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Title: Memoirs of Life and Literature
Author: Mallock, W. H. (William Hurrell), 1849-1923
Language: English
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MEMOIRS OF LIFE
AND LITERATURE

[Illustration]


Books by W. H. MALLOCK

Memoirs of Life and Literature
The Limits of Pure Democracy            _5th Edition_
Religion as a Credible Doctrine
The Reconstruction of Belief


_Novels_

The Individualist            _3rd Edition_
The Heart of Life            _3rd Edition_
A Human Document             _9th Edition_


[Illustration: ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE]



MEMOIRS OF
LIFE AND LITERATURE

BY

W. H. MALLOCK

AUTHOR OF

"RECONSTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF" ETC.

ILLUSTRATED

[Illustration]

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
MCMXX



MEMOIRS OF LIFE AND LITERATURE

Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published September, 1920



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
CHAPTER I

FAMILY ANTECEDENTS                                                     1

    The Mallocks of Cockington--Some Old Devonshire Houses--A
    Child's Outlook on Life

CHAPTER II

THE TWO NATIONS                                                       20

    The Rural Poor of Devonshire--The Old Landed Families--An
    Ecclesiastical Magnate

CHAPTER III

A PRIVATE TUTOR DE LUXE                                                9

    Early Youth Under a Private Tutor--Poetry--Premonitions of
    Modern Liberalism

CHAPTER IV

WINTER SOCIETY AT TORQUAY                                             53

    Early Acquaintance with Society--Byron's Grandson, Lord
    Houghton--A Dandy of the Old School, Carlyle--Lord Lytton, and
    Others--Memorable Ladies

CHAPTER V

EXPERIENCES AT OXFORD                                                 68

    Early Youth at Oxford--Acquaintance with Browning, Swinburne,
    and Ruskin--Dissipations of an Undergraduate--The Ferment of
    Intellectual Revolution--_The New Republic_

CHAPTER VI

THE BASIS OF LONDON SOCIETY                                           92

    Early Experiences of London Society--Society Thirty Years Ago
    Relatively Small--Arts and Accomplishments Which Can Flourish in
    Small Societies Only

CHAPTER VII

VIGNETTES OF LONDON LIFE                                             113

    Byron's Grandson and Shelley's Son--The World of Balls--The
    "Great Houses," and Their New Rivals--The Latter Criticized by
    Some Ladies of the Old Noblesse--Types of More Serious
    Society--Lady Marian Alford and Others--_Salons_ Exclusive and
    Inclusive--A Clash of Two Rival Poets--The Poet
    Laureate--Auberon Herbert and the Simple Life--Dean
    Stanley--Whyte Melville--"Ouida"--"Violet Fane"--Catholic
    Society--Lord Bute--Banquet to Cardinal Manning--Difficulties of
    the Memoir-writer--Lord Wemyss and Lady P---- --Indiscretions of
    Augustus Hare--Routine of a London Day--The Author's Life Out of
    London

CHAPTER VIII

SOCIETY IN COUNTRY HOUSES                                            142

    A Few Country Houses of Various Types--Castles and Manor Houses
    from Cornwall to Sutherland

CHAPTER IX

FROM COUNTRY HOUSES TO POLITICS                                      168

    First Treatise on Politics--Radical Propaganda--First Visit to
    the Highlands--The Author Asked to Stand for a Scotch
    Constituency

CHAPTER X

A FIVE MONTHS' INTERLUDE                                             194

    A Venture on the Riviera--Monte Carlo--Life in a Villa at
    Beaulieu--A Gambler's Suicide--A Gambler's Funeral

CHAPTER XI

"THE OLD ORDER CHANGES"                                              209

    Intellectual Apathy of Conservatives--A Novel Which Attempts to
    Harmonize Socialist Principles with Conservative

CHAPTER XII

CYPRUS, FLORENCE, HUNGARY                                            226

    A Winter in Cyprus--Florence--Siena--Italian
    Castles--Cannes--Some Foreign Royalties--Visit During the
    Following Spring to Princess Batthyany in Hungary

CHAPTER XIII

TWO WORKS ON SOCIAL POLITICS                                         255

    The Second Lord Lytton at Knebworth--"Ouida"--Conservative
    Torpor as to Social Politics--Two Books: _Labor and the Popular
    Welfare_ and _Aristocracy and Evolution_--Letters from Herbert
    Spencer

CHAPTER XIV

RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY AND FICTION                                     270

    The So-called Anglican Crisis--_Doctrine and Doctrinal
    Disruption_--Three Novels: _A Human Document_, _The Heart of
    Life_, _The Individualist_--Three Works on the Philosophy of
    Religion: _Religion as a Credible Doctrine_, _The Veil of the
    Temple_, _The Reconstruction of Belief_--Passages from _The Veil
    of the Temple_

CHAPTER XV

_From the Highlands to New York_                                     292

    Summer on the Borders of Caithness--A Two Months' Yachting
    Cruise--The Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides--An Unexpected
    Political Summons

CHAPTER XVI

POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN AMERICA                                      308

    Addresses on Socialism--Arrangements for Their
    Delivery--American Society in Long Island and New
    York--Harvard--Prof. William James--President
    Roosevelt--Chicago--Second Stay in New York--New York to
    Brittany--_A Critical Examination of Socialism_--Propaganda in
    England

CHAPTER XVII

THE AUTHOR'S WORKS SUMMARIZED                                        335

    A Boy's Conservatism--Poetic Ambitions--The Philosophy of
    Religious Belief--The Philosophy of Industrial
    Conservatism--Intellectual Torpor of Conservatives--Final
    Treatises and Fiction

CHAPTER XVIII

LITERATURE AND ACTION                                                343

    Literature as Speech Made Permanent--All Written Speech Not
    Literature--The Essence of Literature for Its Own Sake--Prose as
    a Fine Art--Some Interesting Aspects of Literature as an End in
    Itself--Their Comparative Triviality--No Literature Great Which
    Is Not More Than Literature--Literature as a Vehicle of
    Religion--Lucretius--_The Reconstruction of Belief_

INDEX                                                                373



ILLUSTRATIONS


ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE       _Frontispiece_

ROBERT BROWNING                  _Facing p. 30_

THOMAS CARLYLE                         "    64

JOHN RUSKIN                            "    86

OUIDA                                  "   126

CARDINAL MANNING                       "   134

HERBERT SPENCER                        "   266

THEODORE ROOSEVELT                     "   318



MEMOIRS OF LIFE AND LITERATURE



CHAPTER I

FAMILY ANTECEDENTS

     The Mallocks of Cockington--Some Old Devonshire Houses--A
     Child's Outlook on Life


"Memoirs" is a word which, as commonly used, includes books of very
various kinds, ranging from St. Augustine's _Confessions_ to the gossip
of Lady Dorothy Nevill. Such books, however, have all one family
likeness. They all of them represent life as seen by the writers from a
personal point of view; and in this sense it is to the family of Memoirs
that the present book belongs.

But the incidents or aspects of life which a book of memoirs describes
represent something more than themselves. Whether the writer is
conscious of the fact or no, they represent a circle of circumstances,
general as well as private, to which his individual character reacts;
and his reactions, as he records them, may in this way acquire a meaning
and unity which have their origin in the age--in the general conditions
and movements which his personal recollections cover--rather than in
any qualities or adventures which happen to be exclusively his own. Thus
if any writer attempts to do what I have done myself--namely, to examine
or depict in books of widely different kinds such aspects and problems
of life--social, philosophical, religious, and economic--as have in turn
engrossed his special attention, he may venture to hope that a memoir of
his own activities will be taken as representing an age, rather than a
personal story, his personal story being little more than a variant of
one which many readers will recognize as common to themselves and him.

Now for all reflecting persons whose childhood reaches back to the
middle of the nineteenth century, the most remarkable feature of the
period which constitutes the age for themselves cannot fail to be a
sequence of remarkable and momentous changes--changes alike in the
domains of science, religion, and society; and if any one of such
persons should be asked, "Changes from what?" his answer will be, if he
knows how to express himself, "Changes from the things presented to him
by his first remembered experiences, and by him taken for granted," such
as the teaching, religious or otherwise, received by him, and the
general constitution of society as revealed to him by his own
observation and the ways and conversation of his elders. These are the
things which provide the child's life with its starting point, and these
are determined by the facts of family tradition and parentage. It is,
therefore, with a description of such family facts that the author of a
memoir like the present ought properly to begin.

The Mallocks, who have for nearly three hundred years been settled at
Cockington Court, near to what is now Torquay, descend from a William
Malet, Mallek, or Mallacke, who was, about the year 1400, possessed of
estates lying between Lyme and Axmouth. This individual, according to
the genealogists of the Heralds' College, was a younger son of Sir
Baldwyn Malet of Enmore, in the county of Dorset. His descendants, at
all events, from this time onward became connected by marriage with such
well-known West Country families as the Pynes, the Drakes, the
Churchills, the Yonges of Colyton, the Willoughbys of Payhembury, the
Trevelyans, the Tuckfields (subsequently Hippesleys), the Strodes of
Newnham, the Aclands, the Champernownes, and the Bullers. Between the
reigns of Henry VII and Elizabeth they provided successive Parliaments
with members for Lyme and Poole. One of them, Roger, during the reign of
the latter sovereign, found his way to Exeter, where, as a banker or
"goldsmith," he laid the foundations of what was then a very great
fortune, and built himself a large town house, of which one room is
still intact, with the queen's arms and his own juxtaposed on the
paneling. The fortune accumulated by him was, during the next two
reigns, notably increased by a second Roger, his son, in partnership
with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, military governor of Plymouth, who had
somehow become possessed of immense territories in Maine, and was a
prominent figure in the history of English trade with America.

The second Roger, about the year 1640, purchased the Cockington property
from Sir Henry Cary, a Cavalier, who appears to have been a typical
sufferer from his devotion to the royal cause. Roger Mallock was,
indeed, so far Royalist himself that he entered a protest against the
execution of Charles; but both he and his relatives also were evidently
in sympathy otherwise with the Parliamentary party; for, during the
Protectorate, Elizabeth Mallock, his cousin, married Lord Blayney, an
Irishman, who was personally attached to Cromwell; while Rawlin Mallock,
this second Roger's son (who had married Susannah, Sir Ferdinando
Gorges's daughter), was Whig member for Totnes, twice Whig member for
Ashburton, and was one of the small group of peers and country gentlemen
who welcomed William of Orange when he disembarked at Brixham. Rawlin's
heir was a boy--beautiful, as a picture of him in the guise of a little
Cavalier shows--who died a minor in the year 1699, but who, during his
brief life, as a contemporary chronicler mentions, had distinguished
himself by an accomplishment extremely rare among the young country
gentlemen of his own day--indeed, we may add of our own--that is to day,
a precocious knowledge of Hebrew.

The young scholar was succeeded by a third Rawlin, his cousin, a
personage of a very different type, who, in concert with his next-door
neighbor, Mr. Cary of Torre Abbey, added to the pursuits of a Squire
Western the enterprise of a smuggler in a big way of business. He was,
moreover, a patron of the turf, having a large stud farm on Dartmoor,
with results which would have been disastrous for himself if the wounds
inflicted by the world had not been healed through his connection with
the Established Church. He was fortunately the patron of no less than
sixteen livings, or cures of souls, by the gradual sale of most of which
he managed to meet, as a Christian should do, the claims of his lay
creditors. Of the bottles of port with which he stocked the Cockington
cellars two, bearing the date of 1745, still remain--or till lately
remained--unopened. Through the successor of this typical Georgian the
property passed to my grandfather, of whom my father was a younger son.

Like many other younger sons, my father, to use a pious phrase, suffered
himself to be "put into the Church," where two of the livings still
owned by his family awaited him. These, to his temporal advantage, he
presently exchanged for another. His health, however, since I can
remember him, never permitted him to exert himself in the performance of
divine service. Indeed, his ecclesiastical interests were architectural
rather than pastoral. He accordingly, after a brief acquaintance with
his new parishioners, committed them to the spiritual care of a
stalwart and well-born curate, and bought a picturesque retreat about
ten or twelve miles away, embowered in ivy, and overlooking the river
Exe, where he spent his time in enlarging the house and gardens, and in
planting slopes and terraces, about a quarter of a mile in length, with
what were then very rare trees. He was subsequently given for life the
use of another house, Denbury Manor, of which I shall speak presently,
which I myself much preferred, and with which my own early recollections
are much more closely associated.

My mother was a daughter of the Ven. Archdeacon Froude, and sister of
three distinguished brothers--Hurrell Froude, prominent as a leader of
the Tractarian movement, Antony Froude the historian, and William
Froude, who, though his name is less generally known, exercised, as will
be shown presently, an influence on public affairs greater than that of
many cabinet ministers. The Archdeacon of Totnes, their father, was a
Churchman of a type now extinct as the dodo. Born in the early part of
the reign of George III, and inheriting a considerable fortune, he was
in his youth addicted to pursuits a proficiency in which is now regarded
by no one as absolutely essential to a fitness for Holy Orders. He was
famous for his horses, and also for his feats of horsemanship, one of
these being the jumping of a five-barred gate without losing either of
two guinea pieces which were placed at starting between his knees and
the saddle. To the accomplishments of an equestrian he added those of a
dilettante. He was an architect, a collector of pictures, a herald and
archaeologist, and also (as Ruskin declared, to whom some of his
drawings were exhibited) an artist whose genius was all but that of a
master. Like other young men of fortune, he made what was then called
the "grand tour of Europe," his sketchbooks showing that he traveled as
far as Corfu, and subsequently, when he settled for life as the vicar of
Dartington parish, he was regarded as one of the most enlightened
country gentlemen of the district, active in improving the roads, which,
till his time, were abominable, and in bringing poachers to punishment
if not to repentance.

Within a short walk of the parsonage, over the brow of a wooded hill, is
another house, which in the scenery of my childhood was an object no
less familiar--Dartington Hall, the home of the Champernowne family,
with which, by marriage and otherwise, my father's was very closely
connected. Yet another house--it has been mentioned already as
associated with my childhood also--is Denbury Manor, with its stucco
chimneys and pinnacles, its distance from Dartington being something
like eight miles. These four houses--Denbury Manor, Dartington
Parsonage, Dartington Hall, and Cockington Court--all lying within a
circle of some twelve miles in diameter, represent, together with their
adjuncts, the material aspects of the life with which I was first
familiar. Let me give a brief sketch of each, taking Denbury first.

Denbury Manor at the end of the eighteenth century was converted and
enlarged into a dower-house for my mother's grandmother, but was
occupied when first I knew it by my great-aunt, her daughter, an old
Miss Margaret Froude. To judge from a portrait done of her in her youth
by Downman, she must have been then a very engaging _ingénue_; but when
I remember her she looked a hundred and fifty. She was, indeed, when she
died very nearly a hundred, and her house and its surroundings now
figure in my recollections as things of the eighteenth century which,
preserved in all their freshness, had hardly been touched by the years
which by that time had followed it. The house, which was of considerable
antiquity, had been, for my great-grandmother's benefit, modernized or
Elizabethanized under the influence of Horace Walpole and Wyat. It was
backed by a rookery of old and enormous elms. It was approached on one
side by a fine avenue of limes, and was otherwise surrounded by gardens
with gray walls or secretive laurel hedges. Here was a water tank in the
form of a Strawberry Hill chapel. Here was a greenhouse unaltered since
the days of George II. Everywhere, though everything was antique, there
were signs of punctilious care, and morning by morning a bevy of female
villagers would be raking the gravel paths and turning them into
weedless silver. The front door, heavy with nails, would be opened by
an aged footman, his cheeks pink like an apple, and his white silk
stockings and his livery always faultless. Within were old Turkey
carpets, glossy, but not worn with use, heavy Chippendale chairs, great
Delf jugs with the monogram of George II on them, a profusion of
Oriental china, and endless bowls of potpourri. On the shelves of
whatnots were books of long-forgotten eighteenth-century plays. In one
of the sitting rooms was a magnificent portrait by Reynolds of Miss
Froude's mother. It represented her playing on a guitar, and on a table
beneath it reposed the guitar itself. Here and there lay one of the
ivory hands with which powdered ladies once condescended to scratch
themselves. There were shining inkstands whose drawers were still
stocked with the wafers used for sealing letters in the days of Lydia
Languish. In another room, called "the little parlor," and commonly used
for breakfast, an old gentleman by Opie smiled from one of the walls,
and saw one thing only which he might have seen there in his boyhood--a
small piano by Broadwood, always fastidiously polished, as if it had
just come from the shop, and bearing the date of 1780. Many houses
abound in similar furnishings. The characteristic of Denbury was that it
contained nothing else. These things were there, not as survivals of the
past, but as parts of a past which for the inmates had never ceased to
be the present. They were there as the natural appurtenances of a lady
who, so far as I knew, had never been near a railway till a special
train was run to convey mourners to her funeral.

Miss Froude matched her surroundings. During her later years she was
never visible till midday, by which time she would, in an upstairs
drawing room, be found occupying a cushionless chair at a large central
table, with a glass of port at her right hand and a volume of sermons at
her left. On either side of her stood a faithful attendant, one being a
confidential maid, the other a Miss Drake--an old, mittened companion,
hardly younger in appearance than herself--both of whom watched her with
eyes of solicitous reverence, and seemed always ready to collapse into
quasi-religious curtsies. Here she would receive such visitors as
happened to be staying in the house, and subsequently reverential
villagers, who appealed to her for aid or sympathy.

Dartington Parsonage was in one sense more modern than Denbury, having
been for the most part constructed by the Archdeacon himself. Originally
a diminutive dwelling--a relic of medieval times--he enlarged it to the
dimensions of a substantial country house, surrounding a court, and
connected with a medley of outbuildings--servants' offices, stables,
barns, and coach houses, one of these last containing as a solitary
recluse a high-hung yellow chariot, lined with yellow morocco, in which
the Archdeacon had been wont to travel before the battle of Waterloo,
and in which his grandchildren were never weary of swinging themselves.
If the parsonage and its appurtenances can in any sense be called
modern, they represented ideas and conditions which are far enough away
now. There was nothing about them more modern than the early days of
Miss Austen. The dining-room sideboard, with its long row of knife
boxes, whose sloping lids when lifted showed a glimmering of silver
handles, would have seemed familiar to Mr. Knightly, Mr. Woodhouse, and
Sir Thomas Bertram. Opposite the dining room was a library, very
carefully kept, the contents of which were a curious mixture. Besides
great folio editions of the classics and the Christian Fathers, were
collections of the ephemeral literature of the days of Charles II,
notable among which were lampoons on Nell Gwyn and her royal
lover--works which the Archdeacon certainly never bought, and which must
have come to him through his mother from the Cavalier family of
Copplestone. In the hall was a marble table bearing a bust of
Demosthenes. In the drawing-room were watercolor drawings by artists
such as Prout and Stansfield; a group of Dutch paintings, including a
fine Van Ostade; sofas, on which Miss Austen might, have sat by the
Prince Regent; and scrap-work screens on which faded portraits and
landscapes were half eclipsed by quotations from _Elegant Extracts_.
From the drawing-room windows, in my mother's earlier days, might often
have been seen the figure of an old head gardener and factotum, George
Diggins by name, bending over beds of geraniums, who was born in the
reign of George II, who had passed his youth as a charcoal burner in
woods not far from Ugbrooke, the seat of the Catholic Cliffords, and who
often recounted how, on mysterious nights, "four horses and a coach,
with the old Lord Clifford inside it, would come tumbling out of the
woods into the road like so many packs of wool."

Dartington Hall--very well known to architects as the work of John
Holland, Duke of Exeter, in the reign of Richard II--passed by exchange
to the Champernownes in the reign of Henry VIII, and was originally an
enormous structure, inclosing two quadrangles. A large part of it, as
may be seen from old engravings, was falling into ruins in the days of
George II, but its principal feature was intact till the beginning of
the nineteenth century. This was one of the finest baronial halls in
England, seventy feet by forty, with a roof resembling that of the great
hall at Westminster. The roof, however, at that time showing signs of
impending collapse, it was taken down by my grandfather in the year
1810, and only the bare walls and the pointed windows remain. The
inhabited portion, however, is still of considerable extent, one of its
frontages--two hundred and thirty feet in length--abutting so closely on
a churchyard that the dead need hardly turn in their graves to peer in
through the lower windows at faded wall-papers, bedroom doors, and
endless yards of carpet. The interior, as I remember it, did not differ
from that of many old country houses. There were one or two great rooms,
a multitude of family portraits, and landscapes, marbles and coins
brought from Italy by a traveled and dilettante ancestor. It was a great
rendezvous for numerous Buller relations. It was, as was the parsonage
also, a nest of old domestics, all born in the parish, and it included
among its other inmates a ghost, who was called "the Countess," and who
took from time to time alarming strolls along the passages.

It remains to add a word or two with regard to Cockington Court. At the
time when my father was born in it, it was the heart of a neighborhood
remotely and even primitively rural, and fifty years later, when I can
first remember it, its immediate surroundings were unchanged. A few
miles away the modern world had, indeed, begun to assert itself in the
multiplying villas of Torquay, but on the Cockington property, which
includes the district of Chelston, few dwellings existed which had not
been there in the days of Charles II. Torquay, which at the beginning of
the Napoleonic wars was nothing more than a cluster of fishermen's huts,
owed its rise to the presence of the British fleet in Torbay, and the
need of accommodation on shore for officers' wives and families. My
grandfather built two houses, Livermead House and Livermead Cottage, in
answer to this demand. Both were for personal friends, one of them
being the first Lord St. Vincent, the other being Sir John Colbourne,
afterward Lord Seaton. But though elaborate plans were subsequently put
before him for turning the surrounding slopes into a pretentious and
symmetrical watering place, the construction of no new residence was
permitted by himself or his successor till somewhere about the year
1865, when a building lease was granted by the latter to one of his own
connections.

Meanwhile, on adjacent properties, belonging to the Palks and Carys,
Torquay had been developing into what became for a time the most famous
and fashionable of the winter resorts of England, Cockington still
remaining a quiet and undisturbed Arcadia.

But the real or nominal progress of five-and-forty years has brought
about changes which my grandfather, blind to his own interests,
resisted. To-day, as the train, having passed the station of Torre,
proceeds toward that of Paignton, the traveler sees, looking inland at
the Cockington and Chelston slopes, a throng of villas intermixed with
the relics of ancient hedgerows. If, alighting at Torquay station, he
mounts the hill above it by what in my childhood was a brambled and
furtive lane, he will find on either side of him villas and villa
gardens, till at length he is brought to a ridge overlooking a secluded
valley. For some distance villas will still obscure his view, but
presently these end. Below him he will see steep fields descending into
a quiet hollow, the opposite slopes being covered or crowned with woods,
and against them he will see smoke wreaths straying upward from
undiscerned chimneys. A little farther on, the road, now wholly rural,
dips downward, and Cockington village reveals itself, not substantially
changed, with its thatch and its red mud walls, from what it had been
more than two hundred years ago. Its most prominent feature is the
blacksmith's forge, which, unaltered except for repairs, is of much
greater antiquity. It is said that, as a contrast between the old world
and the new, few scenes in England have been more often photographed
than this. Passing the blacksmith's forge, and mounting under the shade
of trees, the road leads to a lodge, the grounds of Cockington Court,
and the church which very nearly touches it.

The house as it now stands--a familiar object to tourists--is merely a
portion of what once was a larger structure. It was partly built by the
Carys in the year of the Spanish Armada. Roger Mallock reconstructed it
some seventy years later. It formed in his days, and up to those of my
grandfather, one side of a square, entered between two towers, and was
surrounded by a deer park of four or five hundred acres. Toward the end
of the eighteenth century, however, agricultural land then rising in
value, my grandfather, who threw away one fortune by refusing to have a
town on his property, had been shrewd enough to get rid of his deer,
and turned most of his parkland into farms. He also destroyed the
forecourt of his house and a range of antique offices, considerably
reducing at the same time the size of the main building by depriving it
of its top story and substituting a dwarfish parapet for what had once
been its eight gables. The interior suffered at his hands to an even
greater extent. A hall with a minstrels' gallery was turned by him into
several rooms as commonplace as it is possible to imagine. Indeed little
of special interest survived him but some fine Italian ceilings, the
most curious of which exists no longer, a paneled dining-room of the
reign of William and Mary, a number of portraits dating from the days of
James I onward, and a wall paper representing life-size savages under
palm trees, which was part of the plunder of a French vessel during the
time of the Napoleonic wars. To this meager list, however, up to my
father's time might have been added another item of a more eloquent and
more unusual kind--namely, a gilded coach, in which, according to
village tradition, an old Madam Mallock (as she was called) used to be
dragged by six horses along the execrable lanes of the neighborhood for
her daily airing in the early part of the reign of George III. It is a
great pity that, of all the appliances of life, carriages are those
which are least frequently preserved. The reason doubtless is that they
take up a good deal of room, and become absurdly old-fashioned long
before they become interesting. The old coach of which I speak was
bequeathed, with other heirlooms, to my father, who, I may say without
filial impiety, proved altogether unworthy of it. He left it in a shed
near a pond, into which it subsequently fell, its _disjecta membra_
being presumably at the bottom still.

But whatever the house may have lost in the way of hereditary contents,
the church contained, in my childhood, other symbols of the past--they
have now likewise vanished--which spoke of "the family" rather than the
mysteries of the Christian faith. The family shrouded its devotions, and
sometimes its slumbers, in a pew which was furnished with a large
fireplace, and eclipsed with its towering walls something like half the
altar. All the panels of the western gallery were emblazoned with coats
of arms and quarterings, and all the available wall space was dark with
family hatchments. One afternoon, some five-and-forty years ago, a
daughter of the house, who happened to be alone indoors, was alarmed by
a summons to show herself and receive the Queen of Holland, who was then
staying at Torquay, and who wished to inspect an old English house and
its appurtenances. My cousin, who took her into the church, and who was
somewhat confused by the presence of so august a visitor, explained the
hatchments, with regard to which the queen questioned her, by saying
that one was put up whenever a member of the Mallock family married.

As for myself, these solemn heraldic objects vaguely imbued me with a
sense, of which I took long in divesting myself, that my own family was
one of the most important and permanent institutions of the country.
They were otherwise associated in my memory with a long succession of
Christmases, when holly berries enlivened their frames and peeped over
the walls of the pew where my elders drowsed, and my coevals were
sustained during the sermon by visions of the plum pudding and crackers
which would reward them in a near hereafter. I can still remember how,
before these joys began, we would group ourselves in the dining-room
windows, peering at distant woods, in which keepers still set man traps,
or watching the village schoolchildren on their way from church
homeward, making with their crimson cloaks a streak of color as they
followed one another across slopes of snow.

The feelings excited by a landscape such as this bore a subtle
resemblance to those produced in myself by the heraldries which thronged
the church. From the windows, indeed, of all the houses of which I have
just been speaking the prospect was morally, if not visually, the same.
They all looked out, as though it were the unquestioned order of things,
on wooded seclusions pricked by manorial chimneys or on lodges and gray
park walls, while somewhere beyond these last lurked the thatch of
contented cottages, at the doors of which, when a member of "the family"
passed, women and children would curtsy and men touch their forelocks.

Here some persons may be tempted to interpose the remark that the aspect
which things thus wore for ourselves was in one respect quite illusory.
They may say that the idyllic contentment which we thus attributed to
the cottagers was the very reverse of the truth, and that the thatch of
their dwellings, however pleasing to the eye, really shrouded a misery
to which history shows few parallels. Such an objection, even if
correct, would, however, be here irrelevant; for I am dealing now not
with things as they actually were, but merely with the impressions
produced by them on childish minds, and more particularly on my own.
Nevertheless, the objection in itself is of quite sufficient importance
to call, even here, for some incidental attention; and how far, in this
respect, our impressions were true or false will appear in the following
chapter.



CHAPTER II

THE TWO NATIONS

     The Rural Poor of Devonshire--The Old Landed Families--An
     Ecclesiastical Magnate


Our impressions of the cottagers, to which I have just alluded--and for
us the cottagers represented the people of England generally--were not,
it is true, derived from our own scientific investigations; they were
derived from the conversation of our elders. But the knowledge which
these elders possessed as to the ways, the temper, and the conditions of
the rural poor was intimate, and was constantly illustrated by
anecdotes, to which we as children were never weary of listening. The
descriptions so often given of the misery of the agricultural laborers
and the oppression of the ruling class from the beginning of the
nineteenth century up to the abolition of the Corn Laws may be correct
as applied to certain parts of the kingdom; but, in the case of
Devonshire at all events, they are, it would appear, very far from the
truth. The period more particularly in question, including the decade
known as "the hungry 'forties," is precisely the period with which these
elders of ours were most closely acquainted; and, though we occasionally
heard of disturbances called "bread riots" as having occurred in Exeter
and Plymouth, no hint reached us of such outbreaks having ever taken
place in the country, or of any distress or temper which was calculated
to provoke protests of any sort or kind against the established order.
On the contrary, between the rural poor and the old-fashioned landed
aristocracy, lay and clerical alike, the relations were not only
amicable, but very often confidential also.

This fact may be illustrated by the case of old Miss Froude, the "Lady
Bountiful" of her immediate neighborhood, who was constantly appealed to
by its inhabitants, not only for material aid, but for religious
guidance as well, and appreciation of their religious experiences. Thus
on one occasion an old woman was ushered into Miss Froude's presence who
had evidently some fact of great importance to communicate. The fact
turned out to be this: that she had spent the whole of the previous
night in a trance, during which she had ascended to heaven, and been let
in by "a angel." "Well," said Miss Froude, "and did they ask you your
name?" "No, ma'am, not my name," was the answer; "they only asked me my
parish." "And do you," Miss Froude continued, "remember what the angel's
name was?" The old woman seemed doubtful. "Do you think," said Miss
Froude, "it was Gabriel?" "Iss, fay (yes, i' faith)," said the old
woman. "Sure enough 'twas Gaburl." "And did you," said Miss Froude,
finally, "see anybody in heaven whom you knew?" The old woman hesitated,
but caught herself up in time, and solemnly said, "I seed you, ma'am."

Had all Miss Froude's dependents been of an equally communicative
disposition, there would indeed in the confessions of two of them have
been matter of a less peaceful character. It had for some time been
whispered among her indoor servants--this is before I can remember--that
horses, after days of idleness so far as carriage work was concerned,
would on certain mornings be found covered with sweat, and other signs
of mysteriously hard usage. It was ultimately found out that an
enterprising coachman and groom had been riding them periodically to
Teignmouth, and playing a nocturnal part in the landing of smuggled
cargoes, these being stowed in the cellars of a decaying villa, which
for years had remained tenantless owing to persistent rumors that it was
haunted by a regiment of exceedingly savage ghosts. The only other
approach to anything like rural violence which reached our ears through
the channel of oral tradition was an event which must have occurred
about the year 1830, and was reported to the Archdeacon by George
Diggins, his old factotum. This was the plunder of a vessel which had
been wrecked the night before somewhere between Plymouth and Salcombe.
The Archdeacon asked if no authorities had interfered. "I heard, sir,"
said George Diggins, "that a revenue officer did what he could to stop
'un, but they hadn't a sarved he very genteel." This statement meant
that they had pushed him over the cliffs.

Otherwise the stories of rural life that reached me, though relating to
times which have in popular oratory been associated with the
rick-burnings and kindred outrages "by which the wronged peasant righted
himself," were pictures of a general content, broken only by individual
vicissitudes, which were accepted and bewailed as part of the common
order of nature. Of such individual afflictions the larger part were
medical. The women, even the most robust, would rarely confess to the
enjoyment of anything so uninteresting as a condition of rude health.
The usual reply made by them to the inquiries of any lady visitant was,
"Thankee, ma'am, I be torrable" (tolerable); but, if conscious of any
definite malady, their diagnosis of their own cases would, though
simple, be more precise. One of them told my mother that for days she'd
been terrible bad. "My inside," she said, "be always a-coming up, though
I've swallowed a pint of shot by this time merely to keep my liver
down."

In cottage households, though occasionally there might be some shortage
of food, there were no indications of anything like general or chronic
want. Indeed, if delicacies which the inmates had never seen before were
brought them as a present from this or from that "great house," they
would often eye them askance, and make a favor of taking them. That the
ordinary diet of the Devonshire cottagers of those days contented them
is shown by the dinner prepared for a man who worked at a limekiln by
his wife, which she complacently exhibited to my mother as at once
appetizing and nutritious. It was a species of dumpling with an onion,
instead of an apple, in the middle of it, the place of the customary
crust being taken by home-baked bread.

On the whole, however, the cottagers, no less than their richer
neighbors, were preoccupied by interests other than those of mere
domestic economy. Their gossip would accordingly take a wider range, as
when one of them announced to an aunt of mine that a son and a daughter
who had emigrated to the United States had "got stuck in the mud just
outside America."

Often their discourses would relate to domestic discipline and theology.
There was a certain Mrs. Pawley whose dwelling was widely celebrated as
the scene of almost constant strife between herself and her husband, and
who, on being asked by one of her lady patronesses if she could not do
something to make matters run more smoothly, replied: "That's just what
I tries to do, ma'am. I labor for peace, but when I speak to he thereof,
he makes hisself ready for battle direckly."

Another good woman again had acquired an unenviable fame by some petty
act of larceny which the magistrates had been bound to punish, and was
explaining in tears on her doorstep to some lady's sympathetic ears that
she had done the unfortunate deed merely because she was "temp'ed," on
which a neighbor, who had no need for repentance, promptly appeared on
the scene and said to her: "My dear crachur (creature), why be you
temp'ed to do sich thing? I be never temp'ed to do nothing but what's
good."

Passing one day through an orchard, Mr. Froude the historian encountered
a man who was contemplating a heap of apples. The man looked up as
though about to speak of the crop, but instead of doing so he gave vent
to the following reflection: "Pretty job, sir," he said, "there was
about a apple one time. Now the De-vine, He might have prevented that if
He'd had a mind to. But com', sir, 'tis a mystery:"

Moral theology would sometimes take a more skeptical turn. A certain Mr.
Edwardes--a most amusing man--used to describe a call which he paid one
Sunday afternoon to a farmer near Buckfastleigh, whom he found reading
his Bible. Mr. Edwardes congratulated him on the appropriate nature of
his studies. The farmer pushed the book aside, and, pointing to the open
pages, which were those containing the account of the fall of Jericho,
said: "Do 'ee believe that, sir? Well--I don't." Mr. Edwardes, with
becoming piety, observed that we were bound to believe whatever the
Scriptures told us. "Well," the farmer continued, "when I was a boy they
used to bake here in the town oven, and whenever the oven was heated,
they sounded a sheep's horn. Some of the boys Sundays would get hold of
that horn, just for the fun of the thing, and blaw it for all it was
worth. If that there story was true, there wouldn't be a house in
Buckfastleigh standing."

Independent, if not skeptical, thought was represented even by one of
the members of Archdeacon Froude's own domestic establishment--a house
carpenter, who was a kind of uncanonical prophet. He would see in the
meadows visions of light and fire like Ezekiel's, and convert his
commonest actions into means of edification. On one occasion, when he
was constructing a bedroom cupboard, a daughter of the house remarked,
as she paused to watch him, "Well, John, that cupboard is big enough."
"It," said the prophet, reflectively, "is immense, but yet confined. I
know of something which is immense, but not confined." On being asked
what this was he answered, "The love of God."

Yet another story told by Mr. Antony Froude illustrates rural mentality
in relation to contemporary politics. Mr. Froude was the tenant of a
well-known house in Devonshire, and had come to be on very friendly
terms with Mr. Emmot, his landlord's agent, a typical and true Devonian.
One day Mr. Emmot came to him in a condition of some perplexity. He had
been asked an important question, and was anxious to know if the answer
he had given to it was satisfactory. It appeared that a cottager who had
a bit of land of his own had been saying to him, "Look here, Mr. Emmot:
can you tell us rightly what the difference be between a Conservative
and a Radical?" "Well, Mr. Froude," said Mr. Emmot, "I didn't rightly
knaw the philosophy of the thing, so I just said to 'un this: 'You knaw
me; well, I be a Conservative. You knaw Jack Radford--biggest blackguard
in the parish--well, he be a Radical. Now you knaw.'"

Chance reminiscences such as those which have just been quoted will be
sufficient to indicate what, so far as a child could understand them,
the conditions and ways of thinking of the rural population were, and
how easy and unquestioning were the relations which then subsisted
between it and the old landed families. These relations were easy,
because the differences between the two classes were commonly assumed to
be static, one supporting and one protecting the other, as though they
resembled two geological strata. In slightly different language, society
was presented to us in the form of two immemorial orders--the men,
women, and children who touched their hats and curtsied, and the men,
women, and children to whom these salutations were made.

I am not, however--let me say it again--attempting to write a chapter of
English history, or to give a precise description of facts as they
actually were so much as to depict the impressions which facts, such as
they were, produced on children like myself through the medium of
personal circumstances. At the same time, in the formation of these
impressions we were far from being left to our own unaided
intelligence. Our impressions, as just depicted, were sedulously
confirmed and developed by carefully chosen governesses. One of these,
young as she was, was a really remarkable woman, for whom English
history had hatched itself into something like a philosophy. Her
philosophy had two bases, one being the postulate of the divine right of
kings, the other being her interpretation of the victory of the Normans
over the Anglo-Saxons. Charles I she presented to our imaginations as a
martyr; and, what was still more important, she seriously taught us that
the population of modern England was still divided, so far as race is
concerned, precisely as it was at the time of the completion of the
Domesday Book; that the peers and the landed gentry were more or less
pure-blooded Normans, and the mass of the people Saxons; that the
principal pleasure of the latter was to eat to repletion; that their
duty was to work for, that their privilege was to be patronized by,
Norman overlords and distinguished Norman Churchmen; and finally, that
of this Norman minority we ourselves were distinguished specimens. All
this we swallowed, aided in doing so by books like _Woodstock_ and
_Ivanhoe_. But grotesque as such ideas seem now, they were not more
grotesque than those shadowed forth in some of the novels of Lord
Beaconsfield, and more particularly in _Sybil, or The Two Nations_. Had
we indeed been set to compose an essay on the social conditions, as we
ourselves understood them, "The Two Nations" would have been the title
which we could most appropriately have selected for it.

When, however, forgetting our general principles, we gave our attention
to the adult relations and connections who, through personal
acquaintance or otherwise, constituted for us what is commonly called
society, our respect for many of them as "Normans" was appreciably
tempered by a sense of their dullness as men and women. They were nearly
all of them members of old Devonshire families, beyond the circle of
which their interests did not often wander. But certain of them in my
own memory stand out from the rest as interesting types of conditions
which by this time have passed away. Of these I may mention four--Emma
and Antony Buller, son and daughter of Sir Antony Buller of Pound; Lord
Blatchford, a Gladstonian Liberal, and the celebrated Henry Philpotts,
the then Bishop of Exeter.

Antony Buller, who was my godfather, was vicar of a parish on the
western borders of Dartmoor. In the fact that "remote from towns he ran
his godly race" he resembled the vicar described in "The Deserted
Village," but except for his godliness he resembled him in little else.
A model of secluded piety, he was educated at Eton and Christchurch;
unquestioning in his social as well as his Christian conservatism, and
expressing in the refinement of his voice and the well-bred
quasi-meekness of his bearing a sense of family connection, tempered by
a scholarly recognition of the equality of human souls. Lord
Blatchford, his not very distant neighbor, was in many ways an Antony
Buller secularized. His piety, polished by the classics and Oxford
chapels, was what was in those days called Liberal, rather than Tory.
What in Antony Buller was a conservative Christian meekness was in Lord
Blatchford a progressive Christian briskness; but his belief in popular
progress was accompanied by a smile at its incidents, as though it were
a kind of frisking to which the masses ought to be welcome so long as it
did not assume too practical a character or endanger any of the palings
within the limits of which it ought to be confined.

[Illustration: ROBERT BROWNING]

Emma Buller, too, was typical, but in a totally different way. She was a
type of that county life which railways have gradually modified, and by
this time almost obliterated. She was a woman remarkable for her
vivacity, wit, and humor. At county balls she was an institution. At
country houses throughout Devonshire and Cornwall she was a familiar and
welcome guest, and to half of her hosts and hostesses she was in one way
or another related. Among her accomplishments was the singing of comic
songs, in a beautifully clear but half-apologetic voice, so that while
gaining in point they lost all trace of vulgarity, her eyes seeming to
invite each listener on whom she fixed them to share with her some
amusement which was only half legitimate. At the Duke of Bedford's
house, near Tavistock, she exercised this magic one evening on Lord
John Russell. The song which she sang to him was political. It began
thus, each verse having the same recurring burden:

    "Come, listen while I sing to you,
      Lord John, that prince of sinisters,
    Who once pulled down the House of Lords,
      The Crown and all the ministers.
        That is, he would have if he could,
        But a little thing prevented him."

For many years she spent a large part of every winter with Lady (then
Miss) Burdett-Coutts, who had in those days a large villa at Torquay,
generally filled with visitors. Emma Buller's allusions to these, many
of whom were notabilities, enlarged, as I listened to them in my
childhood, my conception of the social world, and made it seem vaguely
livelier and more fruitful in adventure than the hereditary circle with
which alone I was so far familiar.

This result was accentuated by the stories told in my hearing of another
personage well known to my family likewise, to which I listened with a
yet keener appreciation. Bishop Philpotts--for it is of him I
speak--holding till the day of his death a "golden stall" at Durham, the
emoluments of which amounted to £5,000 a year, interested me rather as a
lay magnate than as a clerical. Among the many villas then rising at
Torquay the Bishop built one of the largest. This agreeable residence,
in the designing of which he was helped by my father, and which
overlooked extensive glades and lawns sloping down toward the sea,
enabled him to enjoy a society more entertaining than that of his own
cathedral close; and the anecdotes current in my family as to his ways
and his mundane hospitalities were as familiar to me as those of any
character in the novels of Miss Austen--a writer whose social
discrimination delighted and appealed to me before I was ten years old.

The Bishop was renowned for his suave and courtly manners, his charming
voice, and the subtle precision of its modulations; and the following
stories of him are still fresh in my memory.

At one of his luncheon parties he was specially kind to a country
clergyman's wife, who knew none of the company, and he took her out on a
terrace in order to show her the view--a view of the sea shut in by the
crags of a small cove. "Ah, my lord," gasped the lady, "it reminds one
so much of Switzerland." "Precisely," said the Bishop, "except that
there we have the mountains without the sea, and here we have the sea
without the mountains."

He was somewhat less urbane to an ultra-fashionable lady, his neighbor,
who had developed a habit, in his opinion objectionable, of exhibiting
his views to her visitors by way of passing the morning. This lady, with
a bevy of satellites, having appeared one day in his drawing room about
the hour of noon, the Bishop, with the utmost graciousness, took them
into a conservatory, showed them some of his plants and then, opening a
door, invited them to go outside. As soon as they were in the outer
air, he himself retreated, saying, as he closed the door, "We lunch at
one."

On another occasion at a dinner party a shy young lady was present,
whose mother, with maternal partiality, admitted that her daughter sang.
After dinner the Bishop had candles placed on the piano, and begged the
shrinking vocalist to give them an exhibition of her skill. The luckless
victim protested that she could not sing at all, but presently, despite
her objections, she was blushing on the fatal music stool, and was
faltering out a desperate something which was at all events intended to
be a song. "Thank you," said the Bishop, benignly, as soon as the
performance was ended. "The next time you tell us you cannot sing we
shall know how to believe you."

On yet another occasion two intrepid females, armed with guidebooks, and
obviously determined to see whatever they could, had entered the
Bishop's carriage drive, and were considering which way they would take,
when their ears were caught by a sound like that of an opening window.
They discovered, on looking about them, that the drive was commanded by
a summerhouse, and, framed in an open window, was the visage of the
Bishop himself. "Ladies," he said, blandly, "these grounds are private,
as the gate through which you have just passed may in part have
suggested to you. The turn to the left will bring you in due time to the
stables. If you should go straight on you will presently reach the
house. Should you inspect the house, may I mention to you that in one of
the bedrooms is an invalid? You will perhaps pardon my servants if they
do not show you that. Good morning."

But my boyish appreciation of the Bishop's mundane qualities was equaled
by my faith in the sacrosanctity of his office. I never for a moment
doubted that men like Henry of Exeter were channels through which the
Christian priesthood received those miraculous powers by their exercise
of which alone it was possible for the ordinary sinner to be rescued
from eternal torment. Of the structural doctrines of theology which were
then the shibboleths of English Churchmanship generally, I never
entertained a doubt. That the universe was created in the inside of a
week four thousand and four years before the birth of Christ, and that
every word of the Bible was supernaturally dictated to the writer, were
to me facts as certain as the fact that the ear this globular or that
the date of the battle of Hastings was 1066. They belonged to the same
order of things as the "two nations"; and the attempts of certain
persons to discredit the former and to disturb the reciprocal relations
of the latter represented for me a mood so blasphemous and absurd as not
to be worthy of a serious man's attention.

And yet in certain ways by the time I was twelve years old I was
something of a revolutionary myself. Like the majority of healthy boys,
I had tastes for riding and shooting, and to such things as rooks and
rabbits my rifle was as formidable as most boys could desire. But long
before I was conscious of any passion for sport I found myself beset by
another, which was very much more insistent--namely, a passion for
literary composition--I cannot say a taste for writing, for I dictated
verses to the nursery-maids before I could hold a pen. As soon as I was
able to read I came across the works of Fielding, whose style I
endeavored to imitate in a series of lengthy novels, deriving as I did
so a precocious sense of manhood from the eighteenth-century oaths with
which I garnished the conversation of my characters. My ambitions,
however, as a writer of fiction were on the whole less constant than
those which I entertained as a poet. By governesses and other
instructors, Wordsworth and Tennyson were obtruded on me as models of
beauty and edification. Wordsworth I thought ridiculous. Tennyson seemed
to me unmanly and mawkish. The poets I found out for myself were Dryden
and, more particularly, Pope; and when I was about fourteen I imagined
myself destined to win back for Pope, as a model, the supremacy he had
unfortunately lost, while the sentimentalities of Tennyson and his
followers would disappear like the fripperies of faded and outworn
fashions.

When my father and his family migrated from the banks of the Exe to
Denbury these literary projects found fresh means of expanding
themselves. Opposite the front door of the Manor House was a large and
antique _annexe_, once occupied by a bailiff who managed the home farm.
This my grandfather had intended to connect with the main building, by
which means the Manor House would have been nearly doubled in size. His
scheme was not carried out. The _annexe_, covered with increasing
growths of ivy, remained locked up and isolated, and for many years
stood empty. But on the Archdeacon's death, and the removal of his
household from Dartington, a use was at last found for it. The upper
rooms were converted into a temporary storehouse for his library--large
rooms which now were lined with shelves, and in which fires were
frequently lighted to keep the volumes dry. In a moment of happy
inspiration I obtained permission to look after the fires myself. The
key was placed in my possession. Day by day I entered. I locked myself
in, and all the world was before me.

I had often before been irritated, and my curiosity had been continually
piqued, by finding that certain books--most of them plays of the time of
Charles II--would be taken away from me and secreted if I happened to
have abstracted some such stray volume from a bookcase; but here I was
my own master. My grandfather's library was, as I have said already,
particularly rich in literature of this semiforbidden class, and rows of
plays and poems by Congreve, Etheridge, Rochester, Dryden, and their
contemporaries offered themselves to my study, as though by some furtive
assignation. Among other wrecks of furniture with which the worm-eaten
floors were encumbered was an old and battered rocking-horse, bestriding
which I studied these secret volumes, and found in it an enchanted steed
which would lift me into the air and convey me to magically distant
kingdoms.

Inspired by these experiences, and fancying myself destined to
accomplish a counter-revolution in the literary taste of England, I
endeavored night by night to lay the foundations of my own poetic fame.
My bedroom was pungent with the atmosphere of a pre-Tennysonian world.
Its floor, uneven with age, was covered with a carpet whose patterns had
faded into a dim monochrome, and its walls were dark with portraits of
Copplestone forefathers in flowing wigs and satins. My bed was draped
with immemorial curtains, colored like gold and bordered with black
velvet. Close to the bed was a round mahogany table, furnished with pens
and paper, and night by night, propped up by pillows, I endeavored to
rival Dryden and Pope, by means of a quill wet with the dews of
Parnassus--dews which, having sprinkled the bedclothes, would scandalize
the housemaids the next morning by their unfortunate likeness to ink.

My father had originally meant to send me to Harrow, but, on the
recommendation of one of the sons of the Bishop of Exeter, he first
tried on me the effects of a school which had just been established for
the purpose of combining the ordinary course of education with an
inculcation of the extremest principles of the High Church Anglican
party. I was, however, deficient in one of the main characteristics on
which a boy's suitability to school life depends: I had an ingrained
dislike, not indeed of physical exercise, but of games. Football to me
seemed merely a tiresome madness, and cricket the same madness in a more
elaborate form. Instead, therefore, of promoting me to Harrow, where two
of his brothers had been educated, he took, after many delays, a step
for which I sincerely thanked him--he transferred me, by way of
preparation for Oxford, to the most congenial and delightful of all
possible private tutors, at whose house I spent the happiest years of my
life.



CHAPTER III

A PRIVATE TUTOR DE LUXE

     Early Youth Under a Private Tutor--Poetry--Premonitions of
     Modern Liberalism


The tutor of whom I have spoken was the Rev. W. B. Philpot, a favorite
pupil of Doctor Arnold's at Rugby, an intimate friend of Tennyson's, and
himself a devotee of the Muses. His domed forehead was massive, his
features were delicately chiseled, and his eyes were a clear gray. His
back hair--the only hair he had got--showed a slight tendency to assume
picturesque and flowing curves on the collars of his well-made coats;
and, having heard from my father that I, too, was a poet, he declared
himself eager to welcome me, not only as a disciple, but also as a
valued friend. Mr. Philpot lived at Littlehampton, where he occupied a
most capacious house. It was the principal house in a very old-fashioned
terrace, which faced a sandy common, and enjoyed in those days an
uninterrupted view of miles of beach and the racing waves of the sea.
Mr. Philpot's disciples numbered from ten to twelve. They had, for the
most part, been removed from Harrow or Eton, by reason of no worse fault
than a signal inclination to indolence; and though, even under their
preceptor's genial and scholarly auspices, none of them except myself
showed much inclination for study, we formed together an agreeable and
harmonious party, much of its amenity being due to the presence of Mrs.
Philpot, his wife, whose brother, Professor Conington, was then the most
illustrious representative of Latin learning at Oxford.

We enjoyed, under Mr. Philpot's care, the amplest domestic comforts, and
we enjoyed, under our own care, almost unlimited credit at every shop in
the town. We had carriages, the hire of which went down in Mr. Philpot's
account, whenever we wanted them for expeditions; and we would often
drive out in the warm after-dinner twilights to a tea garden three miles
away, where we lingered among the scent of roses till the bell of some
remote church tower sounded, through the dewy quiet, its nine notes to
the stars. We had boats on the Arun, a stream on which our oars would
take us sometimes beyond Amberly, and not bring us back till midnight.
On other occasions we would, like Tennyson's hero, "nourish a youth
sublime" in wandering on the nocturnal beach, and, pre-equipped with
towels, would bathe in the liquid moonlight.

The Littlehampton season, so far as visitors were concerned, was summer,
and from the middle of May onward various ladies of ornamental and
interesting aspect would make their appearance on the pavement of Beach
Terrace, or, seen on the balconies of houses which had just unclosed
their shutters, would trouble and enliven the atmosphere with
suggestions of vague adventures. Some of these we came to know, as Mr.
Philpot and his wife had many mundane acquaintances. Others--and indeed
most of them--remained tantalizing mysteries to the end. At all events
they filled the air with the subtle pollen of a romance which a closer
familiarity with them might very possibly have destroyed.

The effect on myself of such influences was presently betrayed by the
fact that poetry, as understood by Pope, no longer satisfied me. I
gradually submitted to the dominion of Keats, Browning, and Matthew
Arnold. Even at Denbury, in my most conservative days, I had so far
escaped from the atmosphere of Pope's Pastorals that I had described a
beautiful valley in which I would often sequester myself as a place--

    Where no man's voice, or any voice makes stir,
      Save sometimes through the leafy loneliness
    The long loose laugh of the wild woodpecker.

One of my fellow pupils, whose youth had an air of manhood, and who
played with much expression on the cornet, confided to me, on returning
from a summer holiday, his adventures on the Lake of Como, where,
resting on his oars, he had agitated with his musical notes the pulses
of a fair companion. "Now there," he said, "you have something which, if
you tried, you might manage to make a verse about." I tried, and the
result was this:

    The stars are o'er our heads in hollow skies,
      In hollow skies the stars beneath our boat,
    Between the stars of two infinities
      Midway upon a gleaming film we float.

    My lips are on the sounding horn;
      The sounding horn with music fills.
    Faint echoes backward from the world are born,
      Tongued by yon distant zone of slumbering hills.

    The world spreads wide on every side,
      But cold and dark it seems to me.
    What care I on this charmèd tide
      For aught save those far stars and thee?

I accomplished, however, such feats of imagination, not on my friend's
behalf only, but on my own also. Readers of _Martin Chuzzlewhit_ will
remember how "Baily Junior," who was once bootboy at Mrs. Todger's
boarding-house, imagined that Mrs. Gamp was in love with him, and that
her life was blighted by the suspicion that such a passion was hopeless.
I, in common with other imaginative boys, was frequently beatified by
the magic of a not unlike illusion. My practical hopes for the future,
so far as I troubled to form any, were to enter the diplomatic service
as soon as I left Oxford, and it seemed to me that this or that
distinguished and beautiful lady, old enough to be my mother, would
meanwhile be blighted by some hopeless passion for myself, or
else--what, in my opinion, was a still more exciting alternative--that I
should, like another Byron, be blighted into renown through her
treachery by a misplaced passion for _her_. As I paced the sands at
Littlehampton, I pictured myself as having discovered her faithlessness
on the eve of my own departure for the Embassy at Constantinople, and I
addressed to her the following epistle, which I could not, with all my
ingenuity, manage to protract beyond the two opening stanzas:

    For you the ballroom's jaded glow--
      The gems unworthy of your hair.
    For me the milk-white domes that blow
      Their bubbles to the orient air.

    Your heart at dawn in curtained ease
      Shall ache through dreams that are not rest.
    But mine shall leap to meet the seas
      That broke against Leander's breast.

Such dreams are not more absurd than those of the French Jacobins, who
thought themselves Gracchus or Brutus; and they were accompanied when I
was at Littlehampton by the growth of other preoccupations, which
related to matters very different from the romance of individual
adolescence. Mr. Philpot, in his own tastes, and also in his choice of
pupils, was fastidious to a degree, which perhaps would be out of date
to-day, and had actually been known to apologize, under his breath, for
the fact that one of his flock--a singularly handsome youth and heir to
an enormous fortune--came of a family which "was still distinctly in
business." But he betrayed, at the same time, strong Radical leanings.
Indeed, through him I first became aware that Radicalism meant more than
some perverse absurdity of the ignorant. He completely bewildered and at
the same time amused his pupils by taking in a paper called _The
Beehive_, one of the earliest of the "Labor organs" of England; and from
this mine of wisdom he would on occasion quote. To most of us the views
expressed by him seemed no more than comic oddities, but they were to
myself so far a definite irritant that I devised, though I never showed
them to him, a series of pictures called "The Radical's Progress," in
which the hero began as a potboy in a public house, and ended as an
overdressed ruffian, waving a tall silk hat and throwing rotten eggs at
Conservative voters from a cart. A taste of Mr. Philpot's equalitarian
sentiments was given to us one day at luncheon, the occasion being his
wife's commendation of a celebrated Sussex bootmaker who had just called
for orders. "I like that man," she said. "He is always so civil and
respectful." "Mary Jane! Mary Jane!" said Mr. Philpot, clearing his
throat, and speaking from the other end of the table, "that
respectfulness of yours is a quality to which I myself attach very
little importance." In view of this speech we felt considerable
satisfaction when, a few hours later, the day being the 5th of November,
a disturbance was made by some boys at the front door, and Mr. Philpot,
snatching up a tall hat, went out to appease the storm by the serene
majesty of his presence. He was far from gratified when the immediate
result of his intervention was to elicit the disrespectful cry of "Hit
'n on the bloody drum."

But, besides the novelty, as we thought it, of his vague democratic
opinions, he exhibited what to me was at least equally novel--namely, a
liberalism before unknown to me with regard to theological doctrine. He
never obtruded this on us in any systematic way; but on not infrequent
occasions he solemnly gave us to understand that dissenters enjoyed the
means of salvation no less fully than Churchmen; that sacraments were
mere symbols useful for edification according to varying circumstances;
that sacerdotal orders were mere certificates of the fitness of
individuals for the office of Christian ministers, and that everything
in the nature of dogmatic authority was due to, and tainted with, the
apostacy of Babylonian Rome. To myself all this was shocking in an
extreme degree, and I began to ask myself the question, which might
otherwise not have occurred to me, of whether the Church of Rome was not
perhaps the one true religion, after all.

These movements of the spirit on my part led to the following incident.
Among Mr. Philpot's pupils was a shy and very delicate boy, whose
parents took a house at Littlehampton, and with whom he lived. His
father was a fire-eating Irish baronet, who might have walked out of the
pages of one of Lever's novels. His diet was as meager as that of an
Indian fakir, though not otherwise resembling it. It consisted of rum
and milk; and his favorite amusement was lying down on his bed and
shooting with a pistol at the wick of a lighted candle. His wife--a lady
of gentle and somewhat sad demeanor--one day took it into her head to
join the Catholic Church; and Mr. Philpot hastened, as soon as he heard
the news, to ask her, in the name of common sense and of conscience,
what could have induced her to take a step so awful. Her answer, so he
informed me afterward, was that I had told her that it was the best
thing she could do. I had no recollection of having tendered to her any
such momentous advice, and Mr. Philpot, who hardly could help smiling,
acquitted me of playing intentionally the part of a disguised Jesuit. I
must, however, have said something on behalf of the mystical Babylon,
for not long afterward I was busy with a theological poem, prominent in
which were the two following lines:

    Oh, mother, or city of the sevenfold throne,
    We sit beside the severing sea and mourn--

and by way of correcting such defects in my sentiments Mr. Philpot lent
me a work by Archer Butler, a Christian Platonist, who would provide me,
in his opinion, with a religious philosophy incomparably more rational
than the Roman. This work had the result of directing me to certain old
translations of Plotinus and other Neoplatonists of Alexandria; and my
dominant idea for a time was that in Alexandrian mysticism Anglicans
would discover a rock, firmly based, on which they would bring Rome to
her knees, and conquer the whole world.

But such juvenile theologies, and the secret troubles connected with
them, did not seriously interfere with the adventurous optimism of
youth. They did but give a special flavor to the winds blown from the
sea, to the suggestions of the sunsets on which the eyes of youth
looked, and mixed themselves with the verses of Browning, Matthew
Arnold, and Shelley. But a yet more successful rival to the speculations
of Archer Butler and Plotinus was, in my own case, another and a new
poet, who had at that time just made himself famous. This poet was
Swinburne, who had recently given to the world his first _Poems and
Ballads_. That volume, on the ground that it was an outrage on morals
and decency, had been received, when originally published, with such a
howl of execration that the publishers hastily withdrew it, and for some
time it was unobtainable; but at length another firm found courage
enough to undertake its reissue. To Mr. Philpot, who knew it merely by
extracts, the mere mention of this volume seemed to be something in the
nature of an indecency. But there is always an attraction in the
forbidden. I dreamed of this volume, from which I had seen extracts
likewise; and at last a chance came to me of securing an apple from the
boughs of this replanted tree of knowledge.

Among our various dissipations were occasional excursions to Brighton,
and on one of these I was accompanied by a fellow pupil whose family had
a house there in one of the then fashionable squares. The family was
absent, but the house was open, and my friend proposed that we should
sleep there and make a night of it. We accordingly telegraphed to Mr.
Philpot that we should be back next day by breakfast time, and arranged
to dine early, and spend the evening at the play. As we walked to the
theater we found the shops still open, and we paused to look for a
moment at the windows of Treacher's Library. In a long row of volumes I
saw one bound in green. Its gilt lettering glittered, and the gaslight
revealed to me the reissued poems of Swinburne. I went in and bought it
and entered the dress circle hugging this priceless treasure. The play,
I believe, had something to do with racing, but I hardly looked at the
stage. My eyes and attention were magnetized by the green object on my
knee. I occasionally peeped at its pages; but the light, while the play
was in progress, was too dim to render the print legible. Between the
acts, however, I began to decipher stanzas such as the following, and
notes new to the world invaded my ears like magic:

    The sea gives her shells to the shingle,
      The earth gives her streams to the sea,

or again:

    As the waves of the ebb drawing seaward
      When their hollows are full of the night.

When had words, I asked myself, ever made music such as this? I felt by
the time I got back to my friend's door that:

    I on honeydew had fed,
      And drunk the milk of paradise.

This magic still remained with me when, my days at Littlehampton being
ended, I went at length to Oxford. But meanwhile to my conditions at
home a new element was added, by which the scope of my experiences was
at once greatly enlarged.

I have mentioned already that, during the first sixty years of the
growth of Torquay, the owners of Cockington had preserved their rural
seclusion intact, having refused, during that long period, to permit the
erection of more than two villas on their property. But somewhere about
the year 1860 a solitary exception was made in favor of Mr. William
Froude, my mother's eldest brother, to whom, by my paternal uncle, a
lease was granted of a certain number of acres on the summit of what was
then a wooded and absolutely rural hill. Here he erected a house of
relatively considerable size, from which, as a distant spectacle,
Torquay was visible beyond a tract of intervening treetops. It was
nearing completion at the time when I was first under Mr. Philpot's
care. My father, being a complete recluse, and my kindred, whether at
Cockington Court or otherwise, confining their intimacies to hereditary
friends and connections, I found few fresh excitements at their houses
or his beyond such as I could spin for myself, like a spider, out of my
own entrails. It was, therefore, for me a very agreeable circumstance
that presently in Chelston Cross, while I was still under Mr. Philpot's
care, I was provided with a second home during a large part of my
holidays, and subsequently of my Oxford vacations, where the stir of the
outer world was very much more in evidence.

Distinguished as a man of science, a mathematician, and a classical
scholar, Mr. Froude possessed the most fascinating manners imaginable.
His wife, the daughter of an old-world Devonshire notable who once owned
the borough of Dartmouth, returning two members for it, he himself being
always one, was a woman of remarkable intellect, of a singularly genial
shrewdness, and of manners attractive to every one with whom she might
come in contact. Indeed, no two persons could have been more happily
qualified than Mr. and Mrs. William Froude, together with their daughter
(subsequently Baroness A. von Hugel), to render their house a center of
interesting and intellectual society, and their circle of friends was
widened by two adventitious circumstances. Mrs. Froude, under the
influence of Newman, who was her frequent and intimate correspondent,
had entered the Catholic Church, her children following her example, and
the freemasonry of a common faith resulted in closely connecting her and
hers with various old Catholic families and many distinguished
converts; while Mr. Froude, at the time to which I now refer, was
becoming, through his indulgence in purely accidental taste, a figure in
the world of national, and even of international, affairs.

His favorite recreation was yachting, and one of his possessions was a
sailing yacht. He was thus, as a man of alert observation, led to pay
special attention to the relation of a vessel's lines to its behavior
under different conditions in respect of its stability and speed, and
the project occurred to him of testing his rough conclusions by means of
miniature models, these being placed in some small body of water and
then submitted to systematic experiments. Accordingly, soon after he had
settled himself at Chelston Cross, he proceeded to lease a field which
adjoined his garden, and constructed in it a sort of covered canal,
along which models of various designs were towed, the towing-machine
recording the various results by diagrams. The discoveries which Mr.
Froude thus made soon proved so remarkable that Edward, Duke of Somerset
(then First Lord of the Admiralty), secured for him a government grant,
in order that his operations might be extended, the whole of the earlier
expenses having been borne by Mr. Froude himself. The enterprise soon
attracted the attention of other governments also; Admiral Popoff, on
behalf of the Tsar, having come all the way from Russia to visit Mr.
Froude in connection with it. But the pilgrims to Chelston Cross were
not naval experts only. Torquay was at that time nearing its social
zenith, and the rumor that Mr. Froude was conducting a series of
mysterious experiments which bade fair to revolutionize the naval
architecture of the world stirred interest in many men of
mark--statesmen and others who were far from being naval experts, and
also of ladies, many of them with charming eyes whose attention alone
was, in my opinion at all events, sufficient to throw a halo of success
round any experiment which excited it.

All of these, masculine and feminine alike, were sensible of the charm
of Mr. William Froude and his family; and for many years, even in
London, it would have been difficult to find a house more frequented
than Chelston Cross by a society of well-known and entertaining persons,
not only English, but continental and American also. Thus, during the
years of my tutelage at Littlehampton and Oxford, which comprised but
occasional and brief visits to London, I acquired a considerable
acquaintance, and what may be called some knowledge of the world, before
I had entered the world as my own master and on my own account. Of the
persons with whom I became, during that period, familiar some idea may
be given by a mention of the names, or by brief sketches, of a few of
them--those being selected who, whether as types or otherwise, may still
have some meaning and interest for the social generation of to-day.



CHAPTER IV

WINTER SOCIETY AT TORQUAY

     Early Acquaintance with Society--Byron's Grandson--Lord
     Houghton--A Dandy of the Old School--Carlyle--Lord Lytton, and
     Others--Memorable Ladies


Of the men--the noteworthy men--with whom I thus became acquainted
before I had escaped from the torture of my last examination at Oxford,
most had a taste for literature, while some had achieved renown in it.
Of these, however, the first with whom I became intimate was one whose
literary connections were vicarious rather than personal. My friendship
with him originated in the fact that he was an old friend of the
Froudes, and, as soon as Chelston Cross was completed, he would pay them
protracted visits there. This was the then Lord Wentworth, who for me
was a magical being because he was Byron's grandson. Another
acquaintance who brought with him a subtle aroma of poetry was
Wentworth's remarkable brother-in-law, Wilfrid Blunt, then the
handsomest of our younger English diplomatists, a breeder of Arab
horses, and also the author of love poems which deserve beyond all
comparison more attention than they have yet received. Others again were
Robert Browning, Ruskin, Carlyle, and Swinburne. These I met either at
Oxford or in London, but to those whom I came to know through the
William Froudes at Torquay may be added Aubrey de Vere, the Catholic
poet of Ireland, Lord Houghton, Lord Lytton, the novelist, and the
second Lord Lytton, his son, known to all lovers of poetry under the
pseudonym of "Owen Meredith." As figures then prominent in the winter
society of Torquay, I may mention also a courtly cleric, the Rev. Julian
Young, a great diner out and giver of dinners to the great, a raconteur
of the first order, a very complete re-embodiment of the spirit of
Sidney Smith, and, further, an old Mr. Bevan, who, sixty years before,
when he occupied a house in Stratton Street, had flourished as an
Amphitryon and a dandy under the patronage of the Prince Regent.

Of the ladies of Torquay who, together with men like these, were
prominent in my social landscape as I to-day recollect it, it is less
easy to speak, partly because they were more numerous, and partly
because many of them impressed me in more elusive ways. I may, however,
mention a few of them who were well known as hostesses--the Dowager Lady
Brownlow, Mrs. Vivian, Lady Erskine of Cambo, Lady Louisa Finch-Hatton,
Miss Burdett-Coutts, and Susan, Lady Sherborne. All these ladies were
the occupants of spacious houses the doors of which were guarded by
skillfully powdered footmen, and which, winter after winter, were so
many social centers. Lady Sherborne, indeed, was far more than a
hostess: she was unrivaled as a singer of simple English songs--songs
which her low voice filled with every trouble of which the human heart
is capable; and as such she was, under a thin disguise, celebrated by
the first Lord Lytton in one of his latest novels. To these ladies might
be added innumerable others whose claims on my memory do not in all
cases lend themselves to very exact statement. Most of them were
English, and some of them, then in the bloom of youth and beauty, have
between that time and this played their parts in the London world and
ended them. But not a few were foreign--vivacious Northerners from New
York, with the sublimated wealth of all Paris in their petticoats;
Southerners whose eyes were still plaintive with memories of the Civil
War; Austrians such as the von Hugels; Germans such as Countess Marie
and Countess Helen Bismarck; and Russians whose figures and faces I
remember much more accurately than their names.

It is idle, however, to say more of these, whose charms are with the
last year's snows. And yet of these there were two of whom I may, for
purposes of illustration, say something in detail. The two were
sisters--we may call them Miss X and Miss Y--whose invalid father, a
cadet of a well-known family, rarely left Torquay, where for some months
of the year his daughters, otherwise emancipated from parental control,
stayed with him. Both of these sisters were beautiful, and, so far as
the resident ladies of Torquay were concerned, they received what is
incomparably the sincerest form of homage that extraordinary beauty can
elicit from ladies who do not possess it. Each of them was labeled as
possessing that mysterious thing called "a history," or a shadow on her
reputation of some sort, which my imagination, as soon as I heard of it
(I was then about sixteen), turned into a halo iridescent with the
colors of romance. For me, in Swinburne's words, they were "daughters of
dreams and of stories" before I knew either by sight, or had any
prospect of doing so. Dreams, except unpleasant ones, do not often
fulfill themselves, but an exception to this rule was one day made in my
favor.

As I was going home for my holidays from Littlehampton to Devonshire, my
compartment at Eastleigh Junction was invaded by a feminine apparition,
accompanied by a French poodle, which she placed on the cushion opposite
to her. Her dress, though I divined its perfection, was quiet and plain
enough; but the compartment, as soon as she entered it, seemed to be
filled at once with the kind of fugitive flash which sunlit water
sometimes casts on a ceiling. Acting, I suppose, on the principle of
"Love me, love my dog," I had the temerity to express a commendation,
entirely insincere, of hers; and this being received with a graciousness
not perhaps unmixed with amusement, we were very soon in conversation.
She talked of Nice, of Baden-Baden, and London; then she got to
literature--I cannot remember how--and a moment later she was
vouchsafing to me the intimate information that she was a poetess, and
had contributed an anonymous poem to a certain lately published
collection. Then, having caught my name on a printed label, she said,
with a smile, "Is it possible that you are on your way to Torquay?" I
answered that I should be there shortly, and, while elaborating this
proposition, I managed to inspect the French poodle's collar, on which
was engraved the name of the fair owner. In a flash the personality of
this "daughter of dreams" was disclosed to me. This was Miss X, the most
talked about of the two wonderful sisters. As I gathered that she
herself would be soon at Torquay likewise, I tried, when she got out at
some intermediate station, to express a hope that, if we met in the
street, she would not have wholly forgotten me; but my modesty would not
allow me to find adequate words. On the Parade, however, at Torquay, a
fortnight later we did meet. She at once welcomed me with a laugh as
though I were an old acquaintance, and my intimacy with her lasted so
long, and to so much practical purpose, that it wrung from me at last a
poem of which the concluding lines were these:

    Pause not to count the cost;
    Think not, or all is lost--
      Fly thou with me.

But the "incident," in parliamentary language, was soon afterward
"closed," partly because of her marriage to a very sensible husband,
and partly because, having become acquainted with her sister, I began to
look on the sister as the more romantic figure of the two.

The most successful rival, however, to the excitements of young romance
is to be found by some natures in the more complex stimulations of
society. In these the feminine element plays a conspicuous part; but a
part no less conspicuous is that played by the masculine. Moreover, as
the object of the social passion, unlike that of the romantic, is not
identified with the vagaries of any one individual, society for those
who court it is a corporation that never dies. It is for each individual
what no one individual ever can be--namely, a challenge to faculties or
acquirements which are coextensive with life. I will, therefore, turn
from Miss X, and the lines in which I suggested an elopement with her as
a project desirable for both of us, to some of the male celebrities
whose names I have just mentioned, and describe how they impressed me
when I first made their acquaintance.

Of the well-known visitors who wintered at Torquay none was more
punctual in his appearance than Lord Houghton, who found an annual home
there in the house of two maiden aunts. Through these long-established
residents he had for years been familiar with my family, and from the
first occasion on which I met him he exhibited a friendship almost
paternal for myself. Lord Houghton was a man who, as Dryden said of
Shadwell, would have been the wittiest writer in the world if his books
had been equal to his conversation. Certainly nothing which he wrote, or
which a biographer has written about him, gives any idea of the gifts--a
very peculiar mixture--which made him a marked figure in any company
which his ubiquitous presence animated. He knew everybody of note in the
fashionable and semifashionable world, and many who belonged to neither,
such as the Tichborne Claimant, and Calcraft, the common hangman; and
his views of life, from whatever point he looked at it, were expressed
with a weighty brilliance or a subcynical humor. One day when lunching
at Chelston Cross he was asked by Mrs. William Froude if he was, or had
ever been, a Mason. "No," said Lord Houghton, "no. I have throughout my
life been the victim of every possible superstition. I am always
wondering why I have never been taken in by that." He was once sitting
at dinner by the celebrated Lady E---- of T----, who was indulging in a
long lament over the social decadence of the rising male generation.
"When I was a girl," she said, "all the young men in London were at my
feet." "My dear lady," said Lord Houghton, "were all the young men of
your generation chiropodists?" Mr. C. Milnes Gaskell of Thornes told me
of a perplexing situation in which he had once found himself, and of how
he sought counsel about it from Lord Houghton, his kinsman. Gaskell's
difficulty was this. A friend for whom he was acting as trustee had,
without imposing on him any legal obligations in the matter, begged him
with his dying breath to carry out certain instructions. These seemed to
Gaskell extremely unwise, and objectionable, "and yet," he said to Lord
Houghton, "of course a peculiar sanctity attaches, itself to dying
wishes. What would you do in such a situation as mine?" For a little
while Lord Houghton reflected, and then answered, with an air of grave
detachment, "I always tell my family totally to disregard everything I
say during the last six months of my life."

Of his social philosophy otherwise he gave me in the days of my youth
many pithy expositions, with hints as to what I should do when I entered
the world myself. One of his pieces of advice was especially appropriate
to Torquay. This was to make the acquaintance of old Mr. Bevan, a
lifelong intimate of his own. Accordingly my introduction to this
mysterious personage was accomplished.

Mr. Bevan lived in a large villa close to that which was occupied by
Miss Burdett-Coutts. Its discreetly shuttered windows, like so many
half-closed eyelids, gave, when viewed externally, the impression that
it was asleep or tenantless; but to ring the front-door bell was to
dissipate this impression immediately. The portals seemed to open by
clockwork. Heavy curtains were withdrawn by servitors half seen in the
twilight, and the visitors were committed to the care of an Austrian
groom of the chambers, who, wearing the aspect of a king who had
stepped out of the Almanach de Gotha, led the way over soundless carpets
to a library. This was furnished with a number of deep armchairs; and I
recollect how, on the first occasion of my entering it, each of these
chairs was monopolized by a drowsy Persian cat. For a moment, the light
being dim, these cats, so it seemed to me, were the sole living things
present; but a second later I was aware that a recumbent figure was
slowly lifting itself from a sofa. This was Mr. Bevan. His attire was a
blue silk dressing-gown, a youthfully smart pair of black-and-white
check trousers, varnished boots, and a necktie with a huge pearl pin in
it, the pearl itself representing the forehead of a human skull. His
hands were like ivory, his face was like a clear-cut cameo. With the aid
of a gold-headed cane that had once belonged to Voltaire he gently
evicted a cat, so that I might occupy the chair next to him, and said,
in the language of Brummell's time, that he was "monstrous glad to see
me." He pointed to objects of interest which adorned his walls and
tables, such as old French fashion-plates of ladies in very scanty
raiment; to musical clocks, of which several were presents from crowned
heads; to sketches by d'Orsay, and to framed tickets for Almack's.
"Whenever the dear lady next door," he said, with a glance at the
seminudities of the French fashion-plates, and alluding to Miss
Burdett-Coutts, "comes to have a dish of tea with me, I have to lock
those things up. I fear," he said, presently, "I'm in a shocking bad
odor with her now." Only last night, he explained, he had received from
one of the French Rothschilds a magnificent _pâté de foie gras_; and,
having himself no parties in prospect, he sent this gastronomical
treasure to Miss Coutts, who was about to entertain, as he knew, a large
company at luncheon. There was one thing, however, which he did not
know--the luncheon was to be given to the members of a certain society
which had for its object the protection of edible animals from any form
of treatment by which they might be needlessly incommoded. What, then,
were the feelings of the hostess when she suddenly discovered that a
dish which, with Mr. Bevan's compliments, had been solemnly placed
before her was the most atrocious of all the abominations which the
company had assembled to denounce! "It was sent back to me," said Mr.
Bevan, "as though it were the plague in person. It's a pity that you and
I can't eat it together. I'd ask you to dinner if only I were sure of my
new cook. My last cook was with me for twenty years. Shall I tell you
what he wrote in a letter when he had left me to join the army during
the Franco-German War? 'Alas! monsieur,' he said, 'I must now make
sorties instead of _entrées_.'" The banquet, however, which Mr. Bevan
had suggested--and it was followed by others--took place before many
days were over. The guests numbered eight or nine. I cannot recollect
who they were; but the cooking, the wines, and the decorations of the
table would have satisfied Ouida herself. The china, covered with royal
crowns, was a gift from Louis Philippe. The wines, of which the names
and dates were murmured by the servants who dispensed them, seemed all
to have come from the cellars of a Rothschild or an Austrian emperor,
while every dish was a delicacy unique in its composition and flavor,
the last of them being a sort of "trifle," which the artistry of a
_chef_ had converted into the form of a pope's tiara. Mr. Bevan, in
short, was a model of the ultrafastidious man of the world as he figures
in the novels of Bulwer Lytton and Disraeli. I mentioned this impression
of him some time afterward to Lord Houghton, and he said: "There's a
very good reason for it. When Bulwer Lytton and Disraeli entered the
London world, Mr. Bevan was one of their earliest friends. He privately
helped Disraeli in social and other ways. To him Bulwer Lytton owed his
first personal knowledge of the then world of the dandies; and Mr.
Bevan," said Lord Houghton, "was the actual model from which, by both
these writers, their pictures of the typical man of the world were
drawn."

My acquaintance with Mr. Bevan, however, and even that with Lord
Houghton, were but minor experiences as compared with another meeting of
a similar yet contrasted kind. At the time of which I speak there was
one British author whose influence as a philosophic moralist eclipsed
that of any of his contemporaries. This writer was Carlyle. His fame
was then at its highest, and the moral consciousness of ultrapolite
drawing rooms was being stirred to its well-dressed depths by his attack
on "the dandies" in his book, _Sartor Resartus_, which many earnest and
ornamental persons were accepting as a new revelation. I was myself
sufficiently familiar with its pages, and, though some of them roused my
antagonism, I could not deny their genius. One morning, during a brief
visit to London, I received a note from Mr. Froude the historian, asking
me to come to luncheon, and I duly arrived at his house, not knowing
what awaited me. I presently learned that he was going to introduce me
to Carlyle, and, as soon as luncheon was over, he walked me off to
Chelsea. In a fitting state of awe I found myself at last in the great
philosopher's presence. When we entered his drawing room he was stooping
over a writing table in the window, and at first I saw nothing but his
back, which was covered with a long, shapeless, and extravagantly dirty
dressing gown. When he rose to meet us his manners were as rough as his
integument. His welcome to myself was an inarticulate grunt,
unmistakably Scotch in its intonation; and his first act was to move
across the room to the fireplace and light a "churchwarden" pipe by
sticking its head between the bars. As I watched him perform this rite,
I noticed that close to the fender was a pair of very dirty slippers. To
me these things and proceedings were so many separate shocks, the
result of my reflections being this: If you represent fame, let me
represent obscurity. But worse was still to come. It was presently
proposed that we should all go out for a walk, and as soon as we were in
the open air, the philosopher blew his nose in a pair of old woolen
gloves. I here saw at once an illustration of the chapter in _Sartor
Resartus_ in which the author denounced what he christened "The Sect of
the Dandies," as described and glorified by Bulwer Lytton in _Pelham_.
Illustration could go no farther.

[Illustration: THOMAS CARLYLE]

The very next famous man whom I met after this glimpse of Carlyle I met
a little later at Torquay. The famous man was Lord Lytton himself. He
was dining at Chelston Cross, and, owing to some lady's defection, I was
actually his nearest neighbor. I saw in him everything which the spirit
of Carlyle hated. I saw in him everything which was then in my opinion
admirable. All the arts of appearance, conversation, and demeanor which
in Carlyle were aggressively absent were in him exhibited in a manner
perhaps even too apparent. I was indeed, despite my reverence for him,
faintly conscious myself that his turquoise shirt stud, set with
diamonds, was too large, and that his coat would have been in better
taste had the cuffs not been of velvet. But it seemed to me that from
his eyes, keen, authoritative, and melancholy, all the passions, all the
intellect, and all the experiences of the world were peering. To have
sat by him was an adventure; to have been noticed by him was not far
from a sacrament.

Before very long, and likewise at Chelston Cross, I became acquainted
with his son, "Owen Meredith," afterward Viceroy of India. Having heard
that, like him, I was touched with the fever of the Muses, he at once
showed me signs of an amity which ended only with his life. Treating me
as though I were a man of the same age as himself, he would take my arm,
when wandering in the Froudes' shrubberies, and describe to me the poems
to the production of which his future years would be consecrated, or ask
me to confide to him my corresponding ambitions in return. Like most
poets, he was not without personal vanities; but never was a man more
free from anything like jealousy of a rival. To praise others was a
pleasure to him as natural as that of being praised himself.

To some of the celebrities associated with my youthful days I was
introduced, as I have said already, not at Torquay, but at Oxford. There
was one, however, whom, though essentially an Oxonian, I first met at
Torquay. This was Jowett, the renowned Master of Balliol, to whose
college I was destined to be subsequently either a disgrace or ornament.
Jowett was frequently at Torquay, having a sister who lived there, and
he was specially asked to luncheon at Chelston Cross to inspect me and
see how I should pass muster as one of his own disciples. His blinking
eyes, the fresh pink of his cheeks, his snow-white hair, and the
birdlike treble of his voice, have been often enough described, and I
will only say of them here that, when he took me for a walk in the
garden, I subconsciously felt them--I cannot tell why--to be formidable.
He inquired as to my tastes and interests with a species of curt
benignity; but to my interest in poetry he exhibited a most
disconcerting indifference, and I felt during the whole of our interview
that I was walking with a mild east wind. In this he was a marked
contrast to Ruskin, Robert Browning, and certain others--especially to
"Owen Meredith"--men between whom and myself there was at once some
half-conscious bond. There are no estrangements so elusive, and yet so
insuperable, as those which arise from subtle discords in temperament.
And yet in certain individual acts, to which I shall refer presently,
Jowett treated me, when I was safely settled at Oxford, with much
sympathetic good nature. But these and other Oxford experiences shall be
reserved for another chapter.



CHAPTER V

EXPERIENCES AT OXFORD

     Early Youth at Oxford--Acquaintance with Browning, Swinburne,
     and Ruskin--Dissipation of an Undergraduate--The Ferment of
     Intellectual Revolution--_The New Republic_


My experiences at Oxford I may divide into two groups--namely, those
belonging to the social life of an undergraduate, and those consisting
of the effects--philosophical, moral, or religious--produced in an
undergraduate's mind by the influence of academic teaching.

As to my social experiences, my recollections are, on the whole,
pleasurable, but they are somewhat remote from anything that can
properly be called scholastic. They are associated with the charm of
certain cloistered buildings--with Magdalen especially, and the shades
of Addison's Walk; with country drives in dogcarts to places like Witney
and Abingdon; with dinners there in the summer evenings, and with a
sense of being happily outside the radius of caps and gowns; with supper
parties during the race weeks to various agreeable ladies; and with a
certain concert which, during one Commemoration, was given by myself and
a friend to a numerous company, and for which the mayor was good enough
to lend us the Town Hall.

From the incubus of mere collegiate discipline I was perhaps more free
than nine undergraduates out of ten. At the time when I matriculated
there were within the college precincts no quarters available; and I and
a fellow freshman who was in the same position as myself managed to
secure a suite of unusually commodious lodgings. That particular
partnership lasted only for a term, but subsequently I and two other
companions took the whole upper part of a large house between us. We
were never what is called "in college"; we rarely dined in Hall, having,
besides a good cook, a very good dining room of our own, where we gave
little dinners, much to our own contentment. We had, moreover, a spare
bedroom, in which on occasion we could put up a visitor. One visitor who
stayed with us for some weeks was Wentworth. Little things remain in the
mind when greater things are forgotten; and one little incident which I
remember of Wentworth's visit was this. Those were days when, for some
mysterious reason, men, when they smoked, were accustomed to wear
smoking caps. Wentworth had one of Oriental design, which he would
somehow attach to his head by means of a jeweled pin. One evening when
he was adjusting it the light caught his features at some peculiar
angle, and for a fugitive moment his face was an exact and living
reproduction of one of the best-known portraits of Byron.

Another incident belonging to this same order of memories occurred
during one of the race weeks. About half past ten one evening,
accompanied by three companions, I was making my way along a rather
ill-illuminated street. My three companions were feminine, and the
dresses of two of them--triumphs of the latest fashion--were calculated
to arrest attention as though they were so much undulating moonlight.
Suddenly I was aware that a strange voice was addressing me. It was the
voice of a proctor, who, attended by several "bulldogs," was asking me,
with a sinister though furtive glance at the ladies, what I was doing,
and why I was not in cap and gown. I could see in his eyes a sense of
having very neatly caught me in a full career of sin. I explained to him
that Mrs. L., wife of one of the greatest of the then university
magnates, and her two charming daughters had just been so kind as to
have had supper with me, and that I was seeing them back to All Souls'.

To return, however, to the first week or fortnight which saw me and my
original housemate established as full-blown freshmen; I cannot for the
life of me remember by what steps we entered on any course of formal
instruction, but he and I were told with very surprising promptitude
that we should, without loss of time, give a breakfast to the Balliol
Eight. We did so, and never before had I seen on any one matutinal
tablecloth provisions which weighed so much, or disappeared so rapidly.

Not many days later I found myself at another breakfast table of a very
different character, in the capacity not of host, but guest. The host
on this occasion was Jowett, who asked me to breakfast with him in order
that I might meet Browning. Browning by some one or other--I think it
was James Spedding--had been shown certain manuscript verses--precious
verses of my own. He had sent me a message of a flattering kind with
regard to them, and he now held out both his hands to me with an almost
boisterous cordiality. His eyes sparkled with laughter, his beard was
carefully trimmed, and an air of fashion was exhaled from his dazzling
white waistcoat. He did not embarrass me by any mention of my own
performances. He did not, so far as I remember, make any approach to the
subject of literature at all, but reduced both Jowett and myself to
something like complete silence by a constant flow of anecdotes and
social allusions, which, though not deficient in point, had more in them
of jocularity than wit. He was not, perhaps, my ideal of the author of
"Men and Women," or the singer of "Lyric Love" as "a wonder and a wild
desire"; but there the great man was, and when I quitted his presence
and found myself once more in undergraduate circles I felt myself
shining like Moses when he came down from the mount.

I was subsequently enveloped in a further reflected glory, due also to
Jowett's kindness--a kindness which survived many outbursts of what I
thought somewhat petulant disapproval. I received from him one day a
curt invitation to dinner, and presented myself, wondering mildly to
what this mark of favor could be due. But wonder turned to alarm when,
on entering the Master's drawing-room, I discovered in the dim twilight
no other figure than his own. His manner, however, though not effusive,
was civil, and was certainly fraught with no menace of any coming
judgment on my sins. We exchanged some ordinary observations on the
weather and kindred topics. Then, looking over his shoulder, he uttered
a half-audible word or two, which, being plainly not addressed to me,
must have been addressed to somebody else. Presently, out of the
shadows, a somebody else emerged. This was a person remarkable for the
large size of his head, his longish hair, his insignificant stature, and
his singularly sloping shoulders. I was introduced to him without
catching his name. Dinner was announced forthwith. It was evident that,
except for myself, this person was to be the sole guest. In the
candlelight of the dinner table I realized that this person was
Swinburne.

The dinner passed off pleasantly. Swinburne showed himself an
intelligent, though by no means a brilliant, talker; and as soon as we
had returned to the drawing room, where we drank a cup of coffee
standing, Jowett, who had some engagement, abruptly left us to finish
the evening by ourselves. On Swinburne the effect of the Master's
disappearance was magical. His manner and aspect began to exhibit a
change like that of the moon when a dim cloud drifts away from it. Of
what we discussed at starting I have not the least remembrance, but
before very long Swinburne was on the subject of poetry. His
observations at first consisted of general criticisms. Then he began to
indulge in quotations from various poems--none of them, I think, from
his own; but, however this may have been, the music seemed to intoxicate
him. The words began to thrill me with the spell of his own recitation
of them. Here at last I realized the veritable genius who had made the
English language a new instrument of passion. Here at last was the
singer for whose songs my ears were shells which still murmured with
such lines as I had first furtively read by the gaslight of the Brighton
theater. My own appreciation as a listener more and more encouraged him.
If he began a quotation sitting, he would start from his chair to finish
it. Finally he abandoned the restraints of a chair altogether. He began,
with gesticulating arms, to pace the room from one end to the other,
reciting passage after passage, and appealing to me, who managed to keep
pace with him, for applause. "The most beautiful lines that Tennyson
ever wrote," he exclaimed, "were these, from 'Maud':

    "And like silent lightning under the stars
      She seemed to divide in a dream from a band of the blest.

"Yes," he went on, "and what did the dream-Maud tell her lover when she
had got him? That the salvation of the world depended on the Crimean
War and the prosecution of Lord Palmerston's policy." Finally he strayed
into quotations from Sidney Dobell, a writer now hardly remembered, with
one of which, describing a girl bathing, he made the Master's academic
rafters ring:

    "She, with her body bright sprinkles the waters white,
      Which flee from her fair form, and flee in vain,
    Dyed with the dear unutterable sight,
      And circles out her beauties to the circling main."

He was almost shouting these words when another sound became
audible--that of an opening door, followed by Jowett's voice, which said
in high-pitched syllables, "You'd both of you better go to bed now."

My next meeting with Swinburne took place not many days later. He had
managed meanwhile to make acquaintance with a few other
undergraduates--all of them enthusiastic worshipers--one of whom
arranged to entertain him at luncheon. As I could not, being otherwise
engaged, be present at this feast myself, I was asked to join the party
as soon as possible afterward. I arrived at a fortunate moment. Most of
the guests were still sitting at a table covered with dessert dishes.
Swinburne was much at his ease in an armchair near the fireplace, and
was just beginning, as a number of smiling faces showed, to be not only
interesting, but in some way entertaining also. He was, as I presently
gathered, about to begin an account of a historical drama by himself,
which existed in his memory only--a sort of parody of what Victor Hugo
might have written had he dramatized English events at the opening of
the reign of Queen Victoria. The first act, he said, showed England on
the verge of a revolution, which was due to the frightful orgies of the
Queen at "Buckingham's Palace." The Queen, with unblushing effrontery,
had taken to herself a lover, in the person of Lord John Russell, who
had for his rival "Sir Peel." Sir Peel was represented as pleading his
own cause in a passionate scene, which wound up as follows: "Why do you
love Lord John Russell, and why do you not love me? I know why you love
Lord John Russell. He is young, he is beautiful, he is profligate. I
cannot be young, I cannot be beautiful, but I will be profligate." Then
followed the stage direction, "Exit for ze Haysmarket." In a later act
it appeared that the Queen and Lord John Russell had between them given
the world a daughter, who, having been left to her own devices, or, in
other words, to the streets, reappears as "Miss Kitty," and is accorded
some respectable rank. Under these conditions she becomes the object of
much princely devotion; but the moral hypocrisy of England has branded
her as a public scandal. With regard to her so-called depravities nobody
entertains a doubt, but one princely admirer, of broader mind than the
rest, declares that in spite of these she is really the embodiment of
everything that is divine in woman. "She may," he says, "have done
everything which might have made a Messalina blush, but whenever she
looked at the sky she murmured 'God,' and whenever she looked at a
flower she murmured 'mother.'"

The vivacity and mischievous humor with which Swinburne gave his account
of this projected play exhibited a side of his character which I have
never even seen mentioned, and the appreciation and surprise of his
audience were obviously a great delight to him. He lay back in his
chair, tossed off a glass of port, and presently his mood changed.
Somehow or other he got to his own serious poems; and before we knew
where we were he was pouring out an account of _Poems and Ballads_, and
explaining their relation to the secrets of his own experiences. There
were three poems, he said, which beyond all the rest were biographical:
"The Triumph of Time," "Dolores," and "The Garden of Proserpine." "The
Triumph of Time" was a monument to the sole real love of his life--a
love which had been the tragic destruction of all his faith in woman.
"Dolores" expressed the passion with which he had sought relief, in the
madnesses of the fleshly Venus, from his ruined dreams of the heavenly.
"The Garden of Proserpine" expressed his revolt against the flesh and
its fevers, and his longing to find a refuge from them in a haven of
undisturbed rest. His audience, who knew these three poems by heart,
held their breaths as they listened to the poet's own voice, imparting
its living tones to passages such as the following--

This is from "The Triumph of Time":

    "I will say no word that a man may say,
      Whose whole life's love goes down in a day;
    For this could never have been, and never,
      Though the gods and the years relent, shall be."

This is from "Dolores":

    "Oh, garment not golden but gilded,
      Oh, garden where all men may dwell,
    Oh, tower not of ivory, but builded
      By hands that reach heaven out of hell."

This is from "The Garden of Proserpine":

    "From too much love of living,
      From hope and fear set free;
    We thank with brief thanksgiving
      Whatever gods may be
        That no life lives for ever,
        That dead men rise up never,
        That even the weariest river
      Winds somewhere safe to sea."

Then, like a man waking up from a dream, Swinburne turned to our host
and said, nervously, "Can you give me another glass of port?" His glass
was filled, he emptied it at a single draught, and then lay back in his
chair like a child who had gone to sleep, the actual fact being, as his
host soon recognized, that, in homely language, he was drunk.

Drink, indeed, was Swinburne's great enemy. He had, when I met him at
Balliol, finished his own career there more than twelve years ago; but
he had since then been a frequent guest of the Master's, who treated
him, in respect of this weakness, with a watchful and paternal care.
When I dined with him at the Master's Lodge there was nothing to tempt
him but a little claret and water. The consequence was that afterward he
was brilliant as the burning bush till he finally went in his sober
senses to bed. He was not, I think, intemperate in the sense that he
drank much. His misfortune was that a very little intoxicated him.

I associate my early days at Balliol with yet another memorable meeting.
One of the most prominent and dignified of the then residents at Oxford
was Sir Henry Acland, who, as a Devonshire man, knew many of my
relations, and had also heard something about myself. He was a friend
and entertainer of men of all sorts of eminence; and while I was still
more or less a freshman he invited me to join at his house a very small
company in the evening, the star of the occasion being a university
lecturer on art, who was just entering on his office, and whose name was
illustrious wherever the English language was spoken. He, too, knew
something about me, having been shown some of my verses, and to meet him
was one of my cherished dreams. Only half a dozen people were present,
and from a well-known portrait of him by Millais I recognized his form
at once. This was Ruskin. He had sent me, through Lord Houghton or
somebody, a verbal message of poetic appreciation already. I was now
meeting him in the flesh. The first thing in him which struck me was
the irresistible fascination of his manner. It was a manner absolutely
and almost plaintively simple, but that of no diplomat or courtier could
be more polished in what was at once its weighty and its winning
dignity. Such was his charm for the elect; but here again comes the
question of temperament. Between Ruskin and Jowett there was a
temperamental antipathy. An antipathy of this kind is a very different
thing from any reasoned dislike, and of this general fact Ruskin and
Jowett were types. I was myself another. Just as Jowett repelled so
Ruskin attracted me. During my later days at Oxford I grew to know
Ruskin intimately, and my sympathy with his genius never lost its
loyalty, though for a long time certain of his ideas--that is to say,
ideas relating to social politics--were to me barely intelligible, and
though, when they became intelligible, I regarded them as perversely
mischievous.

But beneath these social experiences, many of them sufficiently
frivolous, and all of them superficial in so far as their interest
related to individuals, Oxford provided me with others which went to the
very roots of life. Of these deeper experiences the first was due to
Jowett, though its results, so far as I was concerned, were neither
intended, understood, nor even suspected by him.

The most sensational event which occurred during my first term at
Balliol was the suicide of one of the undergraduates. He was a poor
Scotch student of a deeply religious character, who had found, so his
friends reported, that the faith of his childhood had been taken from
him by Jowett's skeptical teachings, and who had ended by cutting his
throat with a razor in Port Meadow. Jowett preached his funeral
sermon--the only sermon which I ever, so far as my recollection serves
me, heard preached in Balliol chapel by himself or by anybody else.
Jowett, who on the occasion was obviously much moved, chose for his text
the story of the woman taken in adultery, and of Christ's challenge to
her judges, "Which of you will dare to assault with the first stone?"
The course of his argument was curious. He began with examining the
passage from the standpoint of verbal scholarship, the gist of his
criticism being that its authenticity was at least doubtful. From this
argument he diverged into one of wider scope, insisting on how much is
doubtful in what the Gospels record as the sayings of our Lord
generally, from which illuminating reflection he advanced to one wider
still. It was as follows: Since we know so little of what Christ really
said about God, how much less can we really know of the nature of God
himself; of what he loves, condemns, or, in his infinite mercy,
pardons?--the moral being that we ought to cast stones at nobody, and
should in especial refrain from condemning our departed brother, who,
for anything which we knew to the contrary, might be just as acceptable
to God as any one of ourselves.

All my impressions of Jowett as a religious teacher were summed up in my
impressions of that one sermon. Though his tone in delivering it was one
of unusual tenderness, there lurked in it, nevertheless, a mordant and
petulant animus against the Christian religion as a whole, if regarded
as miraculously revealed or as postulating the occurrence of any
definite miracle. It was the voice of one who, while setting all belief
in the miraculous aside, on the ground that it had no evidence of a
scientific kind to support it, was proclaiming with confidence some
vague creed as unassailable, the evidence in support of which was very
much more nebulous, or what many would describe as _nil_. A story used
to be told about him by which his position in this respect is aptly and
amusingly illustrated. He was taking a walk with an undergraduate, who
confessed to him that his deepest trouble was his failure to find
anything which accurate reason could accept as a proof of God's
existence. Jowett did not utter a word till he and the young man parted.
Then he said, "Mr. Smith, if you can't find a satisfactory proof of
God's existence during the next three weeks, I shall have to send you
down for a term." Had I been in the young man's place I should have
retorted, "And pray, Mr. Jowett, what satisfactory proofs are you able
to adduce yourself?"

But, in speaking of Jowett thus, I am not wholly, or even mainly,
speaking of him as a single individual, I speak of him mainly as a type,
exceptional indeed on account of his signal intellect, but otherwise
representing a moral and mental attitude which was common not only to
the teaching body of Balliol, but also to the age in general, in so far
as its traditional temper had been influenced by scientific knowledge.
Nearly all the Balliol dons--even those who never spoke of
religion--seemed to start with the same foregone conclusion, that the
dogmatic theology of the churches was as dead as the geocentric
astronomy. They assumed this, just as Jowett did, on what purported to
be scientific grounds, and yet when they sought, as he did, to put in
the place of this some solemn system of quasi-scientific ethics, their
attempts seemed to me to exhibit the same absurdity with which Jowett's
constructive teaching had first made me familiar. Their denials of
everything which to me had been previously sacred appalled me like the
overture to some approaching tragedy. Their confident attempts at some
new scheme of affirmations affected me like a solemn farce.

Some foretastes of the new gospel had, as I have said already, been
vouchsafed to me at Littlehampton by Mr. Philpot. I now saw what
logically the new gospel implied. The sense of impending catastrophe
became more and more acute. I felt like a man on a ship, who, having
started his voyage in an estuary, and imagining that a deck is by nature
as stable as dry land, becomes gradually conscious of the sway of the
outer sea, until, when he nears the bar, showers of spray fall on him,
he perceives that the bows are plunging, and at last the percussion of
waves makes the whole vessel shudder.

Such, then, were the effects on me of the religious liberalism of
Oxford, and in this respect, as I now see, looking backward, my
condition was temperamentally the same as it had been when I was still
under the tuition of superorthodox governesses. In those days any
questioning of the verbal inspiration of the Bible and the miraculous
events recorded in it seemed to me, as it did later, to be at once
absurd and blasphemous. There was, however, even then, something which
to me seemed no less absurd than "the infidel's" attack on the dogmas of
Christian orthodoxy--for I knew that "the infidel" existed--and this was
the manner in which the Anglican clergy defended them. I was always,
when a child, looking forward each week to the Sunday sermon, in the
hope of finding some portions of it which I could either mimic or
parody. I remember one sermon in particular, which the preacher devoted
to a proof of God's existence. My own mental comment was, "If anything
could make me such a fool as to doubt this self-evident truth, your
arguments and the inflections of your voice would certainly make me do
so." I heard another preacher indulge in a long half-hour of sarcasm at
the expense of "the shallow infidel, who pointed to the sky and said,
'Where are the signs of His coming?'" In those days we were required by
a governess to write out the morning's sermon as a pious discipline in
the afternoon. This sermon I reproduced with a series of pictures in the
margin, one of which represented the "shallow infidel" exploring the sky
through a telescope, which he did his best to steady by holding it
against the stem of a palm tree. And yet so literally true did all
orthodox doctrines seem to me that I believed a member of my family to
have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost by kissing a New Testament
and swearing that one of the nursery maids had mispronounced some
word--an imputation which she had indignantly denied.

This dual mood, as renewed in me by Oxford influences, differed from its
earlier and childish form in the fact that my sense of the absurdities
distinctive of modern religious thought acquired a wider range and went
deeper than I had at first anticipated. The absurdities of which I was
conscious as a child were those of the arguments by which the orthodox
clergy endeavored to defend doctrines which were then for myself
indubitable. At Oxford I became conscious of an absurdity to which as a
child I had been a stranger--namely, the absurdity of the arguments by
which men who repudiated orthodoxy altogether endeavored to establish in
its place some purely natural substitute, such as the "enthusiasm of
humanity," a passion for the welfare of posterity, or a godless
deification of domestic puritanism for its own sake. In addition to this
second absurdity a third gradually dawned on me. This was the
absurdity, common to all parties alike, of supposing that, if the
cardinal doctrines of religious orthodoxy were discredited--namely, that
the human soul is immortal, that the human will is free, and that a God
exists who is interested in the fortunes of each soul
individually--these doctrines, in disappearing, would take away with
them nothing but themselves alone; the actual fact being that they are
known to mankind generally not so much in themselves as in their
indirect effects on that plexus of moral, emotional, and intellectual
values on which all our higher interests in the drama of life depend.

Thus, in whatever direction I turned, I felt that, if I listened to the
reasoning of liberal Oxford, I was confronted with an absurdity of one
kind or another. Of the only liberal answers attempted to the riddle of
life, not one, it seemed to me, would bear a moment's serious criticism;
and yet, unless the orthodox doctrines could be defended in such a way
that in all their traditional strictness they could once more compel
assent, life, in the higher sense of the word, would--such was my
conviction--soon cease to be tolerable.

The only human being at that time who held and publicly expressed views
similar to my own, so far as I knew, was Ruskin. Of the riddle which I
found so importunate, he did not profess to have discovered any adequate
solution of his own. On the contrary, he confessed himself a victim of a
tragic and desolating doubt, but he did boldly proclaim that until some
solution was found the men of the modern world were of all men the most
miserable. Take, he said, the belief in immortality, which, according to
some men, is a matter of mild indifference. It is really a belief which
affects our whole conception of the human race. Consider, he said, the
carnage of war, with its pile of unnumbered corpses. It must make some
matter to us whether, according to our serious belief, each man has died
like a dog, and left nothing in the way of a personal existence behind
him, or "whether out of every Christian-named portion of that ruinous
heap there has gone forth into the air and the dead-fallen smoke of
battle some astonished condition of soul unwillingly released."

Here, it seemed to me, was the true voice of reason and challenging
passion combined--a voice which would not say "peace when there was no
peace," and which I missed altogether in Jowett and the Oxford liberals
generally. Jowett always regarded me as a mere dilettante and an idler,
who was bound to disgrace Balliol by coming to grief in the schools, and
he was, I think, mortified rather than pleased when I won, in my second
year, the Newdigate prize for poetry.

[Illustration: JOHN RUSKIN]

But mine was certainly no mere idler's mood; and whatever Jowett may
have thought of me when he heard of my giving parties to ladies, of my
driving them out to picnics, or of my concocting prize poems, my mental
life at Oxford was far from being a life of idleness. On the contrary,
from my second year of residence onward I was constantly engaged in
tentative sketches of a book in which I hoped some day to give a
comprehensive picture of the moral and intellectual condition to which
my Oxford experiences had by that time raised or reduced me. That book
was _The New Republic_, with regard to which in this place a few words
may be apposite.

The form of nearly every book is more or less fashioned on some model or
models. My own models in the case of _The New Republic_ were _The
Republic_ of Plato, the _Satyricon_ of Petronius Arbiter, and the
so-called novels of Peacock. All these books introduce us to circles of
friends who discuss questions of philosophy, religion, art, or the
problems of social life, each character representing some prevalent
view, and their arguments being so arranged as to have, when taken
together, some general and coherent meaning. Many of Peacock's
characters are taken direct from life, and in this respect I made myself
a disciple of Peacock. My characters in _The New Republic_ were all
portraits, though each was meant to be typical; but the originals of
some--such as Lady Ambrose, the conventional woman of the world--were of
no public celebrity, and to mention them here would be meaningless. The
principal speakers, however, were drawn without any disguise from
persons so eminent and influential that a definite fidelity of
portraiture was in their case essential to my plan. Mr. Storks and Mr.
Stockton, the prosaic and the sentimental materialists, were meant for
Professors Huxley and Tyndall. Mr. Luke was Matthew Arnold. Mr. Rose was
Pater. Mr. Saunders, so far as his atheism was concerned, was suggested
by Professor Clifford. Mrs. Sinclair was the beautiful "Violet Fane";
and finally--more important than any others--Doctor Jenkinson was
Jowett, and Mr. Herbert was Ruskin. All these people I set talking in
polite antagonism to one another, their one underlying subject being the
rational aim of life, and the manner in which a definite supernatural
faith was essential, extraneous, or positively prejudicial to this.

To all the arguments advanced I endeavored to do strict justice, my own
criticisms merely taking the form of pushing most of them to some
consequence more extreme, but more strictly logical, than any which
those who proclaimed them either realized or had the courage to avow.
Thus when Doctor Jenkinson descanted in his sermon on the all-embracing
character of Christianity, I made him go on to say that "true
Christianity embraces all opinions--even any honest denial of itself."
By this passage Browning told me that Jowett was specially exasperated,
and Browning had urged on him that such a temper was quite unreasonable.
I think myself, on the contrary, that Jowett had an excellent reason for
it, this reason being that Jowett's position was false, and that my
method of criticism had brought out its absurdity. Here indeed was the
method employed by me throughout the whole book, except in the case of
Ruskin, and there the method was inverted. Just as I sought to show that
Jowett's principles, if carried far enough, ended in absurdity, so did I
seek to show that Ruskin's principles, despite their superficial
absurdities, ended, if carried far enough, in the nearest approach to
truth which under modern conditions of thought and knowledge is
possible. In my effort to give point to what were really my own
underlying convictions, I wrote _The New Republic_ six or seven times
over, and in doing so it became clearer and clearer to me what my own
convictions were. They ended in an application of the method of a
_reductio ad absurdum_ to everything; and this fact I finally indicated
in the words of a Greek epigram which I placed as a motto on the
title-page: "All is laughter, all is dust, all is nothingness, for all
the things that are arise out of the unreasonable."

Such seemed to me the upshot of all the intellectual and moral teaching
of Oxford, of the faintly hinted liberalism of Mr. Philpot's teachings
which had preceded them, and of my own enlarging experiences of male and
female society. That such a conclusion was satisfactory I did not for a
moment feel, but here was the very reason which urged me on to elaborate
it. The mood which expresses itself in a sense that life is merely
ridiculous was, so my consciousness protested, nothing more and nothing
better than a disease, and my hope was that I should get rid of it by
expressing it once for all as pungently and as completely as I could,
after which I would address myself to the project of finding a
foundation for some positive philosophy of life which should indeed be
fortified by reason, but against which reason should not prevail. When,
however, _The New Republic_ had been completed and given to the world, I
felt that my sense of the absurdities of current liberal philosophy had
not even yet exhausted itself; and I presently supplemented that work by
another--_The New Paul and Virginia, or Positivism on an Island_, a
short satirical story in the style of Voltaire's _Candide_. This is a
story of an atheistic professor, such as Tyndall, who, together with a
demimondaine, now the wife of a High Church colonial bishop, is wrecked
on a desert island, and there endeavors to redeem her from the degrading
superstitions of theism and to make her a partner with him in the
sublime service of Humanity--of that "Grand Être," so he says to her,
"which, so far as we are concerned, has come in the course of progress
to consist of you and me." _The New Paul and Virginia_ was followed some
two years later by _Is Life Worth Living?_ a formal philosophical
treatise, in which the values of life and their connection with
religious belief, the methods of fiction being abandoned, were submitted
to scientific analysis. These three books represent the compound results
produced by the liberalism of Oxford on a mind such as my own, which had
been cradled in the conservatisms of the past. But meanwhile I had left
Oxford behind me, and the death of my father and other family events
which occurred about that time left me free to determine my own
movements, the consequence being that thenceforward the months of what
is called "the season" found me year by year in London from Easter till
the approach of August. Of my early experiences of London, and of the
kind of life I lived there, I will now give some brief account, not
disdaining the humble aid of gossip.



CHAPTER VI

THE BASIS OF LONDON SOCIETY

     Early Experiences of London Society--Society Thirty Years Ago
     Relatively Small--Arts and Accomplishments Which Can Flourish
     in Small Societies Only


Comparing London society as it was when I first knew it with what it has
since become, I should say that its two most distinguishing features
were its then comparative smallness and its practically unquestioned
position. Its position was mainly founded on the hereditary possession
of land, its nucleus being the heads of more or less ancient families
whose rent rolls enabled them to occupy London houses and play an
agreeable and ornamental part in the business of entertaining and being
entertained for the few months called "the season." Certain
qualifications in the way of family being given, mere personal charm and
accomplishment would often secure for their possessors a high place in
its ranks. Indeed, such qualifications were by no means always
necessary, as was shown in still earlier days by the cases of Moore and
Brummell; but, on the whole, the social conditions then prevalent in
London coincided with what, in the country, I had known and accepted,
when a child, as part of the order of Nature. Of society as represented
by a definite upper class, the basis was still inheritance in the form
of inherited land.

This was no mere accident. It was a fact definitely explicable in terms
of statistical history. At the time of the battle of Waterloo, outside
the landed class there did not exist in England five hundred people
whose incomes exceeded £5,000 a year. The landed class was typically the
rich class of the country. The condition of things since then has in
this respect been reversed. During the sixty years succeeding the battle
of Waterloo business incomes exceeding £5,000 a year had increased
numerically in the proportion of one to eight, while since that time the
increase has been still more rapid. On the other hand, not only has the
number of the large agricultural landlords shown no increase whatever,
but since the year 1880 or thereabouts their aggregate rental has
suffered an actual decrease, having fallen in the approximate proportion
of seventy to fifty-two. This shrinkage in the fortunes of the old
landed families, except those who were owners of minerals or land near
towns, and the multiplication of families newly enriched by business,
were, when I first knew London, proceeding at a rate which had never
been known before. It was, however, slow in comparison with what it has
since become, and the old landed families, at the time to which I am now
alluding, still retained much of their old prestige and power, as is
shown by the fact that the leaders of both political parties were still
mainly drawn from the limited class in question. It is shown with even
greater clearness by facts more directly presenting themselves to the
eye of the ordinary observer.

One of these is the aspect which thirty years ago was presented by Hyde
Park during the season at certain hours of the day. Thirty years ago,
for an hour or two before luncheon and dinner, its aspect was that of a
garden party, for which, indeed, no invitations were necessary, but on
which as a fact few persons intruded who would have been visibly out of
place on the lawn of Marlborough House. To-day this ornamental
assemblage has altogether disappeared, and its place has been gradually
taken by a miscellaneous crowd without so much as a trace even of
spurious fashion left in it. Thirty years ago Piccadilly in June was a
vision of open carriages brilliant with flowerlike parasols,
high-stepping horses, and coachmen, many of whom still wore wigs. To-day
these features have been submerged by a flow of unending omnibuses which
crowds fight to enter or from which they struggle to eject themselves.
Fashionable hotels have succumbed to the same movement. Of such hotels
thirty years ago the most notable were commonly described as
"private"--a word which implied that no guests were received who were
not known to the landlord either personally or through fit credentials.
Claridge's, until it was rebuilt, was an establishment of this
description. An unknown and unaccredited stranger could, by the mere
chance latchkey of wealth, no more obtain access to such hotels as these
than he could make himself to-day a member of some exclusive club by
placing the amount of the entrance fee in the hands of the hall porter.

But society, as it was in this relatively recent past, did not differ
from that of to-day merely in the fact of having been absolutely less
numerous and of less multifarious origin. It differed in the effects
which a mere restriction of numbers, coupled with inherited wealth and a
general similarity of antecedents, has on the quality of social
intercourse itself. In societies which are small, and yet at the same
time wealthy enough to secure for their members as a whole a monopoly of
varied experience, and invest them with a corporate power which cannot
be similarly concentrated in any other cohesive class, these members are
provided, like the believers in some esoteric religion, with subtle
similarities of tastes, behavior, and judgment, together with daily
opportunities of observing how far, and in what particulars, individuals
belonging to their class conform or do not conform to them. These are
constant provocations to refinements of mutual criticism which give life
and conversation a zest not attainable otherwise. Finally a society
which is small enough to possess such common standards, and whose
position is so well established as to pervade it with a sense that no
standards are superior to its own, tends to make manners perfectly
simple and natural which could otherwise be approached only by
conscious effort or affectation.

The result of such conditions, in so far as they prevailed in London
when London life became first familiar to myself, was that society, in
the narrower sense of the word, was taken in a spirit more serious than
that which it excites to-day. To say nothing of ambitious hostesses who
vied with one another in the entertainment of guests whose very names
had a ring of importance when printed in the _Morning Post_, society
was, even for men of conspicuous talent--such, for example, as Lord
Houghton, Augustus Savile, and Hayward--a matter as serious as politics,
or any war not of the first importance. To men like Christopher Sykes
and Kenneth Howard it was very much more engrossing. Thus, at a luncheon
party which I remember, a lady who had just reached London from Scotland
asked, by way of conversation, "What is going on to-night?" Lord
Houghton, who was one of the guests, answered, with all the gravity of a
judge summing up the evidence at a murder trial: "The only event of
to-night is the ball at Grosvenor House. There's nothing else worth
mentioning." "The ball of to-night," I heard him say on a similar
occasion, "will be Lady Harriet ----'s. That is sure to be good, for
Lady Harriet knows nobody, so she can't ask the wrong people, and her
list of invitations is in the hands of Augustus Savile." One of the
cleverest hostesses of that time, Lady G----, denounced to a friend the
impertinence of a "society paper" which had ventured to describe one of
her entertainments as "political"; and she had actually been to the
trouble of writing to inform the editor that her parties were
fashionable gatherings and not political menageries. The then Lord
Orford, a man of the highest literary culture, who professed to despise
society, and very rarely entered it, said that his own idea of real
happiness was "to go nowhere, and yet to be asked everywhere."

The seriousness with which society was taken, and the fear of its
judgments entertained even by many of its most conspicuous members, was
illustrated in a way now oddly belated by the celebrated "Lady A.," as
she was called, who occasionally lent her house in Hertford Street for
the month of August to her niece, Mrs. Marcus Hare. To this act of
kindness she attached one strict condition--namely, that the blinds of
the front windows should always be drawn down, lest anyone should
suspect that she--Lady A. herself--was guilty of remaining in London
when the fashionable season was over. A well-known social philosopher,
Lady E---- of T----, gave me in my early days an ultraserious lecture on
the principles by which a young man should be guided when beginning to
form acquaintances in a world like that of London. Her advice was almost
identical with that which, in Bulwer Lytton's novel, _Pelham_, is
administered to the hero by his mother. "You should be specially
careful," said Lady E---- to me, "as to people with whom you dine. Some
are remarkable for their _chefs_, some for the importance of their
company. There are all sorts of differences which a young man has to
learn. There are some evening parties," she said, "at which it will be
enough for him to be merely seen; and, with very few exceptions"--this
was her concluding counsel--"you should never be seen at a ball in a
two-roomed house--a house, for example, like the houses in Eaton Place."

Another sort of social philosopher, in his own way equally typical, was
Hamilton Aidé, who united to the life of society the cultivation of art,
and was equally serious in his combined devotion to both. He was a
musician, a poet, a singer of his own songs in a voice perfectly
modulated. He was also as a painter in water colors one of the most
distinguished amateurs of his time. His landscapes, indeed, and his
sketches of old houses and gardens, Scotch castles, and the seclusions
of Italian villas, were in themselves poems; and when he entertained the
world--a world very carefully chosen--the attention of his guests was
divided between his music and his great portfolios. His bachelor's
quarters provided him with an appropriate background. His writing table
was dominated by something resembling an altarpiece--namely, a large and
ingenious rack, on which was arranged a battalion of invitations to
balls and dinner parties; and his blotting book was flanked by two
delicate volumes, one being a _libro d'oro_ in the shape of a bulky
visiting list, the other being a list of his engagements from day to
day. He and his accomplishments were a finished work of art between
them. But in a larger world his development would have been no more
possible than the development of an orchid in the middle of a crowded
street.

And the same is the case with regard to society generally. There are
certain accomplishments which a small society tends to develop, and
which a larger society does not. Among these the art of conversation is
prominent, especially when it takes the form of wit, or becomes the
vehicle of certain kinds of humor. I may further illustrate this general
observation by mentioning a few individuals, of whom three at least are
still well known by name, not to society only, but also to the world at
large. These are Constance, Duchess of Westminster; Caroline, Duchess of
Montrose, and the Duchess of Somerset, who, as Lady Seymour, was the
heroine of the Eglinton Tournament. These ladies were all remarkable for
the peculiar magic of their voices and for a peculiar sense of humor
which their voices managed to indicate, and which gave its quality to
their general views of life. They none of them laughed audibly, but the
voice of each was a sort of laugh in solution, and this would produce a
sense of laughter in others, even though in the words of the speaker
herself there was no special felicity.

The Duchess of Montrose, by the mere tone in which she mentioned a
name, would often convey a whole criticism of the person named; and
though her topics and language were not infrequently of a kind which
caused austere censors to reprehend, and even to avoid, her, yet if such
censors found themselves by chance in her company, they would one and
all be listening to her before five minutes was over.

The Duchess of Somerset's voice had the same spell of ambushed laughter
in it, but she was a far greater mistress of the actual arts of
language, if "art" be a word appropriate to the exercise of natural
genius. I was asked by her daughter, Lady Guendolen Ramsden, to help her
in compiling a volume of family memoirs, which would, so we hoped, have
comprised a number of the Duchess's letters; but most of these had to be
discarded as not suitable for publication, because of the numerous
sketches contained in them of various friends or connections, which were
drawn with a wit and precision worthy of Miss Austen herself in her
least merciful moments. One specimen, however, may be given without
compunction. She was describing a visit paid by her to a well-known
country house, and mentioned that among the company were a prominent
statesman and his wife, the former of whom was dear to caricaturists on
account of his superabundant figure. "Sir ---- and Lady ---- are here,"
she wrote. "She is expecting; but he shows it most."

Here are examples of conversational or descriptive art which, in a large
and mixed society, would, even if possible, be hardly so much as
perceptible. I may take as two other examples Sophy, Lady Roden, and
Lady Dorothy Nevill. Unlike Lady Dorothy, whose chronicled sayings have
made her a public character, Lady Roden was known only to a small circle
of intimates. She was a daughter of Byron's celebrated friend Mr.
Hobhouse, subsequently Lord Broughton, and had received something of a
really classical education under the semipaternal auspices of Thomas
Love Peacock. Hence her conversation had a certain natural crispness
which enabled her to indicate by touches, however light, any oddities of
demeanor or conduct on the part of friends or acquaintances to persons
whose standards were more or less like her own. There was a silly young
woman who, after several years of matrimony, was ambitious of pushing
her conquests beyond the matrimonial limits; and with this object in
view did her best to be visible driving about with a succession of
guiltlessly apathetic admirers. "Poor Mrs. P----," said Lady Roden. "She
takes far more trouble in attempting to ruin her reputation than most
women do to preserve it; but all her attempts are vain."

Lady Dorothy's charm in conversation was due to an adventurous
whimsicality, perfectly natural, which was absent from Lady Roden's. She
saw everything through a medium of unexpected analogies. She was one day
asked in my hearing whether she had enjoyed herself at a Marlborough
House garden party. "My dear," she said, "half of the people there I had
never seen before in my life, and of those whom I _had_ seen, I thought
that half had been safe in Kensal Green." On another occasion, having
been at a fancy ball--balls were a kind of entertainment which she very
rarely frequented--and having been asked by a friend for an account of
it, she replied: "By far away the most remarkable figure was ----. There
she was--I don't know what she called herself--Diana in front, and
George the Second behind."

But of the conversational art which flourishes in small societies only I
could find the best examples, not among women, but among the men of what
was then an expiring generation--men whose manners had been formed in a
society smaller still. Alfred Montgomery was a wit of this classical
type, and may be taken as representing others, all of whom, when I knew
them, were verging on old age. These men, though free from any trace of
pedantry, were never guilty of slang, unless slang was used
intentionally for the purpose of humorous emphasis. Their conversation,
if taken down verbatim, would have afforded perfect specimens of
polished yet easy English. A lady of great wealth (who has long since
been dead, but who shall nevertheless be nameless) had been for a time
under some sort of social cloud, many influential people having
virtuously refused to notice her. Toward the end of her life, however,
the most august of all possible influences had raised her to a position
of such fashionable brilliance that a great ball given by her had been
the chief event of a season. Lady Roden asked Alfred Montgomery some
question as to who had, and who had not, been there. "When a woman like
Mrs. ---- gives a ball of that kind, it is," he said, "an act of revenge
quite as much as an act of hospitality. She takes far more pleasure in
thinking of the people she has _not_ asked than in thinking of those she
has."

Certain other examples of conversational art occur to me which I
associate with a form of entertainment now a thing of the past. Of
London life as it had been long before I knew it, a notable feature,
constantly referred to in memoirs, had been the breakfast party. It had
before my time nearly, but had not quite, disappeared. It was so far
kept alive by Lord Houghton, at all events, that a breakfast at his
house in Bruton Street is one of my own early recollections. The repast
began at ten and lasted for half the morning. There must have been about
twenty guests. Two of them were "lions," whose hair was more remarkable
than their speech. The rest were men of some sort of social eminence,
who seemed to find the occasion not wholly congenial; and, in spite of
the efforts of the host, conversation had a tendency to languish till a
topic turned up which was then attracting public notice. This topic
roused one of the guests--a seasoned man of the world--from a mood of
apparent apathy into one of such humorous animation that soon the rest
of the company were holding their breaths to listen to him. The topic in
question was a volume of scandalous memoirs which had lately been
published by Rosina, wife of the first Lord Lytton, for the purpose of
attacking a husband from whom she had long been separated. The guest to
whom I am now alluding caught the attention of everybody by confessing
to an intimate acquaintance with the ways of this caustic lady, and
proceeded to illustrate them by a series of amusing anecdotes of which I
recollect the following:

Bulwer Lytton, as he then was, was candidate for one of the divisions of
Hertfordshire, and speeches were being delivered from the hustings by
supporters of local influence--among others by Lord Cowper. Lord Cowper
was still speaking when something appeared at his elbow in the likeness
of the candidate's wife. "Now, Billy Cowper," she said, "we've listened
to you long enough. Sit down, and let _me_ speak. You propose,
gentlemen, to send my husband to Parliament. I am here to tell you that
Parliament is not the proper place for him. His proper place," she said,
pointing to the ground, "is below; and when you have sent him there, he
will learn something of what he at present knows nothing. That something
is Justice."

On another occasion, speaking in more moderate tones, she observed to a
circle of acquaintances: "My husband is a man who has been born out of
his due time. He ought to have been born nineteen hundred years ago. Had
he been born then, he would have been Judas Iscariot. He would have
betrayed his Master; he would have taken the thirty pieces of silver;
but then he would not have hanged himself--far from it. He would have
sat down and written the Epistle to the Ephesians."

On another occasion she told the following story of him. He was, so she
said, in London, and she, having been left in the country, had written
to propose joining him. He had at once replied begging her not to do so,
but to leave him a little longer in the enjoyment of philosophic
solitude. "When I heard that"--so she confided to a friend--"I set off
for London instantly; and there I found him with Philosophic Solitude,
in white muslin, on his knee."

"Perhaps," added the narrator, "even less agreeable to the delinquent
would have been, had he heard it, her description of his physical
appearance. Alluding to the fact that his head was undoubtedly too large
for his body, she said, 'My husband has the head of a goat, and he has
the body of a grasshopper.'"

But of all the men who, in the way of conversational wit or otherwise,
figure in my memory as types of a now vanished generation, the most
remarkable still remains to be noticed. This was the second Duke of
Wellington. Even to those who knew him only by sight he was memorable,
on account of his astonishing likeness to the portraits or statues of
his father. He had not, or he had not chosen to cultivate, the talents
which mainly lead to distinction in public life, but by the small circle
of those who were intimate with him during his later days he was known
for a humor, a polished wit, and a shrewdness which made him, of all
possible companions, one of the most delightful. I knew him intimately
myself as far as my age permitted. I often stayed with him at
Strathfieldsaye, not only when he had parties, but also when, as
sometimes happened, we were together for a week alone. On these latter
occasions I had all the mornings to myself, and every afternoon I took
with him long walks, during which he poured forth his social or other
philosophies, or else told me stories of his father so pointed and
numerous that, had I written them down, I might then have compiled a
life of him which would form a very interesting supplement to those
which exist already. I never, in the course of these walks, experienced
a dull moment.

The only great entertainment at which I ever encountered him was a
dinner party of his own given at Apseley House. During one of such
visits which I paid him at Strathfieldsaye he told me that very soon he
would have to give a party in London in honor of the King of the
Belgians. The party was to be a large dinner, and he asked me to be one
of the company. The time arrived. The King of the Belgians for some
reason failed to come, but everything had been arranged in an
appropriate manner for his reception. As a spectacle the table was
noteworthy. It was covered with gold plate--a historic monument to the
great hero of Waterloo--which consisted of figures of soldiers, horses,
palm trees, camels, artillery, and other military objects symbolical of
his various campaigns; and gold plate at intervals all round the table
was supplemented by triumphal wreaths. The duke told me afterward that
all these decorations were due to his own forgetfulness. He had for
years been accustomed to celebrate the anniversary of the battle of
Waterloo by a banquet to certain officers who had been present at it,
and who still survived; but the number of these had already been so
reduced that he had determined to discontinue the celebration. In
fixing, however, a day for the dinner now in question, he had entirely
forgotten that the date ultimately chosen was none other than the day of
the great battle. His servants had concluded that, in honor of Belgian
royalty, he was giving one more repetition of the Waterloo banquets of
the past. Everything had been arranged accordingly; and I was thus
present at a function which will never take place again.

But it was not at such functions that his real character displayed
itself. This only came out in intercourse of a much more private kind,
as would happen at Strathfieldsaye when he entertained parties of not
more than ten people. When I was present on such occasions I was usually
the youngest--by far the youngest--member of the company. Of the rest I
may mention as examples Lady Dorothy Nevill, Alfred Montgomery, Sir
Hastings Doyle, Lord Calthorpe, Sir St. George Foley, Lady Chesterfield,
and Mr. Newtons, the courtly police magistrate, called by his friends
"The Beak." And here--to repeat in substance the observation which I
have made already--what always struck me was the far greater polish of
manner that prevailed among these my elders than any which was
cultivated among my own, the then rising, generation. In such an
atmosphere the Duke's special gifts were at home. He never strained
after effect. His words seemed to crystallize into wit or poignant humor
before he had time to reflect on what he was going to say. But these
qualities were perhaps seen at their best in tête-à-tête encounters or
correspondence. At all events, it is from such occurrences that
illustrations of them can be most readily drawn.

He had often spoken to me of his dislike of anything in the nature of
jobbery, and this was once brought out in a very characteristic way by a
passage at arms between himself and Lady St. Helier. Lady St. Helier had
written to him to ask him if, as Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex, he would
make one of her friends a magistrate. The duke promptly replied that her
friend was an entire stranger to him, and that he never made
appointments of that kind as a favor to some third party. There the
matter rested for a week or two, at the end of which period she received
the following note from him:

     DEAR LADY ST. HELIER.

     You have treated me extremely ill. I have made inquiries about
     your friend, and I find he is part-proprietor of--here he named
     a certain place of amusement--which I learn is frequently used
     as a place for assignations of a very reprehensible kind.

Lady St. Helier's immediate reply was this:

     MY DEAR DUKE.

     I have nothing more to say. You are acquainted with such
     matters so much better than I am.

Not long afterward he met her on somebody's doorstep, and she, who was
taking her departure, greeted him with some slight frigidity. He merely
looked at her with a momentary twinkle in his eye, and said, "I think
you had me there." Some days later she received yet another letter from
him, which consisted of these words:

     DEAR LADY ST. HELIER.

     The deed is done. God forgive me.

A further encounter took place of something the same kind--the duke
himself told me of this--from which he emerged the victor. He had, he
said, received a letter from Lady Herbert of Lee, in which she begged
him to contribute £100 toward the total required for the restoration of
some Catholic church, and his answer had been as follows:

     DEAR LADY HERBERT.

     I shall be very happy to give you the sum you name, for a
     purpose so excellent as yours. At the same time I may say that
     I am myself about to restore the Protestant church at
     Strathfieldsaye, and I do not doubt that you will aid me by
     sending me a similar sum. Only, in that case, I think no money
     need pass between us.

In a kindred vein was his answer to another application, addressed to
him, in formal terms, by a committee of the inhabitants of Tiverton.
When the first duke was merely known as a soldier, the Tivertonians had
begun to erect, on a neighboring hill near Wellington, a monumental
column in his honor; but subsequently, when he came to show himself to
the British public, not as a great general, but as an obstinate and
intolerable Tory, the Radical Tivertonians refused to carry on the work
farther. The column was left unfinished, as it stands at the present
day; and the second duke, many years later, was petitioned, for the
credit of the neighborhood, to finish it at his own cost. His answer to
the petitioners was, so he told me, this:

     GENTLEMEN.

     It I were to finish that monument it would be a monument to
     nothing. As it stands, it is a monument to your own
     ingratitude.

Strathfieldsaye may have been in old days the scene of many political
incidents. The latest was one at which I myself was present. The heroine
of it was Miss Meresia Nevill, Lady Dorothy's daughter, who afterward
achieved renown as a luminary of the Primrose League. She was then in
her novitiate only, and the duke one morning whispered to her that he
would give her a lesson in oratory. I was asked to be present at it,
but otherwise it was to be strictly secret. Accordingly after breakfast
she, I, and the duke met by appointment in the library. The doors were
locked, and Miss Nevill, who had brought some memoranda with her
scribbled on a half-sheet of letter paper, was told by the duke to take
her stand on the hearth rug and give him a specimen of her powers by
declaiming what she proposed to say, he himself being seated on a sofa
watching her. "Now," he said, "begin." Bashfully consulting her notes,
and speaking with apologetic rapidity, Miss Nevill began to murmur, "My
lords, ladies and gentlemen." "No!" ejaculated the duke; "my dear young
lady, no! Mouth it out like this: "My lords--ladies--_and_--gentlemen."
Don't say it as if you were saying your prayers." In this humorous but
most admirable advice there was no great verbal brilliance; but his
tendency to verbal brilliance showed, on one occasion at all events, how
capable it was of translating itself into the highest form of literary
art. A favorite amusement of his was making translations from Horace.
Among the passages which had specially provoked this enterprise was one
the Latin of which is so terse and pungent that it has often been
pronounced untranslatable. It is the passage in which Horace describes
true happiness as that of the man who, looking back from to-morrow, is
able to say, "I was really alive all yesterday." Dryden's pithy version
of it is to the effect that the sole true happiness is that of the man:

    Who, secure at eve, can say,
    "To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day."

The duke's version was on a yet higher level than this, embodying in it
a concentrated pungency and a _curiosa felicitas_ which were quite in
the vein of Horace, but contain a thought not present in the original.
They were comprised in these few words:

    Happy if only I enjoy
    My rival's envy for a day.

It is true this specimen of the duke's wit in literature does not bear
directly on the question of wit in social conversation; and yet it may
lead the mind to questions which are very closely akin to it. The
felicity of the duke's translation has a very close resemblance to the
_curiosa felicitas_ of Pope--for instance, in his "Characters of Women"
and his celebrated satire on Addison. Nearly all Pope's satires are
addressed, if not to a small society, yet at all events to a small
public, and outside that limited body they would have neither vogue nor
meaning.



CHAPTER VII

VIGNETTES OF LONDON LIFE

     Byron's Grandson and Shelley's Son--The World of Balls--The
     "Great Houses," and Their New Rivals--The Latter Criticized by
     Some Ladies of the Old Noblesse--Types of More Serious
     Society--Lady Marian Alford and Others--_Salons_ Exclusive and
     Inclusive--A Clash of Two Rival Poets--The Poet Laureate
     --Auberon Herbert and the Simple Life--Dean Stanley--Whyte
     Melville--"Ouida"--"Violet Fane"--Catholic Society--Lord
     Bute--Banquet to Cardinal Manning--Difficulties of the
     Memoir-writer--Lord Wemyss and Lady P---- --Indiscretions of
     Augustus Hare--Routine of a London Day--The Author's Life Out
     of London


The few portraits and anecdotes which I have just sketched or recorded
are sufficient, let me say once more, to illustrate two general facts.
They indicate the way in which society owes much of its finer polish to
it. They emphasize the fact that, when I first knew it myself, it was
very much smaller than it has since then become, and, though divided
into sections even then, was very much more cohesive. Let me pass from
this latter fact to some of my own experiences as connected with it.

For young men who are already equipped with influential friends or
connections, a society which is relatively small and more or less
cohesive is in some ways more easy of access than one which is more
numerous, but in which, unless their means are ample enough to excite
the competitive affection of mothers, they are more likely to be lost.
In this respect I may look on myself as fortunate, for my circle of
acquaintances very rapidly widened as soon as, having done with Oxford,
I began to stay in London for more than a week at a time, and secured a
habitation, more or less permanent, of my own. While I was first looking
about for one which I thought would be suitable, Wentworth returned the
hospitality which I had previously shown him at Oxford by putting me up
for a fortnight at his house on the Chelsea Embankment, and during this
visit an incident took place which, if merely judged by the names of the
few persons concerned in it, might be thought picturesquely memorable.

Students of Robert Browning may recollect a short poem of his which
begins with the following lines:

    And did you once see Shelley plain?
      And did he stop and speak to you?
    And did you answer him again?
      How strange it seems and true!

My own answer would be, I did not see Shelley plain, but I did the next
thing to it. Sir Percy and Lady Shelley--the poet's son and
daughter-in-law--were Wentworth's near neighbors, though he never had
met either of them. Lady Shelley had been an old friend of my mother's,
and I took him one day to tea with her. To the wife of Shelley's son I
introduced Byron's grandson. What event could seem more thrilling to
any one whose sentiments were attuned to the music of Browning's verses?
What really happened was this: Lady Shelley said to me some pleasant
things about my mother; we all of us lamented the prevalence of the east
wind, and then, having recommended her crumpets, she discussed with
Wentworth the various large houses lately built in the neighborhood. At
this juncture the drawing-room door opened and the son of the author of
"Prometheus Unbound" entered. He was a fresh-looking country gentleman,
whose passion was private theatricals. Close to his own house he had
built a little private theater, and the conversation turned
thenceforward on the question of whether a license would be necessary if
the public were admitted by payment to witness the performance of a
farce in the interest of some deserving charity.

By the time I left Wentworth's roof I had arranged to share with two
Catholic friends a suite of rooms at a private hotel in Dover Street.
Both belonged to well-known Catholic families, and had ready access to
the world of Catholic gayety, especially in so far as this was
represented by balls. One of them, through his skill as a dancer and his
buoyant vivacity in conversation, was in much wider request. By the
agency of Augustus Savile and others--of "social fairies" (as Lord
Beaconsfield called them), such as the Duchess of Sutherland, whom I had
known well at Torquay--cards for balls and parties, in quickly
increasing numbers, found their way to myself likewise; while in other
directions doors were opened also which led to a world of a more serious
aspect and character.

Of balls I need say little except to observe that I went to a great
many, and so far followed the advice of Lady E---- of T---- that I did
not often find myself at a ball "in a two-roomed house." For this the
principal reason was that, even from my childhood, I was wanting in any
inclination to dance, and thus preferred many-roomed houses in which
persons who were so disposed could sit out and converse, the very fact
that a ball was in progress being hardly so much as perceptible. In this
connection I may observe that, during my earlier days, the principal
balls were still to a certain extent those which were given in houses
famous for their traditions and their magnitude, such as Devonshire
House, Bridgwater House, Stafford House, and so forth; but already
things were in this respect changing. Newly established families, or
families in the act of establishing themselves, had begun to outdo the
"great houses" in their lavish expenditure on this kind of
entertainment. The center of social gravity was in this respect being
shifted. As an illustration of this fact I remember some curt
observations made by two ladies who were in the act of bringing out
their daughters. Both belonged to families of historical and high
distinction, but their means were not equal to their dignity. One of
them said, "If I want to take out my daughter, I have generally to go
to the house of someone who is not a gentleman." Another said: "I don't
care for London any longer. It seems that the only people who are giving
balls to-day are people whose proper business would be to black my
boots." Utterances of this kind, though of course greatly exaggerated,
were straws which showed the direction in which the wind was blowing.

Let me turn from the world of balls to a _milieu_ which is less
frivolous, and take certain ladies as types of tendencies which then
prevailed in it. It will be enough to mention four, whose houses
represented society as, in some ways, at its best. I refer to Mrs.
William Lowther, Lady Marian Alford, Louisa, Lady Ashburton (whom I thus
group together because their isolated and commanding dwellings stood
practically in the same row), and Lady Somers. All these were women of
the highest cultivation. They were devoted to art. Mrs. Lowther was
herself an artist. Mrs. Lowther and Lady Ashburton, though thorough
women of the world with regard to their mundane company, were remarkable
for a grave philanthropy which they sacrificed much to practice. Indeed
at some of their entertainments it was not easy to tell where society
ended and high thinking began. This could not be said of Lady Somers or
of Lady Marian. Though in artistic and intellectual taste they equaled
the three others, the guests whom they collected about them were
essentially chosen with a view to the social charm which wit, manners,
or beauty enabled them, as if by magic, to communicate to the passing
moment. And here it may be observed conversely that in a world like that
of London the art of society depends not on choice only, but also, and
no less, on an equally careful rejection, and is for that reason beset
by peculiar and varying difficulties. Of these difficulties Lady Marian
herself once spoke to me. They had, she said, been lately brought home
to her by certain of her friends who had been urging her to give a
ball--a suggestion which, for the following reasons, she found herself
unwilling to entertain. "It is impossible," she said, "to give a
successful ball in London without being very ill-natured to a large
number of people. Many of those who would think they had a right to be
asked would--though on other occasions no doubt welcome enough--be as
much out of place in a ballroom as a man would be in a boat race who
could not handle an oar." But she was, so she added, going to make an
attempt at reviving a kind of entertainment to which no such
difficulties would attach themselves. During the months of the coming
winter she proposed to send out cards to all her more intimate
acquaintances; announcing that she would always be at home after dinner
on a certain day each week, and begging them to give her their company
whenever, and as often as, they pleased. A certain number of people--all
of them agreeable and distinguished--responded to this appeal; but
their number rarely exceeded fifteen or twenty, and Lady Marian was at
length bound to admit that the competitive attractions developed by the
enlargement of social life were such as to render a revival of the
_salon_ impossible, even among acquaintances so carefully chosen as her
own.

I may, however, advert to another lady who in a certain sense succeeded
where Lady Marian failed; but she succeeded by basing her _salon_ on a
noticeably different principle--namely, that of inclusion, whereas that
of Lady Marian was selection. The passport to her drawing-rooms was
fame--even fame of the most momentary kinds--and as fame is the meed of
very various activities, not all her own charm was sufficient on some
occasions to prevent her company from being a clash of illustrious
rivals rather than a _reunion_ of friends.

Of a clash of this kind I was once myself a witness, though nobody at
the moment divined that there was a clash at all. The scene was not in
London, but at the lady's house in the country, where a few guests were
staying with her for the inside of a week. Two of these guests were
poets; we may call them Sir E. and Sir L. The visit coincided with the
time of Tennyson's last illness, the reports of which became daily more
alarming. The two poets evinced much becoming anxiety, though this did
not interfere with the zeal with which one day at luncheon they consumed
a memorable plum tart. Next morning neither of them appeared at
breakfast; and when both of them remained in their bedrooms for the
larger part of the day I came to the prosaic conclusion that the plum
tart had been too much for them. Next morning came the news of
Tennyson's death. The two bards remained in their cells till noon, after
which they both reappeared like men who had got rid of a burden. The
true secret of their retirement revealed itself the morning after, when
each of two great newspapers, with which they were severally connected,
was found to contain long columns of elegy on the irreparable loss which
the country had just suffered--compositions implying a suggestion on the
part of each of the elegists that a poet existed who was not unfit to
repair it. That same day after luncheon the two competitors departed.
Our hostess and the other guests saw them off at the station, and as the
train went on, the elegists were seen waving independent adieux, one
from a first, the other from a third-class carriage. The successor to
the late Laureate was Mr. Alfred Austin.

I knew Alfred Austin well; and a few words with regard to him may not be
inappropriate here. Though his poetry has not commanded any very wide
attention, he had more of true poetry in him than many people imagine.
He had all the qualifications of a really great poet except a sustained
faculty for writing really good poetry. He had a sound philosophic
conception of what the scope and functions of great poetry are; and it
would be possible to select from his works isolated passages of high and
complete beauty. But, if judged by his poetry as a whole, he seems to
have been so indolent or so deficient in the faculty of self-criticism
that for the most part he suffered himself to be content with language
which resembled an untuned piano, his performances on which were often
calculated to affront the attention of his audience rather than to
arrest and capture it. He once or twice asked me to make his works the
subject of a critical and comprehensive essay. With some diffidence I
consented, and accomplished this delicate task by picking out a number
of his best and most carefully finished passages, which showed what he
could do if he tried, and how far by pure carelessness he elsewhere fell
short of the standard which he himself had set. For example, from his
"Human Tragedy" I quoted the following lines, one of which refers to
Rome as a place where "Papal statues arrogantly wave"; while in another,
describing a headlong stream, he says with the utmost complacency that:

      The cascade
    Bounded adown the cataract.

I pointed out that no conceivable feat was so absolutely impossible for
a statue as that of "waving," and that, a cataract and a cascade being
practically the same thing, it was impossible that the former could
manage to bound down the latter. My practical moral, as addressed to
the Laureate, was, "Be just to yourself, and the public will be just to
you," and the compliment implied in one part of this criticism did much
to mitigate the unwelcome tenor of the other.

Many interesting people I used to meet at the house of Mr. Froude the
historian. Among these were two relatives of Mr. Froude's second
wife--namely, Henry Cowper, one of the most charming conversationalists
of his time, Lady Florence Herbert, and, through her, her well-known
husband, Auberon. Auberon Herbert was a most singular character. He
represented a movement of thought which has since then taken other
directions, and would probably now be associated with some form or other
of socialism. In one sense he was certainly no socialist. On the
contrary, he was an ardent champion of individual freedom, as opposed to
the tyranny of the state. He even contended that all taxation should be
voluntary, and actually started a journal, mainly written by himself, in
support of this agreeable doctrine. He was, however, yet more
pertinacious as an advocate of what is now called "the simple life." His
wife shared, though she slightly perhaps tempered, his opinions; and
when they first set up house together they insisted that all their
household--the domestics included--should dine at the same table. After
a week's experience, however, of this regime, the domestics all gave
warning, and the establishment was reconstructed on a more conventional
footing. This counter-revolution had been accomplished before I knew
him, and my intimate acquaintance with him began at a great shooting
party given at Highclere Castle by Lord Carnarvon, his brother. Neither
I nor he were shooters, and while battues were in progress, and guns
were sounding daily at no very great distance, he walked me about the
park, declaring that modern castles which stood for nothing but the
slaughter of half-tame birds were examples of a civilization completely
gone astray. In order that I might see what, shorn of its earlier
eccentricities, was his personal ideal of a reasonably ordered life, he
asked me to stay with him for a week at his own home, Ashley Arnewood,
in Hampshire, on the borders of New Forest. In due time I went. His
dwelling among the woodlands was of very simple construction. It was a
small farmhouse bisected by a flagged passage giving access to four
rooms. On the right as one entered was a kitchen, on the left was an
apartment which he dignified by the name of a museum, its sole contents
being fragments of ancient British pottery which had been dug up in the
neighborhood and were here carefully arranged on a large disused mangle.
Beyond, and opposite to one another, were a dining room so limited in
size that one end of the table abutted on a whitewashed wall, and a
sitting room, luxuriously warm, which was furnished with several deep
and remarkably comfortable chairs. The carpets consisted of rough
coconut matting, and draughts in the bedrooms were excluded by rough
red blankets, which did duty as curtains. The evening repast was almost
obtrusively a tea rather than a dinner, though, in deference to my own
presumably unconverted appetite, I, and I alone, was provided with some
kind of meat. I could not help feeling at times that for my host and
hostess alike this practice of "the simple life" represented a sacrifice
to their principles rather than a complete enjoyment of them, for on
several occasions before bedtime they both confessed to a sensation of
acute hunger, and made an expedition to some mysterious region from
which they returned with substantial parallelograms of bread.

Through the Antony Froudes I also made acquaintance with Lecky, whose
nervous shyness in conversation was in curious contrast to his weighty
style as a writer, and also with Dean Stanley and Whyte Melville the
novelist. Between the two latter there might seem to be little
connection, but I was asked to meet them at a little dinner of four,
Whyte Melville being specially anxious to ask the Dean's advice. This
was not, however, advice of any spiritual kind. Whyte Melville was
thoroughly at home in the social world and the hunting field, and had
made himself a great name as an accurate describer of both, but he was
now ambitious of achieving renown in a new territory. He was planning a
novel, _Sarchedon_, a story of the ancient East, and was anxious to
learn from the Dean what historical authorities would best guide the
Homer of Melton and Market Harborough in reconstructing the world of Bel
and Baylon.

In speaking of novels I am led on to mention an authoress whose fame was
concurrent with Whyte Melville's, and whose visions of modern society
were not altogether unlike his own visions of Babylonia. This authoress
was "Ouida." Ouida lived largely in a world of her own creation, peopled
with foreign princesses, mysterious dukes--masters of untold millions,
and of fabulous English guardsmen whose bedrooms in Knightsbridge
Barracks were inlaid with silver and tortoise shell. And yet such was
her genius that she invested this phantom world with a certain semblance
of life, and very often with a certain poetry also. In some respects she
was even more striking than her books. In her dress and in her manner of
life she was an attempted exaggeration of her own female characters. For
many years she occupied a large villa near Florence. During that time
she visited London once. There it was that I met her. She depicted
herself to herself as a personage of European influence, and imagined
herself charged with a mission to secure the appointment of Lord Lytton
as British Ambassador in Paris. With this purpose in view she called one
day on Lady Salisbury, who, never having seen her before, was much
amazed by her entrance, and was still more amazed when Ouida, in
confidential tones, said, "I have come to tell you that the one man for
Paris is Robert." Lady Salisbury's answer was not very encouraging. It
consisted of the question, "And pray, if you please, who is Robert?" In
a general way, however, she received considerable attention, and might
have received more if it had not been for her reckless ignorance of the
complexities of the London world. In whatever company she might be in,
her first anxiety was to ingratiate herself with the most important
members of it, but she was constantly making mistakes as to who the most
important members were. Thus, as one of her entertainers--"Violet
Fane"--told me, Ouida was sitting after dinner between Mrs. ----, the
mistress of one of the greatest houses in London, and a vulgar little
Irish peeress who was only present on sufferance. Ouida treated the
former with the coldest and most condescending inattention, and devoted
every smile in her possession to an intimate worship of the latter.
When, however, she was in companies so carefully chosen that everybody
present was worthy of her best attention, and so small that all were
willing to give their best attention to _her_, she showed herself, so I
was told, a most agreeable woman. Thus forewarned as to her ways, I
found that such was the fact. I gave for her benefit a little luncheon
party at the Bachelors' Club, the only guests whom I asked to meet her
being Philip Stanhope and Countess Tolstoy (now Lord and Lady Weardale),
Lord and Lady Blythswood, and Julia, Lady Jersey. Ouida arrived trimmed
with the most exuberant furs, which, when they were removed, revealed
a costume of primrose color--a costume so artfully cut that, the moment
she sat down, all eyes were dazzled by the sparkling of her small
protruded shoes. In a word, she quite looked the part, and, perceiving
the impression she had made, was willing to be gracious to everybody. As
we were going upstairs to the luncheon room, this effect was completed.
Lady Jersey laid a caressing hand on her shoulder and said: "You must go
first. The entertainment is in honor of you." Ouida was here at her
best. No one could have been more agreeable and less affected than she.

[Illustration: Ouida]

Her latter years were overclouded by poverty. This was due to her almost
mad extravagance--to her constant attempts, in short, to live up to the
standards of her own heroines. Had she acted like a sensible woman, she
might have realized a very fair fortune. She had many appreciative
friends, who gave her considerable sums to relieve her at various times
from the pressure of financial difficulties; but they realized in the
end that to do this was like pouring water into a sieve. Somebody gave
her £250 in London to enable her to pay her hotel bill; but before a
week was over she had lavished more than a hundred in turning her
sitting room at the Langham Hotel into a glade of the most expensive
flowers. She died, in what was little better than a peasant's cottage,
at Lucca. Among the ladies to whom she had been introduced in London
was Winifred, Lady Howard of Glossop. A year or so later Ouida wrote me
a letter from Florence, saying, "Your name has been just recalled to me
by seeing in the _Morning Post_ that you were dining the other night
with Lady Howard of Glossop, one of my oldest friends." This is an
example of the way in which her imagination enabled her to live in a
fabric of misplaced facts, for the person through whom she became
acquainted with Lady Howard was none other than myself. The next letter
I had from her was to say that she was dedicating one of her later
books--a volume of essays--to me. The letter did not reach me till after
many delays, and I often regret the fact that before I was able, or
remembered, to answer it she was dead.

Another authoress well known to me, of whom I have made mention already,
was the beautiful "Violet Fane," who, under that pseudonym, published
many volumes of poetry. Her actual name was Mrs. Singleton. She
afterward became Lady Currie. I first knew her before my London days
began, and I dedicated _The New Republic_ to her. She was the center of
a group of intimates, of whom those who survive must connect her with
many of their happiest hours. No one could have combined in a way more
winning than hers the discriminations of fashionable life with an inborn
passion for poetry. She was perfect in features, slight as a sylph in
figure, and her large dark eyes alternately gleamed with laughter and
were grave as though she were listening for a voice from some vague
beyond. Many of her phrases, when she was speaking of social matters,
were like rapiers with the tip of which, as though by accident, she
would just touch the foibles of her nearest and dearest friends, the
result being a delicate puncture rather than the infliction of a wound.

She first became known as a poetess by a small volume of lyrics called
_From Dawn to Noon_, in which, if, as some say, poetry be
self-revelation, her success, according to certain of her censors, was
somewhat too complete. The same criticism was provoked by her second
volume, _Denzil Place_, a novel in blank verse interwoven with songs.
Whatever her censors may have said about it, this, from first to last,
was a work of real inspiration. Few who have read it will have forgotten
the song beginning:

    You gave to me on that dear night of parting
    So much, so little; and yet everything,

or will have failed to recognize the musical ear of one who has given us
the liquid melody of two such lines as these:

    The tremulous convolvulus whose closing blue eye misses
    The faint shadow on the dial that foretells the evening hour.

At all events, whatever her merits as a poetess, she was something like
a living poem for a certain group of friends, of whom I happened to be
one. This group comprised men such as Wilfrid Blunt, Lord Lytton,
Philip Currie, Hamilton Aidé, Frederick Locker, Clair Vyner, Sir Baldwin
Leighton, and others, all of whom had in them a natural appreciation of
poetry, while some of them were poets themselves. With a more or less
intimate, though loosely formed, group like this my memory associates
many small gatherings, which generally took the form of dinners, either
at "Violet Fane's" own house in Grosvenor Place, or at Hurlingham, or at
the "Star and Garter," or at Vyner's house among its gardens and woods
at Combe, where we would linger, forgetful of time, and feeling no
inclination to join any larger company.

But of all the worlds which, within the world, were more or less
self-cohesive and separate, that in which I felt myself most at home was
the Catholic. At any entertainment given at a Catholic house the bulk of
the guests--perhaps three-fourths of them--would be Catholics. These
would be people so closely connected with one another by blood or by
lifelong acquaintance as to constitute one large family. Well-born,
well-bred, and distinguished by charming and singularly simple manners,
they were content to be what they were, and the Darwinian competition
for merely fashionable or intellectual brilliance, however prevalent
elsewhere, was, with few exceptions, to them virtually unknown. Yet
whenever anything in the way of formal pomp was necessary, they were
fully equal to the occasion. The well-known dinners given by Mrs.
Washington Hibbert, at which four-and-twenty guests would be seated
round a huge circular table, would fill Hill Street with swaying family
coaches, on whose hammercloths crests and coronets maintained an
eighteenth-century magnitude which the modern world was abandoning,
while on certain ecclesiastical occasions Catholic society could exhibit
a stateliness even more conspicuous.

On one of these latter occasions I was, as well as I can remember, the
only non-Catholic in the company. This was a great luncheon party given
by the then Lord Bute in honor of Cardinal Manning. Lord Bute, who was
in many ways the most learned of the then recent converts to
Catholicism, was, as is well known, the original of _Lothair_ in Lord
Beaconsfield's famous novel. Lord Beaconsfield's portrait of him was
disfigured, and indeed made ridiculous, by the gilding, or rather the
tinsel, with which his essentially alien taste bedizened it; but, apart
from such exaggerations, there were elements in it of unmistakable
likeness, and the entertainment to which I am now referring was, apart
from its peculiar sequel, like a page of _Lothair_ translating itself
into actual life.

The Butes were at that time living at Chiswick House, which they rented
from the Duke of Devonshire. The house is a good example of that
grandiose classicality which we associate with the eighteenth century,
and the saloon in which the guests were assembled provided them with an
appropriate background. They were something like thirty in number, and
comprised some of the greatest of the then great Catholic ladies. Lord
Beaconsfield himself could not have chosen them better. Indeed his Lady
St. Jerome was actually there in person. When I entered there was a good
deal of talking, and yet at the same time there was something like a
hush. I divined, and divined correctly, that the Cardinal had not yet
arrived. The minutes went slowly on; the appointed hour was past. At
length a sound was heard which seemed to emanate from an anteroom, and
presently a figure was solemnly gliding forward--a figure slight,
emaciated, and habited in a long black cassock. This was relieved at the
throat by one peeping patch of purple, and above the throat was a face
the delicate sternness of which was like semitransparent ivory. The
company parted, making way for the great Churchman, and then a scene
enacted itself which cannot be better described than in the words
written many years previously by the author of _Lothair_ himself. "The
ladies did their best to signalize what the Cardinal was and what he
represented, by reverences which a posture-master might have envied and
certainly could not have surpassed. They seemed to sink into the earth,
and slowly and supernaturally to emerge."

When the banquet was over, and the guests were taking their departure,
our host begged me to remain, so that he and I and the Cardinal might
have a little conversation by ourselves. We were presently secreted in
a small room or closet, and our little talk must have lasted till close
upon six o'clock. I half thought for a moment that this might be a
planned arrangement so that then and there I might be received into the
Roman fold. Matters, however, took a very different course. Under the
Cardinal's guidance the conversation almost immediately--how and why I
cannot remember--turned to the subject of Spiritualism, and he soon was
gravely informing us that, of all the signs of the times, none was more
sinister than the multiplication of Spiritualist séances, which were,
according to him, neither more nor less than revivals of black magic. He
went on to assert, as a fact supported by ample evidence, that the devil
at such meetings assumed a corporeal form--sometimes that of a man,
sometimes that of a beautiful and seductive woman, the results being
frequent births, in the prosaic world around us, of terrible hybrid
creatures half diabolic in nature, though wholly human in form. On this
delicate matter he descanted in such unvarnished language that the
details of what he said cannot well be repeated here. Of the truth of
his assertions he obviously entertained no doubt and such was his dry,
almost harsh solemnity in making them that, as I listened, I could
hardly believe my ears. Our host, though a model of strictly Catholic
devoutness, was, so he told me with a smile when the Cardinal had taken
his departure, affected very much as I was. The impression left on both
of us was that, in the Cardinal's character, there must have been a
vein of almost astounding credulity--a credulity which would account for
the readiness with which, as a social reformer, he adopted on many
occasions the wildest exaggerations of agitators.

I was subsequently invited to call on him at the Archbishop's house in
Westminster. During the interview which ensued he revealed intellectual
qualities very different from those which had elicited a furtive smile
even from a Catholic such as his host at Chiswick. We spent most of the
morning in discussing the ultimate difficulties, philosophical,
historical, and scientific, which preclude the modern mind from an
assent to the philosophy of Catholicism. He displayed on this occasion,
a broadness and a balance, if not a profundity of thought, in which many
theologians who call themselves liberals are wanting. He spoke even of
militant atheists, such as Huxley and Tyndall, without any sarcastic
anger or signs of moral reprobation. He spoke of their opinions, not as
sins which demanded chastisement, but simply as intellectual errors
which must be cured by intellectual refutation, rather than by moral
anathemas, and the personal relations subsisting between him and them
were relations--so I have always understood--of mutual amity and
respect.

[Illustration: CARDINAL MANNING]

Of another prominent Catholic, Wilfrid Ward, the same thing may be said.
As a Catholic apologist he was a model of candor and suavity. He was,
moreover, a most agreeable man of the world, among his accomplishments
being that of an admirable mimic. He was, however, best known as an
exponent of Catholic liberalism; and, since I am here concerned only
with recollections of social life, to dwell on him longer would carry me
too far astray.

Out of this last observation there naturally arises another, which
relates to anecdotes or short sketches of individuals as a method of
social history. For certain reasons the scope of this method is limited.
In the first place, the persons whose doings or sayings are commemorated
must be persons who, by their position or reputation, are more or less
self-explanatory to the ear of the general reader. They will otherwise
for the general reader have very little significance. They must also for
the most part be dead, so that their susceptibilities may not be wounded
by a too free allusion to their doings. Further, the anecdotes told of
them must not be to their disadvantage in any way which would wound the
susceptibilities of the living. These mortifying restrictions are, for
all those who respect them, a deathblow to the most entertaining,
perhaps the most instructive, part of what the memoir-writer has to
tell. During the last ten years of his life the late Lord Wemyss amused
himself by writing memoirs of his own distinguished activities, and on
repeated occasions, when I stayed with him for a week in Scotland, he
asked me to run my eye over a number of chapters with a view to seeing
if any passages which might give offense had been left in them. A
certain number of such had been already struck out by himself, but I
very soon found that a considerable number remained. "God bless my
soul!" he exclaimed when I pointed them out to him. "You are perfectly
right. Let me have a blue pencil instantly." Lady P----, a witty woman
of the widest European experience, attempted a similar task. She, too,
asked me to look at what she had written, deploring the fact that all
the most amusing parts had passed through the fire to the Moloch of an
almost excessive caution. Here again I pointed out to the writer
passages which had escaped the sacrifice, and which the living would
certainly, even if not justifiably, resent--which they would, indeed,
resent in exact proportion to their accuracy.

An example of the results which may be achieved by a memoir-writer who
neglects this caution is provided by Augustus Hare. Hare was a man
possessed of many accomplishments. Like Hamilton Aidé, he was a very
remarkable artist. He was also a great teller of stories, and a master
in the craft of improving whatever truth there might be in them. By
birth and otherwise he was well and widely connected, and was a familiar
figure in many of the best-known houses in England. He was an
indefatigable writer of memoirs, and of all such writers he was
incomparably the most intrepid. The possibility of offending others,
even though they might be his hosts and hostesses, had no terrors for
him. I was once staying at a country house in Sussex when a new book by
him appeared, and had just been sent down from Mudie's. I had twice seen
its back on a table, and meant to have looked at it in my bedroom before
dressing for dinner; but whenever I tried to secure it for my own
perusal it had disappeared. I heard someone casually say, "Everybody in
the house is reading it." I could not but wonder why. I managed to
secure it at last, and set myself to find out the reason. It did not
take long to find. Hare, a year before, had been staying in that very
house--a house famous for the material perfection of its equipments.
"The servants here," so Hare wrote and printed, "are notoriously more
pampered than those in any other house in England, and their insolence
and arrogance is proportionate to the luxury in which they live." On
another occasion he recorded a visit to Castle ----, the family name of
the owners being C----. He summed up his gratitude to his entertainers
in the following pithy sentence, "Except dear Lady ----, I never could
stand the C----s." Another of his entries was as follows. Having
migrated from the Stanhopes' at Chevening to a neighboring old house in
Kent, he wrote, "What a comfort it is, after staying with people who are
too clever, to find oneself with people who are all refreshingly
stupid!" If it were not for the danger of lapsing into indiscretions
like these--indiscretions of which Hare seemed altogether
unconscious--interesting anecdotes might be here indefinitely
multiplied.

Even so, however, such anecdotes, no matter who recorded them, would be
simply so many jottings which owed their continuity to the fact that,
like the stones of a necklace, they happened to be strung on the thread
of a single writer's experiences, and in no two cases would this thread
be altogether the same. My own experiences of the social life of London,
as I knew it in my earlier days, will perhaps best be described in more
general terms. In such terms, then, let me speak of it as, foreshortened
by time, it now presents itself to my memory.

For me, in my earlier years, the routine of a London day was practically
much as follows. A morning of note-writing--of accepting or refusing
invitations--was succeeded by a stroll with some companion among the
company--the gay and animated company--which before the hour of luncheon
at that time thronged the park. Then, more often than not, came a
luncheon at two o'clock, to which many of the guests had been bidden a
moment ago as the result of some chance meeting. A garden party, such as
those which took place at Sion House or at Osterly, would occupy now and
again the rest of an afternoon; but the principal business of every
twenty-four hours began with a long dinner at a quarter past eight, or
sometimes a quarter to nine. For any young man who took part in the
social movement, dinner would be followed by two or by more "At Homes."
Then, when midnight was approaching, began the important balls, of
which any such young man would show himself at an equal number, and
dance, eat quails, or sit with a suitable companion under palm trees, as
the case might be; while vigilant chaperons, oppressed by the weight of
their tiaras, would ask one another, "Who is the young man who is
dancing with _my_ daughter?" Finally, if the night were fair, young men,
and sometimes ladies, if their houses were close at hand, would stroll
homeward through the otherwise deserted streets, while the East, gray
already, was being slowly tinged with saffron.

If the life of those who play a part in a London season is to be judged
by what they do with themselves during a London season itself, it might
be reasonably asked (as it _is_ asked by morose social critics) how any
sensible people can find such a life tolerable. To this question there
are several answers. One is that no society of a polished and brilliant
kind is possible unless special talents and graces, wide experience,
knowledge, and the power that depends on knowledge, enter into its
composition and support it in a peculiar manner which does not prevail
elsewhere. This fact, however, will be but partly intelligible unless we
remember that it is based on, and implies, another--namely, that the
society which is identified with the life of a London season represents
for those who figure in it, not life as a whole, but merely one phase of
a life of which the larger part is of very different kinds, and which
elsewhere exhibits very different aspects.

This observation specially applies to the days when London society was
in the main an annual assemblage of old-established landed families,
whose principal homes were in the country, and whose consequence was
derived from their rural, not from their urban, associations. Their
houses in the country were constantly filled with visitors. Society, in
a certain sense of the word, surrounded them even there. But it was a
society differing in its habits, and even in its constitution, from that
which formed itself in London, and of the total lives of most of the
persons, composing it, London life represented not more than a quarter.
For me, my own annual life as a Londoner rarely exceeded three months
out of twelve. Except for these three months, my habits, as they formed
themselves after my father's death, were for a long time these: Of the
nine other months I spent about two in Devonshire, where by this time,
through inheritance, a new home was open to me--Lauriston Hall,
overlooking Torbay, whose waters were visible from the windows through a
screen of balustrades and rhododendrons. I generally wintered
abroad--for the most part on the Riviera--and the rest of my time was
occupied in country visits at home, from the South of England and
Ireland to the borders of Sutherland and Caithness.

During the months of the London season my immediate preoccupations,
superficially at all events, were, no doubt, those of an idler; but even
during such periods, as I presently shall have occasion to mention,
serious thoughts beset me almost without cessation. Even experiences of
human nature which were flashed on me at balls and dinners, through that
species of mental polygamy of which society essentially consists, helped
me to mature projects which I executed under conditions of greater calm
elsewhere. In the following chapter I shall speak of country houses,
describing the atmosphere and aspect of some of those which were best
known to me, and which I found most favorable to the prosecution of such
serious work as I have accomplished in the way of philosophy, of
fiction, and of direct or of indirect politics.



CHAPTER VIII

SOCIETY IN COUNTRY HOUSES

     A Few Country Houses of Various Types--Castles and Manor Houses
     from Cornwall to Sutherland


The pleasantest form of society in country houses--I speak here for
myself--is not to be found on occasions such as that of a great shooting
party or a party for a country ball, but rather in gatherings of a
smaller and more intimate kind.

As an illustration of my own views in this respect, I may mention an
incident which may appeal, perhaps, to the sympathies of others whose
tastes or distastes are like my own. I was asked to stay in Shropshire
with some friends whom I knew so intimately that they did not care how
they treated me; and on this occasion they had treated me very ill. As I
was approaching my destination by way of a little local line, I was
surprised at seeing on the platform of one station after another an
extraordinary amount of luggage, together with a number of footmen and
unmistakable ladies' maids. What could be the meaning of this? At last
the question occurred to me: Can it be possible that some county ball is
impending, and that my dear friends mean to take me to it? My surmise
was but too correct. "Why," I asked my hostess, "didn't you tell me? I
would have come when this ball was over." "Yes," she said, "I know that.
That's why I did not tell you. We sha'n't let you off, don't think it."
I answered, in tones of resignation: "Well, what must be must be." There
the matter dropped, till the night of the ball arrived, and the ladies
went upstairs to make themselves ready for the festival. I went upstairs
likewise, but my proceedings differed from theirs. I took off my coat,
lay down on my bed, and covered myself completely in the folds of a
great fur rug. Presently came a voice at the door--that of my
hostess--saying, in tones of command: "Are you ready? Be quick! We must
be going." "I can't come," I answered. "I'm in bed." My hostess saw that
I had got the better of her. I heard her laugh the laugh of confessed
defeat. As soon as the sound of her wheels told me she was off the
premises, I put on my coat, went down to the library, read a novel by
the fire, and when she and her friends returned I had a most charming
supper with them at three o'clock in the morning.

The ideal society in country houses is, in my opinion, of a kind more or
less fortuitous. It consists mainly of persons connected with their
entertainers by family ties or long and intimate friendship. Most of the
houses to which I am now alluding--some of them great, others relatively
small, but most of them built by the forefathers of their present
owners--have been houses which represented for me that old order of
things with which I was familiar in my own earliest childhood. Family
traditions and associations--elements rooted in the soil of a national
and immemorial past--such were the factors by which the life of these
houses was dominated. Their influence breathed from old portraits--many
of them very bad--on the walls; from old carpets and furniture; from
rows of forgotten books; from paths by secluded rivers; from labyrinths
of bracken and from the movements of noiseless deer. In such houses,
except on rare occasions, the company belonged essentially to the same
world as their entertainers. They were a nation within a nation, from
which the newly arrived magnates of mere London fashion would be absent,
while persons obscure in London would be here in their natural element.
Everybody here not only knew everybody else, but had known them, or had
at least known all about them, always. In this respect society in such
country houses generally bore, and still tends to bear, a strong
resemblance to Catholic society in London.

But quite apart from these characteristics which depend on similar
antecedents, society in a country house possesses advantages which in a
London life are, from the nature of the case, impossible. At a
fashionable evening party in London a lady, when she talks to a man,
gives him generally the impression, as soon as she has exchanged a word
with him, that the one wish of her life is to be talking to somebody
else. London conversations, even at dinners, when neither party for an
hour or so is able to desert the other, are in any case cut short, like
chapters of a novel which are torn away from their context.
Country-house conversations are like novels which, if laid down at one
moment, can be taken up again the next. The atmosphere of London is one
of constant excitement. The atmosphere of a country house is one of
interest pervaded by repose. Each night there is a dinner party, but
there is no going out to dinner, and there is no separation afterward.
What is there comparable in London to the sense of secluded parks, or of
Scotch or of Irish hillsides, where society is not absent, but is
present only as concentrated in the persons of a few individuals, who at
happy moments may be temporarily reduced to two, and where all become
new beings in new and undisturbed surroundings?

Further, let me observe this--I have here an eye on my own case in
particular--that, for an unmarried man with a literary purpose in life,
the enjoyment of such society is heightened by the fact--the very
important fact--that at any moment he may shut himself up in his bedroom
as soon as the housemaids have done with it, and devote himself to his
own avocations like a hermit in an African desert. Of such serious work
as I have myself accomplished, I have accomplished a large part in
hermitages of this description; and the fact that society was never very
far away I have usually felt as a stimulus, and very rarely as a
disturbance.

Friends have often suggested to me that even persons whose own
acquaintance with country houses is extensive might be interested by a
description of some that I have known myself. I have indeed known as
many of such houses as most people; but no one person can know more than
a limited number of them; and even of this limited number I, in a volume
like the present, can mention only a few. I will take them in the order
in which for geographical or architectural reasons they most readily
recur to my own memory. I may begin with two which deserve to be coupled
together on account of the positions which they occupy--namely, the
extreme northeast of Great Britain in one case, and the extreme
southwest in the other. I allude to Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, and
St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall.

The whole population of the great county of Sutherland is hardly so much
as two-thirds of the population of Wimbledon, and, except for some
minute portions, was, prior to certain recent sales, a single gigantic
property. Dunrobin Castle, with a million silent acres of mountain and
moor behind it, looks down from a cliff over the wastes of the North
Sea, but is on the landward side sheltered by fine timber. At the foot
of the cliff are the flower beds of an old-world garden. The nucleus of
the house is ancient, but has now been incrusted by great modern
additions, the Victorian regime expressing itself in windows of plate
glass. But through the plate glass on one side is visible a prehistoric
habitation of the Picts and a cavern in which gypsy mothers are even now
brought secretly to give birth to their offspring. On the other side are
visible the slopes of a barren hill, inhabited till lately by a witch
who gathered herbs by night under the influence of certain planets, and
of whose powers even the doctor at Golspie went in half-acknowledged
terror. At dinner two pipers played on a landing outside the dining
room. So remote is this great house from any center of modern industry
that the carts, dogcarts, and wagonettes used by the estate and the
family were built and repaired by a staff of men on the premises. My
first visit to Dunrobin was in the days of the Duchess Annie. The duke
was away on his yacht, but during my visit he returned, and the duchess
and I went to meet him at the station--a private station in the grounds.
Those were the early days of agrarian agitation in the Highlands--an
agitation which was vehemently applauded by the Radical press of London.
One Radical correspondent reported in tones of triumph that the duke had
been openly cursed by his tenants on his own private platform. The
nonsensical nature of such statements is sufficiently illustrated by
what happened on the occasion here in question. A number of tenants were
gathered together on the platform for the purpose of receiving the duke,
not with curses but with welcome; and as soon as he had descended from
the train an old woman rushed from the throng and very nearly embraced
him. "You dear old woman," he said, laying his hand on her shoulder,
"you dear old woman, how glad I am to see you again!"

St. Michael's Mount, though less remote than Dunrobin from the modern
world in some ways, is more visibly separated from it in another, being,
except at times of low tide, an island. It crowns and incases the summit
of a veritable island rock. The entrance to it is by a tower the bases
of which seem to descend from above and meet the visitor halfway as he
toils up a path apparently made for rabbits. Having mounted a hundred
stairs, the adventurer is in a comfortable hall, above which are the
dining room, once a monkish refectory, and an ancient church, now used
as a private chapel. One door of this hall gives access to a large
drawing-room, one of whose walls and whose fireplace have been carved
out of the living rock. Another gives access to a billiard room, below
which the Atlantic breaks at a depth of two hundred feet, and whose
granite balconies are grazed by the breasts of ascending sea birds.

Both these houses, which would constantly suggest to me, when I stayed
in them, the celebrated words of Keats:

    Magic casements opening on the foam
    Of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn,

are, it is needless to say, exceptions rather than types. Of the others
which I may appropriately mention, a few may be taken as belonging to
an exceptional class also, on account of their unusual size; and these I
may again divide into genuine and ancient castles, as distinct from
modern imitations on the one hand, and what are properly palatial villas
of the classical type on the other; the remainder being smaller, though
often of great magnitude, and commonly known by such names as "halls,"
"parks," or "manors."

Of more or less genuine castles I have known a considerable number, many
of them much smaller than houses less ambitiously named; but, with the
possible exception of Alnwick, the interior of which is undisguisedly
modern, there is one which, in point of magnitude and continuity of
occupation, forms a class by itself. This castle is Raby, which has
never been uninhabited since the days of Stephen, when the first smoke
wreaths rose from its kitchen chimney. The house is a huge block, rising
at intervals into towers, with a small court in the middle of it, across
which carriages drive, having passed through a tunnel of arches, and
deposit their occupants in a hall, from which stairs, at both ends of
it, lead to the various living rooms, among these being an upper hall
more than fifty yards in length. This whole block stands in a walled
area, entered by a castellated gateway and encircled by a moat, a
portion of which still holds water, and in which the towers reflect
themselves. When I stayed there as a guest of the Duke and Duchess of
Cleveland, an atmosphere of the past not only pervaded the castle, but
seemed to extend itself for some miles into the neighborhood. When I and
others who had arrived by the same train issued from the station doors,
the carriages awaiting us in the twilight comprised old yellow chariots,
with postilions, like that of my grandfather in which I had swung myself
when a child. I said to Augustus Hare, who happened to be one of the
party, "One would think that we all of us were going to Gretna Green."
When we approached the castle, whose towers were blots in the November
evening, I felt we were approaching a castle in a child's fairy tale. In
point of magnitude, combined with ancient and absolutely continuous
occupation, there is, so far as my own experience goes, no private
dwelling in the kingdom which excels, or even equals, Raby. The duchess
kept a great album in which each of her guests was asked to inscribe
some record of his or of her visit, which record was to take the form of
answers to certain printed questions, or of a sketch, or some original
verses. I preferred to take refuge in the last, my own metrical record
being this:

    Some scoff at what was, and some shrink from what may be
      Or is; but they all must be pleased with a place
    Where even what was looks enchanting in Raby,
      And where even what is is redeemed by Her Grace.

Apart from genuine castles of feudal type and origin, the greatest
houses I have known, if regarded as architectural structures, are
Blenheim, Trentham (the Brentham of Lord Beaconsfield's _Lothair_), and
Cliveden. In this class I should, perhaps, include also Sir Robert
Walpole's Houghton, where I have stayed as the guest of Cora, Lady
Strafford, who occupied it for many years as a tenant, and with singular
taste and knowledge so arranged the interior that every chair,
sideboard, and table then in common use had been Sir Robert Walpole's
own. I wrote my letters one morning in his study, at his own writing
table, and using his own inkstand. The walls were lined with books, most
of them presents from his contemporaries, and some of them extremely
curious. I may mention one in particular. It related to the South Sea
Bubble, and contained what was practically a list of the largest
commercial fortunes existing then in England.

Other houses which in point of magnitude belong to the same group are
Stowe, with its frontage of more than a thousand feet, Hamilton Palace,
Wentworth Wodehouse, and Eaton. By those whose knowledge is greater than
mine, the list, in any case small, might, no doubt, be extended. I speak
here only of those at which I have myself stayed. But, in any case, no
one, however wealthy, would think of building on a similar scale now.
Their magnitude was useful only in days other than ours, when visitors
stayed for a month or six weeks at a time, and brought with them their
own carriages and the necessary grooms and coachmen. It is only on very
rare occasions that such houses could be even half filled to-day; and
they dwarf, rather than subserve, the only possible life that a
reasonable man could live in them. Blenheim impresses a visitor as
though it were built for giants. Alfred Montgomery, when staying for the
first time at Eaton, could not, on coming downstairs, find his way to
the breakfast room till he encountered a friend who guided him. "Good
God!" he exclaimed as he entered the desired apartment, "I don't want to
eat my breakfast in a cathedral." Mere magnitude, indeed, beyond a
certain point is not a luxury, but an oppression. The greatest private
dwelling ever erected in England is said to have been Audley End, when
its original builder completed it. James I said of it, "It is a house
fit only for a king"; and before it could be rendered habitable
three-fourths of it had to be pulled down. Such was the verdict of
experience on overbuilding in the past; and though many conditions have
changed, a similar practical criticism is occasionally being pronounced
to-day. Trentham is practically gone. Hamilton Palace, it is said, will
soon exist no longer.

When, however, we turn to genuine castles, pseudo-castles, or houses
which, large though many of them are, are small as compared with these,
my memory provides me with examples of them which are scattered all over
the kingdom, but of which, since they are types rather than grandiose
exceptions, it will for the moment be enough to describe a few, others
being reserved for mention in connection with particular circumstances.

Of castles other than the greatest, were I asked to name the most
romantic which has been known to me as a visitor, and the most agreeable
in the way of an ancestral dwelling, I should, I think, begin with
Powis, as it stands with its rose-red walls, an exhalation of the Middle
Ages, on a steep declivity among the mountainous woods of Wales--woods
full of deer and bracken. Much of its painted paneling had never been,
when I stayed there, touched or renovated since the time of the battle
of Worcester. In a bedroom which had once been occupied by Charles I
there was hardly a piece of furniture which was not coeval with himself.
The dining room, as I remember it, had been frescoed by a Dutch artist
in the reign of William and Mary.

In respect of mere romantic situation, the English house which I
remember as coming nearest to Powis is Glenthorne, the seat of the
Hallidays, which not so very long ago was thirty miles from a railway on
one side, and seventeen on another. It fronts the Bristol Channel on the
confines of Devon and Somerset. I have described it accurately in my
novel _The Heart of Life_. In its general aspect it resembles my own
early home, Denbury, but in some ways it is quite peculiar. In front of
it is an Italian garden, below which are breaking waves, and behind it
precipitous woods rise like a wall to an altitude of more than twelve
hundred feet. The only approach to the house is by a carriage drive
three miles long, which descends to it in zigzags from the upper world
of Exmoor.

Hardly less romantic is Ugbrooke, the seat of the Cliffords, about
twelve miles from Torquay, associated with the name of Dryden, who was a
frequent guest there, and haunted by the Catholicism of a long series of
generations. The chapel is approached through, and transmits its incense
to, a library which hardly contains a book more recent than the days of
the nonjurors, and I have often spent long mornings there examining the
files of journals belonging to the epoch of Queen Anne, of the first two
Georges, and of Pope. I have kindred recollections of Lulworth Castle in
Dorsetshire, where the old religious regime so casts its spell over
everything that I should hardly have been surprised if a keeper,
encountered in the twilight park, had turned out to be carrying, not a
gun, but a crossbow.

Of other houses connected with Catholic memories I may mention two in
Yorkshire--Everingham Park and Houghton, then the respective homes of
the late Lord Herries and his kinsman, Mr. Charles Langdale. Both were
hereditary and absolutely unquestioning Catholics; and, strange to say,
a large part of their tenantry were hereditary Catholics also. Each of
these houses has a great chapel attached to it, and every Sunday
processions of farmers' dogcarts would deposit their occupants at doors
the decorations of which plainly showed that for these stalwart
Englishmen the Protestant Reformation was no more than a dream.

But putting the question of Catholic atmosphere aside, and reverting
once more to castles, I may begin with a mention of Chillingham,
sheltered by the shadowy woods and surrounded by the moors of
Northumberland.

As compared with Alnwick, Chillingham is a small structure. Apart from
some offices added during the nineteenth century, it occupies an area
measuring a hundred and twenty feet by a hundred. The outer walls are of
enormous thickness, with a tower at each corner; and against these outer
walls the rooms which constitute the dwelling, much less massive in
their masonry, are built round a small court. They have hardly been
altered since the days of Inigo Jones. When I stayed there with Sir
Andrew Noble, who for many years was Lord Tankerville's tenant, the
whole of the furniture seemed to have grown old with the house. The most
modern contents of the bookshelves were the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe,
whose faded backs would grow young again in the flickering warmth of
fires. Beneath the external windows were the box borders of a garden,
and visible on distant slopes were the movements of wild cattle.

Another castle with which I was very familiar was Elvaston, near Derby,
where year after year I stayed with the late Lord and Lady Harrington.
Originally a red-brick manor house, it was castellated in the days of
Wyatt; and though architects of to-day would smile at its artificial
Gothic, it may now for this very reason be regarded as a historical
monument. It is a monument of tastes and sentiments which have long
since passed away. It represents not only a vanished taste in
architecture, but sentiments also which are now even more remote. The
Earl of Harrington, under whom the Gothic transfiguration was
accomplished, seems to have regarded himself as a species of
knight-errant. Round the fluted pillars by which the roof of the hall is
supported--a hall which he christened "the Hall of the Fair Star"--were
strapped imitation lances, and the windows were darkened by scrolls
which all bore the same motto, "Loyal to Honor and to Beauty." This Lord
Harrington had married a very beautiful wife, for whose pleasure he
surrounded the house with a labyrinth of clipped yew hedges, the trees
having been brought full grown from every part of England. Animated by a
romantic jealousy, he never permitted this lady to stray beyond the park
gates, and a little pavilion at the end of a yew avenue contains, or
contained till lately, a curious something which is a vivid revelation
of his mind. It consists of an image in plaster of Paris of his
ladylove, together with one of himself kneeling at her feet and gazing
at her, his hands being about to commit his adoration to the strings of
a guitar. The Lord Harrington of my time, whose death is a still recent
event, was associated with the huntsman's horn rather than with the
strings of a troubador, and with the accouterments of the polo-field
rather than with spears and lances. Lord Harrington, though his ruling
passion was sport, was a man of wide information, expert as a mechanical
engineer, and possessed alike in disposition and manner that rare kind
of geniality which almost amounts to genius, and made all with whom he
came in contact--even the Derbyshire miners--his friends.

The mention of Elvaston carries my thoughts to Cardiff. Cardiff Castle
till late in the nineteenth century was mainly, though not wholly,
ruinous, and some decades ago it was, at enormous expense, reconstructed
by the late Lord Bute. All the lore of the architectural antiquarian was
ransacked in order to consummate this feat. Indeed the wealth of detail
accumulated and reproduced by him will be held by many people to have
defeated its own ends. Ornaments, carvings, colorings, of which ancient
castles may severally offer single or a few specimens, were here crowded
together in such emphatic profusion as to fill the mind of the spectator
with a sense of something novel rather than of anything antique. In a
certain spectacular sense Cardiff Castle is large, but for practical
purposes it is very much the reverse. I stayed there--and this was my
first introduction to Wales--for the Eisteddfod, of which for that year
Lord Bute was the president. The house party on the occasion comprised
only eight persons, and there was, so I gathered, no room for more. Lord
Bute was by temperament a man of extreme shyness, who naturally shrank
from obtruding his own person in public, but on this occasion he rose to
a full sense of his obligations. He prepared and delivered an address,
most interesting and profoundly learned, on Welsh musical history. He
and his house party were conveyed to the place of meeting in quasi-royal
carriages, preceded and followed by outriders, and for a series of
nights he provided the inhabitants of the town with balls, concerts, or
entertainments of other kinds. No host could have been more gracious
than he. On the last night of my visit there was a gathering practically
private. The heroine of this was old Lady Llanover, who, though not a
native of Wales, was an enthusiast for all things Welsh. She had brought
with her in her train a bevy of her own female domestics, who wore
steeple-crowned hats, and also an old butler dressed up like a bard.
These were all arranged on a daïs, and sang national melodies; and when
the performance was finished Lord Bute, with a charming smile, presented
Lady Llanover with a ring. This bore on its large gem an engraving of a
Welsh harp, below which was the motto in Welsh, "The language of the
soul is in its strings."

Among my fellow guests at the Castle was a singularly interesting
personage--Mr. George Clark of Talygarn. Mr. Clark, in alliance with
Lord Wimborne, played a prominent part in the development of the Dowlais
steel works, and he was at the same time one of the greatest
genealogists and heraldic antiquarians of his day. I was intimate with
him till his death, and have been intimate with his family ever since.

Apart from St. Michael's Mount, there are two old houses in Cornwall
which year after year I visited for some part of December, proceeding
thence to a third for a Christmas gathering in Worcestershire, and to a
fourth--this was in Yorkshire--for the celebration of the New Year.

The Cornish houses of which I speak were Heligan, near Mevagissy, the
home of the John Tremaynes, and Trevarthenick, near Truro, the home of
Sir Louis and Lady Molesworth. Pale externally with the stucco of more
than a hundred and fifty years ago, neither of these substantial houses
has any resemblance to a castle; but the ample rooms and staircases, the
dark mahogany doors and the far-planted woods of each represented in
some subtle way the Cornish country gentlemen as they were in the days
before rotten boroughs were abolished. Within a few miles' radius of
Trevarthenick were two little agricultural townlets, hardly more than
villages, which together were represented in those days by four members
of Parliament. Old Lady Molesworth, Sir Louis's remarkable mother, who
when she was ninety-five was as vigorous as most women of sixty, looked
on any landowner as a parvenu who had not been a territorial magnate
before the days of Henry VIII. When I think of these people and their
surroundings I am reminded of an opinion I once expressed to an artist
well known as a luminary of some new school of painting. When I met him
at the house of a friend he told me that he had abandoned painting, and
was applying his artistic principles to the manufacture of furniture. He
kindly explained to me in somewhat technical language what the
principles of the new art as applied to furniture were. I apologized for
my inability to understand them, and confessed to him that my own taste
in furniture was not so much artistic as political, and that the kind of
chair, for example, which gave me most satisfaction was one that had
been made and used before the first Reform bill.

The houses already referred to as successive scenes of Christmas and New
Year visits were Hewel Grange, Lord Plymouth's, near Bromsgrove, and
Byram, Sir John Ramsden's, about twenty miles from York.

Hewel Grange, which has taken the place of an old house, now abandoned,
is itself entirely modern. Of all the considerable houses built in
England during the last thirty years, it is, so far as I know, the most
perfect as a specimen of architecture. Externally its style is that of
the early seventeenth century, but its great hall is a monument of
Italian taste subdued to English traditions and the ways of English
life. New though the structure is, the red sandstone of its walls and
gables has been already so colored by the weather that they look like
the growth of centuries, and whatever is exotic in the interior carries
the mind back to the times of John of Padua.

To pass from Hewel to Byram was to pass from one world to another,
though both were saturated with traditions of old English life. Byram,
standing as it does in a territory of absolutely flat deer park, gives,
with its stuccoed walls and narrow, oblong windows, no hint of intended
art. Parts of it are of considerable age, but it represents as a whole
the dignified utilitarianism of the Yorkshire country gentleman as he
was from a hundred to two hundred years ago. Sir John himself, familiar
with political office, accomplished as a classical scholar, and endowed
with one of the most charming of voices, was of all country gentlemen
the most perfect whom it has ever been my lot to know. He was cradled in
the traditions of Whiggism, and to me one of his most delightful
attributes was inability to assimilate the spirit of modern Liberalism,
whether in the sphere of politics or of social or religious thought.

With Byram my memory associated two neighboring houses--Fryston, then
the home of Lord Houghton, and Kippax, that of the Blands. Fryston was
filled with books, and it was in my early days constantly filled with
celebrities, generally of a miscellaneous, sometimes of an incongruous,
kind. Sir John Ramsden told me that once, when he had been asked to dine
there for the purpose of meeting some bishop whose name he could not
read (for Lord Houghton wrote a very illegible hand), the most reverent
of the assembled guests could hardly forbear from smiling when their
host, having left them for a moment, came back bringing the bishop with
him. The bishop was a negro, with a face as black as his own silk apron.

Kippax, which is close to Fryston, was, in the eighteenth century, a
fairly large, but not notably large, building, but when Lord Rockingham
began the construction of Wentworth the late Mr. Bland's ancestor
declared that, whatever happened, he would not be outbuilt by anybody,
and that Kippax, in spite of Wentworth, should be the longest house in
Yorkshire. He accordingly extended its frontage by the addition of two
wings, which really were for the most part a succession of narrow
outbuildings masked by classical walls of imposing and balanced outline,
the result being that a dwelling which is practically of very moderate
dimensions confronts the world with a façade of more than seven hundred
feet.

A house differing in character from any of those just mentioned is
Stanway, where I have stayed as the guest of the then Lady Elcho. It
variegates with its pointed gables the impending slopes and foliage of
the outlying Cotswold Hills. It is a beautiful building in itself--but
the key to its special charm was for me to be found in certain pictures,
void of all technical merit, and relegated to twilight
passages--pictures representing, with an obvious and minute fidelity,
scenes from the life lived there during the times of the first two
Georges. One of these shows the milkmaids going home from their work
arrayed in striped petticoats, and carrying their milk pails on their
heads. Others show members of the family enjoying themselves in the
garden or setting out for a ride, while the clergyman of the parish, or
the chaplain, is pacing one of the walks in solitary meditation, with a
telescope under his arm.

At Lyme, in Cheshire, the ancient home of the Leghs, which owes its
present magnificence to Leone, the Georgian architect, by whom
Chatsworth was renovated, other pictures of a similar kind abound. In
the days of the first Lord Newton I visited Lyme frequently, and was
often late for breakfast because as I went through the passages I could
not detach myself from a study of these appealing records.

Of houses no less typical of the country life of England I can give a
further example without quitting the Cotswolds. I allude to
Sherborne--the late Lord Sherborne was one of my earliest friends--with
its two principal frontages enriched by Inigo Jones with clusters of
Corinthian columns--a house still happily remote from railways and
towering chimneys. The late Lady Sherborne, like the Duchess of
Cleveland at Raby, kept an album, to which, whenever she could, she
extorted a contribution in verse, or otherwise from her friends. My own
contribution on one occasion was this--it was written at the close of a
visit at Whitsuntide:

    When June fevers London with riot,
      I regretfully dream of the day
    When shadow and sunshine and quiet
      Were alive in your woodlands in May.

    I remember your oaks and your beeches.
      I remember the cuckoo's reply
    To the ring dove that moaned where the reaches
      Of the Windrush are blue with the sky.

Of country houses which I have known in Scotland I shall speak later, in
connection with extraneous incidents. Of such houses in Ireland, of
which I have known several, it will be enough to mention one. This is
Tullamore in County Down, the home of Strange, Lord Roden and Lady
Roden, to the latter of whom I have referred already. It is from my
visits at Tullamore that most of my knowledge of Ireland, such as it is,
is derived. For many successive years I spent at Tullamore most of the
early autumn. There were a few other old friends whom, in addition to
myself, Lady Roden was accustomed to ask for similar periods, while the
company was constantly augmented by others, mostly Irish, who stayed
there for several days. Among these was Mrs. Ronalds--one of the most
popular of the American ladies of London, who spent most of her autumn
with her daughter, Mrs. Ritchie, at Belfast. More kindly and
accomplished entertainers than Lord and Lady Roden it would not be easy
to imagine. Tullamore stands among great beech woods and gardens on one
side of a valley, at the bottom of which, half hidden by rhododendrons,
an amber-colored stream descends in waterfalls to the sea. The slopes
opposite to the house are thickly fledged with larches up to a certain
height, when they suddenly give place to the wildness of the Mourne
Mountains. The house externally is of more or less modern aspect, but
within, when I knew it, it was full of fine family portraits, books, and
old collections of china, together with certain other objects which
appealed to the sense of history rather than to that of art. The Rodens
having been among the chief of the Orange families of Ireland, a series
of cabinets which stood in a long gallery would be found on examination
to contain a collection of engraved wineglasses, each of which bore the
inscription "God save King William," or else "To Hell with the Pope." I
remember also that a number of fine Dutch mirrors, which were plainly
designed for ladies in the act of doing their hair, had been rendered
useless for this important purpose by the fact that the whole of their
surfaces were covered by delineations of King William on horseback,
gesticulating at the battle of the Boyne.

Such sketches of the country houses that have been known to me might be
very easily multiplied--houses of which, whenever I think of them,
memories come back to me like the voices of evening rooks. But these
will be sufficient, so far as England and Ireland are concerned, to
illustrate certain portions of my life other than that of London, and I
will for the moment turn from those portions to others, which were
spent by me for many years not at home, but abroad.

Not long after my Oxford career was ended, a family with which I was
closely connected was, in consequence of the illness of one of its
members, advised by doctors to pass the winter at Cannes, and, as soon
as my friends were settled there, I was asked to go out and join them. A
diminutive villa next to their own was secured for me. Its windows
opened on an equally diminutive garden, in which orange trees with their
golden globes surrounded a spurting fountain, while, rising from the
depths of a great garden below--a garden pertaining to a villa built
like a Moorish mosque--were the tall spires of cypresses and the yellow
clouds of mimosa trees. In this hermitage, which seemed, under southern
moons, to open on a world like that of _The Arabian Nights_, I remained
for about two months, and wrote there the later portions of my book _Is
Life Worth Living?_ Social life at Cannes had all the charm and none of
the constant unrest of London, and its atmosphere so enchanted me that I
spent for many years the best part of my winters on the Riviera, though
I subsequently varied my program by a month or so at Pau or Biarritz,
and more than once at Florence. On later occasions, of which I shall
speak hereafter, I went farther afield, and saw something of what life
was like in an old Hungarian castle; in the half-Gothic dwellings and
arcaded courts of Cyprus; in the drawing-rooms of Fifth Avenue; and
also on the shores of Lake Michigan, along which the great esplanade of
Chicago now extends itself for more than eleven miles.

Of my experiences in foreign countries, just as of those in Scotland, I
shall have to speak again; but I will first return to those portions of
my early life which, with the exception of an annual few months in
London, I spent for the most part on the Riviera, in Italy, or in
Devonshire, or in country visits at houses such as those which I have
just mentioned, and I will record what, beneath the surface, my life and
my mental purposes in these often-changed scenes were.



CHAPTER IX

FROM COUNTRY HOUSES TO POLITICS

     First Treatise on Politics--Radical Propaganda--First Visit to
     the Highlands--The Author Asked to Stand for a Scotch
     Constituency


The sketches which I have just given of my purely social experiences may
seem, so far as they go, to represent a life which, since the production
of _The New Republic_, was mainly a life of idleness. I may, however,
say, without immodesty, that, if taken as a whole, it was the very
reverse of this. Whether the results of my industry may prove to have
any value or not, nobody could in reality have been more industrious
than myself, or have prosecuted his industry on more coherent lines.

I have already given some account of _The New Republic_, indicating its
character, its construction, the mood which gave rise to it, and the
moral it was intended to express. This moral--the fruit of my education
at Oxford, and also of my experiences of society before I became
familiar with the wider world of London--was, as I have said already,
that without religion life is reduced to an absurdity, and that all
philosophy which aims at eliminating religion and basing human values on
some purely natural substitute is, if judged by the same standards, as
absurd as those dogmas of orthodoxy which the naturalists are
attempting to supersede. With the purpose of emphasizing this contention
in a yet more trenchant way, I supplemented, as I have said already,
_The New Republic_ by a short satirical romance, _Positivism on an
Island_, in the manner of Voltaire's _Candide_. My next work, _Is Life
Worth Living?_ in which I elaborated this argument by the methods of
formal logic, was largely due to that wider knowledge of the world with
which social life in London and elsewhere had infected me. The bitterest
criticism which that work excited was based on the contention that the
kind of life there analyzed was purely artificial, and unsatisfying for
that very reason--that the book was addressed only to an idle class, and
that from the conditions of this pampered minority no conclusions were
deducible which had any meaning for the multitude of average men. Some
such objection had been anticipated from the first by myself. I was
already prepared to meet it, and my answer was in brief as follows, "If
life without a God is unsatisfying, even to those for whom this world
has done its utmost, how much more unsatisfying must it be to that vast
majority for whom a large part of its pleasures are, from the nature of
things, impossible." But a closer and wider acquaintance with the kind
of life in question, and the sorrows and passions masked by it, prompted
me to translate the argument of the three books just mentioned into yet
another form--namely, that of a tragic novel--_A Romance of the
Nineteenth Century_.

This book was attacked by the apostles of non-religious morality with a
bitterness even greater than that which had been excited in them by _Is
Life Worth Living?_ And with these critics were associated many others,
who, whether they agreed or disagreed with its purely religious
tendencies, denounced it because it dealt plainly with certain
corruptions of human nature, the very mention of which, according to
them, was in itself corrupting, and was an outrage of the decorums of a
respectable Christian home. Since those days the gravest reviews and
newspapers have dealt with such matters in language far more plain and
obtrusively crude than mine, and often displaying a much more restricted
sense of the ultimate problems connected with them. Certain critics,
indeed--among whom were many Catholic priests, with the experience of
the confessional to guide them--took a very different line, and welcomed
the book as a serious and valuable contribution to the psychology of
spiritual aspiration as dependent on supernatural faith.

Put briefly, the story of the novel is this. The heroine, who is young,
but not in her first girlhood, has in her aspect and her natural
disposition everything that is akin to the mystical aspirations of the
saint; but, more or less desolated by the diffused skepticism of the
day, she has been robbed of innocence by a man, an old family friend,
and has never been at peace with herself or wholly escaped from his
sinister power since. The hero, who meets her by accident and with whom
she is led into a half-reluctant friendship, has at first no suspicion
of the actual facts of her history, but believes her troubles, at which
she vaguely hints, to be due merely to the loss of religious beliefs
which were once her guide and consolation. He accordingly does his best,
though deprived of faith himself, to effect in her what Plato calls "a
turning round of the soul," and hopes that he may achieve in the process
his own conversion also. For aid in his perplexities he betakes himself
to a Catholic priest, once a well-known man of the world, and calls her
attention to the immortal passage in St. Augustine, beginning, "If to
any the tumult of the flesh were hushed, hushed the images of earth and
air and heaven." But he feels as though he were the blind endeavoring to
lead the blind, and the end comes at last in the garden of a
Mediterranean villa, behind whose lighted windows a fancy ball is in
progress. The hero, whose dress for the occasion is that of a Spanish
peddler, encounters the seducer in one of the shadowy walks and is shot
dead by the latter, who believes that his life is being threatened by
some genuine desperado; and the heroine, draped in white, like a Greek
goddess of purity, witnesses this sudden event, is overcome by the
shock, and dies of heart failure on a marble bench close by.

One of the stoutest defenders of this book was Lord Houghton, who, in
writing to me with regard to it, mentioned a curious incident. The
villain of the piece, Colonel Stapleton, was drawn by me from a certain
Lord ----, as to whom I had said to myself the first moment I met him:
"This man is the quintessence of selfishness. He is capable of anything
that would minister to his own pleasures." "The novel," said Lord
Houghton in his letter, "requires no apology. You have made only one
mistake in it. The conduct of the colonel in one way would have differed
from that which you ascribe to him. For instance," Lord Houghton
continued, "I once met Lord X. in Paris, and to my own knowledge what
Lord X. would have done on a similar occasion was so-and-so." Lord X.
was the very man from whom my picture of the colonel had been drawn.

Some years later I published another novel, _The Old Order Changes_, of
which the affection of a man for a woman is again one of the main
subjects, but it is there regarded from a widely different standpoint. I
shall speak of this book presently, but I may first mention that in the
interval between the two a new class of questions, of which at
Littlehampton and Oxford I had been but vaguely conscious, took complete
possession of my mind, and pushed for a time the interests which had
been previously engaging me into the background.

This change was due to the following causes, which partly produced, and
were partly produced by, one of the earlier outbreaks in this country of
what is now called "social unrest." The doctrines of Karl Marx, which
had long been obscurely fermenting in the minds of certain English
malcontents, now began for the first time in this country to be adopted
by a body of such men as the basis of an organized party--a party which
they ambitiously named "The Social Democratic Federation." The main
object of these persons was the confiscation of all private capital.
Another agitation had been initiated by Henry George, which in this
country was much more widely popular, and which had for its object the
confiscation not of private capital, but simply and solely of privately
owned land. Meanwhile Bright, who was certainly not a Socialist (for he
defended the rights of capital in many of their harshest forms), had
been attacking private landlordism on the ground not that it was in
itself an economic abuse, as George taught, but that in this country it
formed, under existing conditions, the basis of an aristocratic class.
Finally there was Ruskin, who had, since the days when I first knew him
at Oxford, been attempting to excite sympathy with some vague project of
revolution by rewriting economic science in terms of sentiment which
sometimes, but only on rare occasions, struck fire by chance contact
with the actual facts of life. It is hardly surprising that such ideas
as these, jumbled together by a mob in Trafalgar Square, took practical
form, on a certain memorable occasion, in a looting of shops in
Piccadilly--an enterprise instigated by men one of whom, enlightened by
disillusion, has subsequently earned respect as a grave cabinet
minister.

As for myself, the most pertinacious conviction which these movements
forced on me was that, whatever elements of justice and truth might lurk
in them, they were based on wild distortions of historical and
statistical facts, or on an ignorance even more remarkable of the actual
dynamics of industry, of the powers of the average worker, and of the
motives by which he is actuated.

Dominated by this conviction, which for me was verified every time I
opened a newspaper, I found myself daily devoting more and more of my
time to the task of reducing this chaos of revolutionary thought to
order. But what most sharply awakened me to the need for such a work was
an incident which, before it took place, would have, so I thought, a
tendency to lull my anxieties for a time rather than to maintain or
stimulate them.

I had regarded the revolutionary mood as mainly, if not exclusively, an
emanation from those hotbeds of urban industry in which the modern
industrial system has reached its most complete development, and I
pictured to myself the more remote districts of the kingdom--especially
the Highlands of Scotland--as still the scenes of an idyllic and almost
undisturbed content. As to the rural counties of England, I was, so I
think, correct, but, as to the Scottish Highlands, the truth of my ideas
in this respect still remained to be tested. To me the Highlands were
thus far nothing more than a name. I was therefore delighted when one
morning I received an invitation from Lord and Lady Howard of Glossop,
to stay with them for some weeks at Dorlin, their remote Highland home.

Dorlin, which had been bought by Lord Howard from his connection, Mr.
Hope Scott, is situated on the borders of a sea loch, Loch Moidart, and
of all places in Scotland it then enjoyed the repute of being one of the
least accessible. The easiest means of reaching it was by a long day's
journey in a rudely appointed cattle boat, which twice a week left Oban
at noon, carrying a few passengers, and reached at nightfall the rude
pier of Salen, about nine miles from the house. To my unaccustomed eyes
the descent from the sleeping car at Oban, with the vision which greeted
them of sea and heathery mountain, was like walking into the Waverley
Novels. As I followed a barrow of luggage to the pier from which the
steamer started, I expected to see Fergus MacIvors everywhere. This
expectation was not altogether fulfilled; but at last, when the pier was
reached, I knew not which thrilled me most--the smallness and rudeness
of the vessel to which I was about to commit myself or the majesty of a
kilted being who so bristled with daggers that even Fergus MacIvor might
have been afraid of him. Not till later did I learn that the name of
this apparition was Jones; but even if I had known it then, no resulting
disillusion could have marred the adventurous romance of the voyage
which was now awaiting me.

It was a voyage of astonishing and, to me, wholly novel beauty. The
islands which we passed, or at which we stopped, wore all the colors of
all the grape clusters of the world, until these were dimmed by slowly
approaching twilight, when we found ourselves at rest in the harbor of
Tobermory in Mull. We waited there for more than an hour, while
leisurely boats floated out to us, laden with sheep and cattle, which
were gradually got on board in exchange for some other cargo. Then, with
hardly a ripple, our vessel was again in motion, its bows pointing to
the mouth of Loch Salen opposite. By and by, in the dimness of the
translucent evening, our vessel stopped once more--I could not tell why
or wherefore, till a splash of oars was heard and some bargelike craft
was decipherable emerging out of the gloom to meet us. Into this, as
though in a dream, a number of sheep were lowered; and we, resuming our
course, found ourselves at last approaching a small rocky protrusion, on
which a lantern glimmered, and which proved to be Salen pier.

Gallic accents reached us, mixed with some words of English. With the
aid of adroit but hardly distinguishable figures, I found myself
stumbling over the boulders of which the pier was constructed, and
realized that a battered wagonette, called "the machine," was awaiting
me. A long drive among masses of mountain followed. At last a gleam of
waters was once again discernible. The road, rough and sandy, ran close
to little breaking waves, and then, in the shadow of woods and
overhanging rocks, numerous lights all of a sudden showed themselves.
The machine with a lurch entered something in the nature of a carriage
drive, and I found myself on the threshold of Dorlin--a lodge of unusual
size, which seemed to be almost wading in the water. When the door
opened I was greeted by an odor of peat smoke. An old London butler
conducted me up a flight of stairs, and I was presently in a
drawing-room filled with familiar figures. Besides my host and hostess
and their then unmarried daughters, were Lady Herbert of Lee, Lord
Houghton, the Verulams, and the most delightful of priests, Father
Charles Macdonald, famous as a fisherman, inimitable as a teller of
stories, and great-grandson of fighters who had died for Prince Charlie
at Culloden. One guest at Dorlin, who had left just before my arrival,
was the then Lord Lorne, and I was told by Lady Howard that the boatmen
who had helped him to land--Catholic Macdonalds all of them--had been
heard saying to one another that "not so very long ago no Campbell would
have dared to set foot in the Macdonald country." Not far away there
were still living at that time two old ladies--Macdonalds--whose small
house was a museum of Stuart relics, and who still spoke of the
Pretender with bated breath as "the King."

Here, indeed, were conditions closely resembling those to which I had
looked forward. The past was once more present. The modern spirit of
unrest had, so it seemed to me, retreated to some incredible distance.

Lord Houghton, Father Charles, one of the daughters of the house, and I
invariably beguiled the evenings with a rubber of modest whist. Lord
Houghton was to leave on a Monday morning, and as soon as the dinner of
Sunday night was over he hurried us to our places at the card table for
another and a concluding game. Much to his surprise and annoyance
somebody whispered in his ear that Lord Howard, though an excellent
Catholic, had always had an objection to the playing of cards on
Sundays. "Well," said Lord Houghton, "we must get Lady Herbert to speak
to him about it." Lady Herbert, hearing her name, asked what she was
wanted to do. Lord Houghton explained, and she, in tones of caressing
deprecation, repeated that, as to this matter, Lord Howard was afflicted
with a strong Protestant prejudice. "My dear lady," said Lord Houghton,
taking both her hands, "what's the good of belonging to that curious
superstition of yours if one mayn't play cards on Sunday?" Through her
mediation the desired indulgence was granted. The game was played, but
Providence nevertheless chastened Lord Houghton, using me as its humble
instrument, for I won three or four pounds from him--the largest, if not
the only, sum that I ever won at cards in my life.

Such episodes, imported as they were from the social world of England,
were not altogether in keeping with the visionary world of Waverley, but
they could not dissipate its atmosphere, charged with bygone romance.
And yet it was among these "distant dreams of dreams" that my ears
became first awake to the nearer sounds of some vague social disturbance
of which Ruskin's gospel of Labor, as I heard it at Oxford without any
clear comprehension of it, had been a harbinger.

I had been asked, when I left Dorlin, to pay one or two other visits in
the Highlands farther north--to the Sutherlands at Dunrobin, the Munro
Fergusons at Novar, and the Lovats at Beaufort. My route to these places
was by the Caledonian Canal, and in listening to the conversation of
various groups on the steamer I several times heard the opinion
expressed that, sooner or later, the Highlands were bound to be the
scene of some great agrarian revolution. I was well aware that the
assailants of landed property, from Marx and George down to the
semiconservative Bright, to whose voices had now been joined that of Mr.
Joseph Chamberlain, had pointed to the magnitude of the greater Highland
estates as signal types of the abuses to which Highland landlordism is
liable; but not till I took that journey on the steamer from Fort
William to Inverness had I attached to these arguments more than an
academic importance.

In the course of my ensuing visits I talked over the threatened
revolution with persons of much local knowledge, especially with one of
the Duke of Sutherland's agents, and Father Grant, the chaplain of the
Catholic Lovats at Beaufort. They did not, it appeared to me, take the
threatened revolution very seriously, and they showed me how absurdly in
error the agitators were as to certain of the facts alleged by them. One
of their errors consisted in their gross overestimates of what the
practical magnitude of the great Highland properties was, the rent of
the Sutherland property being, for instance, no more per acre than the
twentieth part of an average acre in England. Father Grant, who was a
learned antiquarian, mentioned as a commonplace on revolutionary
platforms the statement that in the Highlands no such beings as the
private landlord existed prior to the rebellion of 1745, on the
suppression of which the government stole their communal rights from the
clansmen, turning them into tenants at will, whom the chieftains, now
absolute owners, could evict and expatriate as they pleased. No fiction,
said Father Grant, himself a crofter's son, could be more absurd than
this. It was absolutely disproved, he said, by a mass of medieval
charters, in which were assigned to the chieftains by the Scottish Crown
the fullest territorial rights possible for lawyers to devise.[1]

At the same time my informants admitted with regret that landlordism in
the Highlands was liable to special abuses, an instance of which had
come to the fore recently. This was the long lease acquired by a rich
American of enormous areas which he converted into a single deer forest,
evicting certain crofters in the process with what was said to have been
signal harshness.

All this information was to me extremely interesting; but I left
Scotland wishing that it had been more extensive and methodical. It had,
however, the effect of stimulating me in the work to which I was now
addressing myself--that is to say, the elaboration of some formal and
militant treatise, in which I might not only discredit by analysis the
main fallacies common to all the social revolutionaries of the day, but
also indicate the main facts and principles on which alone a true
science of society can be based. This work took the form of a short
treatise or essay, called _Social Equality, or a Study in a Missing
Science_. The science to which I referred was the science of human
character as connected with the efforts by which wealth and all material
civilizations are produced. A French translation of it was soon issued
in Paris. I was also asked to sanction what I had no right to
prohibit--namely, translations of it into Rumanian and Spanish. My main
object was to show that, as applied to the process in question, "social
equality" was a radically erroneous formula, the various efforts to
which wealth is due being not only essentially unequal in themselves,
but only susceptible of stimulation by the influence of unequal
circumstances. The Radical doctrines to the contrary, which were then
being enunciated with reckless bitterness by Bright, were taken to
pieces and exposed, and the claims of mere average labor, as opposed to
those of the capitalist, were in general language reduced to their true
dimensions. I supplemented this volume by a criticism in _The Quarterly
Review_ of Henry George's celebrated _Progress and Poverty_, and Henry
George himself when he came to London told Lady Jeune (afterward Lady
St. Helier), without knowing that I was the author of it, that this
criticism was the only reply to himself which was worth being considered
seriously. I was conscious, however, of my own limitations, these
relating mainly to matters of statistical fact, such as the exact
proportion borne in a country like the United Kingdom by the aggregate
rental of the landlords to the aggregate income of the capitalists on
the one hand and that of the mass of manual workers on the other. I was
conscious of being specially hampered in attempting to deal minutely
with the statistical fallacies of Bright.

I was still in this state of mind a year after my first visit to Dorlin
when I received a letter from Lady Howard asking me to come to them
again. I went, and all the charm of my first visit repeated itself; but
repeated itself with this difference--that it was no longer undisturbed.
The possibility of a revolution in the Highlands had now become a
matter of audible discussion even in the remote Macdonald country. The
temper of the sparse population was there, indeed, not very violent, but
the thought that some sort of disaffection was even there actually alive
would often disturb my previous sense of peace, while the Glasgow and
Edinburgh newspapers, whether by way of attacking the established order
or defending it, were pelting one another with statistical statements in
respect of which each party seemed to contradict itself almost as
recklessly as it contradicted its opponents. My own growing ambition was
to get at definite and detailed information which would either support
the agitators or else give them the lie, and would also provide
otherwise comprehensive and specific illustrations of the general
principles which I had formulated in my late volume. But as to the means
by which comprehensive information of this specific kind could be
collected I was still more or less at a loss; and from the vague and
conflicting character of the statistics adduced it was evident that
other people were in the same or in a worse condition. That the required
information existed somewhere in the form of official and other records
I was convinced. The problem was how to get at these and recast the
information in a digested and generally intelligible form.

The necessity for doing this was brought home to me with renewed force
by the fact that, when I left Dorlin, I was engaged to stay at
Ardverikie with Sir John Ramsden, who was the owner, by purchase, of
one of the greatest sporting territories in the Highlands, a large
portion of which he was then planting with timber. The first stage of my
journey from Dorlin was again Fort William, where I slept, and whence
next morning I proceeded by an old-fashioned stagecoach to my
destination, which lay midway between Fort William and Kingussie. We had
not gone far before I heard an English voice shouting something to the
passengers near in tones of great excitement. The speaker, with his
black frock coat, was, to judge from his appearance, a Nonconformist
English minister, who was vaguely pointing to the mountains on the left
side of the road; and at last I managed to catch a few words of his
oratory. They were in effect as follows: "What was there on those
mountains fifty years ago? Men were on those mountains then. What will
you find there now? Deer--nothing but deer." This sort of thing went on
for some time, till at last the coachman, a burly Highlander, turned
round on the orator and said: "I'm thinking you don't know what you're
talking about. In those mountains at which you're flourishing your hands
you won't find a deer all the way from Fort William to Kingussie." The
orator then, so far as I was able to understand, wandered away to the
question of landed property generally, and Acts of Parliament passed in
the reign of William and Mary. It seemed, however, that his audience
were not responsive, and he presently began descanting on the ignorance
of the Highland people and their need of more education. Here, again,
his eloquence was interrupted by the coachman. "Education," he
exclaimed. "What you call education I call the Highland rinderpest."
After this the orator was comparatively quiet.

Meanwhile the character of the surrounding landscape changed. We began
to see glimpses ahead of us of the waters of Loch Laggan. Presently the
loch, fringed with birch trees, was directly below the road. On the
opposite side were mountains descending to its silvery surface, some of
them bare, some green with larches, and upward from a wooded promontory
wreaths of smoke were rising. Then between the wreaths I distinguished a
tall gray tower, and something like clustered turrets. Pointing to
these, the coachman pulled up his horses, and I understood him to say
that at this point I must descend. A man, who had evidently been
waiting, came forward from a tuft of bracken. My luggage was extracted
from the vehicle and dragged down to a boat, which was, as I now saw,
waiting by the beach below; and a row of some twenty minutes took me
across the loch and brought me to my journey's end.

Ardverikie is a castellated building. It is something in the style of
Balmoral, with which everybody is familiar from photographs. It is
surrounded by old-fashioned gardens beyond which rise the mountains.
Down one of the graveled paths Lady Guendolen came to meet me,
accompanied by her two daughters and Mrs. Arthur Henniker, the younger
daughter of Lord Houghton--these, except for Sir John, comprising the
whole party. Within were paneled walls, innumerable heads of deer, and
two large libraries surrounded by a crowd of books, not many of them
new, but all of inviting aspect. The pleasure of meeting old friends
under fresh conditions for the time put out of my head the revolutionary
orator of the coach. Indeed, the only specially Highland incident talked
about was connected with a neighboring minister, who was accustomed to
conduct on Sundays a religious service in the dining room, and who on
the last of these occasions had unintentionally, but severely, affronted
one member of the household. He had begun with calling down the special
blessings of the Creator on the heads of all, mentioned seriatim, who
were congregated under Sir John's roof. "God bless Sir John," he began.
"God bless also her dear Leddyship. Bless the tender youth of the two
young leddies likewise. We also unite in begging thee to have mercy on
the puir governess."

I had not been many days in the house before I discovered a certain
number of books, all more or less modern, dealing with Highland
conditions as they had been since the beginning of the nineteenth
century. These books were written from various points of view, and some
of them were extremely interesting; but in every case there was one
thing for which I looked in vain. I looked in vain for anything in the
nature of statistical precision, except here and there in connection
with minor and scattered details. Frequent references were made, for
example, to the decline of the Highland population; but no attempt had
apparently been made by anyone to state by reference to extant official
documents what the total of the alleged decline had been, or whether or
why in some districts it had been greater or less than in others. The
two voluminous works known respectively as the _Old_ and _New
Statistical Accounts of Scotland_ were full of significant, but wholly
undigested details. How should I succeed where so many others had
failed? Where should I find records which would enable me to complete
incompleteness and reduce chaos to some comprehensive order? One
afternoon, when I found myself alone in the house, I was thinking these
things over in one of the silent libraries, and staring again at the
backs of books I had already opened, when, purely out of curiosity, I
dragged at hazard a large and dusty volume from a row of folios which I
had neglected, supposing them to be all atlases. I found that, instead
of an atlas, the volume I had extracted was a copy of the huge
Government Report which is commonly known by the name of _The New
Domesday Book_. I had heard of this work before, but had never till now
seen it, nor had I realized the nature of its contents. _The New
Domesday Book_ was the result of an official inquiry undertaken some ten
years previously into the number, the extent, and the rental value of
all the landed properties of Great Britain and Ireland. Here, I thought,
was at least a large installment of the kind of evidence of which I had
felt the want, and during the rest of my visit to Ardverikie I devoted
every possible moment to a study of this volume.

Without going into details, it will be enough to mention the broad and
unmistakable facts which _The New Domesday Book_ disclosed, and which
formed a direct counterblast, not to the oratory of the Highland
agitators only, but also to the wider assertions of Henry George and of
Bright. Henry George, whose statistical knowledge was a blank, had
contented himself with enunciating the vague doctrine that in all modern
countries--the United States, for example, and more especially the
United Kingdom--every increase of wealth was in the form of rent,
appropriated by the owners of the soil, most of whom were millionaires
already, or were very quickly becoming so. Bright, in dealing with this
country, had committed himself to a statement which was very much more
specific. The number of persons, he said, who had any interest as owners
in the soil of their mother country was not more than 30,000--or, to put
the matter in terms of families, thirty-four out of every thirty-five
were "landless." _The New Domesday Book_ showed that the number of
proprietary interests, instead of being only 30,000, was considerably
more than a million; or, in other words, the number of the "landless" as
Bright stated it was greater than the actual number in the proportion
of thirty-three to one.

Here were these facts accessible in the thousand or more pages of a
great official survey. They had doubtless received some attention when
that document was issued, but the agitators of the early "'eighties" had
forgotten or never heard of them; and Bright, so far as I know, never
retracted his own monstrous fallacies. How, then, I asked myself, should
the actual facts of this particular case be driven into the heads of the
public in a politically effective form? And how should other cognate
facts, such as the profits of the business employers, Bright himself
being one of them, be dragged effectively into light, compared with the
rental of the landlords, and be in a similar way brought home to the
public consciousness? Such were the questions which came to possess my
mind when luncheons were being eaten among heather by the pourings of
some hillside brook, or when deer at the close of the day were being
weighed in the larders of Ardverikie.

To these questions a partial answer came sooner than I had expected. On
leaving Ardverikie I paid another visit to the Lovats. On joining the
train at Kingussie I learned that one of the passengers was Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain, who was, as an advanced Radical, to make the following day
a great speech at Inverness. Needless to say, this speech turned out to
be mainly a vituperation of Highland landlords. I mention it here only
on account of one short passage. "The landlords," said Mr. Chamberlain,
"have made a silence in the happy glens which once resounded with your
industry"--as though every wilderness between Cape Wrath and Loch Lomond
had not so very long ago resembled a suburb of Birmingham. This is a
curious illustration of how readily even a man of most acute intellect
may be led by the need of securing applause at all costs into nonsense
which, in calmer moments, he would himself be the first to ridicule.

As an antidote to Mr. Chamberlain's propaganda another meeting was
planned under the auspices of a number of the great Highland
proprietors, who gathered together to discuss matters at Castle Grant
(Lord Seafield's), the ideal home of a chieftain. To this conclave I was
taken by my host, Lord Lovat, from Beaufort. Five chieftains were
present, supported by five pipers, whose strains might have elicited
echoes from the slopes of the farthest Grampians.

Before the public meeting which was planned at Castle Grant took place I
had left the Lovats', being called by business to England; but I had not
been long in London before an opportunity of political action was
offered me, in a manner which I could not resist. My book _Social
Equality_ had, it seemed, so far achieved its object that a letter
presently reached me, written on behalf of a number of students at the
University of St. Andrews, asking me whether, could the requisite
arrangements be made, I would be willing, at the next election, to
stand as Conservative candidate for the St. Andrews Boroughs, as the
present member--a Liberal--would before long retire. The proper
authorities were consulted, and, the proposal meeting with their
approval, I agreed to begin forthwith the needed preliminary work, on
condition that if meanwhile some member of a Fifeshire family should be
willing to take the place of a stranger such as myself, I should be
allowed to withdraw and make room for him.

In the end such a substitute was found, and in due time was elected.
Meanwhile, however, I had begun a campaign of speeches which, so I was
told, and so I should like to believe, contributed to his ultimate
victory. At all events they enabled me to test certain expository
methods which other speakers might perhaps reproduce with advantage. As
among the subjects discussed by speakers of all parties, the land
question generally, and not in Scotland only, continued to hold the most
prominent place, I put together in logical form the statistical data
relating to it, so far as I had been able to digest them; and having
dealt with them verbally in the simplest language possible, I proceeded
to illustrate them by a series of enormous diagrams, which were, at the
appropriate moment, let down from the cornice like a series of long
window blinds. One of these represented, by means of a long column
divided into colored sections, the approximate total of the income of
the United Kingdom according to current imputations and the enormous
portion of it taken as land rent by the owners of more than 1,000 acres
as it must have been according to Bright. Another column, which was then
let down beside this, represented in a similar way the rental of the
larger landlords as it would be according to the principles laid down by
Henry George. A third diagram followed, which showed the actual amount
of land rent as disclosed by an analysis of _The New Domesday Book_, so
that all the audience could see the farcical contrast between the false
figures and the true.

As a means of holding attention, and making the meaning of the speaker
clear, these diagrams were a great success, and I was invited before
long to repeat my exhibition of them at Aberdeen, at Glasgow, and at
Manchester. My Fifeshire speeches, moreover, through the enterprise of
the _Fifeshire Journal_, having been put into type a day before they
were delivered, were printed _in extenso_ next morning by many great
English newspapers, whereas it is probable that otherwise they would
have been relegated to an obscure paragraph.[2] I may, I think, claim
for my speeches one merit, at all events--that though many of them were
addressed to meetings preponderantly Radical, I so successfully avoided
giving offense that only on one occasion, and then for some moments
only, was I ever interrupted by dissent of a discourteous kind; while,
when I delivered my speech on the land question at Manchester, I was,
with all hospitable amity, entertained at a banquet by members of a
leading Radical club.

Various opportunities, indeed were at that time offered me of entering,
had I been willing to do so, the public life of politics. But various
causes withheld me. One of these causes related to the St. Andrews
Boroughs in particular. My own home being either in London or
Devonshire, frequent journeys to and from the east of Scotland proved a
very burdensome duty, and the boroughs themselves being widely separated
from one another, the task of often delivering at least one speech in
each was, in the days before motors, a duty no less exhausting. Further,
I felt that the business of public speaking would interfere with a task
which I felt to be more important--namely, that of providing facts and
principles for politicians rather than playing directly the part of a
politician myself. I was therefore relieved rather than disappointed
when a communication subsequently reached me from the Conservative agent
at St. Andrews to the effect that the head of an important Fifeshire
family was willing to take my place and contest the constituency instead
of me. My feelings were confirmed by a totally extraneous incident. The
severe reader will perhaps think that I ought to blush when I explain
what this incident was.

[1] Father Grant, at my suggestion, published one of these Charters _in
extenso_ in _The National Review_.

[2] Another method which I adopted as a supplement to ordinary
canvassing was a fortnightly or monthly issue of a printed letter
addressed to each voter individually, which dealt with statistics and
principles, every letter inviting questions, which would be dealt with
in the letter following.



CHAPTER X

A FIVE MONTHS' INTERLUDE

     A Venture on the Riviera--Monte Carlo--Life in a Villa at
     Beaulieu--A Gambler's Suicide--A Gambler's Funeral


One May morning in London, when I had just completed a fortnight of
political speaking in Fifeshire, a friend of mine, Ernest Beckett
(afterward the second Lord Grimthorpe), came in a state of obvious
excitement to see me, and talk, so he said, about something of great
importance. He had, it appeared, been spending some weeks in the south
of France, and was full of a project the value of which had, so he said,
been amply proved by experiment. To me at first sight it seemed no
better than lunacy. I could not for some time even bring myself to
consider it seriously. This project was to play a new system at Monte
Carlo. It was a system founded on one which, devised by Henry
Labouchere, had been--such was Beckett's contention--greatly improved by
himself, and he and a companion had been playing it with absolutely
unbroken success. The two, with only a small capital in their pockets,
had won during the course of a week or so something like a thousand
pounds--not in a few large gains (for in this there would have been
nothing to wonder at), but by a regular succession day after day of
small ones. They had tested the system further by applying it, after
their departure, to the records, published daily in a Monte Carlo
journal, of the order in which colors or numbers had turned up
throughout the day preceding at some particular table. Adjusting their
imaginary stakes, in accordance with the rules of the system, to these
series of actual sequences, the two experimenters had discovered that
their original successes were, as a matter of theory, infallibly
reproduced. So certain, said Beckett, did all this seem that he would
himself be in a position to secure some thousands of pounds of capital
for the purpose of renewing the enterprise on a very much larger scale.
He would not be able till Christmas to go out to Monte Carlo himself,
and for several reasons he desired to remain at first in the background;
but the capital in question would, he said, include a sum sufficient to
defray the expenses of a few suitable friends, who would set to work
meanwhile, and be entitled, as a business matter, to a share of the
eventual profits. The coadjutors whom he had in view were myself, the
late Lord Greenock, Charles Bulpett, and Charles Edward Jerningham.
Moreover, as everything would depend on a correct calculation of the
stakes--the amount of which at each coup would vary with the results of
the coups preceding--and as this calculation would often be extremely
complicated, and have in every case to be made with extreme rapidity, a
good deal of preliminary practice on the part of the intending players
would be necessary. Would this little group of players be, as he hoped,
forthcoming? I still regarded the project as something of the wildcat
kind; but I was struck by the undoubted success of Beckett's own
experiments, actual and theoretical, so far; and, as the four players
would at all events lose nothing, even if they gained nothing, by
renewing them, I and the three others at last consented to take part in
the venture.

As soon, therefore, as the London season was over we began our
preparations, which would necessarily be somewhat lengthy. From the
beginning of August up to the end of October we met again and again at
Beckett's house in Yorkshire, our proceedings being shrouded in
serio-comic secrecy. In order that we might perfect ourselves in the use
of our mathematical weapons, each day after breakfast the dining-room
table was cleared and covered with a large green cloth divided into
numbered spaces, like the green roulette board at Monte Carlo. In the
middle of this was placed a large roulette. Rakes were provided of the
true Monte Carlo pattern. One of us played the part of croupier, while
to each of the others was allotted a certain number of counters
indistinguishable in aspect from twenty-franc gold pieces. Each of us
made his own calculations on cards provided for the purpose; each day we
played solemnly for four hours on end, and then examined the results. We
sometimes varied this routine by taking one of the Monte Carlo records,
our croupier not turning the wheel, but calling out the numbers or
colors seriatim which had actually turned up at the tables on this day
or that. The general results were, I must say, most extraordinary. On
only two occasions did the operations of an entire day leave any of the
players bankrupt or without a substantial gain, though they all started
their work at different moments, and the actual details of the staking
were in no two cases the same. Throughout a long series of these
experimental meetings, the winnings were as a whole about 20 per cent.
daily on the total capital risked.

Encouraged by these results, we had no sooner mastered the system as a
mathematical scheme than we promptly made arrangements for beginning the
work in earnest. We all thought it desirable that, until it was crowned
with success, our enterprise should remain unknown to anybody except
ourselves. It was therefore settled that our journey should take place
at once--that is to say, about the end of October, at which time Monte
Carlo would be nearly empty, and we should run least risk of
encountering loquacious acquaintances or of having our secret stolen
from us by inquisitive and sinister rivals. We accordingly secured in
advance--since all the great hotels at the time in question were
closed--a suite of four bedrooms and a sitting room at a small
establishment called the Hôtel de Russie. Its appointments, when we
arrived, proved to be so simple that the floor of the restaurant was
sanded; but the rooms upstairs were comfortable; and not even at the
Hôtel de Paris could anything better have been found in the way of wine
or cooking.

Accordingly on a certain night we, the four precursors, were duly
assembled on the platform of Victoria Station; and Beckett, with the air
of a conspirator, appeared at the last moment, thrust into our keeping
certain notes of credit, and gave us his blessing as we seated ourselves
in the continental train. Had we been agents of a plot organized to
convulse Europe we could not have been in a condition of greater and
more carefully subdued excitement, though there was not absent from any
of us an underlying sense of comedy. In the dead of night we were having
supper at Calais, and, scanning the few other travelers who were engaged
in the same task, we were rejoicing in a sense of having escaped all
curious observation, when Jerningham gripped my arm and said: "Did you
see the man who has just gone through the door? Wasn't he your friend
W----?" He had named one of the most intimate of the Catholic
connections of my family, who was, moreover, the greatest gossip in
Europe. Never would a dear friend have to us been less welcome than he.
Happily, however, I was able to assure Jerningham that his fears were
groundless, and we settled ourselves in peace among the cushions of the
Paris train without having seen a soul who was otherwise than a
stranger to all of us. Having reached the Gare du Nord at six o'clock in
the morning, we scrutinized the faces at the exit with the same
gratifying result.

Thus freed from anxiety, we enjoyed at the Hôtel Continental a prolonged
sleep, which was haunted by pleasing dreams. By eight o'clock that
evening we found ourselves at the Gare de Lyon, disposing our belongings
in a compartment of the wagon-lit which ended its course at Ventimiglia.
My own arrangements having been made, I was smoking a cigarette in the
corridor when a well-known voice over my shoulder was ejaculating my
Christian name. I turned round, and there was the very friend whom
Jerningham had identified but too correctly at Calais. I took the bull
by the horns. I greeted him with the utmost enthusiasm; and when he
asked me what I was doing I told him that I and three companions were
going to amuse ourselves in the south of France till Christmas, and
should--such, I think, was my phrase--have "a look in" at Monte Carlo as
one incident of our program. I begged him to come and be introduced to
my friends, as soon as our compartment was in order, and I managed
meanwhile to inform them as to what had happened. In due time he visited
us. He was full of good spirits and conversation, and one of the first
facts that he communicated to us was that he was on his way to Monte
Carlo himself, to play an infallible system. With sublime presence of
mind we expressed a hope that we might meet there, adding that, if we
did, he might find that the place had seduced us into trying a little
system likewise. He was, however, so much taken up with his own that he
had no time or inclination to propound any questions as to ours; and
when he got out at Nice he never suspected that, so far as play was
concerned, we were more than casual triflers.

When we reached Monte Carlo it was dark. The only vehicle in waiting was
the omnibus of the Hôtel de Russie; and into its well of blackness one
other passenger followed us. Four hearts were at once set beating by the
thought that this man might be a spy, who had already heard of our
enterprise, and whose mission was to appropriate or else to thwart our
secret. The following day two of us drove into Nice and deposited our
notes of credit at one of the most important banks, the manager looking
at us with an oddly repressed smile, as though he detected in us a new
contingent of dupes. We went back to Monte Carlo armed with two small
steel safes, one for such capital as was needed for our immediate
purposes, the other for our prospective winnings. Jerningham, who had a
curious talent for initiating intimacies everywhere, had meanwhile
managed to ascertain from somebody that, if we desired to secure
preferential civility from the croupiers, the right thing to do was to
make each of them a present of fairly good cigars, gifts of money being
naturally not allowed. This was done, and ultimately we began our play
feeling as children do when they first put their feet into sea water.

We played in couples, one player calculating the stakes, the other
placing them on the table. The couples were to play alternately, one
giving place to another as soon as the winnings amounted to fifty
pounds. When the total winnings of both reached a hundred pounds we
stopped. We played it for that day no longer.

For three weeks the whole thing went like clockwork. We ground out our
daily gains--a hundred pounds on an average--as though they were coffee
from a coffee mill. But at the beginning of the fourth week the fates
were for the first time against us. We lost in the course of a morning
about half the sum which it had cost us the labor of three weeks to win.
We were not, however, daunted. We resolved that for the future no couple
of players should bring into the rooms more than five hundred pounds,
and should this sum be lost we would suspend our proceedings for the day
and start afresh next morning. This arrangement being made, our
successes began again. A risked capital of five hundred pounds regularly
yielded a return of 10 per cent. in not much more than an hour, and we
had nearly recovered the whole of our previous loss when a catastrophe
occurred owing to causes which had not come into our calculations. One
of our couples, not finding that they were winning as fast as they had
hoped to do, completely lost their heads, and began throwing money on
the tables without any system at all. The result was that in less than a
quarter of an hour every penny which they had brought with them had
disappeared. Beckett, as the only person who could possibly lose through
the enterprise, was promptly consulted by telegram. His answer was that
he was coming out himself in a month or so, and begged us to stay where
we were, but to suspend our play till the situation could be discussed
more fully. By this prudent decision on his part I was not myself
displeased; for system-playing, even when successful, I discovered to be
a very tedious matter.

Meanwhile, in respect of amusements, we four were by no means derelicts.
Empty as Monte Carlo was, some villas were already occupied, one of
these being Le Nid, of which Laura, Lady Wilton was the mistress--a
woman whose hospitalities were no less agreeable than herself. Having
found out enough about us to show her that we were at least presentable,
she inaugurated an acquaintance with us by sending a little box to
myself, which proved to contain, on being opened, something in the
nature of a valentine. It contained a spray of mimosa packed in cotton
wool, and lying like an elf among the petals was a little sleeping bat.
Lady Wilton a week before had appeared as the Evening Star at a fancy
ball at Nice. In return for her valentine I bought a microscopic puppy,
which, packed in cotton wool and inclosed in a box as the bat was, was
transmitted to her by a florist with a card attached to its person, and
bearing the words, "From the bat to the Evening Star." Among other
friends whom I discovered at Monte Carlo, I may mention a certain family
whom I had once known well at Homburg, but had never seen again till
now--a father, a mother, and an eminently beautiful daughter. Their home
at Monte Carlo was a villa, small, but so curtained with velvet that it
looked like a French jewel box. It was smothered in Banksia roses, and
it overlooked the sea. By one of its windows the daughter would play the
harp.

At length Beckett arrived, bringing his wife with him. Apart from the
matter of the system, their coming effected a change which to me was
extremely grateful. The Becketts and I before long migrated from Monte
Carlo, and took a villa between us for a couple of months at Beaulieu.
As for the system, Beckett, who was by no means disheartened, played it
himself for many nights in succession, and ultimately admitted that
there were defects in it which its late breakdown had revealed rather
than caused. Not long afterward he was persuaded into adopting another,
commended to him by Butler Johnson, once a prominent Member of
Parliament. This system, mechanical rather than mathematical, was based
on the assumption that the roulettes used at Monte Carlo were in all
probability not accurate implements--that the bearings, unless
constantly rectified, would soon be so worn with use that the wheel
during a long enough period would bring out certain numbers in more than
their due proportion. Hence, anyone backing these--so the argument
ran--was necessarily bound in the long run to win. This conclusion,
reached by a feat of _a priori_ reasoning, was due to the ingenuity of
an English engineer called Jaggers, and it was verified by the fact that
a system having this mechanical basis was ultimately, with astounding
success, played by a syndicate of persons who, before the officials of
the Casino managed to detect its nature, had won no less than eighty
thousand pounds between them. The secret, however, was found out at
last. Before the players were aware of it, the construction of the
roulettes was amended. Each was built up of a number of interchangeable
parts, the construction of no wheel being for any two days the same. The
spell was broken; the players began to lose. One or two of them,
suspecting what had actually happened, withdrew from the enterprise and
carried off their gains along with them. Less prudent and more sanguine,
the rest persisted till all that they had gained was gone. An Italian
professor of mathematics, however, declared that, despite the officials,
he had discovered how this system might be revived in a new and more
delicate form; and Beckett, with renewed hopes, was induced to finance
for a time the second experiment out of some of the capital which he had
got together for his first. The money, however, melted away as though by
a slow hemorrhage; before very long he refused to produce more, and the
history of both systems thus came to an end.

But the pleasantness of our life at Beaulieu was sufficient to
counterbalance the disappointments inflicted on us by Fortune at the
gaming tables. Our fantastic villa was embowered in flowers and foliage.
Buginvillæas made a purple flame on the walls. An avenue of palms led
down from the house to the flashings of a minute harbor, on which
fishing boats rocked their gayly painted prows, while woods of olive
made a mystery of the impending hills behind. Friends and acquaintances
from Cannes often came to lunch with us, Alfred Montgomery and the
Duchess of Montrose among them. Beckett's spirits rose. Singularly
sensitive as he always was to poetry, I could hear him (for the walls
which divided our rooms were thin) reciting passages from "Paradise
Lost" in his tub. Though he had done with systems, he, his wife, and I
frequently went to Monte Carlo for dinner, our inducements being mainly
the chance of meeting friends whose scrutiny we no longer feared, and
the beauty of the homeward drive by the Lower Corniche road. The
Prince's palace, pale on its rocky promontory, seemed like some work of
enchantment as we swept by in the moonlight, and our horses carried us
into strange, fantastic solitudes, with mountainous woods on one side
and the waves just below us on the other. In stillnesses broken only by
the noise of our own transit, the murmur of the waves was merely a
stillness audible, as they whispered along crescents of sand with a
sound like a sleeping kiss.

The Becketts, however, had to go back to England some weeks sooner than
they expected, and I was left till the expiration of our lease, to
occupy the villa alone. It was during the weeks for which I was thus
left to myself that a letter reached me from St. Andrews, announcing
that if I wished to retire I was honorably free to do so, as a suitable
substitute had been found. The news was extremely welcome to me. I had
many books with me at Beaulieu, for the most part dealing with economic
and social science; and once more, when I was left to myself, the study
of these absorbed me, and led me to begin the planning of a kind of
political novel, of which I shall speak presently. But my solitude was
not enlivened by political speculation only. Two or three times a week I
went to Monte Carlo to enjoy the society of the R----s in their villa,
which I have already described, and which, still remains in my memory as
associated with flowers and harp strings. Out of my intimacy with the
R----s an incident arose which may be regarded as a fitting conclusion
to the drama of Monte Carlo, so far as I myself was concerned with it.
The R----s had a friend, Mrs. P----, a not very prosperous widow, who
was spending the winter and spring with them. She was far from
beautiful, and her manners perhaps were deficient in polish, but her
temper was singularly sweet. She was willing to oblige everybody. She
accompanied Miss R---- and myself on many interesting expeditions, and
was pleased by our seeking her companionship. Otherwise she was much
alone, and was left to amuse herself; her only amusement--so I gathered
from her chance conversation--being the winning or losing of a
five-franc piece at the tables. One day, when I called at the villa, I
saw by the butler's face that something unusual must have happened. I
learned a few minutes later that Mrs. P---- was dead. The cause of her
death turned out to have been this. Having begun her exploits at the
gambling rooms with winning or losing a five-franc piece occasionally,
she had, unsuspected by anybody, succumbed by slow degrees to the true
gambler's passion. In order to gratify this, everything she could
sell--and it was not much--she had sold. Not many hours ago she had
placed her last louis on the table, and had seen it disappear under the
traction of the croupier's rake. She had nothing left in her bedroom but
the clothes which she had worn yesterday, a hairbrush, and a bottle of
laudanum. The bottle that morning had been found in her hand, empty. The
last incident of my visit to Monte Carlo was her burial. In the mists of
a rainy morning a surpliced English clergyman saw her put out of sight
and mind in a little obscure cemetery. There were only two mourners. I
myself was one; Miss R----, with her fair hair and her black dress, was
the other.

A few days later I left Beaulieu for England by way of the Italian
lakes. I had managed to hire at Nice a great old-fashioned traveling
carriage--a relic of pre-railway days. By way of a parting dissipation I
picked up the R----s at their villa, and took them with me as far as San
Remo. There I joined the train, the R----s going back in the carriage.
Next morning I was at Cadennabia, and Monte Carlo and the system, and
Beaulieu and its Buginvillæas, were behind me.



CHAPTER XI

"THE OLD ORDER CHANGES"

     Intellectual Apathy of Conservatives--A Novel Which Attempts to
     Harmonize Socialist Principles with Conservative


In spite of the severance of my connection with the St. Andrews
Boroughs, I found, when I returned to England from Monte Carlo, that my
active connection with politics was not by any means at an end.
Politics, as a mere fight over details, or as a battle between rival
politicians, appealed to me no more than it had done during my
experience of electioneering in Fifeshire; but presently by family
events I was drawn once more into the fray. My cousin, Richard Mallock
of Cockington, had been asked, and had consented, to stand as
Conservative candidate for the Torquay division of Devonshire. His local
popularity, which was great, depended mainly on the engaging and
somewhat shy simplicity of his manner, on his honesty, which was
recognized by all, and on his generosity and sound sense as a landlord.
These latter qualities had lately been made conspicuous by his
administration of those parts of his property which were now, one after
another, being quickly covered with buildings. He was no student,
however, of statistics or political theory; as a speaker his practice
had been small, and he and his advisers asked me to give what
assistance I could.

One night early in July I had, at a large ball in London, spent a most
agreeable hour with a companion who was, like myself, no dancer, in
watching and discussing with her the brilliantly lighted company. At
last, catching sight of a clock, I found myself obliged to go. "I have,"
I said, "to be at Paddington at five o'clock in the morning. To-morrow I
must speak in Devonshire to a meeting of agricultural laborers." She
expressed approval and sympathy, and I presently found myself in the
dimness of the still streets, happy in the thought that soon I should be
among the smell of meadows and listening to the noise of rooks. The
following evening at a village on Richard Mallock's property, his
political campaign was to be inaugurated, and I was to be one of the
orators.

When the time for the meeting came I found myself erect in a wagon, with
a world of apple trees in front of me and a thatched barn behind, and
heard myself discussing the program of "three acres and a cow," of which
my listeners understood nothing, and I not more than a little. Compared
with such an audience the Liberals of St. Andrews were sages. The most
intelligent of the Conservative audiences in the constituency were those
got together under the auspices of the Primrose League. But Conservatism
even with them was no more than a vague sentiment, healthy so far as it
went, but incapable of aiding them in controversy with any glib Radical
opponent. I tried again and again during the following few weeks to call
their attention to the sources from which our national wealth generally,
and most of their own food, was derived, and particularly to the
economic significance of a town such as Torquay, much of the wealth of
which had its origin in foreign countries. In dealing, however, with
these matters, I met with no response more encouraging than puzzled
smiles; but whenever, for want of something better to say, I alluded to
"this great Empire on which the sun never sets," I was greeted with
volume of cheers sufficient, one might almost have thought, to have
secured the election of a Conservative candidate on the spot. Besides
myself, two other workers were active, who began their political life as
Richard Mallock's supporters at Torquay, and who subsequently rose to
eminence of a wider kind--George Lane Fox, as Chancellor of the Primrose
League, and J. Sandars as secretary and adviser to Mr. Arthur Balfour.
But they, so it seemed to me, found it no easier than I did to vitalize
the non-Radical or temperamentally Conservative classes with any
definite knowledge of the main conditions and forces on which their own
livelihood depended, and which Radicals and revolutionaries would
destroy. Of this state of mind I remember an amusing illustration.

Many Primrose League meetings, at the time of which I now speak and
later, were held at Cockington Court, which was now a political center
for the first time since the days of William and Mary. The proceedings
on one occasion were to begin with a few preliminary speeches, delivered
from some steps in a garden which adjoined the house. The chair was to
be taken by the Duchess (Annie) of Sutherland, who for many years spent
part of the summer at Torquay. Her opening speech consisted of five
words: "I declare this meeting open." Subsequently George Lane Fox moved
a vote of thanks to the duchess "for the very able way in which she had
taken the chair." Never did appropriate brevity receive a more deserved
tribute. These preliminaries having been accomplished, the business of
the day began. The slopes surrounding the house were dotted with various
platforms, from each of which addresses were delivered to all who cared
to listen. The audience which clustered round one of them was soon of
such exceptional size that I joined it in the hope of discovering to
what this fact was due. The platform was occupied by two county members,
both men of worth and weight, but not even the highest talents which
their warmest friends could attribute to them would account, so it
seemed to me, for the outbursts of uproarious applause which greeted
from time to time the one who was now speaking. In the applauded
passages I failed to detect anything more cogent or pungent than the
general substance of those which were passed by in silence. I could find
no explanation of this perplexing fact till I realized that behind the
platform was a tall, greased pole, up which successive competitors were
doing their best to climb, the victor's reward being a large leg of
mutton at the top of it, and the applause being excited by the feats,
not of the orator, but of the acrobats.

The word "acrobats," indeed, represents not inaptly the character which
I had from the first imputed to the extreme reformers (whether Radicals
or Socialists) as a whole. These extremists were, in my opinion, at once
wrong and popular, not because they actually invented either the facts
or principles proclaimed by them, but because they practiced the art of
contorting facts into any shape they pleased, no matter what, so long as
this amounted to a grimace which was calculated to attract attention,
and which, in the absence of any opponents who could counter them by
detailed exposure, could, by constant repetition, be invested with the
prestige of truth. And why was exposure of the requisite kind wanting?
Simply because the Conservatives as a whole were so ignorant that they
did not know, or so timorous or apathetic that they did not dare to use,
the true facts, figures, or principles by the promulgation of which
alone the false might be systematically discredited. The need of a
scientific Conservatism equipped with these weapons of precision was not
so urgent at that time as it has since then become. But I felt it even
then. I foresaw how rapidly this need was bound to be aggravated. It had
haunted me even at Beaulieu, when I wandered among the sleeping flowers
by the light of Mediterranean moons.

The difficulties in the way of formulating a true scientific
Conservatism, which the masses shall be able to comprehend, I am the
last person to ignore. There is the difficulty of formulating true
general principles. There is the difficulty of collecting and verifying
the statistical and historical facts, to which general principles must
be accommodated. There is the difficulty of bringing moral and social
sentiments into harmony with objective conditions which no sentiment can
permanently alter. There is the difficulty of transforming many analyses
of facts of different kinds into a synthesis moral and rational, by the
light of which human beings can live; and, feeling my way slowly, I now
attempted to indicate what the nature of such a synthesis would be. In
so doing I felt that political problems of life reunited themselves with
those which are commonly called religious, and with which, during my
earlier years, my mind had been alone engaged.

This attempt at a synthesis was embodied ultimately in the form of
another novel, which I have mentioned already, and to which I gave the
name of _The Old Order Changes_. The scene of this story, like that of
_A Romance of the Nineteenth Century_, was, for the most part, the
Riviera, and the story itself was to a very great extent the product of
many solitary hours at Beaulieu, during which Monte Carlo and the system
became no more than a dream. _The Old Order Changes_, moreover,
resembles its predecessor in this--that the love interest centers in a
woman considered in relation to her higher beliefs and principles; but
whereas in _A Romance of the Nineteenth Century_ such higher beliefs and
principles are those connected with the mysticism of personal virtue,
they are connected in _The Old Order Changes_ with a sense of social
duty, as experienced by a well-born Catholic, to the mass of the common
people in respect of their material circumstances.

The heroine, who had come across the writings of modern agitators, in
which the masses are depicted as brutalized by an almost universal
poverty, most of the fruits of their industry being stolen from them by
the rapacious rich, becomes gradually possessed by the conviction that
this picture, even if exaggerated, is in the main true. Such being the
case, another conviction dawns on her, which troubles her nature to its
depth--namely, that the Catholic Church--her own religion by
inheritance--will for her have lost all meaning unless it absorbs into
the body of virtues enjoined by its doctrines on the rich a corporate
sense of their overwhelming obligations to the poor.

She lays bare the state of her mind to a highly connected and highly
intellectual priest, Father Stanley (who figures in _A Romance of the
Nineteenth Century_ also), and asks him if he thinks her wicked. The
priest's answer is No. "The Church," he says, "is always extending the
sphere of duty as from age to age needs and conditions change. Political
economy, as related to the conditions of labor, has indeed in our day
become a part of theology--its youngest branch; and as such, I, a
priest, have studied it. Every age has its riddle, and this riddle is
ours."

He then goes on to explain to her that the relation of the rich to the
masses is not so simple as she thinks it. The poverty which agitators
ascribe to all mankind, except a small body of plutocrats, is, he says,
neither so deep nor so universal as these persons represent it; and,
though in part it may arise from a robbery of the many by a rapacious
few, this is not the whole of the story. He points out that if a hundred
years ago the whole wealth of this country had been divided equally
among all, the masses would, as a whole, be poorer than they are now;
and that most of the wealth which is monopolized now by the few consists
not of abstractions which they perpetrate from a common stock, but of
additions to it which they have made themselves by their own talents and
enterprise. It is true, he proceeds, that if, having made these
additions, the few gave them away instead of retaining them for
themselves, as the principles of Socialism would demand, the wealth of
the many would be so far increased for the moment; but here comes the
practical question. If, of these additions, the few were to retain
nothing--if exceptional talent secured no proportionate reward--would
these additions, a part of which goes to the mass already, continue to
be made by anybody? This might be so if the great leaders of industry
had all of them the temperament of monks, whose one passion was not to
get, but to give; but to suppose this possible would be merely to dream
a dream. "It would be easier," he says, in conclusion, "far easier, to
make men Trappists than it would be to make them Socialists."

Animated by this last argument, the heroine is led to dream a dream of
her own. Let it be granted, she says to herself, that the leaders of
modern industry capable of accepting the Socialist gospel are few, and
will always remain few. Still there may be some exceptions; and it may
not be unreasonable to expect that, under the influence of the Catholic
Church, certain great factories might be assimilated to Trappist or
Franciscan monasteries, the profits of which the monks would consecrate
to social purposes, voluntarily living the lives of the poorest of the
poor themselves. Here, she argues, we should have examples, at all
events, by which all might be moved, though all were not fit to follow
them.

This outburst of a girl's idealism is considered by the priest with a
sympathetic, yet at the same time a cautious, interest. When, turning
from the priest, she opens her mind to the hero, he regards some of her
ideas as exaggerated; but the affection which he feels for her as a
lover makes their appeal deeper. In _A Romance of the Nineteenth
Century_, the hero's love for the heroine resembles the affection of St.
Augustine for Monica--a love whose consummation is contingent on a
mystical union of both with "the Selfsame, the everlasting One." In _The
Old Order Changes_ the passion is contingent on a partnership with her
in some scheme of idealized political action for the social benefit of
the masses. But circumstances soon arise by which the two are estranged.
A mischief-maker, quite untruly, informs the heroine's aunts, who are
her guardians--Catholics of the strictest type--that the hero is still
carrying on an old intrigue with a beautiful Frenchwoman, now living at
Nice. This gossip is passed on to the girl. The aunts forbid the hero to
have any more communication with her; and the girl herself writes him a
cold letter which is tantamount to an abrupt dismissal.

The aunts and the niece leave him to find out the reason for himself,
which, since it is quite fictitious, he is unable to do. Having received
their letters, and smarting under a sense of wrong, he starts for a walk
among the mountains on the slopes of which his house, an old château, is
situated. He sprains his ankle, and some strangers bring him home in a
carriage. These strangers consist of an American general, who is a
Southerner, his attractive wife, and a singularly beautiful daughter.
Solitude being for him intolerable, he begs them to become his guests. A
few days later they arrive, and round him, like a naïve Circe, the
beautiful daughter undesignedly weaves her spell. "Under her influence,"
as the words of the novel describe it, "the voices of men asking for
spiritual guidance, the growth of a democracy uneasily chafing for
change, dwindled in his ears till at last they were hardly audible."
This act of the drama is, however, abruptly interrupted by family
business, which recalls the hero to England. Meanwhile the Catholic
heroine and her aunts learn that he was wholly guiltless of the intrigue
at Nice imputed to him, and a kindly mediator discreetly gives him to
understand that if in a week or two he would meet them at the Italian
lakes, all would be forgotten and forgiven, if indeed there were
anything to forgive. It happens that an Italian cousin of his has put at
his disposal a villa in the middle of Lago Maggiore; and there his
reunion with the heroine and her Catholic kindred is accomplished. Other
friends, who are staying at Baveno, join the group, Father Stanley among
them. In the chapel of the villa he, by way of a sermon, gives them a
sort of address on the social problems of the time; and this throughout
has reference to the sort of ideas or projects of which the heroine had
already spoken to him.

He takes for his text the following words from St. James: "Go to now, ye
rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Behold, the hire of the laborers, which is of you kept back by fraud,
crieth. If a brother or sister be destitute, and if any of you say to
them, 'Depart in peace'; notwithstanding ye give not them those things
needful for the body, what doth it profit? To him that knoweth to do
good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." The priest then proceeds to
the question of what virtue and duty are. "To this," he says, "there are
two answers. The first is, that virtue and duty have for their object
God. The second answer is, that their object is our fellow men and the
health of the social organism, while our inducement to practice them is
in part the constant teasing of the tribal instinct or conscience, and
in part our imaginative sympathies, as stimulated by a glow of emotion
which is consequent on our contemplation of idealized Humanity as a
whole. Within certain limits," he says, "this second answer I take to be
entirely right; but if there were nothing further to add, I maintain
that it would be right in vain." Summing up the ideas of the heroine,
Miss Consuelo Burton, he says that the main duty which the Church to-day
enjoins on us is "our spiritual duty to the material conditions of the
poor"--our duty to adorn the cottage, though not to destroy the castle.
"Duty to the race as a substitute for duty to God is," he says, "worth
nothing. It means nothing. But duty to the race regarded as a new and
more definite interpretation of our duty to God is a conception which to
us Catholics of the present day means everything. Though it relates to
material things, it does not supersede spiritual. On the contrary, it
represents the spiritual world taking the material world into itself as
its minister, and the Catholic who realizes this will find that the
echoes of the mass and of the confessional follow him into the street
and mix themselves with the clatter of omnibuses. If any of you think
that he or she individually can do little, after all, to alter the
general condition of things, let them not be thereby disheartened. Let
them carry in their minds this divine paradox, that it is far more
important to every man that he should do his utmost for Humanity than it
ever can be for Humanity that any one man should do his utmost for
_it_."

Illuminated by thoughts like these, the hero and the heroine are once
more drawn together; and when at night the guests go back to Baveno, and
the hero is left in his island villa alone, he betakes himself to a
boat, and awaits the approach of the morning. "At last," says the story,
"he put the boat about, with thoughts of returning home, and there, far
off, beyond the spikes of the mountains, he saw that the sky was pale
with the first colors of dawn. There, too, was the star of morning,
shining bright with a trembling steadfastness, and he knew that for him
a star had risen also. On his spirit descended the hush of the solemn
hour, which makes all the earth seem like some holy sanctuary, and there
came back to him two lines of Goethe's:

    "The woman-soul leadeth us
      Upward and on.

"Meanwhile on the sliding and glassy waters, that moved to left and
right at the touch of his dipping oars, there began to flicker a gleam
of faint saffron and rose color, and the breeze of the daybreak laid its
first touch on his cheek and gently stirred a straying lock of his hair.
The lights of Baveno, though still bright, looked belated, and the
mounting saffron was clear in the dome over him. Thoughts thronged on
his mind of many careers to which his life, with hers, might be
dedicated. Visions also, though he knew them too bright to last, floated
before him and made his being tingle--visions of great works done among
the toiling masses, of comfort and health invading the fastness of
degradation, and the fire of faith shining on eyeballs that had long
been blind to it."

I am not alluding here to _The Old Order Changes_ with a view to
discussing its merits or demerits as a novel. I am citing it merely as a
record of how my own social philosophy step by step developed itself,
the problems of economics and politics being step by step united with
those of psychology, of religion, of ambition, and the higher romance of
the affections. I am dealing with what took place in my own mind as an
example of analogous things which have probably taken place in the minds
of most men who, however they may differ otherwise from myself, have
been preoccupied in the same way. Thus the emotional optimism with which
this novel of mine ends--the vision of the Old Order as capable of
being born anew by a sudden reillumination of faith and new acquisitions
of knowledge--represents, it has subsequently seemed to me, a mood
analogous to that which possessed Lord Beaconsfield when he wrote his
romance _Sybil_, or when he seemed to insinuate that all social strife
might be ended by doles to the poor, distributed week by week through
the almoners of manorial lords.

Of Lord Beaconsfield's visions this is not the place to speak, I am
concerned here only with the growth and the defects of my own; and as to
the general theory of things which is dramatized in _The Old Order
Changes_, its merits and its defects seem to me to be these. As for its
merits, if compared with my earlier works, _Is Life Worth Living?_ and
_A Romance of the Nineteenth Century_--in which no cognizance is taken
of social politics whatever--_The Old Order Changes_ represents a great
extension of thought, social problems being brought to the fore as an
essential part of the religious. If compared with _Social Equality_, it
represents an extension of thought likewise, in that it shows (as
_Social Equality_ does not) how these two parts are connected.

It is, however, in two ways deficient. At the time when the book was
written, the extremist party in England, though comprising many militant
Socialists, was for practical purposes composed mainly of men who were
known as extreme Radicals. A prominent representative of this class war
was Bright. Another at that time was Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. Instead of
attacking all wealth, like Socialists, most of them were business men
who spent their lives in pursuit of it. They denounced it in one form
only--namely, land, and land only as the inheritance of aristocratic
owners. The extraordinary inconsistency of attitude by which these men
were characterized created an animus against them in the minds of
many--I myself being one--which, though far from being undeserved, was
not sufficiently discriminating. As I pointed out in _Social
Equality_--and the same argument was repeated in _The Old Order
Changes_--the great modern manufacturer, whatever he may think about old
landed families, represents the forces on which the increasing wealth of
the modern world depends. And yet in that novel I was more than once
betrayed into so far joining the Socialists as to partially accept or
repeat their denunciations of the modern manufacturers as persons owing
all their wealth to the plunder of those employed by them.

This extreme view is, indeed, corrected more than once by the priest;
but it is nevertheless insinuated in certain passages in which the
writer, by attributing them to the hero, seems to make it his own. It
was not till I had carried my statistical studies farther that I was
able to reduce the charge hurled by Socialists against the modern
employers to what are their true and their relatively small dimensions.

Meanwhile I felt that in _The Old Order Changes_, as a synthesis of my
previous writings, I had made my profession of faith as clearly as I
then could; and not long after its publication I betook myself for a
mental holiday to a country where I hoped to discover that modern
problems were unknown.



CHAPTER XII

CYPRUS, FLORENCE, HUNGARY

     A Winter in Cyprus--Florence--Siena--Italian
     Castles--Cannes--Some Foreign Royalties--Visit During the
     Following Spring to Princess Batthyany in Hungary


By the time of which I am now speaking Richard Mallock was Member for
the Torquay division of Devonshire, and I often still helped him at
political and other meetings in his constituency. Lauriston Hall,
Torquay, which had been for a time my home, was let. I stayed on such
occasions at Cockington, or somewhere else in the neighborhood. One
house at which I often stayed was Sandford Orleigh, near Newton,
belonging to Sir Samuel Baker, the traveler and Egyptian administrator,
with whom I had for years been intimate. In his cabinets, or on his
walls, Sir Samuel had treasures and trophies from half the savage or
out-of-the-way countries of the world. One day in his study he took from
a shelf a few pieces of marble--green, streaked with white, and said to
me: "Those are bits of the precious verd antique. I picked them up among
the mountains of Cyprus, where similar blocks were lying about me
everywhere. Anyone who would bring this marble down to the sea might
make a fortune in no time."

As Sir Samuel talked, the whimsical idea occurred to me of going myself
to inspect the particular spot he mentioned, and seeing whether any
enterprise of such a kind would be practicable. This idea, like
Beckett's idea of his system, was for me at first no more than a
plaything, but the very name of Cyprus had always excited my
imagination, and the thought of the island having thus by chance been
revived in me, I began to feel that a visit to it would be a very
charming adventure, and that Sir Samuel's story of the marble, even if
it should prove to be a myth, would at least be a plausible excuse for
embarking on so long a journey. Moreover, it provided Sir Samuel with an
excuse for writing to Sir Henry Bulwer, then governor of the island, and
asking him to do what he could in the way of securing accommodation for
me during my projected stay. Sir Henry's reply was to the effect that if
I would so time my movements as to reach Cyprus in January, the Chief
Secretary, Colonel Warren, would receive me as a guest for a month or
so, and that during the rest of my stay he would himself entertain me at
Government House. Posts to and from Cyprus were at that time extremely
slow, and it was not till nearly Christmas that these arrangements were
complete. Meanwhile, by Sir Samuel's advice, the specimens of the marble
were submitted to a London expert. As I was now bent on going, his
verdict, though not very favorable, did nothing whatever to discourage
me. What mainly occupied my mind were thoughts of an island which was
unknown to ordinary tourists, the history of which united the sway of
Byzantine emperors with that of crusading kings, of Venetian doges and
subsequently of Moslem dynasties, where the mountains were crowned with
castles almost lost in clouds; where the walls of the marine fortress in
which Othello lodged cast the white reflection of the Lion of St. Mark's
on the waters, and where half the inhabitants prayed with their faces
turned to Mecca and half with their eyes cast down before jeweled and
gilded icons--an island, moreover, where I could watch and explore these
hybrid scenes and pageants without any appreciable sacrifice of the
comforts and the ease of London.

In this agreeable frame of mind, I left one evening the lamps of Charing
Cross Station behind me bound via Brindisi for Alexandria, from which
port an Austrian Lloyd steamer would ultimately bring me to Cyprus,
after a voyage, incredibly slow, of very nearly a week. On my way out I
encountered several acquaintances--Sir Augustus and Lady Paget, who were
going back to Vienna, and were just visible in the gloom of the Dover
boat; Arthur Paget, bound for Africa; and also several others, among
whom were Edward Milner and John St. Aubyn, subsequently Lord St. Levan.
The goal of these last was Damascus. We three slept at Alexandria on the
boat which had brought us from Brindisi, and were next day rowed across
the enormous harbor to a black craft, the _Diana_, which had just
arrived from Trieste, and which by way of Port Said and Jaffa brought us
in four days to Beyrout. There, after a day of sightseeing, we had tea
with the English consul, whose house was very like a mosque. Milner and
St. Aubyn were to sleep that night at a hotel and start for Damascus
next morning by diligence. I returned to the ship alone, and I found
myself twelve hours later looking at Cyprus from the open roadstead of
Larnaca.

I remained in the island for something like three months, as the guest
of Sir Henry, Colonel Warren, and other British officials. A year or so
afterward I recorded my experiences in a short book called _In an
Enchanted Island_. It will here be enough to summarize the various
impressions and experiences which are there described in detail.

My impression on landing was one of half-forlorn disappointment. The
winter that year in Europe was the coldest within living memory. Even
the air of Cyprus had something in it not far from frost, and the
treeless hills seemed blighted by the clouded and inhospitable sky. But
a day like this proved to be a rare exception. Cyprus, as I knew it in
the winter, was for the most part a land of what Englishmen mean by a
late spring or an early summer when they dream of it. The evenings were
chilly, but the days were warm and shining. They were sometimes, though
not often, too warm for refreshment. The greens of the trees glittered,
the mountains were scarred with purple, and the midday shadows of
arcades were sharp as chiseled jet. My first host, Colonel Warren, had
his home in Nicosia, a town in the middle of the island, and twenty
miles from the sea. Nicosia lies in a great inland plain, and, as seen
from the hilly road which slopes slowly down to it from the south, it
resembles the pictures of Damascus with which all the world is familiar.
Nicosia, however, has one feature which is in Damascus wanting. Among a
forest of minarets is a great cathedral, used as a mosque since the days
of the Turkish conquest, but built in the Middle Ages by Christian kings
of the house of Guy de Lusignan. The town is a maze of lanes, to which
ancient houses turn unwindowed walls, broken only by doors whose high,
pointed arches often bear above them the relics of crusading heraldry,
and give access to cloistered courts, the splash of secret fountains,
and rockwork gay with violets. In a house thus secluded, and entered by
such a door, lived Colonel Warren, my host, and under his roof, the
morning after my arrival, I first definitely felt that I had left the
West behind me, when I found that a noise by which I had been just
awakened, and which sounded like the cawing of a rook, was that of the
muezzin borne from a neighboring minaret and requesting me to adore
Allah.

Colonel Warren was an ardent antiquarian, nor was he altogether
insensible to the fascination of business ventures. He was not only
eager to tell me whatever he knew of the architectural curiosities of
the island, ancient and medieval, but he also offered me every
assistance in my quest of the precise spot where, according to Sir
Samuel, the green marble was to be found. He at once put me into
communication with the owners of mules and carriages, with guides and
with other persons whose aid would be necessary for me in reaching and
exploring the mountains in whose fastnesses the treasure was concealed.
He also introduced me to a charming professor from Edinburgh, who, in
some official capacity, was excavating Phoenician tombs, and who, by
way of taking a holiday, was willing to be my companion. Accordingly one
morning we set out in a carriage which brought us to the foot of the
mountains where the rough road, made by the English, ended, and where
mules awaited us, on whose very disagreeable backs the rest of our
expedition was to be accomplished. Sir Samuel Baker's maps and
descriptions provided us with outstanding landmarks, which were more or
less unmistakable. The spot which we were seeking lay high up in the
clefts of a curious mountain known as "The Five Fingers," and was marked
by a ruined church, a cave, and a lonely cypress tree. Our first attempt
to find this spot was a failure. Our second attempt was successful.
There could be no mistake about it--the lonely cypress was there, the
cave and the church also. There, too, after a long search, we discovered
fragments of stone--duplicates of Sir Samuel's specimens. But these
were fragments only. Nothing could be found that was larger than a large
pebble. The potential quarries of which Sir Samuel had spoken were
children of his own imagination, and the only good they did us was to
illustrate how easily practical men may deceive themselves--even when,
like Sir Samuel, they are usually keen observers. We did indeed bring a
few specimens back with us, but to the marble quarry as a practical
project I had already said "Good-by." Let all disappointed prospectors
learn philosophy from me. I said it without regret. I was on the whole
relieved--for now I was free to devote myself to those pleasures of
imagination which the life and the scenes around me had already begun to
stimulate.

Before long each page of my life in Cyprus was like a page from an
illuminated missal. I climbed to the mountain castle of St. Hilarion,
once occupied by Richard the First. Through the traceries of its windows
and from its towers I looked at the snowy summits of Cilicia across
sixty miles of sea. I explored its stables, hewn out of the solid
rock--stables not for horses, but camels. I examined its cisterns,
hanging on the brinks of precipices. While on this expedition, I stayed
with one of the judges in a lodge on the mountain side, and spent a
night with him looking out on a garden of spices, and comparing the
Septuagint version of the Song of Solomon with the English. On another
occasion I came in a seaward valley to a beautiful monastery, whose
refectory still was perfect, though there was no life in its silence
but the life of oleanders peering in at the windows and half hiding from
view the foam from which Venus sprang. Often in the early morning, on
one expedition or another, I saw groups of peasants moving across dewy
plains, their coats as bright as Joseph's, who, with their ass or camel,
suggested the Flight into Egypt. When I journeyed for any distance by
road my equipage was some old landau, drawn by five horses, and
accompanied by three servants, one of these being my own, who spoke very
fair English, and who had been born on the slopes of Lebanon. It was in
this manner that, when I was staying with Sir Henry, I went from Nicosia
to Famaugusta, a distance of fifty miles, which it took ten hours to
accomplish. This was how Englishmen traveled in the days of William and
Mary. Among the remains of Famaugusta I wandered for several days, its
huge walls being still very nearly perfect, though they now inclose
little but the huts of some Turkish shepherds, about fifty deserted
churches, bright inside with frescoes, and a cathedral so profusely
carved that it looks like a hill of flowers.

Within the limits of a day's expedition from Famaugusta were the
remains--I was taken to visit them--not entirely ruinous, of the country
residence of one of the crusading nobles. I found my way into
monasteries still peopled by devotees, and saw in the eyes of many of
them monastic faith still shining. In strange churches I studied,
behind gilded screens and icons, magnificent copies of the Gospels, and
read aloud to a sacristan this passage and that, asking him to read them
also, so that I might adjust my pronunciation to his. On one occasion,
from a height near Government House, I watched, if I may so express
myself, a celebrated icon in action--a jeweled portrait of the Madonna,
said to have been painted by St. Luke. On the plain below was the broad
bed of a river, dry from continued drought. Unanswered prayers for rain
had for some time been frequent and at last this miraculous relic had
been brought forth from its hiding place, as a charm which was bound to
effect what ordinary prayers could not, and was being carried along the
banks of the river by a black procession of monks, who were followed--so
it seemed to me--by half the population of the neighborhood. As these
companies drew nearer, I gradually distinguished outbursts of distant
shouting. I had arrived at the psychological moment. Far off, along
watercourses lately dry, a streak of light was advancing like the coils
of a silver snake. This was the river, which was actually coming down in
flood. Presently, with a rattle of pebbles, it was pouring by below me.
In less than an hour the portent died away, but left the memory of a new
miracle behind it.

The only thoroughly modern thing in Cyprus at the time of my own visit
was Government House, which is not in Nicosia, but outside it. It is
built wholly of wood, and was sent out from England--a mere series of
rooms surrounding a court, which was then marked out for a tennis
ground. There was only one steam engine in the island, and (needless to
say) no railway. These appliances not being there, nobody missed them. I
myself thought the absence of railways pleasant rather than otherwise,
and steam as an aid to industry was the last thing--so it seemed--that
the native population wished for. The Duke of Sutherland, it appeared,
had not very long ago thought of buying an estate in the southern part
of the island and applying all the methods of science to the cultivation
of early potatoes. He would, however, in order to insure success, have
had to buy from the neighboring peasants certain way leaves and water
rights, and for these they banded together to ask such preposterous
prices that the duke, as they half hoped he would do, abandoned an
enterprise by which they, then the poorest of the poor, would have been
the first persons to benefit.

Sir Henry often discussed with me the economic conditions of Cyprus. The
population, he said, comprised no class that in England would be called
rich, and very few of the peasants, though mostly their own landlords,
lived a life which an English plowman would tolerate. The inhabitants as
a whole were certainly exceptionally liable to a class of diseases the
cause of which is malnutrition, and I came, as I talked to Sir Henry, to
see in Cyprus a very useful refutation of the doctrine that the masses
are only poor when a few rich people plunder them.

Meanwhile it was a satisfaction to reflect that nobody in Cyprus could
make trouble by holding up the rich to execration, the reason being that
there were no rich to execrate, and the charm which the imaginative
spectator found in the life around him was not likely to be broken by
any very rude awakening. Sir Henry himself was not perhaps sensitive to
romance, but he did all he could to aid me in my own quest of it, and
until my time for quitting his roof came, one day followed another
leaving behind it soothing or exciting memories, the colors of which
even now have not lost their freshness.

On my way homeward I went from Cyprus to Florence, to stay with some
friends who had a villa there. The time was Easter, but the weather was
like a damp winter. I found there many acquaintances. Among them was a
Madame de Tchiacheff, whom I had known in my boyhood at Littlehampton.
Scotch by birth, she had married a well-known Russian, and her house,
with its cosmopolitan company, was among the most distinguished in
Florence. I and my hostess went to pay a call on "Ouida," whom I knew
more or less by correspondence, but the coachman took us by mistake to
the Villa Careggi instead. By the kindness of Madame de Tchiacheff I was
made known to the Strozzi family, and we visited their monumental
palace, which was not then shown to the public. With two other palatial
houses I came to be acquainted also--one the home of the Russo-American
Bourtolines, the other then occupied by Mr. Macquay the banker. The
latter of these houses was specially interesting to myself as having
been once the home of the then Austrian Minister, Baron von Hugel, whose
younger son my cousin, Miss Froude, married.

The constant question which to me all these great houses suggested was,
how were the fortunes made by which they were maintained and built? The
Pitti Palace, which would hold the palace of the Strozzi in its court,
was built by a private citizen, Luca Pitti, for himself. According to
modern requirements it is too large for a king. I often thought that,
were I an American millionaire, I would secure the services of a hundred
of the most accomplished students of Europe and set them to examine
simultaneously the business archives of Florence, and thus provide (as
in a short time they might do) a mass of digested materials on which a
complete economic history of Florentine wealth might be founded.

From Florence I went for a few days to Siena, where, with a completeness
to which Florence offers no parallel, the Middle Ages spectacularly
still survive. I visited, while I was there, the great castle of
Broglio, which, standing among mountains on the brink of a wooded
precipice, lifts into the air its clusters of red-brick towers like
tulips. I visited also Cetinale--a strange classical villa, built by a
Cardinal Chigi, and surrounded by miles of ilex woods, which are peopled
with pagan statues. Returning to Florence, I discovered, with the aid of
a large-scale ordnance map, a building equally strange, and so little
known even to Florentines that our coachman had never heard of it, and
often had to ask the way. This is Torre a Cona--half medieval castle and
half classical palace. It occupies the summit of a flat-headed hill or
mountain. It is surrounded by a circular park full of deer and statues.
It is approached by an avenue of cypresses sixty feet in height, and
between these trees, on either side of the way, are colossal horses
rampant, beneath whose extended forelegs the carriage of the invader
passes. I opened a large door in one wing of the house, and found myself
in a miniature theater, with its semicircle of boxes decorated in green
and silver.

My own days at Florence, however, were on this occasion prematurely
ended by the breaking of a drainpipe in the villa of my valued hostess,
and my consequent migration at very short notice to Cannes. I started at
night, and in the small hours of the morning I had to change trains at
Genoa. As I paced the dark platform, the air was bleak and wintry, and,
looking back with regret to the shining suns of Cyprus, I took my place
at last in another train, shivering. For a few hours I slept. When I
woke I was less uncomfortable. The air, unless this was mere fancy, had
lost something of its sting. I looked out of the window, and from what I
could see in the grayness I guessed that we were somewhere or other
between Rappallo and Spezzia. As the light grew slowly clearer the
prospects were still bleak, but yet with the following of one chill five
minutes on another some change was, it seemed, in progress. The gray air
acquired a tinge of purple, the chill turned to warmth, the thin purple
turned to a soft, enveloping bloom; and when the train reached San Remo
a sunrise worthy of midsummer was shining on a world of roses.

Cannes, though the season was not far from its close, was as yet by no
means empty. As I drove to my hotel the streets were alive with
carriages, white skirts, and the shining of red sunshades. I was soon
asked to participate in a number of forthcoming dissipations, the first
of these being a tea party given by Philip Green at his villa, "La
Forêt," which was close to my own doors. The company comprised a
charming and interesting group of French ex-royalties, and a live German
king, who looked like a commercial traveler. This party remains in my
mind as though it were a vignette on the last page of a diary, the
principal entries in which related to a land of which Catherine Cornaro
was the last royal ruler, and whose last democracy was democracy as
understood by the doges.

On the whole, my expedition to Cyprus, which, together with its two
sequels, had occupied about four months, did for me more than I had
ever seriously expected. It was at once a stimulus and a rest. I
returned to England in May, pleased with the prospect of enjoying a
couple of months of London, after which, in Scotland and elsewhere, I
hoped to resume my study of political and social problems, and restate
them in forms which politicians might find useful. This labor was,
however, often interrupted by the pressure of family business, which
would call me back for a week or ten days to Devonshire. When the more
urgent details were for the time settled, as they were toward the end of
the year, I went once more to Cannes, and subsequently to the Cap
d'Antibes, being one of a small party who were to stay at the same
hotels and lunch and dine in private. No such arrangement could possibly
have prospered better. I had, as I knew I should have, much time to
myself, and among my luggage was a boxload of statistical Blue Books,
which formed my companions in hours of industrious solitude. We made a
number of expeditions to old towns in the hills, one of our frequent
companions being Father Bernard Osborne, the Catholic nephew by marriage
of Mr. Froude the historian, and son of Rev. Lord Sidney Godolphus
Osborne, then the most stalwart choregus of ultraevangelical
Protestantism. Another frequent companion was Miss Charlotte Dempster,
famous as a writer of novels--especially of one, _Blue Roses_, the scene
of which was, oddly enough, Cockington. Miss Dempster, whose mere
presence was a monument to her own celebrity, was much given to the
cultivation of royalties, and which was to bring to her villa the
presence of a reigning sovereign. So important did she deem the occasion
that, before the potentate was due, she got together the ladies whom she
had honored with an invitation to meet him, and instructed them as to
how, in his august presence, they should demean themselves. The
instructions had been given, and had been followed by an expectant hush,
when sounds in the hall were heard like those of the Second Advent.
"Now, ladies," said Miss Dempster, solemnly, "rise." The ladies rose
like one man, the portals were thrown open, and a loud voice announced a
shy little pink Welshman, Mr. Hugh Price Jones, who had innocently
looked in for the purpose of a familiar call.

My original intention, when I joined my friends at Cannes, had been to
remain on the Riviera till April, and then go back to England, but I
received one morning a letter which suggested a project of a more
adventurous kind, the thought of which stirred me as much as my last
year's voyage to Cyprus, though it would not geographically take me to
any such remote distance.

This came about as follows. Among the country houses of England with
which I became familiar soon after leaving Oxford was Eaglehurst,
situated on the Solent and immediately facing Cowes. It was then
occupied by Count and Countess Edmund Batthyany, subsequently Prince
and Princess. The countess, who had seen much of the diplomatic life of
Europe, was a shrewd, kindly, and a most agreeable woman, who spoke
English like a native. Her husband, who had been educated at Eton, was
English in all his tastes and at Cowes he was an illustrious character,
on account of the many victories of his racing yacht _Kriemhilda_. From
the Cowes Week till the middle of September he kept open house at
Eaglehurst, where for ten days or a fortnight I had many times been his
guest. All kinds and degrees of ornamental and agreeable people, from
archdukes downward, flocked to Eaglehurst from The Island, and made day
after day a garden party on its lawns. When the count, on the death of
his father, succeeded to the family honors, he gave up his lease of
Eaglehurst, and the now Prince and Princess took up their abode at the
castle of Körmend in Hungary. The Prince subsequently discovered that
Vienna was more to his taste. The Princess, however, preferred Körmend,
which nothing would induce her to abandon, and there she invited a
number of her English friends to visit her. I was one of the number. Her
invitation was often renewed, but for this reason or that I had never
been able to accept it. I had, indeed, put the matter quite out of my
mind when, during my visit at Cannes, I heard from her once again. "I
saw, in some paper," she said, "that you were going to be at Cannes for
the winter. Come on to me afterward and I will show you a Hungarian
spring."

If any country had ever roused in my imagination more interest than
Cyprus, that country was Hungary. Of all European countries I gathered
that it was the least progressive; that all sorts of impossible things
might happen in its enchanted forests; that the rulers were still noble;
that the peasants were still contented (a fact which they signalized by
kissing their lords' hands), and that nothing was very different from
what it had been before the first French Revolution. Here was temptation
too strong to resist. I was asked to be a guest at Körmend from April
till the end of May. I wrote to say I would come, and when the time
arrived I went.

I was happy in having with me an admirable Austrian servant who had been
in the country before, and knew more or less of its ways. I found his
resources inexhaustible, except on one occasion. I stayed on the way at
Vicenza, for the purpose of seeing some of its Palladian palaces, and I
asked him, when I reached the hotel, to find some guide or waiter who
spoke either French or English. He could find no one who knew a syllable
of one tongue or the other. Next morning, however, he had secured an
Italian native who spoke and understood German. Here was all I wanted. I
spoke English to my servant, he spoke German to the Italian, the Italian
spoke to the people of whom I wanted to make inquiries. This
arrangement, I found, was productive of great advantages. Having made
notes of the palaces I wished to see, I told my Italian in each case to
inquire whether an English gentleman, much interested in architecture,
might be privileged to visit the interior, of the beauty of which he had
heard much. The fact that I was making my rounds with a retinue of two
attendants was accepted as such a guaranty of my own good character and
importance that I was admitted with the utmost courtesy to stately and
interesting interiors, from the portals of which I should otherwise have
been driven with suspicion and ignominy.

Having seen what I could at Vicenza, I spent a night at Treviso, whence,
having got up before sunrise, I drove in a weeping morning to the
wonderful Villa Maser, about twenty miles away--the villa whose halls
and chambers are gorgeous from end to end with the frescoes of Paul
Veronese, and whose tutelary gods look out over the vastness of the
Lombard plains, though their view is slightly impeded by the bulk of a
Renaissance church. That evening I ensconced myself in an ill-lit train,
which, passing close to Venice and crossing the Austrian frontier,
brought me and my servant to a strange little medieval town, where we
slept in an arcaded hostelry which would not have seemed strange to
Erasmus. I halted here because in the neighboring wonderland is, as I
knew from descriptions, a castle more fantastic than any fancy of
Albert Dürer's--the high-perched castle of Hoch-Osterwitz. I spent next
day in exploring it. It outdid all my dreams. Reached by a corkscrew
road which, passing through strange gatehouses, winds upward round an
isolated hill resembling a pine-clad sugar loaf, the castle covers the
summit. It suggested Tennyson's line to me: "Pricked with incredible
pinnacles into heaven." Not so large or terrific as St. Hilarion, it
inflicts perhaps on the imagination a yet acuter twinge, for St.
Hilarion belongs to an age so wholly dissociated from our own that the
distance between them is beyond the reach of measurement.
Hoch-Osterwitz, on the other hand, though in consequence of its
inconvenient position its owners no longer lived in it, was still not
wholly derelict. Its roofs were watertight; a portion of it was occupied
by a caretaker; two of its halls were full of neglected armor; and some
fragments of ancient furniture survived in a cell-like bedroom which
were sufficient for the baron when he came--as from time to time he
did--to see the caretaker, a sort of steward, on business. The life of a
distant age still smoldered within the ancient walls like a fire not
quite extinguished, and the nerves of the present and of the past formed
one living and unbroken tissue. A strange example of this fact revealed
itself to me when, wandering in a rough courtyard, I noticed a little
building which jutted out over a precipice. I opened the door, and
discovered a Lilliputian chapel with seats in it for some twenty
people. Facing me was an altar trimmed with decaying lace and supporting
a mildewed breviary, and before it, in full armor, with gauntleted hands
outstretched, was the effigy of a kneeling knight. He had knelt there as
an image of prayer for more than three centuries. When sightseeing was
over, and we descended to the world below, my excellent servant said to
me, "Ah, sir, if these trees could talk, what strange things they could
tell us!" Resuming our journey that evening, we reached Gratz by
midnight, where I slept in a lofty bedroom of the days of Maria Theresa.
By the following afternoon I was at Körmend, drinking tea with the
Princess, and answering her many questions--for she was an unappeasable
gossip--about old English friends.

The castle of Körmend lies in a great plain. On one side of it is a park
planted in radiating alleys, according to the taste of Le Nôtre. On the
opposite side its precincts abut on the market place of a small town,
and from the south and north it is approached by two poplar avenues
which together traverse the Batthyany territory for something like
thirty miles in an absolutely straight line. The dwelling house is a
large, square block, with a courtyard in the middle and a tower at each
angle. One of its frontages forms the side of a forecourt flanked by
grandiose outbuildings--estate offices, stables, and a great frescoed
ballroom. Elsewhere round the house was a very untidy flower garden,
which half the old women of the little town spent, so it seemed to me,
most of their days in weeding--herein reviving my recollections of
Dartington Hall and Denbury. Indeed, throughout my whole stay at Körmend
country life in Hungary was constantly reminding me of what country life
was during my own early days in Devonshire. These likenesses gave
piquancy to the points of difference. Körmend, though containing a good
deal of English furniture, and a certain amount of valuable, if not very
valuable, tapestry, was not well furnished according to English
standards. The stonework of the great staircase leading to the principal
floor was unpolished and rude, and the walls were rudely whitewashed. My
own bedroom, which in many ways was delightful, was reached by a vaulted
passage so cold and draughty that the Princess advised me always to wear
my hat when I traversed it. There was not a bell in the house, and, if I
had not had my own servant with me, who was placed in a room near mine,
I should have been helpless. And yet the doors of this dwelling were
guarded by a porter in crimson robes, who wielded a staff of office
topped by a prince's coronet. Most of the dishes at dinner might have
come from some rough farmhouse, but the pastry could hardly have been
equaled by the finest _chef_ in Paris, while the walls of the circular
dining room were daubed with theatrical pillars, so that it looked like
a ruined temple on the stage of some company of strolling players in a
barn.

Other contrasts and other notable things I discovered as the days went
by. The whole of the lower portion of one side of the house was a museum
of family archives, many of them going back to the beginning of the
fourteenth century, and most of the attic floor--a kind of museum
likewise--was crowded with precious spoils taken by the Batthyanys from
the Turks--jeweled swords and muskets, horsecloths sewn with emeralds,
and pavilions, still splendid, which once had sheltered Pashas in the
field. Another curiosity was a theater still displaying the scenery
which had been painted for some private performance before the end of
the eighteenth century.

During the first week of my visit the Princess and I were alone, and
considerately for most of the day she left me to my own devices. I had
brought out with me to Cannes a diary of my life in Cyprus, and,
inspired by my present surroundings, I set myself to begin a task which
more than once I had contemplated--the task of working my notes into a
small coherent book. I very soon found this pursuit absorbing, and my
hostess realized that my entertainment would be far from burdensome to
herself. Meanwhile when we were together I was never weary of
questioning her with regard to Hungarian life. She told me all sorts of
quaint and curious things. She told me of robbers who still haunted the
forests--of forest gypsies whose lives were a mixture of theft and
music, and who often twanged their instruments in a tavern near the
castle gates. She told me of former Batthyanys and of other castles once
possessed by them. She told me how the latest alterations of Körmend had
been made to satisfy the whims of a beautiful French mistress whom a
Batthyany had brought there from the court of Louis Quatorze. Sometimes
she asked to dinner a priest and also one of the agents called Molna, in
whom she reposed great confidence. When I was talking with the agent the
Princess played the part of interpreter. The priest and I took refuge in
bad Latin. I copied his pronunciation, and we both of us threw
Ciceronian language to the winds. On the whole we were mutually
intelligible, and we differed so favorably from the talkers of the
fashionable world that we both of us meant a great deal more than we
said. One of the questions as to which I was most anxious for
information was whether there were in the neighborhood any other old
castles, a visit to which I might find interesting. Neither the
Princess, the priest, nor the agent on the spur of the moment had very
much to tell me. At all events I found out presently for myself much
more than they could tell me.

Adjoining the dining room was a small oval library, the contents of
which the Princess had, oddly enough, never been at the trouble of
examining. I found that they consisted largely of magnificent French
folios, consecrated entirely to descriptions and elaborate engravings of
court life in Paris as it was under Louis Quinze--of royal balls, of
banquets and garden fêtes, and of the chief hotels in the Faubourg--not
only of their architecture, but of their furniture also, and even of the
manner in which the furniture was arranged. Of these pictures some of
the most curious were those which represented balls or other great
entertainments as they would have appeared to the spectator had the
façades of the buildings in which they took place been removed, and the
halls, rooms, and even the servants' staircases been revealed in
section, like the rooms in a doll's house when the hinged front swings
open. In one compartment kitchen boys would be carrying up dishes from
below to magnificent footmen on a landing. In another some powdered
lady, close to the dividing wall, would be offering her eyes and patches
to the homage of some powdered beau. With pictures such as these last
the Princess was specially pleased. I brought a number of the great
volumes into the drawing-room, and we spent in examining them many
pleasant evenings.

But I presently found in the library one which, much humbler in
appearance, was to myself of much more immediate interest. It was
smaller in size, and its binding was stained and broken. This, too, was
full of pictures. As pictures they had no great merit, but together they
made up the prize for which previously I had looked in vain. This book,
published about the year 1680, consisted entirely of bald but careful
engravings of the principal castles of Hungary, some of them in ruins,
but most of them still inhabited. This book I showed to the Princess
likewise, having marked the castles which apparently were not very far
from Körmend, and asked her if they still existed, and whether a visit
to any of them would be practicable. Though she had heard of some of
them, her own knowledge was vague, but she passed the book on to Molna.
Many of these castles Molna knew by name. Some of them he had seen, some
of them were still inhabited, their aspect, so he reported, being
practically indistinguishable from that represented in the old
engravings. He picked out five or six as being well within the compass
of a day's or a two days' expedition. If, said the Princess, I wished to
see these places I might as well begin doing so at once, as she was
before long going to receive some visitors whom she trusted that I would
help her to entertain. Matters were arranged accordingly. She placed a
carriage and four brisk horses at my disposal, and under Molna's advice
my explorations began.

Most of the great castles of Hungary remained veritable castles long
after castles in England had been transformed into halls and manor
houses. The reason was that constant wars with the Turks made it still
necessary that every great house should be a fortress. Thus it came
about that the ornaments and luxuries of life--many of them under French
influence--developed themselves within walls approachable only by
drawbridges; that boudoirs were neighbored by towers loopholed for
musketry; and that under smooth lawns and orangeries rocks were hollowed
into caverns in which on occasion regiments of troops could hide. One of
the greatest of these great castles, Riegersbourg, was refortified in
the days of Pope and Addison. It covers an elevated plateau of which
every side is precipitous, and above the entrance arch is a white marble
tablet on which, in very bad Latin, the builder, Baron Hammer Purgstall,
bewails the fact that the rocks by their irregular shape have caused him
to violate the rules of classical architecture. Of such castles I
visited as many as I could. In all of them, as though by some
enchantment, the present had become the past. The unrest of western
Europe in the modern sense was dead. In dining rooms trays of the finest
Japanese lacquer formed a background for oaken tables into which the
beard of Barbarossa might have grown. Knights in armor kept watch over
billiard tables whose green baize had survived the fadings of two
hundred years. For me this half-visionary world held the same
intoxicating spell that many ears discover in Wagner's music.

The Princess, when I described these scenes to her, showed a genuine
though rather faint interest. At all events, before very long my
explorations were interrupted by the arrival of some of her promised
guests. These--a brother and sister--were in some ways modern enough,
but in one way they suggested the period of _Wilhelm Meister_. They
brought with them not only their servants. They brought with them also a
retinue of two musicians, who emerged from their quarters in the
evening, and played to us after dinner. But we had other music besides.
The weather by this time had grown rapidly warmer, and, when these
performers had retired, we went out on a balcony overlooking the great
forecourt, and from some unseen quarter beyond the castle walls came
night after night the vibrations of a gypsy band. Nor was this the only
sound. From the frondage of the park close by there would come in answer
to it the early notes of the nightingales.

The first installment of visitors, with their attendant musicians,
having departed, their places were presently taken by a distinguished
Hungarian diplomat, Count ---- and his wife. When I say of the count,
who spoke English perfectly, that one could not distinguish him from a
highly placed English gentleman, I am paying him, no doubt, an insular,
but I mean it to be a sincere, compliment.

But the Princess had still another guest in reserve, on whose qualities,
so I judged from her tones, she set even a higher store. This was a
Hungarian lady, young, well born, and married, but unfortunately
neglected by her husband, although she was extremely beautiful. As my
mind was much engaged with the thoughts of old castles, and also with
the composition of my own little work on Cyprus, I paid no great
attention to what the Princess said in praise of this guest whose advent
was now approaching. But when the lady arrived I felt that the praise
was justified. As she and her husband are by this time beyond the reach
both of praise and blame, I may say of her without fear of impertinence
that she was a model of innocent beauty, that her conversation was as
charming as her expression, and her dresses as charming as her
conversation. I am myself not much addicted to cards, but when she
proposed in the evenings to teach me the Hungarian game of Tarok I
should not have been human had I failed to become her pupil. But I was
never long in her company without being conscious of a feeling that she
was a woman who, through no fault of her own, had already had a history,
or was certain to have one some day. This feeling did not mislead me. A
year later it was justified. I learned, by accident, that her history
had been short, forlorn, and fatal. Its hidden actualities,
reconstructed by my own imagination, I afterward combined in my novel _A
Human Document_.



CHAPTER XIII

TWO WORKS ON SOCIAL POLITICS

     The Second Lord Lytton at Knebworth--"Ouida"--Conservative
     Torpor as to Social Politics--Two Books: _Labor and the Popular
     Welfare_ and _Aristocracy and Evolution_--Letters from Herbert
     Spencer


My visit to Cyprus one year, and my visit to Hungary the next, were both
of them retreats from the life of political and even philosophical
thought. They were frank acts of truancy in the regions of pure romance;
where life, individual and social, is a spectacle to be enjoyed, not a
problem of which thinkers compete in devising an explanation. But on
returning from Hungary to England the practical affairs of the moment
met me again halfway, at Vienna, where for a day or two I broke my
journey. My acquaintances at Vienna were few, but they included Sir
Augustus and Lady Paget at the Embassy, whom I had last seen at midnight
on the deck of the Dover packet when I was bound for the shores of
Cyprus more than a year before. Ambassadors, if they know their
business, are necessarily preoccupied with the present, and when
lunching or dining with Sir Augustus it was not possible to forget it.
It was all the more impossible because on these occasions there was
another diplomat present, also an old acquaintance--Sir Henry Drummond
Wolf, who happened to be then on his way home from Persia, and who was
voluble on questions of international, and especially of English,
politics. So far, however, as my own mood was concerned, this
dissipation of romance by realities was a more or less gradual process.
Even when I was again in England my inclinations to the life
romantic--to what Virgil (I think) calls the "_amor ulterioris
ripæ_"--survived for many months the new recall of my mind to the
philosophies of prosaic action.

As an illustration of this fact I remember a weekend visit which I paid
that summer to Robert, the second Lord Lytton, at Knebworth. The
occasion was marked by the coappearance of things romantic and practical
in more ways than one. On the day of my arrival one of the first topics
discussed was "Ouida," who at that time was in England, and had been
staying at Knebworth only the week before. "Ouida's" view of life was
nothing if not romantic. Lytton, during the previous spring, had been
spending some weeks in Florence. He was quite alone; and "Ouida," who,
apart from her affectations, was a very remarkable woman, had had no
difficulty in securing his frequent company at her villa, where she fed
him at an incredible price with precociously ripe strawberries. On her
memory of these tender proceedings she had built up a belief that his
nature had been emptied of everything except one great passion for
herself, and she had actually come to Knebworth convinced that a single
word from her would tear him from the bosom of his family and make him
hers alone. The magic word was said. The expected results had, however,
failed to follow--perhaps because the word, or words, had not been very
happily chosen. They had been these: "Why don't you leave this bourgeois
man-and-wife _milieu_ behind you and prove in some Sicilian palace what
life may really mean for people like you and I?"

On the occasion of the same visit another meeting between romance and
reality was this: Knebworth was originally a dignified but plain
structure, built (I should say at a guess) in the time of Charles II;
but, as is well known, the first Lord Lytton (the novelist), inspired by
the taste of his time, and aided by inexhaustible stucco, metamorphosed
it into the semblance of a pinnacled castle or abbey, the old dining
room reappearing in the form of a baronial hall. One evening after
dinner I, my host, and a certain Admiral B---- happened to be in the
hall alone. While the admiral was reading a letter, my host drew me
aside and gave me an amusing description of the rise of the admiral's
family. His grandfather, having accumulated a substantial fortune as a
solicitor, discovered a ruin--a small tower in France--the name of which
was identical with his own. This ruin he bought, and declared that it
was the cradle from which his own family sprang. He then, having bought
an estate in an English county, proceeded to build a Norman castle in
ruins, and adjoining this he built a turreted Tudor mansion. Here was a
family pedigree translated into terms of stone. The builder crowned his
work by the adoption of feudal manners, to which his domestics had so to
adapt their own that when a neighbor, who called on him, asked if Mr.
B---- was at home, the reply of the footman was, "The right honorable
gentleman is taking a walk on the barbican." My host, having finished
his story, was for a moment called away. He had no sooner gone than the
admiral, coming up to me, jerked his thumb in the direction of the
surrounding panels, and said, confidentially, "The whole of this was put
up by that man's father."

But in a much more memorable way romance conquered reality one night in
the drawing-room. The ladies of the party had disappeared; and by way of
doing something Lytton, two other men, and myself became somehow grouped
round a card table with our minds made up for whist. At first we put
down our cards with promptitude and a semblance of attention, but
someone before long made some observation which, though interesting, was
wholly irrelevant to the game. The three others put down their cards to
listen, and had, when they took them up again, some difficulty in
remembering who was to play next. Presently one of them quoted a line of
poetry. It was from Coleridge's "Kublai Khan." Somebody else suggested a
mild doubt as to whether that poem had, as the author contended, really
been composed in a dream. The game once more proceeded, but our host's
eyes had already begun to wander, and at last he frankly threw his own
cards on the table. Everybody else followed him. Cards were things
forgotten. Their place was taken by poetry. Single lines were cited
which the authors had dreamed undoubtedly. The most remarkable was
dreamed by a brother of Tennyson, after a day spent in examining a
bundle of ancient manuscripts. The line--it was Latin--was as follows:

"_Immemorabilium per fulva crepuscula palpans_"--that is to say,
"fumbling among the tawny twilights of immemorables." Lord Lytton looked
as if he were in a dream himself. Presently he spoke as though his mind
were coming back from a distance. "I," he said, "dreamed a poem in
India. It has never been written down, but I still can remember every
line of it. Listen." The poem, which was full of vague Oriental imagery,
was perfectly intelligible, and throbbed with a certain sonority like
that of distant gongs; but no sane man would have written it in his
waking moments. In that fact lay its charm. The author's voice,
naturally low and musical, acquired new tones as he recited it, giving
to it the qualities of an incantation; and round us, as though fashioned
out of shadows, was the large, dimly lighted drawing-room, which the old
novelist had incrusted with impossible heraldries, culminating in
escutcheons of pre-Christian Welsh kings.

The pseudo-Gothic revival, of which Knebworth is a late monument, but
which was inaugurated by Horace Walpole in the stucco of Strawberry
Hill, is, if judged by the strict canons of architectural taste, absurd,
but as time goes on and the taste which produced it vanishes the houses
in which it embodied itself cease to be mere absurdities. They acquire
the rank and dignity of historical documents. They are more than mere
architecture. They represent attempts at a reconstruction of life--a new
fusion of politics with poetry, romance, and mysticism. Their fault is
that this fusion has failed to become actual. And yet these attempts,
though largely recorded in stucco, still evoke visions and atmospheres
from which many of us are loath to be driven into the wintry actualities
of to-day.

For myself, on my return from Hungary, the influence of romance was
further protracted by the fact that I for some time was occupied in
completing my work on Cyprus; but when this at last had received its
finishing touches there was nothing left that could keep other interests
at bay. Radical and Socialist oratory was resounding on every side.
Doctrines with regard to Labor were again being promulgated in forms so
extreme that they reached the verge of delirium, and were yet received
with acclamations. Old statistical errors, for the complete refutation
of which unimpeachable evidence abounded, were shouted afresh, as though
they were not open to question. But in respect of all facts and
principles which lie really at the basis of things, the Conservative
party was, as a whole, dumb.

I began to say to myself daily, "_Semper ego auditor tantum? Nunquam ne
reponam?_" "Will no one wake up this unhappily lethargic mass, and by
forcing the weapons of knowledge and reason into their hands provoke
them and enable them to meet the enemy at the gate?" Every other
interest, philosophic, romantic, religious, fell away from me for the
time. Wherever I was, whether in London or country houses--for in these
respects my habits remained much what they had been--I had with me the
works of economists, statistical reports, multitudes of current
speeches, all bearing on industrial and social questions. At intervals I
dealt with one or another of these in tentative articles contributed to
reviews like the _Nineteenth Century_, till at length I redigested,
rewrote and combined them, thus, after some three years of effort,
producing a succinct book called _Labor and the Popular Welfare_.

This book, in carefully simplified language, dealt comprehensively with
the fundamental causes to which the increased wealth of the modern world
is due, and on which the maintenance, to say nothing of the enlargement,
of this modern increment depends. The argument of the book, in its
general outline, is as follows. Without manual labor there can be no
wealth at all. Unless most of its members are laborers, no community can
exist. But so long as wealth is produced by manual labor only the
amount produced is small. In whatever way it may be distributed, the
majority will be primitively poor. The only means by which the total
product of a given population can be increased is not any new toil on
the part of the laboring many, but an intellectual direction of the many
by a super-capable few. Here is the true cause of all modern increments
of wealth. Let these increments be produced, and it is possible for the
many to share in them. It is on securing a share of them that their only
hope of an ampler life depends, but it is from the efforts of the few
that any increase of their shares must come. The fundamental facts of
the case are, indeed, of a character the precise reverse of that which
the theories of the Socialists impute to them. In proportion as the
wages of labor rise above a given minimum the many are the pensioners of
the few, the few are not the plunderers of the many, and those who
maintain the opposite are mere intellectual gamins standing on their
heads in a gutter.

This thesis I had outlined already in my earlier work, _Social
Equality_, but in _Labor and the Popular Welfare_ it is urged with more
precision, and the general argument is, as in the earlier work it was
not, supported by a skeleton of more or less precise statistics. This
book, by the advice of a friend, was offered to a celebrated publisher,
a pillar of sound Conservatism; but in effect, if not in so many words,
he said he would have nothing to do with it, its subject being, in his
opinion, unlikely to interest, or its argument to benefit, anyone. It
is, I think, not merely an author's vanity which inclines me to regard
his decision not so much as a mistaken literary judgment, but as the
expression of a temperamental apathy with which many Conservatives are
inflicted with regard to social problems. An entire edition of the work
was bought soon after its publication by the Central Conservative Office
as a textbook for the use of speakers. With a similar object in view,
another association, six or seven years later, offered to purchase an
entire edition likewise; but I was obliged to decline the proposal,
because I had come to recognize that the statistical portions of the
work had, in part, become obsolete, and were in part not sufficiently
complete. Meanwhile successive editions of it had been sold to the
English public. It had many readers in America, and a very large sum was
offered me by a Melbourne newspaper for a series of short articles in
which its main arguments should be condensed.

My personal concern, however, in these matters was diminished by the
fact that the argument of this work, as a whole, soon seemed to me
susceptible of a more comprehensive statement. I had already, as I have
said before, attempted in my novel, _The Old Order Changes_, to unite
the problems of industrial and social politics with those relating to
religion and the higher forms of affection, whereas in _Labor and the
Popular Welfare_ I had confined my attention to pure economics only. I
had, indeed, thus confined it in _Social Equality_ also. But it now
began to dawn on me that, quite apart from the sphere of religion, the
philosophy of modern economics could be, and required to be, extended in
what for me was a new direction.

A year or two after the publication of _Labor and the Popular Welfare_ a
work made its appearance which, although it was couched in the driest
terms of philosophy, sold as rapidly as any popular novel, and raised
its author at once from absolute obscurity to fame. This was _Social
Evolution_, by Mr. Benjamin Kidd. Mr. Kidd's style, apart from certain
tricks or mannerisms, was, for philosophic purposes, admirable. But no
mere merits of style would account for the popularity of a work which
consisted, in form at all events, of recondite discussions of evolution
as conceived by the Darwinians on the one hand and the disciples of
Weismann on the other. The popularity of Mr. Kidd's book was due to the
general drift of it. Just as Darwin's theory of evolution, with its
doctrine of the survival of the strongest, provided a scientific basis,
unwelcome to many, for aristocracy, Mr. Kidd's aim was to show that
evolution in its higher forms was in reality a survival of the weakest,
and thus provided a scientific basis for democracy--democracy by
constant implications being identified with some form of Socialism. To
me this book, which I examined with extreme care, seemed, in the
practical bearing, a piece of monumental claptrap, though it was
claptrap of the highest order, and was for that reason all the more
pernicious. Mr. Kidd, in dealing with the facts of social life, seemed
to me to be dealing not with facts, but clouds--clouds which suggested
facts, as actual clouds may suggest a whale or weasel, but which yet,
when scrutinized, had no definite content. To me this book rendered a
very valuable service, I found in it an epitome of everything against
which my own mind protested; and I soon set myself to prepare a series
of tentative studies in which certain of Mr. Kidd's positions were
directly or indirectly criticized. If I remember rightly, these were
published at intervals in the _Contemporary Review_; and their
substance, expanded and digested, appeared by and by in a volume which I
called _Aristocracy and Evolution_.

Of this volume, which was a criticism not only of Mr. Kidd, but of Mr.
Herbert Spencer also, the fundamental thesis was similar to that of
_Social Equality_, and of _Labor and the Popular Welfare_--namely, that
in proportion as societies progress in civilization and wealth all
appreciable progress, and the sustentation of most of the results
achieved by it, depend more and more on the directive ability of the
few; and this thesis was affiliated to the main conclusions of
evolutionary science generally. It was admitted that, within certain
limits, results achieved by the few were absorbed and perpetuated by the
many, though the activities of the originators might have ceased, and
that a proper definition of evolution pure and simple would be: "The
orderly sequence of the unintended." But, at the same time, it was shown
that an "orderly sequence of the unintended," though it is a part of
what we mean by progress, is a small part only, the major part still
requiring the intentional activities of the few, not only for its
initiation, but for its sustentation also.

This argument was set forth with great minuteness, and it was shown how
many most distinguished thinkers, while admitting its general truth,
were constantly obscuring it by formulæ which were, in effect, denials
of it. Among the writers thus referred to was Mr. Herbert Spencer, who
in one passage described the Napoleonic wars as an incident in the
process of evolution and in another passage cited them as examples of
the results of the solitary wickedness of one super-capable man. With
regard to these issues I received some interesting letters from Mr.
Spencer himself. His contention was that I had quite misrepresented his
meaning. Economically, at all events, the functions of the super-capable
man were in his opinion as important as they possibly could be in mine.
I replied that if such were his opinion he very often obscured it, but
that I hoped he would acquit me of any conscious unfairness to himself.
His first letters were not without a touch of acerbity, but he ended
with amicably stating what his actual views were, and saying that if I
only amended certain passages relating to himself, he was in entire
agreement with my whole argument otherwise.

[Illustration: HERBERT SPENCER]

I never met Mr. Spencer, and of what he may have been in conversation I
have not the least conception; but a story is told of him which shows
that he must have had a vein of humor in him which his writings do not
suggest. His favorite relaxation was billiards. This game he played with
more than average skill, but on one occasion, much to his own chagrin,
he found himself hopelessly beaten by a very immature young man. "Skill
in billiards, up to a certain point, is a sign," he said, "of sound
self-training. Too much skill is a sign of a wasted life."

To go back to _Aristocracy and Evolution_, though its sale was equal to
some of the works of Herbert Spencer himself, it was by no means
comparable to that of the treatise of Mr. Kidd, to which it was designed
as a counterblast. Of this the main reason was, I may venture to say,
not that it was inferior in point of style or of pertinence, or of
logical strength of argument, but that, while appealing, like Mr. Kidd's
work, to serious readers only, it appealed to the sentimentalism of a
very much smaller number of them--if, indeed, it can be said to have
appealed to sentimentalities at all; whereas Mr. Kidd had a
semi-Socialist audience ready for him, who lived mainly by sentiment,
whose sentimentalities had anticipated his own, and who were only
waiting for some one from whom they might learn to sing them to some
definite intellectual tune. Moreover, unlike _Labor and the Popular
Welfare_, which was equally remote from sentimentalism, _Aristocracy and
Evolution_ did not supply the place of it by providing Conservative
thinkers with arguments suitable for immediate use on the platform.

Here we have the old difficulty which has always beset Conservatives
when face to face with revolutionaries. The revolutionaries, or, rather,
the leading spirits among them--for revolutions are always the work of a
small body of malcontents--require no rousing. They welcome any
arguments, philosophic or otherwise, which may tend to invest them with
the prestige of scientific thinkers; but the Conservatives require to be
roused, and roused in two different ways--first, in respect of the
principles on which their own position rests, and secondly, in respect
of the methods by which those principles can be presented to the
multitude in a manner which shall produce conviction. Looking back on
_Aristocracy and Evolution_, I now think that, if I could have rewritten
it in the light of the above considerations, I should modify, not its
argument, but the manner in which this argument was presented. Much of
its substance I have incorporated in what I have written since; but, as
it stood when I finished it, I felt it so far satisfactory that it
expressed all I had then to say as to the subjects of which it treated,
and my house of political thought was for the time empty, swept, and
garnished. After two years' labor spent on it, though this had been
carried on in very agreeable circumstances--in Highland castles and
shooting lodges, or at the Rodens' house in Ireland--I felt the need of
rest--of forgetting in intercourse with agreeable men and women that
anything like disagreeable men existed, who rendered the labors of
political thought necessary. My mind, however, instead of resting, was
presently driven, or driven back, into activities of other kinds.



CHAPTER XIV

RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY AND FICTION

     The So-called Anglican Crisis--_Doctrine and Doctrinal
     Disruption_--Three Novels: _A Human Document_, _The Heart of
     Life_, _The Individualist_--Three Works on the Philosophy of
     Religion: _Religion as a Creditable Doctrine_, _The Veil of the
     Temple_, _The Reconstruction of Belief_--Passages from The
     _Veil of the Temple_.


A year or so after the publication of _Aristocracy and Evolution_ I
found myself taking by accident quite a new departure. I was offered and
accepted a place on the board of a small company, and was thus abruptly
summoned from the world of economic philosophy to that of practical
action. The object of the company was to perfect and introduce an
invention which, had it been properly developed as a mechanism and
skillfully dealt with otherwise, might well have become popular. The
general idea was certainly sound enough. With regard to this all
concerned were unanimous. But as soon as the project assumed a minutely
practical form all sorts of difficulties arose. The mechanism was one
which might be constructed in a number of alternative ways, and,
according to the way chosen, the cost of manufacture would vary very
considerably, and its use to the general public would vary to a degree
still greater. Since the board comprised several engineers, a
successful manufacturer of pianos, and a lawyer highly respected in the
domain of local government, I imagined that these preliminary
difficulties would very soon be solved. I was, however, much mistaken.
Each director had some idea of his own, which clashed with the ideas of
others, not indeed as to fundamentals, but purely as to incidental
details. This rendered concerted action as impossible as it would have
been had the differences related not to means, but to ends; and nobody
united in himself sufficient technical knowledge with sufficient moral
initiative to harmonize these conflicting elements, and thus to render
concerted action practicable. The enterprise, in consequence, soon came
to an end, certain of the directors bearing most of the loss. But I, at
all events, got something for my money in the way of an instructive
experience. It was an experience which illustrated by fact what I had
previously insisted on as a matter of general theory--namely, that no
enterprise undertaken by a number of persons can possibly succeed unless
it has some man of exceptional strength at the head of it, who will use
the wits of others according to his own judgment; and, further, that
this man's strength must be of a very peculiar kind, which has nothing
to do with the qualities, moral or intellectual, which make their
possessors illustrious in other domains of life.

This taste of business experience did not heighten my appreciation of
the mental leisure which otherwise I now enjoyed. It was a leisure,
however, which before very long took the form of activity in a new
direction.

The more important questions which agitate the mind of an age, just like
those which agitate the mind of an individual, engross and affect it,
not simultaneously, but in alternation. One actor recedes for the moment
and makes way for another, and the newcomer is an old actor returning.
About the time of which I am now speaking there was--on the surface, at
all events--a lull in social controversy, and a new outbreak of
religious. An illustration of this fact may be found in the
extraordinary popularity achieved by a novel purely religious in
interest, its name being _Robert Elsmere_, and its authoress Mrs.
Humphry Ward. Its religious interest is of a highly specialized kind. It
is the story of an Anglican clergyman who starts as an earnest and
absolutely untroubled believer in the traditional dogmas which the
Church of England inculcates. He is thus at peace with himself till he
gradually becomes intimate with a certain distinguished scholar. This
scholar, who is the squire of his parish, is the possessor of an
enormous library, rich in the writings of continental and especially of
German skeptics. Having suggested to Robert Elsmere sundry disquieting
arguments, he turns him loose in his library, begging him to use it as
his own. The clergyman accepts the invitation. He soon is absorbed in
the works of such writers as Strauss and Renan; and little by little
their spirit becomes his own. Their eyes become his. Everything which
orthodoxy demands in the way of the supernatural disappears. The
sacraments become mummeries. Even Christ, in the ordinary sense, no
longer lives. The clergyman is left in desolation. How, he asks, can the
Church (by which he means the Anglican Church) help him? What evidence,
what shred even of probability, have its ministers to support their
teaching? They hardly, if closely pressed, know what they mean
themselves, and the supernatural teaching of one section of Anglicans
contradicts that of the others. The one moral which her hero draws from
his studies resolves itself into the words, "Miracles do not happen."

Mrs. Ward's novel was particularly appropriate to the time at which it
was published. The question of what a man, as a minister of the English
Church, might or might not teach without surrendering his office or
without abjuring his honesty was being hotly debated in reviews, in
Convocation, and at countless clerical Congresses; but these resulted in
no unanimous answer. The English Church, indeed, as a teaching body, was
held by many people to be on the very verge of disruption. The situation
was precisely similar to that which in my book, _Is Life Worth Living?_
I had myself predicted ten years before as inevitable. If Christianity
means anything definite--anything more than a mood of precarious
sentiment--the only logical form of it is that represented by the
Oecumenical Church of Rome. This had been my previous argument, and,
stimulated by current events, I felt impelled to restate it in greater
detail and with more pungent illustrations. I found particular
satisfaction in analyzing the utterances of dignitaries of the
Broad-Church party, such as Farrar and Wilberforce, whose plan for
rejuvenating the coherence of the Anglican Church was to reduce all its
doctrine which savored of the supernatural to symbols. One of them
proposed, for example, to salvage the doctrine of the Ascension by
maintaining that its true meaning is, not that Christ rose from the
earth vertically (which would indeed be absurd), but that he
disappeared, as it were, laterally, by withdrawing himself somehow or
other into the fourth dimension of space. According to another, the
statement that Christ on a specified day ascended was merely a
symbolical way of saying that about the time in question his work on
earth was finished, and that he had, like Sir Peter Teazle, taken leave
of his disciples with the words, "Gentlemen, I leave my character in
your hands." On the basis of such an exegesis they managed to raise a
superstructure of sentiment which had, until it was touched, some
likeness to the old fabric, but which a breath of air would dissipate,
and unmask the ruins within. Canon Farrar's _Life of Christ_ was a work
of this description. The work had an enormous sale, and the author, at
an Oxford dinner, confided somewhat ruefully to a neighbor that all he
got for it himself was not more than three hundred pounds. Another
neighbor, overhearing this remark, murmured to somebody else, "He
forgets that in the good old days the same job was done for thirty
pieces of silver."

A criticism of the clerical rationalists, not dissimilar in its purport,
was administered to Jowett by a certain Russian thinker, who knew little
as to Jowett's opinions, and had no intention of rebuking them. He was
describing, as an interesting event, the development of a religion in
Russia which claimed to be Christian and at the same time purely
rational. "Was it a good religion?" asked Jowett, with a somewhat curt
civility. "No," said the Russian, reflectively, "it was not a good
religion. It was schlim-schlam. It was veesh-vash. It was vot you call
'Broad Church.'"

Mrs. Ward, who may fairly be described as the best educated woman
novelist of her generation, endeavored, in the disguise of her hero, to
found a rationalized Christianity on her own account, and her
distinction as a scholar and a reasoner makes this experiment
interesting. But the kind of Christianity in which Robert Elsmere takes
refuge, and of which he officiates as the self-appointed primate, has no
foundation but sentiment and certain _tours de force_ of the
imagination. As soon as it resolves itself into any definite
propositions with regard to objective fact it is evident that these
have no authority at the back of them. Without some authority at the
back of it, unified by a coherent logic, no religion can guide or curb
mankind or provide them with any hopes that the enlightened intellect
can accept. It is precisely this sort of authority which, for those who
can accept its doctrines, the Church of Rome possesses, and is possessed
by that Church alone. Here is the argument in which _Is Life Worth
Living?_ culminated. The detailed processes by which the authority and
the teaching of Rome have developed themselves I had cited in
_Aristocracy and Evolution_ as an example of evolution in general. In a
new volume, _Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption_, I dealt with it once
again, having before me the example of what was then being called "The
Great Anglican Crisis." That this book was not written wholly in vain I
have sufficient reason to know, for a variety of correspondents assured
me that it put into clear form what had long been their unexpressed
convictions--certain of these persons--serious Anglicans--having joined,
since then, the Church of Rome in consequence.

But the thoughts of which this work was the result were not appeased by
its publication. They began to germinate afresh in a kindred, but in a
different form. _Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption_ had for its
immediate subject a position which was mainly insular--that is to say,
the position, not of religion in general, but of the formal
interpretations of Christianity which were at that time colliding with
complete unbelief in England. But I had from the first--from the days
when I was planning _The New Republic_ onward--urged that all doctrines
pertaining to particular forms of Christianity were merely parts of a
wider question--namely, that of the credibility of supernatural religion
of any kind, and that this credibility must be tested, not by an
examination of religious doctrines as such, or even of religious emotion
in the purer and more direct manifestations of it, but in the indirect
effects produced by it on the quality of life generally. Thus merely in
the capacity of a thinker I felt myself presently impelled to a
reconsideration of the contents of the life of the individual; and this
impulsion was aggravated by certain domestic dramas which, in one way or
another, came to my own knowledge.

In describing my visit to Hungary I mentioned a young and extremely
engaging lady, who looked as though she were made for happiness, but
whose life, though prematurely ended, had had time since then to become
entangled in tragedy. I had often, since I left Hungary, wondered what
had become of her; but not till some years later did I learn, quite
accidentally, what her story and her end had been. I was told few
details, but these sufficed to enable me, by a mere use of the
imagination, to reconstruct it, and see in it certain general meanings.
Of this reconstructive process the result was my novel, _A Human
Document_. It was not, indeed, due to the stimulus of this story alone,
and of the philosophic meanings which I read either in or into it. It
was partly due, I must confess, to the effects which Hungarian life had
on my imagination generally--effects with which the affairs of this lady
had nothing at all to do--and to an impulse to reproduce these in some
sort of literary form. The castles, the armor, the shepherds playing to
their flocks, the wild gypsy music, the obeisances of the peasants, the
mysteries of the great forests--all these things, like an artist when he
paints a landscape, I longed to reproduce for the mere pleasure of
reproducing them. Such being the case, the heroine of my novel and her
experiences became unified with the scenes among which I had actually
known her.

For this work, as a picture of Hungary and Hungarian life, I am well
supported in claiming one merit, at all events. Count Deym, who at that
time was Austrian Ambassador in London, told a friend of mine that my
picture in these respects could not have been more accurate had I known
Hungary for a lifetime. Of its merits as a study of human nature, and an
essay on the philosophy of life, it is not my province to speak. I
merely indicate the conclusion to which, as an attempt at philosophic
analysis, it leads. It leads, although by a quite different route, to
the same conclusion as that suggested in _The Old Order Changes_ and in
_A Romance of the Nineteenth Century_--namely, that in all the higher
forms of affection a religious belief is implicit, which connects the
lovers with the All, and establishes between them and It some conscious
and veritable communion.

The hero gives expression to this conclusion thus: On the evening after
that on which the heroine had made herself wholly his the two are
together in a boat on a forest lake. She does not regard her surrender
as the subject of ordinary repentance. On the contrary, she regards it
as justified by the cruelty and neglect of her husband, and yet she is
beset by a sense that, nevertheless, she may have outraged something
which for some reason or other she ought to have held sacred. Her
companion divines this mood, and does what he can to reassure her.
"See," he says, "the depths above us, and the depths reflected under us,
holding endless space and all the endless ages, and ourselves like a
ball of thistledown floating between two eternities. From some of these
stars the arrows of light that reach us started on their vibrating way
before Eve's foot was in Eden. Where that milky light is new universes
are forming themselves. The book of their genesis yet remains to be
written. Think of the worlds forming themselves. Think of the worlds
shining, and the darkened suns and systems mute in the night of time. To
us--to us--what does it all say more than the sea says to the rainbow in
one tossed bubble of foam? And yet to us it must say something, seeing
that we are born of it, and how can we be out of tune with it, seeing
that it speaks to us now?"

The moral of this mysticism is that no affection is complete unless it
is in harmony with some cosmic will which takes cognizance of the doings
of the individual, and gives to them individually something of its own
eternity; but that, in so far as the two are at variance, the individual
must pay the price. In _A Human Document_ this price is paid
deliberately by the man, and ultimately the woman shares in it, like a
character in a Greek tragedy.

This novel was followed by another, _The Heart of Life_, which was more
or less constructed on the same lines, and also in response to a similar
dual impulse. The scenery and the setting were those of my own early
days in Devonshire. The home of the principal actors, as there depicted,
is a compound of Glenthorne--I have mentioned its situation already, on
the seaward borders of Exmoor--and of Denbury. Several of the characters
are clergymen with whom I was once familiar. Mixed with these elements
are certain scenes of fashionable life. All these accessories are almost
photographically accurate; and the mere pleasure of reproducing
them--or, as boys would say, the mere fun of reproducing them--was one
of the motives which actuated me in writing this novel and rewriting
it--for most of it was written over and over again. The main action, as
in _A Human Document_, turned on the nature of the affections and the
pangs of unhappy matrimony, these last conducting the two principal
personages to a rest in which the heart of life, self-purified, is
hardly distinguishable from the content of a Christian child's prayer.

A third novel followed. This novel was _The Individualist_, of which the
underlying subject was still the relation of religion to life, but the
subject was handled in a spirit less of emotion than of pure social
comedy. It was suggested by the movement, then beginning to effervesce,
in favor of the rights of women, and by the semi-Socialist hysteria with
which some of its leaders associated it, and in which many of them
thought that they had discovered the foundations of a new faith. The
most prominent character, though she is not in the ordinary sense the
heroine, is Mrs. Norham, an ornament of intellectual Bloomsbury. Having
certain independent means, she is far from being an opponent of private
property as such. Her _bête noire_ is the fashionable or aristocratic
classes, these being the true Antichrist; and she has founded a church
whose main spiritual mission is to instigate an _élite_ of the obscure
and earnest to despise them. By and by she meets some members of this
despicable class herself. Among them is a Tory Prime Minister, who joins
with his sister, an exceedingly fine lady, in expressing a respectful
and profound admiration of her intellect. Mrs. Norham's philosophy of
social religion hereupon undergoes such an appreciable change that she
ultimately finds salvation in winding wool for a peeress, the only
surviving thorns in her original crown of martyrdom being the loss of
some money in a company formed for the production of a perpetual
motion, and her discovery that a certain dinner party to which she has
been asked is not sufficiently fashionable. This book, though in many
respects a mere comedy of manners and characters--among the characters
was a South African millionaire and his wife--was under the surface
permeated by a serious meaning, being in effect an exhibition of the
"fantastic tricks" which those who reject the supernatural are driven to
play in their attempts to provide the world with a substitute.

But every general event must have a general cause, for which individuals
are not alone responsible; and the fantastic tricks of the people who
try to make religions for themselves cannot be due merely to the
idiosyncrasies of exceptionally foolish persons. There must be causes at
the back of them of a deeper and a wider kind. The first of these causes
is obviously the fact that, for some reason or other, multitudes who
know nothing of one another are independently coming to the conclusion
that supernaturalism, which was once accepted without question as the
main content or substratum of human life, rests on postulates which to
them are no longer credible. Why is this the case to-day, when it was
not the case yesterday? Of these necessary postulates two are the same
for all men--namely, an individual life which survives, the individual
body, and the moral responsibility of the individual, or his possession
of a free will. A third postulate, which is the same for all orthodox
Christians, is the miraculous inspiration of the Bible, whatever the
precise nature of this inspiration may be. Of these three postulates the
last has been discredited all over the world by biblical criticism and
scientific comparisons of one religion with another. The first and the
second have been discredited by advances in the science of biological
physics which has, with increasing precision, exhibited human life and
thought as mere functions of the physical organism, the organism itself
being, in turn, a part of the cosmic process. If this be the case, what
religious significance can attach to the individual as such? His
thoughts, his emotions, his actions, are no more his own than the action
of a windmill's sails or the antics of scraps of paper gyrating at a
windy corner.[3] The first license to men to construct a religion is a
license given them by reason to admit the proposition that the
individual will is free. The primary obstacle to religious belief to-day
is the difficulty of finding in this universe a rational place for
freedom--a "_voluntas avolsa fatis_." How is this obstacle to be
surmounted?

To this question I attempted an answer in a new philosophical book,
_Religion as a Credible Doctrine_, of which the general contention is as
follows. If we trust solely to science and objective evidence, the
difficulty in question is insuperable. There is no place for individual
freedom in the universe, and apologists who attempt to find one are no
better than clowns tumbling in the dust of a circus. If they try to
smuggle it in through some chink in the _moenia mundi_, these ageless
walls are impregnable, or if here and there some semblance of a gate
presents itself, each gate is guarded, like Eden, by science with its
flaming swords.

The argument of this book, then, is in the main negative. But in dealing
with the problem thus it is not negative in its tendency, for it carries
the reader to the verge of the only possible solution. For pure reason,
as enlightened by modern knowledge, human freedom is unthinkable, and
yet for any religion by which the pure reason and the practical reason
can be satisfied the first necessity is that men should accept such
freedom as a fact. But this argument does not apply to the belief in
human freedom only. It applies to all the primary conceptions which men
assume, and are bound to assume, in order to make life practicable. If
we follow pure reason far enough--if we follow it as far as it will
go--not only freedom is unthinkable, but so are other things as well.
Space is unthinkable, time is unthinkable, and so (as Herbert Spencer
elaborately argued) is motion. In each of these is involved some
self-contradiction, some gap which reason cannot span; and yet, as Kant
said, unless we do assume them, rational action, and even thought
itself, are impossible. If the difficulty, then, of conceiving human
freedom is the only difficulty which religious belief encounters, we may
trust that in time such belief will reassert itself, and a definite
religion of some sort acquire new life along with it.

But religion does not logically depend on the postulate of freedom
alone. Moral freedom, in a religious sense, requires, not the postulate
of individual freedom only, but also of a Supreme or Cosmic Being, to
whose will it is the duty of the individual will to attune itself, and
it further requires the postulate that this Being is good in respect of
its relations to all individuals equally--that it represents, in short,
a multitude of individual benevolences. Nor does the matter end here.
Any definite religion postulates some recognized means by which the will
of this Being may be made known. I had hardly completed _Religion as a
Credible Doctrine_ before questions such as these, which there had been
hardly touched, began to impress themselves with new emphasis on my
mind. My desire was to take these questions in combination, and it
seemed to me that this could best be done by adopting a method less
formal than that which I had just pursued. I returned accordingly to the
methods of _The New Republic_.

In this new work, called _The Veil of the Temple_, the action begins at
a party in a great London house, where Rupert Glanville, a politician
who has just returned from the East, invites some friends to cut their
London dissipations short and pay him a visit at a curious marine
residence which a Protestant bishop, his ancestor, had constructed in
classical taste on the remotest coast of Ireland. A party is got
together, including a bishop of to-day and two ornaments of the Jockey
Club, together with some fashionable ladies and a Hegelian philosopher
educated at Glasgow and Oxford.

The intellectual argument of the book takes up the threads where
_Religion as a Credible Doctrine_ dropped them. It begins at the dinner
table, where a well-known case of cheating at cards is discussed, and
the issue is raised of whether, or how far, a rich man who cheats at
cards is the master of his own actions or the pathological victim of
kleptomania. One of the lights of the Jockey Club is indignant at the
idea that the matter can be open to doubt. "If a gentleman," he says,
"is not free to abstain from cheating, what would become of the turf?
Eh, bishop--what would become of the Church? What would become of
anything?" Thus the question of free will is once again in the air, and
the more serious of the guests, as soon as the others depart, set
themselves to discuss both this and other questions kindred to it.

Of such other questions the most obvious is this: "How far do educated
persons, who are nominally 'professing Christians,' really believe in
doctrines of Christian orthodoxy, and more particularly in the authority
and supernatural inspiration of the Bible?" Most of them are obliged to
confess that at best they are in a state of doubt. On Sunday three
Anglican clergymen are imported on a steam launch from a watering place
some ten miles off, where they are attending a clerical Congress--an
Evangelical, a Broad Churchman, and a Ritualist; and they administer to
the company three competitive sermons.

These performances leave confusion worse confounded; and the guests
during the following days set themselves to pick their own beliefs to
pieces. At last they come back to the question of free will, especially
as related to science and what is called scientific materialism. Then
the question arises of "What do we mean by matter?" and then the
question of the possible goodness of a God who, if he is really the
power behind evolution, is constantly sacrificing the unit to the
development of the race or species. This last difficulty is expressed by
one of the disputants in a poem which had been written many years ago,
and which, by request of the company, he recites. In this poem the man,
who is vowed to abandon every belief for which science can make no room,
is represented by a wanderer who finds himself at last conducted to a
bare region where no living thing is discernible, but one shining
apparition standing on the brink of a promontory which juts into a
sailless sea. He approaches, and addresses it thus:

    "Oh, angel of the heavenly glow,
      Behold I take thine hands and kneel.
    But what is this? Thy brows are snow,
      Thy hands are stone, thy wings are steel.

    "The radiant pureness of thy face
      Has not the peace of Paradise,
    Those wings within the all-holy place
      Were never folded o'er thine eyes.

    "And in thine eyes I see no bliss,
      Nor even the tenderness of tears.
    I see the blueness of the abyss,
      I see the icebergs and the spheres.

    "Angel whose hand is cold in mine,
      Whose seaward eyes are not for me,
    Why do I cry for wings like thine?
      I would leave all and follow thee."

To this the apparition, who is the Spirit of Science, replies:

    "Ah, rash one, pause and learn my name.
      I know not love, nor hate, nor ruth.
    I am that heart of frost and flame
      That knows but one desire--the Truth.

    "Thou shalt indeed be lifted up
      On wings like mine, 'twixt seas and sky.
    But can'st thou drink with me my cup,
      And can'st thou be baptized as I?

    "The cup I drink of does but rouse
      The thirst it slakes not, like the sea;
    And lo, my own baptismal brows
      Must be their own Gethsemane.

    "Across the paths where I must go
      The shuttles of the lightning fly
    From pole to pole, and strike, nor know
      If Christs and kingdoms live or die.

    "How wilt thou bear the worlds of fire,
      The worlds of snow, or dare to mark
    On each some ratlike race expire
      That cannot leave its foundering bark?

    "Oh, you, for whom my robes are bright,
      For whom my clear eyes in the gloom
    Are lamps--you who would share my flight,
      Be warned in time. I know my doom.

    "I shall become the painless pain,
      The soundless sound, as, deaf and dumb,
    The whole creation strives in vain
      To sing the song that will not come.

    "Till maimed and weary, burnt and blind,
      I am made one with God, and feel
    The tumult of the mindless mind
      Torn on its own eternal wheel."

The suppliant replies that he knows from his own experience what such a
counsel means, but has found it himself to be no longer practicable.
There was a time, he says, when he found the perfect peace in kneeling
before the Christian altar, but what is the Eucharist for him who can no
longer believe in it? He still is prepared to follow the Spirit of Truth
at all costs. "For me," he says:

    "For me the kneeling knees are vain,
      In vain for me the sacred dew.
    I will not drink that wine again
      Unless with thee I drink it new.

    "Give me thy wings, thy wings of steel,
      And I with thee will cleave the skies,
    And broken on the eternal wheel
      My God may take his sacrifice."

"And yet," he says in conclusion, "Truth, to those who follow it, may at
last bring its own reward."

    "Though storms may blow, though waves may roar,
      It may be, ere the day is done,
    Mine eyes shall turn to thine once more,
      And learn that thine and his are one."

_The Veil of the Temple_ winds up, in short, with the indication that,
if both are completely thought out, the gospel of Faith is no more
irrational than the gospel of scientific negation, and that the former
can be a guide to action, whereas, if thought out completely, this is
precisely what the latter cannot be.

_The Reconstruction of Belief_ is a synthesis of the main arguments
urged or suggested in these two preceding volumes. The necessity of
religious belief as a practical basis of civilization is restated. The
absurdity of all current attempts on the part of clerical apologists to
revindicate it by scientific reason is set forth in detail. The true
vindication is shown to reside in the fact that religious belief works,
and that scientific negation does not work, and that here we have the
practical test by which the validity of the former is to be established,
though the process by which this fact will be apprehended by the modern
world may be slow.

[3] In an early chapter of _The Veil of the Temple_ one of the
characters describes the situation as follows:

"(For a long time after the death of Hegel) these separate living
species seemed radically separated from one another, or connected only
as contrivances of the same deity. Thus the different kinds of life--in
especial the life of man--seemed to stand up alone above the waters of
science, like island peaks above the sea, the objects of a separate
knowledge. But all this while the waters of science were rising slowly
like a flood, and were signalizing their rise by engulfing from time to
time some stake or landmark that a moment before was protruding from
them, or by suddenly pouring over a barrier and submerging some new
area. No doubt even by this process many people were frightened, but
there was no more general panic than there was in the days of Noah. Men
from their superior status watched the tide in security. They ate, they
drank at their old sacramental altars. They were married before them and
given in marriage. But one fine day--as we look back on it now it seems
the work of a moment--something happened which, as I often amused myself
by thinking, would have been for a transhuman spectator the finest stage
effect in the world. The gradual rise of the waters gave place to a
cataclysm. The fountains of the great deep were broken up when Darwin
struck the rock, and an enormous wave washed over the body of man,
covering him up to his chin, leaving only his head visible, while his
limbs jostled below against the carcasses of the drowned animals. His
head, however, was visible still, and in his head was his mind--that
mind antecedent to the universe--that redoubtable, separate
entity--staring out of his eyes over the deluge, like a sailor on a
sinking ship. Then came one crisis more. The waters rose an inch or two
higher, and all at once, like a sponge, the substance of his head had
begun to suck them up--suck them up into the very home of life and
thought; and the mind, sodden all through, was presently below the
surface, sharing the doom of limpets, and weeds, and worlds."



CHAPTER XV

FROM THE HIGHLANDS TO NEW YORK

     Summer on the Borders of Caithness--A Two Months' Yachting
     Cruise--The Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides--An Unexpected
     Political Summons.


During the five years occupied in elaborating these philosophical works
I enjoyed two intervals of relaxation, which in the landscape of memory
detach themselves from other kindred experiences, and one of which--the
second--had a quite unexpected ending.

The first was indirectly connected with the Coronation of King Edward.
On a certain evening, while the event was impending, I found myself
sitting at dinner by a friend, Lady Amherst (of Montreal), who told me
that she and Lord Amherst were shortly going to a shooting lodge which
was close to the borders of Caithness, and which they rented from the
Duke of Sutherland. For some months past Lady Amherst had been unwell,
and her doctor had urged her to avoid the crowds of London, for which
reason she and her husband had determined to find quiet in the north. I
told her I thought she was a very enviable woman, all unusual crowds
being to myself detestable. "If you think that," she said, "why don't
you come with us? A few others will be there, so we shall not be quite
alone." I accepted the invitation with delight. I said good-by to London
on the earliest day possible. In a train which was almost empty I
traveled much at my ease from King's Cross Station to Brora. Not a
tourist was to be seen anywhere. Except for a few farmers, all the
Highland platforms were empty. I felt like a disembodied spirit when I
found myself at last in a land of short, transparent nights which hardly
divided one day from another. Uppat, Lord Amherst's lodge, was one of
the roomiest on the whole Sutherland property. Parts of it were old. It
had once been a small laird's castle. Round it were woods from which
came the noise of a salmon river. Among the woods were walled plots of
pasture, and beyond the woods were the loneliest of all lonely
mountains. In the kitchen was a French _chef_, and when on my arrival I
found Lady Amherst in the porch, her homespun toilet showed that France
produced artists other than French cooks. To elude the world without
eluding its ornaments--what more could be prayed for by a mind desiring
rest? Uppat, indeed, in June and July was like a land

    Where all trouble seems
      Dead winds, and spent waves riot
    In doubtful dreams of dreams.

Lord Amherst, as a rule, spent most of the day fishing. Lady Amherst, I,
and two other visitors very often bicycled. On other occasions we all
made our way to purple fastnesses, and lunched where birches lifted
their gleaming stems. The only movements discoverable between earth and
sky were the sailing wings of eagles, and our own activities below, as
we applied mayonnaise sauce, yellower than any primrose, to a sea trout
or a lobster. We dined at nearly nine o'clock by a strange, white
daylight; and in the outer quiet there was very often discernible a
movement of stags' antlers above the wall of a near orchard. We read the
newspapers till very nearly midnight without lamps or candles. We
watched the blush of sunset, visible, like a dying bonfire, through a
gap in the Caithness mountains, and this had not faded completely till
it seemed as though someone had lighted beyond a neighboring ridge a
bonfire of saffron--the faint beginning of sunrise. No retreat could
have been a retreat more complete than this.

Another retreat in the north was vouchsafed to me some years later. I
was lunching with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Saxton Noble, in London, and
they told me that, instead of taking, as had been their custom, a
country house for the autumn, they had taken a yacht of about five
hundred tons, and were going to spend their time in a leisurely cruise
round the western coasts of Scotland. I mentioned to them that I had
just been reading a very interesting description of Noltland, a curious
castle in the remotest island of the Orkneys. We talked of this, which
apparently was a very remarkable structure, containing the most
magnificent newel staircase in Scotland. Suddenly Mrs. Noble said, "Why
won't you join us?" My own plans for the autumn had been mapped out
already, and I did not at first take her suggestion seriously. I laughed
and said, "Yes, I'll come if you will go as far as Noltland." Both she
and her husband at once answered: "Yes. We promise to go to Noltland.
Let us take your coming as settled."

Accordingly, toward the end of July we left London by the night mail for
Greenock, where the yacht would be found waiting for us. Next morning,
in the freshness of a salt breeze, we were transferring ourselves from
Greenock pier to a trim-looking motor boat, which was rising and falling
on the swish of unquiet waters, while the yacht--a small streak of
whiteness--was pointed out to us lying half a mile away. Besides Mr. and
Mrs. Noble, our party consisted of their two children, Miss Helen
Marhall, and myself. I had with me a Swiss servant; Mrs. Noble had a
French maid, together with her London butler, transformed for the time
into a mariner by gilt buttons and a nautical serge suit, and the cook
was an accomplished _chef_ who had once been in the service of the
fastidious Madame de Falbe. We were all of us good sailors, so for our
prospective comfort everything augured well. Our first few days were
spent on the calm waters of Loch Fyne. We then went southward, and,
doubling the Mull of Cantyre, had some taste of the turbulence of the
open sea. We then turned north, and, protected by the outer islands,
followed the mainland placidly until we approached Cape Wrath.

A large part of our time was spent in a succession of lochs. On our way
to Oban, and in its harbor, we saw several large yachts; but, except for
occasional fishing smacks, after Oban the sea became more and more
deserted. Entering one loch after another in the summer evenings, and
seeing no human habitations but crofters' cottages, which, except for
their wreaths of smoke, were hardly distinguishable from the heather,
and hearing no sound at nightfall, when our own engines were still,
except the distant dipping of some solitary pair of oars, we felt as
though we had reached the beginnings of civilization, or the ends of it.
This was specially true of Loch Laxford--the last of such inland
shelters lying south of Cape Wrath--Cape Wrath, the lightning of whose
lanterns and the boom of whose great foghorns send out warnings to those
on "seas full of wonder and peril," which Swinburne's verse
commemorates.

Of the peril of these seas our captain had often spoken, and when,
leaving the stillness of Loch Laxford, we renewed our northward journey,
we soon perceived that his language was not exaggerated. From the mouth
of Loch Laxford to Cape Wrath the whole coast might have represented to
Dante the scowling ramparts of hell. Of anything in the nature of a
beach no trace was discernible. The huge cliffs, rising sheer from the
sea, leaned not inward, but outward, and ceaseless waves were breaking
in spouts of foam against them. The yacht began to roll and pitch, so
that though none of us were sick except Mrs. Noble's maid, we could very
few of us stand. We managed, however, to identify the lighthouse and
megaphone of Cape Wrath just peeping out of the cliffs, as though they
were themselves afraid to meet the full violence of a storm. The skill
of the cook, however, and the intrepidity of hunger enabled us to eat
our luncheon. We then lay down in our several cabins and slept, till
steps on deck and a number of voices woke us. We were soon rolling more
disagreeably than ever. But this added annoyance did not last for long.
Something or other happened. The motion of the vessel became easier, and
at last, peeping into my cabin, Saxton Noble announced that we were back
again in Loch Laxford. The megaphones of Cape Wrath had announced that a
fog was coming. The captain had fled before it, and we dined that night
at a table as stationary and steady as any in any hotel in Glasgow. Next
day the weather was clear. We rounded the terrible headland, and were
floating at ease that evening on the glassy surface of Loch Erribol. In
this half-sylvan seclusion we rested for several days. Thence some eight
hours of steaming brought us to the roadstead of Thurso. For several
days we lay there while the yacht rocked uneasily, and most of our time
was spent in expeditions on dry land. In some ways Thurso was curious.
On the one hand, the shops were excellent. They might have been those
of a country town near London. On the other hand, the older houses were,
as a protection against storms, roofed with ponderous slabs hardly
smaller than gravestones. At one end of the town was Thurso Castle, the
seat of Sir Tollemache Sinclair, its walls rising out of the water. At
the back of it was a small wood--the only wood in Caithness. I knew Sir
Tollemache Sinclair well, but unfortunately he was not at home. He was
what is called "a character." He had strong literary tastes, and firmly
believed that he understood the art of French versification better than
Victor Hugo. The last time I had seen him was at a hotel in Paris. He
was on that occasion in a mood of great complacency, having just been
spending an hour with Victor Hugo at luncheon. I asked him if, with
regard to French versification, Victor Hugo agreed with him. "No," he
replied, honestly, "I can't say that he did; but he asked me to lunch
again with him whenever I should be next in Paris."

As soon as the weather was inviting enough we turned our bows toward the
Orkneys, dimly visible on the horizon some forty miles away, and found
ourselves, on a windless evening, entering Scapa Flow. We little thought
that those then little visited waters would one day witness the making
of British and German history. Scapa Flow is a miniature Mediterranean,
with the mainland of the Orkneys on one side and the island of Hoy on
the other. At the northeastern end of it, some ten miles away, a high,
red building--a lonely tower--was visible. This was the tower of the
great cathedral of Kirkwall. Approaching the Orkneys from Thurso the
first things that struck us were certain great structures crowning the
mounded hills. These, we discovered afterward were so many great
farmsteadings, protected from the wind by cinctures of high walls, many
of the Orcadian holdings being at once rich and extensive, and
commanding very high rentals.

Kirkwall, in respect of its shops, surprised us even more than Thurso.
There were chemists, grocers, booksellers, whose windows would hardly
have been out of place at Brighton; but haunting suggestions of the old,
the remote, the wild, were tingling in the air everywhere. The huge
tentacles of the kraken might have lifted themselves beyond Kirkwall
harbor. The beautiful palace of the old Earls of Orkney would have been
still habitable if only some local body early in the nineteenth century
had not stolen its slates for the purpose of roofing some schoolhouse.
Tankerness House, entered by a fortified gate, and built round a small
court, can have hardly changed since the days of Brenda and Minna
Troyle. In the nave of the great cathedral, which took four centuries in
building, one would not have been surprised at meeting Magnus Troyle or
Norna. The nave is full of the records of old Orcadian notables. These
are not, however, for the most part, attached to the walls as tablets.
They are attached to the pillars by extended iron rods, from which they
hang like the swaying signs of inns. A country without railways and
without coal--how peaceful England might be if only it were not for
these!

But our peace in a physical sense was very abruptly broken when we
quitted Kirkwall en route for the Holy Grail of our pilgrimage, Noltland
Castle, which secludes itself on the far-off island of Westray, and,
leaving the quiet of Scapa Flow behind us, encountered once more the
tumults of the Pentland Firth. But these were nothing in comparison with
those that met us as soon as we had rounded the southwest corner of Hoy.
The hills of Hoy, so far as we had yet seen them, were of no very great
magnitude; but now, as we went northward, they showed themselves as a
line of tremendous precipices, which rose from the booming waves to an
altitude of twelve hundred feet. This monstrous wall ended where a
narrow and mysterious fiord separates Hoy from a low-hilled island north
of it. This island gave place to another, and at last, late in the day,
our captain told us that we were passing the outer shore of Westray.
Consulting our maps, and pointing to the mouth of some new fiord, we
asked him if it would not afford us a short cut to our destination. He
told us that it was full of hidden rocks and sandbanks, and called our
attention to some enigmatic object which rose in midchannel like a
deer's horns from the sea. "There," he said, "are the masts of an
Icelandic steamer which attempted two years ago to make that passage,
and was lost. To reach Westray in safety we must double its farthest
promontory." An hour or two later this feat was accomplished. We were
once more in smooth water, and found ourselves quietly floating toward
something like a dwarf pier and one or two small white houses. By now it
was time for dinner, and having dined in a saloon that was hung with
jade-green silk, we leaned over the bulwarks and contemplated the remote
scene before us. We could just discern by the pier some small tramp
steamer reposing. In the little white houses one or two lights twinkled,
and presently, not far off, we distinguished a mouse-colored something,
the upper outlines of which resolved themselves into high gables. Like
Childe Roland when he came to the dark tower, we realized that these
were the gables of Noltland Castle. Next morning we explored this
building. The main block consisted of a tower unusually large, in the
middle of which was a great red-sandstone staircase winding round a
newel which culminated in a heraldic monster. This staircase led to a
great hall, roofless, but otherwise perfect. Above it had once been
bedrooms. On the ground floor were vaulted offices, including a hearth
as large as the kitchen of a well-built cottage. Attached to the tower
was a court. Ruined chambers surrounded it, in which guests, their
retinues, and the servants of the house once slept. Island chieftains
once met and reveled here. Here also for a time the most beautiful woman
in Europe--Mary Stuart, as a captive--looked out at the sea.

Of the little houses by the pier the largest was a combination of a
public house and a store, where we bought a supply of soda water. The
storekeeper was a man of slightly sinister aspect. He might have been a
character in one of Stevenson's novels. His aspect suggested distant and
enigmatic, and perhaps criminal, adventure. He had evidently some
education, and spoke of the natives with a sort of detached
condescension. I asked him if they were Catholics. He shrugged his
shoulders and said: "Some are. In this little island there are four
hundred inhabitants, and no fewer than five religions." With the
exception of this man's store, the only shop in Westray was locomotive.
We met it on a lonely road. It was a kind of glazed cart, the
transparent sides of which showed visions of the goods within.

Before leaving Westray we paid a visit to a much smaller island
opposite, Papa Westray, with an area of two thousand acres. It was
occupied by two farmers, whose average rent was more than ten shillings
an acre. On one of these farmers, thus separated from their kind, we
called. His farmstead was like a fortified town. His house was larger
than many a substantial manse. The sideboard in his spacious dining room
was occupied by two expensive Bibles and a finely cut decanter of
whisky, but his only neighbors from one year's end to another were
apparently his rival, by whom the rest of the island was tenanted, and a
female doctor lately imported from Edinburgh, whose business was more
closely related to the births of the population than to their maladies.

We had hoped, on leaving the Orkneys, to have gone as far north as the
Shetlands, but while we were lying off Westray the weather turned wet
and chilly, so we settled on going south again, visiting on our way the
islands of the outer Hebrides. The first stage of our journey was
rougher and more disagreeable than anything we had yet experienced. Once
again we were foiled in our efforts to get round Cape Wrath; and, having
spent an afternoon lying down in our cabins, we woke up to find
ourselves back again in the quiet of Scapa Flow. Next day we made a
successful crossing over sixty miles of sea to Tarbet, a little town
crouching on the neck of land which connects the Lewes with Harris. From
every cottage door there issued a sound of hand looms. The town or
village of Tarbet is in itself neat enough. One of its features is an
inn which would, with its trim garden, do honor to the banks of the
Thames; but a five minutes' stroll into the country brought us face to
face with a world of colossal desolations, compared with which the
scenery of Scapa Flow is suburban. The little houses of Westray were, at
all events, unmistakably houses. The crofters' huts, almost within a
stone's throw of Tarbet, many of them oval in shape, are like
exhalations of rounded stones and heather. We felt, as we gravely looked
at them, that we were back again in the Stone Age. In the island of
North Ouist we were visited by the same illusion. The landing stage was,
indeed, a scene of crowded life; but the life was the life of sea birds,
which were hardly disturbed by our approach. Leaving North Ouist, we
passed the mounded shores of Benbecula, the island where Prince Charlie
once lived as a fugitive, and where the islanders, all of them Catholics
(as they still are to-day), sang songs in his honor which, without
betraying his name, called him "the fair-haired herdsman." Far off on an
eminence we could just distinguish the glimmerings of a Catholic church,
in which, with strange ceremonies, St. Michael is still worshiped. South
Ouist, dominated by the great mountain of Hecla, likewise holds a
population whose Catholicism has never been broken. Facing the landing
stage is an inn obtrusively modern in aspect, and a little colony of
slate-roofed villas to match; but here, as at Tarbet, a few steps
brought us into realms of mystery. Having strayed along an inland road
which wavered among heaths and peat hags and gray boulders, we saw at a
distance some building of hewn sandstone, and presently there emerged
from its interior a solitary human being. For a moment he scrutinized
our approach, and then, like a timid animal, before we could make him
out, he was gone. When we reached the building we found that it was a
little Catholic schoolhouse, and that the door was hermetically closed.
I tried the effect of a few very gentle knocks, and these proved so
ingratiating that the inmate at last showed himself. He was the
schoolmaster--a youngish man, perhaps rather more than thirty. Finding
us not formidable, he had no objection to talking, though he still was
oddly shy. He told us what he could, in answer to some questions which
we put to him. I cannot remember what he said, but I remember his eyes
and the gentle modulations of his voice. They were those of a man living
in a world of dreams, for whom the outer world was as remote, and the
inner world as pure, as the silver of the shining clouds that were
streaking the peaks of Hecla. His face was my last memento of the
mystery of the Outer Isles.

The rest of our journeyings lay among scenes better known to tourists.
We visited Skye and Rum, the latter of which islands was once occupied
as a deer forest by the present Lord Salisbury's grandfather. Rum is
infested by mosquitoes, which almost stung us to death. Lord Salisbury
told a friend that he protected himself from their assaults by
varnishing his person completely with castor oil. The friend asked him
if this was not very expensive. "Ah," he replied, "but I never use the
best." The present owner has built there a great, inappropriate castle.
We wondered whether its walls were proof against these winged enemies.
Pursuing our southward course, we watched the Paps of Jura as they rose
into the sky like sugar loaves. Plunging through drifts of spray we
doubled the Mall of Cantyre, and got into waters familiar to half the
population of Glasgow. We lay for a night off Arran. The following day
we had returned to our original starting point. We were hardly more than
a cable's length from Greenock, and once again we heard the whistling of
locomotive engines. At Greenock we separated.

The Nobles were bound for England. I was myself going north to stay once
more with Sir John and Lady Guendolen Ramsden. By the West Highland
railway I reached the diminutive station of Tulloch, and a drive of
twenty miles brought me to the woods, the waters, and the granite
turrets of Ardverikie. After two months' acquaintance with the narrow
quarters of a yacht there was something odd and agreeable in spacious
halls and staircases. Especially agreeable was my bedroom, equipped with
a great, hospitable writing table, on which a pile of letters and postal
packets was awaiting me. Of these I opened a few which alone promised to
be interesting, allowing the others to keep for a more convenient
season. By the following morning, which I spent with Lady Guendolen,
sketching, I had, indeed, almost forgotten them, and not till the
evening did I give them any attention. One of them I had recognized at
once as the proofs of an article which I had just finished, before I
joined the yacht, on "The Intellectual Position of the Labor Party in
Parliament." The number of this party had been doubled at the last
election, and my mind, in consequence, had again begun to busy itself
with the question of mere manual labor as a factor in life and politics.
I had, indeed, on the yacht been making a rough sketch of a second
article on this subject, which would develop the argument of the first.

That night I glanced at the proofs before going to bed, reflecting on
the best methods by which the political intelligence of the masses could
be roused, reached, and guided. The unopened letters, none of which
looked inviting, I put by my bedside, to be examined when I woke next
morning. All except one were circulars. One, bearing a business monogram
and evidently directed by a clerk, differed from the rest in having a
foreign stamp on it. I indolently tore this open, and discovered that it
was an invitation from a great political body in New York to visit the
United States next winter and deliver a series of addresses on the
fundamental fallacies of Socialism.

It was at Ardverikie, many years before, that I had first embarked on a
serious study of statistics as essential to any clear comprehension of
social principles and problems. By an odd coincidence, it was at
Ardverikie likewise that, after years of laborious thought as to
political questions which must soon, as I then foresaw, become for
politicians the most vital questions of all, I received an invitation to
address, with regard to these very questions, a public far wider than
that of all Great Britain put together.



CHAPTER XVI

POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN AMERICA

     Addresses on Socialism--Arrangements for Their
     Delivery--American Society in Long Island and New
     York--Harvard--Prof. William James--President
     Roosevelt--Chicago--Second Stay in New York--New York to
     Brittany--_A Critical Examination of Socialism_--Propaganda in
     England.


The invitation which I have just mentioned emanated from the Civic
Federation of New York--a body established for the promotion, by
knowledge and sober argument, of some rational harmony between the
employing classes and the employed. Its council comprised prominent
members of both, such as Mr. Gompers, the trade-union leader, on one
side, and industrial magnates of international fame on the other. It had
just been decided to include in their educational scheme the delivery at
various centers of special lectures on Socialism, by some thinker from
Europe or England who would deal with the subject in a temperate and yet
a conservative spirit. It had ultimately been decided that the person
who would best suit them was myself. Arrangements were made accordingly,
and I have every reason to be grateful to those concerned for the manner
in which, on my arrival, they consulted both my judgment and my
convenience. The great question to be settled related to the class of
audience to whom the lectures should be delivered, and to whose modes of
thought they should be accommodated. I said that in my opinion far the
best course would be to set the idea of mass meetings altogether aside,
and address congregations of the educated classes only. To this view it
was objected that the cruder forms of Socialism are sufficiently
repudiated by the educated classes already, and that converting the
converted would be merely a waste of time. My own reply was that the
immediate object to aim at was not to convert the converted, but to
teach the converted how to convert others. My position as thus stated
was ultimately approved by all; and Mr. Easley, the distinguished
secretary of the Federation, took measures accordingly. The best course,
he said, would be to arrange with the heads of certain great
universities for the delivery of the addresses to audiences of
professors and students, other persons being admitted who felt any
inclination to attend. These arrangements would take some weeks to
complete. Meanwhile, the character of the expected audiences being
known, I should have ample time to prepare the addresses accordingly.
The universities chosen were Columbia, Harvard, Chicago, Pennsylvania,
and Johns Hopkins.

Mr. Easley was so good an organizer that all the details of the program
were settled in the course of a few weeks; and, owing to the kindness of
American friends in England, I enjoyed meanwhile at New York so many
social amenities that I sometimes could hardly tell whether I was in
New York or in London. I was provided with a sheaf of introductions by
Mrs. Bradley Martin, the Duchess of Marlborough, Lady Cunard, and
others, while on my arrival I was to stay for ten days or a fortnight
with Mr. Lloyd Bryce, who had been educated at Oxford, where he and I
were intimates. He was, for the moment, at his country house in Long
Island, and Sandy Hook was still some hundreds of miles distant when a
wireless message reached me on board the steamer saying that his
secretary would meet me, and be looking out for me when I landed. The
secretary was there at his post. He promptly secured a carriage; he
escorted me across the city, accompanied me in the ferryboat from the
city to Long Island, and saw me into a train, which in less than an hour
set me down at Rosslyn, a mile or so from my friend's house. At the
station gates there were several footmen waiting, just as there might
have been at Ascot or Three Bridges, and several private carriages. One
of these--a large omnibus--was my host's. I entered it, followed by an
orthodox lady's maid, who was laden with delicate parcels evidently from
New York, and we were off. The country, for the time was January, was
covered with deep snow, which clung to the boughs of pine trees and
glittered on cottage roofs. A mile or two away from the station we
turned into a private drive, which, mounting a parklike slope, with dark
pines for its fringes, brought us to Lloyd Bryce's house. It was a
house of true Georgian pattern--a central block with two symmetrical
wings. Its red bricks might have been fading there for a couple of
hundred years. Indoors there was the same quiet simplicity. The grave
butler and two excellent footmen were English. The only features which
were noticeably not English were the equable heat which seemed to
prevail everywhere and the fact that half-drawn portières were
substituted for closed doors.

On the evening of my arrival two young men came to dinner. They were
brothers, sons of a father who had rented for several years Lord Lovat's
castle in the Highlands. Next morning I was sent for a drive in a
sleigh. Here, too, I came across things familiar. The coachman was
Irish. He had been born on the lands of a family with which I was well
acquainted, and I was pleased by the interest he displayed when I
answered the questions which he put to me about the three young ladies.
A pleasant indolence would, however, have made me more contented with
the glow of a wood fire and conversation with an old friend than with
any ventures in the chill of the outer air. I was, therefore, somewhat
disquieted when I found, a day or two later, that my host had arranged
to give me a dinner in New York at the Metropolitan Club, then to take
me on to the opera, and not bring me back till midnight. But the
expedition was interesting. The marbles, the gilding, the goddesses, the
gorgeous ceilings of the Metropolitan Club would have made the Golden
House of Nero seem tame in comparison. The grand tier at the opera was
a semicircle of dazzling dresses, though there was not, as happens in
London, any obtrusion of diamonds. Here was an example of taste reticent
as compared with our own.

Two nights later my host dispatched me alone, to dine at what he
described to me as one of the pleasantest houses in New York. I shrank
from the prospect of the wintry journey involved, but the dinner was
worth the trouble. My entertainers--a mother and two unmarried
daughters--belonged to one of the oldest and best known New York
families. The house was in keeping with its inmates. It closely
resembled an old-fashioned house in Curzon Street. As I drove up to the
steps a butler and a groom of the chambers, both sedate with years and
exhaling an atmosphere of long family service, threw open tall doors,
and admitted me to the sober world within. The room in which the guests
were assembled seemed to be lined with books. On the tables were half
the literary reviews of Europe. My hostess and her daughters gave me the
kindest welcome. I was somewhat bewildered by the number of strange
faces, but among them was that of a diplomat whom I had known for many
years in London; and the "high seriousness," as Matthew Arnold might
have called it, of the men was tempered by the excellence of the dinner,
and by the dresses, perfect though subtly subdued, of the women.

Some days later Mr. Easley and an assistant secretary came from New
York to call on me and discuss the arrangements, of which I have already
spoken. Meanwhile I had secured rooms in the city at the Savoy Hotel, to
which in due time I migrated. The day after my arrival Mr. Easley
appeared again, and with him Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, the president
of Columbia University. It was arranged that my first addresses should
be given there under his auspices, and during the next three weeks I was
daily occupied in preparing them. When the day approached which had been
fixed for the delivery of the first, Doctor Butler gave a luncheon party
at the Metropolitan Club, at which he invited me to meet the editors and
other representatives of the weightiest of the New York papers. I
explained the general scheme of argument which I proposed to follow, and
it appeared, after an interchange of speeches, that it met with general
approbation.

This luncheon party and its results struck me as a marked example of the
promptitude and businesslike sagacity characteristic of American
methods. Every address which I delivered at Columbia University was
reported verbatim and fully in the columns of these great journals. The
audiences immediately addressed were, from the nature of the case,
limited, but my arguments were, in effect, at once brought home to the
minds of innumerable thousands, and their main points emphasized by a
concert of leading articles. The drastic efficiency of this procedure
in New York and at other centers was sufficiently shown by the
countless letters I received from Socialists in all parts of America,
most of these letters being courteous, some very much the reverse; but
all indicating that I had succeeded in making the writers reflect on
problems to which they had previously given insufficient attention.

The composition of these addresses, and the reduction of them to their
final form, was a work which, since time was limited, required much
concentrated labor; but the labor was lightened by the extraordinary
hospitality of friends, who made me feel that, so far as society goes, I
had only exchanged one sort of London for another. In my sitting room at
the Savoy Hotel, on arriving from Long Island, I found a number of notes
inviting me to dinners, to concerts, and various other entertainments.
The first of these was a luncheon at Mrs. John Jacob Astor's. Her house
was one which might have been in Grosvenor Place; and, for matter of
that, so might half the company. I found myself sitting by Mrs. Hwfa
Williams. Not far off was her husband, an eminent figure in the racing
world of England. There, too, I discovered Harry Higgins, whom I had
known in his Oxford days, before his translation from Merton to
Knightsbridge barracks; and opposite to me was Monsignor Vay di Vaya, an
Austrian ornament of the Vatican, who wore a dazzling cross on a
perfectly cut waistcoat, and who, when I last saw him, had been winding
wool in the Highlands for Mrs. Bradley Martin. Mrs. Astor, if I may pay
her a very inadequate compliment, merely by her delicate presence seemed
to turn life into a picture on an old French fan.

My first evening party was, if I remember rightly, a concert at the
house of one of the Vanderbilt families. I had hardly entered the music
room before my host, with extreme kindness, indicated a lady who was
sitting next a vacant chair, and said, "Over there is someone you would
like to know." He introduced me to this lady, who was Mrs. Stuyvesant
Fish--one of the best-known and important figures in the social world of
New York. I was subsequently often at her house. I have rarely been
better entertained than I was by her conversation that night during the
intervals of the musical program.

This kindness in introducing a stranger to persons likely to be
agreeable to him struck me as a distinguishing feature of the New York
world generally. I experienced it often at the opera, where the
occupants of the grand tier form practically a social club, as well as a
mere musical gathering. On one occasion, when I was with Mr. and Mrs.
Sloane in their box, Mr. Sloane took me round to the opposite side of
the house to present me to a lady whose attractions he praised, and did
not praise too highly. I asked him the name of another of singularly
charming aspect. Her box was close to his. "Come," he said, "I will
introduce you now." Here is one of those graces of social conduct which
are, as I have observed already with reference to London, possible only
in societies which are more or less carefully restricted.

There is another matter in which the social world of New York struck me
as differing from that of London, and differing from it in a manner
precisely opposite to that which those who derive their views from the
gossip of journalists would suppose. According to ordinary rumor,
fashionable entertainments in New York are scenes of extravagance so
wild that they cease to be luxurious and assume the characteristics of a
farce. My own short experience led me to a conclusion the very reverse
of this. Certain hotels, no doubt, are notoriously over-gilded. A story
is told of a certain country couple who stayed for a night at one of
them. The wife said to the husband, "Why don't you put your boots
outside the door to be blacked?" "My dear," said the husband, "I'm
afraid I should find them gilt." I speak here of private houses and
private entertainments only. The ultrafashionable concert which I
mentioned just now is an instance. The music was followed by supper. The
company strayed slowly through some intervening rooms to the dining
room. It was full of little round tables at which little groups were
seating themselves, but when I entered the tables were entirely bare.
Presently servants went round placing a cloth on each of them. Then on
each were deposited a bottle of champagne and two or three plates of
sandwiches. That was all. At a corresponding party in London there would
have been soups, soufflés, aspic, truffles, and ortolans. As it was, the
affair was a simple picnic _de luxe_. To the dinner parties at which I
was present the same observation applies. The New York fashionable
dinner, so far as its menu is concerned, seemed to me incomparably
simpler than its fashionable counterpart in London. The only form of
extravagance, or of what one might call ostentation, so far as I could
see, was what would have been thought in London the multitude of
superfluous footmen, and in houses like that of Lloyd Bryce even this
feature was wanting. The only dinner which, within the limits of my own
experience, represented the extravagance so often depicted by
journalists--a dinner which was signalized by monumental plate, which
rose from the table to the ceiling--was at a house which, despite its
magnitude, was practically ignored by the arbitresses of polite society.

When the delivery of my addresses at Columbia University was completed I
went from New York to Cambridge and remained there for ten days. Harvard
in many ways reminded me of our own Cambridge. The professors, among
whom I made many charming acquaintances, had not only the accent, but
also the intonation of Englishmen. They had with them more, too, of the
ways of the outer world than is commonly found in the university dons of
England. Notable among these was Prof. William James, with whom I was
already familiar through his singularly interesting book, _Varieties of
Religious Experience_--to me very much more interesting than his
brother's later novels.

At Harvard, also, I was presented to Mr. Roosevelt, who had come there
for the purpose of addressing a great meeting of students. The
presentation took place in a large private room, and was a ceremony
resembling that of a presentation to the King of England. Some dozen or
more persons were introduced to the President in succession, their names
being announced by some _de facto_ official. With each of these he
entered into a more or less prolonged conversation. I observed his
methods with interest. In each case he displayed a remarkable knowledge
of the achievements or opinions of the person whom he was for the time
addressing; and, having thus done his duty to these, he proceeded to an
exposition, much more lengthy, of his own. When my turn came he was very
soon confiding to me that nothing which he had read for years had struck
him so forcibly as parts of my own _Veil of the Temple_, which he had
evidently read with care. He crowned these flattering remarks by asking
me, should this be possible, to come and see him at Washington before I
returned to England; and then, I cannot remember how, he got on the
subject of the Black Republic, and of how, in his opinion, such states
ought to be governed. On this matter he was voluble, and voluble with
unguarded emphasis. I never heard the accents of instinctive autocracy
more clearly than, for some ten minutes, I then heard them in his. I
wished I could have seen him at Washington, but I had no unoccupied week
during which he would have been able to receive me.

[Illustration: THEODORE ROOSEVELT]

From Cambridge I went in succession to Chicago, Philadelphia, and
Baltimore. At each of these places I addressed considerable gatherings,
and everywhere (except at Philadelphia) I encountered some hostile,
though no acrimonious, questioning. At the doors, however, on some
occasions a quiet Socialist emissary would offer some tract to the
in-goers, in which my arguments were attacked before they had been so
much as uttered. Why the temperament of one place should differ from
that at another is not easy to say, but at Philadelphia I was not only
listened to without question, but at every salient point I was greeted
with uproarious applause. Having spent some days at Baltimore, and
having accomplished what I had undertaken to do on behalf of the Civic
Federation, I returned to New York, and, except for two speeches outside
our formal program, I gave myself up for a month to the relaxations of
society.

My return to New York was marked by a curious incident, which occurred
when I left the ferryboat. The porter whom I secured told me, having
looked about him, that there was not a cab available. I pointed to a row
of four-wheeled motor hansoms, but none of these, he said, was going out
to-night, except one which had been just appropriated. While he was
explaining this to me, from the darkness of one of these vehicles a
courteous voice emerged, asking where I was going, as the speaker
perhaps might be able to drop me somewhere. I told him my destination;
he agreed to take me, and I was presently seated at his side,
perceiving, indeed, that he was a man and not a woman, but quite unable
to distinguish anything else. He presently informed me that he was just
back from a golf course. I informed him that I was from Baltimore.
"You," he said, "to judge from your voice, must, I think, be English. I
have often played golf in England not very far from Chichester." I asked
him where, on those occasions, he stayed. He answered, "With Willie
James." I told him that I had known Willie James years ago at Cannes.
"My own name is James," he said. "Will you think me inquisitive if I
venture to ask yours?" I, told him, and he at once "placed" me. "I
should think," he said, "you must know Baltimore well." I asked him why
he thought so. "Well," he said, "in the book of yours that I like
best--in _The Old Order Changes_--you introduce an American colonel--a
Southerner, and you describe him on one occasion as absorbed in the
perusal of the Baltimore _Weekly Sun_. That paper's a real paper, and,
because you introduced its name, I thought that you must know
Baltimore." The name, so far as I was concerned, was entirely my own
invention.

Lloyd Bryce, who knew of my arrival, and who had, during my absence,
left Long Island for New York, asked me next day to dine with him. This
was the first of a new series of hospitalities. The company was
extremely entertaining. It comprised Mr. Jerome, celebrated in the legal
world, and at that time especially celebrated in connection with a
sensational case which was exciting the attention of the public from New
York to San Francisco. This was the trial of Thaw for the murder of
Stanford White, of which dramatic incident Evelyn Nesbit was the
heroine. She was, at least in appearance, little more than a schoolgirl.
She had lived with Stanford White, however, on terms of precocious
intimacy. Subsequently Thaw, a rich "degenerate," had married her, but
the thought of Stanford White was always ready to sting him into moods
of morbid jealousy. He took her one evening after dinner to a roof
garden in New York. Stanford White was by accident sitting at a table in
front of him. Watching his wife closely, Thaw detected, or thought he
detected, signs of a continued understanding between her and her late
"protector." Quietly leaving her side, he approached Stanford White from
behind and shot him dead with a pistol before the whole of the assembled
company. The defense was that his rival had given him outrageous
provocation, and that he himself was temporarily, if not chronically,
insane. Every attempt was made by the partisans of his wife to enlist
public feeling in her favor; to prove that Stanford White was the
aggressor, and that her husband's deed was unpremeditated. The trial was
protracted, and the story, as it was brought to light, was one which
could hardly be equaled outside Balzac's novels. Had the heroine of this
drama not been a beautiful young woman, she and her husband would
probably have been forgotten in a week. As it was, if any man in the
street was seen to be absolutely stationary and absorbed in an evening
paper, an observer would have discovered that the main feature of its
pages was a portrait of Evelyn Nesbit in some new dress or attitude,
with her eyes half raised or drooping, and her hair tied up behind in a
black, semichildish bow. Mr. Jerome, with a good deal of pungent humor,
told me many anecdotes of the trial, and wound up with an allusion to
what he considered the defects of American judges. "In England," he
said, "you make men judges because they understand the law. The trouble
with us is that here, as often as not, a man will be made a judge
because he can play football."

The mention of Stanford White suggests a topic more creditable to
himself than his death, and also possessing a different and wider
interest. Stanford White, whatever may have been his private life, was
the greatest architect in America. Some of the finest buildings in New
York are due to his signal genius, and here I am led on to reflections
of a yet more extensive kind. My own impression was that architecture in
America generally possesses a vitality which to-day is absent from it
in older countries. This observation is pertinent to New York more
especially. New York being built on a narrow island, it has there become
necessary, to a degree hardly to be paralleled elsewhere in the world,
to extend new buildings not laterally, but upward. To this living upward
pressure are due the towering structures vulgarly called "skyscrapers."
These, if properly understood, resemble rather the old campanili of
Italy, and suggest the work of Giotto. They make New York, seen from a
distance, look like a San Gimignano reconstructed by giants. I am,
however, thinking not of the "skyscrapers" only. I am thinking rather of
buildings, lofty indeed, but not tower-like, such as certain clubs,
blocks of residential flats, or business premises in Fifth Avenue--such,
for instance, as those of the great firm of Tiffany. Though metal
frameworks are, no doubt, embedded in these, the stonework is
structurally true to the strains of the metal which it incases, and the
stones of the rusticated bases might have been hewn and put together by
Titans. We have more here than an academic repetition of bygone tastes
and models. We have an expression in stone of the needs of a new world.

One of the most charming examples of architectural art in New York,
lighter in kind than these, and when I was there the most recent, was a
new ladies' club, which largely owed its existence--so I was told--to
the aid of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan. Within and without, from its halls
to its numerous bedrooms, the taste displayed was perfect. When I was in
New York it was just about to be opened, and I was invited to take part
in the ceremony by delivering an inaugural address. I took for my
subject the Influence of Women on Industry; and the pith of what I had
to say was compressed into a single anecdote which I had heard only the
day before. My informant had just been told it by one of Tiffany's
salesmen. A few days previously the great jeweler's shop had been
entered by a couple singularly unlike in aspect to the patrons who were
accustomed to frequent it. One of them was a weather-beaten man in a
rough pilot jacket; the other was an odd old woman bundled up in a
threadbare coat of the cheapest imitation fur. The man, with a gruff
shyness, blurted out, "I should like to see a diamond necklace." The
salesman with some hesitation put a necklace before him of no very
precious kind. The man eyed it askance and said, dubiously, "Is that the
best you've got?" The price of this was twenty pounds. The salesman
produced another and a somewhat larger ornament. The price of this was
forty. The man, still dissatisfied, said, "Have you nothing better
still?" "If," said the salesman, by way of getting rid of him, "by
better you mean more expensive, I can show you another. The price of
that is four hundred." This drama was still repeated, till the salesman,
out of pure curiosity, put before him one the price of which was a
thousand. The man, however, again repeated his one unvarying question,
"Is that the best you've got?" The salesman, at last losing patience,
said, "Well, if it should happen to interest you, I can let you have a
look at the most magnificent necklace that money could buy in New York
City to-day. The price of that necklace is fifty thousand pounds." He
turned to put it away, but the weather-beaten man stopped him. He thrust
a hand into the pocket of his rough jacket and extracted from its
recesses an immense bundle of notes. He counted out the sum which the
salesman named. He clasped the necklace round the old woman's threadbare
collar and exclaimed, in a tone of triumph, "Didn't I always tell you
that as soon as I'd made my pile you should have the finest necklace
that money in New York could buy?" "That necklace," said Tiffany's
salesman to my informant, "will never be stolen so long as it's worn
like that, for no one in his senses will ever believe it's real." The
moral which I drew from this anecdote for the benefit of my fair
audience was that women, if not the producers of wealth, are the main
incentives to production, that if it were not for them half of the
civilized industries of the entire world would cease, and that the
Spirit of Commerce, looking at any well-dressed woman, might say, in the
words of Marlow, "This is the face that launched a thousand ships";
while the Spirit of Socialism could do nothing but "burn the topless
towers." In this way of putting the case there was perhaps some slight
exaggeration, but there is in it, at all events, more truth than
falsehood.

Another address--it took a more serious form--I delivered by special
request to a more comprehensive audience, in which ladies likewise
abounded. It was delivered in one of the theaters. The subject I was
asked to discuss was a manifesto which had just been issued by a
well-to-do cleric in favor of Christian Socialism. The argument of this
divine was interesting and certain parts of it were sound. Its fault was
that the end of it quite forgot the beginning. He began by admitting
that the great fortunes of to-day were due for the most part to the few
who possessed to an exceptional degree the talents by which wealth is
produced; but talents of this special class were, he said, wholly
unconnected with any moral desert. Indeed, the mere production of such
goods as are estimable in terms of money was, of all forms of human
activity, the lowest, and the men who made money were the last people in
the world who ought to be allowed to keep it. The demand of Socialism
was, he said, that this gross and despicable thing should be distributed
among other people. The special demand of Christian Socialism was that
the principal claimant on all growing wealth should be the Church. The
fault, he said, of the existing situation was due to the fathers of the
Constitution of the United States, who laid it down that one of the
primary rights of the individual was freedom to produce as much as he
could, and keep it; the true formula being, according to him, that
every man who produced appreciably more than his neighbors should be
either hampered in production or else deprived of his products. It was
not difficult to show, without passing the bounds of good humor, that
the arguments of this semienlightened reformer were, in the end, like a
snake whose head was biting off its tail.

Except for Monsignor Vay di Vaya, the only cleric whom I met in New York
society was one of distinguished aspect and exceedingly charming
manners, who was certainly not an apostle of Christian or any other form
of Socialism; but an anecdote was told me of another whose congregation,
according to a reporter, was "the most exclusive in New York," and had
the honor of comprising Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan. This clergyman was one
morning surprised by receiving a visit from a negro, who expressed a
desire to join his exclusive flock. The shepherd was somewhat
embarrassed, but received his visitor kindly. "You are," he said,
"contemplating a very serious step. My advice to you is that you seek
counsel in prayer; that, if possible, you should see our Lord; that you
make quite sure that this step is one of which our Lord would approve;
and that in three weeks' time you come and talk again to me." The
postulant thanked him, and in three weeks reappeared. "Well," said the
clergyman, "have you prayed earnestly, as I advised you?" The negro said
that he had. "And may I," said the clergyman, "ask you if you have seen
our Lord?" "Yes, sah," said the negro, "I have." "And what," asked the
clergyman, "was it that our Lord said to you? Could you manage to tell
me?" "What our Lord said to me," the negro replied, "was this: 'I've
been trying for eighteen years to get into that church, but I can't. I
guess that your trying will come to no more than mine.'"

Meanwhile I had begun, in the intervals between social engagements, to
recast my addresses, with a view, as I have said already, to
transforming them into a connected book. The first stage in this process
was the preparation of an intermediate version of them, which was to be
issued as a series of articles in an important monthly journal, these
serving as the foundation of the book in its complete form, which was by
and by to be issued in America and England simultaneously.

I had arranged to return by the French steamer _Provence_--a magnificent
vessel--the largest that the harbor of Havre could accommodate. The
restaurant was decorated like a _Salon_ of the time of Louis Quinze. The
cooking was admirable, the tables were bright with flowers. I was asked
to sit at a table reserved for a charming lady, who was bringing with
her her own champagne and butter, with both of which she insisted on
providing her friends also. My cabin, though small, was perfect in the
way of decoration. An ormolu reading lamp stood by the silken curtains
of the bed. The washing basin was of pink marble.

Before returning to England I had settled on spending some solitary
months in Brittany, during which it was my object to bring my
forthcoming work to completion. I spent a week in Paris, where my French
servant rejoined me, whom I had left to enjoy during my absence a
holiday, with his family near Grenoble. I never in my life met anyone
with more satisfaction.

Paris is notoriously congenial to the upper classes of America; and yet
between Paris and New York there is one subtle and pervading difference.
Paris has behind it in its buildings and the ways of its people what New
York has not--a thousand years of history. The influence of the past is
even more apparent in Brittany; and New York became something hardly
credible when I found myself in a little hotel--at which I had engaged
rooms--an hotel girdled by the ramparts and medieval towers of Dinan. I
remained there for six weeks, during which time my book, to which I gave
the name _A Critical Examination of Socialism_, was very nearly
completed. In spite, however, of my labor, I from time to time found
leisure for pilgrimages to moated châteaux, which seemed still to be
enjoying a siesta of social and religious peace, unbroken by revolutions
and even undisturbed by republics. Of these châteaux one was the home of
Chateaubriand. Another, which I traveled a hundred miles to see, was the
Château de Kerjaen, its gray gates approached by three huge converging
avenues, and the outer walls by which the château itself is sheltered
measuring seven hundred by four hundred feet. Though parts of it are
habitable and inhabited, Kerjaen is partly ruinous, but its ruin was not
due to violence. It was due to an accidental fire which took place when
Robespierre was still in his cradle and even in his dreams was
"guiltless of his country's blood." Coming, as I did, fresh from the New
World, there was for me in Brittany something of the magic of Hungary.

_A Critical Examination of Socialism_ was published a few months after
my return to England, where Socialist agitation meanwhile had become
more active than ever, and I presently discovered that certain attempts
were being made to establish some organized body for the purpose of
systematically counteracting it. I put myself in connection with those
who were taking, or willing to take, some leading part in this
enterprise. The final result was the establishment of two bodies--the
Anti-Socialist Union, under the presidency of Col. Claude Lowther, and a
School of Anti-Socialist Economics, which, through the agency of Captain
(now Sir Herbert) Jessel, was affiliated to the London Municipal
Society--a body which, owing to him, was already proving itself
influential. All the persons concerned had precisely the same objects,
but there were certain disagreements as to the methods which at starting
were most imperative. So far as principles were concerned, the
Anti-Socialist Union were so completely in agreement with myself that
they bought a large edition of my _Critical Analysis of Socialism_ for
distribution as a textbook among the speakers and writers whom it was
part of their program to employ. There were, however, certain details of
procedure in respect of which Captain Jessel's opinions were more in
accordance with my own. He and I, therefore, settled on working
together, taking the existing machinery of the London Municipal Society
as our basis, while the Anti-Socialist Union proceeded on parallel,
though on somewhat different, lines. Captain Jessel and I established,
by way of a beginning, a school for speakers--mostly active young
men--who would speak Sunday by Sunday in the parks and other public
places, and attract audiences whose attention had been previously
secured by Socialists. These speakers sent in weekly reports, describing
the results of their work, which were for the most part of a singularly
encouraging kind. But the number of these speakers was small, and, since
all their expenses were paid, the funds at our immediate disposal would
not enable us to increase it. It appeared to me, therefore, that our
work would be best extended by a distribution of literature--leaflets or
small pamphlets--simple in style, but coherent in their general import,
and appealing not to the man in the street only, but to educated men,
even Members of Parliament, also. A start in this direction was made by
the publication of skeleton speeches, many of them written by myself,
which any orator in the parks or in Parliament might fill in as he
pleased, and which was supplemented by weekly pamphlets called "Facts
Against Socialism." I found, however, that in preparing these my
attention was more and more occupied by industrial and social
statistics, and I was, in my colleague's opinion, concerning myself too
much with matters which were over the heads of the people.

For several reasons my view of the matter was not quite the same as his.
It was, therefore, settled that this statistical work should be
prosecuted by myself independently, and in something like two years I
issued, at the rate of two or three a month, a series of pamphlets
called "Statistical Monographs," addressed especially to Members of
Parliament. Three of these pamphlets dealt with the land of the United
Kingdom, the number of owners and the acreage and value of their
holdings. Two of them dealt with the number and value of the houses
which had been annually built during the past ten or fifteen years. Two
of them dealt with coal-mining and the ratio in that industry of wages
to net profits. Each was a digest of elaborate official figures, which
an average speaker, if left to his own devices, could hardly have
collected in a twelvemonth, but which when thus tabulated he could
master in a couple of days.

Many of these monographs, as I know, were used in practical controversy;
but the Conservative party, as a whole--this is my strong
impression--was but partly awake to the importance of statistics as a
basis of political argument. The use of systematic statistics was at
that time left to Socialists, and wild misstatements as to figures
formed at that time their principal and most effective weapon. The issue
of these monographs was continued till the outbreak of the recent war,
when conditions were so suddenly and so completely changed that the then
continuance of the monographs would not have been appropriate, even if
it had not been rendered impossible. Being, however, unfit for active
service, I devoted myself to a volume applicable, so I hoped, to
conditions which were bound to arise after the war was over. This volume
was _The Limits of Pure Democracy_, to the composition of which I
devoted the labor of four years. It has gone through four editions. A
translation of it has been published in France. Increased costs of
production have rendered a price necessary which would once have been
thought prohibitive, but if conditions improve the intention is to
reissue it in a cheaper form, when certain of its arguments will be
illustrated by events which have taken place since its last page was
completed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Much of the matter contained in the "Statistical Monographs" was
condensed by me in a volume called _Social Reform_. This was a study,
more minute and extensive than any which I had attempted before, of the
income of this country and its distribution among various classes of
the population, not only as they were at the beginning of the twentieth
century, but also as they were in the earlier years of the nineteenth.
My authorities with regard to the latter were certain elaborate but
little known official papers showing the results of the income tax of
the year 1801. These returns, by means of a minute classification, show
the number of incomes from those between £60 and £70 up to those
exceeding £5,000, the upshot being that the masses--manual and other
wage-workers--were enjoying just before the war an average income per
head more than double that which would have been possible a hundred
years ago had the entire income of the country--the incomes of rich and
poor alike--been then divided in equal shares among everybody. This same
general fact had been broadly insisted on in _Labor and the Popular
Welfare_. It was here demonstrated in detail by official records, to
which I had not had access at the time when I wrote that volume, and of
the very existence of which most politicians are probably unaware
to-day. _Social Reform_ was, however, published at an unlucky moment. It
had not reached more than a small number of readers before the war, for
a time, put a stop to economic thought, and left men to illustrate
economic principles by action, thereby providing fresh data for economic
theory of the future.



CHAPTER XVII

THE AUTHOR'S WORKS SUMMARIZED

     A Boy's Conservatism--Poetic Ambitions--The Philosophy of
     Religious Belief--The Philosophy of Industrial
     Conservatism--Intellectual Torpor of Conservatives--Final
     Treatises and Fiction.


I began these memoirs with observing that they are in part a mere series
of sketches and social anecdotes strung on the thread of the writer's
own experiences, and as such illustrating the tenor of his social and
mental life, but that in part they are illustrative in a wider sense
than this. His literary activities may be looked on as exemplifying the
moral and social reactions of a large number of persons, to the great
changes and movements in thought and in social politics by which the
aspect of the world has been affected, both for them and him, from the
middle years of the reign of Queen Victoria onward. Regarding myself,
then, as more or less of a type, and reviewing my own activities as
circumstances have called them into play and as these memoirs record
them, I may briefly redescribe them, and indicate their sequence thus.

Having been born and brought up in an atmosphere of strict Conservative
tradition--conservative in a religious and social sense alike--I had
unconsciously assumed in effect, if not in so many words, that any
revolt or protest against the established order was indeed an
impertinence, but was otherwise of no great import. Accordingly, my
temperament being that of an instinctive poet, the object of my earliest
ambitions was to effect within a very limited circle (for the idea of
popular literature never entered my head) a radical change in the poetic
taste of England, and restore it to what it had been in the classical
age of Pope. But, as I left childhood behind me and approached maturer
youth I gradually came to realize that the whole order of
things--literary, religious, and social--which the classical poetry
assumed, and which I had previously taken as impregnable, was being
assailed by forces which it was impossible any longer to ignore. Threats
of social change, indeed, in any radical sense continued for a long time
to affect me merely as vague noises in the street, which would now and
again interrupt polite conversation, and presently die away, having
seriously altered nothing; but the attack on orthodox religion seemed to
me much more menacing, and was rarely absent from the sphere of my
adolescent thought. The attacking parties I still looked on as
ludicrous, but I began to fear them as formidable; and they were for me
rendered more formidable still by the very unfortunate fact that the
defenders of orthodoxy seemed to me, in respect of their tactics, to be
hardly less ludicrous than their opponents. The only way in which the
former could successfully make good their defense was--such was my
conclusion--by appeal to common experience: by showing how supernatural
religion was implicit in all civilized life, and how grotesque and
tragic would be the ruin in which such life would collapse if
supernatural faith were eliminated.

Such, as I have explained already, was the moral of my four early books,
_The New Republic_, _The New Paul and Virginia_, _Is Life Worth Living?_
and _A Romance of the Nineteenth Century_. All these attempts at
attacking modern atheistic philosophy were based on a demonstration of
its results, and appealed not so much to pure religious emotion as to
the intellect, a sense of humor, and what is called a knowledge of the
world.

The writing of these works, the first of which I had begun while I was
still an undergraduate, occupied about six or seven years. Meanwhile,
side by side with the preaching of atheism in religion and morals, a
growth had become apparent in the preaching of extreme democracy or
Socialist Radicalism in politics, a preaching of which Bright was in
this country the precursor, and which first came to a head between the
years 1880 and 1900, in the writings of Henry George and the English
followers of Marx. What I looked on as the fallacies of these new
political gospels seemed to me no less dangerous, and also no less
absurd, than those which I had previously attacked in the gospel of
atheistic philosophy, and my attention being forcibly diverted from
religious problems to social, I devoted myself to the writing of my
first political work, _Social Equality_ (published 1882), in which all
questions of religion were for the moment set aside. In my novel _The
Old Order Changes_, published four or five years later, the religious
problem and the social problem are united, and an attempt is made to
suggest the general terms on which the ideals of a true Conservatism may
be harmonized with those of an enlightened Socialism. As a result of my
political writings, I was asked, and with certain reservations I
consented, to become a candidate for a Scotch constituency.

Between the years 1890 and 1895 I turned again to social politics pure
and simple in two books, the first of which was _Labor and the Popular
Welfare_, the second being _Aristocracy and Evolution_.

My dealings with social politics being for the time exhausted, I devoted
about five years--1895 to 1900--to the composition of three novels, _A
Human Document_, _The Heart of Life_, and _The Individualist_, which
were studies of the relation of religion to the passions, feelings, and
foibles of which for most men the experiences of life consist.

Between the years 1900 and 1907 I published four works on the relation
of religious dogmas to philosophy and scientific knowledge--namely,
_Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption_--this volume relating to the
Anglican controversies of the time--_Religion as a Credible Doctrine_,
_The Veil of the Temple_, and _The Reconstruction of Belief_, to which
may be added a novel called _An Immortal Soul_.[4]

As a result of the attention excited by these or by certain of these
books, I was in the year 1907 invited to visit America and deliver a
series of addresses on the Socialist propaganda of the day. These
addresses were presently rewritten and published in a volume called _A
Critical Examination of Socialism_.

Between that time and the outbreak of the recent war I played an active
part, together with other persons, in devising and setting on foot
certain schemes of anti-Socialist propaganda in this country. Most of my
own efforts I devoted to the collection and promulgation of sound social
statistics, especially those relating to the current distribution of
wealth, and I may here mention, without even suggesting a name, that I
discussed the importance of such statistics with a leading Conservative
statesman, who, expressing his sympathy with my views, added at the same
time that, so far as the constitution of his own mind was concerned,
they were not temperamentally his own. "To me," he said, "columns of
figures are merely so many clouds." I answered, "That may be; but they
are clouds which, when taken together, make not clouds, but lightning."

Anyhow, by the outbreak of war these schemes were suspended, and changed
conditions may now make methods other than those which seemed then
appropriate necessary. But, as for myself, the first four years of
war-time I devoted entirely to the production of a new volume, _The
Limits of Pure Democracy_, of which a French translation is being
issued, and which may, I hope, prove useful to sober conservatives of
more than one school and country, as it aims at establishing a formula
acceptable, so far as it goes, to persons who are at present
adversaries.

In addition to the works here mentioned, two volumes have been published
of _Collected Essays_, on which certain of the works just mentioned are
based. I have further published, besides my little book on Cyprus, two
short volumes of verse, and a poem of which I shall speak presently,
called _Lucretius on Life and Death_. All these works indicate, if taken
together, the nature of the fallacies--intellectual, religious, and
social--which have in succession provoked them, which have not yet
exhausted themselves, and which it has been the ambition of the writer
to discredit or modify.

Such have been the activities which, devoted to a continuous and
developing purpose, have thus far occupied a writer whose life has been
spent in alternations of solitude and the life of society. The latter,
so far as he is concerned, resembles that of many other persons to whom
society is naturally agreeable and have had the opportunity of enjoying
it. It is a life which for him has remained substantially the same from
his early youth onward, except for the fact that with time his social
experiences have widened, that they have been varied by travels more or
less extensive, and that they might have been varied also by the
vicissitudes of political publicity had not his disposition inclined
him, having had some taste of both, to the methods of literature rather
than to those of the party platform.

Which method is the best for one who, inspired by tenacious and
interconnected convictions, desires to make these prevail is a question
which different people will answer in different ways. But let us make
one supposition. Let us suppose that a person, such, for instance, as
myself, who has dealt with ideas and principles in his opinion
fallacious (notably those connected with the current claims of Labor),
should have so succeeded in influencing the thoughts and the temper of
his contemporaries that the modern strife between employers and employed
should be pacified, and arrangements by sober discussion should render
all strikes needless. Nobody would deny that a person who had brought
about this result had performed what would be, in the strictest sense,
an action--an action of the most practical and signally important kind,
and it would be no less practical if accomplished by means of literature
than it would be if accomplished by the ingenuity of cabinets or select
committees. Such being the case, then, the reflection will here suggest
itself that literature and action are by many critics of life constantly
spoken of as though they were contrasted or antithetic things. It will
not be inappropriate here, as a conclusion to these memoirs, to consider
how far, or in what sense, this contrast is valid.

[4] This work, later in date than the preceding, deals with the
religious difficulties arising from the phenomena of multiple
personality, a subject which was then being widely discussed in England,
on the Continent, and in America.



CHAPTER XVIII

LITERATURE AND ACTION

     Literature as Speech Made Permanent--All Written Speech Not
     Literature--The Essence of Literature for Its Own Sake--Prose
     as a Fine Art--Some Interesting Aspects of Literature as an End
     in Itself--Their Comparative Triviality--No Literature Great
     Which Is Not More Than Literature--Literature as a Vehicle of
     Religion--Lucretius--_The Reconstruction of Belief_.


If we go back to the beginning of things, literature, needless to say,
is a development of ordinary speech. It is speech which has been made
permanent, partly, indeed, by oral tradition, but mainly by the art of
writing. Without speech no human co-operation, other than the rudest,
would be possible. Some men at least must speak so as to organize the
tasks of others, and the latter must understand speech so as to do what
the former bid them. When the Deity determined to confound the builders
of Babel, or, in other words, to render co-operative work impossible, he
did not cut off their hands, but he virtually took speech away from
them, by rendering the language of each unintelligible to all the rest.
Moreover, in the case of tasks the nature of which is highly complex, it
is necessary not only that the organizers should make use of speech, but
also that what they speak should systematically be written down. The
writing down, indeed, is often the most important part of the matter, as
in the case of an Act of Parliament or of the delicate and elaborate
formulæ on which depends the production of chemicals or of great ships.

If written speech, then, of kinds such as these is literature,
literature is obviously not antithetic to action, but is, on the
contrary, action in one of its most important forms. To state the case
thus, however, is stating no more than half of it. As a matter of fact,
laws and chemical formulæ, however carefully written, are not what is
meant by literature in the common sense of the word. Though the writing
down of speech may in such cases be a form of action, it does not follow
that all such written speech is literature. Let us compare the
compositions of a child, whether in prose or verse, with a page out of
the _Nautical Almanac_ or a manual of household medicine. The child's
compositions may intrinsically have no literary value, but they
nevertheless represent genuine attempts at literature. A page from the
_Nautical Almanac_ or the manual of household medicine may be, for
certain purposes, of the highest value imaginable, but the test of
literary beauty would be the last test we should apply to them.

What, then, is the primary difference between written words that _are_
literature and written words that are _not_? The primary difference
relates to the objects at which severally the writers aim or the motive
by which they are impelled to write. The child writes solely because
literary composition is a pleasure to him, as for the sake of a similar
pleasure another child takes to a piano. The astronomer and the doctor
write to help men in navigating ships or mothers in dosing babies.
Between written language which is not literature and written language
which _is_ the initial difference is this: that for the writers written
language is, in the first case, something which it is not in the second.
In the first case, the writer's concern with language, and the sole
interest which written language has for him, are things which have no
dependence on the merits of written language as such, except in so far
as it is a means of accomplishing ulterior objects, with which otherwise
the mere merits of language have nothing at all to do. Sound injunctions
to a nurse, provided that their meaning was clear, would have far
greater value in a hospital than mistaken injunctions written with a
grace or majesty worthy of Plato or Tacitus. In the second case, writing
is a feat the successful achievement of which is, for the writer, an
object and a pleasure in itself; and how far success is achieved by him
depends not alone on the pleasure which he derives from his own
performances personally, but also, and we may say mainly, on the
quantity of kindred pleasure which his writing communicates to his
readers.

These observations become more and more true and pungent in proportion
as language becomes a more complex instrument, its progress resembling
the evolution of an organ from a shepherd's pipe. As it thus progresses,
its delicate possibilities of melody, metaphor, and subtle emphasis
increase, and masters of the literary art enchant with ever new
surprises multitudes who have no capacity for the literary art
themselves. So far, then, as literature is in this sense literature for
its own sake, the contrast between literature and action is, with
certain exceptions, justified. Exceptions, however, to this rule exist,
and these, briefly stated, are as follows. When a writer writes a
book--let us say, for example, a novel--the object of which is to give
pleasure, his primary object in writing it may be either to please
himself or else to make money by ministering to the taste of others. The
importance of this distinction has been clearly brought out by Tolstoy,
who defines art, and literary art in particular, as a means by which the
artist contrives to arouse in others emotions and interests which he has
experienced in his own person. Such being the case, then, there are,
says Tolstoy, many works which partake of the nature of literature, but
which are not examples of true literary art. Such, according to him, are
our modern detective novels, or any novels the interests of which depend
on the solution of a mystery, the reason being that the writer is
acquainted with the mystery at starting, and experiences himself no
emotion whatever with regard to it. His sole object is to titillate an
emotion in others which he does not himself share, and from which,
indeed, he is, by the nature of the case, precluded. This is a criticism
which might doubtless be pressed too far; but it is within limits
fruitful, and, bearing it here in mind, we may say that literature, if
we take it in its pure form and regard it as an end in itself, is
language, as used to express the personal emotions or personal
convictions of the writer, and is raised by him to such a pitch of
beauty, of strength or of delicacy that it is a source of pleasure to
large classes of mankind apart from all thoughts of relationship, if
any, to ulterior objects.

Thus pure literature, as legitimately contrasted with action, is a
matter of great interest for a large number of people whom nobody would
describe as literary or as persons of letters otherwise; and I may,
therefore, say something of pure literature as estimated more
particularly by myself.

Let me begin with prose, which, merely as a pleasurable art, instinct
has urged me, from my earliest days, to cultivate. Of what good prose is
I have always had clear notions; and, whether I have been successful in
my efforts to achieve it or not, my personal experience of the process
may not be without some interest. My own experience is that the
composition of good prose--prose that seems good to myself--is a process
which requires a very great deal of leisure. True excellence in prose,
so I have always felt, involves many subtle qualities which are
appreciable by the reader through their final effects alone, which leave
no trace of the efforts spent in producing them, but which without such
effort could rarely be produced at all.

As examples of these qualities I may mention a melody not too often
resonant, which captivates the reader's attention, and is always
producing a mood in him conducive to a favorable reception of what the
writer is anxious to convey. Next to such melody I should put a logical
adaptation of stress, or of emphasis in the construction of sentences,
which corresponds in detail to the movements of the reader's mind--a
halt in the words occurring where the mind halts, a new rapidity in the
words when the mind, satisfied thus far, is prepared to resume its
progress. To these qualities, as essential to perfection in prose, I
might easily add others; but these are so complex and comprehensive that
they practically imply the rest.

With regard, then, to these essentials, the practice which I have had to
adopt in my own efforts to produce them has been more or less as
follows. The general substance of what I proposed to say I have written
out first in the loosest language possible, without any regard to
melody, to accuracy, or even to correct grammar. I have then rewritten
this matter, with a view, not to any verbal improvement, but merely to
the rearrangement of ideas, descriptions, or arguments, so that this may
accord with the sequence of questions, expectations, or emotions which
are likely, by a natural logic, to arise in the reader's mind--nothing
being said too soon, nothing being said too late, and nothing (except
for the sake of deliberate emphasis) being said twice over. The
different paragraphs would now be like so many stone blocks which had
been placed in their proper positions so as to form a polylithic frieze,
but each of which still remained to be carved, as though by a sculptor
or lapidary, so as to be part of a continuous pattern or a series of
connected figures. My next task would be to work at them one by one,
till each was sculptured into an image of my own minute intentions. The
task of thus carving each and fitting it to its next-door neighbors has
always been, merely for its own sake, exceedingly fascinating to myself,
but it has generally been long and slow. Most of my own books, when
their general substance had been roughly got into order by means of
several tentative versions, were, paragraph by paragraph, written again
five or six times more, the corrections each time growing more and more
minute, and finally the clauses and wording of each individual sentence
were transposed, or rebalanced or reworded, whenever such processes
should be necessary, in order to capture some nuance of meaning which
had previously eluded me as a bird eludes a fowler.

As an example of this process I may mention a single sentence which
occurs in my little book on Cyprus. It is a sentence belonging to a
description of certain morning scenes--of dewy plains, with peasants
moving across them, and here and there a smoke wreath arising from
burning weeds. The effect of these scenes in some poignant way was
primitive, and I was able at once to reproduce it by saying that the
peasants were moving like figures out of the Book of Genesis. I felt,
however, that this effect was not produced by the groups of peasants
only. I felt that somehow--I could not at first tell how--some part in
producing it was played by the smoke wreaths also. At last I managed to
capture the suggestion, at first subconscious only, which had so far
been eluding me. I finished my original description by adding the
following words, "The smoke-wreaths were going up like the smoke of the
first sacrifice."

It may be objected that prose built up in this elaborate way loses as
much as it gains, because it is bound to lose the charm and the
convincing force of spontaneity. This may be so in some cases, but it is
not so in all. I have found myself that, so far as my own works are
concerned, the passages which are easiest to read are precisely those
which it has been most laborious to write. And for this, it seems to me,
there is a very intelligible reason. Half of the interests and emotions
which make up the substance of life are more or less subconscious, and
are, for most men, difficult to identify. One of the functions of pure
literature is to make the subconscious reveal itself. It is to make men
know what they _are_, in addition to what spontaneously they _feel_
themselves to be, but feel only, without clear comprehension of it. As
soon as a writer, at the cost of whatever labor, manages to make these
spontaneities, otherwise subconscious, intelligible, the spontaneity of
the processes described by him adds itself at last to his description.

A signal example of this fact may be found, not in prose, but in love
poems. Most people can fall in love. It takes no trouble to do so,
whatever trouble it may bring them. If any human processes are
spontaneous, falling in love is one of them. Most lovers feel more than
they know until great love poetry explains it to them what they are; but
great love poems are great, not because they are composed spontaneously,
but because they express spontaneities which are essentially external to
themselves. In other words, the achievement of perfection, whether in
prose or poetry, is comparable to the task of a piano tuner, who may
spend a whole morning in tightening or relaxing the strings, but who
knows at once, when he gets them, the minutely precise tones which the
laws of music demand.

Whether every reader will agree with me as to these questions or not,
they are, at all events, examples of questions purely literary, which
are in themselves captivating for large numbers of people, without any
reference to ulterior, or what are called practical, objects. To these
questions I may add a few others, which have been specially captivating
to myself.

One of them is the use of metaphor as an immemorial literary device,
especially in the case of poetry. What is the psychology of metaphor?
Let us take an instance from Tennyson, who in one of his poems speaks,
with very vivid effect, of Mediterranean bays as colored like "the
peacock's neck." The color of the bay is at once made present to the
reader's mind. But why? A discussion of this question occurs in a
dialogue between two of the characters in my novel _The Old Order
Changes_. The poet, urges one of them, might, if describing a peacock,
have said with equal effect that the peacock's neck was colored like a
Mediterranean bay. How is it that we gain anything by comparing one
equally familiar thing to another? The secret of the use of metaphor in
the poet's art is, says the speaker, this. When the mind is at rest its
surface is alive with vivid images which have settled on it like sea
birds on a rock, but the moment any one of these detects an approach on
our part, in order that we may examine it carefully, its wings are
spread, and in a flash it is gone. When, however, we use a simile in
order to describe something which is obviously our main concern (say the
color of a Mediterranean bay), the thing which we are anxious to
describe acts as a kind of stalking-horse, which enables us to approach
and capture the thing which we use as an illustration (say the neck of a
peacock) before the peacock so much as suspects our neighborhood. We
have it alive before us, with all its feathers glittering, and these
throw a new light on objects which our direct touch might have
frightened away beyond the confines of our field of vision. The more
vivid of the two objects communicates its color to the less vivid.

Two other purely literary questions are discussed in _The Veil of the
Temple_, the first of these being as follows. One of the speakers calls
attention to a criticism which is often and justly made with reference
to many, and even to the best of novels, that, while the minor
characters are drawn with the utmost skill, the heroes (such as most of
Scott's) have often no characters at all. The reason, he says, is that,
in most cases, the hero is not so much an individual, with
characteristics peculiar to himself, as a certain point of view, from
which all the other characters and incidents of the story are drawn. Or
else, if some of these are, as very often happens, not drawn from the
point of view of the hero, they are drawn from the point of view of some
other ideal spectator, on whose position, moral or local, the whole
perspective of the story, mental or ocular, depends. Let us take, for
example, a typical opening scene of a kind proverbially frequent in the
novels of G. P. R. James. Such scenes were proverbially described very
much as follows: "To the right lay a gray wall, which formed, to all
appearance, the boundary of some great sheep tract. To the left was a
wood of larches. Between these was a road, showing so few signs of use
that it might have been a relic of some almost forgotten world.
Proceeding along this road on a late October evening might have been
seen three horsemen, of imperfectly distinguishable, yet vaguely
sinister, aspect." In the absence of an ideal spectator, who is tacitly
identified with the novelist, his hero, or his reader, such a
description would mean very little more than nothing. There would be no
left or right unless for a supposed spectator standing in a particular
place and looking in a particular direction. The aspect of the horsemen
could not be sinister or indistinguishable unless there were an assumed
man whose eyes were unable to distinguish it.

The argument here in question will carry us on to certain kindred
problems, connected likewise with the novelist's art, which are these:
The necessary assumption of the author as ideal spectator being given, a
question arises with regard to the range of vision which, in his
capacity of spectator, the novelist professes to possess. Many novelists
mar the effect of their work--and among these Thackeray is notable--by
adopting an attitude which in this respect is constantly vacillating.
Sometimes it is one of omniscience, sometimes of blind perplexity. At
one time he describes the inmost thoughts of his characters which are
suffered or pursued in secret, as though he could see through
everything. At another time he will startle the reader with some such
question as this: "Who shall dare to say--I certainly cannot--what at
that solemn moment the lad's real reflections were?" A partial escape
from the sense of unreality which alternations like these produce is to
be found in the method which many novelists have adopted--namely, that
of dividing the story into so many separate parts, these being told in
succession by so many different characters, each recording events as
wholly seen from the point of his own unchanged perspective. Such is the
method adopted by Wilkie Collins in _The Woman in White_, for example.
The danger of this artifice is that it tends to be too apparent. The
most logically complete escape from the difficulties which we are here
glancing at is to be found, no doubt, in the method of autobiography in
a single and undivided form; unless indeed the assumption of absolute
omniscience on the author's part can be used with a rigid consistency
which it very rarely exhibits.

Another question of a purely literary kind, reflection on which is to
me, at least, pleasurable (though many persons of literary taste may,
perhaps, regard it as a bore), is the relation of modern prosody to
ancient, and more particularly to Latin. It has always seemed to me that
the lengthening and shortening of syllables according to their position,
as happens in classical Latin, with regard to the syllables that follow
them, must always have corresponded with the stresses or absence of
stress which would naturally be made apparent by the voice of an ideal
reciter; and to me, as to some other people, the question has proved
amusing of how far in English verse Latin prosody could be reproduced.
Many attempts have been made at deciding this question by experiments.
The most remarkable of these are two which were made by Tennyson. One of
them, called "Hendecasyllabics," is little more than a trick played with
extreme skill, and in no serious sense does it merit the name of poetry.
The other, "An Ode to Milton," is no less charming as a poem than as a
conquest over technical difficulties. Let us take the first stanza:

    Oh, mighty-mouthed inventor of harmonies,
      Oh, skilled to sing of time and eternity,
    God-gifted organ voice of England,
      Milton a name to resound for ages.

Here the stresses which the meaning of the English verse demands fall
exclusively on syllables which would, according to Latin prosody, be
long; but there are one or two syllables which in Latin verse would be
long (such as "of" in the second line) which invite no stress in the
English--which do not, indeed, admit of it--and must for that reason be
treated by an English reader as short. Aiming at greater completeness,
but otherwise in a manner very much less ambitious, I attempted an
experiment of a similar kind myself, consisting of a few hexameters, in
which not only do the natural stresses fall, and fall exclusively, on
syllables which in Latin would be long, but in which also every syllable
would be emphasized by an English reciter with a natural stress
corresponding to it. These hexameters were a metrical amplification of
an advertisement which figures prominently in the carriages of the Tube
Railway, proclaiming the charms of a suburb called Sudbury Town, and
remarkable for its surrounding pine woods. The moment I read the words
"Sudbury Town" I recognized in them the beginning of a hexameter
classically pure; and after many abortive attempts I worked out a
sequel--a very short one--as follows:

    Sudbury Town stands here. In an old-world region around it
    Tall, dark pines, like spires, with above them a murmur of umbrage,
    Guard for us all deep peace. Such peace may the weary suburbans
    Know not in even a dream. These, these will an omnibus always,
    Ev'n as they sink to a doze just earned by the toil of a daytime,
    Rouse, or a horse-drawn dray, too huge to be borne by an Atlas,
    Shakes all walls, all roofs, with a sound more loud than an earthquake.[5]

The moral of such experiments seems to me to be this: that even if
ancient prosody, such as that of the Virgilian hexameter, could be
naturalized completely in English, the emotional effect of the meter
would in the two languages be different, and that Anglo-Latin hexameters
would, with very rare exceptions, mean no more than successes in a
graceful and very difficult game. It is indeed for that very reason that
I mention this question here. It is a question of pure literature or of
purely literary form. As such, it has proved fascinating to many highly
cultivated persons; yet even by such persons themselves it will not be
seriously regarded as much better than trivial. But this is not all.
From this consideration we are led on to another. If the problems of
Anglo-Classical prosody are trivial even for those who happen to find
them entertaining, may not all literature, even the highest, when
cultivated for its own sake only, be, from certain points of view, a
triviality also?

According to differences of taste and temperament, different persons
will answer this question differently. Since I am not entering here on
any formal argument, but am merely recording my own individual views, I
should, speaking for myself, answer this question in the affirmative. I
may, indeed, confess that the mere artist in literature--the person for
whom literature, as such, is the main interest in life--is a person for
whom secretly I have always felt some contempt, even though, for myself
personally, this magical triviality has been one of life's chief
seductions.

The content and significance of such a feeling are presented in concrete
form by such institutions as authors' or writers' clubs. In London and
in other capitals so many of these have been established, and continue
to flourish, that they obviously perform certain useful and welcome
functions; but my own criticism would be that to call them clubs for
"authors" or "writers" is a misnomer which fails to particularize the
real basis of membership. In the modern world, no doubt, all writers,
merely as writers, have certain interests in common. They have, in the
first place, to get their works published, and the business of
publication is a very complex process, which has necessarily a legal and
financial side. Questions are inevitably involved of financial loss or
gain, and even writers who are indifferent to profit, and are ready to
bear a loss, will desire to be treated fairly. They may be ready to bear
a loss, but not a loss which is inequitable, and if any gain should
ensue, they will desire an equitable share of it. In connection with
such matters, authors' clubs may perform many useful offices for their
members. In so far, however, as their functions are limited to offices
such as these the proper name for them would be not clubs, but agencies.
On the other hand, in the modern world authorship to a great extent is a
systematic writing for journals. It has to be performed, in respect both
of time and other conditions, in accordance with strict arrangements
between the writers themselves and the officials by whom, whether as
editors or owners, these journals are managed. For this reason persons
who practice journalism--daily journalism in particular--will probably
be persons more or less similar in their habits, and clubs for admission
to which the main qualification consists in the fact of authorship may
provide them with special conveniences which they one and all desire.
But for persons whose literary pursuits are carried on in isolation, and
who aim at expressing by authorship no thoughts or no sentiments but
their own, it seems to me that a club for authors or writers as such
represents a conception as wrong as would that of a club for speakers as
such or for politicians as such. What bond of union would there be
between a Tory and a ferocious Democrat if they neither of them put pen
to paper--if they were not authors at all? They would keep, so far as
was possible, to different sides of the street. Why, then, should they
wish to meet in a club coffee room and lunch at adjacent tables, simply
because each, besides holding opinions absolutely odious to the other,
should, instead of keeping them to himself, endeavor to disseminate them
by writing among as many of his fellow creatures as was possible?

It may be said that two such men might very well wish to do so because,
though what each expressed was odious to the other in itself, each was a
consummate master of literary art in expressing it, and each admired,
and was aware of, the presence of this technical mastery in the other.
Now, so far as it goes, this, in numerous cases, may be true. Indeed,
such an admission is the very point from which the present argument
started. Pure literature, as such, is, no doubt, susceptible of
consummate beauties, in their natural admiration of which men who are
otherwise the bitterest adversaries may agree. What does this admission
cover? It applies, in my own opinion, to minor literature only, though
masterpieces of minor literature may be in their own way supreme, as
Keats has shown us in such poems as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," but, as
applied to literature in its higher and greater forms, the admission
fails to be true, because it fails to be adequate. A poem by Keats may
be admirable so far as it goes, but really great literature, such as
Goethe's "Faust," for example, would possess but a minor value unless
there were at the back of it something that is more than literature. In
the case of a poem like "Endymion" the poem is greater than the man who
writes it. In the case of a poem like "Faust" the man is greater than
the poem. Behind the poet stands the man of profound reflection, the man
of the world, the philosopher, the passionate or disillusioned lover. He
is all of these before he is a literary artist. His writing is only the
vehicle by which he communicates what he is in all these capacities to
others, and so leaves a practical impression on the thoughts and
emotions of the world.

And what is true of verse is more obviously true of prose. Of all prose
works which have captured attention by their mere merits as literature,
no better example can be given than the great masterpiece of Gibbon. But
though Gibbon may be read by many for the sake of his mere literary
charm, his place in the world as a great writer depends but in a
secondary way on this charm in itself. He lives because this charm was
used by him to convey the results of research so penetrating and
comprehensive, and guided by a mind so sagacious and powerful, that for
the most part these results have stood the test of criticism, however
keen and hostile; and in accomplishing this feat Gibbon has rendered a
service which is still indispensable to the historical students and
historical thinkers of to-day, whereas otherwise his merely literary
merits would have been merits displayed in vain or relegated to a
literary museum which few men cared to enter.

This conception of pure literature as written language which is mainly
appreciated for its own sake, and is for that reason in a relative
sense trivial, no doubt widens out again when we come to consider the
fact that emotion of some kind is, in the last resort, the one thing
which gives value to life. But the fact remains that all the desirable
emotions are determined by things which are not in themselves emotions,
such as knowledge, intellectual beliefs, and the laws, economic and
otherwise, which alone render a civilized society possible; and even the
greatest of merely literary charms make great literature only in so far
as they endow mankind with fundamental things like these.

Throughout these memoirs there has been constant allusion to the
relation borne by literary expression to life in the case of the author
himself. I have said already that for mere literature as such, and for
its practitioners, I have from my youth onward had a certain feeling of
contempt, and I now may explain once more what, at least in my own case,
such a feeling really means. It means, not that mere literature at its
best is not beautiful and delightful, but that it must, in order to be
worthy of a serious man's devotion, be a mere part of some whole, the
other part of which is incomparably the larger of the two. It means that
literature, in order to be great literature, must at the same time be
practically a form of action. I have no ambition to impose this opinion
on others. I would merely record it as an opinion on which, since the
ending of my early days at Oxford, I have myself by instinct acted.
Whatever I have written I have written with one or other ulterior
object, to which the mere pleasure of literary opposition as such has
been altogether subordinate. Of the nature of these objects I have said
enough already, but I may once again define them.

One of them relates to religion, to the quality of the lives and the
loves of ordinary men and women as affected by it, and also to
metaphysics and science, in so far as they leave, or do not leave, the
doctrines of religion credible.

The second of these objects relates to the existing conditions of social
and industrial life, more especially to those suggested by the loosely
used word "Labor," and the frantic fallacies with regard to these by
which the ideas of extreme reformers are vitiated, and from which,
instead of meeting them, too many Conservatives shrink in ignominious
terror.

With regard to religion, philosophy, science, and the widespread ideas
underlying what is vaguely described as Socialism, I have endeavored to
discredit, or else to modify, the views which, for something like fifty
years, leaders who are called "advanced" have been making more and more
widely popular. I have resorted for this purpose to the methods of
fiction and of formal argument. The implication of all the writings by
which I have attempted to do this is that the mischief, religious,
social, and political, which "advanced" thought has done may in time, by
a rational development of conservative thought, be undone, and the true
faiths be revived on which the sanctities, the stabilities, and the
civilization of the social order depend.

I have nevertheless always myself recognized, ever since early
enthusiasm felt the chill of experience, that such a counter-revolution
must be slow, nor have I ever underrated the obstacles which certain
false idealisms now at work in the world may oppose to it. On the
contrary, I have always felt that no man is fit to encounter an
adversary's case successfully unless he can make it for the moment his
own, unless he can put it more forcibly than the adversary could put it
for himself, and takes account, not only of what the adversary says, but
also of the best that he _might say_, if only he had chanced to think of
it.

On this principle I have endeavored myself to act. The process, however,
may in some cases be not without the seeming danger that the converter,
in thus arming himself for his task, may perform it somewhat too
thoroughly, and end by being himself perverted. He must, at all events,
go near to experiencing a sense of such perversion dramatically. Of this
fact I have myself provided an example in one of my writings, to which I
just now alluded, and which herein differs from the rest. Having
elsewhere argued in defense of religious faith, as though feeling that,
through argument and knowledge, mankind will some day recover it, I
wrote the work here in question as a man might write who had himself
made a final--even a complacent--surrender to the forces which he had
dreamed of dissipating.

This work is a poem called "Lucretius on Life and Death," and was partly
suggested by the vogue acquired by Fitzgerald's rendering of the
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam. The doctrine of Omar is, as everybody knows, a
doctrine of voluptuous pessimism. There is no life other than this. Let
us kiss and drink while it lasts. The doctrine of Lucretius is to a
certain extent similar, but is sterner and more intellectual in its
form. I accordingly selected from his great scientific poem, which
contains in embryo all the substance of the modern doctrine of
evolution, those passages which bear on the meaning of man's existence.
I arranged these in logical order, and translated or paraphrased them in
the meter with which Fitzgerald has familiarized and fascinated the
English ear, so that the philosophy of the Persian and the Roman might
be reduced to something like a common denominator. Lucretius is so far a
pessimist that, under existing conditions, human life is for him no more
than a hideous nightmare; but he is so far an optimist that he looks
upon all this misery as due to one removable cause, this cause being the
prevalence of one mistaken belief, which a true scientific philosophy
will altogether eradicate. The belief in question is a belief in a
personal God, who is offended by the very nature of man, and who watches
with a wrathful eye by the deathbed of each human creature, in order to
begin a torture of him which will last for all eternity. Man's true
savior, Lucretius argues, is science, which makes this belief ridiculous
by showing clearly that all individual things--human beings
included--are nothing but atomic aggregations, which, having been formed
for a moment, dissolve and disappear for ever. How, then, can any
avenging God be anything more than the distempered dream of children?
How could such a God torture men when they die, since as soon as they
are dead there is nothing left to torture? Let them cast this incubus of
irrational fear behind them, and the mere process of life may then be
tolerable enough. It may even, in a sober way, be happy. It certainly
need not be, as it now is, miserable; and at all events it will be
pleasing as a prelude to the luxury of an endless sleep. Of my own
rendering of the great Lucretian message, I may here give a few stanzas
as specimens:

    Nothing abides. The seas in delicate haze
    Go off. Those moonèd sands forsake their place;
      And where they are shall other seas in turn
    Mow with their sands of whiteness other bays.

How, then, the poet asks, shall the individual man be more enduring than
these?

    What, shall the dateless worlds in dust be blown
    Back to the unremembered and unknown,
      And this frail Thou--this flame of yesterday--
    Burn on forlorn, immortal and alone?

    What though there lurks behind yon veil of sky
    Some fabled Maker, some immortal Spy,
      Ready to torture each poor thing he made?
    Thou canst do more than God can. Thou canst die.

    Will not the thunders of thy God be dumb
    When thou art deaf for ever? Can the sum
      Of all things bruise what is not? Nay, take heart,
    For where thou go'st thither no God can come.

    And no omnipotent wearer of a crown
    Of righteousness, or fiend with branded frown
      Swart from the pit, shall break or reach thy rest,
    Or stir thy temples from the eternal down.

In writing this poem I experienced the full sensation of having become a
convert to the Lucretian gospel myself, against which throughout my life
it had been my dominant impulse to protest.

There are, doubtless, many others who experience this disconcerting
vicissitude--for whom the deductions of science as a moral message are
ludicrous, but for whom its homicidal negations prove in the end
ineluctable. If this is their permanent, if this is their final
condition, they will perhaps deserve commiseration, but they will hardly
deserve castigation, for their attitude is one which will bring its own
castigation with it. I can only hope that I am entitled to the truly
charitable satisfaction of regarding them as a class to which I do not
myself belong, and that the literary industry of a life otherwise idle
may prove to be a form of action, or rather a reaction, which, alike as
to religion and politics, will have not been unserviceable to the world.

To sum the matter up, the Lucretian philosophy of life, appealing as it
may to men when in certain moods, is one which, when submitted to what
Kant calls the "practical reason," shrivels up into an absurdity, and I
have shown at length, in my work _The Reconstruction of Belief_, that
this becomes only the more apparent when we consider the attempts which
have been made by modern thinkers to vivify it by an idea of which in
Lucretius there is no trace. Put into language less imposing than his
own, the gospel of Lucretius virtually comes to this, that men may eat
and drink and propagate their kind in comfort if only they will hold
fast to the belief that men, when they die, slip into their burrows like
rabbits, and will, though they have done with pleasure, be out of the
reach of pain--that whatever they may have done or not done, they will
all, as individuals, be as though they never had been. The only
enlargement of this gospel which modern thought can suggest is rooted in
a transference of men's serious interests in life from the life of the
individual to the life of the community or the race, and in the thought
that, though the individual perishes, the race will continue and
progress.

The answer given to this argument in _The Reconstruction of Belief_ is
that, even if we suppose such corporate progress to be a reality, it
cannot be invested with any practical meaning unless we postulate the
individual, and consider his fortunes first. We have here the Asses'
Bridge of all philosophy whatsoever, and until the philosopher has
crossed it the philosopher can do nothing but bray. The whole external
universe, the race of men included, has for no man any perceptible
existence except in so far as it is reflected in the thoughts and the
sensations of the individual. The conception of the race is nothing, so
far as we can know it, beyond what the individual conceives. Let us
suppose it, then, to be in some relative sense true that the human race
is undergoing some change always for the better in respect of its
material or moral conditions, which change will continue so long as the
race exists. In that case the course of Humanity will be comparable to
an upward road which the race will be always ascending toward heights of
welfare at present hardly imaginable. Such will be the course of the
race, but the course of the individuals will be something totally
different. It will for each be a progress not _up_ such a road, but
_across_ it, no matter at what altitude this crossing is made. Humanity
will always be nothing more than a procession passing from one turnstile
to another, the one leading out of, and the other leading into, a
something which always must be, for each individual, a nullity. Apart
from the individual, nothing which the human race knows as desirable can
exist; and, logically and practically alike, the only efficient
connection between the individual and the race must first of all be a
connection not with the race as such, and not with external nature, but
with something which is beyond both, and is not comprehended in either.

The only conceivable human being who will, apart from religion, ever be
able to describe himself as coextensive with the human race will, as
Nietzsche puts it in one of his most memorable sentences, be the last
man left alive when the rest of the human race is frozen. He, and he
only, will be able to say truly: "_Homo sum. Humani nihil a me alienum
puto._"

[5] In connection with the above questions, I may mention certain
others, all bearing on the relation of prose to poetry. It was said of
Plutarch that his sense of sound was so delicate that if it had been
necessary for the sake of mere verbal melody, he would have made Cæsar
kill Brutus instead of Brutus killing Cæsar. Closely bearing on this
criticism is the fact that in old English tragedies from the days of
Dryden onward a careful reader will note that, while parts of the
dialogue are in blank verse and parts in prose, the writers themselves
show, in many cases, a very defective appreciation of where verse ends
and prose begins, many passages which are printed as prose being really
unconscious verse. An interesting example of this may be found in a
passage from Bacon's _Essays_, which Macaulay quotes as an example of
the literary altitude to which Bacon's prose could rise. This passage is
in reality blank verse pure and simple. It is as follows:

                  Virtue is like precious odors,
    Most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.
    Prosperity doth best discover vice.
    Adversity doth best discover virtue.

This passage, with Macaulay's comments on it, may be commended to the
notice of those who contend that Bacon could not have written
_Shakespeare_, because Bacon's acknowledged verses are of a very
inferior kind. If they look in Bacon's prose for verse which was
unacknowledged, and which was unintended by himself, they may find
reason for modifying this argument.



INDEX


Aberdeen, speech at, 192.

Acland, family of, 3.

---- Sir Henry at Oxford, 78.

Aidé, Hamilton, 98, 130.

Alexandria, 228.

Alford, Lady Marian, on society, 119.

America, political visit to, 308.

American architecture, 322.

Amherst, Lord and Lady, 292.

Ardverikie, Sir John Ramsden's lodge, 145, 307.

_Aristocracy and Evolution_, 265.

Arnold, Matthew, as Mr. Luke in _The New Republic_, 88.

Ashburton, Louisa, Lady, 117.

---- Rawlin Mallock, Whig member for, 4.

Astor, Mr. John Jacob, in New York, 314.

Austin, Alfred, Poet Laureate, 120.


Baker, Sir Samuel, 226-227.

Baltimore, 309, 320.

Batthyany, Prince and Princess, 241-242.

Beaufort Castle (Lord Lovat's), 129.

Beaulieu, villa at, 203.

Beckett, Ernest, second Lord Grimthorpe, 195.

Benbecula, island of, 304.

Bevan, Mr. (the last of the "dandies"), 60.

Bismarck, Countesses Marie and Helen, 55.

Blatchford, Lord, 30.

Blayney, Lord, friend of Cromwell's, 4.

Blenheim, 132.

Blunt, Wilfrid, poet, and breeder of Arab horses, 53, 129.

Boroughs, rotten Cornish, 159.

Breakfast party at Lord Houghton's, 103.

Bright, John, as land agitator; his absurd statistics, 182.

Brittany, visit to, 329.

Broglio, castle of, 237.

Browning, Robert, 71.

Buller, Emma and Antony, 30.

Bulwer, Sir Henry, in Cyprus, 227.

Burdett-Coutts, Miss, at Torquay, 61.

Bute, Lord, original of Lord Beaconsfield's Lothair, 131;
  at Chiswick, 131;
  at Cardiff Castle, 151.

Butler, Dr. Nicholas Murray, 313.

Byram, Sir John Ramsden's, in Yorkshire, 161.


Cannes, first visit to, 167;
  miniature villa at, 167;
  subsequent visits, 241.

Cardiff Castle, 157.

Carlyle, introduction to, 64.

Carriages, old traveling, 16.

Cary, Mr., of Tor Abbey, and R. Mallock as smugglers, 5.

---- Sir Henry, sells Cockington to R. Mallock, _temp._ Charles I, 4.

Castles, different classes of, 152.

Catholic society in London, 130.

Champernowne family related to Mallocks, 7.

Chelston Cross, built by Mr. W. Froude, 49.

Chillingham Castle, 155.

Civic Federation of New York, 308.

Clark, Mr. George, meeting at Cardiff, 158.

Cleveland, Duchess of, 149.

Cockington Church, 17.

---- Court, 13.

---- Estate, no building leases granted till 1860, 49.

Cockington village, 15.

Conservative party, besetting weakness of, 214, 268.

Conversation, the arts of, 101.

Country houses, description of various, 146-167.

Currie, Philip, afterward Lord Currie, 130.

Cyprus, winter visit to, 227, 235.


Dandies, 63.

Dartington Hall, 12.

---- Parsonage, 10.

Dartmouth as a rotten borough, 50.

De Vere, Aubrey, 54.

Dempster, Miss C., 241.

Denbury Manor, 7.

"Denzil Place," poem by "Violet Fane," 129.

Diagrams, statistical, used at public meetings, 191.

_Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption_, 276.

Dorlin, Lord Howard's lodge in the Highlands, 175.

Dreams, poems written in, 259.

Dunrobin, 146.


Eaglehurst, 241.

Eaton, Alfred Montgomery at, 152.

Elvaston Castle, 157.

Erskine, Lady, hostess at Torquay, 54.

Everingham Park, old Yorkshire Catholic house, 154.

Exeter, Henry Philpotts, Bishop of, 31-34.

---- R. Mattock's connection with, _temp._ Elizabeth and James I, 4.


Famaugusta, enormous ruins of, 233.

"Fane, Violet," 130.

Farmer, Devonshire, on free will, 24;
  on the fall of Jericho, 24.

Fielding, a child's imitation of his novels, 35.

Florence, interesting houses in and near, 236.

Froude, Antony, historian, and Carlyle, 64.

---- Archdeacon, equestrian, dilettante, artist, magistrate, 6.

Froude, Hurrell, leader of Tractarian movement, 6.

---- Mr. and Mrs. William, interesting society at their house, 50.

---- William, his discoveries in naval architecture, 51.

Fryston, 161.


Gaskell, C. Milnes; Lord Houghton's characteristic advice to him, 59.

George, Henry, limitations of his attack on private wealth, 173;
  his ignorance of statistics, 188.

Georges, Sir Ferdinando:
  his immense landed properties in Maine, 4;
  Mallock's partner _temp._ Charles I, 4.

Glasgow, the author speaks at, 192.

Glenthorne, its lonely and singular situation, 153.

Governesses, high Tory, 28.

Gratz, 246.

Greenock, Lord, 195.

Grimthorpe, Lord, 194.


Hare, Augustus, his indiscretions as a writer of memoirs, 136.

Harvard, 317-318.

Hatchments in Cockington Church, 17.

_Heart of Life, The_, 280.

Hebrides, the Outer, 304.

Heligan, the John Tremaynes' house in Cornwall, 159.

Herbert, Auberon, a devotee of "the simple life," 122-124.

---- of Lee, Lady, 177.

Hewel Grange, 160.

Hibbert, Mrs. Washington, 130.

Highlands, the, first visit to, 175.

Hoch-Osterwitz, extraordinary castle of, 245.

Hotels, old-fashioned, private, in London, 94;
  extravagant gilding of American, 316.

Houghton, Lord, at Torquay, 58;
  his enormous acquaintance, 59;
  his dry wit and humor, 60;
  his social advice to the author, 60;
  breakfast party given in London by, 103;
  his remarkable defense of one of the author's novels, 172;
  in the Highlands, 177.

Houghton, old Catholic house in Yorkshire, 155.

---- Sir Robert Walpole's, in Norfolk, 151.

Howard, Kenneth, 96.

Hoy, island of, its colossal cliffs, 300.

Hugel, Baron von, Austrian diplomat, 237.

_Human Document, A_, 255-278.

Huxley as Mr. Storks in _The New Republic_, 87-88.


_In an Enchanted Island_, 229.

_Individualist, The_, 281.

Ireland, visits in, 164.

_Is Life Worth Living?_ 169.


James, William, at Harvard, 317.

Jerningham, C. E., 200.

Jerome, William Travers, 321.

Jersey, Julia, Lady, 126.

Jowett, as Doctor Jenkinson in _The New Republic_, 88.


Kidd, Benjamin, on Social Evolution, 264.

Kippax, Yorkshire, a product of architectural rivalry, 162.

Kirkwall and its cathedral, 299.

Knebworth, its pseudo-Gothic architecture, 257, 260;
  "Ouida's" visit to, 256;
  a night of conversation at, 288.

Körmend, castle of, in Hungary, 246.


_Labor and the Popular Welfare_, 261.

Land agitation in the Highlands, 180.

---- agitator on Fort William coach, 184.

---- the old basis of London society, 93;
  decline in rent of agricultural since 1880, 93.

Lane Fox, George, 211.

Larnaca in Cyprus, 229.

Laureateship, competitors for, 121.

Library, secret hours in a, 36.

_Limits of Pure Democracy_, 333.

Literature and action, 341-371.

Literature and utilitarianism, 343.

---- as speech made permanent, 342.

Littlehampton, private tutor at, 39.

Lloyd Bryce, 310.

Long Island, country house in, 310.

Lowther, Mrs. William, 117.

_Lucretius on Life and Death_, 366.

Lulworth Castle, 154.

Lyme, 163.

Lytton, as contrasted with Carlyle, 65;
  second Lord, early acquaintance with, 66;
  his poetry and his generous temper, 67;
  poem composed by him in a dream, 259.

---- first Lord, at Torquay, 54.


Mallock family, 3-5.

---- Richard, as member for Torquay division of Devonshire, 209;
  support given him by George Lane Fox and J. Sandars, 211.

Mallocks as members of Parliament for Lyme, Poole, Totnes, and Ashburton, 3.

---- of the eighteenth century:
  their ecclesiastical patronage, and their patronage of the turf, 5.

Manchester, speech at, on the land question, 192.

Manning, Cardinal, 131.

Marx, Karl, his influence in England about 1880, 173, 179.

Memoirs, difficulties of writing, 135.

Metaphors, the secret of their force in literature, 349.

Molesworth, Sir Louis, 159.

Monte Carlo, 194-208.

Montrose, Duchess of (Caroline), 99.

Morgan, J. Pierpont, 323, 327.


Naval architecture, Mr. Froude's experiments in, 51.

Negro, spiritual ambitions of a, 327.

Nevill, Lady Dorothy, 101.

---- Miss Meresia, her lesson in oratory at Strathfieldsaye, 110.

_New Domesday Book_, studied by the author at Ardverikie, 187.

Newman, Cardinal, 50.

_New Paul and Virginia, The_, 90.

_New Republic, The_, 87.

New York: the opera there a social function, 312;
  dinner parties in, and other entertainments, 312;
  good taste in fashionable entertainments, 316;
  author's address at Columbia University, 313;
  Evelyn Nesbit and the Thaw trial, 321;
  ladies' club in, author's address at opening of, 324.

Nicosia, 230.

Noble, Mr. and Mrs. Saxton, 294.

Noltland Castle, in the Orkneys, 301.

Normans and Saxons, 28.


Oban, 175.

_Old Order Changes, The_, analysis of, 214-217.

Orford, Lord, his views of society, 97.

Osborne, Father B., son of a prominent Evangelical, 240.

"Ouida" in London, 126;
  at Florence, 256;
  at Knebworth, 256.

Oxford, undergraduate life at, 68;
  suppers and concerts at, 70-71;
  Robert Browning and Ruskin at, 71-79;
  rejection of dogmatic Christianity at, 82;
  suicide of Balliol undergraduate at, 80;
  orthodox apologists at, 83;
  _The New Republic_ at, 87.


Paget, Sir Augustus and Lady, 228.

Pater, as Mr. Rose, in _The New Republic_, 88.

_Pelham_ (Lord Lytton's novel), social advice to her son
  from the hero's mother, 97.

Philpot, Mr., private tutor at Littlehampton, 39;
  his taste for poetry, 39;
  the author's happy years under tuition of, 39-49;
  his professed Radicalism in polities and religion, 43;
  his fastidiousness in choice of pupils, 43.

Philpotts, Henry, Bishop of Exeter, examples of his polished wit, 32.

Poetry, author's early devotion to, 35-37.

Poor, the rural, of Devonshire, 20-29.

Pope as author's earliest model, 35.

Popoff, Admiral, his visit to Mr. W. Froude at Chelston Cross, 51.

Primrose League meeting at Cockington, humors of the occasion, 211.

Prose, methods of writing good, 347.

Prosody, attempts to write English verse according to Latin, 355.

_Provence_, the, French transatlantic steamer, 328.


Queen of Holland at Cockington, 17.


Raby Castle, 150.

Ramsden, Lady Guendolen: the author helps her in editing family memoirs, 100;
  has to reject the most amusing parts, 100.

---- Sir John, an ideal country gentleman, 161.

_Reconstruction of Belief, The_, 291.

_Religion as a Credible Doctrine_, 284.

Religion as an element of civilization, 291.

Riegersbourg, castle of, 252.

Roden, Lady, the charm of her conversation, 101.

---- Lord and Lady, in Ireland, 164.

_Romance of the Nineteenth Century, A_, 169;
  violent attacks on, 170;
  analysis of its philosophical purport, 170;
  defended by Catholic priest and Lord Houghton, 171-172.

Roosevelt, President, author's meeting with, at Harvard, 318.

Ruskin, meeting with, at Oxford, 78;
  his extreme charm of manner, 79;
  temperamentally opposed to Jowett, 79;
  his insistence on the need of definite religious belief, 86;
  as Mr. Herbert in _The New Republic_, 88.


St. Andrews Boroughs, invitation to stand for, 191.

St. Helier, Lady, and Duke of Wellington, 108.

St. Hilarion, castle of, 232.

St. Michael's Mount (Cornwall), 148.

St. Vincent, first Lord, 14.

_Sartor Resartus_, Carlyle's, 64.

Savile, Augustus, 96.

Season in London, 138.

Seaton, first Lord, 14.

Sermon, Jowett's, in _The New Republic_, 88;
 semisocialist, by priest in _The Old Order Changes_, 219.

Servants, Old World, 18.

Shelley, Sir Percy and Lady, 114.

Sherborne House, 163.

---- Susan, Lady, 163.

---- the late Lord, 163.

Shropshire, county ball in, 142.

Sloane, Mr. and Mrs., of New York, 315.

Smuggling by two country gentlemen in Devonshire, 5.

"Social Democratic Federation," 173.

_Social Equality_, 181.

_Socialism, A Critical Examination of_, 329.

---- elements of, in _The Old Order Changes_, 222.

Society in London, its traditional basis, 92.

Society in the country, 144.

Somers, Lady, 117.

Somerset, Duchess of, her conversational humor, 100.

Spencer, Herbert, letters from, about _Aristocracy and Evolution_, 266.

Stanway, picture of life at, in the eighteenth century, 162.

"Statistical Monographs," 333.

Stowe, 151.

Strafford, Cora, Lady, 151.

Suicide, her funeral at Monaco, 207.

Summer on the borders of Caithness, 292.

Sutherland, Duchess (Annie), at Torquay, 212.

Swinburne, admiration of his poetry at Littlehampton, 47;
  at Jowett's dinner table and afterward, 72;
  at an undergraduate's luncheon, 74;
  his humor, 75;
  recitation of his own verses, 77.

System played at Monte Carlo, 196-197.


Tchiacheff, Madame de, well-known Florentine hostess, 236.

Tennyson, quoted as illustrating the force of metaphor in poetry, 352.

Tiffany's, two queer customers at, 242.

Torquay, extension of, over Cockington and Chelston property, 13-14;
  winter society at, 54-55.

Torre a Cona, near Florence, 238.

Trevarthenick, Sir L. Molesworth's, 159.

Trevelyans of East Devon, 3.


Ugbrooke, the Cliffords, in Devonshire, 154.


Valentines, two living, 202.

Vay di Vaya, Monsignor, 314.

_Veil of the Temple_, passage on Darwin quoted in, 284;
  table talk on free will in, 287;
  verses from, quoted, 288-289;
  President Roosevelt's interest in, 319.

Verses, three volumes of the author's, 340.

Vicenza, 243.

Villa at Beaulieu, 205.

---- Maser, near Asolo, 244.

Vyner, Clair, 130.


Ward, Mrs. Humphry, 272.

---- Wilfrid, 134.

Wellington, second Duke of, his conversational wit, 105-112;
  his last Waterloo banquet at Apseley House, 107;
  as a translator of Horace, 112.

Wemyss, Lord, 135.

Wentworth, Lord, 53, 69.

Westminster, Constance, Duchess of, 99.

White, Stanford, 321-322.

Whyte Melville, 124.

Will, freedom of, 284.

Wilton, Laura, Lady, 202.

Wordsworth, 35.

Wrath, Cape, 296.


Young, Rev. Julian, 54.


THE END





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