;
it is a difficult gospel to preach to those who are living in
destitution and misery.

The character of his work soon won confidence even in the most unlikely
quarters. In June 1848 he received a round-robin signed by forty of the
most notorious thieves in London, asking him to come and meet them in
person at a place appointed; and on his going there he found a mob of
nearly four hundred men, all living by dishonesty and crime, who
listened readily and even eagerly to his brotherly words.

Several of them came forward in turn and made candid avowal of their
respective difficulties and vices, and of the conditions of their lives.
He found that they were tired of their own way of life, and were ready
to make a fresh start; and in the course of the next few months he was
able, thanks to the generosity of a rich friend, to arrange for the
majority of them to emigrate to another country or to find new openings
away from their old haunts.

But, apart from such special occasions, the work of the schools went
steadily forward. In seven years, more than a hundred such schools were
opened, and Lord Shaftesbury was unfailing in his attendance whenever he
could help forward the cause. His advice to the managers to 'keep the
schools in the mire and the gutter' sounds curious; but he was afraid
that, as they throve, boys of more prosperous classes would come in and
drive out those for whom they were specially founded. 'So long', he
said, 'as the mire and gutter exist, so long as this class exists, you
must keep the school adapted to their wants, their feelings, their
tastes and their level.' And any of us familiar with the novels of
Charles Dickens and Walter Besant will know that such boys still existed
unprovided for in large numbers in 1850 and for many years after.

Thus the years went by. He succeeded to the earldom on his father's
death in 1851. His heart was wrung by the early deaths of two of his
children and by the loss of his wife in 1872. In his home he had his
full share of the joys and sorrows of life, but his interest in his work
never failed. If new tasks were taken up, it was not at the expense of
the old; the fresh demand on his unwearied energies was met with the
same spirit. At an advanced age he opened a new and attractive chapter
in his life by his friendly meetings with the London costermongers. He
gave prizes for the best-kept donkey, he attended the judging in person,
he received in return a present of a donkey which was long cherished at
Wimborne St. Giles. It is impossible to deal fully with his life in each
decade; one page from his journal for 1882 shows what he could still do
at the age of eighty-one, and will be the best proof of his persistence
in well-doing. He began the day with a visit to Greenhithe to inspect
the training ships for poor boys, at midday he came back to Grosvenor
Square to attend a committee meeting of the Bible Society at his home,
he then went to a public banquet in honour of his godson, and he
finished with a concert at Buckingham Palace, thus keeping up his
friendly relations with all classes in the realm. To the very last, in
his eighty-fifth year, he continued to attend a few meetings and to
visit the scenes of his former labours; and on October 1, 1885, full of
years and full of honours, he died quietly at Folkestone, where he had
gone for the sake of his health.

In this sketch attention has been drawn to his labours rather than to
his honours. He might have had plenty of the latter if he had wished. He
received the Freedom of the City of London and of other great towns.
Twice he was offered the Garter, and he only accepted the second offer
on Lord Palmerston's urgent request that he should treat it as a tribute
to the importance of social work. Three times he was offered a seat in
the Cabinet, but he refused each time, because official position would
fetter his special work. He kept aloof from party politics, and was only
roused when great principles were at stake. Few of the leading
politicians satisfied him. Peel seemed too cautious, Gladstone too
subtle, Disraeli too insincere. It was the simplicity and kindliness of
his relative Palmerston that won his heart, rather than confidence in
his policy at home or abroad. The House of Commons suited him better
than the colder atmosphere of the House of Lords; but in neither did he
rise to speak without diffidence and fear. It is a great testimony to
the force of his conviction that he won as many successes in Parliament
as he did. But the means through which he effected his chief work were
committees, platform meetings, and above all personal visits to scenes
of distress.

The nation would gladly have given him the last tribute of burial in
Westminster Abbey, but he had expressed a clear wish to be laid among
his own people at Wimborne St. Giles, and the funeral was as simple as
he had wished it to be. His name in London is rather incongruously
associated with a fountain in Piccadilly Circus, and with a street full
of theatres, made by the clearing of the slums where he had worked: the
intention was good, the result is unfortunate. More truly than in any
sculpture or buildings his memorial is to be found in the altered lives
of thousands of his fellow citizens, in the happy looks of the children,
and in the pleasant homes and healthy workshops which have transformed
the face of industrial England.



1811. Born at Richmond, Yorkshire, March 4.
1823. School at Londonderry.
1827. Haileybury I.C.S. College.
1829. Goes out to India as a member of Civil Service.
1831. Delhi.
1834. P[=a]n[=i]pat.
1836. Et[=a]wa.
1840-2. Furlough and marriage to Harriette Hamilton.
1844. Collector and Magistrate of Delhi and P[=a]n[=i]pat.
1845. First Sikh War.
1846. Governor of J[=a]landhar Do[=a]b.
1848. Second Sikh War.
1849. Lord Dalhousie annexes Punjab. Henry and John Lawrence members
      of Punjab Board.
1852-3. New Constitution. John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of Punjab.
1856. Oudh annexed. Henry Lawrence first Governor.
1857. Indian Mutiny. Death of Henry Lawrence at Lucknow (July). Punjab
      secured. Delhi retaken (September).
1858-9. Baronetcy; G.C.B. Return to England.
1864. Governor-General of India. Irrigation. Famine relief.
1869. Return to England. Peerage.
1870. Chairman of London School Board.
1876. Failure of eyesight.
1879. Death in London, June 27.



The north of Ireland and its Scoto-Irish stock has given birth to some
of the toughest human material that our British Isles have produced. Of
this stock was John Wesley, who at the age of eighty-five attributed his
good health to rising every day at four and preaching every day at
five. Of this was Arthur Wellesley, who never knew defeat and 'never
lost a British gun'. Of this was Alexander Lawrence, sole survivor among
the officers of the storming party at Seringapatam, who lived to rear
seven stout sons, five of whom went out to service in India, two at
least to win imperishable fame. His wife, a Miss Knox, came also from
across the sea; and, if the evidence fails to prove Mr. Bosworth Smith's
statement that she was akin to the great Reformer, she herself was a
woman of strong character and great administrative talent. When we
remember John Lawrence's parentage, we need not be surprised at the
character which he bore, nor at the evidence of it to be seen in the
grand rugged features portrayed by Watts in the picture in the National
Portrait Gallery.

[Illustration: LORD LAWRENCE

From the painting by G. F. Watts in the National Portrait Gallery]

Of these parents John Laird Mair Lawrence was the fourth surviving son,
one boy, the eldest, having died in infancy. He owed the accident of his
birth in an English town to his father's regiment being quartered at the
time in Yorkshire, his first schooling at Bristol to his father's
residence at Clifton; but when he was twelve years old, he followed his
elder brothers to Londonderry, where his maternal uncle, the Rev. James
Knox, was Headmaster of the Free Grammar School, situated within the
walls of that famous Protestant fortress. It was a rough school, of
which the Lawrence brothers cherished few kindly recollections. It is
difficult to ascertain what they learnt there: perhaps the grim
survivals of the past, town-walls, bastions, and guns, made the deepest
impression upon them. John's chief friend at school was Robert
Montgomery, whom, many years later, he welcomed as a sympathetic
fellow-worker in India; and the two boys continued their education
together at Wraxall in Wiltshire, to which they were transferred in
1825. Here John spent two years, working at his books by fits and
starts, and finding an outlet for his energy in climbing, kite-flying,
and other unconventional amusements, and then his turn came to profit by
the goodwill of a family friend, who was an influential man and a
director of the East India Company. To this man, John Huddlestone by
name, his brothers Alexander and George owed their commissions in the
Indian cavalry, while Henry had elected for the artillery. John hoped
for a similar favour, but was offered, in its place, a post in the
Indian Civil Service. This was a cruel disappointment to him as he had
set his heart on the army. In fact he was only reconciled to the
prospect by the influence of his eldest sister Letitia, who held a
unique place as the family counsellor now and throughout her life.

When he sailed first for India at the age of eighteen, John Lawrence had
done little to give promise of future distinction. He had strong
attachments to his mother and sister; outside the family circle he was
not eager to make new friends. In his work and in his escapades he
showed an independent spirit, and seemed to care little what others
thought of him; even at Haileybury, at that time a training-school for
the service of the East India Company, he was most irregular in his
studies, though he carried off several prizes; and he seems to have
impressed his fellows rather as an uncouth person who preferred mooning
about the college, or rambling alone through the country-side, to
spending his days in the pursuits which they esteemed.

When the time came for John Lawrence to take up his work, his brother
Henry, his senior by five years, was also going out to India to rejoin
his company of artillery, and the brothers sailed together. John had to
spend ten weary months in Calcutta learning languages, and was very
unhappy there. Ill-health was one cause; another was his distaste for
strangers' society and his longing for home; it was only the definite
prospect of work which rescued him from despondency. He applied for a
post at Delhi; and, as soon as this was granted, he was all eagerness to
leave Calcutta. But he had used the time well in one respect: he had
acquired the power of speaking Persian with ease and fluency, and this
stood him in good stead in his dealings with the princes and the
peasants of the northern races, whose history he was to influence in the
coming years.

Delhi has been to many Englishmen besides John Lawrence a city of
absorbing interest. It had even then a long history behind it, and its
history, as we in the twentieth century know, is by no means finished
yet. It stands on the Jumna, the greatest tributary of the Ganges, at a
point where the roads from the north-west reach the vast fertile basin
of these rivers, full in the path of an invader. Many races had swept
down on it from the mountain passes before the English soldiery appeared
from the south-east; its mosques, its palaces, its gates, recall the
memory of many princes and conquerors. At the time of Lawrence's arrival
it was still the home of the heir of Akbar and Aurangzeb, the last of
the great Mughals. The dynasty had been left in 1804, after the wars of
Lord Wellesley, shorn of its power, but not robbed of its dignity or
riches. As a result it had degenerated into an abuse of the first order,
since all the scoundrels of the district infested the palace and preyed
upon its owner, who had no work to occupy him, no call of duty to rouse
him from sloth and sensuality. The town was filled with a turbulent
population of many different tribes, and the work of the European
officials was exacting and difficult. But at the same time it gave
unique opportunities for an able man to learn the complexity of the
Indian problem; and the knowledge which John Lawrence acquired there
proved of incalculable value to him when he was called to higher posts.

At Delhi he was working as an assistant to the Resident, one of a staff
of four or five, with no independent authority. But in 1834 he was given
temporary charge of the district of P[=a]n[=i]pat, fifty miles to the
north, and it is here that we begin to get some measure of the man and
his abilities. The place was the scene of more than one famous battle in
the past; armies of Mughals and Persians and Mar[=a]th[=i]s had swept
across its plains. Its present inhabitants were J[=a]ts, a race widely
extended through the eastern Punjab and the western part of the province
of Agra. Originally invaders from the north, they espoused the religions
of those around them, some Brahman, some Muhammadan, some Sikh, and
settled down as thrifty industrious peasants; though inclined to
peaceful pursuits, they still preserved some strength of character and
were the kind of people among whom Lawrence might hope to enjoy his
work. The duties of the magistrate are generally divided into judicial
and financial. But, as an old Indian official more exhaustively stated
it: 'Everything which is done by the executive government is done by the
Collector in one or another of his capacities--publican, auctioneer,
sheriff, road-maker, timber-dealer, recruiting sergeant, slayer of wild
beasts, bookseller, cattle-breeder, postmaster, vaccinator, discounter
of bills, and registrar.' It is difficult to see how one can bring all
these departments under two headings; it is still more difficult to see
how such diverse demands can possibly be met by a single official,
especially by one little over twenty years of age coming from a distant
country. No stay-at-home fitting himself snugly into a niche in the
well-manned offices of Whitehall can expect to see his powers develop so
rapidly or so rapidly collapse (whichever be his fate) as these solitary
outposts of our empire, bearing, Atlas-like, a whole world on their

With John Lawrence, fortunately, there was no question of collapse till
many years of overwork broke down his physical strength. He grappled
with the task like a giant, passing long days in his office or in the
saddle, looking into everything for himself, laying up stores of
knowledge about land tenure and agriculture, training his judgement to
deal with the still more difficult problem of the workings of the
Oriental mind. He had no friends or colleagues of his own at hand; and
when the day's work was done he would spend his evenings holding an
informal durbar outside his tent, chatting with all and sundry of the
natives who happened to be there. The peoples of India are familiar with
pomp and outward show such as we do not see in the more prosaic west;
but they also know a man when they see one. And this young man with the
strongly-marked features, curt speech, and masterful manner, sitting
there alone in shirt-sleeves and old trousers as he listened to their
tales, was an embodiment of the British rule which they learnt to
respect--if not to love--for the solid benefits which it conferred upon
them. He had an element of hardness in him; by many he was thought to be
unduly harsh at different periods of his life; but he spared no trouble
to learn the truth, he was inflexibly just in his decisions, and his
reputation spread rapidly throughout the district. In cases of genuine
need he could be extremely kind and generous; but he did not lavish
these qualities on the first comer, nor did he wear his heart upon his
sleeve. His informal ways and unconventional dress were a bugbear to
some critics; his old waywardness and love of adventure was still alive
in him, and he thoroughly enjoyed the more irregular sides of his work.
Mr. Bosworth Smith has preserved some capital stories of the crimes with
which he had to deal, and how the young collector took an active part in
arresting the criminals--stories which some years later the future
Viceroy dictated to his wife.

But, after two years thus spent in constant activity and ever-growing
mastery of his work, he had to come down in rank; the post was filled by
a permanent official, and John Lawrence returned to the Delhi staff as
an assistant.

He soon received other 'acting appointments' in the neighbourhood of
Delhi, one of which at Et[=a]wa gave him valuable experience in dealing
with the difficult revenue question. The Government was in the habit of
collecting the land tax from the 'ryot' or peasant through a class of
middle-men called 'talukd[=a]rs',[17] who had existed under the native
princes for a long time. Borrowing perhaps from western ideas, the
English had regarded the latter as landowners and the peasants as mere
tenants; this had often caused grave injustice to the latter, and the
officials now desired to revise the settlement in order to put all
classes on a fair footing. In this department Robert Bird was supreme,
and under his direction John Lawrence and others set themselves to
measure out areas, to record the nature of the various soils, and to
assess rents at a moderate rate. Still this was dull work compared to
the planning of practical improvements and the conviction of dangerous
criminals; and as, towards the end of 1839, Lawrence was struck down by
a bad attack of fever, he was not sorry to be ordered home on long leave
and to revisit his native land. He had been strenuously at work for ten
years on end and he had well earned a holiday.

[Note 17: 'Talukd[=a]r' in the north-west, 'zam[=i]nd[=a]r' in

His father was now dead, and his favourite sister married, but of his
mother he was for many years the chief support, contributing liberally
of his own funds and giving his time and judgement to managing what the
brothers put together for that purpose. In 1840 he was travelling both
in Scotland and Ireland; and it was near Londonderry that he met his
future wife, daughter of the Rev. Richard Hamilton, who, besides being
rector of his parish, was an active justice of the peace. He met her
again in the following summer, and they were married on August 26, 1841.
Their life together was a tale of unbroken happiness, which was only
ended by his death. A long tour on the Continent was followed by a
severe illness, which threatened to forbid all prospect of work in
India. However, by the end of that summer he had recovered his health
enough to contemplate returning, and in October, 1842, he set sail to
spend another sixteen years in labouring in India.

In 1843 he resumed work at Delhi, holding temporary posts till the end
of 1844, when he became in his own right Collector and Magistrate of
Delhi and P[=a]n[=i]pat. This time his position, besides involving much
familiar work, threw him in the way of events of wider interest. Lord
Hardinge, the Governor-General, on his way to the first Sikh war, came
to Delhi, and was much impressed with Lawrence's ability; and when he
annexed the Do[=a]b[18] of J[=a]landhar and wanted a governor for it, he
could find no one more suitable than the young magistrate, who had so
swiftly collected 4,000 carts and sent them up laden with supplies on
the eve of the battle of Sobraon.

[Note 18: 'Do[=a]b' = land between two rivers.]

This was a great step in advance and carried John Lawrence ahead of many
of his seniors; but it was promotion that was fully justified by events.
He was not wanting in self-confidence, and the tone of some of his
letters to the Secretary at head-quarters might seem boastful, had not
his whole career shown that he could more than make good his promise.
'So far as I am concerned as supervisor,' he says, 'I could easily
manage double the extent of country'; and then, comparing his district
with another, he continues: 'I only ask you to wait six months, and then
contrast the civil management of the two charges.' As a fact, during the
three years that he held this post, he was often acting as deputy for
his brother Henry at Lahore, during his illness or absence, and this
alone clears him of the charge of idle boasting. J[=a]landhar was
comparatively a simple job for him, whatever it might be for others; he
was able to apply his knowledge of assessment and taxation gained at
Et[=a]wa, and need only satisfy himself. At Lahore, on the other hand,
he had to consider the very strong views held by his brother about the
respect due to the vested rights of the chiefs; and he studiously set
himself to deal with matters in the way in which his brother would have
done. The Sirdars or Sikh chieftains had inherited traditions of corrupt
and oppressive rule; but the chivalrous Henry Lawrence always looked at
the noble side of native character; and, as by his personal gifts he was
able to inspire devotion, so he could draw out what was good in those
who came under his influence. The cooler and more practical John looked
at both sides, at the traditions, good and evil, which came to them from
their forefathers, and he considered carefully how these chiefs would
act when not under his immediate influence. Above all, he looked to the
prosperity and happiness of the millions of peasants out of sight, who
toiled laboriously to get a living from the land.

The second Sikh war, which broke out in 1848, can only be treated here
so far as it affected the fortunes of the Lawrences. Lord Gough's
strategical blunders, redeemed by splendid courage, give it great
military interest; but it was the new Viceroy, Lord Dalhousie, who
decided the fate of the Punjab. He was a very able, hard-working Scotch
nobleman, who devoted himself to his work in India for eight years with
such self-sacrifice that he returned home in 1856 already doomed to an
early death. But he was masterful and self-confident to a degree; and
against his imperious will the impulsive forces of Charles Napier and
Henry Lawrence broke like waves on a granite coast. He was not blind to
their exceptional gifts, but to him the wide knowledge, coolness, and
judgement of John Lawrence made a greater appeal; and when, after the
victory of Chili[=a]nw[=a]la and the submission of the Sikh army in
1849, he annexed the Punjab, he decided to rule it by a Board and not by
a single governor, and to direct the diverse talents of the brothers to
a common end. He could not dispense with Henry's influence among the
Sikh chieftains, and John's knowledge of civil government was of equal

Each would to a certain extent have his department, but a vast number of
questions would have to be decided jointly by the Board, of which the
third member, from 1850, was their old schoolfellow and friend Robert
Montgomery. The friction which resulted was often intolerable. Without
the least personal animosity, the brothers were forced into frequent
conflicts of opinion; each was convinced of the justice of his attitude
and most unwilling to sacrifice the interests of those in whom he was
especially interested. After three years of the strain, Lord Dalhousie
decided that it was time to put the country under a single ruler. For
the honour of being first Chief Commissioner of the Punjab he chose the
younger brother; and Sir Henry was given the post of Agent in
R[=a]jput[=a]na, from which he was promoted in 1857 to be the first
Governor of Oudh.

It was a tragic parting. The ablest men in the Punjab, like John
Nicholson and Herbert Edwardes, regarded Sir Henry as a father, and many
felt that it would be impossible to continue their work without him. No
Englishman in India made such an impression by personal influence on
both Europeans and Asiatics. As a well-known English statesman said:
'His character was far above his career, distinguished as that career
was.' But there is little doubt, now, that for the development of the
new province Lord Dalhousie made the right choice. And there is no
higher proof of the magnanimity of John Lawrence than the way in which
he won the respect, and retained the services, of the most ardent
supporters of his brother. His dealings with Nicholson alone would fill
a chapter; few lessons are more instructive than the way in which he
controlled the waywardness of this heroic but self-willed officer, while
giving full scope to his singular abilities.

The tale of John Lawrence's government of the Punjab is in some measure
a repetition of his work at P[=a]n[=i]pat and Delhi. It had the same
variety, it was carried out with the same thoroughness; but on this vast
field it was impossible for him to see everything for himself. While
directing the policy, he had to work largely through others and to leave
many important decisions to his subordinates. The quality of the Punjab
officials--of men who owed their inspiration to Henry Lawrence, or to
John, or to both of them--was proved in many fields of government during
the next thirty years. Soldiers on the frontier passes, judges and
revenue officers on the plains, all worked with a will and contributed
of their best. The Punjab is from many points of view the most
interesting province in India. Its motley population, chiefly
Musalm[=a]ns, but including Sikhs and other Hindus; its extremes of heat
and cold, of rich alluvial soil and barren deserts; its vast
water-supplies, largely running to waste; its great frontier ramparts
with the historic passes--each of these gave rise to its own special
problems. It is impossible to deal with so complex a subject here; all
that we can do is to indicate a few sides of the work by which John
Lawrence had so developed the provinces within the short period of eight
years that it was able to bear the strain of the Mutiny, and to prove a
source of strength and not of weakness. He put the right men in the
right places and supported them with all his power. He broke up the old
Sikh army, and reorganized the forces in such a way as to weaken tribal
feeling and make it less easy for them to combine against us. He so
administered justice that the natives came to know that an English
official's word was as good as his bond. And, with the aid of Robert
Napier and others, he so helped forward irrigation as to redeem the
waste places and develop the latent wealth of the country. In all these
years he had little recognition or reward. His chief, Lord Dalhousie,
valued his work and induced the Government to make him K.C.B. in 1856;
but to the general public at home he was still unknown.

In 1857 the crisis came. The greased cartridges were an immediate cause;
there were others in the background. The sepoy regiments were too
largely recruited from one race, the Poorbeas of the North-west
Province, and they were too numerous in proportion to the Europeans;
vanity, greed, superstition, fear, all influenced their minds.
Fortunately, they produced no leader of ability; and, where the British
officials were prompt and firm, the sparks of rebellion were swiftly
stamped out; Montgomery at Lahore, Edwardes at Pesh[=a]war, and many
others, did their part nobly and disarmed whole regiments without
bloodshed. But at Meerut and Cawnpore there was hesitation; rebellion
raised its head, encouragement was given to a hundred local discontents,
little rills flowed together from all directions, and finally two great
streams of rebellion surged round Delhi and Lucknow. The latter, where
Henry Lawrence met a hero's death in July, does not here concern us; but
the reduction of Delhi was chiefly the work of John Lawrence, and its
effect on the history of the Mutiny was profound.

He might well have been afraid for the Punjab, won by conquest from the
most military race in India only eight years before, lying on the
borders of our old enemy Afgh[=a]nist[=a]n, garrisoned by 11,000
Europeans and about 50,000 native troops. It might seem a sufficient
achievement to preserve his province to British rule, with rebellion
raging all around and making inroads far within its borders. But as soon
as he had secured the vital points in his own province (Mult[=a]n,
Pesh[=a]war, Lahore), John Lawrence devoted himself to a single task, to
recover Delhi, directing against it every man and gun, and all the
stores that the Punjab could spare. Many of his subordinates, brave men
though they were, were alarmed to see the Punjab so denuded and exposed
to risks; but we now see the strength of character and determination of
the man who swayed the fortunes of the north. He knew the importance of
Delhi, of its geographical position and its imperial traditions; and he
felt sure that no more vital blow could be struck at the Mutiny than to
win back the city. The effort might seem hopeless; the military
commanders might hesitate; the small force encamped on the historic
ridge to the west of the town might seem to be besieged rather than
besiegers. But continuous waves of energy from the Punjab reinforced
them. One day it was 'the Guides', marching 580 miles in twenty-two
days, or some other European regiment hastening from some hotbed of
fanaticism where it could ill be spared; another day it was a train of
siege artillery, skilfully piloted across rivers and past ambushes;
lastly, it was the famous moving column led by John Nicholson in person
which restored the fortunes of the day. Through June, July, August, and
half of September, the operations dragged wearily on; but thanks to the
exertions of Baird Smith and Alexander Taylor, the chief engineers, an
assault was at last judged to be feasible. After days of street
fighting, the British secured control of the whole city on September
20th, and Nicholson, who was fatally wounded in the assault, lived long
enough to hear the tale of victory. Without aid from England this great
triumph had been won by the resources of the Punjab; and great was the
moral effect of the news, as it spread through the bazaars.

This success did not exhaust Lawrence's energy. For months after, he
continued to help Sir Colin Campbell in his operations against Lucknow,
and to correspond with the Viceroy, Lord Canning, and others about the
needs of the time. More perhaps than any one else, he laboured to check
savage reprisals and needless brutality, and thereby incurred much odium
with the more reckless and ignorant officers, who, coming out after the
most critical hour, talked loudly about punishment and revenge. He was
as cool in victory as he had been firm in the hour of disaster, and
never ceased to look ahead to rebuilding the shaken edifice on sounder
foundations when the danger should be past. It was only in the autumn of
1858, when the ship of State was again in smooth water, that he began to
think of a holiday for himself. He had worked continuously for sixteen
years; his health was not so strong as of old, and he could not safely
continue at his post. He received a Baronetcy and the Grand Cross of the
Bath from the Crown, while the Company recognized his great services by
conferring on him a pension of £2,000 a year.

From these heroic scenes it is difficult to pass to the humdrum life in
England, the receptions at Windsor, the parties in London, and the
discussions on the Indian Council. He himself (though not indifferent to
honourable recognition of his work) found far more pleasure in the quiet
days passed in the home circle, the games of croquet on his lawn, and
the occasional travels in Scotland and Ireland. Four years of repose
were none too long, for other demands were soon to be made upon him.
When Lord Elgin died suddenly in 1863, John Lawrence received the offer
of the highest post under the Crown, and, before the end of the year, he
was sailing for Calcutta as Governor-General of India.

In some ways he was able to fill the place without great effort. He had
never been a respecter of persons; he had been quite indifferent
whether his decisions were approved by those about him, and had always
learnt to walk alone with a single eye to the public good. Also, he had
such vast store of knowledge of the land and its inhabitants as no
Viceroy before him for many decades. But the ceremonial fatigued him;
and the tradition of working 'in Council', as the Viceroy must, was
embarrassing to one who could always form a decision alone and had
learnt to trust his own judgement.

Many of Lawrence's best friends and most trusted colleagues had left
India, and he had, seated at his Council board, others who did not share
his views, and who opposed the measures that he advocated. Especially
was this true of the distinguished soldier Sir Hugh Rose; and Lawrence
had to endure the same strain as in 1850, in the days of the Punjab
board. But he was able to do great service to the country in many ways,
and especially to the agricultural classes by pushing forward large
schemes of irrigation. Finance was one of his strong points, and any
expenditure which would be reproductive was sure of his support owing to
his care for the peasants and his love of a sound budget. The period of
his Viceroyalty was what is generally called uneventful--that is, it was
chiefly given up to such schemes as promoted peace and prosperity, and
did not witness any extension of our dominions. Even when Robert
Napier's[19] expedition went to Abyssinia, few people in England
realized that it was organized in India and paid for by India; and the
credit for its success was given elsewhere.

[Note 19: Created Lord Napier of Magdala after storming King
Theodore's fortress in 1868.]

But it is necessary to refer to one great subject of controversy, which
was prominent all through Lawrence's career and with which his name is
associated. This is the 'Frontier Policy' and the treatment of
Afgh[=a]nist[=a]n, on which two distinct schools of thought emerged.
One school, ever jealous of the Russian advance, maintained that our
Indian Government should establish agencies in Afgh[=a]nist[=a]n with or
without the consent of the Am[=i]r; that it should interfere, if need
be, to secure the throne for a prince who was attached to us; that
British troops should be stationed beyond the Indus, where they could
make their influence felt beyond our borders. The other maintained that
our best policy was to keep within our natural boundaries, and in this
respect the Indus with its fringe of desert was second only to the high
mountain chains; that we should recognize the wild love of independence
which the Afgh[=a]ns felt, that we should undertake no obligations
towards the Am[=i]r except to observe the boundaries between him and us.
If the Russians threatened our territories through Afgh[=a]nist[=a]n,
the natives would help us from hatred of the invaders; but if we began
to establish agents and troops in their towns, we should ourselves
become to them the hated enemy.

One school said that the Afgh[=a]ns respected strength and would support
us, if we seemed capable of a vigorous policy. The other replied that
they resented foreign intrusion and would oppose Great Britain or
Russia, if either attempted it. One said that we ought to have a
resident in K[=a]bul and Kandah[=a]r, the other said that it was a pity
that we had ever occupied Pesh[=a]war, in its exposed valley at the foot
of the Khyber Pass, and that Attock, where the Indus was bridged, was
the ideal frontier post.

No one doubted that Lawrence would be found on the side of the less
showy and less costly policy; and he kept unswervingly true to his
ideal. The verdict of history must not be claimed too confidently in a
land which has seen so many races come and go. At least it may be said
that the men who advocated advance were unable to make it good. Few
chapters in our history are more tragic than the Afgh[=a]n Wars of
1838-42 and 1878-80, though the last was redeemed by General Roberts's
great achievements. Our present policy is in accord with this verdict.
There is to-day no British agency at K[=a]bul or Kandah[=a]r; and the
loyalty of the Am[=i]rs, during some forty years of faithful adherence
on our part to this policy, have been sufficiently firm to justify
Lawrence's opposition to the Forward Policy. To-day it seems easy to
vindicate his wisdom; but in 1878, when the Conservative Government
kindled the war fever and allowed Lord Lytton to initiate a new
adventure, it was not easy to stem the tide, and Lawrence came in for
much abuse and unpopularity in maintaining the other view.

But long before this happened he had returned to England. His term of
office was over early in 1869, and his work in India was finished. His
last years at home were quiet, but not inactive. In 1870 he was invited
to become the first chairman of the new School Board for London, and he
held this office three years. Board work was always uncongenial to him,
and the subject was, of course, unfamiliar; but he gave his best efforts
to the cause and did other voluntary work in London. This came to an end
in 1876, when his eyesight failed, and for nearly two years he had much
suffering and was in danger of total blindness for a time. A second
operation saved him from this, and in 1878 he put forth his strength in
writing and speaking vigorously, but without success, against Lord
Lytton's Afgh[=a]n War. In June, 1879, he was stricken with sudden
illness, and died a week later in his seventieth year. It was hardly to
be expected that one who had spent himself so freely, amid such stirring
events, should live beyond the Psalmist's span of life.

He had started at the bottom of the official ladder; by his own efforts
he had won his way to the top; and his career will always be a notable
example to those young Englishmen who cross the sea to serve the Empire
in our great Dependency with its 300 million inhabitants. How the
relations between India and Great Britain will develop--how long the
connexion will last may be debated by politicians and authors; it is in
careers like that of John Lawrence (and there were many such in the
nineteenth century) that the noblest fruit of the connexion may be



1811. Born at Greenbank, Rochdale, November 16.
1827. Leaves school. Enters his father's mill.
1839. Marries Elizabeth Priestman (died 1841).
1841. Joins Cobden in constitutional agitation for Repeal of Corn Laws.
1843. Enters Parliament as Member for Durham.
1846. Corn Laws repealed.
1847. Marries Margaret Leatham (died 1878).
1847. Member for Manchester.
1854-5. Opposes Crimean War.
1856-7. Long illness.
1857. Unseated for Manchester. Member for Birmingham.
1861. Supports the North in American Civil War.
1868. President of Board of Trade in Gladstone's first Government.
1870. Second long illness.
1880. Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster in Gladstone's second Government.
1882. Resigns office over bombardment of Alexandria.
1886. Opposes Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill.
1889. Dies at Rochdale, March 29.



The word 'tribune' comes to us from the early days of the Roman
Republic; and even in Rome the tribunate was unlike all other
magistracies. The holder had no outward signs of office, no satellites
to execute his commands, no definite department to administer like the
consul or the praetor. It was his first function to protest on behalf of
the poorer citizens against the violent exercise of authority, and, on
certain occasions, to thwart the action of other magistrates. He was to
be the champion of the weak and helpless against the privileged orders;
and his power depended on his courage, his eloquence, and the
prestige of his office. England has no office of the sort in her
constitutional armoury; but the word 'tribune' expresses, better than
any other title, the position occupied in our political life by many of
the men who have been the conspicuous champions of liberty, and few
would contest the claim of John Bright to a foremost place among them.
He, too, stood forth to vindicate the rights of the _plebs_; he, too,
resisted the will of governments; and in no common measure did he give
evidence, through forty years of public life, of the possession of the
highest eloquence and the highest courage.

[Illustration: JOHN BRIGHT

From the painting by W. W. Ouless in the National Portrait Gallery]

His early life gave little promise of a great career. He was born in
1811, the son of Jacob Bright, of Rochdale, who had risen by his own
efforts to the ownership of a small cotton-mill in Lancashire, a man of
simple benevolence and genuine piety, and a member of the Society of
Friends--a society more familiar to us under the name of Quakers, though
this name is not employed by them in speaking of themselves.

The boy left home early, and between the ages of eight and fifteen he
was successively a pupil at five Quaker schools in the north of England.
Here he enjoyed little comfort, and none of the aristocratic seclusion
in which most statesmen have been reared at Eton and Harrow. He rubbed
shoulders with boys of various degrees of rank and wealth, and learnt to
be simple, true, and serious-minded; but he was in no way remarkable at
this age. We hear little of his recreations, and still less of his
reading; the school which pleased him most and did him most good was the
one which he attended last, lying among the moors on the borders of
Lancashire and Yorkshire. In the river Hodder he learnt to swim; still
more he learnt to fish, and it was fishing which remained his favourite
outdoor pastime throughout his life.

When school-days were over--at the age of fifteen--there was no question
of the University: a rigorous life awaited him and he began at once to
work in his father's business. The mill stood close beside his father's
house at Greenbank near Rochdale, some ten miles northward from
Manchester, and had been built in 1809 by Jacob Bright, out of a capital
lent to him by two members of the Society of Friends. Here he received
bales of new cotton by canal or from carriers, span it in his mill, and
gave out the warp and weft thus manufactured to handloom weavers, whom
he paid by the piece to weave it in the weaving chamber at the top of
their own houses. He then sold the fully manufactured article in
Manchester or elsewhere. In such surroundings, many a clever boy has
developed into a hard-headed prosperous business man; material interests
have cased in his soul, and he has been content to limit his thoughts to
buying and selling, to the affairs of his factory and his town, and he
has heard no call to other fields of work. But John Bright's education
in books and in life was only just beginning, and though it may be
regrettable that he missed the leisured freedom of university life, we
must own that he really made good the loss by his own effort (and that
without neglecting the work of the mill), and thereby did much to
strengthen the independence of his character.

In the mill he was the earliest riser, and often spent hours before
breakfast at his books. History and poetry were his favourite reading,
and periodicals dealing with social and political questions; his taste
was severe and had the happiest effect in chastening his oratorical
style. To him, as to the earnest Puritans of the seventeenth century,
the Bible and Milton were a peculiar joy; no other stories were so
moving, no other music so thrilling to the ear. In his family there was
no want of good talk. His mother, who died in 1830, was a woman of great
gifts, who helped largely in developing the minds of her children.
After her death John continued to live with his sisters, who were clever
and original in mind, becoming the leader in the home circle, where
views were freely exchanged on the questions of the day.

The Society of Friends was adverse to political discussion, as
interfering with the religious life. But the Brights could not be kept
from such a field of interest; and during these years theirs, like many
other quiet homes, was stirred by the excitement roused by the fortunes
of the Reform Bill.

The mill, too, did much to educate him. In the Rochdale factory there
was no marked separation as at Manchester between rich and poor. Master
and men lived side by side, knew one another's family history and
fortunes, and fraternized over their joys and sorrows. Even in those
days of backward education 'Old Jacob' made himself responsible for the
schooling of his workmen's children; his son, too, made personal friends
among those working under him and kept them throughout his life. Outside
the mill Rochdale offered opportunities which he readily took. In 1833
he became one of the founders and first president of a debating society,
and he began early to address Bible meetings and to lecture on
temperance in his native town, moved by no conscious idea of learning to
speak in public, but by the simple desire to be useful in good work. In
such holidays as he took he was eager to travel abroad and to learn more
of the outside world, and before he started at the age of twenty-four on
his longest travels (a nine months' journey to Palestine and the eastern
Mediterranean) he had, by individual effort, fitted himself to hold his
own with the best students of the universities in width of outlook and
capacity for mastering a subject. Like them, he had his limitations and
his prejudices; but however we may admire wide toleration in itself,
depth and intensity of feeling are often of more value to a man in
enabling him to influence his fellows.

The year of Queen Victoria's accession may be counted a landmark in the
life of this great Victorian. Then for the first time he met Richard
Cobden, who was destined to extend his labours and to share his glory;
and in the following year he began to co-operate actively in the Free
Trade cause, attending meetings in the Rochdale district and gradually
developing his power of speaking. It was about this time that he came to
know his first wife, Elizabeth Priestman, of the Society of Friends, in
Newcastle-on-Tyne, a woman of refined nature and rare gifts, whom he was
to marry in 1839 and to lose in 1841. Then it was that he built the
house 'One Ash', facing the same common as the house in which he was
born. Here he lived many years, and here he died in the fullness of
time, a Lancashire man, content to dwell among his own people, in his
native town, and to forgo the grandeur of a country house. It was from
here that he was called in the decisive hour of his life to take part in
a national work with which his name will ever be associated. At the
moment when Bright was prostrated with grief at his wife's death Cobden
appeared on the scene and made his historic appeal. He urged his friend
to put aside his private grief, to remember the miseries of so many
other homes, miseries due directly to the Corn Laws, to put his shoulder
to the wheel, and never to rest till they were repealed.

Cobden had been less happy than Bright in his schooling. His father's
misfortune led to his spending five years at a Yorkshire school of the
worst type, and seven more as clerk in the warehouse of an unsympathetic
uncle. Like Bright, he had early to take the lead in his own family;
also, like Bright, he had to educate himself; but he had a far harder
struggle, and the enterprise which he showed in commerce in early
manhood would have left him the possessor of a vast fortune, had he not
preferred to devote his energies to public causes. The two men were by
nature well suited to complement one another. If Cobden was the more
ingenious in explaining an argument, Bright was more forcible in
asserting a principle. If Cobden could, above all other men, convince
the intellects of his hearers, Bright could, as few other speakers,
kindle their spirits for a fray. His figure on a platform was striking.
His manly expressive face, with broad brow, straight nose, and square
chin, was essentially English in type. Though in the course of his
political career he discarded the distinctive Quaker dress, he never
discarded the Quaker simplicity. His costume was plain, his style of
speaking severe, his bearing dignified and restrained. Only when his
indignation was kindled at injustice was he swept far away from the
calmness of Quaker tradition.

The Corn Laws were a sequel to the Napoleonic wars and to the insecurity
of foreign trade which these caused. While war lasted it had inflated
prices, and brought to English growers of corn a period of extraordinary
prosperity. When peace came, to escape from a sudden fall in prices, the
landed proprietors, who formed a majority of the House of Commons, had
fixed by Act of Parliament the conditions under which corn might be
imported from abroad. This measure was to perpetuate by law, in time of
peace, the artificial conditions from which the people had unavoidably
suffered by the accident of war. The legislators paid no heed to the
growth of population, which was enormous, or to the distress of the
working classes, who needed time to adjust themselves to the rapid
changes in industry. Even the middle classes suffered, and the poor
could only meet such trouble by 'clemming' or self-starvation. A noble
duke, speaking in all good faith, advised them to 'try a pinch of curry
powder in hot water', as making the pangs of hunger less intolerable.
He met with little thanks for his advice from the sufferers, who
demanded a radical cure. Parliament as a whole showed few signs of
wishing to probe the question more deeply, and shut its eyes to the
evidence of distress, whether shown in peaceful petitions or in
disorderly riots. Many of the members were personally humane men and
good landlords; but there were no powerful newspapers to enlighten them,
and they knew little of the state of the manufacturing districts.

The cause had now found its appropriate champions. We in this day are
familiar with appeals to the great mass of the people: we know the story
of Midlothian campaigns and Belfast reviews; we hear the distant thunder
from Liverpool, Manchester, or Birmingham, when the great men of
Parliament go down from London to thrill vast audiences in the
provincial towns. But the agitation of the Anti-Corn-Law League was a
new thing. It was initiated by men unknown outside the Manchester
district; few of the thousands to whom it was directed possessed the
vote; and yet it wrought one of the greatest changes of the nineteenth
century, a change of which the influence is perhaps not yet spent. In
this campaign, Cobden and Bright were, without doubt, the leading

The movement filled five years of Bright's life. His hopes and fears
might alternate--at one moment he was stirred to exultation over
success, at another to regrets at the break-up of his home life, at
another to bitter complaints and hatred of the landed interest--but his
exertions never relaxed. As he was so often absent, the business at
Rochdale had to be entrusted to his brother. Whenever he could be there,
Bright was at his home with his little motherless daughter; but his
efforts on the platform were more and more appreciated each year, and
the campaign made heavy demands upon him.

At the opening of the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, on the site of the
'Peterloo' riots, he won a signal triumph. The vast audience was
enthusiastic: several of them also were discriminating in their praise.
One lady said that the chief charm of Mr. Bright was in the simplicity
of his manner, the total absence of anything like showing off; another
that she should never attend another meeting if he were announced to
speak, as she could not bear the excitement. Simplicity and profound
emotion were the secrets of his influence. The London Opera House saw
similar scenes once a month, from 1843 till the end of the struggle.
Villages and towns, and all classes of society, were instructed in the
principles of the League and induced to help forward the cause. Not only
did the wealthy factory owner, conscious as he was of the loss which the
high price of food inflicted on the manufacturing interest, contribute
his thousands; the factory hand too contributed his mite to further the
welfare of his class. Even farmers were led to take a new view of the
needs of agriculture, and the country labourer was made to see that his
advantage lay in the success of the League. It was a farm-hand who put
the matter in a nutshell at one of the meetings: 'I be protected,' he
said, 'and I be starving.'

In 1843 Bright joined his leader in Parliament as member for Durham
city, though his Quaker relatives disapproved of the idea that one of
their society should so far enter the world and take part in its
conflicts. In the House of Commons he met with scant popularity but with
general respect. He was no mob orator of the conventional type. The
simplicity and good taste of his speeches satisfied the best judges. He
expressed sentiments hateful to his hearers in such a way that they
might dislike the speech, but could not despise the speaker. Even when
he boldly attacked the Game Laws in an assembly of landowners, the House
listened to him respectfully, and the spokesman of the Government
thanked him for the tone and temper of his speech, admitting that he had
made out a strong case. But it was in the country and on the platform
that the chief efforts of Cobden and Bright were made, and their chief
successes won.

In 1845 they had an unexpected but most influential ally. Nature herself
took a hand in the game. From 1842 to 1844 the bad effects of the Corn
Laws were mitigated by good harvests and by the wise measures of Peel in
freeing trade from various restrictions. But in 1845 first the corn, and
then the potato crop, failed calamitously. Peel's conscience had been
uneasy for years: he had been studying economics, and his conclusions
did not square with the orthodox Tory creed. So when the Whig leader,
Lord John Russell, ventured to express himself openly for Free Trade in
his famous Edinburgh letter of November 28, Peel at last saw some chance
of converting his party. It has already been told in this book how at
length he succeeded in his aims, how he broke up his party but saved the
country, and how in the hour of mingled triumph and defeat he generously
gave to Cobden the chief credit for success. Whigs and Tories might
taunt one another with desertion of principles, or might claim that
their respective leaders collaborated at the end; certainly the question
would never have been put before the Cabinet or the House of Commons as
a Government measure but for the untiring efforts of the two Tribunes.
History can show few greater triumphs of Government by moral suasion and
the art of speech. Throughout, violence had been eschewed, even though
men were starving, and appeals had been made solely to the justice and
expediency of their case. Nothing illustrates better the sincerity and
disinterestedness of John Bright than his conduct in these last decisive
months. The tide was flowing with him; the opposition was reduced to a
shadow. He might have enjoyed the luxury of applause from Radicals,
Whigs, and the more advanced Tories, and won easy victories over a
hostile minority. But the cause was now in the safe hands of Peel, whose
honesty they respected and whose generalship they trusted; so Cobden and
Bright were content to stand aside and watch. Instead of carping at his
tardy conversion, Bright wrote in generous praise of Peel's speech: 'I
never listened', he said, 'to any human being speaking in public with so
much delight.' His heart was in the cause and not in his own
advancement. When he did rise to speak, it was to vindicate Peel's
honour and his statesmanship.

A few months later this honourable alliance came to an abrupt end.
Bright was forced, by the same incorruptible sense of right and by the
absence of all respect of persons, to oppose Peel in the crisis of his
fate. The Government brought in an Irish Coercion Bill, which was
naturally opposed by the Whigs. The Protectionist Tories saw their
chance of taking revenge on Peel for repealing the Corn Laws and made
common cause with their enemies; and from very different motives, Bright
went into the same lobby. His conscience forbade him to support any
coercive measure. No Prime Minister could please him as much as Peel;
but no surrender, no mere evasion of responsibilities was possible in
the case of a measure of which he disapproved. So firm was the bed-rock
of principle on which Bright's political conduct was based; and it was
to this uncompromising sincerity above all that he owed the triumphs of
his oratory.

His method as an orator is full of interest.[20] In his youth he had
begun by writing out and learning his speeches in full; but, before he
quitted Rochdale for a wider theatre, he had discarded this rather
mechanical method, and trusted more freely to his growing powers. He
still made careful preparation for his speeches. He tells us how he
often composed them in bed, as Carlyle's 'rugged Brindley' wrestled in
bed with the difficulties of his canal-schemes, the silence and the dim
light favouring the birth of ideas. He prepared words as well as ideas;
but he only committed to memory enough to be a guide to him in marking
the order and development of his thoughts, and filled up the original
outline according to the inspiration of the moment. A few sentences,
where the balance of words was carefully studied; a few figures of
speech, where his imagination had taken flight into the realm of poetry;
a few notable illustrations from history or contemporary politics, with
details of names and figures,--these would be found among the notes
which he wrote on detached slips of paper and dropped successively into
his hat as each milestone was attained. As compared with his illustrious
rival Gladstone, he was very sparing of gesture, depending partly on
facial expression, still more on the modulations of his voice, to give
life to the words which he uttered. His reading had formed his diction,
his constant speaking had taught him readiness, and his study of great
questions at close quarters and his meditation on them supplied him with
the facts and the conclusions which he wished to put forward; but the
fire which kindled this material to white heat was the passion for great
principles which glowed in his heart. He himself in 1868, in returning
thanks for the gift of the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh, quoted with
obvious sincerity a sentence from his favourite Milton: 'True eloquence
I find to be none but the serious and hearty love of Truth.'

[Note 20: See G. M. Trevelyan, _Life of John Bright_, pp. 384-5.]

Bright's public life was in the main a tale of devotion to two great
causes, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, consummated in 1846, and the
extension of the Franchise, which was not realized till twenty years
later. But he found time to examine other questions and to utter shrewd
opinions on the government of India and of Ireland, and to influence
English sentiment on the Crimean War and the War of Secession in the
United States. In advance of his time, he wished to develop
cotton-growing in India and so to prevent the great industry of his own
district being dependent on America alone. He attacked the existing
board of directors and preferred immediate control by the Crown; and,
while wishing to preserve the Viceroy's supremacy over the whole, he
spoke in favour of admitting Indians to a larger share in the government
of the various provinces. Many of the best judges of to-day are now
working towards the same end, but at the time he met with little
support. It is interesting to find that both on India and on Ireland
similar views were put forward by men so different as John Bright and
Benjamin Disraeli. Mr. Trevelyan has preserved the memory of several
episodes in which they were connected with one another and of attempts
which Disraeli made to win Bright's support and co-operation. Bright
could cultivate friendships with politicians of very different schools
without being induced to deviate by a hair's breadth from the cause
which his principles dictated, and he could treat his friends, at times,
with refreshing frankness. When Disraeli warmly admired one of his
greatest speeches and expressed the wish that he himself could emulate
it, the outspoken Quaker replied: 'Well, you might have made it, if you
had been honest.'

It was the young Disraeli who, as early as 1846, had attributed the
Irish troubles to 'a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and
an alien church'. It was Bright who never hesitated, when opportunity
arose, to work for the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland and for
the security of Irish tenants in their holdings. A succession of
measures, carried by Liberals and Conservatives from Gladstone to
George Wyndham, have made us familiar with the idea of land purchase in
Ireland; but Bright had been there as early as 1849 and had learnt for
himself. Though at the end of his life he was a stubborn opponent of
Gladstone's Home Rule Bill, he had long ago won the gratitude of Ireland
as no other Englishman of his day, and his name has been preserved there
in affectionate remembrance.

In 1854, the year of the Crimean War, Bright reached the zenith of his
oratorical power, and at the same time touched the nadir of his
popularity. Public opinion was setting strongly against Russia. In
stemming the tide of war the so-called 'Manchester school' had a
difficult task, and was severely criticized. The idea of the 'balance of
power' made little appeal to Bright; and as a Quaker he was reluctant to
see England interfering in a quarrel which did not seem to concern her.
The satirists indeed scoffed unfairly at the doctrine of 'Peace at any
price'; for Bright was content to put aside the principle and to argue
the case on pure political expediency. But his attacks on the wars of
the last century were too often couched in an offensive tone with
personal references to the peerages won in them, and he spoke at times
too bitterly of the diplomatic profession and especially of our
ambassador at Constantinople. Nothing shows so clearly the danger of the
imperfect education which was forced on Bright by necessity, and which
he had done so much to remedy, as his attitude to foreign and imperial
politics. In his home he had too readily imbibed the crude notion that
our Empire existed to provide careers for the needy cadets of
aristocratic families, and that our foreign policy was inspired by
self-seeking officials who cared little for moral principles or for the
lives of their fellow countrymen. A few months spent with Lord Canning
at Calcutta, or with the Lawrences at Lahore, frequent intercourse with
men of the calibre of Lord Lyons or Lord Cromer, would have enlightened
him on the subject and prevented him from uttering the unwarranted
imputations which he did. Yet in his great parliamentary speeches of
1854 he rose high above all pettiness and made a deep impression on a
hostile house. Damaging though his speech of December 22 was to the
Government, no minister attempted to reply. Palmerston, Russell, and
Gladstone, with all their power, were unequal to the task. Disraeli told
Bright that a few more such speeches 'would break up the Government';
and Delane, the famous editor of _The Times_, wrote that 'Cobden and
Bright would be our ministers but for their principle of peace at any

But Bright was not thinking of office or of breaking up Governments: he
was thinking of the practical end in view. His next great speech was on
February 23, 1855, when a faint hope of peace appeared. It was most
conciliatory in tone, and was a solemn appeal to Palmerston to use his
influence in ending the war. This was known as 'the Angel of Death'
speech, from a famous passage which occurs in it. At the end he was
'overloaded with compliments', but the minister, who was hampered by
Russian intrigues with Napoleon, seemed deaf to all appeals, and Bright
again returned to the attack. Till the last days of the war, he
continued to raise his voice on behalf of peace; but his exertions had
told on his strength, and for the greater part of two years he had to
abandon public life and devote himself to recovering his health.

Six years later he was to prove that 'peace at any price' was no fair
description of his attitude. The Southern States of America seceded on
the question of State rights and the institution of slavery, and the
Federal Government declared war on them as rebels. This time it was not
a war for the balance of power, but one fought to vindicate a moral
principle, and Bright was strongly in favour of fighting it to a
finish. For different reasons most of our countrymen favoured the South,
but he appealed for British sympathy for the other side, on the ground
that no true Briton could abet slavery. He was the most prominent
supporter of the North, for long the only prominent one, but he
gradually made converts and did much to wipe away the reproach which
attached to the name of Englishmen in America, when the North triumphed
in the end. The war ended in 1865 with the surrender of General Lee at
Appomattox, and Bright wrote in his journal, 'This great triumph of the
Republic is the event of our age'.

But long before 1865 the question of Reform and of the extension of the
franchise had been revived. Gladstone might speak in favour of the
principle in 1864; Russell might introduce a Reform Bill in 1866; a year
later Disraeli might 'dish the Whigs'; and Whig and Tory might wrangle
over the question who were the friends of the 'working man', but Bright
had made his position clear to his friends in 1846. He began a popular
movement in 1849 and for the next fifteen years of his life it was the
object dearest to his heart. He was not afraid to walk alone. When his
old fellow worker, Cobden, refused his aid, on the ground that he was
not convinced of the need for extending the franchise, Bright himself
assumed the lead and bore the brunt of the battle. Till 1865 his main
obstacle was Palmerston, who since he took the helm in the worst days of
the Crimean War and conducted the ship of State into harbour, occupied
an impregnable position. Palmerston was dear to 'the man in the street',
shared his prejudices and understood his humours; and nothing could make
him into a serious Democrat or reformer. Even after Palmerston's death,
Bright's chief opponent was to be found in the Whig ranks, in Robert
Lowe, who was a master of parliamentary eloquence and who managed, in
1866, to wreck Lord John Russell's Reform Bill in the House. But Bright
had his revenge in the country. Such meetings as ensued in the great
provincial towns had not been seen for twenty years: the middle class
and the artisans were fused as in the great Repeal struggle of 1846. At
Glasgow as many as 150,000 men paraded outside the town, and no hall
could contain the thousands who wished to hear the great Tribune. He
claimed that eighty-four per cent. of his countrymen were still excluded
from the vote, and he bluntly asserted that the existing House of
Commons did not represent 'the intelligence and the justice of the
nation, but the prejudices, the privileges, and the selfishness, of a

But however blind many of this class might still be to the signs of the
times, they found an astute leader in Disraeli, who had few principles
and could trim his sails to any wind. The Tory Reform Bill, which he put
forward in February 1867, came out a very different Bill in July, after
discussion in the Cabinet, which led to the resignation of three
ministers, and after debates in the House of Commons, where it was
roughly handled. The principle of household suffrage was conceded, and
another million voters were added to the electorate. Disraeli had made a
greater change of front than any which he could attribute to Peel, and
that without conviction, for reasons of party expediency. The real
triumph belonged to Bright. 'The Bill adopted', he writes, 'is the
precise franchise I recommended in 1858.' He had not only roused the
country by his platform speeches, he had carefully watched the Bill in
all its stages through the House, and gradually transformed it till it
satisfied the aspirations of the people. He had been content to work
with Disraeli so long as he could further the cause of Reform; and he
only quarrelled with that statesman finally when, in 1878, he revived
the anti-Russian policy of Palmerston.

During this strenuous time his domestic life was happy and tranquil.
After the death of his first wife he had remained a widower for six
years, and in 1847 he had married Margaret Leatham, who bore him seven
children and shared his joys and sorrows in no ordinary measure for
thirty years. Whenever politics took him away from his Rochdale home, he
wrote constantly to her, and his letters throw most valuable light on
his inmost feelings. She died in 1878, and after this his life was
pitched in a different key. The outer world might suppose that high
political office was crowning his career, but his enthusiasm and his
power were ebbing and his physical health failed him more than once. He
was as affectionate to his children, as friendly to his neighbours, as
true to his principles; but the old fire was gone.

The outward events of his life from 1867 to 1889 must be passed over
lightly. Against his own wishes he was persuaded by Gladstone to join
the Cabinet in 1868 and again in 1880. His name was a tower of strength
to the Government with the newly-enfranchised electors, but he himself
had little taste for the routine of office. At Birmingham, for which he
had sat since 1857, he compared himself to the Shunammite woman who
refused the offer of advancement at court, and replied to the prophet,
'I dwell among mine own people'. But events were too strong for him: he
was drawn first to Westminster to share in the government of the
country, and then to Osborne to visit the Queen. Both the Queen and he
were nervous at the prospect, but the interview passed off happily.[21]
Family affections and sorrows were a bond between them, and he talked to
her with his usual frankness and simplicity. Even the difficult question
of costume was settled by a compromise, and the usual gold-braided
livery was replaced by a sober suit of black. Ministerial work in
London might have proved irksome to him; but his colleagues in the
Cabinet were indulgent, and no excessive demands were made upon his
strength. It was recognized that Bright was no longer in the fighting
line. In 1870 he was incapacitated by a second long illness, and he had
little share in the measures carried through Parliament for Irish land
purchase and national education.

[Note 21: See Fitzmaurice, _Life of Lord Granville_, vol. i, p.

His official career was finally closed in 1882, when the bombardment of
Alexandria seemed to open a new and aggressive chapter in our Eastern
policy. Bright was true to his old principles and resigned office.

He severed himself still more from the official Liberals in 1886, when
he refused to follow Gladstone into the Home Rule camp. He disliked the
methods of Parnell, the obstruction in Parliament, and the campaign of
lawlessness in Ireland. His own victories had not been won so, and he
had a great respect for the traditions of the House. He also believed
that the Home Rule Bill would vitally weaken the unity of the realm. But
no personal bitterness entered into his relations with his old
colleagues: he did not attack Gladstone, as he had attacked Palmerston
in 1855. From his death-bed he sent a cordial message to his old chief,
and received an answer full of high courtesy and affection.

His illness lasted several months. From the autumn of 1888 he lay at One
Ash, weak but not suffering acutely; and on March 27, 1889, he quietly
passed away. His old friend Cobden had preceded him more than twenty
years, having died in 1865, and had been buried at his birthplace in
Sussex, where he had made himself a peaceful home in later life. Bright
proved himself equally faithful to the home of his earliest years. He
was laid to rest in the small burying-ground in front of the Friends'
meeting-house where he had worshipped as a child. In his long career he
had served noble causes, and scaled the heights of fame, and the crowds
at his funeral testified to the love which his neighbours bore him. He
had never willingly been absent for long from his native town. His life,
compared with that of Disraeli or Gladstone, seems almost bleak in its
simplicity, varied as it was by so few excursions into other fields. But
two strong passions enriched it with warmth and glow, his family
affections and his zeal for the common good. These filled his heart, and
he was content that it should be so.

    Type of the wise who soar but never roam,
    True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home.

[Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS

From the painting by Daniel Maclise in the National Portrait Gallery]



1812. Born at Landport, Portsmouth, February 7.
1816. Parents move to Chatham; 1821, to London.
1822. Father bankrupt and in prison. Charles in blacking warehouse.
1827. Charles enters lawyer's office.
1831. Reporters' Gallery in Parliament.
1836. Marries Catherine Hogarth. Publishes _Sketches by Boz_.
1837. _Pickwick Papers._ 1838. _Nicholas Nickleby._
1842. First American journey. 1843. _Martin Chuzzlewit._
1844-5. Eleven months' residence in Italy, chiefly at Genoa.
1846. Editor of _Daily News_ for a few weeks.
1846-7. Six months at Lausanne; three months at Paris. _Dombey and Son._
1849-50. _David Copperfield._
1850. Editor of weekly periodical, _Household Words_.
1851-2. Manager of theatrical performances. 1852. _Bleak House._
1853. Italian tour: Rome, Naples, and Venice.
1856. Purchase of Gadshill House, near Rochester.
1858. Beginning of public readings.
1859. _Tale of Two Cities_ appears in _All the Year Round_.
1860. Gadshill becomes his home instead of London.
1867. Second American journey. Public readings in America.
1869. April, collapse at Chester. Readings stopped.
1870. Dies at Gadshill, June 9.



In these days when critics so often repeat the cry of 'art for art's
sake' and denounce Ruskin for bringing moral canons into his judgements
of pictures or buildings, it is dangerous to couple these two titles
together, and to label Dickens as anything but a novelist pure and
simple. And indeed, all would admit that the creator of Sam Weller and
Sarah Gamp will live when the crusade against 'Bumbledom' and its
abuses is forgotten and the need for such a crusade seems incredible.
But when so many recent critics have done justice to his gifts as a
creative artist, this aspect of his work runs no danger of being
forgotten. Moreover, when we are considering Dickens as a Victorian
worthy and as a representative man of his age, it is desirable to bring
out those qualities which he shared with so many of his great
contemporaries. Above all, we must remember that Dickens himself would
be the last man to be ashamed of having written 'with a purpose', or to
think that the fact should be concealed as a blemish in his art. There
was nothing in which he felt more genuine pride than in the thought that
his talents thus employed had brought public opinion to realize the need
for many practical reforms in our social condition. If these old abuses
have mostly passed away, we may be thankful indeed; but we cannot feel
sure that in the future fresh abuses will not arise with which the
example of Dickens may inspire others to wage war. His was a strenuous
life; he never spared himself nor stinted his efforts in any cause for
which he was fighting; and if he did not win complete victory in his
lifetime, he created the spirit in which victory was to be won.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812, the second child of a large family,
his father being at the time a Navy clerk employed at Portsmouth. Of his
birthplace in Commercial Road Portsmouth is justifiably proud; but we
must think of him rather as a Kentishman and a Londoner, since he never
lived in Hampshire after his fourth year. The earliest years which left
a distinct impress on his mind were those passed at Chatham, to which
his father moved in 1816. This town and its neighbouring cathedral city
of Rochester, with their narrow old streets, their riverside and
dockyard, took firm hold of his memory and imagination. To-day no places
speak more intimately of him to the readers of his books. Here he passed
five years of happy childhood till his father's work took the family to
London and his father's improvidence plunged them into misfortune.

For those who know Wilkins Micawber it is needless to describe the
failings of Mr. Dickens; for others we may be content to say that he was
kindhearted, sanguine and improvident, quite incapable of the steady
industry needed to support a growing family. When his debts overwhelmed
him and he was carried off to the Marshalsea prison, Charles was only
ten years old, but already he took the lead in the house. On him fell
the duty of pacifying creditors at the door, and of making visits to the
pawn-broker to meet the daily needs of the household. His initiation
into life was a hard one and it began cruelly soon. If he was active and
enterprising beyond his years, with his nervous high-strung temperament
he was capable of suffering acutely; and this capacity was now to be
sorely tried. For a year or more of his life this proud sensitive child
had to spend long hours in the cellars of a warehouse, with rough
uneducated companions, occupied in pasting labels on pots of
boot-blacking. This situation was all that the influence of his family
could procure for him; and into this he was thrust at the age of ten
with no ray of hope, no expectation of release. His shiftless parents
seemed to acquiesce in this drudgery as an opening for their cleverest
son; and instead of their helping and comforting him in his sorrow, it
was he who gave his Sundays to visiting them in prison and to offering
them such consolation as he could. The iron burnt deep into his soul.
Long after, in fact till the day when the district was rebuilt and
changed out of knowledge, he owned that he could not bear to revisit the
scene; so painful were his recollections, so vivid his sense of
degradation. Twenty-five years later he narrated the facts to his friend
and biographer John Forster in a private conversation; and he only
recurred to the subject once more when under the disguise of a novel he
told the story of the childhood of David Copperfield. By shifting the
horror from the realm of fact to that of fiction, perhaps he lifted the
weight of it from the secret recesses of his heart.

When his father's debts were relieved, the child regained his freedom
from servitude, but even then his schooling was desultory and
ineffective. Well might the elder Dickens, in a burst of candour, say to
a stranger who asked him about his son's education, 'Why indeed, sir,
ha! ha! he may be said to have educated himself.'

At the age of fifteen Charles embarked again on his career as a
wage-earner. At first he was taken into a lawyer's office, where he
filled a position somewhat between that of office-boy and clerk, and two
years later he was qualifying himself by the study of shorthand for the
profession of a parliamentary reporter, which his father was then
following. He entered 'the Gallery' in 1831, first representing the
_True Sun_ and later the well-known _Morning Chronicle_; and at
intervals he enlarged his experiences by journeys into the provinces to
report political meetings. Thus it was that he familiarized himself with
the mail coaches, the wayside hostelries, and the rich variety of types
that were to be found there; with London in most of its phases he was
already at home. So, when in 1834 he made his first attempts at writing
in periodical literature, although he was only twenty-two years old, he
had a wealth of first-hand experiences quite outside the range of the
man who is just finishing his leisurely passage through a public school
and university: of schools and offices, of parliaments and prisons, of
the street and of the high road, he had been a diligent and observant
critic; for many years he had practised the maxim of Pope: 'The proper
study of mankind is Man.'

Friends sprang up wherever he went. His open face, his sparkling eye,
his humorous tongue, his ready sympathy, were a passport to the
goodwill of those whom he met; few could resist the appeal. Many readers
will be familiar with the early portrait by Maclise; but his friends
tell us how little that did justice to the lively play of feature, 'the
spirited air and carriage' which were indescribable. On the top of a
mail coach, on a fresh morning, they must have won the favour of his
fellow travellers more easily than Alfred Jingle won the hearts of the
Pickwickians. And beneath the radiant cheerfulness of his manner, the
quick flash of observation and of speech, there was in him an element of
hard persistence and determination which would carry him far. If the
years of poverty and neglect had failed to chill his hopes and break his
spirit, there was no fear that he would tire in the pursuit of his
ambition when fortune began to smile upon him. He had touched life on
many sides. He had kept his warmth of sympathy, his buoyancy, his
capacity for rising superior to ill-fortune; and the years of adversity
had only deepened his feeling for all that were oppressed. He had much
to learn about the craft of letters; but he already had the first
essential of an author--he had something to say.

The year 1836 is a definite landmark in the life of Dickens. In this
year he married; in this year he gave up the practice of parliamentary
reporting, published the _Sketches by Boz_, and began the writing of
_The Pickwick Papers_. This immortal work achieved wide popularity at
once. Criticism cannot hope to do justice to the greatness of Sam
Weller, to the humours of Dingley Dell and Eatanswill, to the adventures
of the hero in back gardens or in prison, on coaches or in wheelbarrows.
Every one must read them in the original for himself. In this book
Dickens reached at once the height of his success in making his fellow
countrymen laugh with him at their own foibles. If in the art of
constructing a story, in the depiction of character, in deepening the
interest by the alternation of happiness and misfortune, he was to go
far beyond his initial triumph,--still with many Dickensians, who love
him chiefly for his liveliness of observation and broad humour, Pickwick
remains the prime favourite.

The effect of this success on the fortunes of the author was immediate
and lasting. Henceforth he could live in a comfortable house and look
forward to a family life in which his children should be free from all
risk of repeating his own experience. He could afford himself the
pleasures and the society which he needed, and he became the centre of a
circle of friends who appreciated his talents and encouraged him in his
career. His relations with his publishers, though not without incident,
were generally of the most cordial kind. If Dickens had the
self-confidence to estimate his own powers highly, and the shrewd
instinct to know when he was getting less than his fair share in a
bargain, yet in a difference of opinion he was capable of seeing the
other side, and he was loyal in the observance of all agreements.

The five years which followed were so crowded with various activities
that it is difficult to date the events exactly, especially when he was
producing novels in monthly or weekly numbers. Generally he had more
than one story on the stocks. Thus in 1837, before _Pickwick_ was
finished, _Oliver Twist_ was begun, and it was not itself complete
before the earlier numbers of _Nicholas Nickleby_ were appearing. In the
same way _The Old Curiosity Shop_ and _Barnaby Rudge_, which may be
dated 1840 and 1841, overlapped one another in the planning of the
stories, if not in the execution of the weekly parts. There is no period
of Dickens's life which enables us better to observe his intense mental
activity, and at the same time the variety of his creations. Here we
have the luxuriant humour of Mrs. Nickleby and the Crummles family side
by side with the tragedy of Bill Sikes and the pathos of Little Nell.
Here also we can see the gradual development of constructive power in
the handling of the story. But for our purpose it is more significant to
notice that we here find Dickens's pen enlisted in the service of the
noblest cause for which he fought, the redemption from misery and
slavery of the children of his native land. Lord Shaftesbury's life has
told us what their sufferings were and how the machinery of Government
was slowly forced to do its part; and Dickens would be the last to
detract from the fame of that great philanthropist, whose efforts on
many occasions he supported and praised. But there were wide circles
which no philanthropist could reach, hearts which no arguments or
statistics could rouse; men and women who attended no meetings and read
no pamphlets but who eagerly devoured anything that was written by the
author of _The Pickwick Papers_. To them Smike and Little Nell made a
personal and irresistible appeal; they could not remain insensible to
the cruelty of Dotheboys Hall and to the depravity of Fagin's school;
and if these books did not themselves recruit active workers to improve
the conditions of child life, at least society became permeated with a
temper which was favourable to the efforts of the reformers.

As far back as the days of his childhood at Rochester Dickens had been
indignant at what he had casually heard of the Yorkshire schools; and
his year of drudgery in London had made him realize, in other cases
beside his own, the degradation that followed from the neglect of
children. On undertaking to handle this subject in _Nicholas Nickleby_,
he journeyed to Yorkshire to gather evidence at first hand for his
picture of Dotheboys Hall. And for many years afterwards he continued to
correspond with active workers on the subject of Ragged Schools and on
the means of uplifting children out of the conditions which were so
fruitful a source of crime. He discovered for himself how easily
miscreants like Fagin could find recruits in the slums of London, and
how impossible it was to bring up aright boys who were bred in these
neglected homes. Even where efforts had been begun, the machinery was
quite inadequate, the teachers few, the schoolrooms cheerless and
ill-equipped. Mr. Crotch[22] has preserved a letter of 1843 in which
Dickens makes the practical offer of providing funds for a washing-place
in one school where the children seemed to be suffering from inattention
to the elementary needs. His heart warmed towards individual cases and
he faced them in practical fashion; he was not one of those reformers
who utter benevolent sentiments on the platform and go no further.

[Note 22: _Charles Dickens, Social Reformer_, by W. W. Crotch
(Chapman & Hall, 1913), p. 53.]

Critics have had much to say about Dickens's treatment of child
characters in his novels; the words 'sentimental' and 'mawkish' have
been hurled at scenes like the death of Paul Dombey and Little Nell and
at the more lurid episodes in _Oliver Twist_. But Dickens was a pioneer
in his treatment of children in fiction; and if he did smite resounding
blows which jar upon critical ears, at least he opened a rich vein of
literature where many have followed him. He wrote not for the critics
but for the great popular audience whom he had created, comprising all
ages and classes, and world-wide in extent. The best answer to such
criticism is to be found in the poem which Bret Harte dedicated to his
memory in 1870, which beautifully describes how the pathos of his
child-heroine could move the hearts of rough working men far away in the
Sierras of the West. Nor did this same character of Little Nell fail to
win special praise from literary critics so fastidious as Landor and
Francis Jeffrey.

In 1842 he embarked on his first voyage to America. Till then he had
travelled little outside his native land, and this expedition was
definitely intended to bear fruit. Before starting he made a bargain
with his publishers to produce a book on his return. The _American
Notes_ thus published, dealing largely with institutions and with the
notable 'sights' of the country, have not retained a prominent place
among his works; with _Martin Chuzzlewit_ and its picture of American
manners it is different. This stands alone among his writings in having
left a permanent heritage of ill-will. Reasons in abundance can be found
for the bitterness caused. He portrayed the conceit, the self-interest,
the disregard for the feelings of others which the less-educated
American showed to foreigners in a visible and often offensive guise;
and the portraits were so life-like that no arrow fails to hit the mark.
The American people were young; they had made great strides in material
prosperity, they had not been taught to submit to the lash by satirists
like Swift or more kindly mentors like Addison. Their own Oliver Wendell
Holmes had not yet begun to chastise them with gentle irony. So they
were aghast at Dickens's audacity, and indignant at what seemed an
outrage on their hospitality, and few stopped to ask what elements of
truth were to be found in the offending book. No doubt it was one-sided
and unfair; Dickens, like most tourists, had been confronted by the
louder and more aggressive members of the community and had not time to
judge the whole. In large measure he recanted in subsequent writings;
and on his second visit the more generous Americans showed how little
rancour they bore. But the portraits of Jefferson Brick and Elijah
Pogram will live; with Pecksniff, 'Sairey' Gamp, and other immortals
they bear the hall-mark of Dickens's creative genius.

To America he did not go again for twenty-five years; but, as he grew
older, he seemed to feel increasing need for change and variety in his
mode of life. In 1844 he went for nearly twelve months to Italy, making
his head-quarters at Genoa; and in 1846 he repeated the experiment at
Lausanne on the lake of Geneva. Later, between 1853 and 1856, he spent a
large part of three summers in a villa near Boulogne. Though he desired
the change for reasons connected with his work, and though in each case
he formed friendly connexions with his neighbours, it cannot be said
that his books show the influence of either country. His genius was
British to the core and he remained an Englishman wherever he went. He
complained when abroad that he missed the stimulus of London, where the
lighted streets, through which he walked at night, caused his
imagination to work with intensified force. But even in Genoa he proved
capable of writing _The Chimes_, which is as markedly English in temper
as anything which he wrote.

The same spirit of restlessness comes out in his ventures into other
fields of activity at home. At one time he assumed the editorship of a
London newspaper; but a few weeks showed that he was incapable of
editorial drudgery and he resigned. His taste for acting played a larger
part in his life; and in 1851 and other years he put an enormous amount
of energy into organizing public theatrical performances with his
friends in London. He always loved the theatre. Macready was one of his
innermost circle, and he had other friends on the stage. Indeed there
were moments in his life when it seemed that the genius of the novelist
might be lost to the world, which would have found but a sorry
equivalent in one more actor of talent on the stage, however brilliant
that talent was. But the main current of his life went on in London with
diligent application to the book or books in hand; or at Broadstairs,
where Dickens made holiday in true English fashion with his children by
the sea.

In the years following the American voyage the chief landmarks were the
production of _Dombey and Son_ (begun in 1846) and _David Copperfield_
(begun in 1849). From many points of view they may be regarded as his
masterpieces, where his art is best seen in depicting character and
constructing a story, though the infectious gaiety of the earlier novels
may at times be missed. Dickens's insight into human nature had ripened,
and he had learnt to group his lesser figures and episodes more
skilfully round the central plot. And _David Copperfield_ has the
peculiar interest which attaches to those works where we seem to read
the story of the author's own life. Evidently we have memories here of
his childhood, of his school-days and his apprenticeship to work, and of
the first gleams of success which met him in life. It is generally
assumed that the book throws light on his own family relations; but it
would be rash to argue confidently about this, as the inventive impulse
was so strong in him. At least we may say that it is the book most
necessary for a student who wishes to understand Dickens himself and his
outlook on the world.

Also _David Copperfield_ may be regarded as the central point and the
culmination of Dickens's career as a novelist. Before it, and again
after it, he had a spell of about fifteen years' steady work at novel
writing, and no one would question that the first spell was productive
of the better work. _Bleak House_, _Hard Times_, _Little Dorrit_, _Our
Mutual Friend_ all show evidence of greater effort and are less happy in
their effect. No man could live the life that Dickens had lived for
fifteen years and not show some signs of exhaustion; the wonder is that
his creative power continued at all. He was capable of brilliant
successes yet. _The Tale of Two Cities_ is among the most thrilling of
his stories, while _Edwin Drood_ and parts of _Great Expectations_ show
as fine imagination and character drawing as anything which he wrote
before 1850; but there is no injustice in drawing a broad distinction
between the two parts of his career.

His home during the most fertile period of his activity was in
Devonshire Terrace, near Regent's Park, a house with a garden of
considerable size. Here he was within reach of his best friends, who
were drawn from all the liberal professions represented in London. First
among them stands John Forster, lawyer, journalist, and author, his
adviser and subsequently his biographer, the friend of Robert Browning,
a man with a genius for friendship, unselfish, loyal, discreet and wise
in counsel. Next came the artists Maclise and Clarkson Stanfield, the
actor Macready, Talfourd, lawyer and poet, Douglas Jerrold and Mark
Lemon, the two famous contributors to _Punch_, and some fellow
novelists, of whom Harrison Ainsworth was conspicuous in the earlier
group and Wilkie Collins in later years. Less frequent visitors were
Carlyle, Thackeray, and Bulwer Lytton, but they too were proud to
welcome Dickens among their friends. With some of these he would walk,
ride, or dine, go to the theatre or travel in the provinces and in
foreign countries. His biographer loves to recall the Dickens Dinners,
organized to celebrate the issue of a new book, when songs and speeches
were added to good cheer and when 'we all in the greatest good-humour
glorified each other'. Dickens always retained the English taste for a
good dinner and was frankly fond of applause, and there was no element
of exclusive priggishness about the cordial admiration which these
friends felt for one another and their peculiar enthusiasm for Dickens
and his books. Around him the enthusiasm gathered, and few men have
better deserved it.

When he was writing he needed quiet and worked with complete
concentration; and when he had earned some leisure he loved to spend it
in violent physical exercise. He would suddenly call on Forster to come
out for a long ride on horseback to occupy the middle of the day; and
his diligent friend, unable to resist the lure of such company, would
throw his own work to the winds and come. Till near the end of his life
Dickens clung to these habits, thinking nothing of a walk of from twenty
to thirty miles; and there seems reason to believe that by constant
over-exertion he sapped his strength and shortened his life. But
lameness in one foot, the result of an illness early in 1865,
handicapped him severely at times; and in the same year he sustained a
rude shock in a railway accident where his nerves were upset by what he
witnessed in helping the injured. He ought to have acquired the wisdom
of the middle-aged man, and to have taken things more easily, but with
him it was impossible to be doing nothing; physical and mental activity
succeeded one another and often went together with a high state of
nervous tension.

This love of excitement sometimes took forms which modern taste would
call excessive and unwholesome. His attendance at the public execution
of the Mannings in 1849, his going so often to the Morgue in Paris, his
visit to America to 'the exact site where Professor Webster did that
amazing murder', may seem legitimate for one who had to study crime
among the other departments of life; but at times he revels in gruesome
details in a way which jars on our feeling, and betrays too theatrical a
love of sensation. However, no one could say that Dickens is generally
morbid, in view of the sound and hearty appreciation which he had for
all that is wholesome and genial in life.

In many ways the latter part of his life shows a less even tenor, a less
steady development. Though he was so domestic in his tastes and devoted
to his children, his relations with his wife became more and more
difficult owing to incompatibility of temperament; and from 1858 they
found it desirable to live apart. This no doubt added to his
restlessness and the craving for excitement, which showed itself in the
ardour with which he took up the idea of public readings. These readings
are only less famous than his writings, so prodigious was their success.
His great dramatic gifts, enlisted in the service of his own creations,
made an irresistible appeal to the public, and till the day of his
collapse, ten years later, their popularity showed no sign of waning.
The amount of money which he earned thereby was amazing; the American
tour alone gave him a net profit of £20,000; and he expected to make as
much more in two seasons in England. But he paid dearly for these
triumphs, being often in trouble with his voice, suffering from fits of
sleeplessness, aggravating the pain in his foot, and affecting his
heart. In spite, then, of the success of the readings, his faithful
friends like Forster would gladly have seen him abandon a practice which
could add little to his future fame, while it threatened to shorten his
life. But, however arduous the task which he set himself, when the
moment came Dickens could brace himself to meet the demands and satisfy
the high expectations of his audience. His nerves seemed to harden, his
voice to gain strength; his spirit flashed out undimmed, and he won
triumph after triumph, in quiet cathedral cities, in great industrial
towns, in the more fatiguing climate of America and before the huge
audiences of Philadelphia and New York. He began his programme with a
few chosen pieces from _Pickwick_ and the Christmas Books, and with
selected characters like Paul Dombey and Mrs. Gamp; he added Dotheboys
Hall and the story of David Copperfield in brief; in his last series,
against the advice of Forster, he worked up the more sensational
passages from _Oliver Twist_. His object, he says, was 'to leave behind
me the recollection of something very passionate and dramatic, done with
simple means, if the act would justify the theme'. It was because the
art of reading was unduly strained that Forster protested, and his
judgement is confirmed by Dickens's boast (perhaps humorously
exaggerated) that 'at Clifton we had a contagion of fainting, and yet
the place was not hot--a dozen to twenty ladies taken out stiff and
rigid at various times'. The physical effects of this fresh strain soon
appeared. After a month his doctor ordered him to cease reading; and,
though he resumed it after a few days' rest, in April 1869 he had a
worse attack of giddiness and was obliged to abandon it permanently. The
history of these readings illustrates the character of Dickens perhaps
better than any other episode in his later life.

But the same restless energy is visible even in his life at Gadshill,
which was his home from 1860 to 1870. The house lies on the London road
a few miles west of Rochester, and can easily be seen to-day, almost
unaltered, by the passer-by. It had caught his fancy in his childhood
before the age of ten when he was walking with his father, and his
father had promised that, if he would only work hard enough, he might
one day live in it. The associations of the place with the Falstaff
scenes in _Henry IV_ had also endeared it to him; and so, when in 1855
he heard that it was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity. For some
years after purchasing it he let it to tenants, but from 1860 he made it
his permanent abode. It has no architectural features to charm the eye;
with its many changes and additions made for comfort, its bow-windows
and the plantations in the garden, it is a typical Victorian home. Here
Dickens could live at ease, surrounded by his children, his dogs, his
books, his souvenirs of his friends, and the Kentish scenery which he
loved. To the north lay the flat marshlands of the lower Thames, to the
south and west lay rolling hills crowned with woodlands, with hop
gardens on the lower slopes; to the east lay the valley of the Medway
with the quaint old streets of Rochester and the bustling dockyard of
Chatham. All that makes the familiar beauty and richness of English
landscape was here, above all the charm of associations. So many names
preserved memories of his books. To Rochester the Pickwickians had
driven on their first search for knowledge; to Cobham Mr. Winkle had
fled, and at the 'Leather Bottle' his friends had found him; in the
marshlands Joe Gargery and Pip had watched for the escaped convict; in
the old gateway by the cathedral Jasper had entertained Edwin Drood on
the eve of his disappearance; along that very high-road over which
Dickens's windows looked the child David Copperfield had tramped in his
journey from London to Dover.

Meanwhile, though his creative vein may have been less fertile than of
old, his efforts for the good of his fellow men were no less continuous
and sincere. His first books had aimed at killing by ridicule certain
social institutions which had sunk into abuses. The pictures of
parliamentary elections, of schools, of workhouses, had not only created
a hearty laugh, but they had disposed the public to listen to the
reformers and to realize the need for reform. As he grew older he went
deeper into the evil, and he also blended his reforming purpose better
with his story. The characters of Mr. Dombey and the Chuzzlewits are not
mere incidents in the tale, nor are they monstrosities which call forth
immediate astonishment and horror. But in each case the ingrained
selfishness which spreads misery through a family is the very mainspring
of the story; and the dramatic power by which Dickens makes it reveal
itself in action has something Shakespearian in it. Here there is still
a balance between the different elements, the human interest and the
moral lesson, and as works of art they are on a higher plane than _Hard
Times_, where the purpose is too clearly shown. Still if we wish to
understand this side of Dickens's work, it is just such a book as _Hard
Times_ that we must study.

It deals with the relation of classes to one another in an industrial
district, and especially with the faults of the class that rose to power
with the development of manufacturing. Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby,
the well-meaning pedant and the offensive parvenu, preach the same
gospel. Political economy, as they understand it, is to rule life, and
this dismal science is not concerned with human well-being and
happiness, but only with the profit and loss on commercial undertakings.
Hard facts then are to be the staple of education; memory and accurate
calculation are to be cultivated; the imagination is to be driven out.
In depicting the manner of this education Dickens rather overshoots the
mark. The visit of Mr. Gradgrind to Mr. M'Choakumchild's school (when
the sharp-witted Bitzer defines the horse according to the scientific
handbook, while poor Cissy, who has only an affection for horses,
indulges in fancies and collapses in disgrace) is too evident a
caricature. But the effects of this kind of teaching are painted with a
powerful hand, and we see the faculty for joy blighted almost in the
cradle. And the lesson is enforced not only by the working man and his
family but by Gradgrind's own daughter, who pitilessly convicts her
father of having stifled every generous impulse in her and of having
sacrificed her on the altar of fancied self-interest.

Side by side with the dismal Mr. Gradgrind is the poor master of the
strolling circus, Mr. Sleary, with his truer philosophy of life. He can
see the real need that men have for amusement and for brightness in
their lives; and, though he lives under the shadow of bankruptcy, he can
hold his head up and preach the gospel of happiness. This was a cause
which never failed to win the enthusiastic advocacy of Dickens. He
fought, as men still have to fight to-day, against those Pharisees who
prescribe for the working classes how they should spend their weekly day
of freedom; he supported the opening on Sunday of parks, museums, and
galleries; whole-heartedly he loved the theatre and the circus, and he
wished as many as possible to share those delights. In defiance of 'Mrs.
Grundy' he ventured to maintain that the words 'music-hall' and
'public-house', rightly understood, should be held in honour. It is one
thing to hate drunkenness and indecency; it is quite another to assume
that these must be found in the poor man's place of recreation, and this
roused him to anger. To him 'public-house' meant a place of fellowship,
and 'music-hall' a place of song and mirth; and if some critics complain
of an excess of material good-cheer in his picture of life, Dickens is
certainly here in sympathy with the bulk of his fellow-countrymen.

Another cause in which Dickens was always ready to lead a crusade was
the amendment of the Poor Law. This will remind us of the early days of
Oliver Twist, of such a friendless outcast as Jo in _Bleak House_, of
the struggle of Betty Higden in _Our Mutual Friend_ and her
determination never to be given up to 'the Parish'. But, even more than
the famous novels, the casual writings of Dickens in his own magazines
and elsewhere throw light on his activities in this cause and on the
researches which he made into the working of the system. Mr. Crotch
describes visits which he paid to the workhouses in Wapping and
Whitechapel, quoting his comments on the 'Foul Ward' in one, on the old
men's ward in the other, and on the torpor of despair which settled down
on these poor wrecks of humanity. Could such a system, he asked himself,
be wise which robbed men not of liberty alone but of all hope for the
future, which left them no single point of interest except the
statistics of their fellows who had gone before them and who had been
finally liberated by death? A still more striking passage, just because
Dickens here shows unusual restraint and moderation in his language,
tells us of the five women whom he saw sleeping all night outside the
workhouse through no fault of any official, but simply because there was
no room for them inside and because society had nothing to offer, no
form of 'relief' which could touch these unfortunates. Many will be
familiar with passages in Ruskin, where he denounces similar tragedies
due to our inhuman disregard of what is happening at our doors.

Though the most valuable part of his work was the effective appeal to
the hearts of his brother men, Dickens had the practical wisdom to
suggest definite remedies in some cases. He saw that the districts in
the East End of London, even with a heavy poor rate, failed to supply
adequate relief for their waifs and strays, while the wealthy
inhabitants of the West End, having few paupers, paid on their riches a
rate that was negligible, and he boldly suggested the equalization of
rates. All London should jointly share the burden of maintaining those
for whose welfare they were responsible and should pay shares
proportioned to their wealth. This wise reform was not carried into
effect till some thirty or forty years later; but the principle is now
generally accepted. Though in this case, as in his famous attack on the
Court of Chancery in _Bleak House_, Dickens failed in obtaining any
immediate effect, it is unquestionable that he influenced the minds of
thousands and changed the temper in which they looked at the problem of
the poor. In this nothing that he wrote was more powerful than the
series of Christmas Books, in which his imagination, with the power of a
Rembrandt, threw on to a smaller canvas the lights and shades of London
life, the grim background of mean streets, and the cheerful virtues
which throw a glamour over their humble homes. His advocacy of these
social causes came to be known far and wide and contributed a second
element to the popularity won by his novels; long before his death
Dickens stood on a pinnacle alone, loved by the vast reading public
among those who toil in our towns and villages, and wherever English is
read and understood. He was not only their entertainer, but their friend
and brother; he had been through his days of sorrow and suffering and he
had kept that vast fund of cheerfulness which overflowed into his books
and gladdened the lives of so many thousands. When he died in 1870 after
a year of intermittent illness, following on his breakdown over the
public readings, there was naturally a widespread desire that he should
be buried in Westminster Abbey, as a great Englishman and a true
representative of his age. During life he had expressed his desire for a
private funeral, unheralded in the press, and he had thought of two or
three quiet churches in the neighbourhood of Rochester and Gadshill.
These particular graveyards were found to be already closed, and the
family consented to a compromise by which their father should be buried
in the Abbey at an early hour when no strangers would be aware of it.
After his body was laid to rest, the people were admitted to pay their
homage; the universality and the sincerity of their feelings was shown
in a wonderful way. Among men of letters he had reigned in the hearts of
the people, as Queen Victoria reigned among our sovereigns. In the
annals of her reign his name will outlive those of soldiers, of
prelates, and of politicians.

The causes for which he fought have not all been won yet. Officialdom
still dawdles over the work of the State, hearts are still broken by the
law's delays, the path of crime still lies too easily open to the young.
Vast progress has been made; a humane spirit is to be found in the
working of our Government, and a truer knowledge of social problems is
spreading among all classes. But the world cannot afford to relegate
Charles Dickens to oblivion, and shows no desire to do so; his books are
and will be a wellspring of cheerfulness, of faith in human nature, and
of true Christian charity from which all will do well to drink.



1809. Born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, August 6.
1816-20. At school at Louth.
1820-7. Educated at home.
1827. _Poems by Two Brothers_, Charles and Alfred.
1828-31. Trinity College, Cambridge.
1830-2. Early volumes of poetry published.
1833. Death of Arthur Hallam at Vienna.
1837. High Beech, Essex.
1840. Tunbridge Wells.
1842. Collected poems, including 'Morte d'Arthur' and 'English Idyls'.
1846. Cheltenham.
1847. _The Princess_.
1850. _In Memoriam_, printed and given to friends before March; published
      June. Marriage, June. Poet Laureate, November.
1852. 'Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington.'
1853. Becomes tenant--1856, owner--of Farringford, Isle of Wight.
1855. _Maud_.
1859. First four 'Idylls of the King' published.
1864. _Enoch Arden_.
1869. Second home at Aldworth, near Haslemere.
1875-84. _Plays_ (1875 'Queen Mary', 1876 'Harold', 1884 'Becket').
1880. _Ballads and other Poems_ ('The Revenge', &c.).
1884. Created a Peer of the realm.
1892. October 6, death at Aldworth. October 12, funeral at
      Westminster Abbey.



The Victorians, as a whole, were a generation of fighters. They battled
against Nature's forces, subduing floods and mountain barriers,
pestilence and the worst extremes of heat and cold; they also went forth
into the market-place and battled with their fellow men for laws, for
tariffs, for empire. Their triumphs, like those of the Romans, are
mostly to be seen in the practical sphere. But there were others of that
day who chose the contemplative life of the recluse, and who yet, by
high imaginings, contributed in no less degree to enrich the fame of
their age; and among these the first name is that of Alfred Tennyson,
the most representative of Victorian poets.


From the painting by G. F. Watts in the National Portrait Gallery]

His early environment may be said to have marked him out for such a
life. He was born in one of the remotest districts of a rural county.
The village of Somersby lies in a hollow among the Lincolnshire wolds,
twenty miles east of Lincoln, midway between the small towns of Spilsby,
Horncastle, and Louth. There are no railways to disturb its peace; no
high roads or broad rivers to bring trade to its doors. The 'cold
rivulet' that rises just above the village flows down some twenty miles
to lose itself in the sea near Skegness; in the valley the alders sigh
and the aspens quiver, while around are rolling hills covered by long
fields of corn broken by occasional spinneys. It is not a country to
draw tourists for its own sake; but Tennyson knew, as few other poets
know, the charm that human association lends to the simplest English
landscape, and he cherished the memory of these scenes long after he had
gone to live among the richer beauties of the south. From the garners of
memory he drew the familiar features of this homely land showing that he
had forgotten

    No grey old grange, or lonely fold,
        Or low morass and whispering reed,
        Or simple stile from mead to mead,
    Or sheepwalk up the winding wold.[23]

[Note 23: _In Memoriam_, c.]

There are days when the wolds seem dreary and monotonous; but if change
is wanted, a long walk or an easy drive will take us from Somersby, as
it often took the Tennyson brothers, to the coast at Mablethorpe, where
the long rollers of the North Sea beat upon the sandhills that guard
the flat stretches of the marshland. Here the poet as a child used to
lie upon the beach, his imagination conjuring up Homeric pictures of the
Grecian fleet besieging Troy; and if, on his last visit before leaving
Lincolnshire, he found the spell broken, he could still describe vividly
what he saw with the less fanciful vision of manhood.

    Grey sandbanks, and pale sunsets, dreary wind,
      Dim shores, dense rains, and heavy-clouded sea![24]

[Note 24: Lines written in 1837 and published in the _Manchester
Athenæum Album_, 1850.]

These wide expanses of sea, sand, and sky figure many times in his
poetry and furnish a background for the more tragic scenes in the
_Idylls of the King_.

Nor does the vicarage spoil the harmony of the scene, an old-fashioned
low rambling house, to which a loftier hall adjoining, with its Gothic
windows, lends a touch of distinction. The garden with one towering
sycamore and the wych-elms, that threw long shadows on the lawn, opened
on to the parson's field, where on summer mornings could be heard the
sweep of the scythe in the dewy grass. Here Tennyson's father had been
rector for some years when his fourth child Alfred was born in August
1809, the year which also saw the birth of Darwin and Gladstone. The
family was a large one; there were eight sons and four daughters, the
last of whom was still alive in 1916. Alfred's education was as
irregular as a poet's could need to be, consisting of a few years'
attendance at Louth Grammar School, where he suffered from the rod and
other abuses of the past, and of a larger number spent in studying
literature at home under his father's guidance. These left him a liberal
amount of leisure which he devoted to reading at large and roaming the
country-side. His father was a man of mental cultivation far beyond the
average, well fitted to expand the mind of a boy of literary tastes and
to lead him on at a pace suited to his abilities. He had suffered from
disappointments which had thrown a shadow over his life, having been
disinherited capriciously by his father, who was a wealthy man and a
member of Parliament. The inheritance passed to the second brother, who
took the name of Tennyson d'Eyncourt; and though the Rector resented the
injustice of the act, he did not allow it to embitter the relations
between his own children and their cousins. His character was of the
stern, dominating order, and both his parishioners and his children
stood in awe of him; but the gentle nature of their mother made amends.
She is described by Edward FitzGerald, the poet's friend, as 'one of the
most innocent and tender-hearted ladies I ever met, devoted to husband
and children'. In her youth she had been a noted beauty, and in her old
age was not too unworldly to remember that she had received twenty-five
proposals of marriage. It was from her that the family derived their
beauty of feature, while in their strength of intellect they resembled
rather their father. One of Alfred's earliest literary passions was a
love of Byron, and he remembered in after life how as a child he had
carved on a rock the woful tidings that his hero was dead. In this
period he was already writing poetry himself, though he did not publish
his first volume till after he had gone up to Cambridge.

From this home life, filled with leisurely reading, rambling, and
dreaming, he was sent in 1828 to join his brother Frederick at Trinity
College, Cambridge, and he came into residence in February of that year.
Cambridge has been called the poets' University. Here in early days came
Spenser and Milton, Dryden and Gray; and--in the generation preceding
Tennyson--Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron had followed in their steps.
However little we can trace directly the development of the poetic gift
to local influence, at least we can say that Tennyson gained greatly by
the time he spent within its walls. He came up an unknown man without
family connexions to help him, and without the hall-mark of any famous
school upon him. Shy and retiring by nature as he was, he might easily
have failed to win his way to notice. But there was something in his
appearance, in his manner, and in the personality that lay behind, which
never failed to impress observers, and gradually he attached to himself
the most brilliant undergraduates of his time and became a leader among
them. Thackeray and FitzGerald were in residence; but it was not till
later that he came to know them well, and we hear more of Spedding (the
editor of Bacon), of Alford and Merivale (deans of Canterbury and Ely),
of Trench (Archbishop of Dublin), of Lushington, who married one of his
sisters, and of Arthur Hallam, who was engaged to another sister at the
time of his early death. Hallam came from Eton, where his greatest
friend had been W. E. Gladstone, and he had not been long at Cambridge
before he was led by kindred tastes and kindred nature into close
friendship with Tennyson. In the judgement of all who knew him, a career
of the highest usefulness and distinction was assured to him. His
intellectual force and his high aspirations would have shone in the
public service; and at least they won him thus early the affection of
the noblest among his compeers, and a fame that is almost unique in
English literature.

Much has been written about the society which these young men formed and
which they called 'the Apostles'. The name has been thought to suggest a
certain complacency and mutual admiration. But enough letters and
personal recollections of their talk have been preserved to show how
simple and unaffected the members were in their intercourse with one
another. They had their enthusiasms, but they had also their jests.
Their humour was not perhaps the boisterous fun of William Morris and
Rossetti, but it was lively and buoyant enough to banish all suspicion
of priggishness. Just because their enthusiasm was for the best in
literature and art, Tennyson was quickly at home among them. Already he
had learnt at home to love Shakespeare and Milton, Coleridge and Keats,
and no effort was required, in this circle of friends, to keep his
reading upon this high level. _Lycidas_ was always a special favourite
of Tennyson's, and appreciation of it seemed to him a sure 'touchstone
of poetic taste'. In conversation he did not tend to declaim or
monopolize the talk. He was noted rather for short sayings and for
criticisms tersely expressed. He had his moods, contemplative, genial or
gay; but all his utterances were marked by independence of thought, and
his silence could be richer than the speech of other men. But for
display he had no liking. In fact, so reluctant was he to face an
audience of strangers, that when in 1829 it was his duty to recite his
prize poem in the senate-house, he obtained leave for Merivale to read
it on his behalf. On the other hand, he was ready enough to impart to
his real friends the poems that he wrote from time to time, and he would
pass pleasant hours with them reciting old ballads and reading aloud the
plays of Shakespeare. His sonorous voice, his imagination, and his
feeling for all the niceties of rhythm made his reading unusually
impressive, as we know from the testimony of many who heard him.

The course of his education is, in fact, more truly to be found in this
free companionship than in the lecture room or the examination hall. His
opinion of the teaching which he received from the Dons was formed and
expressed in a sonnet of 1830, though he refrained from publishing it
for half a century. He addresses them as 'you that do profess to teach
and teach us nothing, feeding not the heart'--and complains of their
indifference to the movements of their own age and to the needs of their
pupils. For, despite the ferment which was spreading in the realms of
theology, of politics, and of natural science, the Dons still taught
their classics in the dry pedantic manner of the past, and refused to
face the problems of the nineteenth century. For Tennyson, whose mind
was already capacious and deep, these problems had a constant
attraction, and he had to fall back upon solitary musings and on talks
with Hallam and other friends. Partly perhaps because he missed the more
rigorous training of the schools, we have to wait another ten years
before we see marks of his deeper thinking in his work. He was but
groping and feeling his way. In the 'Poems, chiefly Lyrical' which he
produced in 1830, rich images abound, play of fancy and beauty of
expression; but there are few signs of the power of thought which he was
to show in later volumes.

After three years thus spent, by no means unfruitfully, though it was
only by his prize poem of 'Timbuctoo' that he won public honours, he was
called away from Cambridge by family troubles and returned to Somersby
in February 1831. His father had broken down in health, and a month
later he died, suddenly and peacefully, in his arm-chair. After the
rector's death an arrangement was made that the family should continue
to inhabit the Rectory; and Tennyson, who was now his mother's chief
help and stay, settled down to a studious life at home, varied by
occasional visits to London. The habit of seclusion was already forming.
He was much given to solitary walking and to spending his evening in an
attic reading by himself. But this was not due to moroseness or
selfishness, as we can see from his intercourse with family and friends.
He would willingly give hours to reading aloud to his mother, or sit
listening happily while his sisters played music. From this time indeed
he seems to have taken his father's place in the home; and with Hallam
and other friends he continued on the same affectionate terms. He had
not Dickens's buoyant temper and love of company, nor did he indulge in
the splenetic outbursts of Carlyle. He could, when it was needed, find
time to fulfil the humblest duties and then return with contentment to
his solitude. But his thoughts seemed naturally to lift him above the
level of others, and he was most truly himself when he was alone. Apart
from his eyesight, which began to trouble him at this time, he was
enjoying good health, which he maintained by a steady regime of physical
exercise. His strength and his good looks were alike remarkable.[25] As
his friend Brookfield laughingly said, 'It was not fair that he should
be Hercules as well as Apollo'.

Another volume of verse appeared in 1832; and its appearance seems to
have been due rather to the urgent persuasion of his friends than to his
own eagerness to appear in print. Though J. S. Mill and a few other
critics wrote with good judgement and praised the book, it met with a
cold reception in most places, and the _Quarterly Review_, regardless of
its blunder over Keats, spoke of it in most contemptuous terms. All can
recognize to-day how unfair this was to the merits of a volume which
contained the 'Lotos-Eaters', 'Oenone', and the 'Lady of Shalott'; but
the effect of the harsh verdict on the poet, always sensitive about the
reception of his work, was unfortunate to a degree. For a time it seemed
likely to chill his ardour and stifle his poetic gifts at the very age
when they ought to be bearing fruit. He writes of himself at this time
as 'moping like an owl in an ivy bush, or as that one sparrow which the
Hebrew mentioneth as sitting on the house-top'; and, despite his
friendship with Hallam, which was closer than ever since the latter's
engagement to his sister Emily, he had thoughts of settling abroad in
France or Italy, since he found, or fancied that he found, in England
too unsympathetic an atmosphere.

[Note 25: The portrait of 1838 by Samuel Laurence, of which the
original is at Aldworth, speaks for itself.]

Such a decision would have been disastrous. Residence abroad might suit
the robust, many-sided genius of Robert Browning with his gift for
interpreting the thoughts of other nations and other times; it would
have been fatal to Tennyson, whose affections were rooted in his native
soil, and who had a special call to speak to Englishmen of English
scenes and English life.

The following year brought him a still severer shock in the loss of his
beloved friend, Arthur Hallam, who was taken ill at Vienna and died
there a few days later, to the deep sorrow of all who knew him. Many
besides Tennyson have borne witness to his character and gifts; thanks
to their tribute, and above all to the verses of _In Memoriam_, though
his life was all too short to realize the promise of his youth, his name
will be preserved. The gradual growth of Tennyson's elegy can be
discerned from the letters of his friends, to whom from time to time he
read some of the stanzas which he had completed. Even in the first
winter after Hallam's death, he wrote a few lines in the manuscript book
which he kept by him for the purpose during the next fifteen years, and
which he was within an ace of losing in 1850, just when the poem was
completed and ready for publication. As a statesman turns from his
private sorrow to devote himself to a public cause, so the poet's
instinct was to find comfort in the practice of his art. Under the
stress of feelings aroused by this event and under the influence of a
wider reading, his mind was maturing. We hear of a steady discipline of
mental work, of hours given methodically to Italian and German, to
theology and history, to chemistry, botany, and other branches of
science. Above all, he pondered now, as he did later so constantly, on
the mystery of death and life after death. Outwardly this seems the most
uneventful period of his career; but, in their effect on his mind and
work, these years were very far from being wasted. When next, in 1842,
he emerges from seclusion to offer his verses to the public, he had
enlarged the range of his subjects and deepened his powers of thought.
We see less richness in the images, less freedom in the play of fancy,
but there is a firmer grip of character, a surer handling of the
problems affecting the life of man. Underground was flowing the hidden
stream of _In Memoriam_, unknown save to the few; only in part were the
fruits of this period to be seen in the two volumes containing 'English
Idyls' and other new poems, along with a selection of earlier lyrics now
revised and reprinted.

The distinctive quality of the book is given by the word Idyl, which was
to be so closely connected with Tennyson's fame. Here he is working in a
small compass, but he breaks fresh ground in describing scenes of
English village life, and shows that he has used his gifts of
observation to good purpose. Better than the slight sketches of
character, of girls and their lovers, of farmers and their children, are
the landscapes in which they are set; and many will remember the
charming passages in which he describes the morning songs of birds in a
garden, or the twinkling of evening lights in the still waters of a
harbour. More original and more full of lyrical fervour was 'Locksley
Hall', where he expresses many thoughts that were stirring the younger
spirits of his day. Perhaps the most perfect workmanship, in a volume
where much calls for admiration, is to be found in 'Ulysses', which the
poet's friend Monckton Milnes gave to Sir Robert Peel to read, in order
to convince him that Tennyson's work merited official recognition. His
treatment of the hero is as far from the classical spirit as anything
which William Morris wrote. He preserves little of the directness or
fierce temper of the early epic. Rather does his Ulysses think and speak
like some bold adventurer of the Renaissance, with the combination of
ardent curiosity and reflective thought which was the mark of that age.
Even so Tennyson himself, as he passed from youth to middle life, and
from that to old age, was ever trying to achieve one more 'work of noble
note', and yearning

    To follow knowledge like a sinking star
    Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

But between this and the production of his next volume comes the most
unhappy period in the poet's career, when his friends for a time
despaired of his future and even of his life. At the marriage of his
brother Charles in 1836, Tennyson had fallen in love with the bride's
sister, Emily Sellwood; and in the course of the next three or four
years they became informally engaged to one another. But his prospects
of earning enough money to support a wife seemed so remote that in 1840
her family insisted on breaking off the engagement, and the lovers
ceased to write to one another. Even the volumes of 1842, while winning
high favour with cultivated readers, and stirring enthusiasm at the
Universities, failed to attract the larger public and to make a success
in the market. So when he sustained a further blow in the loss of his
small fortune owing to an unwise investment, his health gave way and he
fell into a dark mood of hypochondria. His star seemed to be sinking,
just as he was winning his way to fame. Thanks to medical attention,
aided by his own natural strength and the affections of his friends, he
was already rallying in 1845, when Peel conferred on him the timely
honour of a pension; and he was able not only to continue working at _In
Memoriam_, but also to produce in 1847 _The Princess_, which gives clear
evidence of renewed cheerfulness and vigour. Dealing as it does, half
humorously, with the question of woman's education and her claim to a
higher place in the scheme of life, it illustrates the interest which
Tennyson, despite his seclusion, felt in social questions of the day.
From this point of view it may be linked with _Locksley Hall_ and
_Maud_; but in _The Princess_ the treatment is half humorous and the
setting is more artificial. Tennyson's lyrical power is seen at its best
in the magical songs which occur in the course of the story or
interposed between the different scenes. They have deservedly won a
place in all anthologies. His facility in the handling of blank verse is
also remarkable. Lovers of Milton may regret the massive grandeur of an
earlier style; but, as in every art, so in poetry, we pay for advance in
technical accomplishment, in suppleness and melodious phrasing, by the
loss of other qualities which are difficult to recapture.

Meanwhile _In Memoriam_ was approaching completion; and this the most
central and characteristic of his poems illustrates, more truly than a
narrative of outward events, the phases through which Tennyson had been
passing. Desultory though the method of its production be, and loose
'the texture of its fabric', there is a certain sequence of thought
running through the cantos. We see how from the first poignancy of
grief, when he can only brood passively over his friend's death, he was
led to questioning the basis of his faith, shaken as it was by the
claims of physical science--how from those doubts of his own, he was led
to think of the universal trouble of the world--how at length by
throwing himself into the hopes and aspiration of humanity he attained
to victory and was able to put away his personal grief, believing that
his friend's soul was still working with him in the universe for the
good of all. At intervals, during the three years mirrored in the poem,
we get definite notes of time. We see how the poet is affected each year
as the winter and the spring come round, and how the succeeding
anniversaries of Hallam's death stir the old pain in varying degree. But
we must not suppose that each section was composed at the time
represented in this scheme. Seventeen years went to the perfecting of
the work; it is impossible to tell when each canto was first outlined
and how often it was re-written; and we must be content with general
notions of its development. The poet's memory was fully charged. As he
could recall so vividly the Lincolnshire landscape when he was living in
the south, so he could portray the emotions of the past though he had
entered on a new period of life fraught with a different spirit.

Thus many elements go to make up the whole, and readers of _In Memoriam_
can choose what suits their mood. To some, who wish to compare the
problems of different ages, chief interest will attach to that section
where the active mind wakes up to the conflict between science and
faith. It was a difficult age for poets and believers. The preceding
generation had for a time been swept far from their bearings by the
tornado of the French Revolution. Some of them found an early grave
while still upholding the flag; others had won back to harbour when
their youth was past and ended their days in calm--if not
stagnant--waters. But the advance of scientific discoveries and the
scientific spirit sapped the defences of faith in more methodical
fashion, and Tennyson's mind was only too open to all the evidence of
natural law and the stern lessons of the struggle for life. To
understand the influence of Tennyson on his age it is necessary to
inquire how he reconciled religion with science; but this is too large a
subject for a biographical sketch, and valuable studies have been
written which deal with it more or less fully, by Stopford Brooke[26]
and many others.

[Note 26: _Tennyson_, by Stopford Brooke (Isbister, 1894).]

To Queen Victoria, and to others who had been stricken in their home
affections, the human interest outweighed all others; the sorrow of
those who gave little thought to systems of philosophy or religion was
instinctively comforted by the note of faith in a future life and by
the haunting melodies in which it found expression.

Many were content to return again and again to those passages where the
beauty of nature is depicted in stanzas of wonderful felicity. No such
gift of observation had yet ministered to their delight. Readers of Mrs.
Gaskell will be reminded of the old farmer in _Cranford_ revelling in
the new knowledge which he has gained of the colour of ash-buds in
March. So too we are taught to look afresh at larch woods in spring and
beech woods in autumn, at the cedar in the garden and the yew tree in
the churchyard. We are vividly conscious of the summer's breeze which
tumbles the pears in the orchard, and the winter's storm when the
leafless ribs of the wood clang and gride. As the perfect stanza lingers
in our memory, our eyes are opened and we are taught to observe the
marvels of nature for ourselves. Here, more than anywhere else, is he
the true successor of Wordsworth, the Wordsworth of the daisy, the
daffodil, and the lesser celandine, though following a method of his
own--at once a disciple and a master.

But other influences than those of nature were coming into his life. In
1837 the Tennyson family had been compelled to leave Somersby; and the
poet, recluse though he was, showed that he could rouse himself to meet
a practical emergency with good sense. He took charge of all
arrangements and transplanted his mother successively to new homes in
Essex and Kent. This brought him nearer to London and enlarged
considerably his circle of friends. The list of men of letters who
welcomed him there is a long one, from Samuel Rogers to the Rossettis,
and includes poets, novelists, historians, scholars, and scientists. The
most interesting, to him and to us, was Carlyle, then living at Chelsea,
who had published his _French Revolution_ in 1837, and had thereby
become notable among literary men. Carlyle's judgements on the poet and
his poems have often been quoted. At first he was more than contemptuous
over the latter, and exhorted Tennyson to leave verse and rhyme and
apply himself to prose. But familiar converse, in which both men spoke
their opinions without reserve, soon enlightened 'the sage', and he
delighted in his new friend. Long after, in 1879, he confessed that
'Alfred always from the beginning took a grip at the right side of every
question'. He could not fail to appreciate the man when he saw him in
the flesh, and it is he who has left us the most striking picture of
Tennyson's appearance in middle life. In 1842 he wrote to Emerson:
'Alfred is one of the few... figures who are and remain beautiful to
me;--a true human soul... one of the finest-looking men in the world. A
great shock of rough dusty-dark hair, bright-laughing hazel eyes,
massive aquiline face, most massive yet most delicate, of sallow-brown
complexion, almost Indian-looking; clothes cynically loose,
free-and-easy;--smokes infinite tobacco. His voice is musical
metallic,--fit for loud laughter and piercing wail, and all that may lie
between; speech and speculation free and plenteous: I do not meet, in
these late decades, such company over a pipe!' Not only were pipes
smoked at home, but walks were taken in the London streets at night,
with much free converse, in which art both were masters, but of which
Carlyle, no doubt, had the larger share. Tennyson was a master of the
art of silence, which Carlyle could praise but never practice; but when
he spoke his remarks rarely failed to strike the bell.

Another comrade worthy of special notice was FitzGerald, famous to-day
as the translator of Omar Khayyam, and also as the man whom two great
authors, Tennyson and Thackeray, named as their most cherished friend.
He was living a hermit's life in Suffolk, dividing his day between his
yacht, his garden, and his books; and writing, when he was in the
humour, those gossipy letters which have placed him as a classic with
Cowper and Lamb. From time to time he would come to London for a visit
to a picture gallery or an evening with his friends; and for many years
he never failed to write once a year for news of the poet, whose books
he might criticize capriciously, but whose image was always fresh in his
affectionate heart. Of his old Cambridge circle Tennyson honoured, above
all others, 'his domeship' James Spedding, of the massive rounded head,
of the rare judgement in literature, of the unselfish and faithful
discharge of all the duties which he could take upon himself. Great as
was his edition of Bacon, he was by the common consent of his friends
far greater than anything which he achieved, and his memory is most
worthily preserved in the letters of Tennyson, and of others who knew
him. In London he was present at gatherings where Landor and Leigh Hunt
represented the elder generation of poets; but he was more familiar with
his contemporaries Henry Taylor and Aubrey de Vere. It is the latter who
gives us an interesting account of two meetings between Wordsworth and
his successor in the Laureateship.[27] The occasions when Tennyson and
Browning met one another and read their poetry aloud were also cherished
in the memory of those friends who were fortunate enough to be
present.[28] Differing as they did in temperament and in tastes, they
were rivals in generosity to one another and indeed to all their
brethren who wielded the pen of the writer. To meet such choice spirits
Tennyson would leave for a while his precious solitude and his books.
London could not be his home, but it became a place of pleasant meetings
and of friendships in which he found inspiration and help.

[Note 27: _Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir_, by his son, vol. i, p.
209 (Macmillan & Co.).]

[Note 28: _Robert Browning_, by Edward Dowden, p. 173 (J. M. Dent &

Thus it was that Tennyson spent the quiet years of meditation and study
before he achieved his full renown. This was no such sensational event
as Byron's meteoric appearance in 1812; but one year, 1850, is a clear
landmark in his career. This was the date of the publication of _In
Memoriam_ and of his appointment, on the death of Wordsworth, to the
office of Poet Laureate. This year saw the end of his struggle with
ill-fortune and the end of his long courtship. In June he was married,
at Shiplake on the Thames, to Emily Sellwood. Henceforth his happiness
was assured and he knew no more the restlessness and melancholy which
had clouded his enjoyment of life. His course was clear, and for forty
years his position was hardly questioned in all lands where the English
tongue was spoken. Noble companies of worshippers might worthily swear
allegiance to Thackeray and Browning; but by the voice of the people
Dickens and Tennyson were enthroned supreme.

To deal with all the volumes of poetry that Tennyson published between
1850 and his death would be impossible within the limits of these pages.
In some cases he reverted to themes which he had treated before and he
preserved for many years the same skill in craftsmanship. But in _Maud_,
in _The Idylls of the King_, and in the historical dramas,
unquestionably, he broke new ground.

Partly on account of the scheme of the poem, partly for the views
expressed on questions of the day, _Maud_ provoked more hostile
criticism than anything which he wrote; yet it seems to have been the
poet's favourite work. The story of its composition is curious. It was
suggested by a short lyric which Tennyson had printed privately in 1837
beginning with the words 'Oh, that 'twere possible after long grief'.
His friend, Sir John Simeon, urged him to write a poem which would lead
up to and explain it; and the poet, adopting the idea, used _Maud_ as a
vehicle for much which he was feeling in the disillusionment of middle
life. The form of a monodrama was unfamiliar to the public and has
difficulties of its own. Tennyson has combined action, proceeding
somewhat spasmodically, with a skilful study of character, showing us
the exaggerated sensibility of a nature which under the successive
influence of misanthropy, hope, love, and tragic disappointment, may
easily pass beyond the border-land of insanity. In the scene where love
is triumphant, Tennyson touches the highest point of lyrical passion;
but there are jarring notes introduced in the satirical descriptions of
Maud's brother and of the rival who aspires to her hand. And in the
later cantos where, after the fatal quarrel, the hero is driven to moody
thoughts and dark presages of woe, there are passages which seem to be
charged with the doctrine that England was being corrupted by long peace
and needed the purifying discipline of war. For this the poet was taken
to task by his critics; and, though it is unfair in dramatic work to
attribute to an author the words of his characters, Tennyson found it
difficult to clear himself of suspicion, the more so that the Crimean
War inspired at this time some of his most popular martial ballads and

_The Idylls of the King_ had a different fate and achieved instant
popularity. The first four were published in 1859 and within a few
months 10,000 copies were sold. Tennyson's original design, formed early
in life, had been to build a single epic on the Arthurian theme, which
seemed to him to give scope, like Virgil's _Aeneid_, for patriotic
treatment. 'The greatest of all poetical subjects' he called it, and it
haunted his mind perpetually. But if Virgil found such a task difficult
nineteen hundred years before, it was doubly difficult for Tennyson to
satisfy his generation, with scientific historians raking the ash heaps
of the past, and pedants demanding local colour. In shaping his poem to
meet the requirements of history he was in danger of losing that breadth
of treatment which is essential for epic poetry. He fell back on the
device of selecting episodes, each a complete picture in itself, and
grouping them round a single hero. The story is placed in the twilight
between the Roman withdrawal and the conquests of the Saxons, when the
lamp of history was glimmering most faintly. In these troublous times a
king is miraculously sent to be a bulwark to the people against the
inroads of their foes. He founds an order of Knighthood bound by vows to
fight for all just and noble causes, and upholds for a time victoriously
the standard of chivalry within his realm, till through the entrance of
sin and treachery the spell is broken and the heathen overrun the land.
After his last battle, in the far west of our island, the king passes
away to the supernatural world from which he came. This last episode had
been handled many years before, and the 'Morte d'Arthur', which had
appeared in the volume of 1842, was incorporated into the 'Passing of
Arthur' to close the series of Idylls.

With what admixture of allegory this story was set out it is hard to
say--Tennyson himself could not in later years be induced to define his
purpose--but it seems certain that many of the characters are intended
to symbolize higher and lower qualities. According to some
interpretations King Arthur stands for the power of conscience and Queen
Guinevere for the heart. Galahad represents purity, Bors rough honesty,
Percivale humility, and Merlin the power of the intellect, which is too
easily beguiled by treachery. So the whole story is moralized by the
entrance, through Guinevere and Lancelot, of sin; by the gradual fading,
through the lightness of one or the treachery of another, of the
brightness of chivalry; and by the final ruin which shatters the fair

But there is no need to darken counsel by questions about history or
allegory, if we wish, first and last, to enjoy poetry, for its own sake.
Here, as in Spenser's _Faerie Queene_, forth go noble knights with
gentle maidens through the enchanted scenes of fairyland; for their
order and its vows they are ready to dare all. Lawlessness is tamed and
cruelty is punished, and no perilous quest presents itself but there is
a champion ready to follow it to the end. And if severe critics tell us
that they find no true gift of story-telling here, let us go for a
verdict to the young. They may not be good judges of style, or safe
interpreters of shades of thought, but they know when a story carries
them away; and the _Idylls of the King_, like the Waverley Novels, have
captured the heart of many a lover of literature who has not yet learnt
to question his instinct or to weigh his treasures in the scales of
criticism. And older readers may find themselves kindled to enthusiasm
by reflective passages rich in high aspiration, or charmed by
descriptions of nature as beautiful as anything which Tennyson wrote.

In the historical plays, which occupied a large part of his attention
between 1874 and 1879, Tennyson undertook a yet harder task. He chose
periods when national issues of high importance were at stake, such as
the conflict between the Church and the Crown, between the domination of
the priest and the claim of the individual to freedom of belief. He put
aside all exuberance of fancy and diction as unsuited to tragedy; he
handled his theme with dignity and at times with force, and attained a
literary success to which Browning and other good judges bore testimony.
Of Becket in particular he made a sympathetic figure, which, in the
skilful hands of Henry Irving, won considerable favour upon the stage.
But the times were out of joint for the poetic drama, and he had not the
rich imagination of Shakespeare, nor the power to create living men and
women who compel our hearts to pity, to horror, or to delight. For the
absence of this no studious reading of history, no fine sentiment, no
noble cadences, can make amends, and it seems doubtful whether future
ages will regard the plays as anything but a literary curiosity.

On the other hand, nothing which he wrote has touched the human heart
more genuinely than the poems of peasant life, some of them written in
the broadest Lincolnshire dialect, which Tennyson produced during the
years in which he was engaged on the Idylls and the plays. 'The
Grandmother', 'The Northern Cobbler', and the two poems on the
Lincolnshire farmers of following generations, were as popular as
anything which the Victorian Age produced, and seem likely to keep their
pre-eminence. The two latter illustrate, by their origin, Tennyson's
power of seizing on a single impression, and building on it a work of
creative genius. It was enough for him to hear the anecdote of the dying
farmer's words, 'God A'mighty little knows what he's about in taking me!
And Squire will be mad'; and he conceived the character of the man, and
his absorption in the farm where he had lived and worked and around
which he grouped his conceptions of religion and duty. The later type of
farmer was evoked similarly by a quotation in the dialect of his county:
'When I canters my herse along the ramper, I 'ears "proputty, proputty,
proputty"'; and again Tennyson achieved a triumph of characterization.
It is here perhaps that he comes nearest to the achievements of his
great rival Browning in the field of dramatic lyrics.

Apart from the writing and publication of his poems, we cannot divide
Tennyson's later life into definite sections. By 1850 his habits had
been formed, his friendships established, his fame assured; such
landmarks as are furnished by the birth of his children, by his
journeyings abroad, by the homes in which he settled, point to no
essential change in the current of his life. Of the perfect happiness
which marriage brought to him, of the charm and dignity which enabled
Mrs. Tennyson to hold her place worthily at his side, many witnesses
have spoken. Two sons were born to him, one of whom died in 1886, while
the other, named after his lost friend, lived to write the Memoir which
will always be the chief authority for our knowledge of the man. His
homes soon became household words--so great was the spell which Tennyson
cast over the hearts of his readers. Farringford, at the western end of
the Isle of Wight, was first tenanted by him in 1853, and was bought in
1856. Here the poet enjoyed perfect quiet, a genial climate and the
proximity of the sea, for which his love never failed. It was a very
different coast to the bleak sandhills and wide flats of Mablethorpe.
Above Freshwater the noble line of the Downs rises and falls as it runs
westward to the Needles, where it plunges abruptly into the sea; and
here on the springy turf, a tall romantic figure in wide-brimmed hat and
flowing cloak, the poet would often walk. But Farringford, lying low in
the shelter of the hills, proved too hot in summer; Freshwater was
discovered by tourists too often inquisitive about the great; and so,
after ten or twelve years, he was searching for another home, some
remoter fastness set on higher ground. This he discovered on the borders
of Surrey and Sussex near Haslemere, where Black Down rises to a height
of 900 feet above the sea and commands a wide prospect over the blue
expanse of the weald. Here he found copses and commons haunted by the
song of birds, here he raised plantations close at hand to shelter him
from the rude northern winds, and here he built the stately house of
Aldworth where, some thirty years later, he was to die.

To both houses came frequent guests. For, shy as he was of paying
visits, he loved to see in his own house men and women who could talk to
him as equals--nor was he always averse to those of reverent temper, so
they were careful not to jar on his fastidious tastes. In some ways it
was a pity that he did not come to closer quarters with the rougher
forces that were fermenting in the industrial districts. It might have
helped him to a better understanding of the classes that were pushing to
the front, who were to influence so profoundly the England of the
morrow. But the strain of kindly sympathy in Tennyson's nature can be
seen at its best in his intercourse with cottagers, sailors, and other
humble folk who lived near his doors. The stories which his son tells us
show how the poet was able to obtain an insight into their minds and to
write poems like 'The Grandmother' with artistic truth. And no visitor
received a heartier welcome at Farringford than Garibaldi, who was at
once peasant and sailor, and who remained so none the less when he had
become a hero of European fame. To Englishmen of nearly every cultured
profession Tennyson's hospitality was freely extended--we need only
instance Professor Tyndall, Dean Bradley, James Anthony Froude, Aubrey
de Vere, G. F. Watts, Henry Irving, Hubert Parry, Lord Dufferin, and
that most constant of friends, Benjamin Jowett, pre-eminent among the
Oxford celebrities of the day. Among his immediate neighbours he
conceived a peculiar affection for Sir John Simeon, whose death in 1870
called forth the stanzas 'In the Garden at Swainston'; and no one was
more at home at Farringford than Julia Cameron, famous among early
photographers, who has left us some of the best likenesses of the poet
in middle and later life.

Tennyson was not familiar with foreign countries to the same degree as
Browning, nor was he ever a great traveller. When he went abroad he
needed the help of some loyal friend, like Francis Palgrave or Frederick
Locker, to safeguard him against pitfalls, and to shield him from
annoyance. When he was too old to stand the fatigue of railway
journeys, he was willing to be taken for a cruise on a friend's yacht;
and thus he visited many parts of Scotland and the harbours of
Scandinavia. Amid new surroundings he was not always easy to please; bad
food or smelly streets would call forth loud protests and upset him for
a day; but his friends found it worth their while to risk some anxiety
in order to enjoy his keen observation and the originality of his talk.
Wherever he went he took with him his stored wisdom on Homer, Dante, and
the 'Di maiores' of literature; and when Gladstone, too, happened to be
one of the party on board ship, the talk must have been well worth
hearing. As in his youth, so now, Tennyson's mind moved most naturally
on a lofty plane and he was most at home with the great poets of the
past; and with the exception of a few poems like 'All along the valley',
where the torrents at Cauteretz reminded him of an early visit with
Hallam to the Pyrenees, we can trace little evidence in his poetry of
the journeys which he made. But we can see from his letters that he was
kindled by the beauty of Italian cities and their treasures. In every
picture-gallery which he visited he showed his preference for Titian and
the rich colour of the Venetian painters. He refused to be bound by the
conventional English taste for Alpine scenery, and broke out into abuse
of the discoloured water in the Grindelwald glacier--'a filthy thing,
and looking as if a thousand London seasons had passed over it'. In all
places, among all people, he said what he thought and felt, with
independence and conviction.

One incident connecting him with Italy is worthy of mention as showing
that the poet, who 'from out the northern island' came at times to visit
them, was known and esteemed by the people of Italy. When the Mantuans
celebrated in 1885 the nineteenth centenary of the death of Virgil, the
classic poet to whom Tennyson owed most, they asked him to write an
ode, and nobly he rose to the occasion, attaining a felicity of phrase
which is hardly excelled in the choicest lines of Virgil himself. But it
is as the laureate of his own country that he is of primary interest,
and it is time to inquire how he fulfilled the functions of his office,
and how he rendered that office of value to the State.

When he was first appointed, Queen Victoria had let him know that he was
to be excused from the obligation of writing complimentary verse to
celebrate the doings of the court. Of his own accord he composed
occasional odes for the marriages of her sons, and showed some of his
practised skill in dignifying such themes; but it is not here that he
found his work as laureate. He achieved greater success in the poems
which he wrote to honour the exploits of our army and navy, in the past
or the present. In his ballad of 'The Revenge', in his Balaclava poems,
in the 'Siege of Lucknow', he struck a heroic note which found a ready
echo in the hearts of soldiers and sailors and those who love the
services. Above all, in the great ode on the death of the Duke of
Wellington he has stirred all the chords of national feeling as no other
laureate before him, and has enriched our literature with a jewel which
is beyond price.

The Arthurian epic failed to achieve its national aim, and the
historical dramas, though inspired by great principles which have helped
to shape our history, never touched those large circles to which as
laureate he should appeal. Some might judge that his function was best
fulfilled in the lyrics to be found scattered throughout his work which
praise the slow, ordered progress of English liberties. Passages from
_Maud_ or _In Memoriam_ will occur to many readers, still more the three
lyrics generally printed together at the end of the 1842 poems,
beginning with the well-known tines, 'Of old sat Freedom on the
heights', 'Love thou thy land', and 'You ask me why though ill at ease'.
Here we listen to the voice of English Liberalism uttered in very
different tones from those of Byron and Shelley, expressing the mind of
one who recoiled from French Revolutions and had little sympathy with
their aims of universal equality. In this he represented very truly that
Victorian movement which was guided by Cobden and Mill, by Peel and
Gladstone, which conferred such practical benefits upon the England of
their day; but it is hardly the temper that we expect of an ardent poet,
at any rate in the days of his youth. The burning passion of Carlyle,
Ruskin, or William Morris, however tempered by other feelings, called
forth a heartier response in the breast of the toiling multitudes.

It may be that the claim of Tennyson to popular sovereignty will, in the
end, rest chiefly on the pleasure which he gave to many thousands of his
fellow-countrymen, a pleasure to be renewed and found again in English
scenes, and in thoughts which coloured grey lives and warmed cold
hearts, which shed the ray of faith on those who could accept no creeds
and who yet yearned for some hope of an after-life to cheer their
declining days. That he gave this pleasure is certain--to men and women
of all classes from Samuel Bamford,[29] the Durham weaver, who saved his
pence to buy the precious volumes of the 'thirties, to Queen Victoria on
her throne, who in the reading of _In Memoriam_ found one of her chief
consolations in the hour of widowhood.

[Note 29: See _Memoir_, by Hallam, Lord Tennyson, vol. i, p. 283

It was given to Tennyson to live a long life, and to know more joy than
sorrow--to be gladdened by the homage of two hemispheres, to lament the
loss of his old friends who went before him (Spedding in 1881,
FitzGerald in 1883, Robert Browning in 1889), to write his most famous
lyric 'Crossing the Bar' at the age of 80, and to be soothed and
strengthened to the end by the presence of his wife. For some weeks in
the autumn of 1892 he lay in growing weakness at Aldworth taking
farewell of the sights and sounds that he had loved so long. To him now
it had come to hear with dying ears 'the earliest pipe of half-awakened
birds' and to see with dying eyes 'the casement slowly grow a glimmering
square'. Early on October 5 he had an access of energy, and called to
have the blinds drawn up--'I want', he said, 'to see the sky and the
light'. The next day he died, and a week later a country wagon bore the
coffin to Haslemere. Thence it passed to Westminster, where his dust was
to be laid beside that of Browning, among the great men who had gone
before. In what mood he faced death we can learn from his own words:

  Spirit, nearing yon dark portal at the limit of thy human state,
  Fear not thou the hidden purpose of that Power which alone is great,
  Nor the myriad world, His shadow, nor the silent Opener of the Gate![30]

[Note 30: 'God and the Universe,' from _Death of Oenone_, &c.
Macmillan, (1892.)]


From a drawing by W. S. Hunt in the National Portrait Gallery]



1819. Born at Holne on Dartmoor, June 12.
1830-6. Father rector of Clovelly.
1832. Grammar School at Helston, Cornwall.
1836. Father rector of St. Luke's, Chelsea. C. K. to King's College,
1838-42. Magdalene College, Cambridge.
1842. Ordained at Farnham. Curate of Eversley.
1844. Marriage to Fanny Grenfell. Friendship with F. D. Maurice.
1844. Rector of Eversley.
1848. Chartist riots. 'Parson Lot' pamphlets.
1850. _Alton Locke_ published.
1855. _Westward Ho!_ published.
1857. _Two Years Ago_ published.
1859. Chaplain to the Queen.
1860. Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.
1864. Tour in the south of France.
1869. Canon of Chester.
1870. Tour to the West Indies.
1873. Canon of Westminster.
1874. Tour to California.
1875. Death at Eversley, January 23.



If Charles Kingsley had been born in Scandinavia a thousand years
earlier, one more valiant Viking would have sailed westward from the
deep fiords of his native home to risk his fortunes in a new world, one
who by his courage, his foresight, and his leadership of men was well
fitted to be captain of his bark. The lover of the open-air life, the
searcher after knowledge, the fighter that he was, he would have been in
his element, foremost in the fray, most eager in the quest. But it was
given to him to live in quieter times, to graft on the old Norse stock
the graces of modern culture and the virtues of a Christian; and in a
peaceful parish of rural England he found full scope for his gifts.
There he taught his own and succeeding generations how full and
beneficent the life of a parish priest can be. Our villages and towns
produced many notable types of rector in the nineteenth century, Keble,
Hawker, Hook, Robertson, Dolling, and scores of others; but none touched
life at more points, none became so truly national a figure as Charles
Kingsley in his Eversley home.

His father was of an old squire family; like his son he was a clergyman,
a naturalist, and a sportsman. His mother, a Miss Lucas, came from
Barbados; and while she wrote poetry with feeling and skill, she had
also a practical gift of management. His father's calling involved
several changes of residence. Those which had most influence on his son
were his removal in 1824 to Barnack, on the edge of the fens, still
untamed and full of wild life, and in 1830 to Clovelly in North Devon.
More than thirty years later, when asked to fill up the usual questions
in a lady's album, he wrote that his favourite scenery was 'wide flats
and open sea'. He was precocious as a child and perpetrated poems and
sermons at the age of four; but very early he developed a habit of
observation and a healthy interest in things outside himself. Such a
nature could not be indifferent to the beauty of Clovelly, to the coming
and going of its fishermen, and to the romance and danger of their
lives. The steep village-street nestling among the woods, the little
harbour sheltered by the sandstone cliffs, the wide view over the blue
water, won his lifelong affection.

His parents talked of sending him to Eton or Rugby, but in the end they
decided to put him with Derwent Coleridge, the poet's son, at the
Grammar School of Helston. Here he had the scenery which he loved, and
masters who developed his strong bent towards natural science; and here
he laid the foundations of his knowledge of botany, which remained all
his life his favourite recreation. He was an eager reader, but not a
close student of books; fond of outdoor life, but not skilled in
athletic games; capable of much effort and much endurance, but rather
irregular in his spurts of energy. A more methodical training might have
saved him some mistakes, but it might also have taken the edge off that
fresh enthusiasm which made intercourse with him at all times seem like
a breath of moorland air. Here he developed an independence of mind and
a fearlessness of opinion which is rarely to be found in the atmosphere
of a big public school.

At the age of seventeen, when his father was appointed to St. Luke's,
Chelsea, he left Helston and spent two years attending lectures at
King's College, London, and preparing for Cambridge. These were by no
means among his happier years. He disliked London and he rebelled
against the dullness of life in a vicarage overrun with district
visitors and mothers' meetings. His father, a strong evangelical,
objected to various forms of public amusement, and Charles, though loyal
and affectionate to his parents, fretted to find no outlet for his
energies. He made a few friends and devoured many books, but his chief
delight was to get away from town to old west-country haunts. Nor was
his life at Cambridge entirely happy. His excitability was great: his
self-control was not yet developed. Rowing did not exhaust his physical
energy, which broke out from time to time in midnight fishing raids and
walks from Cambridge to London. He wasted so much of his time that he
nearly imperilled his chance of taking a good degree, and might perhaps
count himself lucky when, thanks to a heroic effort at the eleventh
hour, his excellent abilities won him a first class in classics. At
this time he was terribly shaken by religious doubts. But in one of his
vacations in 1839 he met Fanny Grenfell, his future wife, and soon he
was on such a footing that he could open to her his inmost thoughts. It
was she who helped him in his wavering decision to take Holy Orders;
and, when he went down in 1842, he set himself to read seriously and
thoroughly for Ordination. Early in 1844 he was admitted to deacon's
orders at Farnham.

His first office marked out his path through life. With a short interval
between his holding the curacy and the rectory of Eversley,[31] he had
his home for thirty-three years at this Hampshire village so intimately
connected with his name. Eversley lies on the borders of Berkshire and
Hampshire, in the diocese of Winchester, near the famous house of
Bramshill, on the edge of the sandy fir-covered waste which stretches
across Surrey. To understand the charm of its rough commons and
self-sown woods one must read Kingsley's _Prose Idylls_, especially the
sketch called 'My Winter Garden'. There he served for a year as curate,
living in bachelor quarters on the green, learning to love the place and
its people: there, when Sir John Cope offered him the living in 1844, he
returned a married man to live in the Rectory House beside the church,
which may still be seen little altered to-day. A breakdown from
overwork, an illness of his wife's, a higher appointment in the Church,
might be the cause of his passing a few weeks or even months away; but
year in, year out, he gave of his very best to Eversley for thirty-three
years, and to it he returned from his journeys with all the more ardour
to resume his work among his own people. The church was dilapidated, the
Rectory was badly drained, the parish had been neglected by an absentee
rector. For long periods together Kingsley was too poor to afford a
curate: when he had one, the luxury was paid for by extra labour in
taking private pupils. He had disappointments and anxieties, but his
courage never faltered. He concentrated his energies on steady progress
in things material and moral, and whatever his hand found to do, he did
it with his might.

[Note 31: For a few weeks in 1844 he was curate of Pimperne in

The church and its services called for instant attention. The Holy
Communion had been celebrated only three times a year; the other
services were few and irregular; on Sundays the church was empty and the
alehouse was full. The building was badly kept, the churchyard let out
for grazing, the whole place destitute of reverence. What the service
came to be under the new Rector we can read on the testimony of many
visitors. The intensity of his devotion at all times, the inspiration
which the great festivals of the Church particularly roused in him,
changed all this rapidly. He did all he could to draw his parishioners
to church; but he had no rigid Puritanical views about the Sabbath. A
Staff-College officer, who frequently visited him on Sundays, tells us
of 'the genial, happy, unreserved intercourse of those Sunday afternoons
spent at the Rectory, and how the villagers were free to play their
cricket--"Paason he do'ant objec'--not 'e--as loik as not, 'e'll come
and look on".' All his life he supported the movement for opening
museums to the public on Sundays, and this at a time when few of the
clergy were bold enough to speak on his side. The Church was not his
only organ for teaching. He started schools and informal classes. In
winter he would sometimes give up his leisure to such work every evening
of the week. The Rectory, for all its books and bottles, its
fishing-rods and curious specimens, was not a mere refuge for his own
work and his own hobbies, but a centre of light and warmth where all his
parishioners might come and find a welcome. He was one of the first to
start 'Penny Readings' in his parish, to lighten the monotony of winter
evenings with music, poetry, stories, and lectures; and though his
parish was so wide and scattered, he tried to rally support for a
village reading-room, and kept it alive for some years.

His afternoons were regularly given to parish visiting, except when
there were other definite calls upon his time. He soon came to know
every man, woman, and child in his parish. His sympathies were so wide
that he could make himself at home with every one, with none more so
than the gipsies and poachers, who shared his intimate knowledge of the
neighbouring heaths and of the practices, lawful and unlawful, by which
they could be made to supply food. He would listen to their stories,
sympathize with their troubles and speak frankly in return. There was no
condescension. One of his pupils speaks of 'the simple, delicate, deep
respect for the poor', which could be seen in his manner and his talk
among the cottagers. He could be severe enough when severity was needed,
as when he compelled a cruel farmer to kill 'a miserable horse which was
rotting alive in front of his house'; and he could deal no less
drastically with hypocrisy. When a professional beggar fell on his knees
at the Rectory gate and pretended to pray, he was at once ejected by the
Rector with every mark of indignation and contumely. But the weak and
suffering always made a special appeal to him. Though it was easy to vex
and exasperate him, he could always put away his own troubles in
presence of his own children or of any who needed his help. He had that
intense power of sympathy which enabled him to understand and reach the

From a letter to his greatest friend, Tom Hughes, written in 1851, we
get a glimpse of a day in his life--'a sorter kinder sample day'. He was
up at five to see a dying man and stayed with him till eight. He then
went out for air and exercise, fished all the morning and killed eight
fish. He went back to his invalid at three. Later he spent three hours
attending a meeting convoked by his Archdeacon about Sunday schools, and
at 10.30 he was back in his study writing to his friends.

But though he himself calls this a 'sample day', it does no justice to
one form of his activities. Most days in the year he would put away all
thought of fishing, shut himself up in his study morning and evening,
and devote himself to reading and writing. Great care was taken over his
weekly sermons. Monday was, if possible, given to rest; but from Tuesday
till Friday evening they took up the chief share of his thoughts. And
then there were the books that he wrote, novels, pamphlets, history
lectures, scientific essays, on which he largely depended to support his
wife and family. Besides this he kept up an extensive correspondence
with friends and acquaintances. Many wrote to consult him about
political and religious questions; from many he was himself trying to
draw information on the phenomena of the science which he was trying to
study at the time. Among the latter were Geikie, Lyell, Wallace, and
Darwin himself, giants among scientific men, to whom he wrote with
genuine humility, even when his name was a household word throughout
England. His books can sometimes be associated with visits to definite
places which supplied him with material. It is not difficult to connect
_Westward Ho!_ with his winter at Bideford in 1854, and _Two Years Ago_
with his Pen-y-gwryd fishing in 1856. Memories of _Hereward the Wake_ go
back to his early childhood in the Fens, of _Alton Locke_ to his
undergraduate days at Cambridge. But he had not the time for the
laborious search after 'local colour' with which we are familiar to-day.
The bulk of the work was done in his study at Eversley, executed
rapidly, some of it too rapidly; but the subjects were those of which
his mind was full, and the thoughts must have been pursued in many a
quiet hour on the heathery commons or beside the streams of his own

About his books, his own judgement agreed with that of his friends.
'What you say about my "Ergon" being poetry is quite true. I could not
write _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ and I can write poetry:... there is no denying
it: I do feel a different being when I get into metre: I feel like an
otter in the water instead of an otter ashore.' The value of his novels
is in their spirit rather than in their artistic form or truth; but it
is foolish to disparage their worth, since they have exercised so marked
an influence on the characters and lives of so many Englishmen,
especially our soldiers and sailors, inspiring them to higher courage
and more unselfish virtue. Perhaps the best example of his prose is the
_Prose Idylls_, sketches of fen-land, trout streams, and moors, which
combine his gifts so happily, his observation of natural objects, and
the poetic imagination with which he transfuses these objects and brings
them near to the heart of man. There were very few men who could draw
such joy from familiar English landscapes, and could communicate it to
others. The cult of sport, of science, and of beauty has here become one
and has found its true high priest. In poetry his more ambitious efforts
were _The Saint's Tragedy_, a drama in blank verse on the story of St.
Elizabeth of Hungary, and _Andromeda_, a revival of the old Greek legend
in the old hexameter measure. But what are most sure to live are his
lyrics, 'Airlie Beacon', 'The Three Fishers', 'The Sands of Dee', with
their simplicity and true note of song.

The combination of this poetic gift with a strong interest in science
and a wide knowledge of it is most unusual; but there can be no
mistaking the genuine feeling which Charles Kingsley had for the latter.
It took one very practical form in his zeal for sanitation. In 1854 when
the public, so irrational in its moments of excitement, was calling for
a national fast-day on account of the spread of cholera, he heartily
supported Lord Palmerston, who refused to grant it. He held it impious
and wrong to attribute to a special visitation from God what was due to
the blindness, laziness, and selfishness of our governing classes. His
article in _Fraser's Magazine_ entitled 'Who causes pestilence?' roused
much criticism: it said things that comfortable people did not like to
hear, and said them frankly; it was far in advance of the public opinion
of that time, but its truth no one would dispute to-day. And what his
pen did for the nation, his example did for the parish. He drained
unwholesome pools in his own garden, and he persuaded his neighbours to
do the same. He taught them daily lessons about the value of fresh air
and clean water: no details were too dull and wearisome in the cause. To
many people his novels, like those of Dickens and Charles Reade, are
spoilt by the advocacy of social reforms. The novel with a purpose was
characteristic of the early Victorian Age, and both in _Alton Locke_ and
in _Two Years Ago_ he makes little disguise of the zeal with which he
preaches sanitary reform. Of the more attractive sciences, which he
pursued with equal intensity, there is little room to speak. Botany was
his first love and it remained first to the end. Zoology at times ran it
close, and his letters from seaside places are full of the names of
marine creatures which he stored in tanks and examined with his
microscope. A dull day on the coast was inconceivable to him. Geology,
too, thrilled him with its wonders, and was the subject of many letters.

Side by side with his hobby of natural history went his love of sport:
it was impossible for him to separate the one from the other. Fishing
was his chief delight; he pursued it with equal keenness in the chalk
streams of Hampshire, in the salmon rivers of Ireland, in the desolate
tarns on the Welsh mountains. In the visitors' book of the inn at
Pen-y-gwryd, Tom Hughes, Tom Taylor, and he left alternate quatrains of
doggerel to celebrate their stay, written _currente calamo_, as the
spirit prompted them. This is Charles Kingsley's first quatrain:

    I came to Pen-y-gwryd in frantic hopes of slaying
    Grilse, salmon, three-pound red-fleshed trout
          and what else there's no saying:
    But bitter cold and lashing rain and black nor'-eastern skies, sir,
    Drove me from fish to botany, a sadder man and wiser.

Each had his disappointment through the weather, which each expressed in
verse; but it took more than bad weather to damp the spirits of three
such ardent open-air enthusiasts. Hunting was another favourite sport,
though he rarely indulged himself in this luxury, and only when he could
do so without much expense. But whenever a friend gave him a mount,
Kingsley was ready to follow the Berkshire hounds, and with his
knowledge of the country he was able to hold his own with the best.

Let us try to imagine him then as he walked about the lanes and commons
of Eversley in middle life, a spare upright figure, above the middle
height, with alert step, informal but not slovenly in dress, with no
white tie or special mark of his profession. His head was one to attract
notice anywhere with the grand hawk-like nose, firm mouth, and flashing
eye. The deep lines furrowed between the brows gave his face an almost
stern expression which his cheery conversation soon belied. He might be
carrying a fishing-rod or a bottle of medicine for a sick parishioner,
or sometimes both: his faithful Dandie Dinmont would be in attendance
and perhaps one of his children walking at his side. His walk would be
swift and eager, with his eye wandering restlessly around to observe all
that he passed: 'it seemed as if no bird or beast or insect, scarcely a
cloud in the sky, passed by him unnoticed, unwelcomed.' So too with
humanity--in breadth of sympathy he resembled 'the Shirra', who became
known to every wayfarer between Teviot and Tweed. Gipsy boy, farm-hand,
old grandmother, each would be sure of a greeting and a few words of
talk when they met the Rector on his rounds. In society he might at
times be too impetuous or insistent, when questions were stirred in
which he was deeply interested. Tennyson tells us how he 'walked hard up
and down the study for hours, smoking furiously and affirming that
tobacco was the only thing that kept his nerves quiet'. Green compares
him to a restless animal, and Stopford Brooke speaks of his
quick-rushing walk, his keen face like a sword, and his body thinned out
to a lath, and complains that he 'often screams when he ought to speak'.
But this excitability was soothed by the country, and in his own parish
he was at his best. He would never have been so beloved by his
parishioners, if they had not found him willing to listen as well as to
advise and to instruct.

His first venture into public life met with less general favour. The
year 1848 saw many upheavals in Europe. On the Continent thrones
tottered and fell, republics started up for a moment and faded away. In
England it was the year of the Chartist riots, and political and social
problems gave plenty of matter for thought. Monster meetings were held
in London, which were not free from disorder. The wealthier classes and
the Government were alarmed, troops were brought up to London and the
Duke of Wellington put in command. Events seemed to point to outbreaks
of violence and the starting of a class-war. Frederick Denison Maurice,
whom above all men living Kingsley revered, was the leader of a group of
men who were greatly stirred by the movement. They saw that more than
political reform and political charters were needed; and, while full of
sympathy for the working classes, they were not minded to say smooth
things and prophesy Utopias in which they had no belief. Filled with the
desire to help his fellow-men, indignant at abuses which he had seen
with his own eyes, Kingsley came at once to their side. He went to
London to see for himself, attended meetings, wrote pamphlets, and
seemed to be promoting agitation. The tone in which he wrote can best be
seen by a few words from the pamphlet addressed to the 'Workmen of
England', which was posted up in London. 'The Charter is not bad, if the
men who use it are not bad. But will the Charter make you free? Will it
free you from slavery to ten-pound bribes? Slavery to gin and beer?
Slavery to every spouter who flatters your self-conceit and stirs up
bitterness and headlong rage in you? That I guess is real slavery, to be
a slave to one's own stomach, one's pocket, one's own temper.' This is
hardly the tone of the agitator as known to us to-day. With his friends
Kingsley brought out a periodical, _Politics for the People_, in which
he wrote in the same tone. 'My only quarrel with the Charter is that it
does not go far enough in reform.... I think you have fallen into the
same mistake as the rich of whom you complain, I mean the mistake of
fancying that legislative reform is social reform, or that men's hearts
can be changed by Act of Parliament.' He did not limit himself to
denouncing such errors. He encouraged the working man to educate himself
and to find rational pleasures in life, contributing papers on the
National Gallery and bringing out the human interest of the pictures.
'Parson Lot', the _nom de guerre_ which Kingsley adopted, became widely
known for warm-hearted exhortations, for practical and sagacious

Two years later he published _Alton Locke_, describing the life of a
young tailor whose mind and whose fortunes are profoundly influenced by
the Chartist movement. From a literary point of view it is far from
being his best work; and the critics agreed to belittle it at the time
and to pass it over with apology at his death. But it received a warm
welcome from others. While it roused the imagination of many young men
and set them thinking, the veteran Carlyle could speak of 'the snatches
of excellent poetical description, occasional sunbursts of noble
insight, everywhere a certain wild intensity which holds the reader fast
as by a spell'.

Should any one ask why a rector of a country parish mixed himself up in
London agitation, many answers could be given. His help was sought by
Maurice, who worked among the London poor. Many of the questions at
issue affected also the agricultural labourer. Only one who was giving
his life to serve the poor could effectively expose the mistakes of
their champions. The upper classes, squires and merchants and
politicians, had shut their eyes and missed their chances. So when the
ship is on fire, no one blames the chaplain or the ship's doctor for
lending a hand with the buckets.[32]

[Note 32: See Preface by T. Hughes prefixed to later editions of
_Alton Locke_.]

That his efforts in London met with success can be seen from many
sources besides the popularity of _Alton Locke_. He wrote a pamphlet
entitled 'Cheap Clothes and Nasty', denouncing the sweaters' shops and
supporting the co-operative movement, which was beginning to arise out
of the ashes of Chartism. Of this pamphlet a friend told him that he saw
three copies on the table in the Guards' Club, and that he heard that
captains in the Guards were going to the co-operative shop in Castle
Street and buying coats there. A success of a different kind and one
more valued by Kingsley himself was the conversion of Thomas Cooper, the
popular writer in Socialist magazines, who preached atheistical
doctrines weekly to many thousand working men. Kingsley found him to be
sincerely honest, spent infinite time in writing him friendly letters,
discussing their differences of opinion, and some years later had the
joy of inducing him to become an active preacher of the Gospel. But most
of the well-to-do people, including the clergy, were prejudiced against
Kingsley by his Radical views. On one occasion he had to face a painful
scene in a London church, when the vicar who had invited him to preach
rose after the sermon and formally protested against the views to which
his congregation had been listening. Bishop Blomfield at first sided
with the vicar; but in the end he did full justice to the sincerity and
charity of Kingsley's views and sanctioned his continuing to preach in
the Diocese.

It was his literary successes which helped most to break down the
prejudice existing against him in society. _Hypatia_, published in 1853,
had a mixed reception; but _Westward Ho!_ appearing two years later, was
universally popular. His eloquence in the pulpit was becoming known to a
wider circle, largely owing to officers who came over from Aldershot and
Sandhurst to hear him; and early in 1859 he was asked to preach before
the Queen and Prince Consort. His appointment as chaplain to the Queen
followed before the year was out; and this made a great difference in
his position and prospects. What he valued equally was the hearty
friendship which he formed with the Prince Consort. They had the same
tastes, the same interests, the same serious outlook on life. A year
later came a still higher distinction when Kingsley was appointed
Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. His history lectures, it is
generally agreed, are not of permanent value as a contribution to the
knowledge of the subject. With his parish work and other interests he
had no time for profound study. But his eloquence and descriptive powers
were such as to attract a large class of students, and many can still
read with pleasure his lectures on _The Roman and the Teuton_, in which
he was fired by the moral lessons involved in the decay of the Roman
empire and the coming of the vigorous young northern races. Apart from
his lectures he had made his mark in Cambridge by the friendly relations
which he established with many of the undergraduates and the personal
influence which he exercised. But he knew better than any one else his
shortcomings as an historian, the preparation of his lectures gave him
great anxiety and labour, and in 1869 he resigned the office.

The next honour which fell to him was a canonry at Chester, and in 1873,
less than two years before his death, he exchanged it for a stall at
Westminster. These historic cities with their old buildings and
associations attracted him very strongly: preaching in the Abbey was
even dangerously exciting to a man of his temperament. But while he gave
his services generously during his months of office, as at Chester in
founding a Natural History Society, he never deserted his old work and
his old parish. Eversley continued to be his home, and during the
greater part of each year to engross his thoughts.

Literature, science, and sport were, as we have seen, the three
interests which absorbed his leisure hours. A fourth, partaking in some
measure of all three, was travel, a hobby which the strenuous pursuit of
duty rarely permitted him to indulge. Ill-health or a complete breakdown
sometimes sent him away perforce, and it is to this that he chiefly owed
his knowledge of other climes. He has left us some fascinating pictures
of the south of France, the rocks of Biarritz, the terrace at Pau, the
blue waters of the Mediterranean, and the golden arches of the Pont du
Gard; but the voyages that thrilled him most were those that he took to
America, when he sailed the Spanish main in the track of Drake and
Raleigh and Richard Grenville. The first journey in 1870 was to the West
Indies; the second and longer one took him to New York and Quebec, and
across the continent to the Yosemite and San Francisco. This was in
1874, the last year of his life, and he was received everywhere with the
utmost respect and goodwill. His name was now famous on both sides of
the Atlantic, and the voice of opposition was stilled. The public had
changed its attitude to him, but he himself was unchanged. He had the
same readiness to gather up new knowledge, and to get into friendly
touch with every kind of man, the same reluctance to talk about himself.
Only the yearning towards the unseen was growing stronger. The poet
Whittier, who met him at Boston, found him unwilling to talk about his
own books or even about the new cities which he was visiting, but
longing for counsel from his brother poet on the high themes of a future
life and the final destiny of the human race.

While he was in California he was taken ill with pleurisy; and when he
came back to England he had so serious a relapse in the autumn that he
could hardly perform his duties at Westminster. He had never wished for
long life, his strength was exhausted, the ardent soul had worn out its
sheath. A dangerous illness of his wife's, threatening to leave him
solitary, hastened the end. For her sake he fought a while against the
pneumonia which set in, but the effort was in vain, and on January 23,
in his own room at Eversley, he met his death contented and serene.
Twenty years before he had said, 'God forgive me if I am wrong, but I
look forward to it with an intense and reverent curiosity'.

These words of his sum up some of his most marked characteristics. Of
his 'curiosity' there is no need to say more: all his life he was
pursuing eager researches into rocks, flowers, animals, and his
fellow-men. 'Intensity' has been picked out by many of his friends as
the word which, more than any other, expresses the peculiar quality of
his nature. This does not mean a weak excitability. His letters to J. S.
Mill on the women-suffrage movement show that this hysterical element,
which was often to be found in the women supporting it, was what most he
feared. He himself defines it well--'my blessed habit of intensity. I go
at what I am about as if there was nothing else in the world for the
time being.' This quality, which many great men put into their work,
Kingsley put both into his work and into his play-time. Critics will say
that he paid for it: it is easy to quote the familiar line: 'Neque
semper arcum tendit Apollo.' But Horace is not the poet to whom Charles
Kingsley would go for counsel: he would only say that he got full value
in both, and that he never regretted the bargain.

But it would be no less true to say that 'Reverence' is the key-note of
his character. This fact was impressed on all who saw him take the
services in his parish church, and it was an exaltation of reverence
which uplifted his congregation and stamped itself on their memories. It
is seen, too, in his political views. The Radical Parson, the upholder
of Chartism, was in many ways a strong Tory. He had a great belief in
the land-owning classes, and an admiration for what remained of the
Feudal System. He believed that the old relation between squire and
villagers, if each did his duty, worked far better than the modern
pretence of Equality and Independence. Like Disraeli, like Ruskin, and
like many other men of high imagination, he distrusted the Manchester
School and the policy that in the labour market each class should be
left to fend for itself. Radical as he was, he defended the House of
Lords and the hereditary system. So, too, in Church questions, though he
was an anti-Tractarian, he had a great reverence for the Athanasian
Creed and in general was a High Churchman. He had none of the fads which
we associate with the Radical party. Total abstinence he condemned as a
rigid rule, though there was no man more severe in his attitude to
drunkenness. He believed that God's gifts were for man's enjoyment, and
he set his face against asceticism. He trained his own body to vigorous
manhood and he had remarkable self-control; and he wished to help each
man to do this for himself and not to be driven to it by what he
considered a false system. Logically it may be easy to find
contradictions in the views which he expressed at different times; but
his life shows an essential unity in aim and practice.

It has been the fashion to label Charles Kingsley and his teaching with
the nickname of 'Muscular Christianity', a name which he detested and
disclaimed. It implied that he and his school were of the full-blooded
robust order of men, who had no sympathy for weakness, and no message
for those who could not follow the same strenuous course as themselves.
As a fact Kingsley had his full share of bodily illnesses and suffered
at all times from a highly-wrought nervous organization; when pain to
others was involved, he was as tender and sympathetic as a woman. He was
a born fighter, too reckless in attack, as we see in his famous dispute
with Cardinal Newman about the honesty of the Tractarians. But he was
not bitter or resentful. He owned himself that in this case he had met a
better logician than himself: later he expressed his admiration for
Newman's poem, 'The Dream of Gerontius', and in his letters he praises
the tone in which the Tractarians write--'a solemn and gentle
earnestness which is most beautiful and which I wish I may ever attain'.
The point which Matthew Arnold singles out in estimating his character
is the width of his sympathies. 'I think', he says, 'he was the most
generous man I have ever known, the most forward to praise what he
thought good, the most willing to admire, the most incapable of being
made ill-natured or even indifferent by having to support ill-natured
attacks himself. Among men of letters I know nothing so rare as this.'
To the gibe about 'Muscular Christianity' Kingsley had his own answer.
He said that with his tastes and gifts he had a special power of
appealing to the wild rough natures which were more at home in the
country than the town, who were too self-forgetful, and too heedless of
the need for culture and for making use of their opportunities. Jacob,
the man of intellect, had many spiritual guides, and the poor outcast,
Esau, was too often overlooked. As he said, 'The one idea of my life was
to tell Esau that he has a birthright as well as Jacob'. When he was
laid to his rest in Eversley churchyard, there were many mourners who
represented the cultured classes of the day; but what gave its special
character to the occasion was the presence of keepers and poachers, of
gipsies, country rustics, and huntsmen, the Esaus of the Hampshire
village, which was the fit resting-place for one who above all was the
ideal of a parish priest.



1817. Born in London, February 23.
1827. Begins to frequent the studio of William Behnes.
1835. Enters Royal Academy Schools.
1837. Working in his own studio. 'Wounded Heron' and two portraits
      in Royal Academy exhibition.
1842. Success in Parliament House competition: 'Caractacus' cartoon.
1843-7. Living with Lord and Lady Holland at Florence.
1847. Success in second competition: 'Alfred' cartoon.
1848. Early allegorical pictures.
1850. Friendship with the Prinseps. Little Holland House.
1851. National series of portraits begun.
1852. Begins Lincoln's Inn Hall fresco: finished 1859.
1856. With Sir Charles Newton to Halicarnassus.
1865. Correspondence with Charles Rickards of Manchester.
1867. Elected A.R.A. and R.A. in same year. Portraits. Carlyle. W.
1872. New home at Freshwater, Isle of Wight. 'The Briary.'
      Little Holland House sold.
1877. Grosvenor Gallery opened. 1881. Watts exhibition there
      (200 pictures).
1882. D.C.L., Oxford; LL.D., Cambridge.
1886. November; marries Miss Fraser Tytler. Winter in Egypt.
1890. New home at Limnerslease, Compton.
1895. National Portrait Gallery opened.
1896. New Gallery exhibition (155 pictures).
1897. Gift of pictures to new Tate Gallery.
1902. Order of Merit.
1904. Death at Compton, July 1.



The great age of British art was past before Queen Victoria began her
long and memorable reign. Reynolds and Gainsborough had died in the
last years of the eighteenth century, Romney and Hoppner in the first
decade of the nineteenth; Lawrence, the last of the Georgian
portrait-painters, did not live beyond 1830. Of the landscapists Crome
died in 1821 and Constable in 1837. Turner, the one survivor of the
Giants, had done three-quarters of his work before 1837 and can hardly
be reckoned as a Victorian worthy.


From a painting by himself in the National Portrait Gallery]

In the reign of Queen Victoria many thousands of trivial anecdotic
pictures were bought and sold, were reproduced in Art Annuals and
Christmas Numbers and won the favour of rich amateurs and provincial
aldermen--so much so that Victorian art has been a favourite target for
the shafts of critics formed in the school of Whistler and the later
Impressionists. But however just some of their strictures may be, it is
foolish to condemn an age wholesale or to shut our eyes to the great
achievements of those artists who, rising above the general level,
dignified the calling of the painter just when the painters were most
rare. These men formed no single movement progressing in a uniform
direction. The study of pure landscape is best seen in the water-colour
draughtsmen, Cotman, Cox, and de Wint; of landscape as a setting for the
life of the people, in Fred Walker and George Mason. Among
figure-painters the 'Pre-Raphaelites', Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and
Millais, with their forerunner Madox Brown, are the first to win
attention by their earnestness, their romantic imagination, and their
intense feeling for beauty: in these qualities Burne-Jones carried on
their work and retained the allegiance of a cultured few to the very end
of the century. Two solitary figures are more difficult to class, Alfred
Stevens and Watts. Each learnt fruitful lessons from prolonged study of
the great art of the past; yet each preserves a marked originality in
his work. More than any other artists of their age they realized the
unity of art and the dependence of one branch upon another. Painting
should go hand in hand with sculpture, and both minister to
architecture. So the world might hope once more to see public buildings
nobly planned and no less nobly decorated, as in the past it saw the
completion of the Parthenon and the churches of mediaeval Italy. It was
unfortunate that they received so little encouragement from the public,
and that their example had so narrow an influence. St. Paul's can show
its Wellington monument, Lincoln's Inn its fresco; but year after year
subject-pictures continued to be painted on an ambitious scale, which
after a few months' exhibition on the walls of Burlington House passed
to their tomb in provincial museums, or reappeared as ghosts in the
sale-room only to fetch a derisory price and to illustrate the fickle
vagaries in the public taste.

In the early life of George Frederick Watts, who was born in a quiet
street in West Marylebone, there are few incidents to narrate, there is
little brightness to enliven the tale. His father, a maker of musical
instruments, was poor; his mother died early; his home-life was
overshadowed by his own ill-health and the uncertain moods of other
members of the family. His education was casual and consisted mostly of
reading books under the guidance of his father, who had little solid
learning, but refined tastes and an inventive disposition. In his
Sundays at home, where the Sabbatarian rule limited his reading, he
became familiar with the stories of the Old Testament; he discovered for
himself the Waverley Novels and Pope's translation of the _Iliad_; and
he began from early years to use his pencil with the eager and
persistent enthusiasm which marks the artist born.

For a rich artistic nature it was a starved life, but he made the most
of such chances as came in his way. He was barely ten years old when he
found his way to the studio of a sculptor named William Behnes, a man
of Hanoverian extraction, an indifferent sculptor but possessed of a
real talent for drawing; and from his more intellectual brother, Charles
Behnes, he learnt to widen his interest in literature. In this halting
and irregular process of education he received help, some years later,
from another friend of foreign birth, Nicholas Wanostrocht, a Belgian,
who under the assumed name of 'Felix' became a leading authority on the
game of cricket. Wanostrocht was a cultivated man of very wide tastes,
and it was largely through his encouragement that Watts gave to the
study of the French and Italian languages, and to music, what little
time he could spare from his professional work. London was to render him
greater services than this. Thanks to his visits to the British Museum,
he had, while still in his teens, come under a mightier spell. Though
few Englishmen had yet learnt to value their treasures, the Elgin
Marbles had been resting there for twenty years. But now, two years
before Queen Victoria's accession, there might be seen, standing rapt in
admiration before the works of Phidias, a boy of slender figure with
high forehead, delicately moulded features, and disordered hair, one
who, as we can see from the earliest portrait which Mrs. Watts has
preserved in her biography, had something of the unearthly beauty of the
young Shelley. He was physically frail, marked off from ordinary men by
a grace that won its way quickly to the hearts of all who were
susceptible to spiritual charm. Untaught though he was, he had the eye
to see for himself the grandeur of these relics of Greece, and
throughout his life they remained one of the guiding influences in his
development, one of the standards which he set up before himself, though
all too conscious that he could not hope to reach that height. We see
their influence in his treatment of drapery, of horses, of the human
figure, in his idealization of types, in the flowing lines of his
compositions, and in the grouping of his masses. Compared to the hours
which he spent in the British Museum, the lessons in the Royal Academy
schools seem unimportant. He attended classes there for some months in
1835, but the teaching was poor and its results disappointing. William
Hilton, R.A., who then occupied the post of Keeper, gave him some kind
words of encouragement, but in general he came and went unnoticed, and
he soon returned to his solitary self-training in his own studio. If we
know little of his teaching in art, we know still less of his personal
life during the time when he was laying the foundations of his success
by study and self-discipline. Early rising was an art which he acquired
early, and maintained throughout life; long after he felt the spur of
necessity, even after the age of 80, he could rise at four when there
was work to be done; and, living as he did on the simplest diet, he
often achieved his best results at an hour when other men were still
finishing their slumbers. His shyness and sensitiveness, combined with
precarious health and weak physique, would seem to equip him but poorly
in the struggle for life; but his steady persistence, his high
conception of duty, his faith in his art, joined to that power which he
had of winning friends among the noblest men and women of his day, were
to carry him triumphantly through to the end.

The career of Watts as a public man began in 1843 when he had reached
the age of 26. The British Government, not often guilty of fostering art
or literature, may claim at least the credit for having drawn him out of
his seclusion at the very moment when his genius was ripening to bear
fruit. In 1834 the Palace of Westminster, so long the home of the Houses
of Parliament, had been burnt to the ground. The present buildings were
begun by Sir Charles Barry in 1840, and, with a view to decorating them
with wall-paintings, the Board of Works wisely offered prizes for
cartoons, hoping thereby to attract the best talent of the country. In
June 1843 they had to judge between 140 designs by various competitors,
and to award prizes varying in value from £300 to £100. Of the three
first prizes one fell to Watts, hitherto unknown beyond the narrow
circle of his friends, for a design displaying 'Caractacus led in
triumph through the streets of Rome'. This cartoon, however, was not
employed for its original purpose: it fell into the hands of an
enterprising, if inartistic, dealer, who cut it up and sold such
fragments as he judged to be of value in the state of the picture market
at the time. What was far more important was the encouragement given to
the artist by such a success at a critical time of his life, and the
opportunity which the money furnished him to travel abroad and enrich
his experiences before his style was formed. He had long wished to visit
Italy; and, after spending a few weeks in France, he made his leisurely
way (at a pace incredible to us to-day) to Florence and its picture
galleries. On the steamer between Marseilles and Leghorn he was
fortunate in making friends with a Colonel Ellice and his wife, and a
few weeks later they introduced him to Lord Holland, the British
Minister at Florence.

The story goes that Watts went to be the guest of Lord and Lady Holland
for four days and remained there for four years--a story which is a
tribute to the discernment of the latter and not a satire upon Watts,
who was the last man in the world to take advantage of hospitality or to
thrust himself into other people's houses. No doubt it is not to be
taken too literally, but at least it is so far true that he very quickly
became intimate with his host and hostess and found a home where he
could pursue his art under ideal conditions. The value and the danger of
patronage have been often discussed. Democracy may provide a discipline
for artists and men of letters which is often salutary in testing the
sincerity of their devotion to art and literature; but, in such a stern
school, men of genius may easily founder and miss their way.

However that may be, Watts found just the haven which was needed for a
nature like his. So far he had known but little appreciation, and had
lived with few who were his peers. Now he was cheered by the favour of
men and women who had known the best and whose favour was well worth the
winning. But he kept his independence of spirit. He lived in a palace,
but his diet was as sparing as that of a hermit. He feasted his eyes on
the great works of the Renaissance, but he preserved his originality,
and continued to work, with fervour and enhanced enthusiasm, on the
lines which he had already marked out for himself. He did not copy with
the hand, but he drank in new lessons with the eyes and dreamed new
dreams with the spirit.

The Hollands had two houses, one in the centre of the city, the other,
the Villa Medicea di Careggi, lying on the edge of the hills some two or
three miles to the north. This latter had been a favourite residence of
the first Cosimo; here Lorenzo had died, turning his face to the wall,
unshriven by Savonarola; and here Watts decorated an open _loggia_ in
fresco, to bear witness to its latest connexion with the patronage of
Art. Between the two houses he passed laborious but tranquil days,
studying, planning, training his hand to mastery, but enjoying in his
leisure all that such a home could give him of varied entertainment.
Music and dancing, literature and good company, all had their charms for
him, though none of them could beguile him into neglecting his work.
Fortune had tried him with her frowns and with her smiles; under
temptations of both sorts he remained but more faithful to his calling.

His health gave cause for anxiety from time to time, but he delighted in
the sunshine and the genial climate of the South, and in general he was
well enough to enjoy what Florence could give him of beautiful form and
colour, and even to travel farther afield. One year he pushed as far as
Naples, stopping on the way for a hurried glance at Rome. On this
memorable day the Sistine chapel and its paintings were kept to the
last; and Watts, high though his expectations were, was overwhelmed at
what he saw. 'Michelangelo', he said, 'stands for Italy, as Shakespeare
does for England.' So the four years went by till in 1847 this halcyon
period came to an end. The Royal Commission of Fine Arts was offering
prizes for fresco-painting, and Watts felt that he must put his growing
powers to the test and utilize what he had learnt. This time he chose
for his subject 'Alfred inciting the English to resist the Danes by
sea'. He was busy at work in the early months of 1847 making many
sketches in pencil for the figures, and by April he was on his way home,
bringing with him the 'Alfred' almost finished and five other canvases
in various stages of completion. The picture was placed in Westminster
Hall for competition in June, and soon after he was announced to be the
winner of one of the three £500 prizes. When the Commissioners decided
to purchase his picture for the nation, he refused to take more than
£200 for it, though he might easily have obtained a far higher price.
This is one of the earliest instances in which he displayed that signal
generosity which marked his whole career.

During the next three years his life was rather desultory. He was hoping
to return to Italy and did not find it easy to settle down in London. He
changed his studio two or three times. He planned various works, but
felt chilled at the absence of any clear encouragement from new patrons
or from the general public. His success in 1847 had not been followed
by any commissions for the sort of work he loved: interest in the
decoration of public buildings was still spasmodic and too rare.

He made the acquaintance of Mr. Ruskin; but, friendly though they were
in their personal relations, they did not see eye to eye in artistic
matters. Ruskin seemed to lay too much emphasis on points of secondary
importance, and to fail in judging the work of Michelangelo and the
greatest masters. So Watts thought, and many years later, in
conversation with Jowett, declared, chary though he was of criticizing
his friends. To-day there is little doubt whose judgement was the truer,
even had Ruskin not weakened his position by so often contradicting
himself. Besides Ruskin, Watts was beginning to make other friends, and
was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, which counted among its members
Sir Robert Morier, Sir Henry Layard, FitzGerald, Palgrave, and Spedding.
The large painting of the 'Story from Boccaccio', which now hangs in the
Watts room of the Tate Gallery, hung for many years on the walls of this
club and was presented to the nation in 1902. How frequently Watts
attended the club or other social gatherings at this time we do not
know. His name figures little in the biographies and memoirs of
Londoners, and he himself would not have wished the record of his daily
life to be preserved. His modesty in all personal matters is
uncontested, and even if his subsequent offer of his pictures to the
nation smacks somewhat of presumption, his motive was something other
than conceit. His portraits were an historical record of the worthiest
men of his own time: his allegories were of value, so he felt, not for
their technical accomplishments, but for the high moral lessons which
they tried to convey. The artist himself was at ease only in retirement
and privacy. Yet complete isolation was not good for him. Ill-health
still dogged his steps, and the dejection which came over him in the
years 1849 and 1850 is to be seen in the gloomiest pictures which he
ever painted. Their titles and subjects alike recall the more tragic
poems of Thomas Hood. But the eclipse was not to last for long, and in
1850 Watts owed his recovery to a happy chance encounter with friends
who were to give him a new haven of refuge and gladden his life for
thirty years to come.

A high Indian official, James Pattle, had been the father of five
daughters who were famous for their beauty, and from their tastes and
character were particularly fitted to be the friends of artists and
poets. If Lady Somers was the most beautiful of the sisters and Mrs.
Cameron the most artistic, their elder sister Mrs. Prinsep proved to be
Watts's surest friend. Her husband, Thoby Prinsep, was a member of the
India Council in Whitehall, a large-hearted man, full of knowledge and
full of kindliness. Mrs. Prinsep herself was mistress of the domestic
arts in no common degree, from skilful cookery to the holding of a
literary _salon_. She and her husband realized what friendship could do
for a nature like that of Watts, and they provided him with an ideal
home, where he was nursed back to health, relieved of care, and cheered
by constant sympathy and affection. It was Watts who discovered this
home for them in a quiet corner of London, that has not yet lost all its
charm. Behind Holland House and adjoining its park was a smaller
property with a rambling old-fashioned house, built in the days when
London was still far away. At Little Holland House the Prinseps lived
for a quarter of a century. Here the sisters came and went freely with
their children who were growing up around them. Here were gatherings of
their friends, among whom Tennyson, Thackeray, Rossetti, and Burne-Jones
might be met from time to time; and here Watts remained a constant
inmate, giving regular hours to his work, enjoying their society in his
leisure, a special favourite with the children, who admitted him to
their confidence and called him by pet names. There was no lionizing, no
striving after brilliance; all work that was genuine and of high
intention received due honour, and Watts could hope here to carry to
fruition the noble visions which he had seen since the days of his

These visions had little to do with the exhibitions of Burlington House,
the winning of titles, or the acquisition of worldly wealth. Watts
cherished the old Greek conception of willing service to the community.
And he was alive to the special needs of an age when men were struggling
for gain, and when 'progress' was measured by material riches. To him,
if to few others, it seemed tragic that, in the wonderful development of
industrial Britain, art, which had spoken so eloquently to citizens of
Periclean Athens and to Florence in the Medicean age, should remain
without expression or sign of life. For a moment our Government had
seemed to hear the call, and the stimulus of the Westminster
competitions had been of value; but the interest died away all too
quickly, and the attention of the general public was never fully roused.
If the latter could be won, Watts was only too willing to give the time
and the knowledge which he had acquired. The building of the great
railway stations in London seemed to offer a chance, and Watts
approached the directors of the North Western Company with a humble
petition. All that he asked for was wall space and the payment of his
expenses in material. Had his request been granted, Euston might have
enjoyed pre-eminence among railway stations, and passengers for the
north might have passed through, or waited in, a National Gallery of
their own. But the Railway Director's mind is slow to move; inventions
leave him cold, and imagination is not to be weighed in the scale
against dividends and quick returns. The Company declined the offer on
the ground of expense, while their architect is said to have been
seriously alarmed at the idea of any one tampering with his building.

Another proposal met with a heartier response. The men of law proved
more generous than the men of commerce. The new Hall at Lincoln's Inn
was being built by Mr. Philip Hardwick, in the Tudor style. Benchers and
architect alike cordially welcomed Watts's offer to decorate a blank
wall with fresco. The work could only be carried on during the legal
vacations, and it proved a long business owing to the difficulties of
the process and to the interruptions caused by the artist's ill-health.
Watts planned it in 1852, began work in 1853, and did not put the
finishing touch till 1859. The subject was a group of famous lawgivers,
in which the chief figures were Moses, Mahomet, Justinian, Charlemagne,
and Alfred, and it stands to-day as the chief witness to his powers as a
designer on a grand scale.

Before this he had already dedicated to national service his gift of
portrait-painting. The head of Lord John Russell, painted in 1851, is
one of the earliest portraits known to have been painted with this
intention, though it is impossible to fix with accuracy the date when
such a scheme took shape. In 1899, with the same patriotic intention, he
was at work on a painting of Cecil Rhodes. In this half-century of
activity he might have made large sums of money, if he had responded to
the urgent demands of those men and women who were willing to pay high
prices for the privilege of sitting to him; but few of them attained
their object. His earlier achievements were limited to a few families
from whom he had received help and encouragement when he was unknown.
First among these to be remembered are the various generations of that
family whose name is still preserved at South Kensington in the Ionides
collection of pictures. Next came the Hollands, of whom he painted many
portraits at Florence; and a third circle, naturally enough, was that
of the Prinseps. In general he was most unwilling to undertake, as a
mere matter of business, commissions from individuals unknown to him. He
found portrait-painting most exhausting in its demands upon him. He
threw his whole soul into the work, straining to see and to reproduce
all that was most noble in his sitters. His nervous temperament made him
anxious at starting, while his high standard of excellence made him
often dissatisfied with what he had accomplished. Even when he was
painting Tennyson, a personal friend, he was miserable at the thought of
the responsibility which he had undertaken; and in 1879 he gave up a
commission to paint Gladstone, feeling that he was not realizing his
aim. So far as mere money was concerned, he would have preferred to
leave this branch of his profession, the most lucrative of all, perhaps
the most suited to his gifts, severely on one side, and to confine
himself to the allegorical subjects which he felt to be independent of
external claims.

In the years after 1850, when he was first living at Little Holland
House, Watts formed some of the friendships with brother artists which
added so much pleasure to his life. Foremost among these friends was
Frederic Leighton, the most famous President whom the Royal Academy has
known since the days of Reynolds, a man of many accomplishments,
linguist, orator, and organizer, as well as sculptor and painter, the
very variety of whose gifts have perhaps prevented him from obtaining
proper recognition for the things which he did really well. The worldly
success which he won brought him under the fire of criticism as no other
artist of the time; but, apart from his merits as a draughtsman and a
sculptor he was a man of singularly generous temper, a staunch friend
and a champion of good causes. These qualities, and his sincere
admiration for all noble work, endeared him to Watts; and, at one time,
Leighton paid daily visits to his studio to exchange views and to see
his friend's work in progress.

For a while Rossetti frequented the circle, but this wayward spirit
drifted into other paths, and the chief service which he did to Watts
was to introduce to him Edward Burne-Jones, most refined of artists and
most lovable of men. The latter's work commanded Watts's highest
admiration, and his friendship was valued to the end. To many lovers of
painting these two remain the embodiment of all that is purest and
loftiest in Victorian art; and though their treatment of classic
subjects and of allegory were so different their pictures were often
hung side by side in exhibitions and their names were coupled together
in the current talk of the time. Burne-Jones was markedly Celtic in his
love of beautiful pattern, in the ghostly refinement of his figures, in
the elaborate fancifulness of his imagery. Watts had more of the
full-blooded Englishman in his nature, and his art was simpler, grander,
more universal. If we may compare them with the great men of the
Renaissance, Burne-Jones recalled the grace of Botticelli, Watts the
richness and power of Veronese or of Titian.

Those who went to Little Holland House and saw the circle of the
Prinseps adorned by these artists, and by such writers as Tennyson,
Henry Taylor,[33] and Thackeray, had a singular impression of harmony
between the men and their surroundings; and if they had been asked who
best expressed the spirit of these gatherings, they would probably have
pointed to the 'Signor', as Watts came to be called among his intimate
friends--to the slight figure with the small delicately-shaped head, who
seemed to recall the atmosphere of Florence in the Middle Ages, when art
was at once a craft and a religion. But few who saw the grace and
old-fashioned courtesy with which he moved among young and old would
have guessed what fire and persistency were in him, that he would
outlive all his generation, and be still wielding a vigorous brush in
the early years of the century to come.

[Note 33: Sir Henry Taylor, author of _Philip van Artevelde_ and
other poems, and a high official of the Colonial Office.]

One interlude in this busy yet tranquil life came in 1856 when he was
asked to accompany Sir Charles Newton's party to the coast of Asia
Minor. Newton was to explore the ruins of Halicarnassus on behalf of the
British Government, and a man-of-war was placed at his disposal. The
opportunity of seeing Grecian lands in this leisurely fashion was too
good to be missed, and Watts spent eight happy months on board. He
showed his power of adapting himself to a new situation, made friends
with the sailors, and sang 'Tom Bowling' at their Christmas concert.
Incidentally he visited Constantinople, as it was necessary to get a
'firman' from the Porte, was commended to the famous ambassador Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe and painted two portraits of him, one of which is
in the National Portrait Gallery to-day. He also enjoyed a cruise
through the Greek Islands, where the scenery with its rich colour and
bold pure outlines was specially calculated to charm him. He painted few
landscapes in his long career, but both in Italy and in Greece it was
the distant views of mountain peaks that led him to give expression to
his delight in the beauty of Nature.

A different kind of distraction was obtained after his return by
occasional visits to Esher, where he was the guest of Mrs. Sanderson,
sister of Mr. Prinsep, and where he spent many a happy day riding to
hounds. For games he had no training, and little inclination, though he
loved in his old age to watch and encourage the village cricket in
Surrey; but riding gave him great pleasure. His love for the horse may
in part be due to this pastime, in part to his early study of the
Parthenon frieze with its famous procession of horsemen. Certainly this
animal plays a notable part in his work. Two great equestrian statues
occupied him for many years. 'Hugh Lupus', the ancestor of the
Grosvenors, was cast in bronze in 1884 and set up at Eaton Hall in the
Duke of Westminster's park. 'Physical Energy' was the name given to a
similar figure conceived on broader and more ideal lines. At this Watts
continued to work till the year of his death, though he parted with the
first version in response to Lord Grey's appeal when it was wanted to
adorn the monument to Cecil Rhodes. Its original destination was the
tomb in the Matoppo hills; but it was proved impracticable to convey
such a colossal work, without injury, over the rough country surrounding
them; and it was set up at Cape Town. The statue has become better known
to the English public since a second version has been set up in
Kensington Gardens. The rider, bestriding a powerful horse, has flung
himself back and is gazing eagerly into the distance, shading with
uplifted hand his eyes against the fierce sunlight which dazzles them.
The allegory is not hard to interpret, though the tame landscape of a
London park frames it less fitly than a wide stretch of wild and
solitary veld.

Horses of many different kinds figure in his pictures. In one, whose
subject is taken from the Apocalypse, we see the war-horse, his neck
'clothed with thunder'; in another his head is bowed, the lines
harmonizing with the mood of his master, Sir Galahad. 'The Midday Rest',
unheroic in theme but grand in treatment, shows us two massive dray
horses, which were lent to him as models by Messrs. Barclay and Perkins,
while 'A patient life of unrewarded toil' renders sympathetically the
weakness of the veteran discharged after years of service, waiting
patiently for the end. One instance of a more imaginative kind shows us
'Neptune's Horses' as the painter dimly discerned them, with arched
necks and flowing manes, rising and leaping in the crest of the wave.

His portraits of great men generally took the form of half-lengths with
the simplest backgrounds. His subjects were of all kinds--Tennyson and
Browning, Rossetti and Burne-Jones, Gladstone, Mill, Motley, Joachim,
Thiers, and Anthony Panizzi.[34] His object was a national one, and the
foreigners admitted to the company were usually closely connected with
England. Sometimes the pose of the body and the hands helps the
conception, as in Lord Lytton and Cardinal Manning; more often Watts
trusts to the simple mass of the head or to the character revealed by
the features in repose. No finer examples for contrast can be given than
the portraits of the two friends, Burne-Jones and William Morris,
painted in 1870. In the former we see the spirit of the dreamer, in the
latter the splendid vitality and force of the craftsman, who was
impetuous in action as he was rich in invention. The room at the
National Portrait Gallery where this collection is hung speaks
eloquently to us of the Victorian Age and the varied genius of its
greatest men; and in some cases we have the additional interest of being
able to compare portraits of the same men painted by Watts and by other
artists. Well known is the contrast in the case of Carlyle. Millais has
painted a picturesque old man whose talk might be racy and his temper
uncertain; but the soul of the seer, tormented by conflicts and yet
clinging to an inner faith, is revealed only by the hands of Watts.
Again Millais gives us the noble features, the extravagant 'hure'[35] of
the Tennyson whom his contemporaries saw, alive, glowing with force;
Watts has exalted this conception to a higher level and has portrayed
the thinker whom the world will honour many centuries hence. Some will
perhaps prefer the more objective treatment; and it is certain that
Watts's ambition led him into difficult paths. Striving to represent the
soul of his sitter, he was conscious at times that he failed--that he
could not see or realize what he was searching for. More than once he
abandoned a commission when he felt this uncertainty in himself. But
when the accord between artist and sitter was perfect, he achieved a
triumph of idealization, combined with a firm grasp on reality, such as
few artists since Giorgione and the young Titian have been able to

[Note 34: Sir Anthony Panizzi, an Italian political refugee, the
most famous of librarians. He served the British Museum from 1831 to

[Note 35: '"Hure: tête hérissée et en désordre"; se dit d'un homme
qui a les cheveux mal peignés, d'un animal, &c.'--Littré.]

Apart from portraits there was a rich variety in the subjects which the
painter handled, some drawn from Bible stories, some from Greek legends
or mediaeval tales, some for which we can find no source save in his own
imagination. He dealt with the myths in a way natural to a man who owed
more to Greek art and to his own musings than to the close study of
Greek literature. His pictures of the infancy of Jupiter, of the
deserted Ariadne, of the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, have no
elaborate realism in detail. The Royal Academy walls showed, in those
days, plenty of marble halls, theatres, temples, and classic groves,
reproduced with soulless pedantry. Watts gave us heroic figures, with
strong masses and flowing lines, simply grouped and charged with
emotion--the yearning love of Diana for Endymion, the patient
resignation of Ariadne, the passionate regret of Orpheus, the cruel
bestiality of the Minotaur. Some will find a deeper interest, a grander
style, in the designs which he made for the story of our first parents
in the Book of Genesis. Remorse has rarely been expressed so powerfully
as in the averted figure of Eve after the Fall, or of Cain bowed under
the curse, shut out from contact with all creation. In one of his
masterpieces Watts drew his motive from the Gospel story. The picture
entitled 'For he had great possessions' shows us the young ruler who has
come to Christ and has failed in the supreme moment. His back, his bowed
neck and averted head, with the gesture of indecision in his right hand,
tell their tale with consummate eloquence.

In his more famous allegories the same is true; by simple means an
impression of great power is conveyed. The popularity of 'Love and
Death' and its companion picture shows how little the allegory needs
explanation. These themes were first handled between 1860 and 1870; but
the pictures roused such widespread admiration that the painter made
several replicas of them. Versions are now to be found in the Dominions
and in New York, as well as in London and Manchester. Photographs have
extended their renown and they are so familiar to-day that there is no
need to describe them. Another masterpiece dealing with the subject of
Death is the 'Sic transit', where the shrouded figure of the dead
warrior is impressive in its solemnity and stillness. 'Dawn' and 'Hope'
show what different notes Watts could strike in his treatment of the
female form. At the other extreme is 'Mammon', the sordid power which
preys on life and crushes his victims with the weight of his relentless
hand. The power of conscience is shown in a more mystic figure called
'The Dweller in the Innermost'. Judgement figures in more than one
notable design, the most familiar being that which now hangs in St.
Paul's Cathedral with the title of 'Time, Death, and Judgement'. Its
position there shows how little we can draw the line between the
different classes of subjects as they were handled by Watts. A courtier
like Rubens could, after painting with gusto a rout of Satyrs, put on a
cloak of decorum to suit the pageantry of a court, or even simulate
fervour to portray the ecstasy of a saint. He is clearly acting a part,
but in Watts the character of the man is always seen. Whether his
subjects are drawn from the Bible or from pagan myths, they are all
treated in the same temper of reverence and purity.

It is impossible to avoid the question of didactic art in writing of
these pictures, though such a wide question, debated for half a century,
can receive no adequate treatment here. We must frankly allow that Watts
was 'preaching sermons in paint', nor would he have repudiated the
charge, however loud to-day are the protests of those who preach the
doctrine of 'art for art's sake'. But the latter, while stating many
principles of which the British public need to be reminded, seem to go
beyond their rights. It is, of course, permissible for students of art
to object to technical points of handling--Watts himself was among the
first to deplore his own failures due to want of executive ability; it
is open to them to debate the part which morality may have in art, and
to express their preference for those artists who handle all subjects
impartially and conceive all to be worthy of treatment, if truth of
drawing or lighting be achieved. But when they make Watts's ethical
intention the reason for depreciating him as an artist they are on more
uncertain ground. There is no final authority in these questions. Ruskin
was too dogmatic in the middle years of his life and only provoked a
more violent reaction. Twenty years later the admirers of Whistler and
Manet were equally intolerant, and assumed doctrines which may hold the
field to-day but are certain to be questioned to-morrow.

Watts was most reluctant to enter into controversy and had no ambition
to found a school; in fact so far was he from imposing his views on
others, that he scarcely ever took pupils, and was content to urge young
artists to follow their own line and to be sincere. But he could at
times be drawn into putting some of his views on paper, and in 1893 he
wrote down a statement of the relative importance which he attached to
the qualities which make a painter. Among these Imagination stands
first, Intellectual idea next to it. After this follow Dignity of form,
Harmony of lines, and Colour. Finally, in the sixth place comes Realism,
the idol of so many of the end of the century, both in literature and

Some years earlier, in meeting criticism, Watts had said, 'I admit my
want of dexterity with the brush, in some cases a very serious defect,'
but at the same time he refused to accept the authority of those 'who
deny that art should have any intellectual intention'. In general, he
pleaded that art has a very wide range over subject and treatment; but
he did not set himself up as a reformer in art, nor inflict dogmas on
the public gratuitously. He found that some of his more abstract themes
needed handling in shadowy and suggestive fashion: if this gave the
impression of fumbling, or displayed some weakness in technique, even so
perhaps the conception reaches us in a way that could not be attained by
dexterity of brushwork. As he himself said, 'there were things that
could only be done in art at the sacrifice of some other things'; but
the points which Watts was ready to sacrifice are what the realists
conceive to be indispensable, and his aims were not as theirs. But his
life was very little troubled by controversy; and he would not have
wished his own work to be a subject for it.

External circumstances also had little power to alter the even tenor of
his way. Late in life, at the age of 69, he married Miss Fraser Tytler,
a friend of some fifteen years' standing, who was herself an artist, and
who shared all his tastes. After the marriage he and his wife spent a
long winter in the East, sailing up the Nile in leisurely fashion,
enjoying the monuments of ancient Egypt and the colours of the desert.
It was a time of great happiness, and was followed by seventeen years
of a serene old age, divided between his London house in Melbury Road
and his new home in Surrey. Staying with friends in Surrey, Watts had
made acquaintance with the beautiful country lying south of the Hog's
Back; and in 1889 he chose a site at Compton, where he decided to build
a house. To this he gave the name of Limnerslease. Thanks to the
generosity of Mrs. Watts, who has built a gallery and hung some of his
choicest pictures there, Compton has become one of the three shrines to
which lovers of his work resort.[36]

[Note 36: His allegorical subjects are in the Tate Gallery; his
portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.]

But for many years he met with little recognition from the world at
large. It was only at the age of 50 that he received official honours
from the Royal Academy, though the success of his cartoons had marked
him out among his contemporaries twenty-five years earlier. About 1865
his pictures won the enthusiastic admiration of Mr. Charles Rickards,
who continued to be the most constant of his patrons, and gave to his
admiration the most practical form. Not only did he purchase from year
to year such pictures as Watts was willing to sell, but twenty years
later he organized an exhibition of Watts's work at Manchester, which
did much to spread his fame in the North. In London Watts came to his
own more fully when the Grosvenor Gallery was opened in 1877. Here the
Directors were at pains to attract the best painters of the day and to
hang their pictures in such a way that their artistic qualities had full
effect. No one gained more from this than Watts and Burne-Jones; and to
a select but growing circle of admirers the interest of the annual
exhibitions began and ended with the work of these two kindred spirits.
The Directors also arranged in 1881 for a special exhibition devoted to
the works of Watts alone, when, thanks to the generosity of lenders, 200
of his pictures did justice to his sixty years of unwearied effort.
This winter established his fame, and England now recognized him as one
of her greatest sons. But when his friends tried to organize a dinner to
be held at the Gallery in his honour, he got wind of the plot, and with
his usual fastidious reserve begged to be spared such an ordeal. The
_élite_ of London society, men famous in politics, literature, and other
departments of public life, were only too anxious to honour him; but he
could not endure to be the centre of public attention. To him art was
everything, the artist nothing. Throughout his life he attended few
banquets, mounted fewer platforms, and only wished to be left to enjoy
his work, his leisure, and the society of his intimate friends.

His interest in the progress of his age was profound, though it did not
often take shape in visible form. He believed that the world might be
better, and was not minded to acquiesce in the established order of
things. He sympathized with the Salvation Army; he was a strong
supporter of women's education; he was ardent for redressing the balance
of riches and poverty, and for recognizing the heroism of those who,
labouring under such grim disadvantages, yet played a heroic part in
life. The latter he showed in practical form. In 1887 he had wished to
celebrate the Queen's Jubilee by erecting a shrine in which to preserve
the records of acts of self-sacrifice performed by the humblest members
of the community. The scheme failed at the time to win support; but in
1899, largely through his help, a memorial building arose in the
churchyard of St. Botolph, near Aldersgate, better known as the
'Postmen's Park'.

In private life his kindliness and courtesy won the hearts of all who
came near him, young and old, rich and poor. He was tolerant towards
those who differed from him in opinion: he steadily believed the best of
other men in passing judgement on them. No mean thought, no malicious
word, no petty quarrel marred the purity of his life. He had lost his
best friends: Leighton in 1896, Burne-Jones three years later; but he
enjoyed the devotion of his wife and the tranquillity of his home. Twice
he refused the offer of a Baronetcy. The only honour which he accepted
was the Order of Merit, which carried no title in society and was
reserved for intellectual eminence and public service. At the age of 80
he presented to Eton College his picture of Sir Galahad, a fit emblem of
his own lifelong quest. His last days of active work were spent on the
second version of the great statue of 'Physical Energy', which had
occupied him so long, and in which he ever found something new to
express as he dreamed of the days to come and the future conquests of
mankind. In 1904 his strength gradually failed him, and on July 1 he
died in his Surrey home. Like his great exemplar Titian, whom he
resembled in outward appearance and in much of the quality of his
painting, he outlived his own generation and was yet learning, as one of
the young, when death took him in the 88th year of his life.



1827. Born in London, April 1.
1838-45. At school at Eton.
1841. Selwyn goes out to New Zealand as Bishop.
1845-9. Undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford.
1850-1. Visits Germany.
1852-3. Fellow of Merton College, Oxford.
1853. Curate at Alphington, near Ottery.
1854. Accepted by Bishop Selwyn for mission work.
1855. Sails for New Zealand, March. Head-quarters at Auckland.
1856. First cruise to Melanesia.
1860. First prolonged stay (3 months) in Mota.
1861. Consecrated first Bishop of Melanesia, February.
1864. Visit to Australia to win support for Mission (repeated 1855).
      Serious attack on his party by natives of Sta. Cruz.
1867. Removal of head-quarters to Norfolk Island.
1868. Selwyn goes home to become Bishop of Lichfield.
1869. Exploitation of native labour becomes acute.
1870. Severe illness: convalescence at Auckland.
1871. Last stay at Mota. Cruise to Sta. Cruz. Death at Nukapu,
      September 20.



New Zealand, discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, lay derelict for half a
century, and like others of our Colonies it came very near to passing
under the rule of France. From this it was saved in 1840 by the
foresight and energy of Gibbon Wakefield, who forced the hand of our
reluctant Government; and its steady progress was secured by the
sagacity of Sir George Grey, one of our greatest empire-builders in
Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Thanks to them and to others,
there has arisen in the Southern Pacific a state which, more than any
other, seems to resemble the mother country with its sea-girt islands,
its temperate climate, its mountains and its plains. A population almost
entirely British, living in these conditions, might be expected to
repeat the history of their ancestors. In politics and social questions
its sons show the same independence of spirit and even greater


From a drawing by William Richmond]

The names of two other men deserve recognition here for the part they
played in the history of these islands. In 1814, before they became a
British possession, Samuel Marsden came from Australia to carry the
Gospel to their inhabitants, and formed settlements in the Northern
districts, in days when the lives of settlers were in constant peril
from the Maoris. But nothing could daunt his courage; and whenever they
came into personal contact with him, these childlike savages felt his
power and responded to his influence, and he was able to lay a good
foundation. In 1841 the English Church sent out George Augustus Selwyn
as first Missionary Bishop of New Zealand, giving him a wide province
and no less wide discretion. He was the pioneer who, from his base in
New Zealand, was to spread Christian and British influences even farther
afield in the vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean.

Selwyn was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, and these
famous foundations have never sent forth a man better fitted to render
services to his country. In a small sphere, as curate of Windsor, he had
already, by his energy, patience, and practical sagacity, achieved
remarkable results; and it was providential that, in the strength of
early manhood, he was selected for a responsible post which afforded
scope for the exercise of his powers. In the old country he might have
been hampered by routine and tradition; in a new land he could mark out
his own path. The constitution of the New Zealand Church became a model
for other dioceses and other lands, and his wisdom has stood the test of

What sort of man he was can best be shown by quoting a story from his
biography.[37] When the Maori War broke out he joined the troops as
chaplain and shared their perils in the field. Against the enterprising
native fighters these were not slight, especially as the British troops
were few and badly led. He was travelling without escort over routes
infested by Maoris, refusing to have any special care taken of his own
person, and his chief security lay in rapid motion. Yet twice he
dismounted on the way, at peril of his life, once under an impulse of
humanity, once from sheer public spirit. The first time it was to pull
into the shade a drunken soldier asleep on duty and in danger of
sunstroke; the second to fill up the ruts in a sandy road, where it
seemed possible that the transport wagons which were following might be
upset. Many other incidents could be quoted which show his
unconventional ways and his habitual disregard for his own comfort,
dignity, or safety. In New Zealand he found plenty of people to
appreciate these qualities in a bishop.

[Note 37: _Life and Episcopate of G. A. Selwyn_, by H. W. Tucker, 2
vols. (Wells Gardner, 1879).]

Though Selwyn was the master and perhaps the greater man, yet a peculiar
fame has attached to his disciple John Coleridge Patteson, owing to the
sweetness of his disposition, the singleness of his aim, and the
consummation of his work by a martyr's death. Born in London in 1827, he
was more truly a son of Devon, to which he was attached by many links.
His mother's brother, Justice Coleridge, and many other relatives, lived
close round the old town of Ottery St. Mary; and his father, an able
lawyer who was raised to the Bench in 1830, bought an estate at Feniton
and came to live in the same district before the boy was fifteen years
old. It was at Ottery, where the name of Coleridge was so familiar,
that the earliest school-days of 'Coley' Patteson were passed; but
before he was eleven years old he was sent to the boarding-house of
another Coleridge, his uncle, who was a master at Eton. Here he spent
seven happy years working in rather desultory fashion, so that he had
his share of success and failure. His chief distinctions were won at
cricket, where he rose to be captain of the XI; but with all whose good
opinion was worth having he won favour by his cheerful, frank,
independent spirit. If he was idle at one time, at another he could
develop plenty of energy; if he was one of the most popular boys in the
school, he was not afraid to risk his popularity by protesting strongly
against moral laxity or abuses which others tolerated. It is well to
remember this, which is attested by his school-fellows, when reading his
letters, in which at times he blames himself for caring too much for the
good opinion of others.

His interest in the distant seas where he was to win fame was first
aroused in 1841. Bishop Selwyn was a friend of his family, and coming to
say good-bye to the Pattesons before sailing for New Zealand, he said,
half sportively, to the boy's mother, 'Will you give me "Coley"?' This
idea was not pursued at the time; but the name of Selwyn was kept before
him in his school-days, as the Bishop had left many friends at Eton and
Windsor, and Edward Coleridge employed his nephew to copy out Selwyn's
letters from his diocese in order to enlist the sympathy of a wider
audience. But this connexion dropped out of sight for many years and
seems to have had little influence on Patteson's life at Oxford, where
he spent four years at Balliol. He went up in 1845 as a commoner, and
this fact caused him some disquietude. He felt that he ought to have won
a scholarship, and, conscious of his failure, he took to more steady
reading. He was also practising self-discipline, giving up his cricket
to secure more hours for study. He did not scorn the game. He was as
fond as ever of Eton, and of his school memories. But his life was
shaping in another direction, and the new interests, deepening in
strength, inevitably crowded out the old.

After taking his degree he made a tour of the great cities of Italy and
wrote enthusiastically of the famous pictures in her galleries. He also
paid more than one visit to Germany, and when he had gained a fair
knowledge of the German language, he went on to the more difficult task
of learning Hebrew and Arabic. This pursuit was due partly to his
growing interest in Biblical study, partly to the delight he took in his
own linguistic powers. He had an ear of great delicacy; he caught up
sounds as by instinct; and his retentive memory fixed the impression.
Later he applied the reasoning of the philologist, classified and
tabulated his results, and thus was able, when drawn into fields
unexplored by science, to do original work and to produce results of
great value to other students. But he was not the man to make a display
of his power; in fact he apologizes, when writing to his father from
Dresden, for making a secret of his pursuit, regarding it rather as a
matter of self-indulgence which needed excuse. Bishop Selwyn could have
told him that he need have no such fears, and that in developing his
linguistic gifts he was going exactly the right way to fit himself for
service in Melanesia.

Patteson's appointment to a fellowship at Merton College, which involved
residence in Oxford for a year, brought no great change into his life.
Rather he used what leisure he had for strengthening his knowledge of
the subjects which seemed to him to matter, especially the
interpretation of the Bible. He returned to Greek and Latin, which he
had neglected at school, and found a new interest in them. History and
geography filled up what time he could spare from his chief studies.
Resuming his cricket for a while, he mixed in the life of the
undergraduates and made friends among them. At College meetings, for all
his innate conservatism, he found himself on the side of the reformers
in questions affecting the University; but he had not time to make his
influence felt. At the end of the year he was ordained and took a curacy
at Alphington, a hamlet between Feniton and Ottery. His mother had died
in 1842, and his object was to be near his father, who was growing
infirm and found his chief pleasure in 'Coley's' presence and talk. His
interest in foreign missions was alive again, but at this time his first
duty seemed to be to his family; and in a parish endeared to him by old
associations he quickly won the affection of his flock. He was happy in
the work and his parishioners hoped to keep him for many years; but this
was not to be. In 1854 Bishop Selwyn and his wife were in England
pleading for support for their Church, and their visit to Feniton
brought matters to a crisis. Patteson was thrilled at the idea of seeing
his hero again, and he at once seized the opportunity for serving under
him. There was no need for the Bishop to urge him; rather he had to
assure himself that he could fairly accept the offer. To the young man
there was no thought of sacrifice; that fell to the father's lot, and he
bore it nobly. His first words to the Bishop were, 'I can't let him go';
but a moment later he repented and cried, 'God forbid that I should stop
him'; and at parting he faced the consequences unflinchingly. 'Mind!' he
said, 'I give him wholly, not with any thought of seeing him again.'

In the following March, the young curate, leaving his home and his
parish where he was almost idolized, where he was never to be seen
again, set his face towards the South Seas. Once the offer had been made
and accepted, he felt no more excitement. It was not the spiritual
exaltation of a moment, but a deliberate applying of the lessons which
he had been learning year by year. He had put his hand to the plough and
would not look back.

The first things which he set himself to learn, on board ship, were the
Maori language and the art of navigation. The first he studied with a
native teacher, the second he learnt from the Bishop, and he proved an
apt pupil in both. In a few months he became qualified to act as master
of the Mission ship, and the speaking of a new language was to him only
a matter of weeks. His earliest letters show how quickly he came to
understand the natives. He was ready to meet any and every demand made
upon him, and to fulfil duties as different from one another as those of
teacher, skipper, and storekeeper. His head-quarters, during his early
months in New Zealand, were either on board ship or else at St. John's
College, five miles from Auckland. But, before he had completed a year,
he was called to accompany the Bishop on his tour to the Islands and to
make acquaintance with the scene of his future labours.

Bishop Selwyn had wisely limited his mission to those islands which the
Gospel had not reached. The counsels of St. Paul and his own sagacity
warned him against exposing his Church to the danger of jealous rivalry.
So long as Christ was preached in an island or group of islands, he was
content; he would leave them to the ministry of those who were first in
the field. Many of the Polynesian groups had been visited by French and
English missionaries and stations had been established in Samoa, Tahiti,
and elsewhere; but north of New Zealand there was a large tract of the
Pacific, including the New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands, where the
natives had never heard the Gospel message. These groups were known
collectively as Melanesia, a name hardly justified by facts,[38] as the
inhabitants were by no means uniform in colour. If the Solomon
Islanders had almost black skins, those who lived in the Banks Islands,
which Patteson came to know so well, were of a warm brown hue such as
may be seen in India or even in the south of Europe. Writing in the very
last month of his life, Patteson tells his sisters how the colour of the
people in Mota 'is just what Titian and the Venetian painters delighted
in, the colour of their own weather-beaten boatmen'.

[Note 38: Melanesia, from Greek [Greek: melas]=black, [Greek:

Selwyn had visited these islands intermittently since 1849, and had
thought out a plan for spreading Christianity among them. With only a
small staff of helpers and many other demands on his time, he could not
hope to get into direct contact with a large population, so widely
scattered. His work must be done through natives selected by himself,
and these must be trained while they were young and open to impressions,
while their character was still in the making. So every year he brought
back with him from his cruise a certain number of Melanesian boys to
spend the warmer months of the New Zealand year under the charge of the
missionaries, and restored them to their homes at the beginning of the
next cruise. At Auckland, with its soldiers, sailors, and merchants, the
boys became familiar with other sides of European life beyond the walls
of the Mission School; and their interest was stimulated by a close view
of the strength to be drawn from European civilization. By this system
Selwyn hoped that they on their return would spread among the islanders
a certain knowledge of European ways, and that their relatives, seeing
how the boys had been kindly treated, would feel confidence in the
missionaries and would give them a hearing. This policy commended itself
to Patteson by its practical efficacy; and though he modified it in
details, he remained all his life a convinced adherent of the principle.
Slow progress through a few pupils, selected when young, and carefully
taught, was worth more than mere numbers, though too often in
Missionary reports success is gauged by figures and statistics.

These cruises furnished the adventurous part of the life. Readers of
Stevenson and Conrad can picture to themselves to-day the colour, the
mystery, and the magic of the South Seas. Patteson, with his reserved
nature and his dread of seeming to throw a false glamour over his
practical duties, wrote but sparingly of such sights; but he was by no
means insensitive to natural beauty and his letters give glimpses of
coral reefs and lagoons, of palms and coco-nut trees, of creepers 100
feet long trailing over lofty crags to the clear water below.

He enjoyed being on board ship, with his books at hand and some leisure
to read them, with the Bishop at his side to counsel him, and generally
some of his pupils to need his help. They had many delightful days when
they received friendly greeting on the islands and found that they were
making real progress among the natives. But the elements of discomfort,
disappointment, and danger were rarely absent for long. For a large part
of each voyage they had some forty or fifty Melanesian boys on board, on
their way to school or returning to their homes. The schooner built for
the purpose was as airy and convenient as it could be made; yet there
was little space for privacy. The natives were constitutionally weak;
and when illness broke out, no trained nurses were at hand and Patteson
would give up his own quarters to the sick and spend hours at their
bedsides. Sometimes they found, on revisiting an island, that their old
scholars had fallen away and that they had to begin again from the
start. Sometimes they had to abstain from landing at all, because the
behaviour of the natives was menacing, or because news had reached the
Mission of some recent quarrel which had roused bitter feeling. The
traditions of the Melanesians inclined them to go on the war-path only
too readily, and both Selwyn and Patteson had an instinctive perception
of the native temperament and its danger.

However lightly Patteson might treat these perils in his letters home,
there was never complete security. To reassure his sisters he tells them
of 81 landings and only two arrows fired at them in one cruise; and yet
one poisoned arrow might be the cause of death accompanied by
indescribable agony. Even when a landing had been effected and friendly
trading and talk had given confidence to the visitors, it might be that
an arrow was discharged at them by some irresponsible native as they
made for their boats.

These voyages needed unconventional qualities in the missioner; few of
the subscribers in quiet English parishes had an idea how the Melanesian
islanders made their first acquaintance with their Bishop. When the boat
came near the shore, the Bishop, arrayed in some of his oldest clothes,
would jump into the sea and swim to land, sometimes being roughly
handled by the breakers which guarded the coral bank. It was desirable
not to expose their precious boat to the cupidity of the natives or to
the risk of it being dashed to pieces in the surf, so the Bishop risked
his own person instead. He would then with all possible coolness walk
into a gathering of savages, catch up any familiar words which seemed to
occur in the new dialect, or, failing any linguistic help, try to convey
his peaceful intentions by gesture or facial expression. When an island
had been visited before, there was less reason to be on guard; but
sometimes the Bishop had to break to relatives the sad news that one of
the boys committed to his care had fallen a victim to the more rigorous
climate of New Zealand or to one of the diseases to which these tribes
were so liable. Then it was only the personal ascendancy won by previous
visits that could secure him against a violent impulse to revenge.

All practical measures were tried to establish friendly relations with
the islanders; and when people at home might fancy the Bishop preaching
impressively to a decorous circle of listeners, he was really engaged in
lively talk and barter, receiving yams and other articles of food in
return for the produce of Birmingham and Sheffield, axe-heads which he
presented to the old, and fish-hooks with which he won the favour of the
young. But such brief visits as could be made at a score of islands in a
busy tour did not carry matters far, and the memory of a visit would be
growing dim before another chance came of renewing intercourse with the
same tribe. Selwyn felt it was most desirable that he should have
sufficient staff to leave a missionary here and there to spend unbroken
winter months in a single station, where he could reach more of the
people and exercise a more continuous influence upon them. Patteson's
first experience of this was in 1858, when he spent three months at Lifu
in the Loyalty Islands, a group which was later to be annexed by the

A sojourn which was to bear more permanent fruit was that which he made
at Mota in 1860. This was one of the Banks Islands lying north of the
New Hebrides, in 14° South Latitude. The inhabitants of this group
showed unusual capacity for learning from the missionaries, and
sufficient stability of character to promise lasting success for the
work carried on among them. Mota, owing to the line of cliffs which
formed its coast, was a difficult place for landing; so it escaped the
visits of white traders who could not emulate the swimming feats of
Selwyn and Patteson, and was free from many of the troubles which such
visitors brought with them. Once the island was reached, it proved to be
one of the most attractive, with rich soil, plenty of water, and a
kindly docile population. Here, on a site duly purchased for the
mission, under the shade of a gigantic banyan tree, on a slope where
bread-fruit and coco-nuts (and, later, pine-apples and other
importations) flourished, the first habitation was built, with a boarded
floor, walls of bamboo canes, and a roof of coco-nut leaves woven
together after the native fashion so as to be waterproof. Here, in the
next ten years, Patteson was to spend many happy weeks, taking school,
reading and writing when the curiosity of the natives left him any
peace, but in general patiently conversing with all and sundry who came
up, with the twofold object of gathering knowledge of their dialect and
making friends with individuals. While he showed instinctive tact in
knowing how far it was wise to go in opposing the native way of life, he
was willing to face risks whenever real progress could be made. After he
had been some days in Mota a special initiation in a degrading rite was
held outside the village. Patteson exercised all his influence to
prevent one of his converts from being drawn in; and when an old man
came up and terrorized his pupils by planting a symbolic tree outside
the Mission hut, Patteson argued with him at length and persuaded him to
withdraw his threatening symbol. But apart from idolatry, from
internecine warfare, and from such horrors as cannibalism, prevalent in
many islands, he was studious not to attack old traditions. He wanted a
good Melanesian standard of conduct, not a feeble imitation of European
culture. He was prepared to build upon the foundation which time had
already prepared and not to invert the order of nature.

In writing home of his life in the island Patteson regularly depreciates
his own hardships, saying how unworthy he feels himself to be ranked
with the pioneers in African work. But the discomforts must often have
been considerable to a man naturally fastidious and brought up as he had

Food was most monotonous. Meat was out of the question except where the
missioners themselves imported live stock and kept a farm of their own;
variety of fruit depended also on their own exertions. The staple diet
was the yam, a tuber reaching at times in good soil a weight far in
excess of the potato. This was supplied readily by the natives in return
for European goods, and could be cooked in different ways; but after
many weeks' sojourn it was apt to pall. Also the climate was relaxing,
and apt sooner or later to tell injuriously on Europeans working there.
Dirt, disease, and danger can be faced cheerfully when a man is in good
health himself; but a solitary European suffering from ill-health in
such conditions is indeed put to an heroic test. Perhaps the greatest
discomfort of all was the perpetual living in public. The natives became
so fond of Patteson that they flocked round him at all times. His
reading was interrupted by a stream of questions; when writing he would
find boys standing close to his elbow, following his every movement with
attention. The mere writing of letters seems to have been a relief to
him, though they could not be answered for so long. His journal, into
which he poured freely all his hopes and fears, all his daily anxieties
over the Mission, was destined for his family. But he had other
correspondents to whom he wrote more or less regularly, especially at
Eton and Winchester. At Eton his uncle was one of his most ardent
supporters and much of the money which supported the Mission funds came
to Patteson through the Eton Association. Near Winchester was living his
cousin Charlotte Yonge, the well-known authoress, who afterwards wrote
his Life, and through her he established friendly communications with
Keble at Hursley and Bishop Moberly, then Head Master of Winchester
College. To them he could write sympathetically of Church questions at
home, in which he maintained his interest.

During the summer months also, spent near Auckland, Patteson suffered
from the want of privacy. At Kohimarana, a small bay facing the entrance
to the harbour, to which the school was moved in 1859, he had a tiny
room of his own, ten feet square; but the door stood open all day long
in fine weather, and he was seldom alone. And when there was sickness
among the boys, his own bedroom was sure to be given up to an invalid.
But these demands upon his time and comfort he never grudged, while he
talks with vexation, and even with asperity, of the people from the town
who came out to pay calls and to satisfy their curiosity with a sight of
his school. His real friends were few and were partners in his work. The
two chief among them were unquestionably Bishop Selwyn, too rarely seen
owing to the many claims upon him, and Sir Richard Martin, who had been
Chief Justice of the Colony. The latter shared Patteson's taste for
philology, and had a wide knowledge of Melanesian dialects.

By the middle of 1860, when Patteson had been five years at work, he
became aware that the question of his consecration could not be long
delayed. New Zealand was taxing the Primate's strength and he wished to
constitute Melanesia a separate diocese. He believed that in Patteson,
with his single-minded zeal and special gifts, he had found the ideal
man for the post, and in February 1861 the consecration took place. The
three bishops who laid hands upon him were, like the Bishop-elect,
Etonians;[39] and thus Eton has played a very special part in founding
the Melanesian Church. What Patteson thought and felt on this solemn
occasion may be seen from the letters which he wrote to his father. The
old judge, still living with his daughters at Feniton, had been stricken
with a fatal disease, and in the last months of his life he rejoiced to
know that his son was counted worthy of his high calling. He died in
June 1861 and the news reached his son when cruising at sea a few months
later. They had kept up a close correspondence all these years, which he
now continued with his sisters; nothing shows better his simple
affectionate nature. They are filled mostly with details of his mission
life. It was this of which his sisters wanted to hear, and it was this
which filled almost entirely his thoughts: though he loved his family
and his home, he had put aside all idea of a voyage to England as
incompatible with the call to work. To the Mission he gave his time, his
strength, his money. Eton supplied him with regular subscriptions,
Australia responded to appeals which he made in person and which
furnished the only occasions of his leaving the diocese; but, without
his devotion of the income coming from his Merton fellowship and from
his family inheritance, it would have been impossible for him to carry
on the work in the islands.

[Note 39: Bishop Selwyn (Primate), Bishop Abraham of Wellington, and
Bishop Hobhouse of Nelson.]

In his letters written just about the time of his consecration there are
abundant references to the qualities which he desired to see in
Englishmen who should offer to serve with him. He did not want young men
carried away by violent excitement for the moment, eager to make what
they called the sacrifice of their lives. The conventional phrases about
'sacrifices' he disliked as much as he did the sensational appeals to
which the public had been habituated in missionary meetings. He asked
for men of common sense, men who would take trouble over learning
languages, men cheerful and healthy in their outlook, 'gentlemen' who
could rise above distinctions of class and colour and treat Melanesians
as they treated their own friends. Above all, he wanted men who would
whole-heartedly accept the system devised by Selwyn, and approved by
himself. He could not have the harmony of the Mission upset by people
who were eager to originate methods before they had served their
apprenticeship. If he could not get the right recruits from England, he
says more than once, he would rather depend on the materials existing
on the spot: young men from New Zealand would adapt themselves better to
the life and he himself would try to remedy any defects in their
education. Ultimately he hoped that by careful education and training he
would draw his most efficient help from his converts in the islands, and
to train them he spared no pains through the remaining ten years of his

His way of life was not greatly altered by his consecration. He
continued to divide his year between New Zealand and his ocean cruise.
He had no body of clergy to space out over his vast diocese or to meet
the urgent demands of the islands. In 1863 he received two valuable
recruits--one the Rev. R. Codrington, a Fellow of Wadham College,
Oxford, who shared the Bishop's literary tastes and proved a valued
counsellor; the other a naval man, Lieut. Tilly, who volunteered to take
charge of the new schooner called the _Southern Cross_, just sent out to
him from England. Till then his staff consisted of three men in holy
orders and two younger men who were to be ordained later. One of these,
Joseph Atkin, a native of Auckland, proved himself of unique value to
the Mission before he was called to share his leader's death. But the
Bishop still took upon himself the most dangerous work, the landing at
villages where the English were unknown or where the goodwill of the
natives seemed to be doubtful. This he accepted as a matter of course,
remarking casually in his letters that the others are not good enough
swimmers to take his place. But caution was necessary long after the
time when friendship had begun. In the interval between visits anything
might have happened to render the natives suspicious or revengeful; and
it is evident that, month after month, the Bishop carried his life in
his hand.

The secret of his power can be found in his letters, which are quite
free from heroics. His religion was based on faith, simple and sincere;
and he never hesitated to put it into practice. From the Bible, and
especially from the New Testament, he learned the central lessons, the
love of God and the love of man. Nothing was allowed to come between him
and his duty; and to it he devoted the faculties which he had trained.
His instinct often stood him in good stead, bidding him to practise
caution and to keep at a distance from treacherous snares; but there
were times when he felt that, to advance his work, he must show absolute
confidence in the natives whatever he suspected, and move freely among
them. In such cases he seemed to rise superior to all nervousness or
fear. At one time he would find his path back to the boat cut off by
natives who did not themselves know whether they intended violence or
not. At another he would sit quietly alone in a circle of gigantic
Tikopians, some of whom, as he writes, were clutching at his 'little
weak arms and shoulders'. 'Yet it is not', he continued, 'a sense of
fear, but simply of powerlessness.' No amount of experience could render
him safe when he was perpetually trying to open new fields for mission
work and when his converts themselves were so liable to unaccountable
waves of feeling.

This was proved by his terrible experience at Santa Cruz. He had visited
these islands (which lie north of the New Hebrides) successfully in
1862, landing at seven places and seeing over a thousand natives, and he
had no reason to expect a different reception when he revisited it in
1864. But on this occasion, after he had swum to land three times and
walked freely to and fro among the people, a crowd came down to the
water and began shooting at those in the boat from fifteen yards away,
while others attacked in canoes. Before the boat could be pulled out of
reach, three of its occupants were hit with poisoned arrows, and a few
days later two of them showed signs of tetanus, which was almost
invariably the result of such wounds. They were young natives of
Norfolk Island, for whom the Bishop had conceived a special affection,
and their deaths, which were painful to witness, were a very bitter
grief to him. The reason for the attack remained unknown. The traditions
of Melanesia in the matter of blood-feuds were like those of most savage
nations; and under the spur of fear or revenge the islanders were
capable of directing their anger blindly against their truest friends.

The most notable development in the first year of Patteson's episcopate
was the forming of a solid centre of work in the Banks Islands. Every
year, while the Mission ship was cruising, some member of the Mission,
often the Bishop himself, would be working steadily in Mota for a
succession of months. For visitors there was not much to see. At the
beginning, hours were given up to desultory talking with the natives,
but perseverance was rewarded. Those who came to talk would return to
take lessons, and some impression was gradually made even on the older
men attached to their idolatrous rites. Many years after Patteson's
death it was still the most civilized of the islands with a population
almost entirely Christian.

A greater change was effected in 1867 when the Bishop boldly cut adrift
from New Zealand and made his base for summer work at Norfolk Island,
lying 800 miles north-east of Sydney.[40] The advantages which it
possessed over Auckland were two. Firstly, it was so many hundred miles
nearer the centre of the Mission work; secondly, it had a climate much
more akin to that of the Melanesian islands and it would be possible to
keep pupils here for a longer spell without running such risks to their
health. Another point, which to many would seem a drawback, but to
Patteson was an additional advantage, was the absence of all
distraction. At Auckland the clergy implored him to preach, society
importuned him to take part in its gatherings; and if he would not come
to the town, they pursued him to his retreat. He was always busy and
grudged the loss of his time. A contemporary tells us that he worked
from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and later; and besides his philological
interests, he needed time for his own study of the Bible. In the former
he was a pioneer and had to mark out his own path; in the latter he
welcomed the guidance of the best scholars whenever he could procure
their books. He spoke with delight of his first acquaintance with
Lightfoot's edition of St. Paul's Epistles; he wrote home for such new
books as would be useful to him, and he read Hebrew daily whenever he
could find time. Into this part of his life he put more conscientious
effort the older he grew, and was always trying to learn. It may have
seemed to many a dull routine to be followed year after year by a man
who might have filled high place and moved in brilliant society at home;
but from his letters it is clear that he was satisfied with his life and
that no thought of regret assailed him.

[Note 40: This island had lately been colonized by settlers from
Pitcairn Island, descended from the mutineers of the _Bounty_, marooned
in 1789.]

The year 1868 brought a severe loss when Bishop Selwyn was called home
to take charge of the Diocese of Lichfield. It was he who had drawn
Patteson to the South Seas: his presence had been an abiding strength to
the younger man, however rare their meetings; and Patteson felt his
departure as he had felt nothing since his father's death. But he went
on unfalteringly with his work, ever ready to look hopefully into the
future. At the moment he was intensely interested in the ordination of
his first native clergyman, George Sarawia, who had now been a pupil for
nine years and had shown sufficient progress in knowledge and strength
of character to justify the step. Eager though he was to enrol helpers
for the work, Patteson was scrupulously careful to ensure the fitness of
his clergy, and to lay hands hastily on no man. In little matters also
he was careful and methodical. His scholars in Norfolk Island were
expected to be punctual, his helpers to be content with the simple life
which contented him. All were to give their work freely; between black
and white there was to be equality; no service was to be considered
degrading. He did not wish to hurry his converts into outward observance
of European ways. More important than the wearing of clothes was the
true respect for the sanctity of marriage; far above the question of
Sunday observance was the teaching of the love of God.

Foreign missions have come in for plenty of criticism. It is sometimes
said that our missionaries have occasioned strife leading to
intervention and annexation by the British Government, and have exposed
us abroad to the charge of covetousness and hypocrisy. But there are few
instances in which this charge can be maintained, least of all in
Australasian waters. A more serious charge, often made in India, is that
missioners destroy the sanctions of morality by undermining the
traditional beliefs of the natives, and that the convert is neither a
good Asiatic nor a passable European. This depends on the methods
employed. It may be true in some cases. Patteson fully realized the
danger, as we can see from his words, and built carefully on the
foundation of native character. He took away no stone till he could
replace it by better material. He was never content merely to destroy.

Another set of critics are roused by the extravagance of some missionary
meetings and societies: their taste is offended or (we are bound to
admit) their sense of humour roused. It was time for Dickens to wield
this weapon when he heard Chadbands pouring forth their oily platitudes
and saw Mrs. Jellybys neglecting their own children to clothe the
offspring of 'Borrioboola Gha'. Such folly caught the critic's eye when
the steady benevolence of others, unnoticed, was effecting work which
had a good influence equally at home and abroad. Against the fanciful
picture of Mrs. Jellyby let us put the life-story of Charlotte Yonge,
who, while discharging every duty to her family and her village, in a
way which won their lasting affection, was able to put aside large sums
from the earnings of her pen to supply the needs of the Melanesian

Let us remember, too, that much of the bitterest criticism has come from
those who have a direct interest in suppressing missions, who have made
large profits in remote places by procedure which will not bear the
light of day. Patteson would have been content to justify his work by
his Master's bidding as quoted in the Gospel. His friends would have
been content to claim that the actual working of the Mission should be
examined. If outside testimony to the value of his work is wanted, one
good instance will refute a large amount of idle calumny. Sir George
Grey, no sentimentalist but the most practical ruler of New Zealand,
gave his own money to get three native boys, chosen by himself, educated
at Patteson's school, and was fully satisfied with the result.

But this simple regular life was soon to be perturbed by new
complications, which rose from the European settlers in Fiji. As their
plantations increased, the need for labour became urgent and the
Melanesian islands were drawn upon to supply it. In many ways Patteson
felt that it was good for the Melanesians to be trained to agricultural
work; but the trouble was that they were being deceived over the
conditions of the undertaking. Open kidnapping and the revival of
anything like a slave trade could hardly be practised under the British
flag at this time; nor indeed did the Fiji settlers, in most cases, wish
to do anything unfair or brutal. It was to be a matter of contracts,
voluntarily signed by the workmen; but the Melanesian was not educated
up to the point where he could appreciate what a contract meant. When
they did begin to understand, many were unwilling to sign for a period
long enough to be useful; many more grew quickly tired of the work,
changed their mind and broke their engagements. As the trade grew, some
islands were entirely depopulated, and it became necessary to visit
others, where the natives refused to engage themselves. The trade was in
jeopardy; but the captains of merchant vessels, who found it very
lucrative, were determined that the supply of hands should not run
short. So when they met with no volunteers, they used to cajole the
islanders on board ship under pretence of trade and then kidnap them;
when this procedure led to affrays, they were not slow to shoot. The
confidence of the native in European justice was shaken, and the work of
years was undone. Security on both sides was gone, and the missionary,
who had been sure of a welcome for ten years, might find himself in face
of a population burning with the desire to revenge themselves on the
first white man who came within their reach.

Patteson did all that he could, in co-operation with the local
officials, to regulate the trade. There was no case for a crusade
against the Fiji planters, who were doing good work in a humane way and
were ignorant of the misdeeds practised in Melanesia. The best method
was to forbid unauthorized vessels to pursue the trade and to put the
authorized vessels under supervision; but, to effect this in an outlying
part of the vast British Empire, it was necessary to educate opinion and
to work through Whitehall. This he set himself to do; but meanwhile he
was so distressed to find the islanders slipping out of his reach, that
in the last months of his life he was planning a campaign in Fiji, where
he intended to visit several of the plantations in turn and to carry to
the expatriated workers the Gospel which he had hoped to preach to them
in their homes.

But before he could redress this wrong he was himself destined to fall
a victim to the spirit of hostility evoked. His best work was already
done when in 1870 he had a prolonged illness, and was forced to spend
some months at Auckland for convalescence. In the judgement of his
friends his exertions had aged him considerably, and the climate had
contributed to break down his strength. Though he was back at work again
before the end of the summer he was far more subject to weariness. His
manner became peaceful and dreamy, and his companions found that it was
difficult to rouse him in the ordinary interchange of talk. His thoughts
recurred more often to the past; he would write of Devonshire and its
charms in spring, read over familiar passages in Wordsworth, or fall
into quiet meditation, yet he would not unbuckle his armour or think of
leaving the Mission in order to take a holiday in England.

In April 1871, when the time came for him to leave Norfolk Island for
his annual cruise, his energy revived. He spent seven weeks at Mota,
leaving it towards the end of August to sail for the Santa Cruz group.
On September 20, as he came in sight of the coral reef of Nukapu, he was
speaking to his scholars of the death of St. Stephen. Next morning he
had the boat lowered and put off for shore accompanied by Mr. Atkin and
three natives. He knew that feeling had lately become embittered in this
district over the Labour trade, but the thought of danger did not shake
his resolution. To show his confidence and disarm suspicion he entered
one of the canoes, alone with the islanders, landed on the beach and
disappeared among the crowd. Half an hour later, for no apparent reason,
an attack was started by men in canoes on the boat lying close off the
shore; and before the rowers could pull out of range, Joseph Atkin and
two of the natives had been wounded by poisoned arrows which, some days
later, set up tetanus with fatal effect. They reached the ship; but
after a few hours, when their wounds had been treated, Mr. Atkin
insisted on taking the boat in again to learn the Bishop's fate. This
time no attack was made upon them; but a canoe was towed out part of the
way and then left to drift towards the boat. In it was the dead body of
the Bishop tied up in a native mat. How he died no one ever knew, but
his face was calm and no anguish seems to have troubled him in the hour
of death. 'The placid smile was still on the face: there was a palm leaf
fastened over the breast, and, when the mat was opened, there were five
wounds, no more. The strange mysterious beauty, as it may be called, of
the circumstances almost make one feel as if this were the legend of a
martyr of the Primitive Church.'[41]

Miss Yonge, from whom these lines are quoted, goes on to show that the
five wounds, of which the first probably proved fatal, while the other
four were deliberately inflicted afterwards, were to be explained by
native custom. In the long leaflets of the palm five knots had been
tied. Five men in Fiji were known to have been stolen from this island,
and there can be little doubt that the relatives were exacting, in
native fashion, their vengeance from the first European victim who fell
into their power. The Bishop would have been the first to make allowance
for their superstitious error and to lay the blame in the right quarter.
His surviving comrades knew this, and in reporting the tragedy they sent
a special petition that the Colonial Office would not order a
bombardment of the island. Unfortunately, when a ship was sent on a
mission of inquiry, the natives themselves began hostilities and
bloodshed ensued. But at last the Bishop had by his death secured what
he was labouring in his life to effect. The Imperial Parliament was
stirred to examine the Labour trade in the Pacific and regulations were
enforced which put an end to the abuse.

[Note 41: _Life of John Coleridge Patteson_, by Charlotte Yonge, 2
vols. (Macmillan, 1874).]

'Quae caret ora cruore nostro?' The Roman poet puts this question in his
horror at the wide extension of the civil wars which stained with Roman
blood all the seas known to the world of his day.

Great Britain has its martyrs in a nobler warfare yet more widely
spread. Not all have fallen by the weapons of war. Nature has claimed
many victims through disease or the rigour of unknown climes. The death
of some is a mystery to this day. India, the Soudan, South and West
Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic regions, speak eloquently to the men of
our race of the spirit which carried them so far afield in the
nineteenth century. Thanks to its first bishop, the Church of Melanesia
shares their fame, opening its history with a glorious chapter enriched
by heroism, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom.

[Illustration: SIR ROBERT MORIER

From a drawing by William Richmond]



1826. Born at Paris, March 31.
1832-9. Childhood in Switzerland.
1839-44. With private tutors.
1845-9. Balliol College, Oxford.
1850. Clerk in Education Office.
1853. Attaché at Vienna Embassy.
1858. Attaché at Berlin.
1861. Marriage with Alice, daughter of General Jonathan Peel.
1865. Commissioner at Vienna. Commercial Treaty. C.B. Chargé
d'Affaires at Frankfort.
1866-71. Chargé d'Affaires at Darmstadt.
1870. Tour in Alsace to test national feeling.
1871. Chargé d'Affaires at Stuttgart.
1872-6. Chargé d'Affaires at Munich.
1875. Danger of second Franco-German War.
1876. Minister at Lisbon.
1881. Minister at Madrid. 1882. K.C.B.
1884. Bismarck vetoes Morier as Ambassador to Berlin.
1885-93. Ambassador at St. Petersburg.
1886. Bulgaria, Batum, and Black Sea troubles.
1887. G.C.B. 1889. D.C.L., Oxford.
1891. Appointed Ambassador at Rome: retained at St. Petersburg.
1893. Death at Montreux. Funeral at Batchworth.



Diplomacy as a profession is a product of modern history. As Europe
emerged from the Middle Ages, the dividing walls between State and State
were broken down, and Governments found it necessary to have trained
agents resident at foreign courts to conduct the questions of growing
importance which arose between them. Churchmen were at first best
qualified to undertake such duties, and Nicholas Wotton, Dean of
Canterbury, who enjoyed the confidence of four Tudor sovereigns, came to
be as much at home in France or in the Netherlands as he was in his own
Deanery. It was his great nephew Sir Henry (who began his days as a
scholar at Winchester, and ended them as Provost at Eton) who did his
profession a notable disservice by indulging his humour at Augsburg when
acting as envoy for James I, defining the diplomatist as 'one who was
sent to lie abroad for his country'.[42] Since then many a politician
and writer has let fly his shafts at diplomacy, and fervent democrats
have come to regard diplomats as veritable children of the devil. But
this prejudice is chiefly due to ignorance, and can easily be cured by a
patient study of history. In the nineteenth century, in particular,
English diplomacy can point to a noble roll of ambassadors, who worked
for European peace as well as for the triumph of liberal causes, and
none has a higher claim to such praise than Sir Robert Morier, the
subject of this sketch.

[Note 42: The Latin form in which this epigram was originally
couched--_mentiendi causa_--does away with all ambiguity.]

The traditions of his family marked out his path in life. We can trace
their origin to connexions in the Consular service at Smyrna, where
Isaac Morier met and married Clara van Lennep in the latter half of the
eighteenth century. Swiss grandfather and Dutch grandmother became
naturalized subjects of the British Crown and brought up four sons to
win distinction in its service. Of these the third, David, married a
daughter of Robert Burnet Jones--a descendant of the famous Bishop
Burnet, and himself a servant of the Crown--and held important
diplomatic appointments for over thirty years at Paris and Berne. So it
was that his only son Robert David Burnet Morier was born in France,
spent much of his childhood in Switzerland, and acquired early in life
a remarkable facility in speaking foreign languages. To his schooling
in England he seems to have owed little of positive value. His father
and uncles had been sent to Harrow; but perhaps it was as well that the
son did not, in this, follow in his father's footsteps. However much he
neglected his studies with two easy-going tutors, he preserved his
freshness and originality and ran no danger of being drilled into a
type. If he had as a boy undue self-confidence, no one was better fitted
to correct it than his mother, a woman of wide sympathies and strong
intellectual force. The letters which passed between them display, on
his part, mature powers of expression at an early age, and show the
generous, affectionate nature of both; and till her death in 1855 she
remained his chief confidante and counsellor. In trying to matriculate
at Balliol College he met with a momentary check, due to the casual
nature of his education; but, after retrieving this, he rapidly made
good his deficiency in Greek and Latin, and ended by taking a creditable
degree. His time at Oxford, apart from reading, was well spent. He made
special friends with two of the younger dons: Temple, afterwards
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Jowett, the future Master of Balliol. The
former was carried by rugged force and sheer ability to the highest
position in the Church; the latter won a peculiar place, in Oxford and
in the world outside, by his gifts of judging character and stimulating
intellectual interest. Morier became his favourite pupil and lifelong
friend. F. T. Palgrave, the friend of both, tells us how 'Morier went up
to Balliol a lax and imperfectly educated fellow; but Jowett, seeing his
great natural capacity, took him in the Long Vacation of 1848 and
practically "converted" him to the doctrine of work. This was the
turning-point in Morier's life.' Together the two friends spent many a
holiday in Germany, Scotland, and elsewhere, and must have presented a
strange contrast to one another: Jowett, small, frail, quiet and
precise in manner, Morier big in every way, exuberant and full of
vitality. It was with Jowett and Stanley (afterwards Dean of
Westminster) that Morier went to Paris in 1848, eager to study the
Revolutionary spirit in its most lively manifestations. Stanley
describes him as 'a Balliol undergraduate of gigantic size, who speaks
French better than English, is to wear a blouse, and to go about
disguised to the clubs'.

He took his degree in November 1849, and a month later he was visiting
Dresden and Berlin, making German friends and initiating himself in
German politics and German ways of thought. Though his British
patriotism was fervid and sustained, he was capable of understanding men
of other nations and recognizing their merits; and in knowledge of
Germany he acquired a position among Englishmen of his day rivalled only
by Odo Russell, afterwards Ambassador at Berlin. Morier's father had for
many years represented Great Britain in Switzerland and could guide him
both by precept and by example. Free intercourse with the most liberal
minds in Oxford had developed the lessons which he had learnt at home.
But his own energy and application effected more than anything. He was
not satisfied till he had mastered a problem; and books, places, and
people were laid under contribution unsparingly. He started on his tour
carrying letters of introduction to some of the famous men in Germany,
including the great traveller and scientist, Alexander von Humboldt. Of
a younger generation was the philologist Max Müller, who was a frequent
companion of Morier in Berlin, and gave up his time to nursing him back
to health when he was taken ill with quinsy. He found friends in all
professions, but chiefly among politicians. A typical instance is von
Roggenbach, who rose to be Premier of Baden in the years 1861 to 1865,
when the destinies of Germany were in the melting-pot. Baden was in
some ways the leading state in South Germany at that time, combining
liberal ideals with a fervent advocacy of national union, and the views
of Roggenbach on political questions attracted Morier's warmest
sympathy. Another state in which Morier felt genuinely at home was the
Duchy of Coburg, from which Prince Albert had come to wed our own Queen
Victoria. The Prince's brother, the reigning Duke, treated Morier as a
personal friend; and here, too, he found Baron Stockmar, a Nestor among
German Liberals, who had spent his political life in trying to promote
goodwill between England and Germany. He received Morier into his family
circle and adopted him as the heir to his policy. This intimacy led to
further results; and, thanks in part to Morier's subsequent friendship
with the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia, generous ideals and a
liberal spirit were to be found surviving in a few places even after
1870, though Bismarck had poisoned the minds of a whole generation by
the material successes which he achieved.

In 1849 the doors of the Foreign Office were closed to Morier. The
Secretary of State, Lord Palmerston, had treated his father unfairly, as
he thought, some years before, and Morier would ask no favours of him.
He continued his education, keeping in close touch with Jowett and
Temple, and, when he saw a chance of studying politics at first hand, he
eagerly availed himself of it. The troubles of Schleswig-Holstein, too
intricate to be explained briefly, had been brewing for some time. In
1850, the dispute, to which Prussia, Denmark, and the German Diet were
all parties, came to a head. The Duchies were overrun by Prussian
troops, while the Danish Navy held the sea. Morier rushed off to see for
himself what was happening, and spent some interesting days at Kiel,
talking to those who could instruct him, and forming his own judgement.
This was adverse to the wisdom of the Copenhagen Radicals, who were
trying to assert by force their supremacy over a German population. In
the circumstances, as Prussia gave way to the wishes of other powers, no
satisfactory decision could be reached; but ten years later the issue
was in the ruthless hands of Bismarck, and was settled by 'blood and

In 1850 Morier accepted a clerkship in the Education Office at £120 a
year. The work was not to his taste, but at least it was public service,
and he saw no hope of employment in the Foreign Office. He found some
distractions in London society. He kept up relations with his old
friends, and he took a leading part in establishing the Cosmopolitan
Club, which later met in Watts's studio, but began its existence in
Morier's own rooms. He enjoyed greatly a meeting with Tennyson and
Browning, and wrote with enthusiasm of the former to his father, as 'one
who gave men an insight into the real Hero-world, as one from whom he
could catch reflected something of the Divine'. But Morier's spirits
were mercurial, and between moments of elation he was apt to fall into
fits of melancholy, when he could find no outlet for his energies.
Waiting for his true profession tried him sorely, and he was even
resigning himself to the prospect of a visit to Australia as a
professional journalist, when fortune at last smiled upon him.
Palmerston retired from the Foreign Office, and when Clarendon succeeded
him, Morier's name was placed on the list of candidates for an
attachéship. At Easter 1853 he started for another visit to the
Continent, full of hope and more than ever determined to qualify himself
for the profession which he loved.

He was rewarded for his zeal a few weeks later, when he paid a visit to
Vienna, won the favour of the Ambassador, Lord Westmorland, and was
commended to the Foreign Office. At the age of twenty-seven he was
appointed to serve Her Majesty as unpaid attaché, having already
acquired a knowledge of European politics which many men of sixty would
have envied. In figure he was tall, with a tendency already manifested
to put on flesh, good-looking, genial and sympathetic in manner, a _bon
vivant_, passionately fond of dancing and society, an excellent talker
or listener as the occasion demanded. His intelligence was quick, his
powers of handling details and of grasping broad principles were alike
remarkable. He wrote with ease, clearness, and precision; he knew what
hard work meant and revelled in it. Unfortunately he was subject already
to rheumatic gout, which was to make him acquainted with many
watering-places, and was to handicap him gravely in later life. But at
present nothing could check his ardour in his profession, and during his
five years at Vienna he took every chance of studying foreign lands and
of making acquaintance with the chief figures in the diplomatic world.
He enjoyed talks with Baron Jellaçiç, who had saved the monarchy in
1848, and with Prince Metternich, whose political career ended in that
year of revolutions and who was now only a figure in society. After the
Crimean War Morier obtained permission to make a tour through South-east
Hungary and to study for himself the mixture of Slavonic, Magyar, and
Teutonic races inhabiting that district. He followed this up by another
tour of three months, which carried him from Agram southwards into
Bosnia and Herzegovina, having prepared for it by working ten to twelve
hours a day for some weeks at the language of the southern Slavs.
Incidentally he enjoyed some hunting expeditions with Turkish pashas,
and obtained some insight into the weakness of the British consular
system. All his life he believed strongly in the value of such tours to
obtain first-hand information; and thirty years later, as Ambassador, he
encouraged his secretaries to familiarize themselves with the outlying
districts of the Russian empire.

In 1858, at the age of thirty-two, Morier passed from Vienna to Berlin.
It was the year in which the Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of
Queen Victoria, married the Crown Prince of Prussia.[43] Her father, the
Prince Consort, was very anxious that Morier should be at hand to advise
the young couple, and the appointment to Berlin was his work. Then it
was that Morier became involved in the struggle between Bismarck and the
Liberal influences in Germany, which had no stronger rallying-point than
the Coburg Court. This conflict only showed itself later, and at first
the young English attaché must have seemed a sufficiently unimportant
person; but before 1862 Bismarck, coming home to Berlin from the St.
Petersburg Embassy, and discerning the nature of Morier's character, had
declared that it was desirable to remove such an influence from the path
of his party, who were determined to bring Liberal Germany under the
yoke of a Prussia which had no sympathy for democratic ideals.

[Note 43: The ill-fated Emperor Frederick III, who died of cancer in

For the moment the ship of State was hanging in the wind; light currents
of air were perceptible; sails were filling in one parliamentary boat or
another; but the chief movement was to be seen not in parliamentary
circles but in the excellent civil service, which preserved that honesty
and efficiency which it had acquired in the days of Stein. There were
marked tendencies towards Liberalism and towards unification in
different parts of Germany; and, if the Liberal party could have
produced one man of firmness and decision, these forces might have
triumphed over the reactionary Prussian clique. In this conflict Morier
was bound to be a passionate sympathiser with the parties which included
so many of his personal friends and which advocated principles so dear
to his heart. With the triumph of his friends, too, were associated the
prospects of a good understanding between England and Germany, for which
Morier himself was labouring; and he was accused of having meddled
indiscreetly with local politics. When King William broke with the
Liberals over the Army Bill, caution was doubly necessary. Bismarck
became Minister in 1862, and, great man though he was, he was capable of
any pettiness when he had once declared war on an opponent. From that
time the policy of working for an Anglo-Prussian _entente_ was a losing
game, not only because Bismarck detested the parliamentarism which he
associated with England, but also because, on our side too, extremists
were stirring up ill-feeling. In his letters Morier makes frequent
reference to the 'John Bullishness' of _The Times_. When this journal,
to which European importance attached during the editorship of Delane,
was not openly flouting Prussia, it was displaying reckless ignorance of
a people who were making the most solid contributions to learning and
raising themselves by steady industry from the losses due to centuries
of Continental warfare.

From time to time he paid visits to friends at Dresden, at Baden, and
elsewhere. One year he was sent to Naples on a special mission, another
year he was summoned to attend on Queen Victoria, who was visiting
Coburg. In 1859 he is lamenting the monotony of existence at Berlin,
which he calls 'a Dutch mud canal of a life, without even the tulip beds
on the banks'. But when later in that year Lord John Russell, who knew
and appreciated his talents, became Foreign Secretary and called on him
for frequent reports on important subjects, Morier found solace in work.
He was only too willing to put his wide knowledge of the country in
which he was serving at the disposal of his superiors at home. He wrote
with equal ability on political, agrarian, and financial subjects. That
he could take into account the personal factor is shown by the long
letter which he wrote in 1861 to Sir Henry Layard, then Political
Under-Secretary of State.[44] It contained a masterly analysis of the
character and upbringing of King William, showing how his intellectual
narrowness had hampered Liberal Governments, while his professional
training in the army had made him a most efficient instrument in
promoting the aims of Junker politicians and ministers of war.

[Note 44: _Memoirs of Sir Robert Morier_, 1826-76, by his daughter,
Lady Rosslyn Wemyss, vol. i, p. 303 (Edward Arnold, 1911).]

On Schleswig-Holstein, above all, Morier exerted himself to convey a
right view of the question to those who guided opinion in London,
whether newspaper editors or responsible ministers. He appealed to the
same principle which had won support for the Lombards against Austria.
The inhabitants of the disputed Duchies were for the most part Germans,
and the Danish Government had done violence to their national sentiment.
If England could have extended its sympathy to its northern kinsmen in
time, the question might have been settled peacefully before 1862, and
Bismarck could never have availed himself of such a lever to overthrow
his Liberal opponents. As it was, Prussia ignored the Danish sympathies
displayed abroad, especially in the English press, went her own way and
invaded the Duchies, dragging in her train Austria, her confederate and
her dupe. Palmerston, who controlled our foreign policy at the time,
waited till the last moment, blustered, found himself impotent to move
without French support, and left Denmark smarting with a sense of
betrayal which lasted till 1914. By such bungling Morier knew that we
were incurring enmity on both sides and lowering our reputation for
courage as well as for statesmanship.

In 1865 he was chosen as one of the Special Commissioners to negotiate a
treaty of commerce between Great Britain and Austria. He had always
been a Free-trader, and he was convinced that such economic agreements
could do much to improve the world and to strengthen the bonds of peace.
So he was ready and willing to do hard work in this sphere, and finding
a congenial colleague in Sir Louis Mallet, one of the best economists of
the day, he spent some months at Vienna in fruitful activity and won the
good opinion of all associated with him. For his services he received
the C.B. and high commendation from London.

This same year brought promotion in rank, though for long it was
uncertain where he would go. In August he accepted the offer of First
Secretary to the Legation in Japan, most reluctantly, because he saw his
peculiar knowledge of Germany would be wasted there. Ten days later this
offer was changed for a similar position at the Court of Greece, which
was equally uncongenial; but at the end of the year the Foreign Office
decided that he would be most useful in the field which he had chosen
for himself, and after a few months at Frankfort he was sent in the year
1866 as chargé d'affaires to the Grand Ducal Court of Hesse-Darmstadt.

From these posts he was destined to be a spectator of the two great
conflicts by which Bismarck established the union of North Germany and
its primacy in Europe. Morier detested the means by which this end was
achieved, but he had consistently maintained that this union ought to
be, and could only be, achieved by Prussia, and he remained true to his
beliefs. It is a great tribute to his intellectual force that he was
able to control his personal sympathies and antipathies, and to judge
passing events with reference to the past and the future. He had liked
the statesmen whom he had met at Vienna, and he recognized their good
faith in the difficult negotiations of 1865. But for the good of Europe,
he thought the Austrian Government should now look eastwards. It could
not do double work at Vienna and at Frankfort. The impotence of the
Frankfort Diet could be cured only by the North Germans, and the
aspirations of good patriots, from Baden to the Baltic, had been for
long directed towards Prussia. But it was no easy task to make people in
England realize the justice of this view or the certainty that Prussia
was strong enough to carry through the work. Led by _The Times_, the
British Press had grown accustomed to use a contemptuous tone towards
Prussia; and when in the decisive hour this could no longer be
maintained, and British sentiment, as is its nature, declared for
Austria as the beaten side, this sentiment was attributed at Berlin to
the basest envy. Relations between the two peoples steadily grew worse
during these years, despite the efforts of Morier and other friends of

The Franco-German war brought even greater bitterness between Prussia
and Great Britain. The neutrality, which the latter power observed, was
misunderstood in both camps; and the position of a British diplomat
abroad became really unpleasant. Morier in particular, as a marked man,
knew that he was subject to spying and misrepresentation, but this did
not deter him from doing his duty and more than his duty. He took
measures to safeguard those dependent on him, in case Hesse came into
the theatre of war. He organized medical aid for the wounded on both
sides. He took a journey in September into Alsace and Lorraine to
ascertain the feeling of the inhabitants, that he might give the best
possible advice to his Government if the cession of these districts
became a European question. He came to the conclusion that Alsace was
not a homogeneous unit--that language, religion, and sentiment varied in
different districts, and that it was desirable to work for a compromise.
But Bismarck was determined in 1870, as in 1866, that the settlement
should remain in his own hands and that no European congress should
spoil his plans. Morier found that he was being talked of at Berlin as
'the enemy of Prussia', and atrocious calumnies were circulated. One of
these was revived some years later when Bismarck wished to discredit
him, and Bismarckian journals accused him of having betrayed to Marshal
Bazaine military secrets which he discovered in Hesse. Morier obtained
from the Marshal a letter which clearly refuted the charge, and he gave
it the widest publicity. The plot recoiled on its author, and Morier was
spoken of in France as 'le grand ambassadeur qui a roulé Bismarck'. Yet
all the while, with his wife a strong partisan of France, with six
cousins fighting in the French Army, with his friends in England only
too ready to quarrel with him for his supposed pro-German sentiments, he
was appealing for fair judgement, for reason, for a wise policy which
should soften the bitterness of the settlement between victors and
vanquished. Facts must be recognized, he pleaded, and the French claim
for peculiar consideration and their traditional _amour propre_ must not
be allowed to prolong the miseries of war. At the same time Morier did
not close his eyes to the danger arising from the overwhelming victories
of the German armies. No one saw more clearly the deterioration which
was taking place in German character, or depicted it in more trenchant
terms. But it was his business to work for the future and not to let
sentiment bring fresh disasters upon Europe.

Apart from this critical period, life at Darmstadt bored him
considerably. His presence there was valued highly by Queen Victoria,
one of whose daughters had married the Grand Duke; but Morier felt
himself to be in a backwater, far from the main stream of European
politics, and society there was dull. So he welcomed in 1871 his
transference first to Stuttgart, and a few months later to Munich, the
capital of the second state in the new Empire and a great centre of
literary culture. Here lived Dr. Döllinger, historian and divine, a man
suspected at Rome for his liberal Catholicism even before his definite
severance from the Roman Church, but honoured everywhere else for the
width and depth of his knowledge. With him Morier enjoyed many
conversations on Church councils and other subjects which interested
them both; and in 1874, lured by the prospect of such society, Gladstone
paid him a visit of ten days. Morier did not admire Gladstone's conduct
of foreign policy, but he was open-minded enough to recognize his great
gifts and to enjoy his company, and he writes home with enthusiasm about
his conversational powers. A still more welcome visitor in 1873 was
Jowett, his old Oxford friend, who never lost his place in Morier's

Among these delights he retained his vigilance in political matters, and
there was often need for it, since the German Government was now
developing that habit of 'rattling its sword', and threatening its
neighbours with war, which disquieted Europe for another forty years.
The worst crisis came in 1875, when Morier heard on good authority that
the military clique at Berlin were gaining ground, and seemed likely to
persuade the Emperor William to force on a second war, expressly to
prevent France recovering its strength. In general the credit for
checking this sinister move is given to the Tsar; but English influences
played a large part in the matter. Morier managed to catch the Crown
Prince on his way south to Italy and had a long talk with him in the
railway train. The Crown Prince was known to be a true lover of peace,
but capable of being hoodwinked by Bismarck; once convinced that the
danger was real (and he trusted Morier as he trusted no German in his
entourage), he returned to Berlin and threw all his weight into the
scale of peace. Queen Victoria also wrote from London; and, in face of a
possible coalition against them, the Germans decided that it was wisest
to abstain from all aggression.

A new period opened in his life when he left German courts, never to
return officially, and became the responsible head of Her Majesty's
Legation at the Portuguese Court. His five years spent at Lisbon cannot
be counted as one of his most fruitful periods, despite 'the large
settlement of African affairs', which Lord Granville tells us that
Morier had suggested to his predecessors in Whitehall. For the big
schemes which he planned he could get no continuous backing at home,
either in political or commercial circles. For the petty routine England
hardly needed a man of such outstanding ability. Of necessity his work
consisted often in tedious investigation of claims advanced by
individual Englishmen, whether they were suffering from money losses or
from summary procedure at the hands of the Portuguese police. Of the
diplomatic questions which arose many proved to be shadowy and unreal.
Something could be done, even in remote Portugal, to improve
Anglo-Russian relations by a minister who had friends in so many
European capitals. The politics of Pio Nono and the Papal Curia often
find an echo in his correspondence. Here, too, as elsewhere, the
intrigues of Germany had to be watched, though Morier was sensible
enough to discriminate between the deliberate policy of Bismarck and the
manoeuvres of those whom he 'allowed to do what they liked and say what
they liked--or rather to do what they thought _he_ would like done, and
say what they thought _he_ would like said--and then suddenly sent them
about their business to ponder in poverty and disgrace on the mutability
of human affairs'. In a passage like this Morier's letters show that he
could distinguish between a lion and his jackals, between 'policy' and

Had it not been for Germany and German suggestions, Portuguese
politicians would perhaps have been free from the fears which loomed
darkest on their horizon--the fears of an 'Iberian policy' which Spain
was supposed to be pursuing. In reality the leading men at Madrid knew
that they had little to gain by letting loose the superior Spanish army
against Portugal and trying to form the whole peninsula into a single
state. Morier, at any rate, made it clear that England would throw the
whole weight of her power against such treatment of her oldest ally. But
alarmist politicians were perpetually harping on this string, and
Morier, in a letter written in 1876, compares them to 'children telling
ghost-stories to one another who have got frightened at the sound of
their own voices, and mistake the rattling of a mouse behind the
wainscot for the tramping of legions on the march'.

To Morier it seemed that the important part of his work concerned South
Africa, in which, at the time, Portugal and Great Britain were the
European powers most interested. It was in 1877 that Sir Theophilus
Shepstone annexed the Transvaal, and many people, in Europe and Africa,
were talking as if this must lead to the expropriation of the Portuguese
at Delagoa Bay. Morier himself was as far as possible from the
imperialism which would ride rough-shod over a weaker neighbour. In
fact, he pleaded strongly for British approval of the pride which
Portugal felt in her traditions and of her desire to cling to what she
had preserved from the past. Once break this down, he said, and we
should see Portuguese dominions put up for auction, and England might
not always prove to be the highest bidder. Friendly co-operation, joint
development of railways, and commercial treaties commended themselves
better to his judgement, and he was prepared to spend a large part even
of his holidays in England in working out the details of such treaties.
He studied the people among whom he was, and did his best to lead them
gently towards reforms, whether of the slave-trade or other abuses, on
lines which could win their sympathy. He appealed to his own Foreign
Office to abstain from too many lectures, and to make the most of cases
in which the Portuguese showed promise of better things. 'This diet of
cold gruel', he says in 1878, 'must be occasionally supplemented by a
cup of generous wine, or all intimacy must die out.' Again in 1880, he
asks for a K.C.M.G. to be awarded to a Governor-General of Mozambique,
who had done his best to observe English wishes in checking the
slave-trade. 'Perpetual admonition', he says, 'and no sugar plums is bad
policy'--a maxim too often neglected when our philanthropy outruns our

When Morier was promoted in 1881 to Madrid, he used the same tact and
geniality to lighten the burden of his task. No seasoned diplomatist
took the politics of Madrid too seriously. Though the political stage
was bigger, it was often filled by actors as petty and grasping as those
of Lisbon. The distribution to their own friends of the 'loaves and
fishes' was, as Morier says, the one steady aim of all aspirants to
power; and measures of reform, much needed in education, in commerce, in
law, were doomed to sterility by the factiousness of the men who should
have carried them out. In the absence of principles Morier had to study
the strife of parties, and his correspondence gives us lively pictures
of the eloquent Castelar, the champion of a visionary Republic, the
harsh, domineering Romero y Robledo, at once the mainstay and the terror
of his Conservative colleagues, and the cold, egotistic Liberal leader
Sagasta, whose shrewdness in the manipulation of votes had always to be
reckoned with. The constitution given in 1876 had entirely failed to
establish Parliament on a democratic basis. For this the bureaucracy was
responsible. The Home Office abused its powers shamelessly, and by the
votes of its functionaries, and of those who hoped to receive its
favours, it could always secure a big majority for the Government of
the moment. For the three years which Morier spent at Madrid, he
recounts surprising instances of the reversal of electoral verdicts
within a short space of time.

The King was popular and deserved to be so, for his personal qualities
of courage, intelligence, and public spirit; but his position was never
secure. There was a bad tradition by which at intervals the army
asserted its power and upset the constitution. Some intriguing general
issued a _pronunciamiento_, the troops revolted, and the Central
Government at Madrid, having no effective force and no moral ascendancy,
gave way. Parliament had little stability. Cabinets rose and vanished
again; the same eloquent but empty speeches were made, and the same
abuses remained unchanged.

But before now a spark from Spain had set the Continent ablaze. The past
had bequeathed some questions which, awkwardly handled, might cause
explosions elsewhere, and it was well to know the character of those who
had the key to the powder magazine. More than once Morier was approached
on the delicate question of the admission of Spain to the council of the
Great Powers. In Egypt, where so many foreign interests were involved,
and where Great Britain suffered, in the 'eighties, from so many
diplomatic intrigues, Spain might easily find an opening for her
ambitions. She might advance the plea that the Suez Canal was the direct
route to her colonies in the Philippines. Germany, for ulterior ends,
was encouraging Spanish pretensions; but, to the British, Spain with its
illiberal spirit scarcely seemed likely to prove a helpful
fellow-worker. Morier had to try to convince Spanish ministers that
Great Britain was their truer friend while refusing them what they asked
for; and in such interviews he had to know his men and to touch the
right chord in appealing to their prejudices or their patriotism. The
English tenure of Gibraltar was also a perpetual offence to Spanish
pride. Irresponsible journalists loved to expatiate on it when they had
no more spicy subject to handle. On this, as on all questions affecting
prestige only, Morier was tactful and patient. When they should come
within the range of practical politics, he could take a different tone.
But he knew that more serious dangers were arising in Morocco, where the
weakness of the Sultan's rule was tempting European powers to intervene,
and he laboured to maintain peace and goodwill not only between his own
country and Spain, but also between Spain and France. The common
accusation that the English are not 'good Europeans' was pre-eminently
untrue in his case. He realized that the interests of all were bound up
together, and used his influence, which soon became considerable, to
remove all occasions of bitterness in the European family, being fully
aware that at Berlin there was another active intelligence working by
hidden channels to keep open every festering sore.

Morier was fertile in expedients when ministers consulted him, as we see
notably on the occasion of King Alfonso's tour in 1883. Before the King
started, the newspapers had been writing of it as a 'visit to Berlin',
though it was intended to be a compliment to the heads of various
states. To allay the sensitiveness of the French, Morier suggested to
the Foreign Secretary that the King should make a point of visiting
France first; but, owing to the ineptitude of President Grévy, this
suggestion was rendered impracticable. When the King did visit Paris,
after a sojourn at Berlin, where he received the usual compliment of
being made titular colonel of a Prussian regiment, a terrible scene
ensued by which Morier's sagacity was justified. The King was greeted
with cries of 'à bas le Colonel d'Uhlans', and was hissed as he passed
along the streets; only his personal tact and restraint saved the two
Governments from an undignified squabble. He was able to give a lesson
in deportment to his hosts and also to satisfy the resentful pride of
his fellow-countrymen. The whole episode shows how individuals can
control events when the masses can only become excited; kings and
diplomats may still be the best mechanics to handle the complicated
machinery on which peace or war depends. Alfonso XII died in November
1885, soon after Morier's departure for another post, but not before he
had testified to the high esteem in which our Minister had been held in

From Madrid he might have passed to Berlin. The British Government had
only one man fit to replace Lord Ampthill (Lord Odo Russell), who died
in 1884. Inquiries were made in Berlin whether it was possible to employ
Morier's great knowledge at the centre of European gravity, but Bismarck
made it quite clear that such an appointment would be displeasing to his
sovereign. It was believed by a friend and admirer of both men that, if
Bismarck and Morier could have come to know one another, mutual respect
and liking would have followed; but magnanimity towards an old enemy, or
one whom he had ever believed to be such, was not a Bismarckian trait,
and it is more probable that all Morier's efforts would have been
thwarted by misrepresentation and malignity.

Instead he was sent to St. Petersburg, where he took up his duties as
Ambassador in November 1885. Here he had to deal with bigger problems.
The affray at Penjdeh, when the Russians attacked an Afgh[=a]n outpost
and forcibly occupied the ground, had, after convulsing Europe, been
settled by Mr. Gladstone's Government. Feeling did not subside for some
years, but for the moment Asiatic questions were not so serious as the
conflict of interests in the Balkan peninsula. The principality of
Bulgaria created by the Congress of Berlin was the focus of the 'Eastern
question'--that is, the question whether Russia, Austria, or a united
Europe led by the Western powers, was to preside over the dissolution of
Turkey. Bulgaria certainly owed its existence to Russian bayonets; in
her cause Russian lives had been freely given; and this formed a real
bond between the two nations, more lasting than the effect of Mr.
Gladstone's speeches, to which English sentimentalists attached such
importance. But the Bulgarians have often shown an obstinate tendency to
go their own way, and their politicians were loath to be kept in Russian
leading-strings. Their last act, in 1885, had been to annex the Turkish
province of Eastern Roumelia without asking the consent of the Tsar. At
the moment they could safely flout the Sultan of Turkey, their nominal
suzerain; but diplomatists doubted whether they could, with equal
safety, ignore the Treaty of Berlin and the wishes of their Russian
protector. The path was full of pitfalls. The Austrian Government was on
the watch to embarrass its great Slavonic rival; English statesmen were
too anxious to humour Liberal sentiment as expressed at popular
meetings; Russian agents on the spot committed indiscretions; Russian
opinion at home suspected that Bulgaria was receiving encouragement
elsewhere, and the air was full of rumours of war.

Across this unquiet stage may be seen to pass, in the lively letters
which Morier sent home, the figures of potential and actual princes of
Bulgaria, of whom only two deserve mention to-day. The first, Alexander
of Battenberg, member of a family which enjoyed Queen Victoria's special
favour, had been put forward at the Berlin Congress, and justified his
choice in 1885 by repelling the Serbian Army and winning a victory at
Slivnitza. He had won the attachment of his subjects but had incurred
the hatred of the Tsar, and the tone of his speeches in 1886 offended
Russian sentiment. Two years after Slivnitza, in face of intrigues and
violence, he abandoned the contest and abdicated. The second is
Ferdinand of Coburg, whose tortuous career, begun in 1887, only ended
with the collapse of the Central Powers in 1918. He was put forward by
Austria and supported by Stambuloff, the dictatorial chief of the
Bulgarian ministry. For years the Russian Government refused to
recognize him, and it was not till 1896 that he came to heel, at the
bidding of Prince Lobanoff, and made public submission to the Tsar. But,
first and last, he was only an astute adventurer of no little vanity and
of colossal egotism, and such sympathies as he had for others beside
himself went to Austria-Hungary, where he owned landed property, and had
served in the army. He was also displeasing to orthodox Russia as a
Roman Catholic, and in Morier's letters we see clearly the mistrust and
contempt which Russians felt for him.

With an autocrat like Alexander III, secretive and obstinate, these
personal questions became very serious. Ambitious generals might
anticipate his wishes, Russian regiments might be on the march before
the Ministers knew anything, and Europe might awake to find itself over
the edge of the precipice.

Morier's own attitude can best be judged from the letters which he
exchanged with Sir William White, our able ambassador to the Porte, who
was frankly anti-Russian in his views. At first he put his trust in
strict observance of the Treaty of Berlin, and wished that Prince
Alexander would consent to restore the _status quo ante_ (i.e. before
the change in Eastern Roumelia); but although a stout upholder of
treaties, he admitted as a second basis for settlement 'les voeux des
populations', on which the modern practice of plebiscites is founded.
The peasants of Eastern Roumelia were clearly glad to transfer their
allegiance from the Sultan to the Prince. Also the successes achieved by
Prince Alexander in so soon welding together Bulgaria and Eastern
Roumelia had to be recognized as altering the situation. In fact,
Morier's position was nearer to that of 1919 than to the old traditions
in vogue a century earlier, and would commend itself to most English
Liberals. But, as an ambassador paid to watch over British interests, he
was guided by expediency rather than by sentiment. These interests, he
was convinced, were more vitally affected in Central Asia than in the
Balkans. He believed that, if British statesmen would recognize Russia's
peculiar position in Bulgaria, the advance of Russian outposts towards
India might be stayed, and the two great powers might work together all
along the line. But, to effect this, national jealousies must be allayed
and an understanding established. Morier had to interpret at St.
Petersburg speeches of English politicians, which often sounded more
offensive there than in London: he also had to watch and report to
London the unofficial doings and sayings of the aggressive Pan-Slavist
party, who might at any moment undermine the Ministry.

Foreign policy was in the hands of de Giers, an enlightened, pacific
minister, who lacked, however, the courage to face his master's
prejudices and had little authority over many of his own subordinates.
De Nelidoff, at Constantinople, dared even to make himself the centre of
diplomatic intrigue directed against the policy of his chief. Still less
was de Giers able to control the strong Pan-Slavist influences which
ruled in the Church, the Home Office, and the Press. Morier gives
interesting portraits of Pobedonóstsev, the bigoted procurator of the
Holy Synod, of Tolstoy the reactionary Minister of the Interior, of
Katkoff the truculent editor of the _Moscow Gazette_. These were the
most notable of the men who flouted the authority, thwarted the work,
and undermined the position of the Tsar's nominal adviser, and often
they carried the day in determining the attitude of the Tsar himself.
Yet Morier was bound by his own honesty and by the traditions of
British diplomacy to do business with de Giers alone, to receive the
assurances of one who was being betrayed by his own ambassadors, to make
his protests to one who could not effectively remedy the grievances. His
difficulty was increased by de Giers's manner--'when getting on to
slippery ground he has a remarkable power of speaking only half
intelligibly and swallowing a large proportion of his words'. Morier was
often conscious that he was building on sand; but in quiet weather it
was possible to stem the flood for a while even with dikes of sand.
Perhaps a little later the tide of Balkan troubles might be setting in
another direction and the danger might be past. In Russia, where so much
was incalculable, it was wise to make the most of such help as presented
itself. Meanwhile the Russian Ambassador in London, Baron de Staäl,
co-operated as loyally with Lord Salisbury as Morier with de Giers; and
thanks to their diplomatic skill, rough places were smoothed away and
bases of agreement were found. In the course of 1887, the smouldering
fires of Anglo-Russian antagonism died down, and Russia adopted a
waiting attitude in Bulgaria.

But this happy result was not attained till after Asiatic problems had
given rise to serious alarms. The worst moment was in July 1886, when
the Tsar suddenly proclaimed, contrary to the Treaty of Berlin, that the
port of Batum was closed to foreign trade. His point of view was
characteristic. His father had, autocratically, expressed in 1878 his
intention to open the port; this had been done, and it had proved in
practice a failure; as a purely administrative act, he (Alexander III)
now declared the port closed, _et tout était dit_. But naturally foreign
merchants resented the injury to their trade, and insisted on the
sanctity of treaties. The Berlin Government, as usual, left to Great
Britain all the odium incurred in making a protest, and the other
Continental powers were equally silent. Morier asserted the British
case so strongly that he roused even de Giers to vehemence; but when he
saw that protests would avail nothing, he advised his Government to cut
the loss and to avoid further bitterness. He reminded them that Russia
had given way in Bulgaria, where the British point of view had
prevailed, and that they must not expect her to submit to a second
diplomatic defeat. Besides, a quarrel between Russia and Great Britain
would only benefit a third party, ready enough to avail himself of it.
Harmony was preserved, but the risk of a breach had been very great, and
feeling was not improved by Russian activity at Sebastopol, where the
Pan-Slavists were acclaiming the new birth of the Black Sea fleet. The
death of Katkoff in 1887, and of Tolstoy in 1889, with the advent of
more Liberal ministers, strengthened de Giers's hands; and during his
later years, though he often needed great vigilance and tact, Morier was
not troubled by any crisis so severe.

The Grand Cross of the Bath, which he received in 1887, was a fitting
reward for the services he had rendered to England and to Europe in this
anxious time. He never lost heart or despaired of a peaceful solution.

At bottom, as he often repeats, Russia was not ready for big
adventures--was, in fact, still suffering from lassitude after the war
of 1878, 'like an electric eel which, having in one great shock given
off all its electricity, burrows in the mud to refill its battery,
desiring nothing less than to come again too soon into contact with
organic tissue'.

Apart from _la haute politique_ and the conflicts between governments,
Morier's own compatriots were giving him plenty to do. A few instances
will illustrate the variety of the applications which reached the
Embassy. Captain Beaufort requests a special permit to visit Kars and
its famous fortifications. Mr. Littledale asks for a Russian guide to
help him in an ascent of Mount Ararat. Father Perry, S.J. (the Jesuits
were specially obnoxious to the Holy Synod), wishes to observe a solar
eclipse only visible in Russia. Another traveller, Mr. Fairman, is
summarily arrested near Rovno where the Tsar's visit is making the
police unduly brisk for the moment. Morier procures him a prompt
apology; but, not content with this, the Englishman now thinks himself
entitled to a personal audience with the Tsar and the gift of some
decoration to compensate him, which suggestion draws a curt reply from
the much-vexed ambassador. But he was always ready to help a genuine
explorer, whether it was Mr. de Windt in Trans-Caucasia or Captain
Wiggins in the Kara Sea. To the latter, in his efforts to establish
trade between Great Britain and Siberia by the Yenisei river, Morier
lent most valuable aid, and he is proud to report the concessions which
he won for our merchants in a new field of commerce.

Meanwhile he found occasion to cultivate friendships with Russians and
foreign diplomats of all kinds. Of the more important he sends home
interesting sketches to his superiors in Whitehall, Vischnegradsky, the
'wizard of finance', who raised the value of the rouble 30 per cent.,
became one of his intimate friends. When that ambiguous figure, Witte,
his rival and successor, tried to discredit him, Morier vindicated with
warmth the honesty and patriotism of his friend. Baron Jomini of the
Foreign Office was of a different kind, witty, volatile, audaciously
outspoken, more like a character in Thackeray's novels. Pobedonóstsev,
the Procurator of the Holy Synod, remained 'somewhat of an enigma'--as
we can easily believe when we hear that this bigoted Churchman, the
terror of the Jews, had been a friend of Dean Stanley, and was still
fond of English literature and English theology.

Still more amusing are the stories which he tells of foreign visitors of
high station--of the Duke of Orleans playing truant without the
knowledge of his parents and being snubbed by his Grand Ducal
relatives; of Dal[=i]p Singh touring the provinces with a disreputable
entourage and trying to make trouble for the British at Moscow; of the
Prince of Montenegro and his beautiful daughters, whom Morier heartily
admires--'tall and massive, strong-limbed and comely, the true type of
the mothers of heroes in the Homeric sense'.

With the Court his relations were excellent. His intimacy with members
of our own royal family helped him, and his geniality and
unconventional, natural manner won favour with the Romanoffs, who
retained in their high station a great deal of simplicity. More than
once Morier seized an opportunity for an act of special courtesy to the
Tsar; and Alexander appreciated this from a man whose character was too
well known for him to be suspected of obsequiousness.

But the life in St. Petersburg was not all pleasure, even when
diplomatic waters were quiet. The work was hard, the climate was very
exacting with its extremes of temperature, and epidemics were rife. In
November 1889 he reports the appearance of 'Siberian Catarrh, more
usually described under the general name of Influenza', which was
working havoc in girls' schools and guardsmen's barracks, and had laid
low simultaneously Emperor, Empress, and half the imperial family.
Morier himself became increasingly liable to attacks of ill-health, and
found difficulty in discharging his duties regularly. It required a keen
sense of duty for him to stay at his post; and when in December 1891 he
was appointed to the Embassy at Rome, he was very willing to go. But
public interest stood in the way. He had made for himself an exceptional
place at St. Petersburg. No one could be found to replace him
adequately, and the Tsar expressed a desire that his departure should be
postponed. He consented to stay on, and the next two years of work in
that climate, together with the death in 1891 of his only son, broke
his spirit and his strength. Too late he went in search of health, first
to the Crimea and then to Switzerland. Death came to him as the winter
of 1893 was approaching, when he was at Montreux on the Lake of Geneva,
close to the home of his ancestors.

The impression which he made on his friends and colleagues is clear and
consistent, and the ignorance of the general public about men of his
profession justifies a few quotations. Sir Louis Mallet brackets him
with Sir James Hudson[45] and Lord Cromer as 'the most admirable trio of
public servants he had known'. Sir William White speaks of him and Odo
Russell as 'two giants of the diplomatic service'. Lord Acton, who knew
Europe as well as any Foreign Minister, and weighed his words, refers to
him in 1884 as 'our only strong diplomatist', and again 'as a strong
man, resolute, ready, well-informed and with some amount of real
resource'. More than one Foreign Secretary has borne testimony to the
value of Morier's dispatches; and Sir Charles Dilke, who, without
holding the portfolio himself, often shaped our foreign policy and was
an expert in European questions, is still more emphatic about his
intellectual powers, though he thinks that Morier's imperious temper
made him 'impossible in a small place'. Sir Horace Rumbold,[46] in his
_Recollections_, has many references to him, especially as he was in
earlier years. He speaks of Morier's 'prodigious fund of spirits that
made him the most entertaining, but not always the safest, of
companions'; 'of his imperious, not over-tolerant disposition'; 'of the
curious compound that he was of the thoughtless, thriftless Bohemian and
the cool, calculating man of the world'; of his 'exceptionally powerful
brain and unflagging industry'. Elsewhere he recalls Morier's journeys
among the Southern Slavs, in which he opened up a new field of
knowledge, and adds, 'since then he has made himself a thorough master
of German politics, and is, I believe, one of the few men whom Prince
Bismarck fears and correspondingly detests'.

[Note 45: Sir James Hudson, G.C.B., British minister at Turin during
the years of Cavour's great ministry; died 1885.]

[Note 46: Sir Horace Rumbold, G.C.B., Ambassador at Vienna
1896-1900; died 1913.]

Jowett's testimony may perhaps be discounted as that of an intimate
friend; yet he was no flatterer, and as he often criticized Morier
severely, it is of interest to read his deliberate verdict, given in
1873, that 'if he devoted his whole mind to it, he could prevent a war
in Europe'. Four years earlier Jowett had been told by a diplomatist
whom he respected, 'Morier is the first man in our profession'.

By those who still remember him, Morier is described as a diplomatist of
'the old school'. His noble presence, his courtly manner, and the
dignity which he observed on all ceremonial occasions, would have
qualified him to adorn the court of Maria Theresa or Louis Quatorze.
This dignity he could put off when the need for it was past. Among his
friends his manner was vivacious, his talk racy, his criticism free. He
was of the old school, too, in being self-confident and independent, and
in believing that he would do his best work if there were no telegraph
to bring frequent instructions from Whitehall. But he had not the
natural urbanity of Odo Russell, nor the invariable discretion of Lord
Lyons. He had hard work to discipline his imperious temper, and by no
means always succeeded in masking his own feelings. Perhaps too high a
value has been set on impenetrable reserve by those who have modelled
themselves on Talleyrand. By their very candour and openness some
British diplomatists have gained an advantage over rivals who confound
timidity with reserve, and have won a peculiar position of trust at
foreign courts. In dealing with de Giers, Morier at any rate found no
need to mumble or swallow his words. He was sure of himself and of his
honourable intentions. On one occasion, after reading to that minister
the exact words of the dispatch which he was sending to London, he
stated his policy to him categorically. 'I always went', he said, 'upon
the principle, whenever it could be done, of clearing the ground of all
possible misunderstandings at the earliest date.' Probably we shall
never see the end of 'secret diplomacy', whether under Tory, Liberal, or
Labour governments; but this is not the tone of one who loves secrecy
for its own sake.

In many ways Morier combined the qualities of the old and the new
schools. Though personally a favourite with kings and queens, he was
fully alive to the changes in the Europe of the nineteenth century,
where, along with courts and cabinets, other more unruly forces were at
work. His visit to Paris in 1848 showed his early interest in popular
movements, and he maintained a catholic width of view in later life. He
knew men of all sorts and kept himself acquainted with unofficial
currents of opinion. He could talk freely to journalists or to
merchants, could put them at their ease and get the information which he
wanted. His comprehensiveness was remarkable. The strife of politicians
in the foreground did not blur the distant landscape. In Russia, behind
Balkan intrigues and Black Sea troubles he could see the cloud of danger
overhanging the Pamirs. In Spain or Portugal he was watching and
forecasting the possibilities of the white races in Africa. So his
dispatches, varied and vivacious as they were, proved of the greatest
value to Foreign Secretaries at home, and furnish excellent reading

In these dispatches a few Gallicisms occur; and in writing to an old
friend like Sir William White he uses a free mixture of French and
English with other ingredients for seasoning. But in general the
literary style is admirable. He has a rare command of language, a most
inventive use of metaphor, a felicitous touch in sketching a character
or an incident. Towards those working under him he was exacting, setting
up a high standard of industry, but he was generous in his praise and
very ready to take up the cudgels for them when they needed support. In
commending one of them, he selects for special praise 'his old-fashioned
conscientiousness about public work and his subordination of private
comfort'. He inherited this tradition from his own family and his
faithfulness to it cost him his life.

Above all, we feel in reading these letters and memoranda that here is a
man whose aim is truth rather than effect--not thinking of commending a
programme to thousands of half-informed readers or hearers, in order to
win their votes, but giving counsel to his peers, Odo Russell or Sir
William White, Lord Granville or Lord Salisbury, on events and
tendencies which affect the grave issues of peace and war and the lives
of thousands of his fellow-countrymen. This generation has learnt how
unsafe it is to treat these in a parliamentary atmosphere where men
force themselves to believe what they wish and close their eyes to what
is uncomfortable. While human nature remains the same, democracy cannot
afford to deprive itself of such counsel or to belittle such a



1827. Born at West Ham, April 5.
1844-52. University College, London.
1851. Acting House Surgeon under Erichsen.
1852. First research work published.
1853. Goes to Edinburgh. House Surgeon under Syme.
1855. Assistant Surgeon and Lecturer at Edinburgh Infirmary.
1856. Marries Agnes Syme.
1860. Appointed Professor of Clinical Surgery at Glasgow.
1865. Makes acquaintance with Pasteur's work.
1866-7. Antiseptic treatment of compound fractures and abscesses.
1867. Papers on antiseptic method in the _Lancet_.
1869. Appointed Professor of Surgery at Edinburgh.
1872-5. Conversion of leading scientists in Germany to Antisepticism.
1875. Lister's triumphal reception in Germany.
1877. Accepts professorship at King's College, London.
1879. Medical congress at Amsterdam. Acceptance of Lister's
      methods by Paget and others in London.
1882. von Bergmann develops Asepticism in Berlin.
1883. Lister created a Baronet.
1891. British Institute of Preventive Medicine incorporated.
1892. Lister attends Pasteur celebration in Paris.
1893. Death of Lady Lister.
1895-1900. President of Royal Society.
1897. Created a Peer.
1902. Order of Merit.
1907. Freedom of City of London: last public appearance.
1912. Dies at Walmer, February 10.



In a corner of the north transept of Westminster Abbey, almost lost
among the colossal statues of our prime ministers, our judges, and our
soldiers, will be found a small group of memorials preserving the
illustrious names of Darwin, Lister, Stokes, Adams, and Watt, and
reminding us of the great place which Science has taken in the progress
of the last century. Watt, thanks partly to his successors, may be said
to have changed the face of this earth more than any other inhabitant of
our isles; but he is of the eighteenth century, and between those who
developed his inventions it is not easy to choose a single
representative of the age. Stokes and Adams command the admiration of
all students of mathematics who can appreciate their genius, but their
work makes little appeal to the average man. In Darwin's case no one
would dispute his claim to represent worthily the scientists of the age,
and his life is a noble object for study, single-hearted as he was in
his devotion to truth, persistent as were his efforts in the face of
prolonged ill-health. No better instance could be found to show that the
highest intellectual genius may be found united with the most endearing
qualities of character. Kindly and genial in his home, warmly attached
to his friends, devoid of all jealousy of his fellow scientists, he
lived to see his name honoured throughout the civilized world; and many
who are incapable of appreciating his originality of mind can find an
inspiring example in the record of his life. There is no need to make
comparisons either of fame, of mental power, or of character; but the
choice of Lister may be justified by the fact that his science, the
science of Health and Disease, is one of absorbing interest to all men,
and that with his career is bound up the history of a movement fraught
with grave issues of life and death from which few families have been

About these issues bitter controversies have raged; but it is to the
lesser men that the bitterness is due. By his family traditions, as well
as by his natural disposition, Lister was a man of peace; and though he
left the Society of Friends at the time of his marriage, he retained a
respect for their views which accorded well with his own nature. When
he had to speak or write on behalf of what he believed to be the truth,
it was from no motive of self-assertion or combativeness. He had the
calm contemplative mind of the student, whereas Bright, the Quaker
tribune, the champion of Repeal, had all the fervour of the man of
action. Lister's family had been Quakers since the beginning of the
eighteenth century; and at this time too they moved from Yorkshire to
London, where his grandfather and father were engaged in business as
wine merchants. But Joseph Jackson Lister, who married in 1818, and
became in 1827 the father of the famous surgeon, was much more than a
merchant. He had taught himself the science of optics, had made
improvements in the microscope, and had won his way within the sacred
portals of the Royal Society. Letters have been preserved which show us
how keen his interest in science always remained, and with what full
appreciation he entered into the researches which his son was making as
professor at Glasgow in the middle of the century. A father like this
was not likely to grudge money on the boy's education; but for the
Friends many avenues to knowledge were still closed, including the
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He had to be content to go
successively to Quaker schools at Hitchin and Tottenham, and from the
latter to proceed, at the age of seventeen, to University College,
London, which was non-sectarian. There the teaching was good, the
atmosphere favourable to industry, and Lister was not conscious of
hardship in missing the delights of youth that fell to his more
fortunate contemporaries.

His father lived in a comfortable house at Upton, some six miles east of
London Bridge, in a district now completely swamped by the growth of the
vast borough of West Ham. He kept up close relations with other Quaker
families living in the neighbourhood, especially the Gurneys of
Plashets. In their circle the most striking figure was Elizabeth Fry,
who from 1813 to her death in 1843 devoted herself unsparingly to the
cause of prison reform. From his home the father continued to exercise a
strong influence over his son, who was industrious and serious beyond
his years.

From his father Lister learned as a boy to delight in the use of the
microscope. He learned also to use his own power of observation, and to
make hand and eye work together to minister to his studies. The power of
drawing, which the future surgeon thus early developed, stood him in
good stead later in life; and it is interesting to contrast his
enjoyment of it with the laments made by his great contemporary Darwin,
who felt keenly what he lost through his inability to use a pencil and
to preserve the record of what he saw in nature or in the laboratory.
Lister's school-days were over when he was seventeen years old and there
is nothing remarkable to tell of them; but his period at University
College was unusually prolonged. He was a student there for seven years
and continued an eighth year, after he had taken his degree, as Acting
House Surgeon. In 1848, half-way through his time, a physical breakdown
was brought on by overwork, just as he was finishing his general
studies; but a long holiday enabled him to recover his strength, and
before the end of the year he had begun the course of medical studies
which was to be his life-work.

At school his record had been good but not brilliant, nor did he come
quickly to the front in London. His mind was not of the sort which can
be forced to produce untimely fruit in the hot-house of examinations.
But his education was both extensive and thorough; it formed an
excellent general training for the mind and a good basis for the special
studies in which he was later to distinguish himself. He had been at
University College for two years before he gained his first medal; but
by 1850 he had made his name as the best man of his year, capable of
upholding the credit of his College against any rival in the
metropolis. Among his fellow students the best known in later years was
Sir Henry Thompson, whose portrait by Millais hangs in our National
Gallery. Among his professors one stands out pre-eminent, alike for his
character and for his influence on Lister's life. This was William
Sharpey, Professor of Physiology, an original man with a keen eye for
originality in others. In days when most English professors were content
with a narrow empirical training, he had trudged with his knapsack over
half Europe in quest of knowledge, had studied in France, Switzerland,
Italy, and Austria, and had made himself acquainted at first hand with
the best that was taught in their schools. He was a first-rate lecturer,
clear and simple, and took much pains to get to know his pupils. When
Lister had held for a short time the post of Acting House Surgeon at
University College Hospital, and needed to make definite plans for his
career, it was Sharpey who advised him to go north for a while and
attend some classes in Edinburgh before deciding on his course. Thus it
was Sharpey who introduced him to Scotland and to Syme.

Before we speak of the latter, a few words must be given to the year
1851, when Lister completed his studentship and became for a time an
active member of the hospital staff. This year was important as
introducing him to the practice of his art under the direction of
Erichsen, an Anglo-Dane and one of the foremost surgeons in London. It
also led to a change in his way of living, to his being thrown into
closer relations with men of his own age, and to his taking a more
lively part in social gatherings. What we hear of the essays that he
wrote at school, what we can read of his early letters, all harmonizes
with our conception of a Quaker upbringing. There is a staid primness
about him, which contrasts strangely with the pictures of medical
students presented to us in the pages of Dickens. Capable though he was
of enjoying a holiday, or of expanding among congenial associates,
Lister was not quick to make friends. He was apt to keep too much to
himself; and he seems to have inspired respect and even a certain awe
among men of his own age. In his youth men noticed the same grave mien,
steadfast eyes, and lofty intellectual forehead which are conspicuous in
his later portraits. He was steady in conduct, serious in manner,
precise in his way of expressing himself; and while these qualities
helped him in the mental application which was so necessary if he was to
profit by his student days, he needed a little shaking up in order to
adapt himself to the ways of other men in the sphere of active life.
This was given him by the constant activities of the hospital, and by
the demands which the various societies made upon him; but he did not
allow them to interfere with his own researches, for which he could find
time when others were overwhelmed by the routine of their daily tasks.

His first bit of original research is of special interest because it
connects him with his father's work. He made special observations with
the microscope of the muscular tissue of the iris of the eye,
illustrated his paper by delicate drawings of his own, and published it
in the leading microscopical journal. This and a subsequent paper on the
phenomena of 'Goose-skin' attracted some attention among physiologists
at home and abroad, and brought him into friendly relations with a
German professor of world-wide reputation. They also gave great
satisfaction to his father and to his favourite teacher Sharpey.

But Lister's development henceforth was to take place on Scottish
ground, and his visit to Edinburgh in 1853 shaped the whole course of
his career. James Syme, under whose influence he thus came, was the most
original and brilliant surgeon then living in the British Isles, perhaps
in all Europe. His merits as a lecturer were somewhat overshadowed by
his extraordinary skill as an operator; but he was a remarkable man in
all ways, and the fact that Lister was admitted, first to his
lecture-room and operating theatre, and then to his home, was without
doubt the happiest accident in his life.

The atmosphere of Edinburgh with its large enthusiastic classes in the
hospitals, its cultivated and intellectual society outside, supplied
just what was wanted to foster the genius of a young man on the
threshold of his career. In London, centres of culture were too widely
diffused, indifference and apathy too prevalent, conservatism in
principles and methods too strongly entrenched. In his new home in the
north Lister could watch the boldest operator in his own profession, and
could daily meet men scarcely less distinguished in other sciences, and
as a visitor to Syme's house he was from time to time thrown among able
men following widely different lines in life. Above all, here he met one
who was peculiarly qualified to be his helper; and three years later, at
the age of twenty-nine, he was married to Agnes Syme, the daughter of
his chief, to whom he had been attracted, as can be seen from the
letters which passed between Edinburgh and Upton, soon after his arrival
in the north. Before this event, he had already made his mark as
Resident House Surgeon, as assistant operator to Syme, and also as an
independent lecturer under the liberal system which gave an opening to
all who could establish by merit a claim to be heard. He had also begun
those researches into the early stages of inflammation which, ten years
later, were to bear such wonderful fruit. It was a full and busy life,
and the distraction of courtship must have made it impossible for him at
times to meet all demands; but after 1856 his mind was set at rest and
his strength doubled by the sympathy which his wife showed in his work,
and by the help which she was able to render him in writing to his

For their honeymoon they took a long journey on the Continent in the
summer of 1856; but half, even of this rare holiday, was given to
science, and, after some weeks' enjoyment of the beauties of Italy,
husband and wife made the tour of German universities, as he was
desirous to see something, if possible, of the leading surgeons and the
newest methods. Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Frankfort, Heidelberg,
and Stuttgart were all included in the tour. They were well received,
and at Vienna the most eminent professor of Pathology in the University
gave more than three hours of his time to showing his museum to Lister,
and also invited the young couple to dine at his house. Though he had
not yet made a name for himself, Lister's earnestness and intelligence
always made a favourable impression; and as he had taken pains with
foreign languages in his youth, he was able, now and later in life, to
address French and German friends, and even public meetings, in their
native tongue. He came back to find work waiting for him which would tax
his energies to the full. In October 1856 he was elected Assistant
Surgeon to the Infirmary, and now, in addition to lecturing, he had to
conduct public operations himself, whereas he had hitherto only acted as
Syme's assistant. This was at first a severe trial for his nerves. That
it affected him differently from most experienced surgeons is shown by
the fact that he used always, all his life, to perspire freely when
starting to operate; but he learnt to overcome this nervousness by
concentrating his attention on his work. He was not a man who had
religious phrases on his lips; but in letters to his family, quoted by
Sir Rickman Godlee, he gives us the secret of his confidence and his
power. 'Yesterday', he says in a letter written to his father on
February 26, 'I made my début at the hospital in operating before the
students. I felt very nervous before beginning; but when I had got
fairly to work, this feeling went off entirely, and I performed both
operations with entire comfort.' A week later, in a letter to his
sister, he returns to the subject. 'The theatre was again well filled;
and though I again felt a good deal before the operation, yet I lost all
consciousness of the presence of the spectators during its performance,
and did it exactly as if no one had been looking on. Just before the
operation began I recollected that there was only one Spectator whom it
was important to consider, one present alike in the operating theatre
and in the private room; and this consideration gave me increased
firmness.' Interest in the work for its own sake, forgetfulness of
himself, these were to be the key-notes of his life-work.

As yet, to a superficial observer, there were not many signs of a
brilliant career ahead of him. His private practice was small and did
not grow extensively for many years. The attendance at his earlier
course of lectures was discouragingly meagre. This would have been more
discouraging still, had not his dressers, from personal affection for
him, made a point of attending regularly to swell the number of the
class. Indeed, in view of the exacting demands made on him by the
hospital, Lister might have been content to follow the ordinary routine
of his profession. With his wife at his side and friends close at hand,
he had every chance of living a useful and happy life. But he still
found time to conduct experiments and to think for himself. His
researches were continued along the line which he had opened up in 1855,
and in 1858 he appeared before an Edinburgh Surgical Society to read a
paper on Spontaneous Gangrene.

This gave Mrs. Lister an opportunity to show her value. All his life
Lister was prone to unpunctuality and to being late with preparations
for his addresses, not because he was indifferent to the convenience of
others or careless about the quality of his teaching, but because he
became so engrossed in the work of the moment that he could not tear
himself away from it so long as any improvement seemed possible. This
same quality made him slow over his hospital rounds and often over
operations, with the result that his own meal-times were most irregular
and his assistants often had trouble to stay the pangs of hunger. This
handicapped him in private practice and in some measure as a lecturer.
He gave plenty of thought to his subjects, but rarely began to put
thoughts in writing sufficiently in advance of his engagement. When he
was in time with his written matter the credit was chiefly due to his
wife. On the occasion of this paper she wrote for seven hours one day
and eight hours the next, and her heroic industry saved the situation.

Towards the end of 1859 Lister decided to be a candidate for the
Surgical Professorship at Glasgow, which appointment was in the gift of
the Crown; and in spite of some intrigues to secure the patronage for a
local man, the post was offered by the Home Secretary, Sir George Lewis,
to the young Edinburgh surgeon. Syme's opinion and influence no doubt
counted for much. Lister's appointment dated from January 1860, but it
was not till a year and a half later that his position in Glasgow was
assured by his being elected Surgeon to the Royal Infirmary. Before this
he could preach his principles in the lecture-room, but he had little
influence on the practice of his students and colleagues. Thanks to the
reputation which he brought from Edinburgh, his first lecture drew a
full room, and his class grew year by year till it reached the
unprecedented figure of 182, and each year the enthusiasm seemed to
rise. But in the hospital he had an uphill task, as any one will know
who has studied the history of these institutions in the first half of
the century.

To-day the modern hospital is an object of general admiration, with its
high standard of cleanliness and efficiency; and few of us would have
any hesitation if a doctor advised us to go into hospital for an
operation. Seventy or a hundred years ago the case was very different;
and when we read the statistics of the early nineteenth century,
gathered by the surgeons who had known its horrors, it is hard to
believe that we are not back among the worst abuses of the Middle Ages.
Such terrible scourges as pyaemia and hospital gangrene were rife in all
of them. In the chief hospital of Paris, which for centuries claimed
pre-eminence for its medical faculty, the latter disease raged for 200
years without intermission: 25 per cent. of those entering its doors
were found to have died, and the mortality after certain operations was
more than double this figure. Erichsen, who published in 1874 the
statistics of deaths after operations, quoted 25 per cent. in London as
satisfactory, and referred to the 60 per cent. of Paris as not
surprising. In military practice the number of deaths might reach the
appalling figure of 80 or 90 per cent. What was so tragic about this
situation was that it was precisely hospitals, built to be the safeguard
of the community, which were the most dangerous places in the case of
wounds and amputations. In 1869 Sir James Simpson, the famous discoverer
of chloroform, collected statistics of amputations. He took over 2,000
cases treated in hospitals, and the same number treated outside. In the
former 855 patients (nearly 43 per cent.) died, as it seemed, from the
effects of the operation; in the latter only 266 cases (over 13 per
cent.) ended fatally. He went so far as to condemn altogether the system
of big hospitals; and under his influence a movement began for breaking
them up and substituting a system of small huts, which, whether tending
to security or not, was in other ways inconvenient and very expensive.
About the same time certain other reforms, obvious as they seem to us
since the days of Florence Nightingale, were tried in various places,
tending to more careful organization and to greater cleanliness; but
till the cause of the mischief could be discovered, only varying results
could be obtained, and no real victory could be won. Hence a radical
policy like Simpson's met with considerable support. In days when many
surgeons submitted despairingly to what they regarded as inevitable, it
was an advantage to have any one boldly advocating a big measure; and
Simpson had sufficient prestige in Edinburgh and outside to carry many
along with him. But before 1869 another line of attack had been
initiated from Glasgow, and Lister was already applying principles which
were to win the battle with more certainty of permanent success.

Glasgow was no more free from these troubles than other great towns; in
fact it suffered more than most of them. With its rapid industrial
development it had already in 1860 a population of 390,000. Its streets
were narrow, its houses often insanitary. In the haste to make money its
citizens had little time to think of air and open spaces. The science of
town-planning was unborn. Its hospital, far from having any special
advantage of position, was exposed to peculiar dangers. It lay on the
edge of the old cathedral graveyard, where the victims of cholera had
received promiscuous pit-burial only ten years before. The uppermost
tier of a multitude of coffins reached to within a few inches of the
surface. These horrors have long been swept away; but, when Lister took
charge of his wards in the Infirmary, they were infected by the
poisonous air generated so close at hand, and in consequence they
presented a gruesome appearance. The patients came from streets which
often were foul with dirt, smoke, and disease, and were admitted to
gloomy airless wards, where pyaemia or gangrene were firmly established.
In such an environment certain death seemed to await them.

Though his heart must have sunk within him, Lister set himself bravely
to the task of fighting these grim adversaries. For two years, indeed,
he was chiefly occupied with routine work and practical improvements;
but he continued his speculations, and in 1861 an article on amputations
which he contributed to the _System of Surgery_, a large work in four
volumes published in London, showed that he had not lost his power of
surveying questions broadly and examining them with a fresh and original
insight. He was not in danger of letting his mind be swamped with
details, but could put them in their place and subordinate them to
principles; and his article is chiefly directed to a philosophical
survey which would enable his readers to go through the same process of
education which he had followed out for himself. Sir Hector Cameron, the
most constant of his Glasgow disciples, once illustrated this
philosophic spirit from a passage in Cicero contrasting the many
scientists who 'render themselves familiar with the strange' (not
realizing that it is strange or needs explanation) with the few who
'render themselves strange to the familiar'--who stand away from the
phenomena to which every one has become too accustomed and examine them
afresh for themselves. In Lister he recognized the peculiar gift which
enabled him to rise superior to his subject, and to interpret what was
to his colleagues a sealed book. In these days, among the too familiar
scourges of the hospital, his work was perpetually putting questions to
him; to a man whose mind was open the answer might come at any moment
and from any quarter.

As a fact, already, far from his own circle and for a long while out of
his ken, there was working in France the most remarkable scientist of
the century, Louis Pasteur, who more than once put his scientific
ability at the disposal of a stricken industry, and in his quiet
laboratory revived the industrial life of a teeming population. A
manufacturer who was confronted with difficulties in making
beetroot-alcohol and was threatened with financial ruin, appealed for
his help in 1856; and Pasteur spent years on the study of fermentation,
making countless experiments to test the action of the air in the
processes of putrefaction, and coming to the conclusion that the oxygen
of the air was not responsible for them, as was widely believed. He went
further and reached a positive result. He satisfied himself that
putrefaction was set up by tiny living organisms carried in the dust of
the air, and that the process was due to what we now familiarly term
'germs' or 'microbes'. The existence of these infinitesimal creatures
was known already to scientists, but their importance was not grasped
till Pasteur, in the years 1862 to 1864, expounded the results of his
long course of studies. He himself was no expert in medicine, but his
discovery was to bear wonderful fruit when it was properly applied to
the science of health and disease. Lister's study of open wounds, his
observation of the harm done to the tissues in them when vitality was
impaired, and of the value of protective scabs when they formed, enabled
him to see the way and to point it out to others. When in 1865 he first
read the papers which Pasteur had been publishing, he found the
principle for which he had so long been searching. With what excitement
he read them, with what suddenness of conviction he accepted the
message, we do not know; he has left no record of his feelings at the
time: but it was the most important moment in his career, and the rest
of his life was spent in applying these principles to his professional

With his mind thus fortified by the knowledge of the true source of the
mischief, realizing that he had to assist in a battle between the deadly
germs carried in the air and the living tissues trying to defend
themselves, Lister returned afresh to the study of methods. He knew that
he had to reckon with germs in the wound itself, if the skin was broken,
with germs on the hands and instruments of the operator, and with germs
on the dust in the air. He must find some defensive power which was able
to kill the germs, at least in the first two instances, without
exercising an irritating effect on the tissues and weakening their
vitality. The relative importance of these various factors in the
problem only time and experience could tell him. Carbolic acid had been
discovered in 1834 and had already been tried by surgeons with varying
results. At Carlisle it had been used by the town authorities to cope
with the foul odour of sewage, and Lister visited the town to study its
operation. In its cruder form carbolic proved only too liable to
irritate a wound and was difficult to dissolve in water. Lister tried
solutions of different strengths, and finally arrived at a form of
carbolic acid which proved to be soluble in oil and to have the
'antiseptic' force which he desired--that is, to check the process of
sepsis or putrefaction inside the wound. He also set himself to devise
some 'protective' which would enable Nature to do her healing work
without further interference from without. Animals have the power to
form quickly a natural scab over a wound, which is impermeable and at
the same time elastic. The human skin, after a slight wound, in a pure
atmosphere, may heal quickly; but a serious wound may continue open for
a long time, discharging 'pus' at intervals, while decomposition is
slowly lowering the vitality of the patient. Lister made numerous
experiments with layers of chalk and carbolic oil, with a combination of
shellac and gutta-percha, with everything of which he could think, to
imitate the work of nature. His inexhaustible patience stood him in good
stead in all these practical details. Rivals might speak contemptuously
of the 'carbolic treatment' and the 'putty method' as if he were the
vender of a new quack medicine; but at the back of these details was a
scientific principle, firmly grasped by one man, while all others were
groping in the dark.

[Illustration: LORD LISTER

From a photograph by Messrs. Barraud]

During 1866 and 1867 we see from his letters how he set himself to apply
the new principle first to cases of compound fracture and then to
abscesses, how closely and anxiously he watched the progress of his
patients, and how slow he was to claim a victory before his confidence
was assured. In July 1867, when he was just forty years old, he felt it
to be his duty to communicate what he had learnt and to put his
experience at the disposal of his fellow workers. He wrote then to _The
Lancet_ describing in detail eleven cases of compound fracture under his
care, in which one patient had died, one had lost a limb, and the other
nine had been successfully cured. This ratio of success to failure was
far in advance of the average practice of the time; but, for all that,
it is not surprising that he met with the common fate which rewards
pioneers in new fields of study. It is true that other reforms were
helping to reduce the number of fatal cases. Florence Nightingale had
led the way, and much had been learnt about hospital management. It was
possible to maintain that good results had been achieved by other
methods, and that Lister's proofs were in no way decisive. But there was
no need for critics to misapprehend the nature of his claims or to
introduce the personal element and accuse him of plagiarism. Sir James
Simpson revived the memory of a Frenchman, Lemaire, who had used
carbolic acid and written about it in 1860, and refused to give Lister
any credit for his discoveries. As a fact Lister had never heard of
Lemaire or his work; and, besides, the Frenchman had never known the
principles on which Lister based his work, nor did he succeed in
converting others to his practice. How little the personal question need
be raised between men of the highest character is shown by the relations
of Darwin and Wallace, who arrived independently and almost
simultaneously at their theory of the origin of species, Wallace put his
notes, the fruit of many years of work, at the disposal of Darwin; and
both continued to labour at the establishment of truth, each giving
generous recognition to the other's part in the work.

Unmoved then by this and other attacks, Lister continued his experiments
and spent the greatest pains, for years in succession, in improving the
details of his treatment. It would take too long to narrate his
struggles with carbolized silk and catgut in the search for the perfect
ligature, which should be absorbed by the living tissues without setting
up putrefaction in the wound; or his countless experiments to find a
dressing which should be antiseptic without bringing any irritating
substance near the vital spot. These latter finally resulted in the
choice of the cyanide gauze, which with its delicate shade of heliotrope
is now a familiar object in hospital and surgery. But one story is of
special interest because it shows us clearly how Lister, while clinging
to a principle, was ready to modify the details of treatment by the
lessons which experience taught him. It was on the advice of others that
he first introduced a carbolic spray in order to purify the air in the
neighbourhood of an operation. At first he used a small spray worked by
hand, but this was, for practical reasons, changed into a foot-spray and
afterwards into one worked by steam. One objection to this was that the
steam-engine was a cumbrous bit of apparatus to carry about with him to
operations; and Lister all his life loved simplicity in his methods.
Another was that the carbolic solution, falling on the hands of the
operator, might chill them and impair his skill in handling his
instruments. Lister himself suffered less in this way than most other
surgeons; with some men it was a grave handicap. The spectators at a
demonstration found it inconvenient, and in one instance at least we
know that the patient was upset by the carbolic vapour reaching her
eyes. This was no less a person than Queen Victoria, upon whom Lister
was called to operate at Balmoral in 1870. About the use of this
apparatus, which was an easy mark for ridicule, Lister had doubts for
some time; but it was not the ridicule which killed it, but his growing
conviction that it did not afford the security which was claimed for it.
He was hesitating in 1881; in 1887 he abandoned the use of the spray
entirely; in 1890 he expressed publicly at Berlin his regret for having
advocated what had proved to be a needless complication and even a
source of trouble in conducting operations. In adopting it he had for
once been ready to listen to the advice of others without his usual
precaution of first-hand experiments; in abandoning it he showed his
contempt for merely outward consistency in practice and his willingness
to admit his own mistakes.

It was at Glasgow that Lister made his initial discoveries and conducted
his first operations under the new system. It was in the Glasgow
Infirmary that he worked cures which roused the astonishment of his
students, however incredulous the older generation might be. He had
formed a school and was happy in the loyal service and in the enthusiasm
of those who worked under him, and he had no desire to leave such a
fruitful field of work. But when in 1869 his father-in-law, owing to
ill-health, resigned his professorship, and a number of Edinburgh
students addressed an appeal to Lister to become a candidate for the
post, he was strongly drawn towards the city where he had married and
spent such happy years. No doubt too he and his wife wished to be near
Syme, who lived for fourteen months after his stroke, and to cheer his
declining days. Lister was elected in August 1869 and moved to Edinburgh
two months later. For a while he took a furnished house, but early in
1870 he made his home in Charlotte Square, from which he had easy access
to the gardens between Princes Street and the Castle, 'a grand place'
for his daily meditations, as he had it all to himself before breakfast.
Altogether, Edinburgh was a pleasant change to him, and refreshing; and
the one man who was likely to stir controversy, Sir James Simpson, died
six months after Lister's arrival. Among his fellow professors were men
eminent in many lines, perhaps the most striking figures being old Sir
Robert Christison of the medical faculty, Geikie the geologist, and
Blackie the classical scholar. The hospital was still run on
old-fashioned lines; but the staff were devoted to their work, from the
head nurse, Mrs. Porter, a great 'character' whose portrait has been
sketched in verse by Henley,[47] to the youngest student; and they were
ready to co-operate heartily with the new chief. The hours of work
suited Lister better than those at Glasgow, where he had begun with an
early morning visit to the Infirmary and had to find time for a daily
lecture. Here he limited himself to two lectures a week, visited the
hospital at midday, and was able to devote a large amount of time to
bacteriological study, which was his chief interest at this time.

[Note 47: W. E. Henley, poet and critic, 1849-1903. His poems, 'In
Hospital' include also a very beautiful sonnet on 'The Chief'--Lister
himself, which almost calls up his portrait to one who has once seen it:
'His brow spreads large and placid.... Soft lines of tranquil
thought.... His face at once benign and proud and shy.... His wise rare

He stayed in Edinburgh eight years, and it was during his time here that
he saw the interest of all Europe in surgical questions quickened by the
Franco-German war, and had to realize how incomplete as yet was his
victory over the forces of destruction. Some enterprising British and
American doctors, who volunteered for field-service, came to him for
advice, and he wrote a series of short instructions for their guidance;
but he soon learnt how difficult it was to carry out his methods in the
field, where appliances were inadequate and where wounds often got a
long start before treatment could be applied. The French statistics,
compiled after the war, are appalling to read: 90 out of 100 amputations
proved fatal, and the total number of deaths in hospital worked out at
over 10,000. The Germans were in advance of the French in the
cleanliness of their methods, and some of their doctors were already
beginning to accept the antiseptic theory; but it was not till 1872 that
this principle can be said to have won the day. The hospitals on both
sides were left with a ghastly heritage of pyaemia and other diseases,
raging almost unchecked in their wards; but, in the two years after the
war, two of the most famous professors in German Universities[48] had by
antiseptic methods obtained such striking results among their patients
that the superiority of the treatment was evident; and both of them
generously gave full credit to Lister as their teacher. When he made a
long tour on the Continent in 1875, finishing up with visits to the
chief medical schools in Germany, these men were foremost in greeting
him, and he enjoyed a conspicuous triumph also at Leipzig. Sir Rickman
Godlee, commenting on the indifference of his countrymen, says that
Lister's teaching was by them 'accepted as a novelty, when it came back
to England, refurbished from Germany'. But this was not till after he
had left Edinburgh, to carry the torch of learning to the south.

[Note 48: Professor Volkmann of Halle and Professor von Nussbaum of

In Edinburgh his colleagues, with all their opportunities for learning
at first hand, seemed strangely indifferent to Lister's presence in
their midst, even when foreigners began to make pilgrimages to the
central shrine of antiseptics. The real encouragement which he got came,
as before, from his pupils, who thronged his lecture-room to the number
of three or four hundred, with sustained enthusiasm. In some ways it is
difficult to account for the popularity of his lectures. He made no
elaborate preparations, but was content to devote a quiet half-hour to
thinking out the subject in his arm-chair. After this he needed no
notes, having his ideas and the development of his thought so firmly in
his grasp that he could follow it out clearly and could hold the
attention of his audience. His voice, though musical, was not of great
power. He was often impeded by a slight stammer, especially at the end
of a session. He was not naturally an eloquent man, and attempted no
flights of rhetoric. But it seems impossible to deny the possession of
special ability to a man who consistently drew such large audiences
throughout a long career; and if it was the matter rather than the
manner which wove the spell, surely that is just the kind of good
speaking which Scotsmen and Englishmen have always preferred.

And so it needed an even greater effort than at Glasgow for Lister to
strike his tent and adventure himself on new ground. It is true that
London was his early home; London could give him wider fame and enable
him to make a larger income by private practice; yet it is very doubtful
whether these motives combined could have induced him to migrate again,
now that he had reached the age of fifty. But he was a man with a
mission. Some of his few converts in London held that only his presence
there could shake the prevailing apathy, and he himself felt that he
must make the effort in the interests of science.

The professorial chair to which he was invited in 1877 was at King's
College, which was relatively a small institution; its hospital was not
up to the Edinburgh standard; the classes which attended his lectures
were small. Owing to an unfortunate incident he was handicapped at the
start. When receiving a parting address from 700 of his Edinburgh
students he made an informal speech in the course of which he compared
the conditions of surgical teaching then prevailing at Edinburgh and
London, in terms which were not flattering to the southern metropolis.
Some comparison was natural in the circumstances; Lister was not
speaking for publication and had no idea that a reporter was present.
But his remarks appeared in print, with the result that might be
expected. The sting of the criticism lay in its truth, and many London
surgeons were only too ready to resent anything which might be said by
the new professor. When he had been living some time in London, Lister
succeeded in allaying the ill feeling which resulted; but at first, even
in his own hospital, he was met by coldness and opposition in his
attempt to introduce new methods. In fact, had he not laid down definite
conditions in accepting the post, he could never have made his way; but
he had stipulated for bringing with him some of the men whom he had
trained, and he was accompanied by four Edinburgh surgeons, the foremost
of whom were John Stewart, a Canadian, and Watson Cheyne, the famous
operator of the next generation. Even so he found his orders set at
naught and his work hampered by a temper which he had never known
elsewhere. In some cases the sisters entrenched themselves behind the
Secretary's rules and refused to comply, not only with the requests of
the new staff, but even with the dictates of common sense and humanity.
Another trouble arose over the system of London examinations which
tempted the students to reproduce faithfully the views of others and
discouraged men from giving time to independent research. Lister's
method of lecturing was designed to foster the spirit of inquiry, and he
would not deign to fill his lecture-room by any species of 'cramming'.
Never did his patience, his hopefulness, and his interest in the cause
have to submit to greater trials; but the day of victory was at hand.

The most visible sign of it was at the International Medical Congress
held at Amsterdam in 1879 and attended by representatives of the great
European nations. One sitting was devoted to the antiseptic system; and
Lister, after delivering an address, received an ovation so marked that
none of his fellow-countrymen could fail to see the esteem in which he
was held abroad. Even in London many of his rivals had by now been
converted. The most distinguished of them, Sir James Paget, openly
expressed remorse for his reluctance to accept the antiseptic principle
earlier, and compared his own record of failures with the successes
attained by his colleague at St. Bartholomew's Thomas Smith, the one
eminent London surgeon who had given Listerism a thorough trial. Other
triumphs followed, such as the visits in 1889 to Oxford and Cambridge to
receive Honorary Degrees, the offer of a baronetcy in 1883, and the
conferring on him in 1885 of the Prussian 'Ordre pour le merite'.[49]
But a chronicle of such external matters is wearisome in itself; and
before the climax was reached, the current of opinion was, by a strange
turn of fortune, already setting in another direction.

[Note 49: Restricted to thirty German and thirty foreign members.]

This was due to the introduction of the so-called aseptic theory so
widely prevalent to-day, of which the chief prophet in 1885 was
Professor von Bergmann of Berlin. Into the relative merits of systems,
on which the learned disagree, it is absurd for laymen to enter; nor is
it necessary to make such comparisons in order to appreciate the example
of Lister's life. The new school believe that they have gained by the
abandonment of carbolic and other antiseptics which may irritate a wound
and by trusting to the agency of heat for killing all germs. But Lister
himself took enormous pains to keep his antiseptic as remote as possible
from the tissues to whose vitality he trusted, and went half-way to meet
the aseptic doctrine. If he retained a belief in the need for carbolic
and distrusted the elaborate ritual of the modern hospital, with its
boiling of everybody and everything connected with an operation, it was
not either from blindness or from pettiness of mind. As in the case of
abandoning the spray, it was his love of simplicity which influenced
him. If the detailed precautions of the complete aseptic system are
found practicable and beneficial in a hospital, they are difficult to
realize for a country surgeon who has to work in a humbler way, and
Lister wished his procedure to be within reach of every practitioner who
needed it.

One more point must be considered before pronouncing Listerism to be
superseded. In time of war there are occasions when necessity dictates
the treatment to be followed. Wounded men, picked up on the field of
battle some hours after they were hit, are not fit subjects for a method
that needs a clear field of operation. It is then too late for aseptic
precautions, as the wound may already be teeming with bacteria. Only the
prompt use of carbolic can stay the ravages of putrefaction; and
Lister's method, so often disparaged, must have saved the lives of
thousands during the late War.

In any case there is much common ground between the two schools: each
can learn from the other, and those professors of asepticism who have
acknowledged their debt to Lister have been wiser than those who have
made contention their aim. This was never the spirit in which he
approached scientific problems.

An earlier controversy, in which his name was involved, was that which
raged round the practice of vivisection. Here Lister had practically the
whole of his profession behind him when he boldly supported the claims
of science to have benefited humanity by the experiments conducted on
animals and to have done so with a minimum of suffering to the latter.
And it was well that science had a champion whose reputation for
gentleness and moderation was so well established. Queen Victoria
herself showed a lively interest in this fiercely-debated question; and
in 1871, when Lister was appealed to by Sir Henry Ponsonby, her private
secretary, to satisfy her doubts on the subject, he wrote an admirable
reply, calm in tone and lucid in statement, in which he showed how
unfounded were the charges brought against his profession.

In 1892 his professional career was drawing to a close. In that year he
received the heartiest recognition that France could give to his work,
when he went there officially to represent the Royal Society at the
Pasteur celebration. A great gathering of scientists and others,
presided over by President Carnot, came together at the Sorbonne to
honour Pasteur's seventieth birthday. It was a dramatic scene such as
our neighbours love, when the two illustrious fellow workers embraced
one another in public, and the audience rose to the occasion. To be
acclaimed with Pasteur was to Lister a crowning honour; but a year later
fortune dealt him a blow from which he never recovered. His wife, his
constant companion and helper, was taken ill suddenly at Rapallo on the
Italian Riviera, and died in a few days; and Lister's life was sadly

He was still considerably before the public for another decade. He did
much useful work for the Royal Society, of which he became Foreign
Secretary in 1893 and President from 1895 to 1900. He visited Canada and
South Africa, received the freedom of Edinburgh in 1898 and of London in
1907, and in 1897 he received the special honour of a peerage, the only
one yet conferred on a medical man. He took an active interest in the
discoveries of Koch and Metchnikoff, preserving to an advanced age the
capacity for accepting new ideas. He was largely instrumental in
founding the Institute of Preventive Medicine now established at Chelsea
and called by his name. But his work as a surgeon was complete before
death separated him from his truest helper. In 1903 his strength began
to fail, and for the last nine years of his life, at London or at
Walmer, he was shut off from general society and lived the life of an

[Illustration: WILLIAM MORRIS

From the painting by G. F. Watts in the National Portrait Gallery]

In 1912 he passed away by almost imperceptible degrees, in his home
by the sea, and by his own request was buried in the quiet cemetery of
West Hampstead where his wife lay. A public service was held in
Westminster Abbey, and a portrait medallion there preserves the memory
of his features. The patient toil, the even temper, the noble purpose
which inspired his life, had achieved their goal--he was a national hero
as truly as any statesman or soldier of his generation; and if,
according to his nature he wished his body to lie in a humble grave, he
deserved full well to have his name preserved and honoured in our most
sacred national shrine.



1834. Born at Walthamstow, March 24.
1848-51. Marlborough College.
1853-5. Exeter College, Oxford.
1856. Studies architecture under Street.
1857. Red Lion Square; influence of D. G. Rossetti.
1858. _Defence of Guenevere_.
1859. Marries Miss Jane Burden.
1860-5. 'Red House', Upton, Kent.
1861. Firm of Art Decorators founded in Queen Square, Bloomsbury.
(Dissolved and refounded 1875.)
1867-8. _Life and Death of Jason_. 1868-70. _Earthly Paradise_.
1870. Tenant of Kelmscott Manor House, on the Upper Thames.
1871-3. Visits to Iceland; work on Icelandic Sagas.
1876. _Sigurd the Volsung_.
1878. Tenant of Kelmscott House, Hammersmith.
1881. Works moved to Merton.
1883-4. Active member of Social Democratic Federation.
1884-90. Founder and active member of Socialist League.
1891. Kelmscott Press founded.
1892-6. Preparation and printing of Kelmscott _Chaucer_.
1896. Death at Hammersmith, October 3.
1896. Burial at Kelmscott, Oxfordshire.



In general it is difficult to account for the birth of an original man
at a particular place and time. As Carlyle says: 'Priceless Shakespeare
was the free gift of nature, given altogether silently, received
altogether silently.' Of his childhood history has almost nothing to
relate, and what is true of Shakespeare is true in large measure of
Burns, of Shelley, of Keats. Even in an age when records are more
common, we can only discern a little and can explain less of the silent
influences at work that begin to make the man. There are few things more
surprising than that, in an age given up chiefly to industrial
development, two prosperous middle-class homes should have given birth
to John Ruskin and William Morris, so alien in temper to all that
traditionally springs from such a soil. In the case of Morris there is
nothing known of his ancestry to explain his rich and various gifts.
From a child he seemed to have found some spring within himself which
drew him instinctively to all that was beautiful in nature, in art, in
books. His earliest companions were the Waverley Novels, which he began
at the age of four and finished at seven; his earliest haunt was Epping
Forest, where he roamed and dreamed through many of the years of his

His father, who was in business in the City of London, as partner in a
bill-broking firm, lived at different times at Walthamstow and at
Woodford; and the hills of the forest, in some places covered with thick
growth of hornbeam or of beech, in others affording a wide view over the
levels of the lower Thames, impressed themselves so strongly on the
boy's memory and imagination that this scenery often recurred in the
setting of tales which he wrote in middle life.

There was no need of external aid to develop these tastes; and Morris
was fortunate in going to a school which did no violence to them by
forcing him into other less congenial pursuits. Marlborough College, at
the time when he went there in 1848, had only been open a few years. The
games were not organized but left to voluntary effort; and during his
three or four years at school Morris never took part in cricket or
football. In the latter game, at any rate, he should have proved a
notable performer on unorthodox lines, impetuous, forcible, and burly
as he was. But he found no reason to regret the absence of games, or to
feel that time hung heavy on his hands. The country satisfied his wants,
the Druidic stones at Avebury, the green water-meadows of the Kennet,
the deep glades of Savernake Forest. So strong was the spell of nature,
that he hardly felt the need for companionship; and, as chance had not
yet thrown him into close relations with any friend of similar tastes,
he lived much alone.

It was a different matter at Oxford, to which he proceeded in January
1853. Among those who matriculated at Exeter College that year was a
freshman from Birmingham named Edward Burne Jones; and within a few days
Morris had begun a friendship with him which lasted for his whole life
and was the source of his greatest happiness. For more than forty years
their names were associated, and so they will remain for generations to
come in Exeter College Chapel, where may be seen the great tapestry of
the Nativity designed by one and executed by the other. Burne-Jones had
not yet found his vocation as a painter; he came to Oxford like Morris
with the wish to take Holy Orders. He was of Welsh family with a Celtic
fervour for learning, and a Celtic instinct for what was beautiful, and
at King Edward's School he had made friends with several men who came up
to Pembroke College about the same time. Their friendship was extended
to his new acquaintance from Marlborough. Here Morris found himself in
the midst of a small circle who shared his enthusiasm for literature and
art, and among whom he quickly learned to express those ideas which had
been stirring his heart in his solitary youth. Through the knowledge
gained by close observation and a retentive memory, through his
impetuosity and swift decision, Morris soon became a leader among them.
Carlyle and Ruskin, Keats and Tennyson, were at this time the most
potent influences among them; and when Morris was not arguing and
declaiming in the circle at Pembroke, he was sitting alone with
Burne-Jones at Exeter reading aloud to him for hours together French
romances and other mediaeval tales. Young men of to-day, with a wealth
of books on their shelves and of pictures on their walls, with popular
reproductions bringing daily to their doors things old and new, can
little realize the thrill of excitement with which these men discovered
and enjoyed a single new poem of Tennyson or an early drawing by Millais
or Rossetti. How they were quickened by ever fresh delight in the beauty
and strangeness of such things, how they responded to the magic of
romance and dreamed of a day when they should themselves help in the
creation of such work, how they started a magazine of their own and
essayed short flights in prose or verse, can best be read in the volumes
which Lady Burne-Jones[50] has dedicated to the memory of her husband.
This period is of capital importance in the life of William Morris, and
the year 1855 especially was fraught with momentous decisions.

[Note 50: _Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones_, by G. B.-J., 2 vols.
(Macmillan, 1904).]

Like Burne-Jones he had gone up to Oxford intending to take Holy Orders
in the Church of England; but the last three years had taught him that
his interest lay elsewhere. The spirit of faith, of reverence, of love
for his fellow men still attracted him to Christianity; but he could not
subscribe to a body of doctrine or accept the authority of a single
Church. His ideal shifted gradually. At one time he hoped to found a
brotherhood which was to combine art with religion and to train
craftsmen for the service of the Church; but he was more fitted to work
in the world than in the cloister, and the social aspect of this
foundation prevailed over the religious. Nor was it mere self-culture to
which he aspired. The arts as he understood them were one field, and a
wide field, for enlarging the powers of men and increasing their
happiness, for continuing all that was most precious in the heritage of
the past and passing on the torch to the future; in this field there was
work for many labourers and all might be serving the common good.

His own favourite study was the thirteenth century, when princes and
merchants, monks and friars, poets and craftsmen had combined to exalt
the Church and to beautify Western Europe; and he wished to recreate the
nineteenth century in its spirit. And so while Burne-Jones discovered
his true gift in the narrower field of painting, Morris began his
apprenticeship in the master craft of architecture, and passed from one
art to another till he had covered nearly the whole field of endeavour
with ever-growing knowledge of principle and restless activity of hand
and eye. His father had died in 1847; and when Morris came of age he
inherited a fortune of about £900 a year and was his own master. Before
the end of 1855 he imparted to his mother his decision about taking
Orders. The Rubicon was crossed; but on which road he was to reach his
goal was not settled for many years. Twice he had to retrace his steps
from a false start and begin a fresh career. The year 1856 saw him still
working at Oxford, in the office of Street, the architect. Two more
years (1857-8) saw him labouring at easel pictures under the influence
of Rossetti, though he also published his first volume of poetry at this
time. The year 1859 found him married, and for the time absorbed in the
making of a home, but still feeling his way towards the choice of a

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was in some ways the most original man of his
generation; certainly he was the only individual whose influence was
ever capable of dominating Morris and drawing him to a course of action
which he would not have chosen for himself. Rossetti's tragic collapse
after his wife's death, and the pictures which he painted in his later
life, have obscured the true portrait of this virile and attractive
character. Burne-Jones fell completely under his spell, and he tells us
how for many years his chief anxiety, over each successive work of art
that he finished, was 'what Gabriel would have thought of it'. So
decisive was his judgement, so dominating his personality.

Morris's period of hesitation ended in 1861, when the first firm of
decorators was started among the friends. Of the old Oxford set it
included Burne-Jones and Faulkner; new elements were introduced by
Philip Webb the architect and Madox Brown the painter. The leadership in
ideas might still perhaps belong to Rossetti; but in execution William
Morris proved himself at once the captain. The actual work which he
contributed in the first year was more than equal to that produced by
his six partners, and future years told the same tale.

In the early part of his married life Morris lived in Kent, at Upton,
some twelve miles from Charing Cross, in a house built for him by his
friend Webb. The house was of red brick, simple but unconventional in
character, built to be the home of one who detested stucco and all other
shams, and wished things to seem what they were. Its decoration was to
be the work of its owner and his friends.

Here we see Morris in the strength of early manhood and in all the
exuberance of his rich vigorous nature, surrounded by friends for whom
he kept open house, in high contentment with life, eager to respond to
all the claims upon his energy. Here came artists and poets, in the
pleasant summer days, jesting, dreaming, discussing, indulging in bouts
of single-stick or game of bowls in the garden, walking through the
country-side, quoting poets old and new, and scheming to cover the walls
and cupboards of the rooms with the legends of mediaeval romance.
Visitors of the conventional aesthetic type would have many a surprise
and many a shock. The jests often took the form of practical jokes, of
which Morris, from his explosive temper, was chosen to be the butt, but
which in the end he always shared and enjoyed. Rossetti, Burne-Jones,
and Faulkner would conspire to lay booby traps on the doors for him,
would insult him with lively caricatures, and with relentless humour
would send him to 'Coventry' for the duration of a dinner. Or he would
have a sudden tempestuous outbreak in which chairs would collapse and
door panels be kicked in and violent expletives would resound through
the hall. In all, Morris was the central figure, impatient, boisterous,
with his thick-set figure, unkempt hair, and untidy clothing, but with
the keenest appreciation and sympathy for any manifestation of beauty in
literature or in art. But this idyll was short-lived. Ill-health in the
Burne-Jones family was followed by an illness which befell Morris
himself; and the demand of the growing business and the need for the
master to be nearer at hand forced him to leave Upton. The Red House was
sold in 1865; and first Bloomsbury and later Hammersmith furnished him
with a home more conveniently placed.

The period of his return to London coincided with the most fruitful
period of his poetic work. Already at Oxford he had written some pieces
of verse which had found favour with his friends. He soon found that his
taste and his talent was for narrative poetry; and in 1856 he made
acquaintance with his two supreme favourites, Chaucer and Malory. It is
to them that he owes most in all that he produced in poetry or in prose,
and notably in the _Earthly Paradise_, which he published between 1868
and 1870. This consists of a collection of stories drawn chiefly from
Greek sources, but supposed to be told by a band of wanderers in the
fourteenth century. Thus the classic legends are seen through a veil of
mediaeval romance. He had no wish to step back, in the spirit of a
modern scholar, across the ages of ignorance or mist, and to pick up
the classic stones clear-cut and cold as the Greeks left them. To him
the legends had a continuous history up to the Renaissance; as they were
retold by Romans, Italians, or Provençals, they were as a plant growing
in our gardens, still putting out fresh shoots, not an embalmed corpse
such as later scholars have taught us to exhume and to study in the
chill atmosphere of our libraries and museums. This mediaevalism of his
was much misunderstood, both in literature and in art; people would talk
to him as if he were imitating the windows or tapestries of the Middle
Ages, whereas what he wanted was to recapture the technical secrets
which the true craftsmen had known and then to use these methods in a
live spirit to carry on the work to fresh developments in the future.

If the French tales of the fourteenth century were an inspiration to him
in his earliest poems, a second influence no less potent was that of the
Icelandic Sagas. He began to study them in 1869, and a little later,
with the aid of Professor Magnusson, he was translating some of them
into English. He made two journeys to Iceland, and was deeply moved by
the wild grandeur of the scenes in which these heroic tales were set.
For many successive days he rode across grim solitary wastes with more
enthusiasm than he could give to the wonted pilgrimages to Florence and
Venice. When he was once under the spell, only the geysers with their
suggestion of modern text-books and _Mangnall's Questions_[51] could
bore him; all else was magical and entrancing. This enthusiasm bore
fruit in _Sigurd the Volsung_, the most powerful of his epic poems,
written in an old English metre, which Morris, with true feeling for
craftsmanship, revived and adapted to his theme. His poetry in general,
less rich than that of Tennyson, less intense than that of Rossetti,
had certain qualities of its own, and owed its popularity chiefly to his
gift for telling a story swiftly, naturally and easily, and in such a
way as to carry his reader along with him.

[Note 51: Letter quoted in _Life of Morris_, by J. W. Mackail, vol.
i, p. 257 (Longmans, Green & Co., 1911).]

His fame was growing in London, which was ready enough in the nineteenth
century to make the most of its poets. In Society, if he had allowed it
to entertain him, he would have been a picturesque figure, though hardly
such as was expected by admirers of his poetry and his art. To some his
dress suggested only the prosperous British workman; to one who knew him
later he seemed like 'the purser of a Dutch brig' in his blue tweed
sailor-cut suit. This was his Socialist colleague Mr. Hyndman, who
describes 'his imposing forehead and clear grey eyes with the powerful
nose and slightly florid cheeks', and tells us how, when he was talking,
'every hair of his head and his rough shaggy beard appeared to enter
into the subject as a living part of himself.' Elsewhere he speaks of
Morris's 'quick, sharp manner, his impulsive gestures, his hearty
laughter and vehement anger'. At times Morris could be bluff beyond
measure. Stopford Brooke, who afterwards became one of his friends,
recounts his first meeting with Morris in 1867. 'He didn't care for
parsons, and he glared at me when I said something about good manners.
Leaning over the table with his eyes set and his fist clenched he
shouted at me, "I am a boor and the son of a boor".' So ready as he was
to challenge anything which smacked of conventionality or pretension, he
was not quite a safe poet to lionize or to ask into mixed company.

But it was less in literature than in art that he influenced his
generation, and we must return to the history of the firm. From small
beginnings it had established itself in the favourable esteem of the
few, and, thanks to exhibitions, its fame was spreading. Though as many
as twelve branches are mentioned in a single copy of its prospectus,
there was generally one department which for the moment occupied most of
the creative energy of the chief.

Painted glass is named first on the prospectus, and was one of the
earlier successes of the firm. As it was employed for churches more
often than for private houses, it is familiar to many who do not know
Morris's work in their homes; but it is hardly the most characteristic
of his activities. For one thing, the material, the 'pot glass', was
purchased, not made on the premises. Morris's skill lay in selecting the
best colours available rather than in creating them himself. For
another, he knew that his own education in figure-drawing was
incomplete, and he left this to other artists. Most of the figures were
designed by Burne-Jones, and some of the best-known examples of his
windows are at St. Philip's, Birmingham, near the artist's birthplace,
and at St. Margaret's, Rottingdean, where he died.[52] But no cartoon,
by Burne-Jones or any one else, was executed till Morris had supervised
the colour scheme; and he often designed backgrounds of foliage or

[Note 52: Other easily accessible examples are in Christ Church
Cathedral, Oxford, and Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge.]

To those people of limited means who cannot afford tapestries and
embroidery (which follow painted glass on the firm's list), yet who wish
to beautify their homes, interest centres in the chintzes and
wall-papers. These show the distinctive gifts by which Morris most
widely influenced the Victorian traditions. It is not easy to explain
why one design stirs our curiosity and quickens our delight, while
another has the opposite effect. Critics can prate about natural and
conventional art without helping us to understand; but a passage from
Mr. Clutton-Brock seems worth quoting as simply and clearly phrased.[53]
'Morris would start', he says, 'with a pattern in his mind and from the
first saw everything as a factor in that pattern. But in these early
wall-papers he showed a power of pattern-making that has never been
equalled in modern times. For though everything is subject to the
pattern, yet the pattern itself expresses a keen delight in the objects
of which it is composed. So they are like the poems in which the words
keep a precise and homely sense and yet in their combination make a
music expressive of their sense.' Beginning with the design of the
rose-trellis in 1862, Morris laid under contribution many of the most
familiar flowers and trees. The daisy, the honeysuckle, the willow
branch, are but a few of the best known: each bears the stamp of his
inventive fancy and his cunning hand: each flower claims recognition for
itself, and reveals new charms in its appointed setting. Of these papers
we hear that Morris himself designed between seventy and eighty, and
when we add chintzes, tapestry, and other articles we may well be
astonished at the fertility of his brain.

[Note 53: _William Morris_, by A. Clutton-Brock (Williams and
Norgate, 1914).]

Even so, much must have depended on his workmen as the firm's operations

Mr. Mackail tells us of the faith which Morris had in the artistic
powers of the average Englishman, if rightly trained. He was ready to
take and train the boy whom he found nearest to hand, and he often
achieved surprising results. His own belief was that a good tradition
once established in the workshops, by which the workman was allowed to
develop his intelligence, would of itself produce good work: others
believed that the successes would have been impossible without the
unique gifts of the master, one of which was that he could intuitively
select the right man for each job.

The material as well as the workers needed this selective power. The
factories of the day had accustomed the public to second-rate material
and second-rate colour, and Morris was determined to set a higher
standard. In 1875 he was absorbed in the production of vegetable dyes,
which he insisted on having pure and rich in tone. Though madder and
weld might supply the reds and yellows which he needed, blue was more
troublesome. For a time he accepted prussian blue, but he knew that
indigo was the right material, and to indigo he gave days of
concentrated work, preparing and watching the vats, dipping the wool
with his own hands (which often bore the stain of work for longer than
he wished), superintending the minutest detail and refusing to be
content with anything short of the best. But these two qualities of
industry and of aiming at a high standard would not have carried him so
far if he had not added exceptional gifts of nature. With him hand and
eye worked together as in few craftsmen of any age; and thus he could
carry his experiments to a successful end, choosing his material, mixing
his colours, and timing his work with exact felicity. And when he had
found the right way he had the rare skill to communicate his knowledge
to others and thus to train them for the work.

Queen Square, Bloomsbury, was the first scene of his labours; but as the
firm prospered and the demands for their work grew, Morris found the
premises too small. At one time he had hopes of finding a suitable spot
near the old cloth-working towns at the foot of the Cotswolds, where
pure air and clear water were to be found; but the conditions of trade
made it necessary for him to be nearer to London. In 1881 he bought an
old silk-weaving mill at Merton near Wimbledon, on the banks of the
Wandle, and this is still the centre of the work.

To study special industries, or to execute a special commission, he was
often obliged to make long journeys to the north of England or
elsewhere; but the routine of his life consisted in daily travelling
between his house at Hammersmith and the mills at Merton, which was
more tiresome than it is to-day owing to the absence of direct connexion
between these districts. But his energy overbore these obstacles; and,
except when illness prevented him, he remained punctual in his
attendance to business and in close touch with all his workers. Towards
them Morris was habitually generous. The weaker men were kept on and
paid by time, long after they had ceased to produce remunerative work,
while the more capable were in course of time admitted as profit-sharers
into the business. Every man who worked under him had to be prepared for
occasional outbursts of impatient temper, when Morris spoke, we are
told, rather as a good workman scornful of bad work, than as an employer
finding fault with his men; but in the long run all were sure to receive
fair and friendly treatment.

Such was William Morris at his Merton works, a master craftsman worthy
of the best traditions of the Middle Ages, fit to hold his place with
the masons of Chartres, the weavers of Bruges, and the wood-carvers of
Nuremberg. As a manager of a modern industrial firm competing with
others for profit he was less successful. The purchasing of the best
material, the succession of costly experiments, the 'scrapping' of all
imperfect work, meant a heavy drain on the capital. Also the society had
been hurriedly formed without proper safeguards for fairly recompensing
the various members according to their work; and when in 1875 it was
found necessary to reconstitute it, that Morris might legally hold the
position which he had from the outset won by his exertions, this could
not be effected without loss, nor without a certain friction between the
partners. So, however prosperous the business might seem to be through
its monopoly of certain wares, it was difficult even for a skilful
financier to make on each year a profit which was in any way
proportionate to the fame of the work produced. But in 1865 Morris was
fortunate in finding a friend ready to undertake the keeping of the
books, who sympathized with his aims and whose gifts supplemented his
own; and, for the rest, he had read and digested the work of Ruskin, and
had learnt from him that the function of the true merchant was to
produce goods of the best quality, and only secondarily to produce a
profitable balance-sheet.

How it was that from being the head of an industrial business Morris
came to be an ardent advocate of Socialism is the central problem of his
life. The root of the matter lay in his love of art and of the Middle
Ages. He had studied the centuries productive of the best art known to
him, and he believed that he understood the conditions under which it
was produced. The one essential was that the workers found pleasure in
their work. They were not benumbed by that Division of Labour which set
the artisan laboriously repeating the same mechanical task; they worked
at the bidding of no master jealously measuring time, material, and
price against his competitors; they passed on from one generation to
another the tradition of work well done for its own sake. He knew there
was another side to the picture, and that in many ways the freedom of
the mediaeval craftsman had been curtailed. He did not ask history to
run backwards, but he felt that the nineteenth century was advancing on
the wrong line of progress. To him there seemed to be three types of
social framework. The feudal or Tory type was past and obsolete; for the
richer classes of to-day had neither the power nor the will to renew it.
The Whig or Manchester ideal held the field, the rich employer regarding
his workmen as so many hands capable of producing so much work and so
much profit, and believing that free bargaining between free men must
yield the best economic results for all classes, and that beyond
economic and political liberty the State had no more to give, and a man
must be left to himself. Against this doctrine emphatic protests had
been uttered in widely differing forms by Carlyle and Disraeli, by
Ruskin and Dickens; but it was slow to die.

The third ideal was that of the Socialist; and to Morris this meant that
the State should appropriate the means of production and should so
arrange that every worker was assured of the means of livelihood and of
sufficient leisure to enjoy the fruits of what he had made. He who could
live so simply himself thought more of the unjust distribution of
happiness than of wealth, as may be seen in his _News from Nowhere_,
where he gives a Utopian picture of England as it was to be after the
establishment of Socialism. Here rather than in polemical speeches or
pamphlets can we find the true reflection of his attitude and the way in
which he thought about reform.

It was not easy for him to embark on such a crusade. In his early
manhood, except for his volunteering in the war scare of 1859, he had
taken no part in public life. The first cause which led to his appearing
at meetings was wrath at the ill-considered restoration of old
buildings. In 1877, when a society was formed for their protection,
Morris was one of the leaders, and took his stand by Ruskin, who had
already stated the principles to be observed. They believed that the
presentation of nineteenth-century masonry in the guise of mediaeval
work was a fraud on the public, that it obscured the true lessons of the
past, and that, under the pretence of reviving the original design, it
marred the development which had naturally gone forward through the
centuries. It was from his respect for work and the workman that Morris
denounced this pedantry, from his love of stones rightly hewn and laid,
of carving which the artist had executed unconsciously in the spirit of
his time, and which was now being replaced by lifeless imitation to the
order of a bookish antiquary. Against this he was ready to protest at
all times, and references to meetings of 'Antiscrape', as he calls the
society, are frequent in his letters. He also was rigid in declining all
orders to the firm where his own decorations might seem to disturb the
relics of the past.

His next step was still more difficult. The plunge of a famous poet and
artist into agitation, of a capitalist and employer into Socialism,
provoked much wonder and many indignant protests. His severer critics
seized on any pamphlet of his in which they could detect logical
fallacies and scornfully asked whether this was fit work for the author
of the _Earthly Paradise_. Many liberal-minded people indeed regretted
the diversion of his activities, but the question whether he was wasting
them is one that needs consideration; and to judge him fairly we must
look at the problem from his side and postulate that Socialism (whether
he interpreted its theories aright or not) did pursue practical ideals.
If Aeschylus was more proud of fighting at Marathon than of writing
tragedies--if Socrates claimed respect as much for his firmness as a
juryman as for his philosophic method--surely Morris might believe that
his duty to his countrymen called him to leave his study and his
workshop to take an active part in public affairs. He might be more
prone to error than those who had trained themselves to political life,
but he faced the problems honestly and sacrificed his comfort for the
common good.

Criticism took a still more personal turn in the hands of those who
pointed out that Morris himself occupied the position of a capitalist
employer, and who asked him to live up to his creed by divesting himself
of his property and taking his place in the ranks of the proletariat.
This argument is dealt with by Mr. Mackail,[54] who describes the steps
which Morris took to admit his foremen to sharing the profits of the
business, and defends him against the charge of inconsistency. Morris
may not have thought out the question in all its aspects, but much of
the criticism passed upon him was even more illogical and depended on
far too narrow and illiterate a use of the word Socialism. He knew as
well as his critics that no new millennium could be introduced by merely
taking the wealth of the rich and dividing it into equal portions among
the poor.

[Note 54: _Life of Morris_, by J. W. Mackail, vol. ii, pp. 133-9.]

However reluctant Morris might be to leave his own work for public
agitation, he plunged into the Socialist campaign with characteristic
energy. For two or three years he was constantly devoting his Sundays to
open-air speech-making, his evenings to thinly-attended meetings in
stuffy rooms in all the poorer parts of London; and, at the call of
comrades, he often travelled into the provinces, and even as far as
Scotland, to lend a hand. And he spent time and money prodigally in
supporting journals which were to spread the special doctrines of his
form of Socialism. Nor was it only the indifference and the hostility of
those outside which he had to meet; quarrels within the party were
frequent and bitter, though Morris himself, despite his impetuous
temper, showed a wonderful spirit of brotherliness and conciliation. For
two years his work lay with the Socialist Democratic Federation, till
differences of opinion with Mr. Hyndman drove him to resign; in 1885 he
founded the Socialist League, and for this he toiled, writing, speaking,
and attending committees, till 1889, when the control was captured by a
knot of anarchists, in spite of all his efforts. After this he ceased to
be a 'militant'; but in no way did he abandon his principles or despair
of the ultimate triumph of the cause. The result of his efforts must
remain unknown. If the numbers of his audiences were often
insignificant, and the visible outcome discouraging to a degree, yet in
estimating the value of personal example no outward test can satisfy us.
He gave of his best with the same thoroughness as in all his crafts, and
no man can do more. But, looking at the matter from a regard to his
special gifts and to his personal happiness, we may be glad that his
active connexion with Socialism ceased in 1889, and that he was granted
seven years of peace before the end.

These were the years that saw the birth and growth of the 'Kelmscott'
printing press, so called after his country house. Of illuminated
manuscripts[55] he had always been fond, but it was only in 1888 that
his attention was turned to details of typography. The mere study of old
and new founts did not satisfy him for long; the creative impulse
demanded that he should design types of his own and produce his own
books. As in the other arts, his lifelong friend Burne-Jones was called
in to supply figure drawings for the illustrated books which Morris was
himself to adorn with decorative borders and initials. Of his many
schemes, not all came to fruition; but after four years of planning, and
a year and a half given to the actual process of printing, his
masterpiece, the Kelmscott edition of Chaucer, was completed, and a copy
was in his hands a few months before his death.

[Note 55: Mr. Hyndman (_Story of an Adventurous Life_, p. 355)
describes a visit to the Bodleian Library at Oxford with Morris, and how
'quickly, carefully, and surely' he dated the illuminated manuscripts.]

The last seven years of his life were spent partly at Hammersmith and
partly at Kelmscott, the old manor house, lying on the banks of the
Upper Thames, which he had tenanted since 1878. He had never been a
great traveller, dearly though he loved the north of France with its
Gothic cathedrals and 'the river bottoms with the endless poplar forests
and the green green meadows'. His tastes were very individual. Iceland
made stronger appeals to him than Greece or Rome; and even at Florence
and Venice he was longing to return to England and its homely familiar
scenes. Scotland with its bare hills, 'raw-boned' as he called it, never
gave him much pleasure; for he liked to see the earth clothed by nature
and by the hand of man. By the Upper Thames, at the foot of the
Cotswolds, the buildings of the past were still generally untouched; and
beyond the orchards and gardens, with their old-world look, lay
stretches of meadows, diversified by woods and low hills, haunted with
the song of birds; and he could believe himself still to be in the
England of Chaucer and Shakespeare. There he would always welcome the
friends whom he loved and who loved him; but to the world at large he
was a recluse. His abrupt manner, his Johnsonian utterances, would have
made him a disconcerting element in Victorian tea-parties. When provoked
by foolish utterances, he was, no less than Johnson, downright in
contradiction. There was nothing that he disliked so much as being
lionized; and there was much to annoy him when he stepped outside his
own home and circle. His last public speech was made on the abuses of
public advertisement; and in the last year of his life we hear him
growling in Ruskinian fashion that he was ever 'born with a sense of
romance and beauty in this accursed age'.

His life had been a strenuous and exhausting one, but he enjoyed it to
the last. As he said to Hyndman ten days before the end, 'It has been a
jolly good world to me when all is said, and I don't wish to leave it
yet awhile'. At least his latter years had been years of peace. He had
been freed from the stress of conflict; he had found again the joys of
youth, and could recapture the old music.

    The days have slain the days, and the seasons have gone by
    And brought me the summer again; and here on the grass I lie
    As erst I lay and was glad, ere I meddled with right and wrong.

After an illness in 1891 he never had quite the same physical vigour,
though he continued to employ himself fully for some years in a way
which would tax the energy of many robust men. In 1895 the vital energy
was failing, and he was content to relax his labours. In August 1896 he
was suffering from congestion of the lungs, and in October he died
peacefully at Hammersmith, attended by the loving care of his wife and
his oldest friends. The funeral at Kelmscott was remarkable for
simplicity and beauty, the coffin being borne along the country road in
a farm wagon strewn with leaves; and he lies in the quiet churchyard
amid the meadows and orchards which he loved so well.

Among the prophets and poets who took up their parable against the
worship of material wealth and comfort, he will always have a foremost
place. The thunder of Carlyle, the fiery eloquence of Ruskin, the
delicate irony of Matthew Arnold, will find a responsive echo in the
heart of one reader or another; will expose the false standards of life
set up in a materialistic age and educate them in the pursuit of what is
true, what is beautiful, and what is reasonable. But to men who work
with their hands there must always be something specially inspiring in
the life and example of one who was a handicraftsman and so much beside.
And Morris was not content to denounce and to despair. He enjoyed what
was good in the past and the present, and he preached in a hopeful
spirit a gospel of yet better things for the future. He was an artist in
living. Amid all the diversity of his work there was an essential unity
in his life. The men with whom he worked were the friends whom he
welcomed in his leisure; the crafts by which he made his wealth were the
pastimes over which he talked and thought in his home; his dreams for
the future were framed in the setting of the mediaeval romances which he
loved from his earliest days. Though he lived often in an atmosphere of
conflict, and often knew failure, he has left us an example which may
help to fill the emptiness and to kindle the lukewarmness of many an
unquiet heart, and may reconcile the discords that mar the lives of too
many of his countrymen in this age of transition and of doubt.


From a drawing by Frederick Sandys]



1837. Born at Oxford, December 12.
1845-52. Magdalen College School, Oxford.
1852-4. With a private tutor.
1855-9. Jesus College, Oxford.
1861-3. Curate at Goswell Road, E.C.
1863-4. Curate at Hoxton.
1864-9. Mission Curate and Rector of St. Philip's, Stepney.
1869. Abandons parochial work. Librarian at Lambeth Palace.
1867-73. Contributor to _Saturday Review_.
1874. _Short History of the English People_ published.
1877. Marries Miss Alice Stopford.
1877-80. Four volumes of larger _History of the English People_ published.
1880-1. Winter in Egypt.
1882. January, _Making of England_ published.
1883. January, _Conquest of England_ finished (published posthumously).
      Last illness. Death, March 7.



The eighteenth century did some things with a splendour and a
completeness which is the despair of later, more restlessly striving
generations. Barren though it was of poetry and high imagination, it
gave birth to our most famous works in political economy, in biography,
and in history; and it has set up for us classic models of imperishable
fame. But the wisdom of Adam Smith, the shrewd observation of Boswell,
the learning of Gibbon, did not readily find their way into the
market-place. Outside of the libraries and the booksellers' rows in
London and Edinburgh they were in slight demand. Even when the volumes
of Gibbon, Hume, and Robertson had been added to the library shelves,
where Clarendon and Burnet reigned before them, too often they only
passed to a state of dignified retirement and slumber. No hand disturbed
them save that of the conscientious housemaid who dusted them in due
season. They were part of the furnishings indispensable to the elegance
of a 'gentleman's seat'; and in many cases the guests, unless a Gibbon
were among them, remained ignorant whether the labels on their backs
told a truthful tale, or whether they disguised an ingenious box or
backgammon board, or formed a mere covering to the wall.

The fault was with the public more than with the authors. Those who
ventured on the quest would find noble eloquence in Clarendon, lively
narrative in Burnet, critical analysis in Hume; but the indolence of the
Universities and the ignorance of the general public unfitted them for
the effort required to value a knowledge of history or to take steps to
acquire it. It is true that the majestic style of Clarendon was puzzling
to a generation accustomed to prose of the fashion inaugurated by Dryden
and Addison; and that Hume and other historians, with all their
precision and clearness, were wanting in fervour and imagination. But
the record of English history was so glorious, so full of interest for
the patriot and for the politician, that it should have spoken for
itself, and the apathy of the educated classes was not creditable to
them. Even so Ezekiel found the Israelites of his day, forgetful of
their past history and its lessons, sunk in torpor and indifference. He
looked upon the wreckage of his nation, settled in the Babylonian plain;
in his fervent imagination he saw but a valley of dry bones, and called
aloud to the four winds that breath should come into them and they
should live.

In our islands the prophets who wielded the most potent spell came from
beyond the Border. Walter Scott exercised the wider influence, Carlyle
kindled the intenser flame. As artists they followed very different
methods. Scott, like a painter, wielding a vigorous brush full charged
with human sympathies, set before us a broad canvas in lively colours
filled with a warm diffused light. Carlyle worked more in the manner of
an etcher, the mordant acid eating deep into the plate. From the depth
of his shadows would stand out single figures or groups, in striking
contrast, riveting the attention and impressing themselves on the
memory. Scott drew thousands of readers to sympathize with the men and
women of an earlier day, and to feel the romance that attaches to lost
causes in Church and State. Carlyle set scores of students striving to
recreate the great men of the past and by their standards to reject the
shibboleths of the present. However different were the methods of the
enchanters, the dry bones had come to life. Mediaeval abbot and
crusader, cavalier and covenanter, Elizabeth and Cromwell, spoke once
more with a living voice to ears which were opened to hear.

Nor did the English Universities fail to send forth men who could meet
the demands of a generation which was waking up to a healthier political
life. The individual who achieved most in popularizing English history
was Macaulay, who began to write his famous Essays in 1825, the year
after he won his fellowship at Trinity, though the world had to wait
another twenty-five years for his History of the English Revolution.
Since then Cambridge historians like Acton, or Maitland, have equalled
or excelled him in learning, though none has won such brilliant success.
But it was the Oxford School which did most, in the middle of the
nineteenth century, to clear up the dark places of our national record
and to present a complete picture of the life of the English people.
Freeman delved long among the chronicles of Normans and Saxons; Stubbs
no less laboriously excavated the charters of the Plantagenets; Froude
hewed his path through the State papers of the Tudors; while Gardiner
patiently unravelled the tangled skein of Stuart misgovernment. John
Richard Green, one of the youngest of the school, took a wider subject,
the continuous history of the English people. He was fortunate in
writing at a time when the public was prepared to find the subject
interesting, but he himself did wonders in promoting this interest, and
since then his work has been a lamp to light teachers on the way.

In a twofold way Green may claim to be a child of Oxford. Not only was
he a member of the University, but he was a native of the town, being
born in the centre of that ancient city in the year of Queen Victoria's
accession. His family had been engaged in trade there for two
generations without making more than a competence; and even before his
father died in 1852 they were verging on poverty. Of his parents, who
were kind and affectionate, but not gifted with special talents, there
is little to be told; the boy was inclined, in after life, to attribute
any literary taste that he may have inherited to his mother. From his
earliest days reading was his passion, and he was rarely to be seen
without a book. Old church architecture and the sound of church bells
also kindled his childish enthusiasms, and he would hoard his pence to
purchase the joy of being admitted into a locked-up church. So he was
fortunate in being sent at the age of eight to Magdalen College School,
where he had daily access to the old buildings of the College and the
beautiful walks which had been trodden by the feet of Addison a century
and a half before. An amusing contrast could be drawn between the
decorous scholar of the seventeenth century, handsome, grave of mien,
calmly pacing the gravel walk, while he tasted the delights of classic
literature, and little 'Johnny Green', a mere shrimp of a boy with
bright eyes and restless ways, darting here and there, eagerly searching
for anything new or exciting which he might find, whether in the bushes
or in the pages of some romance which he was carrying.

But, for all his lively curiosity, Green seems to have got little out of
his lessons at school. The classic languages formed the staple of his
education, and he never had that power of verbal memory which could
enable him to retain the rules of the Greek grammar or to handle the
Latin language with the accuracy of a scholar. He soon gave up trying to
do so. Instead of aspiring to the mastery of accidence and syntax, he
aimed rather at securing immunity from the rod. At Magdalen School it
was still actively in use; but there were certain rules about the number
of offences which must be committed in a given time to call for its
application. Green was clever enough to notice this, and to shape his
course accordingly; and thus his lessons became, from a sporting point
of view, an unqualified success.

But his real progress in learning was due to his use of the old library
in his leisure hours. Here he made acquaintance with Marco Polo and
other books of travel; here he read works on history of various kinds,
and became prematurely learned in the heresies of the early Church. The
views which he developed, and perhaps stated too crudely, did not win
approval. He was snubbed by examiners for his interest in heresiarchs,
and gravely reproved by Canon Mozley[56] for justifying the execution of
Charles I. The latter subject had been set for a prize essay; and the
Canon was fair-minded enough to give the award to the boy whose views he
disliked, but whose merit he recognized. Partial and imperfect though
this education was, the years spent under the shadow of Magdalen must
have had a deep influence on Green; but he tells us little of his
impressions, and was only half conscious of them at the time. The
incident which perhaps struck him most was his receiving a prize from
the hands of the aged Dr. Routh, President of the College, who had seen
Dr. Johnson in his youth, and lived to be a centenarian and the pride of
Oxford in early Victorian days.

[Note 56: Rev. J. B. Mozley, 1813-78. Canon of Worcester and Regius
Professor of Divinity at Oxford: a Tractarian; author of essays on
Strafford, Laud, &c.]

Green's school life ended in 1852, the year in which his father died. He
was already at the top of the school; and to win a scholarship at the
University was now doubly important for him. This he achieved at Jesus
College, Oxford, in December 1854, after eighteen months spent with a
private tutor; and, as he was too young to go into residence at once, he
continued for another year to read by himself. Though he gave closer
attention to his classics he did not drop his general reading; and it
was a landmark in his career when at the age of sixteen he made
acquaintance with Gibbon.

His life as an undergraduate was not very happy and was even less
successful than his days at school, though the fault did not lie with
him. Shy and sensitive as he was, he had a sociable disposition and was
naturally fitted to make friends. But he had come from a solitary life
at a tutor's to a college where the men were clannish, most of them
Welshmen, and few of them disposed to look outside their own circle for
friends. Had Green been as fortunate as William Morris, his life at
Oxford might have been different; but there was no Welshman at Jesus of
the calibre of Burne-Jones; and Green lived in almost complete isolation
till the arrival of Boyd Dawkins in 1857. The latter, who became in
after years a well-known professor of anthropology, was Green's first
real friend, and the letters which he wrote to him show how necessary it
was for Green to have one with whom he could share his interests and
exchange views freely. Dawkins had the scientific, Green the literary,
nature and gifts; but they had plenty of common ground and were always
ready to explore the records of the past, whether they were to be found
in barrows, in buildings, or in books. If Dawkins was the first friend,
the first teacher who influenced him was Arthur Stanley, then Canon of
Christ Church and Professor of Ecclesiastical History. An accident led
Green into his lecture-room one day; but he was so much delighted with
the spirit of Stanley's teaching, and the life which he imparted to
history, that he became a constant member of the class. And when Stanley
made overtures of friendship, Green welcomed them warmly.

A new influence had come into his life. Not only was his industry, which
had been feeble and irregular, stimulated at last to real effort; but
his attitude to religious questions and to the position of the English
Church was at this time sensibly modified. He had come up to the
University a High Churchman; like many others at the time of the Oxford
Movement, he had been led half-way towards Roman Catholicism, stirred by
the historical claims and the mystic spell of Rome. But from now
onwards, under the guidance of Stanley and Maurice, he adopted the views
of what is called the 'Broad Church Party', which suited his moral
fervour and the liberal character of his social and political opinions.

Despite, however, the stimulus given to him (perhaps too late) by
Dawkins and Stanley, Green won no distinctions at the University, and
few men of his day could have guessed that he would ever win distinction
elsewhere. He took a dislike to the system of history-teaching then in
vogue, which consisted in demanding of all candidates for the schools a
knowledge of selected fragments of certain authors, giving them no
choice or scope in the handling of wider subjects. He refused to enter
for a class in the one subject in which he could shine, and managed to
scrape through his examination by combining a variety of uncongenial
subjects. This was perverse, and he himself recognized it to be so
afterwards. All the while there was latent in him the talent, and the
ambition, which might have enabled him to surpass all his
contemporaries. His one literary achievement of the time was unknown to
the men of his college, but it is of singular interest in view of what
he came to achieve later. He was asked by the editor of the _Oxford
Chronicle_, an old-established local paper, to write two articles on the
history of the city of Oxford. To most undergraduates the town seemed a
mere parasite of the University; to Green it was an elder sister. Many
years later he complained in one of his letters that the city had been
stifled by the University, which in its turn had suffered similar
treatment from the Church. To this task, accordingly, he brought a ready
enthusiasm and a full mind; and his articles are alive with the essence
of what, since the days of his childhood, he had observed, learnt, and
imagined, in the town of his birth. We see the same spirit in a letter
which he wrote to Dawkins in 1860, telling him how he had given up a day
to following the Mayor of Oxford when he observed the time-honoured
custom of beating the bounds of the city. He describes with gusto how he
trudged along roads, clambered over hedges, and even waded through
marshes in order to perform the rite with scrupulous thoroughness. But
it was years before he could find an audience who would appreciate his
power of handling such a subject, and his University career must, on his
own evidence, be written down a failure.

When it was over he was confronted with the need for choosing a
profession. It had strained the resources of his family to give him a
good education, and now he must fend for himself. To a man of his nature
and upbringing the choice was not wide. His age and his limited means
put the Services out of the question; nor was he fitted to embark in
trade. Medicine would revolt his sensibility, law would chill his
imagination, and journalism did not yet exist as a profession for men of
his stamp. In the teaching profession, for which he had such rare gifts,
he would start handicapped by his low degree. In any case, he had for
some time cherished the idea of taking Holy Orders. The ministry of the
Church would give him a congenial field of work and, so he hoped, some
leisure to continue his favourite studies. Perhaps he had not the same
strong conviction of a 'call' as many men of his day in the High Church
or Evangelical parties; but he was, at the time, strongly drawn by the
example and teaching of Stanley and Maurice, and he soon showed that it
was not merely for negative reasons or from half-hearted zeal that he
had made the choice. When urged by Stanley to seek a curacy in West
London, he deliberately chose the East End of the town because the need
there was greater and the training in self-sacrifice was sterner; and
there is no doubt that the popular sympathies, which the reading of
history had already implanted in him, were nourished and strengthened by
nine years of work among the poor. The exertion of parish work taxed his
physical resources, and he was often incapacitated for short periods by
the lavish way in which he spent himself. Indeed, but for this constant
drain upon his strength, he might have lived a longer life and left more
work behind him.

Of the parishes which he served, the last and the most interesting was
St. Philip's, Stepney, to which he went from Hoxton in 1864. It was a
parish of 16,000 souls, lying between Whitechapel and Poplar, not far
from the London Docks. Dreary though the district seems to us
to-day--and at times Green was fully conscious of this--he could
re-people it in imagination with the men of the past, and find pleasure
in the noble views on the river and the crowded shipping that passed so
near its streets. But above all he found a source of interest in the
living individuals whom he met in his daily round and who needed his
help; and though he achieved signal success in the pulpit by his power
of extempore preaching, he himself cared more for the effect of his
visiting and other social work. Sermons might make an impression for the
moment; personal sympathy, shown in the moment when it was needed, might
change the whole current of a life.

For children his affection was unfailing; and for the humours of older
people he had a wide tolerance and charity. His letters abound with
references to this side of his work. He tells us of his 'polished' pork
butcher and his learned parish clerk, and boasts how he won the regard
of the clerk's Welsh wife by correctly pronouncing the magic name of
Machynlleth. He gave a great deal of time to his parishioners, to
consulting his churchwardens, to starting choirs, to managing classes
and parish expeditions. He could find time to attend a morning police
court when one of his boys got into difficulties, or to hold a midnight
service for the outcasts of the pavement.

When cholera broke out in Stepney in 1866, Green visited the sick and
dying in rooms that others did not dare to enter, and was not afraid to
help actively in burying those who had died of the disease. At holiday
gatherings he was the life and soul of the body, 'shocking two prim
maiden teachers by starting kiss-in-the-ring', and surprising his most
vigorous helpers by his energy and decision. On such occasions he
exhausted himself in the task of leadership, and he was no less generous
in giving financial help to every parish institution that was in need.

What hours he could snatch from these tasks he would spend in the
Reading Room of the British Museum; but these were all too few. His
position, within a few miles of the treasure houses of London, and of
friends who might have shared his studies, must have been tantalizing
to a degree. To parish claims also was sacrificed many a chance of a
precious holiday. We have one letter in which he regretfully abandons
the project of a tour with Freeman in his beloved Anjou because he finds
that the only dates open to his companion clash with the festival of the
patron saint of his church. In another he resists the appeal of Dawkins
to visit him in Somerset on similar grounds. His friend may become
abusive, but Green assures him emphatically that it cannot be helped. 'I
am not a pig,' he writes; 'I am a missionary curate.... I could not come
to you, because I was hastily summoned to the cure of 5,000
costermongers and dock labourers.' We are far from the easy standard of
work too often accepted by 'incumbents' in the opening years of the
nineteenth century.

Early in his clerical career he had begun to form plans for writing on
historical subjects, most of which had to be abandoned for one reason or
another. At one time he was planning with Dawkins a history of Somerset,
which would have been a forerunner of the County Histories of the
twentieth century. Dawkins was to do the geology and anthropology; Green
would contribute the archaeology and history. In many ways they were
well equipped for the task; but the materials had not been sifted and
the demands on their time would have been excessive, even if they
abstained from all other work. Another scheme was for a series of Lives
of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Green was much attracted by the
subject. Already he had made a special study of Dunstan and other great
holders of the See; and he believed that the series would illustrate,
better than the lives of kings, the growth of certain principles in
English history. But with other archbishops he found himself out of
sympathy; and in the end he was not sorry to abandon the idea, when he
found that Dean Hook was already engaged upon it.

A project still nearer to his heart, which he cherished till near the
end of his life, was to write a history of our Angevin kings. For this
he collected a vast quantity of materials, and it was a task for which
he was peculiarly fitted. It would be difficult to say whether Fulc
Nerra, the founder of the dynasty, or Black Angers, the home of the
race, was more vividly present to him. Grim piles of masonry, stark
force of character, alike compelled his admiration and he could make
them live again in print. As it proved, his life was too short to
realize this ambition and he has only left fragments of what he had to
tell, though we are fortunate in having other books on parts of the
subject from his wife and from Miss Norgate, which owed their origin to
his inspiration.

During his time as a London clergyman Green used to pay occasional
visits to Dawkins in Somerset; and in 1862, when he went to read a paper
on Dunstan to a society at Taunton, he renewed acquaintance with his old
schoolfellow, E. A. Freeman, a notable figure in the county as squire,
politician, and antiquarian, and already becoming known outside it as a
historian. The following year, as Freeman's guest, he met Professor
Stubbs; and about this time he also made friends with James Bryce, 'the
Holy Roman', as he calls him in later letters.[57] The friendship of
these three men was treasured by Green throughout his life, and it gave
rise to much interesting correspondence on historical subjects. They
were the central group of the Oxford School; they reverenced the same
ideals and were in general sympathy with one another. But this sympathy
never descended to mere mutual admiration, as with some literary
coteries. Between Freeman and Green in particular there was kept up a
running fire of friendly but outspoken criticism, which would have
strained the tie between men less generous and less devoted to
historical truth. Freeman was the more arbitrary and dogmatic, Green
the more sensitive and discriminating. Green bows to Freeman's superior
knowledge of Norman times, acknowledges him his master, and apologizes
for hasty criticisms when they give offence; but he boldly rebukes his
friend for his indifference to the popular movements in Italian cities
and for his pedantry about Italian names.

[Note 57: The first edition of Bryce's _Holy Roman Empire_ was
published in 1862.]

And he treads on even more delicate ground when he taxes him with
indulging too frequently in polemics, urging him to 'come out of the
arena' and to cease girding at Froude and Kingsley, whose writings
Freeman loved to abuse. Freeman, on the other hand, grumbles at Green
for going outside the province of history to write on more frivolous
subjects, and scolds him for introducing fanciful ideas into his
narrative of events. The classic instance of this was when Green, after
describing the capture by the French of the famous Château Gaillard in
Normandy, had the audacity to say, 'from its broken walls we see not
merely the pleasant vale of Seine, but also the sedgy flats of our own
Runnymede'. Thereby he meant his readers to learn that John would never
have granted the Great Charter to the Barons, had he not already
weakened the royal authority by the loss of Coeur-de-Lion's great
fortress beyond the sea, and that to a historian the germs of English
freedom, won beside the Thames, were to be seen in the wreckage of
Norman power above the Seine. But Freeman was too matter of fact to
allow such flights of fancy; and a lively correspondence passed between
the two friends, each maintaining his own view of what might or might
not be permitted to the votaries of Clio.

But before this episode Green had been introduced by Freeman to John
Douglas Cook, founder and editor of the _Saturday Review_, and had begun
to contribute to its columns. Naturally it was on historical subjects
that his pen was most active; but apart from the serious 'leading
articles', the _Saturday_ found place for what the staff called
'Middles', light essays written after the manner of Addison or Steele on
matters of every-day life. Here Green was often at his best. Freeman
growled, in his dictatorial fashion, when he found his friend turning
away from the strait path of historical research to describe the humours
of his parish, the foibles of district visitors and deaconesses, the
charms of the school-girl before she expands her wings in the
drawing-room--above all (and this last was quoted by the author as his
best literary achievement) the joys of 'Children by the sea'. But any
one who turns over the pages of the volume called _Stray Studies from
England and Italy_, where some of these articles are reprinted, will
probably agree with the verdict of the author on their merits. The
subjects are drawn from all ages and all countries. Historical scenes
are peopled with the figures of the past, treated in the magical style
which Green made his own. Dante is seen against the background of
mediaeval Florence; Tintoret represents the life of Venice at its
richest, most glorious time. The old buildings of Lambeth make a noble
setting for the portraits of archbishops, the gentle Warham, the hapless
Cranmer, the tyrannical Laud. Many of these studies are given to the
pleasant border-land between history and geography, and to the
impressions of travel gathered in England or abroad. In one sketch he
puts into a single sentence all the features of an old English town
which his quick eye could note, and from which he could 'work out the
history of the men who lived and died there. In quiet quaintly-named
streets, in the town mead and the market-place, in the lord's mill
beside the stream, in the ruffed and furred brasses of its burghers in
the church, lies the real life of England and Englishmen, the life of
their home and their trade, their ceaseless, sober struggle with
oppression, their steady, unwearied battle for self-government.'

In another he follows the funeral procession of his Angevin hero Henry
II from the stately buildings of Chinon 'by the broad bright Vienne
coming down in great gleaming curves, under the grey escarpments of rock
pierced here and there with the peculiar cellars or cave-dwellings of
the country', to his last resting-place in the vaults of Fontevraud.
Standing beside the monuments on their tombs he notes the striking
contrast of type and character which Henry offers to his son Richard
Coeur-de-Lion. 'Nothing', he says, 'could be less ideal than the narrow
brow, the large prosaic eyes, the coarse full cheeks, the sensual dogged
jaw, that combine somehow into a face far higher than its separate
details, and which is marked by a certain sense of power and command. No
countenance could be in stronger contrast with his son's, and yet in
both there is the same look of repulsive isolation from men. Richard's
is a face of cultivation and refinement, but there is a strange severity
in the small delicate mouth and in the compact brow of the lion-hearted,
which realizes the verdict of his day. To an historical student one
glance at these faces, as they lie here beneath the vault raised by
their ancestor, the fifth Count Fulc, tells more than pages of history.'
Our reviews and magazines may abound to-day in such vivid pen-pictures
of places and men; but it was Green and others of his day who watered
the dry roots of archaeology and restored it to life.

But from his earliest days as a student Green had looked beyond the
figures of kings, ministers, and prelates, who had so long filled the
stage in the volumes of our historians. However clearly they stood out
in their greatness and in their faults, they were not, and could not be,
the nation. And when he came to write on a larger scale, the title which
he chose for his book showed that he was aiming at new ideals.

The _Short History of the English People_ is the book by which Green's
fame will stand or fall, and it occupied him for the best years of his
life. The true heroes of it are the labourer and the artisan, the friar,
the printer, and the industrial mechanic--'not many mighty, not many
noble'. The true growth of the English nation is seen broad-based on the
life of the commonalty, and we can study it better in the rude verse of
Longland, or the parables of Bunyan, than in the formal records of
battles and dynastic schemes.

The periods into which the book is divided are chosen on other grounds
than those of the old handbooks, where the accession of a new king or a
new dynasty is made a landmark; and a different proportion is observed
in the space given to events or to prominent men. The Wars of the Roses
are viewed as less important than the Peasants' Revolt; the scholars of
the New Learning leave scant space for Lambert Simnels and Perkin
Warbecks. Henry Pelham, one of the last prime ministers to owe his
position to the king's favour, receives four lines, while forty are
given to John Howard, a pioneer in the new path of philanthropy. Besides
social subjects, literature receives generous measure, but even here no
rigid system is observed. Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare take a
prominent place in their epochs; Byron, Wordsworth, and Tennyson are
ignored. This is not because Green had no interest in them or
undervalued their influence. Far from it. But, as the history of the
nation became more complex, he found it impossible, within the limits
prescribed by a _Short_ History, to do justice to everything. He
believed that the industrialism, which grew up in the Georgian era,
exercised a wider influence in changing the character of the people than
the literature of that period; and so he turned his attention to Watt
and Brindley, and deliberately omitted the poets and painters of that
day. With his wide sympathies he must have found this rigorous
compression the hardest of his tasks, and only in part could he
compensate it later. He never lived long enough to treat, as he wished
to do, in the fullness of his knowledge, the later periods of English

In writing this book Green had many discouragements to contend against,
apart from his continual ill-health. Even his friends spoke doubtfully
of its method and style, with the exception of his publisher, George
Macmillan, and of Stopford Brooke, whose own writings breathe the same
spirit as Green's, and who did equally good work in spreading a real
love of history and literature among the classes who were beginning to
read. It was true that Green's book failed to conform to the usual type
of manual; it was not orderly in arrangement, it was often allusive in
style, it seemed to select what it pleased and to leave out what
students were accustomed to learn. But Green's faith in its power to
reach the audience to whom he appealed was justified by the enthusiasm
with which the general public received it. This success was largely due
to the literary style and artistic handling of the subject. Green claims
himself that on most literary questions he is French in his point of
view. 'It seems to me', he says, 'that on all points of literary art we
have to sit at the feet of French Gamaliels'; and in his best work he
has more in common with Michelet than with our own classic historians.
But while Michelet had many large volumes in which to expand his
treatment of picturesque episodes, Green was painfully limited by space.

What he can give us of clear and lively portraiture in a few lines is
seen in his presentation of the gallant men who laid the foundation of
our Empire overseas. By a few lines of narrative, and a happy quotation
from their own words, Green brings out the heroism of their sacrifice or
their success, the faith which inspired Humphry Gilbert to meet his
death at sea, the patience which enabled John Smith to achieve the
tillage of Virginian soil.

Side by side with these masterly vignettes are full-length portraits of
great rulers such as Alfred, Elizabeth, and Cromwell, and vivid
descriptions of religious leaders such as Cranmer, Laud, and Wesley.
Strong though Green's own views on Church and State were, we do not feel
that he is deserting the province of the historian to lecture us on
religion or politics. The book is real narrative written in a fair
spirit, the author rendering justice to the good points of men like
Laud, whom he detested, and aiming above all at conveying clearly to his
readers the picture of what he believed to have happened in the past. As
a narrative it was not without faults. The reviewers at once seized on
many small mistakes, into which Green had fallen through the uncertainty
of his memory for names and words. To these Green cheerfully confessed,
and was thankful that they proved to be so slight. But when other
critics accused him of superficiality they were in error. On this point
we have the verdict of Bishop Stubbs, the most learned and conscientious
historian of the day. 'All Green's work', he says, 'was real and
original work. Few people beside those who knew him well could see,
under the charming ease and vivacity of his style, the deep research and
sustained industry of the laborious student. But it was so; there was no
department of our national records that he had not studied, and, I think
I may say, mastered. Hence, I think, the unity of his dramatic scenes
and the cogency of his historical arguments.'

Green himself was as severe a critic of the book as any one. Writing in
1877 to his future wife, he says, 'I see the indelible mark of the
essayist, the "want of long breath", as the French say, the jerkiness,
the slurring over of the uninteresting parts, above all, the want of
grasp of the subject as a whole'. On the advice of some of his best
friends, confirmed by his own judgement, in 1874 he gave up contributing
to the _Saturday Review_, in order to free his style from the character
imparted to it by writing detached weekly articles. The composing of
these articles had been a pleasure; the writing of English history was
to be his life-work, and no divided allegiance was conceivable to him.
But we may indeed be thankful that he resisted the views of other
friends who wished to drive him into copying German models. This class
Green called 'Pragmatic Historians';[58] and, while acknowledging their
solid contributions to history, he maintains his conviction that there
is another method and another school worthy of imitation, and that he
must 'hold to what he thinks true and work it out as he can'.

Green was a rapid reader and a rapid writer. In a letter to Freeman,
written when he was wintering in Florence in 1872, he admits covering
the period from the Peasant Revolt to the end of the New Learning
(1381-1520) in ten days. But he was writing from notes which represented
years of previous study. In another letter, written in 1876, he
confesses a tendency to 'wild hitting', and perhaps he was too rapid at
times in drawing his inferences. 'With me', he says, 'the impulse to try
to connect things, to find the "why" of things, is irresistible; and
even if I overdo my political guesses, you or some German will punch my
head and put things rightly and intelligibly again.' It is this power of
connecting events and explaining how one movement leads to another which
makes the stimulating quality of Green's work; and to a nation like the
English, too little apt to indulge in general ideas, this quality may be
of more value than the German erudition which tends to overburden the
intelligence with too great a load of 'facts'. And, after all the
labours of Carlyle and Froude, of Stubbs and Freeman, and all the
delving into records and chronicles, who shall say what _are_ facts, and
what is inference, legitimate or illegitimate, from them?

[Note 58: Pragmatic: 'treating facts of history with reference to
their practical lessons.' _Concise Oxford Dictionary._]

Whatever were the shortcomings of the book, which Green in his letters
to Freeman called by the affectionate names of 'Shorts' and 'Little
Book', it inaugurated a new method, and won a hearing among readers who
had hitherto professed no taste for history; and, financially, it proved
so far a success that Green was relieved from the necessity of
continuing work that was uncongenial. He had already given up his parish
in 1869. Ill-health and the advice of his doctor were the deciding
factors; but there is no doubt that Green was also finding it difficult
to subscribe to all the doctrines of the Church. He took up the same
liberal comprehensive attitude to Church questions as he did to
politics, and opposed any attempt to stifle honest inquiry or to punish
honest doubt. He was much disturbed by some of the attempts made at this
time by the more extreme parties in the Church to enforce uniformity.
Also he felt that the Church was not exercising its proper influence on
the nation, owing to the prejudice or apathy of the clergy in meeting
the social movements of the day. If he had found more support, inside
the diocese, for his social and educational work, the breach might have
been healed, or at any rate postponed, in the hope of his health

Relieved of parish work, he found plentiful occupation in revising his
old books and in planning new; he showed wonderful zest for travelling
abroad, and, by choosing carefully the places for his winter sojourn, he
fought heroically to combat increasing ill-health and to achieve his
literary ambitions. Thus it was that he made intimate acquaintance with
San Remo, Mentone, and Capri; and one winter he went as far as Luxor in
the hope that the Egyptian climate might help him; but in vain. Under
the guidance of his friend Stopford Brooke he visited for shorter
periods Venice, Florence, and other Italian towns. He was catholic in
his sympathies but not over-conscientious in sight-seeing. When Brooke
left him at Florence, Green was openly glad to relapse into vagrant
pilgrimage, to put aside his guide-book and to omit the daily visit to
the Uffizi Gallery. But, on the other hand, he reproached Freeman for
confining his interests entirely to architecture and emperors while
ignoring pictures and sculpture, mediaeval guilds, and the relics of old
civic life. It was at Troyes that Bryce observed him 'darting hither and
thither through the streets like a dog following a scent'--and to such
purpose that after a few hours of research he could write a brilliant
paper sketching the history of the town as illustrated in its
monuments--but in Italy, as in France, he had a wonderful gift for
discovering all that was most worth knowing about a town, which other
men passed by and ignored.

Capri, which he first visited at Christmas 1872, was the most successful
of his winter haunts. The climate, the beauty of the scenery, the
simplicity of the life, all suited him admirably. On this occasion he
stayed four months in the island, and he has sung its praises in one of
the 'Stray Studies'. Within a small compass there is a wonderful variety
of scene. Green delights in it all, 'in the boldly scarped cliffs, in
the dense scrub of myrtle and arbutus, in the blue strips of sea that
seem to have been cunningly let in among the rocks, in the olive yards
creeping thriftily up the hill sides, in the remains of Roman sculptures
and mosaics, in the homesteads of grey stone and low domes and Oriental
roofs'. And he found it an ideal place for literary work, restful and
remote, 'where one can live unscourged by Kingsley's "wind of God".'
'The island', he writes, 'is a paradise of silence for those to whom
silence is a delight. One wanders about in the vineyards without a sound
save the call of the vinedressers: one lies on the cliff and hears, a
thousand feet below, the dreary wash of the sea. There is hardly the cry
of a bird to break the spell; even the girls who meet one with a smile
on the hillside smile quietly and gravely in the Southern fashion as
they pass by.' No greater contrast could be found to the conditions
under which he began his books; and it is not surprising that in this
haven of peace, with no parish business to break in upon his study, he
worked more rapidly and confidently--when his health allowed.

From such retreats he would return refreshed in body and mind to
continue studying and writing in London and to sketch out new plans for
the future. One that bore rich fruit was that of a series of Primers,
dealing shortly with great subjects and commending them to the general
reader by attractive literary style. They were produced by Macmillan,
Green acting as editor; and notable volumes were contributed by
Gladstone on Homer, by Creighton on Rome, and by Stopford Brooke on
English Literature. Here, again, Green was a pioneer in a path where he
has had many followers since; and he would have been the first to edit
an English Historical Review if more support had been forthcoming from
the public. But for financial reasons he was obliged to abandon the
scheme, and it did not see the light of day till Creighton launched it
in 1886.

In 1877 he married and found in his wife just the helper that he needed.
She too had the historical imagination, the love of research, and the
power of writing. Husband and wife produced in co-operation a small
geography of the British Isles, well planned, clear, and pleasant to
read. But, apart from this, she was content, during the too brief period
of their married life, to subordinate her activities to helping her
husband, and her aid was invaluable at the time when he was writing his
later books. There is no doubt that his marriage prolonged his life. The
care which his wife took of him, whether in their home in foggy London,
or in primitive lodgings in beautiful Capri, helped him over his worst
days; and the new value which he now set on life and its happiness gave
him redoubled force of will. There were others who helped him in these
days of perpetual struggle with ill-health. His doctors, Sir Andrew
Clark and Sir Lauder Brunton, rendered him the devotion of personal
friends. The historians gathered round him in Kensington Square, the
home of his later years, and cheered him with good talk. Those who were
lucky enough to be admitted might hear him at his best, discussing
historical questions in a circle which included Sir Henry Maine and
Bishop Stubbs, as well as Lecky, Freeman, and Bryce. He had many other
interests. Such a man could not be indifferent to contemporary politics.
His heroes--and he was an ardent worshipper of heroes--were Gladstone
and Garibaldi, and, like many Liberals of the day, he was violent in his
opposition to Beaconsfield's policy in Eastern Europe. Hatred of
Napoleonic tyranny killed for a while his sympathy with France, and in
1870 he sympathized with the German cause--at least till the rape of the
two provinces and the sorrows of disillusioned France revived his old
feeling for the French nation. Over everything he felt keenly and
expressed himself warmly. As Tennyson said to him at the close of a
visit to Aldworth, 'You're a jolly, vivid man; you're as vivid as

Particularly dear to him was the close sympathy of Stopford Brooke and
that of Humphry Ward, to whose father he had been curate in 1860 and who
had himself for years learnt to cherish the friendship of Green and to
seek his counsel. Mrs. Ward has told us how she (then Miss Arnold)
brought her earliest literary efforts to Green, how kindly was his
encouragement but how formidable was the standard of excellence which he
set up. She has also pictured for us 'the thin wasted form seated in the
corner of the sofa... the eloquent lips... the life flashing from his
eyes beneath the very shadow of death'. His latter years, lived
perpetually under this grim shadow, were yet full of cheerfulness and
of hope. However the body might fail, the active brain was planning and
the high courage was bracing him to further effort. Between 1877 and
1880 he published in four volumes a _History of the English People_,
which follows the same plan and covers much the same ground as the
_Short History_. He was able to revise his views on points where recent
study threw fresh light and to include subjects which had been crowded
out for want of space. But the book failed to attract readers to the
same extent as the _Short History_. The freshness and buoyancy of the
earlier sketch could not be recaptured after so long an interval. In the
last year of his life he began again on the early history of England,
working at a pace which would have been astonishing even in a man of
robust health, and he completed in the short period of eleven months the
brilliant volume called _The Making of England_. He had thought out the
subject during many a day and night of pain and had the plan clear in
his head; but he was indefatigable in revising his work, and would make
as many as eight or ten drafts of a chapter before it satisfied his
judgement. His last autumn and winter were occupied with the succeeding
volume, _The Conquest of England_, and he left it sufficiently complete
for his wife to edit and publish a few months after his death.

The end came at Mentone early in 1883. Two years of life had been won,
as his doctor said, by sheer force of will; but the frail body could no
longer obey the soul, and nature could bear no more.

If in the twentieth century history is losing its hold on the thought
and feeling of the rising generation, Green is the last man whom we can
blame. He gave all his faculties unsparingly to his task--patience,
enthusiasm, single-hearted love of truth; and he encouraged others to do
the same. No man was more free from the pontifical airs of those
historians who proclaimed history as an academic science to be confined
within the chilly walls of libraries and colleges. We may apply to his
work what Mr. G. M. Trevelyan has said of the English historians from
Clarendon down to recent times; it was 'the means of spreading far and
wide, throughout all the reading classes, a love and knowledge of
history, an elevated and critical patriotism, and certain qualities of
mind and heart'.[59] Against the danger which he mentions in his next
sentence, that we are now being drilled into submission to German
models, Mr. Trevelyan is himself one of our surest protectors.

[Note 59: _Clio and other Essays_, by G. M. Trevelyan, p. 4
(Longmans, Green & Co., 1913).]



1853. Born at Bishop's Stortford, July 5.
1870. Goes out to Natal.
1871. Moves to Kimberley.
1873-81. Intermittent visits to Oxford.
1880. First De Beers Company started.
1880. Member for Barkly West.
1883. Commissioner in Bechuanaland.
1885. Warren expedition: Bechuanaland annexed by British Government.
1887. Acute rivalry between Rhodes and Barnato.
1888. Barnato gives way: De Beers Consolidated founded.
1888. Lobengula grants concession for mining.
1889. British South Africa Chartered Company formed.
1890. Prime Minister of Cape Colony.
1890. Occupation of Mashonaland.
1893. Second Rhodes ministry.
1893. War with Lobengula. Matabeleland occupied.
1895. 'Drifts' question between Cape and Transvaal Government.
1895. Jameson Raid, December 28.
1896. January, Rhodes's resignation. Visit to England.
1896. Rebellion in Rhodesia.
1897. Inquiry into the Raid by Committee of the House of Commons.
1899. D.C.L., Oxford.
1899. Outbreak of Great Boer War.
1902. Dies at Muizenberg, March 26.



The Rhodes family can be traced back to sturdy English yeoman stock. In
the eighteenth century they had held land in North London. Cecil's
father was vicar of Bishop's Stortford, a quiet country town in
Hertfordshire on the Essex border; he was a man of mark, wealthy,
liberal, and unconventional, with the rare gift of preaching ten-minute
sermons which were well worth hearing. Of his eldest sons, Herbert went
to Winchester, Frank to Eton; Cecil, the fifth son, born on July 5,
1853, was kept at home. He had part of his education at the local
Grammar School, but perhaps the better part at the Vicarage from his
father himself. The shrewd Vicar soon saw that his fifth son was not
fitted for the ordinary routine of professional life at home, and at the
age of seventeen he was sent out to visit his brother Herbert, who had
emigrated to Natal. Cecil said good-bye to his native land for the first
time in 1870, and thus early elected to be a citizen of the Greater
Britain beyond the seas.

[Illustration: CECIL RHODES

From the painting by G. F. Watts in the National Portrait Gallery]

The brothers had certain points of resemblance, being both original and
adventurous; but they had marked differences. The elder was a wanderer
pure and simple, a lover of sport and of novelty. He could follow a new
track with all the ardour of a pioneer; he could not sit down and
develop the wealth which he had opened up. The management of the Natal
cotton farm soon fell into the hands of Cecil, now eighteen years old,
who noted every detail, and studied his crops, his workmen, and his
markets, while Herbert was absent in quest of game and adventure. It was
this spirit which led Herbert westward in 1871, among the earliest of
the immigrants into the diamond fields: before the end of the year Cecil
followed and soon took over and developed his brother's claim. It was no
case of Esau and Jacob; the brothers had great affection for one another
and fitted in together without jealousy. Each lived his own life and
followed his own bent. As Kimberley was the first field in which Cecil
showed his abilities, it is worth while to try to picture the scene. It
remained a centre of interest to him for thirty years, the scene of many
troubles and of many triumphs.

'The New Rush', as Kimberley was called in 1872, was a chaos of tents
and rubbish heaps seen through a haze of dust--a heterogeneous
collection of tents, wagons, native kraals and debris heaps, each set
down with cheerful irresponsibility and indifference to order. The
funnel of blue clay so productive of diamonds had been found on a bit of
the bare Griqualand Veld, marked out by no geographical advantages, with
no charm of woodland or river scenery. Here in the years to come the
great pits, familiar in modern photographs, were to grow deeper and
deeper, as the partitions fell in between the small claims, or as the
more enterprising miners bought up their neighbours' plots. Here the
debris heaps were to grow higher and higher, as more hundreds of Kaffirs
were brought in to dig, or new machinery arrived, as the buckets plied
more rapidly on the network of ropes overhead. In the early 'seventies
there were few signs of these marvels to be seen by the outward
eye--everything was in the rough--but they were no doubt already
existing in the brain of 'a tall fair boy, blue eyed and with somewhat
aquiline features, wearing flannels of the school playing-field,
somewhat shrunken with strenuous rather than effectual washings, that
still left the colour of the red veld dust'.

Here Cecil Rhodes lived for the greater part of ten years, finding time
amid his work for dreams: living, in general, aloof from the men with
whom he did his daily business, but laying here and there the
foundations of a friendship which was to bear fruit hereafter. Rudd,[60]
of the Matabeleland concessions, came out in 1873; Beit,[61] the partner
in diamond fields and gold fields, the co-founder of the Chartered
Company, in 1875; and in 1878 there came out from Edinburgh one whose
name was to be linked still more closely with that of Rhodes. Leander
Starr Jameson, a skilful doctor, a cheerful companion, gifted with a
great capacity for self-devotion, and with unshakeable firmness of will,
was now twenty-five years old. Rhodes and he soon drew closely together
and for years they were living under one roof. While his casual and
rather overbearing manners repelled many of his acquaintances, Rhodes
had a genius for friendship with the few; and it was such men as these
who shared his work, his pastimes, and his thoughts, and reconciled him
to spending many years in the unattractive surroundings of the mines.

[Note 60: C. D. Rudd (1844-96), educated at Harrow and Cambridge.]

[Note 61: Alfred Beit, born at Hamburg, 1853; died in London, 1906.]

But his life at this time had other phases. Not the least wonderful
chapter in it was the series of visits which he paid to Oxford between
1873 and 1881. The atmosphere of a mining camp does not seem likely to
draw a man towards academic studies and a University life. But Rhodes,
who had a great power of absorbing himself in work, had also the power
of projecting himself beyond the interests of the moment. Seven times he
found opportunity to tear himself away from the busy work of mining and
to keep terms at Oxford; and they made a lasting impression upon him. It
was not the love of book-learning, still less the love of games, which
drew him there. To many he may have seemed to be spending his time
unprofitably. He indulged in some rowing and polo, he was master of the
drag-hounds, he worried his neighbours by nocturnal practising of the
horn. The examinations in the schools, and the more popular athletic
contests, knew little of him. But his sojourn in Oxford was a tribute
paid by the higher side of his mind to education and to the value of
high thinking as compared with material progress; and no one who knew
him well in later life could doubt that the traditions of Oxford had
deeply influenced his mind. On these things he was by nature reticent,
and was often misjudged.

Between the years 1878 and 1888 must be placed the struggle between him
and his rivals for predominance in Kimberley. It had begun with small
enterprises, the purchasing of adjoining claims, the undertaking of
drainage work, the introduction of better machinery. It attracted more
attention in 1880 with the founding of the first De Beers Company, named
after a Boer who had owned the land on which the mine lay. It culminated
in 1887 in the battle with Barnato,[62] his most dangerous competitor,
when by dexterous purchasing of shares in his rival's company Rhodes
forced him into a final scheme of amalgamation. In 1888 was founded the
great corporation of De Beers Consolidated mines. The masterful will of
Rhodes dictated the terms of the Trust deed, giving very extensive power
to the Directorate for the using of their funds. He was already laying
his foundations, though few could then have guessed what imperial work
was to be done with the money thus obtained. The process of amalgamation
was not popular in Kimberley. It resulted in closing down many of the
less profitable claims and in reducing the amount of labour employed.
But it brought in better machinery and it saved expenses of management.
Above all, it curtailed the output of diamonds and so kept up the market
price in Europe and elsewhere. Many people refused to believe that
Rhodes could have outmanoeuvred a man of exceptional financial ability
without using dishonourable means. But there is no doubt that it was
masterful character which won the day, that strength of will which
decides the issue at the critical moment. Many others have been
prejudiced against him merely from the fact that he spent so much time
and energy in the pursuit of 'filthy lucre'. We must remember that
Rhodes himself said: 'What's the earthly use of having ideas if you
haven't the money to carry them out?' We must also remember that all
witnesses of his life agree that the ideas were always foremost, the
money a mere instrument to realize them. The story was told to Edmund
Garrett by one of Rhodes's old Kimberley associates 'how one day in
those scheming years, deep in the sordid details of amalgamation, Rhodes
("always a bit of a crank") suddenly put his hand over a great piece of
No Man's Africa on the map and said, "Look here: all that British--that
is my dream".'[63]

[Note 62: Barney Barnato, born in Houndsditch, 1852; died at sea,

[Note 63: Perhaps the best character sketch of Rhodes is that
printed as an appendix to Sir E. T. Cook's _Life of Edmund Garrett_
(Edward Arnold, 1909). Garrett's career as journalist and politician in
South Africa was terminated by illness in 1899.]

But long before this struggle was over, Rhodes had embarked on new
courses which were to carry him still farther. His dreams of political
work began to take shape when Griqualand was created a British province
in 1880. Two electoral divisions were formed, Kimberley and Barkly West;
and it was for the latter that Rhodes first took his seat in the Cape
Parliament in 1880, a seat which he retained till his death. The Prime
Minister was Sir Gordon Sprigg, a politician with experience but few
ideas, more skilled in retaining office than in formulating a policy.
Rhodes was at first reticent about his own projects, and spent his time
quietly studying commercial questions, examining the problem of the
native races and making friends among the Boers. If these friendships
were obscured later by political quarrels, there is no reason to suspect
their genuineness. His sympathy with the Dutch farmers had begun in
1872, when he made a long, lonely trek through the Northern Transvaal,
and it lasted through life. He was interested in farming, he liked
natural men, and was at home in unconventional surroundings. One of the
closest observers of his character said that to see the true Rhodes you
must see him on the veld. So long as the supremacy of the British flag
was assured, there was nothing that he so ardently desired as friendly
relations between British and Dutch, a real union of the races, a South
African nation. It was for this that he worked so long with Jan Hofmeyr,
leader of the Cape Dutch, and earned so many unfair suspicions from the
short-sighted politicians of Cape Town.

Hofmeyr was a curious man. He had a great understanding of the Dutch
character and a great power of influencing men; but this was not done by
parliamentary eloquence. By one satirist he was called 'the captain who
never appeared on the bridge'; by another he was nicknamed 'the Mole',
because his activity could only be conjectured from the tracks which he
left behind him. A third name current in Cape Town, 'the Blind Man,' was
an ironical tribute to his exceptional astuteness in politics. His organ
was 'the Afrikander Bond', a society formed partly for agricultural,
partly for political purposes, a creature which like a chameleon has
often changed its colour, sometimes working peacefully beside British
politicians, at other times openly conducting an anti-British agitation.
He certainly had no enthusiasm for the British flag, but he probably
realized the freedom which the Colony enjoyed under it, and was clear of
all disloyalty to the Crown. The policy dearest to the farmers of the
Afrikander Bond was the protective system for their agricultural
produce. If Rhodes would support this, he might induce the Dutch to give
him a free hand in his plans for expansion towards the North; and this
was needed, because the problem of the North was becoming urgent, and
Sprigg and his party were blind to its importance.

A glance at the nineteenth-century map will show that the territories of
the Dutch Republic, lying on the less barren side of the continent,
tended to block the extension of Cape Colony and Natal towards the
north, the more so as the Boers from time to time sent out fresh swarms
westward and encroached on native territory in Bechuanaland. The Germans
did not annex Namaqualand till 1885, but already their interest in this
district was becoming evident to close observers. Rhodes's most
cherished dream had been the development of the high-lying healthy
inland regions to the north by the British race under the British flag.
But in those days, when Whitehall was asleep and officials in Cape Town
were indifferent, Rhodes saw that his best chance was to convert the
Dutch in the Colony. He hoped to make them realize that, if they
supported him, the development of the interior might bring trade through
Cape Town, which otherwise would go eastward through Portuguese
channels. The building of railways, the settlement of new lands in which
Dutch and English would share alike, were practical questions which
might interest them, and Rhodes was quite genuine in his desire to see
both races going forward together. 'Equal rights for every civilized man
south of the Zambezi' was his motto, and to this he steadfastly clung.

To describe all the means by which Rhodes worked towards this end would
be impossible. He worked hard at Kimberley to furnish the sinews of war;
he used his personal influence and power of persuasion at Cape Town to
win support from Hofmeyr and others; and he was ready to go to the
frontier at any moment when there was work to be done. His first
commission of this sort had been in Basutoland in 1882, when he helped
the famous General Gordon to pacify native discontent; but the following
year saw him at work on another frontier more directly affecting his
programme. The Boers had again been raiding westwards and had started
two new republics, called Goshen and Stellaland, on the route from
Kimberley to the north. Rhodes travelled to the scene of action,
interviewed Mankoroane, the Bechuana chief, and Van Niekerk, the head of
the new settlement, and by sheer personal magnetism persuaded them both
to accept British control. When the Cape Parliament refused the
responsibility, he referred to the Colonial Office in London, and by the
help of Sir Hercules Robinson, the High Commissioner, he carried his
point. When the new Governor, who was appointed by the Colonial Office,
quarrelled with the Boers, it was Rhodes who made up the quarrel, and
when in 1885 the Transvaal Dutch interfered and provoked our home
Government into sending out an overpowering force under Sir Charles
Warren, it was Rhodes once more who acted as the reconciler, and
effected a settlement between Dutch and British. When the indignant
Delarey,[64] provoked by English blundering, said ominously that 'blood
must flow', Rhodes replied, 'No, give me my breakfast, and then we can
talk about blood'. He stayed with Delarey a week, came to terms on the
points at issue, and even became godfather to Delarey's grandchild. He
was never the man to resort to force when persuasion could be employed,
and he usually won his end by his own means.

[Note 64: General Jacobus Delarey, one of the most successful
commanders in the Great Boer War of 1899-1902.]

While his great work in 1883-5 was on the northern frontier he was
growing to be a familiar figure among politicians at Cape Town. We have
an impression of him as he appeared on his entrance into politics. 'He
was tall, broad-shouldered, with face and figure of somewhat loose
formation. His hair was auburn, carelessly flung over his forehead, his
eyes of bluish grey, dreamy but kindly. But the mouth--aye, that was the
unruly member of his face--with deep lines following the curve of the
moustache, it had a determined, masterful, and sometimes scornful
expression.... His style of speaking was straight and to the point. He
was not a hard hitter in debate--rather a persuader, reasoning and
pleading in a conversational way as one more anxious to convince an
opponent than to expose his weakness. He used little gesture: what there
was, was most expressive, his hands held behind him, or thrust out,
sometimes passed over his brow.'[65] Such success as he had in
Parliament he owed less to art than to nature, less to oratorical gifts
than to force of character; but this brought him rapidly to the front.
As early as 1884 he was in the Ministry, and despite his long absences
over his northern work he was judged to be the only man who could become
Prime Minister in the parliamentary crisis of 1890. There was, by that
year, little question that he was the most influential man in South
Africa. He had a large holding in the Transvaal goldfields, discovered
in 1886; he was head of the great De Beers Corporation of Kimberley; and
he was chairman of the newly-created Chartered Company. To many it
seemed impossible that one man could combine these great financial
interests with the position of First Minister of the Colony; but at
least it was clear that the interests of the companies were subordinated
to national aims, that the money which he obtained from mines was spent
on imperial ends, and that his political position was never used for the
promoting of financial objects.

[Note 65: _Cecil Rhodes: a Monograph and a Reminiscence_, by Sir
Thomas Fuller (Longmans & Co., 1910)]

But it is time to return to the development of the north, the greatest
of his schemes and the one dearest to his heart. The year 1885 had
secured Bechuanaland to the river Molopo as British territory, while a
large stretch farther north was under a British protectorate. One danger
had been avoided. The neck of the bottle was not corked up: a way to the
interior was now open. The next factor to reckon with was the Matabele
nation and its chief, Lobengula. They were a Bantu tribe, fond of
fighting and hunting, an offshoot of the Zulus who fought us in 1881.
They had a very large country surrounding the Matoppo hills, and
Lobengula ruled the various districts through 'indunas' or chiefs, who
had 'impis' or armies of fighting men at their disposal. To the
north-east of them lay the weaker tribe of the Mashona, who paid tribute
to Lobengula and whose country was a common hunting-ground for the
Matabele braves. Over the latter, so long as he did not check too much
their love of fighting, Lobengula exercised a fairly effective control.
He himself was a remarkable man, strong in body and mind. Sir Lewis
Michell describes him as he appeared to English visitors: 'A somewhat
grotesque costume of four yards of blue calico over his shoulders and a
string of tigers' tails round his waist could not make his imposing
figure ridiculous. In early days he was an athlete and a fine shot; and
though, as years went on, his voracious appetite rendered him
conspicuously obese, he was every inch a ruler.... Visitors were much
struck by his capacity for government: very little went on in his wide
dominions of which he was not instantly and accurately informed.' He was
an arbitrary ruler, but not cruel to Europeans, of whom a few, like the
famous hunter Selous, visited his capital from time to time. He clearly
held the keys to the north, and it was with him that Rhodes had now to

The first step was the mission sent out by Rhodes and Beit early in
1888, headed by their old associate Rudd. He and his two fellow-envoys
stayed some months with Lobengula watching for favourable moments and
trying to win his favour. They shifted their quarters when the king did
so, touring from village to village, plied the king and his indunas with
offers and arguments, and finally in October they obtained his signature
to a treaty giving full and unqualified rights to the envoys for working
minerals in his country. In return they covenanted to give him money,
rifles, ammunition, and an armed steamboat.

The next step was to get the support of the British authorities in
London for that political extension which was dearer to Rhodes than the
richest mines and the biggest dividends. In this he was greatly helped
by his consistent supporter, Sir Hercules Robinson, who held office in
Africa for many years, studied men and matters at first hand, and had a
juster estimate of Rhodes and his value to the Empire than the officials
in Whitehall. The method of proceeding was by chartered company, the old
Elizabethan method, which still has its value to-day, as it relieves the
home Government of the expense of developing new countries, yet reserves
to it the right to control policy and to enter into the harvest. The
Company was to build railways and telegraphs, encourage colonization and
spread trade; the Government was to escape from the diplomatic
difficulties which might arise with neighbours if it were acting under
its own name.

The third step was to make a way into the country and to start actual
work. Lobengula's consent was given conditionally: the first expedition
was to avoid his capital, Bulawayo, and to go by the south-east to
Mashonaland. The chief knew how difficult it might prove to hold in his
impis when, instead of a solitary Selous, some hundreds of Europeans
began to cross their hunting-grounds. And so it proved. Lobengula had to
pretend later that he had not consented to their passage, and the
expedition had to slip through the dangerous zone before they could be
recalled authoritatively. By May 1890 a column of nearly one thousand
men was ready to start from Khama's country; and in June their equipment
was approved by a British officer. On September 11, after a march of
four hundred miles through trackless country (some of it unknown even to
Selous, their guide), the British flag was hoisted on the site of the
modern town of Salisbury. It is a chapter of history well worth reading
in detail, but Rhodes himself could not be there: the heroes of the
march were Jameson and Selous. The other half of Rhodesia, Matabeleland,
was not added till a few years later; but British enterprise had now
found the way and overcome the worst difficulties. 'Occupation Day' is
still kept as the chief festival of the Colony.

Further extension was inevitable. The Matabele impis would not forgo
their old habit of raiding amongst the Mashonas. Jameson's complaints
received only partial satisfaction from Lobengula. He himself did not
want war, but he failed to control his men, and in September 1893 the
Chartered Company was driven to fight. They had on the spot about nine
hundred men and some machine-guns. Against these the Matabele with all
their bravery could effect little. In two engagements they threw away
their lives with reckless gallantry, and then they broke and fled.
Lobengula himself was never heard of again. His rearguard cut up a small
party of British who were too impetuous in pursuit, but by the end of
the year the country was at peace. In 1894 Matabeleland was added to the
territory of the Chartered Company, in 1895 the term 'Rhodesia' came
into use for postal purposes, and in 1897 it was officially adopted for
administrative purposes.

The jealousy of the Portuguese, who claimed the 'Hinterland' behind
their East African colony, though they had never occupied it, caused a
good deal of ill feeling, and very nearly led to hostilities both in
Africa and Europe. The Boers formed schemes for raiding the new lands
before they could be effectively occupied, and had to be headed off. The
Matabele impis continued for months in a state of excitement; and their
forays made it far too dangerous for Rhodes or for others to go up there
for some time. But Rhodes himself said that he had less trouble with
natives, with Dutch, and with Portuguese, than he had with compatriots
of his own, who claimed to have received concessions from native chiefs
and intrigued against him in London. But here his peculiar gifts came
out, his patience, his persuasive power, his readiness to pour out money
like water for a worthy end. Some he beat, others he bought; and in all
cases he maintained his position against his rivals. Robinson, Rudd,
Jameson, Selous, had all done their parts well, and Rhodes gave them
full credit and generous praise; but the mind and the will that planned
and carried out the whole movement, and added a province to the British
Empire, was unquestionably his own.

Rhodes was Prime Minister of Cape Colony from 1890 to 1895; and during
this time he was obliged to be more often at Cape Town. It was in 1891
that he first leased the property lying on the eastern slopes of Table
Mountain where he built 'Groote Schuur', the famous house which he
bequeathed to the service of the State. Here he gradually acquired 1,500
acres of land, laying them out with a sure eye to the beauty of the
surroundings, and to the pleasure of his fellow-citizens. Here he lived
from time to time, and received all kinds of men with boundless
hospitality. No one can fully understand him who does not read the
varying impressions of the friends and guests who sat with him on the
'stoep', under the trees in his garden, or high up on the mountain side,
where he had his favourite nooks. The visitors saw what they had eyes to
see. One would note his foibles, his blunt manner, his slovenly dress,
his want of skill at billiards, his fondness for special dishes or
drinks. Another would be impressed by his library with its teak
panelling, by the books which he read and the questions which he asked,
by his love for Gibbon and Plutarch, by his interest in Marcus Aurelius
and other writers on high themes. Others again tell us of his relations
to his fellow-men, how recklessly generous he was to young and old, to
British and Dutch, and how his generosity was abused: how his
acquaintances preyed upon him; how, for all that, he kept his true
friendships few in number and he held them sacred. In fact, loyalty to
friends meant more to Rhodes than loyalty to principles. His temper was
impatient, especially in the last years of physical pain; he often tried
to take short cuts to his ends, believing that his ends were worthy and
knowing that life was short. He made many mistakes, but he retrieved
them nobly. He was in some ways rough-hewn and unpolished, but he was a
great man.

It is impossible to put in a short compass the many important questions
with which he dealt. His policy towards the natives was moderate and
wise. He wished to educate them and then to trust them; to restrict the
sale of liquor among them and to open to them the nobler lessons of
civilization; to give them the vote when they were educated enough to
use it well, but not before; to apply to them too his motto of 'Equal
rights for every civilized man south of the Zambezi'. His policy towards
the Dutch was to establish identity of interest between the two nations
and so to secure friendly relations with them; to draw them into
co-operation in agriculture, in railways, in colonization, in export
trade, in imperial politics. He did his best to win over the Orange Free
State by a policy of common railways, and even to break down the sullen
opposition of the Transvaal. But the latter proved impossible. President
Kruger leant more and more upon Dutch counsellors from Holland; he
looked more and more to Delagoa Bay and turned his back upon Cape Town:
and the antagonism became more acute. In 1895 Mr. Chamberlain initiated
a new era at the Colonial Office. He was actively awake to British
interests in all parts of the globe; and President Kruger, who had tried
to check trade with Cape Town by stopping the Cape railway at his
frontier, and then by closing the 'Drifts' or fords over the Vaal, was
compelled to give way and to keep to the agreements made with the
Suzerain State.

A still more serious question was the treatment of the 'Uitlanders' or
alien European settlers in the Transvaal. Though the Boer rulers took an
increasingly large share of their earnings, they restricted more and
more the grant of the franchise. In taxation, in commerce, in education,
there was no prospect between the Vaal and the Limpopo of 'Equal rights
for all civilized men' or anything like it. In June 1894 the High
Commissioner frankly told Kruger that the Uitlanders had 'very real and
substantial grievances'; in 1895 they were no less substantial, and
agitation was rife in Johannesburg. On December 28, Jameson at the head
of an armed column left Pitsani on the borders and rode into the
Transvaal to support a rising against the Boer Government. The
Uitlanders were not expecting him; no rising took place, and Jameson's
small column was surrounded some miles west of Johannesburg,
outnumbered, and forced to surrender. The Jameson Raid, for which Rhodes
was generally held responsible, attracted all eyes in Europe as in
Africa. How President Kruger used his advantage against the Uitlanders,
among whom Col. Frank Rhodes was a leader, can be read in many books:
here we need only relate how the event affected the Premier of Cape
Colony. He resigned office at once and put himself at the disposal of
the Government. Despite his past record he was judged by the Dutch,
alike in the Cape and in the Transvaal, to have been the author of the
Raid, and all chance of his doing further service in reconciling the two
races was at an end. The beginning of 1895 saw him at the height of his
ambition. The end of it saw his power shattered beyond repair.

His behaviour in this crisis enables us to know the real man. For a few
days he kept aloof, unapproachable, overcome by the ruin of his work. He
made no attempt to conciliate opinion: in moments of bitterness he
scoffed at the 'unctuous rectitude' of certain politicians who were
improving the occasion. But he spoke frankly to those who had the right
to question him. He went to London in February and saw Mr. Chamberlain,
the Colonial Secretary, and his Directors. He admitted that he was at
fault. Believing that Kruger would always yield to a show of force, he
had been responsible for putting troops near the border to exercise
moral pressure. But neither then nor at any time had he given Jameson
orders to invade the Transvaal, or to precipitate an armed conflict,
which he believed to be unnecessary. Such was his consistent statement,
and he was ready to face, when the time should come, the Parliamentary
committees appointed by the British and South African Houses to report
on the Raid. Meanwhile he put all brooding away and looked round for
some practical work. Fortunately he found it in the most congenial
sphere. His colony of Rhodesia, to which he had gone straight from
London, was threatened with disaster from a great native outbreak. The
causes were various. Rinderpest had spoiled one of the chief native
industries, and superstition had invented foolish reasons for it; also
the rumours, which were spreading about the Raid, made the natives
believe that the British power was shaken. The Mashonas, as well as the
Matabele, took part in the revolt which began early in April 1896. To
meet it the colonists mustered their full strength, while General
Carrington was sent out from home with some regular troops. Several
engagements in difficult country followed: the enemies' forces were
quickly broken up, and by the end of July the time for negotiation was

But the chiefs of the Matabele had retired into their fortresses in the
Matoppo hills and could not be reached. To send small columns to track
them down might mean needless loss of life: to keep the forces in the
field right through the winter was ruinous to the Company's finances.
Rhodes offered his own services as negotiator, and they were accepted.
The man who could carry his point with Jewish financiers and Dutch
politicians might hope to achieve his ends with the simpler native
chiefs. But it was a sore trial of patience. He moved his own tent two
miles away from the British troops to the foot of the hills, sent native
messengers to the chiefs, and waited. During this time he was not idle:
he put in a lot of riding and of miscellaneous reading: his mind was
actively employed in planning roads and dams for irrigation, in scheming
for the future greatness of the country. It was six weeks before a chief
responded. Gradually they began to drop in and to hold informal meetings
round the tent, putting questions, replying to Rhodes's jokes, relapsing
into fits of silence, oblivious as all savages are of the value of time.
He would spend hours day after day in this apparently futile way;
accustoming them to his presence, coaxing them into the right humour. At
last he persuaded them to meet him in a formal 'indaba', which must have
been a dramatic scene. Alone he stood facing them, boldly reproaching
them with their bad faith and cruel acts. They stated their grievances:
some were admitted: satisfaction was promised. In the end peace was
proclaimed and the delighted natives greeted him uproariously with the
title of Lamula 'm Kunzi (Separator of the Fighting Bulls). The
discussions were not over till the end of October, and it was a month
later ere Rhodes was able to leave the country and face the Committee in
London--a very different gathering in very different surroundings. His
work during these two months was perhaps the greatest of his life; and
that he should have been able to concentrate all his powers upon it so
soon after the shattering blow of the Raid is a great tribute to his
essential manliness and patriotism.

The two Committees, sitting in London and Cape Town, agreed to censure,
though in modified terms, Rhodes's conduct over the Raid; but he still
retained the respect of the bulk of his countrymen, and on his return
the citizens of Cape Town gave him an enthusiastic welcome. They and he
were looking ahead as well as behind: they felt that his services were
still needed for the establishing of a United South Africa under the
British flag. But in this respect his work was done. The Cape Dutch were
more and more influenced by their sentiment for the Transvaal, and
racial feeling ran high. Rhodes severed himself from all his old Dutch
colleagues and became more of a party leader. Meanwhile Kruger watched
the breach, assured himself of Dutch support, made no concessions to the
Uitlanders, repelled all overtures from Mr. Chamberlain, and steered
straight for war. Rhodes, despite his knowledge of the Dutch, made the
mistake of believing up to the last moment that Kruger would give way
and not fight; but, when the war broke out in 1899, he went up to
Kimberley to take his share of the work and the danger. The siege lasted
about four months, and Rhodes, though he failed to work harmoniously
with the military commandant, rendered many services to the town, thanks
to his wealth, influence, and knowledge of the place. When the town was
relieved in February 1900, he went to Rhodesia and spent many months
there. Though he was urged by his followers to return to politics, Cape
Town saw little of him; when he was not in the north, he was mostly at
his seaside cottage at Muizenberg, half-way between the capital and the
Cape of Good Hope. The heart complaint, from which he had suffered
intermittently all his life, had rapidly grown worse; his last year was
one of great suffering, and in March 1902 he breathed his last at
Muizenberg with Jameson and a few of his dearest friends around him. He
was buried in the place which he had himself chosen amid the Matoppo
hills. On a bare hill-top seven gigantic boulders keep guard round the
simple tombstone on which his name is engraved. After the English
service was over, the natives celebrated in their own fashion the
passing of the great chief who had already been enshrined in their

At Kimberley, at Cape Town, in the Matoppos, his work was done before
the nineteenth century was finished, and he had earned his rest. The
complete union of the European races for which he laboured in Parliament
is yet to come. The vast wealth which he won in Kimberley is fulfilling
a noble purpose. By his will he founded scholarships at Oxford for
scholars from the Dominions and Colonies, from the United States and
from Germany--his faith in the Anglo-Saxon race being extended to our
Teutonic kinsmen. He regarded a common education and common ideals as
the surest cement of Empire. But above all else his name will be
preserved among his countrymen by the provinces which he added to the
British dominions. Kimberley and Cape Town have their monuments, their
memories of his many successes and his few failures: the Matoppos have
his grave. To us the peace and solitude of the hills where he lies may
seem to contrast strangely with the stirring activity of his life. But
solitude will not reign there always, if Rhodes's ideal is fulfilled. It
was here that he had stood with a friend, looking towards the vast
horizon northwards, and, in an often-quoted sentence, expressed his
dream for the future: 'Homes, more homes, that's what I work for!' So
long as our race produces such bold dreamers, such strenuous workers,
its future, in Africa and elsewhere, need occasion no doubts or fears.



Aberdeen, 4th Earl of, 32, 51

Acton, Lord, 5, 272, 325

Adams, Professor J. C., 277

Addison, Joseph, 137, 326, 336

Afghanistan, 62, 103, 107

Afrikander Bond, 354

Agram, 251

Agricultural labourers, 79, 117

Aldworth, 171, 176, 345

Alexander III, Tsar, 266, 268, 271

Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria, 265-6

Alexandria, 127

Alfonso XII, King of Spain, 262-4

Alsace, 256, 345

Althorp, Lord (3rd Earl Spencer), 42, 43, 83

American Civil War, 121, 123-4

Ampthill, Lord, _v._ Odo Russell, 248, 264, 272, 273, 275

Angevin kings, 334, 337

Anglesey, Lord, 39

Annandale, 10-13, 16, 29

Appomattox, 124

Argyll, 8th Duke of, 86

Arnold, Matthew, 6, 8, 194, 321

Arnold, Dr. Thomas, 8, 24

Ashburton, 2nd Lord, 23

Atkin, Joseph, 235, 242-3

Auckland, N. Z., 226-7, 237-8, 242


Baden, 249, 256

Bagehot, Walter, 33

Baird-Smith, 104

Baluchs, 62-6

Bamford, Samuel, 175

Baring, Lady Harriet, 23

Barnack, 178

Barnato, Barney, 352

Barry, Sir Charles, 200

Basutoland, 355

Batum, 268

Bazaine, Marshal, 257

Bechuanaland, 357

de Beers Company, 352, 357

Behnes, Charles and Wm., 199

Beit, Alfred, 350, 358

Bentham, Jeremy, 2

Bergmann, Professor von, 298

Berlin, 248, 252-3, 263, 293;
  Treaty of, 268

Bermuda, 58

Besant, Sir Walter, 89

Biarritz, 191

Bideford, 183

Bird, Robert, 98

Birmingham, 6, 126, 304, 311

Bishop's Stortford, 348

Bismarck, 252-9, 264, 273

Blackburn, 32

Blackie, Professor, 294

Blomfield, Bishop, 190

Bloomsbury, 313

Boehm, Sir J. E., 21

Bolivar, Simon, 60

Borrow, George, 6

Bright, Jacob, 111-13

Bright, John: America, 123;
  Anti-Corn-Law League, 114-19;
  education, 111-12;
  family, 111-14, 126;
  foreign policy, 122, 127;
  Ireland, 121, 127;
  oratorical style, 117, 119-20;
  Parliament, 85, 117, 119, 121, 123, 125;
  public meetings, 116, 117, 125;
  Quakers, 111, 113, 115, 117, 122;
  Reform, 113, 124-5;
  other references, 25-6, 85, 278

Brindley, James, 120, 338

Brontë, Charlotte, 7

Brooke, Stopford, 162, 187, 310, 339, 342-5

Brookfield, Rev. W., 157

Brougham, Lord, 7, 40, 42

Brown, Ford Madox, 197, 307

Browning, E. B., 81

Browning, Robert, 5, 9, 140, 158, 165, 169, 170, 175, 250

Brunton, Sir Lauder, 345

Bryce, Viscount, 334, 343, 345

Bulgaria, 264-8

Burlington House (Royal Academy), 198, 200, 206, 217

Burne-Jones, Sir E., 197, 205, 209, 212, 217, 219, 304-8, 311, 319, 328

Burton, Richard, 4

Byron, Lord, 33, 60, 153


Cambridge, 153-4, 179, 190, 221

Cameron, Sir Hector, 288

Cameron, Julia, 172, 205

Campbell, Sir Colin (Lord Clyde), 69, 70, 105

Canning, Charles, Lord, 105, 122

Canning, George, 32, 35, 37, 38

Capri, 343

Carlisle, 10, 290

Carlyle, Jane Welsh, 14-19, 22, 25, 27

Carlyle, John, 14

Carlyle, Thomas: appearance, 19, 212;
  books, chief, 11, 20, 22, 23, 25-7;
  character, 16, 17, 29;
  education, 12, 13;
  family, 11, 15, 29;
  friends, 4, 13, 18, 23, 30, 140, 163;
  German literature, 16, 17;
  homes, 6, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21;
  lectures, 22;
  literary style, 20, 29, 321, 324-5;
  quoted opinions, 71, 164, 189, 302

Carnot, President, 300

Carrington, General, 364

Cashel, 34

Castelar, Emilio, 261

Castlereagh, Lord, 38

Cauteretz, 173

Celbridge, 55, 56

Cephalonia, 59

Chamberlain, Joseph, 6, 53, 362, 364, 366

Chartered Company, 359, 360, 364-5

Chartists, 61, 187-9

Chatham, 130, 144

Chelsea, 21, 163, 179

Chester, 191

Cheyne, Sir Watson, 297

Chili[=a]nw[=a]la, 69, 101

Christison, Sir Robert, 294

Clare election, 39, 49

Clarendon, Edw. Hyde, Earl of, 324

Clarendon, Geo. Villiers, Earl of, 7, 250

Clark, Sir Andrew, 345

Clovelly, 178

Cobden, Richard, 2;
  and Bright, 114-19, 124, 127;
  and Peel, 48, 49, 51;
  and Shaftesbury, 84, 87

Coburg, Duchy of, 249, 253

Codrington, Rev. R., 235

Coleridge, Rev. Derwent, 178

Coleridge, Rev. Edward, 223

Coleridge, John, 222

Coleridge, S. T., 13, 29

Cook, Captain James, 220

Cook, John Douglas, 335

Cooper, Thomas, 189

Corn Laws, 47, 115-20

Coruña, 57

Craigenputtock, 18

Creighton, Bishop, 344

Crimean War, 121-3, 167, 251

Cromer, Earl of, 123, 272

Crotch, W. W., 136, 146

Crown Prince of Germany (Frederick III), 252, 258

Currency, Reform of, 36-7


Dabo, Battle of, 65

Dalhousie, Marquis of, 69, 70, 100, 101, 103

Dal[=i]p Singh, 271

Dalling, Lord, 45

Darmstadt, Court of, 255-7

Darwin, Charles, 2, 4, 5, 6, 152, 183, 277, 279, 291

Dawkins, Boyd, 328-30, 333-4

Delagoa Bay, 260, 362

Delane, John Thaddeus, 8, 123, 253

Delarey, General, 356

Delhi, 95, 99, 103-4

Derby, Edw. Stanley, 14th Earl of, 32, 42-4

Dickens, Charles: appearance, 132-3;
  character, 131-3, 141, 146;
  friends, 140;
  influence, 130, 135, 147;
  journalism, 132, 138;
  novels, 132-9;
  Poor Law, 146-7;
  'purpose', 130, 135, 144-8, 185;
  readings, 142-3;
  satire, 137, 145, 239;
  sensation, 141-2;
  sentiment, 136;
  travels, 136-8;
  other references, 4, 82, 89

Dilke, Sir Charles, 6, 272

Disraeli, Benjamin: novels, 3, 34;
  personal, 28, 53;
  political, 32, 47, 50, 90, 121, 123-5, 128, 193

Döllinger, 257

Durham City, 117


East India Company, 68, 76, 94, 105

Edinburgh, 12-13, 18, 27, 120, 280-4, 293-6

Edwardes, Sir Herbert, 101, 103

Eldon, Lord, 34, 38

Elgin, Lord, 105

Elgin Marbles, 199, 210

Ellenborough, Lord, 62

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 19-20, 29, 30, 164

Epping Forest, 303

Erichsen, Sir J. E., 286

Et[=a]wa, 98, 100

Eton, 219, 221, 223, 232-4, 246, 349

Euston station, 206

Eversley, 180-3, 186-7, 191-2, 195


Factory Acts, 81-6, 135

Fairman, Mr., 270

Farnham, 58, 180

Farringford, 171-2

Faulkner, C. J., 307-8

Feniton, 222, 225

Ferdinand, Prince of Bulgaria, 266

Fiji, 240-3

FitzGerald, Edward, 6, 153-4, 164, 175, 204

Fitzgerald, William Vesey, 39

Florence, 201-3, 206, 309, 343

Fontevraud, 337

Forster, John, 131, 140, 142-3

Fox, George, 20

Franco-German War, 256, 294, 345

Frederick the Great, 26

Freeman, Edward A., 5, 325, 334-6, 341-3, 345

Froude, James Anthony, 5, 23, 28, 172, 325, 335

Fry, Elizabeth, 279


Gadshill, 143, 148

Gardiner, Professor S. R., 326

Garibaldi, 60, 172, 345

Garrett, Edmund, 353

Gaskell, Mrs., 163

Geikie, Professor, 183, 294

Genoa, 138

George III, 37

George IV, 37, 78

Gibbon, Edward, 14, 323, 328, 361

Giers, Monsieur de, 267-9, 274

Gladstone, W. E., 6, 265;
  and Bright, 120, 123, 126-8;
  and Green, 344-5;
  and Morier, 258;
  and Peel, 32, 47, 51-3;
  and Shaftesbury, 90;
  and Tennyson, 152, 154, 173;
  and Watts, 208

Glasgow, 125, 285-7, 293

Godlee, Sir Rickman, 283, 295

Goethe, 19

Gordon, General, 4, 66, 70, 355

Gough, Viscount, 68, 69, 100

Graham, Sir James, 43, 85

Granville, Earl, 259, 275

Green, John Richard: books, 336-46;
  church views, 329, 342;
  conversation, 345;
  education, 326-8;
  essays, 336-7, 340;
  friends, 187, 328-9, 334, 342, 345;
  historical method, 336-42;
  historical schemes, 333-4, 344;
  parochial work, 331-3, 342;
  travels, 342-3

Greenbank, 112

Greville, Charles, 44, 46

Grévy, President, 263

Grey, Charles, Earl, 41, 42

Grey, Sir George, 5, 220, 240

Griqualand, 350, 353

Groote Schuur, 361


Haddington, 15

Haileybury, 94

Hallam, Arthur, 154, 156-8, 161, 173

Hammersmith, 308, 319, 321

Hardinge, 1st Viscount, 68, 99

Hardwick, Philip, 207

Harrow, 33, 75, 247

Harte, Bret, 136

Haworth, Mr., 32

Helston, 179

Henley, W. E., 294

Henry II, 337

Herbert, Sidney, 51

Hilton, William, 200

Hodder River, 111

Hofmeyr, Jan, 354-5

Holland, 4th Baron, 201-2, 207

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 137

Hook, Dean, 178, 333

Horner, Francis, 36, 37

Howard, John, 3, 338

Huddlestone, John, 94

Hudson, Sir James, 272

Hughes, Tom, 182, 186, 189

Humboldt, Alexander von, 248

Huskisson, William, 36, 48

Huxley, T. H., 5

Hyder[=a]b[=a]d, 65, 67

Hyndman, H. M., 310, 318, 320


Iceland, 309

Indian Mutiny, 69, 103-5

Ionides family, 207

Irish politics, 35, 38, 49, 51, 119, 121-2, 127

Irving, Edward, 13-15

Irving, Sir Henry, 169, 172


Jackson, General 'Stonewall', 59

Jacob, Colonel, 65

J[=a]landhar, 99-100

Jameson, Leander Starr, 350, 360-3, 366

Jeffrey, Francis, Lord, 18, 136

Jellaçiç, Baron, 251

Johnson, Samuel, 14

Jomini, Baron, 270

Jowett, Benjamin, 172, 204, 247, 249, 258, 273


Kachhi Hills, 67

Karachi, 67

Katkoff, Monsieur, 267, 269

Keble, John, 232

Kelmscott, 319, 321

Kelmscott Press, 319

Kiel, 249

Kimberley, 349-53, 355, 357, 366

King's College, 179, 296

Kingsley, Charles: character, 179, 186-7, 192-5;
  church views, 181, 193;
  history lectures, 190, 335;
  novels, 183, 185;
  parish work, 180-3, 195;
  poetry, 184;
  physical science, 183-5;
  social reform, 187-90;
  sport, 18-56;
  travels, 191;
  other references, 335, 343

Kirkcaldy, 13

Knox, John, 15, 93

Knox, Rev. James, 93

Koch, Professor, 300

Kruger, President, 362-4, 366


Lahore, 68, 100, 103-4

Lamb, Charles, 29, 165

Lambeth, 336

Landor, Walter Savage, 136, 165

Larkin, Henry, 27

Laud, Archbishop, 336, 340

Lausanne, 138

Lawrence, Alexander, 93, 94

Lawrence, Henry, 59, 66, 94, 100, 101-3

Lawrence, John: administrative posts, 96, 98-9, 101, 105;
  administrative talents, 97, 100, 102, 106;
  character, 97, 105;
  family, 93-4, 98;
  frontier question, 107;
  Indian Mutiny, 103-5;
  Indian peasantry, 98, 100;
  official subordinates, 102-3

Layard, Sir H. A., 204, 254

Lecky, W. E. H., 345

Leighton, Frederic, Lord, 208, 219

Lemaire, Monsieur, 291

Lennox, Lady Sarah (Napier), 55, 57

Lewis, Sir G. C., 285

Lightfoot, Bishop, 238

Limerick, 57

Limnerslease, 217

Lincoln's Inn, 198, 207

Lincolnshire, 151

Lister, Joseph Jackson, 278-9

Lister, Joseph: antiseptic method, 288-95;
  aseptic method, 298-9;
  honours, 295, 297, 300;
  hospitals, 285-7;
  lecturing, 284-5, 295-7;
  operations, 283, 292;
  opponents, 291, 296-7;
  research, 281-2, 288;
  teachers, 280-2;
  travels, 283;
  vivisection, 299;
  war, 294, 299

Littledale, Mr., 269

Liverpool, Earl of, 34, 38

Livingstone, David, 4

Lobanoff, Prince, 266

Lobengula, 357-60

Locker [-Lampson], Frederick, 172

Londonderry, 93

Louis Philippe, 40

Louth, 152

Lowe, Robert, Lord Sherbrooke, 8, 124

Loyalty Islands, 230

Lucknow, 103, 105, 174

Lushington, Edmund, 154

Lycidas, 155

Lyons, Viscount, 123, 273

Lyttelton, Sarah, Lady, 44

Lytton, Robert, Earl of, 108, 212


Mablethorpe, 151, 171

Macaulay, Lord, 8, 325

Mackintosh, Sir James, 37

Maclise, Daniel, 133, 140

Macmillan, George, 339, 344

Macready, William Charles, 138, 140

Magnusson, Professor, 309

Maine, Sir Henry, 345

Mainhill, 15

Mallet, Sir Louis, 255, 272

Manchester, 112, 116, 214, 217, 315

Manning, Cardinal, 212

Marlborough College, 303

Marsden, Samuel, 221

Martin, Sir Richard, 233

Matabele, 357-60, 364-5

Matoppo Hills, 364, 367

Maurice, Rev. F. D., 187, 189, 329, 331

McMurdo, General Sir W. M., 70

Melbourne, Viscount, 43

Mentone, 346

Meredith, George, 6, 26

Merivale, Dean, 154-5

Merton, Surrey, 313

Metternich, Prince, 251

Miani, 63-4

Michel Angelo, 203

Michelet, Jules, 339

Mill, John Stuart, 2, 3, 22, 25, 29, 157, 193, 212

Millais, Sir John, 8, 197, 212, 280, 305

Milnes, R. Monckton, 159

Milton, 75, 112, 120, 155, 161

Moberly, Bishop, 232

Montgomery, Sir Robert, 93, 101, 103

Moore, Sir John, 57, 62

Morier, David, 246, 248

Morier, Sir Robert: appearance, 248, 251;
  Austria, 251, 254-5;
  character, 251, 272-5;
  commercial treaties, 254, 260;
  diplomatic methods, 260, 262-3, 266, 273-4;
  diplomatic posts, 245, 250, 252, 255, 257, 259, 261, 264, 271;
  friends, 204, 247-9, 258, 270;
  Germany, 248-9, 252-8;
  Portugal, 259-61;
  Russia, 26-71;
  Spain, 261-4

Morley, Viscount, 2, 51, 86

Morocco, 263

Morris, William: appearance, 310;
  character, 6, 307, 321;
  designing, 311-12;
  dyeing, 313;
  friends, 304, 308, 321, 328;
  homes, 307-8, 319;
  painting, 306;
  poetry, 159, 175, 308-9;
  printing, 319;
  Socialism, 315-19;
  travels, 309, 318-19;
  workshop, 313-14

Mota, 227, 230, 237, 242

Mozley, Canon J. B., 327

Muizenberg, 366

Müller, Professor Max, 248


Napier, Charles: campaigns, 57, 58, 63-5, 67;
  character, 56, 66, 70;
  military commands, 59, 61, 62, 68;
  military training, 58, 62;
  official superiors, 57, 68, 70, 100;
  rank and file, 66-7, 69, 72

Napier, Hon. George, 54

Napier, Sir George, 54, 57

Napier, Robert (Lord N. of Magdala), 103, 106

Napier, Sir William, 54-5, 57, 70, 71

Napoleon III, Emperor, 123

Natal, 349

National Gallery, 53, 188

Nelidoff, Monsieur de, 267

Neuberg, Joseph, 27

Newbattle, 79

Newman, Cardinal, 5, 194

Newton, Sir Charles, 210

Nicholson, John, 66, 101-2, 104

Nightingale, Florence, 286, 291

Norfolk Island, 237, 239, 242

Nukapu, 242


Oaklands, 70

O'Connell, Daniel, 38, 39, 42, 44, 49

Omarkot, 63

Orleans, Duke of, 270

Oxford, 12-13, 34, 38, 40, 75, 196, 223-5, 247, 278, 304-6, 325-30, 351, 367


Paget, Sir James, 298

Palgrave, Francis T., 172, 204, 247

Palmerston, Viscount, 8, 32, 42, 78, 90, 123-4, 127, 185, 249-50, 254

P[=a]n[=i]pat, 96, 99

Panizzi, Sir A.; 212

Parkes, Sir Henry, 5

Parnell, Charles Stewart, 127

Pasteur, Louis, 288-9, 300

Patteson, Sir John, 222, 225, 233

Patteson, John Coleridge:
  centres of work, 226, 230, 237;
  character, 223, 231, 233, 235-6;
  consecration, 233;
  family, 222, 225, 234;
  labour trade, 240-1;
  languages, 224, 226;
  mission methods and principles, 227, 229, 234, 238-9;
  workers, 234, 238

Pattle family, 205

Pau, 191

Peel, 1st Sir Robert, 32-3, 37, 82

Peel, 2nd Sir Robert:
  administrative gifts, 35, 36, 52;
  character, 33, 45, 52-3, 80, 90;
  constituencies, 34, 38, 40, 43;
  education, 33-4;
  finance, 36;
  free trade, 47-51, 87, 118-19;
  Ireland, 35, 38-9;
  patronage, 159-60;
  political parties, 34, 50-1, 53;
  quoted on Napier, 72;
  Reform, 40-1

Pen-y-gwryd, 183, 186

Perry, Father, S.J., 270

Pio Nono, Pope, 259

Pitt, William, 31, 33-8

Plutarch, 56, 57, 361

Pobedonóstsev, Monsieur, 267, 270

Porter, Mrs., 294

Portsmouth, 70, 72, 130

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 4, 197

Prince Consort, 52, 85, 100, 252

Prinsep, Mr., 205, 207, 210

Punjab, 68-9, 102-4

Pusey, Canon E. B., 87


Reade, Charles, 185

Reform Bills, 40-3, 124-5

Rhodes, Cecil: 207, 211;
  Boers, 353-5, 362-4, 366;
  character, 356, 361-2;
  friends, 350-1, 361;
  imperial extension, 4, 353, 355, 357-61;
  mines, 350, 352;
  native wars, 360, 364-5;
  Oxford, 351, 367;
  political work, 353-6, 362

Rhodes, Colonel Frank, 349, 363

Rhodes, Herbert, 349

Rickards, Charles, 217

Roberts, Earl, 108

Robinson, Sir Hercules (Lord Rosmead), 356, 359, 361

Rochdale, 111-13, 119, 127-8

Rochester, 135, 143-4, 148

Rogers, Samuel, 163

Roggenbach, Herr von, 248

Romero y Robledo, 261

Rome, 43, 79, 203

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 36

Rose, Sir Hugh, 106

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 154, 163, 197, 205, 209, 212, 305-8

Rottingdean, 311

Routh, Dr., 328

Royal Academy, 198, 200, 206, 217

Rubens, 214

Rudd, Charles D., 350, 358, 361

Rumbold, Sir H., 272

Runnymede, 335

Ruskin, John: art, 129, 204, 316;
  economics, 8, 30, 147, 193, 315;
  general, 4, 6, 23, 303

Russell, Lord John, 32, 42, 44, 46, 50, 118, 123-4, 207, 253

Russell, Odo, 248, 264, 272-3, 275


Sadler, Michael T., 82

Sagasta, Senor, 261

Salisbury, Marquess of, 268, 275

Salisbury, Rhodesia, 359

Santa Cruz, 236

Sarawia, George, 238

Schiller, 17

Schleswig-Holstein, 249, 254

Schools, 88-9, 135-6

Scotsbrig, 15

Scott, Sir Walter, 11, 78, 187, 198, 303, 324-5

Scott, Capt. R. F., 4

Selous, Frederick C., 358-61

Selwyn, Bishop, 221-30, 233, 238

Shaftesbury, 3rd Earl, 74, 79

Shaftesbury, 4th Earl: administrative offices, 76, 80;
  appearance, 83;
  character, 74, 76;
  Factory Acts, 83-6, 135;
  family, 74, 77-9, 89;
  other philanthropic work, 77, 87-8;
  and political leaders, 46, 85-6, 90;
  religious work, 77, 87;
  schools, 88-9

Shakespeare, 302

Sharpey, William, 280-1

Shelley, 199, 303

Shepstone, Sir Theophilus, 260

Sikh wars, 68-9, 99-100

Simeon, Sir John, 166, 172

Simpson, Sir James, 286, 291, 294

Sind, 62-8

Smith, Sir Harry, 59

Smith, R. Bosworth, 93, 97

Smith, Sir Thomas, 298

Somers, Lady, 205

Somersby, 151, 156

Southey, 82

Spedding, James, 154, 165, 175, 204

Sprigg, Sir Gordon, 353

Staäl, Baron de, 268

Stanley, Dean, 248, 329, 331

Stanley, Edward, _v._ Derby

Stein, Baron von, 252

Stepney, 331-2

Sterling, John, 23

Stevens, Alfred, 197

Stewart, John, M.D., 297

Stockmar, Baron, 249

Stokes, Sir George G., 277

Stratford de Redcliffe, Viscount, 210

Street, George E., 306

Stubbs, Bishop, 5, 325, 334, 340-1, 345

Syme, James, 280-3, 285, 293


Talleyrand, 273

Tamworth, 32, 43

Taylor, Alexander, 104

Taylor, Sir Henry, 165, 209

Taylor, Tom, 186

Temple, Archbishop, 247, 249

Tennyson, Alfred: appearance, 157, 164, 212;
  character, 155, 156, 173;
  conversation, 155, 164, 250;
  education, 152-6, 158;
  family, 153, 156, 163;
  friends, 23, 154, 163-5, 172, 205, 209;
  homes, 151, 171;
  poems, dramatic, 169;
  epic, 166-8;
  lyric, 156-7, 159, 161-3, 166, 174;
  patriotic, 174;
  political ideas, 167, 175;
  quoted opinions, 187, 345;
  travels, 173;
  other references, 5, 6, 208, 305

Tennyson, Frederick, 153

Thackeray, W. M., 5, 7, 140, 154, 205, 209

Thompson, Sir Henry, 280

Tilly, Lieutenant, 235

Titian, 173, 213, 219, 227

Tolstoy, Count Dmitri, 267, 269

Trevelyan, George Macaulay, 121, 347

Troyes, 343


University College, London, 278-9

Upton, Essex, 278

Upton, Kent, 307

Utilitarians, 2, 3


Vere, Aubrey de, 165

Victoria, Queen: official, 46, 50, 52, 126, 174, 190, 253, 257;
  personal, 44, 78, 85, 148, 162, 175

Vienna, 250, 255, 283

Villiers, Charles Pelham, 50

Virgil, 167, 173

Vischnegradsky, 270


Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, 4, 220

Wallace, Alfred Russel, 183, 291

Walmer, 300

Wanostrocht, Nicholas, 199

Ward, Mr. and Mrs. Humphry, 345

Waterloo, 58

Watt, James, 2, 277, 338

Watts, George Frederick: Academy, Royal, 200, 217;
  appearance, 199, 209;
  art--views on, 215-16;
  character, 200, 202, 208, 218;
  education, 198-200;
  exhibitions, 217;
  friends, 172, 201, 204-5, 208-9, 250;
  homes, 205, 217;
  mural decoration, 202, 206-7;
  pictures, allegories, 214, 217;
  pictures, myths, 213;
  pictures, portraits, 93, 207-8, 212, 217;
  sculpture, 211, 219;
  travels, 201, 203, 210, 216

Webb, Philip, 307

Wellesley, Marquis, 95

Wellington, Duke of: military, 57, 68, 71-2, 76, 93, 187;
  personal, 46, 70, 78, 80;
  political, 35, 38-41, 43, 46, 51

Welsh, John, 15

Wesley, John, 3, 92, 340

West Indies, 178, 191

Westminster, 191, 200, 203

Westminster, Duke of, 211

Westmorland, Earl of, 250

Whistler, J. McN., 197, 215

White, Sir William, 266, 272, 274-5

Whittier, John Greenleaf, 192

Wiggins, Captain, 270

Wilberforce, Bishop Samuel, 5

Wilberforce, William, 3

William I, German Emperor, 253-4, 258

William IV, King, 41

Wimborne St. Giles, 75, 89, 90

Winchester, 232, 246

Windsor, 221

Windt, Harry de, 270

Wolseley, Viscount, 57

Wordsworth, William, 29, 163, 165-6, 242

Wotton, Sir Henry, 246

Wotton, Dean Nicholas, 246

Wraxall, 93

Wyndham, George, 122


Yonge, Charlotte, 232, 240, 243


Zambezi, 355, 362

Zionist movement, 87

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Victorian Worthies - Sixteen Biographies" ***

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