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Title: My Autobiography - A Fragment
Author: Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max), 1823-1900
Language: English
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  [Illustration: _F. Max Müller Aged 4._]






New York




For some years past my father had, in the intervals of more serious
work, occupied his leisure moments in jotting down reminiscences of
his early life. In 1898 and 1899 he issued the two volumes of _Auld
Lang Syne_, which contained recollections of his friends, but very
little about his own life and career. In the Introductory Chapter to
the Autobiography he explains fully the reasons which led him, at his
advanced age, to undertake the task of writing his own Life, and he
began, but alas! too late, to gather together the fragments that he
had written at different times. But even during the last two years of
his life, and after the first attack of the illness which finally
proved fatal, he would not devote himself entirely to what he
considered mere recreation, as can be seen from such a work as his
_Six Systems of Indian Philosophy_ published in May, 1889, and from
the numerous articles which continued to appear up to the very time of
his death.

During the last weeks of his life, when we all knew that the end could
not be far off, the Autobiography was constantly in his thoughts, and
his great desire was to leave as much as possible ready for
publication. Even when he was lying in bed far too weak to sit up in a
chair, he continued to work at the manuscript with me. I would read
portions aloud to him, and he would suggest alterations and dictate
additions. I see that we were actually at work on this up to the 19th
of October, and on the 28th he was taken to his well-earned rest. One
of the last letters that I read to him was a letter from Messrs.
Longmans, his lifelong publishers, urging the publication of the
fragments of the Autobiography that he had then written.

My father’s object in writing his Autobiography was twofold: firstly,
to show what he considered to have been his mission in life, to lay
bare the thread that connected all his labours; and secondly, to
encourage young struggling scholars by letting them see how it had
been possible for one of themselves, without fortune, a stranger in a
strange land, to arrive at the position to which he attained, without
ever sacrificing his independence, or abandoning the unprofitable and
not very popular subjects to which he had determined to devote his

Unfortunately the last chapter takes us but little beyond the
threshold of his career. There is enough, however, to enable us to see
how from his earliest student days his leanings were philosophical and
religious rather than classical; how the study of Herbart’s philosophy
encouraged him in the work in which he was engaged as a mere student,
the Science of Language and Etymology; how his desire to know
something special, that no other philosopher would know, led him to
explore the virgin fields of Oriental literature and religions. With
this motive he began the study of Arabic, Persian, and finally
Sanskrit, devoting himself more especially to the latter under
Brockhaus and Rückert, and subsequently under Burnouf, who persuaded
him to undertake the colossal work of editing the Rig-veda.

The Autobiography breaks off before the end of the period during which
he devoted himself exclusively to Sanskrit. It is idle to speculate
what course his life’s work might have taken, had he been elected to
the Boden Professorship of Sanskrit; but he lived long enough to
realize that his rejection for that chair in 1860, which was so hard
to bear at the time, was really a blessing in disguise, as it enabled
him to turn his attention to more general subjects, and devote himself
to those philological, philosophical, religious and mythological
studies, which found their expression in a series of works commencing
with his _Lectures on the Science of Language_, 1861, and terminating
with his _Contributions to the Science of Mythology_, 1897,—“the
thread that connects the origin of thought and language with the
origin of mythology and religion.”

As to his advice to struggling scholars, the self-depreciation,
which, as Professor Jowett said, is one of the greatest dangers of an
autobiography, makes my father rather conceal the real causes of his
success in life. He even goes so far as to say, “everything in my
career came about most naturally, not by my own effort, but owing to
those circumstances or to that environment, of which we have heard so
much of late”: or again, “it was really my friends who did everything
for me and helped me over many a stile and many a ditch.” No doubt in
one sense this is true, but not in the sense in which it would have
been true had he, when at the University, accepted the offer which he
tells us a wealthy cousin made him, to adopt him and send him into the
Austrian diplomatic service, and even to procure him a wife and a
title into the bargain. The friends who helped him, men such as
Humboldt, Burnouf, Bunsen, Stanley, Kingsley, Liddell, to mention only
a few, were men whose very friendship was the surest proof of my
father’s merits. The real secret of his success lay not in his
friends, but in himself;—in the knowledge that his success or failure
in life depended entirely on his own efforts; in the fixity of purpose
which made him refuse all offers that would lead him from the pathway
that he had laid down for himself; and in the unflagging industry with
which he strove to reach the goal of his ambition. “My very
struggles,” he writes, “were certainly a help to me.”

When I came to examine the manuscript with a view to sending it to
press, I found that there was a good deal of work necessary before it
could be published in book form. The fragments were in many cases
incomplete; there was no division into chapters, no connexion between
the various periods and episodes of his life; important incidents were
omitted; while, owing to the intermittent way in which he had been
writing, there were frequent repetitions. My father was always most
critical of his own style, and would often, when correcting his
proof-sheets, alter a whole page, because a word or a phrase
displeased him, or because some new idea, some happier mode of
expression, occurred to him; but in the case of his Autobiography, the
only revision that he was able to give, was on his deathbed, while I
read the manuscript aloud to him.

My father points out how rarely the sons of great musicians or great
painters become distinguished in the same line themselves. “It seems,”
he says, “almost as if the artistic talent were exhausted by one
generation or one individual”; and I fear that, in my case at all
events, the same remark applies to literary talent. I have done my
best to string the fragments together into one connected whole, only
making such insertions, elisions and alterations as appeared strictly
necessary. Any deficiency in literary style that may be noticeable in
portions of the book should be ascribed to the inexperience of the

I have thought it right to insert the last chapter, which I call “A
Confession,” though I am not sure that my father intended it to be
included in his Autobiography. It will, however, explain the attitude
which he observed throughout his life, in keeping aloof, as far as
possible, from the arena of academic contention at Oxford. He was
never chosen a member of the Hebdomadal Council, he rarely attended
meetings of Convocation or Congregation; he felt that other people,
with more leisure at their disposal, could be of more use there; but
he never refused to work for his University, when he felt that he was
able to render good service, and he acted for years as a Curator of
the Bodleian Library and of the Taylorian Institute, and as a Delegate
of the Clarendon Press.

With reference to the illustrations, it may be of interest to readers
to know that the portraits of my grandfather and grandmother are taken
from pencil-drawings by Adolf Hensel, the husband of Mendelssohn’s
sister Fanny, herself a great musician, who, as my father tells us in
_Auld Lang Syne_, really composed several of the airs that Mendelssohn
published as his _Songs without Words_. The last portrait of my father
is from a photograph taken soon after his arrival in Oxford by his
great friend Thomson, afterwards Archbishop of York.

Nothing now remains for me but to acknowledge the debt that I owe
personally to this book. “Work,” my father used often to say to me,
“is the best healer of sorrow. In grief or disappointment, try hard
work; it will not fail you.” And certainly during these three sad
months, I have proved the truth of this saying. He could not have left
me a surer comfort or more welcome distraction than the duty of
preparing for press these pages, the last fruits of that mind which
remained active and fertile to the last.

                                          W. G. MAX MÜLLER.

  OXFORD, _January_, 1901.


CHAPTER                               PAGE

   I. INTRODUCTORY                     1

  II. CHILDHOOD AT DESSAU             46


  IV. UNIVERSITY                     115

   V. PARIS                          162

  VI. ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND             188

 VII. EARLY DAYS AT OXFORD           218


  IX. A CONFESSION                   308

      INDEX                          319


F. MAX MÜLLER, AGED FOUR        _Frontispiece_

                                 FACING PAGE

MY FATHER                            46

MY MOTHER                            58


    "    "     AGED TWENTY          156

    "    "     AGED THIRTY          268




After the publication of the second volume of my _Auld Lang Syne_,
1899, I had a good deal of correspondence, of public criticism, and of
private communings also with myself, whether I should continue my
biographical records in the form hitherto adopted, or give a more
personal character to my recollections. Some of my friends were
evidently dissatisfied. “The recollections of your friends and the
account of the influence they exercised on you,” they said, “are
interesting, no doubt, as far as they go, but we want more. We want to
know the springs, the aspirations, the struggles, the failures, and
achievements of your life. We want to know how you yourself look at
yourself and at your past life and its various incidents.” What they
really wanted was, in fact, an autobiography. “No one,” as a friend of
mine, not an Irishman, said, “could do that so well as yourself, and
you will never escape a biographer.” I confess that did not frighten
me very much. I did not think the danger of a biography very
imminent. Besides, I had already revised two biographies and several
biographical notices even during my lifetime. No sensible man ought to
care about posthumous praise or posthumous blame. Enough for the day
is the evil thereof. Our contemporaries are our right judges, our
peers have to give their votes in the great academies and learned
societies, and if they on the whole are not dissatisfied with the
little we have done, often under far greater difficulties than the
world was aware of, why should we care for the distant future? Who was
a greater giant in philosophy than Hegel? Who towered higher than
Darwin in natural science? Yet in one of the best German reviews[1]
the following words of a young German biologist[2] are quoted, and not
without a certain approval: “Darwinism belongs now to history, like
that other _curiosum_ of our century, the Hegelian philosophy. Both
are variations on the theme, How can a generation be led by the nose?
and they are not calculated to raise our departing century in the eyes
of later generations.”

  [1] _Deutsche Rundschau_, Feb., 1900, p. 249.

  [2] Driesch, _Biologisches Centralblatt_, 1896, p. 335.

If I was afraid of anything, it was not so much the severity of future
judges, as the extreme kindness and leniency which distinguish most
biographies in our days. It is true, it would not be easy for those
who have hereafter to report on our labours to discover the red
thread that runs through all of them from our first stammerings to our
latest murmurings. It might be said that in my own case the thread
that connects all my labours is very visible, namely, the thread that
connects the origin of thought and languages with the origin of
mythology and religion. Everything I have done was, no doubt,
subordinate to these four great problems, but to lay bare the
connecting links between what I have written and what I wanted to
write and never found time to write, is by no means easy, not even for
the author himself. Besides, what author has ever said the last word
he wanted to say, and who has not had to close his eyes before he
could write Finis to his work? There are many things still which I
should like to say, but I am getting tired, and others will say them
much better than I could, and will no doubt carry on the work where I
had to leave it unfinished. We owe much to others, and we have to
leave much to others. For throwing light on such points an
autobiography is, no doubt, better adapted than any biography written
by a stranger, if only we can at the same time completely forget that
the man who is described is the same as the man who describes.

“Friends,” as Professor Jowett said, “always think it necessary
(except Boswell, that great genius) to tell lies about their deceased
friend; they leave out all his faults lest the public should
exaggerate them. But we want to know his faults,—hat is probably
the most interesting part of him.”

Jowett knew quite well, and he did not hesitate to say so, that to do
much good in this world, you must be a very able and honest man,
thinking of nothing else day and night; and he adds, “you must also be
a considerable piece of a rogue, having many reticences and
concealments; and I believe a good sort of roguery is never to say a
word against anybody, however much they may deserve it.”

Now Professor Jowett has certainly done some good work at Oxford, but
if any one were to say that he also was a considerable piece of a
rogue, what an outcry there would be among the sons of Balliol. Jowett
thought that the only chance of a good biography was for a man to
write memoirs of himself, and what a pity that he did not do so in his
own case. His friends, however, who had to write his Life were wise,
and he escaped what of late has happened to several eminent men. He
escaped the testimonials for this, and testimonials for another life,
such as they are often published in our days.

Testimonials are bad enough in this life, when we have to select one
out of many candidates as best fitted for an office, and it is but
natural that the electors will hardly ever look at them, but will try
to get their information through some other channel. But what are
called _post obit_ testimonials really go beyond everything yet known
in funeral panegyrics. Of course, as no one is asked for such
testimonials except those who are known to have been friends of the
departed, these testimonials hardly ever contain one word of blame.
One feels ashamed to write such testimonials, but if you are asked,
what can you do without giving offence? We are placed altogether in a
false position. Let any one try to speak the truth and nothing but the
truth, and he will find that it is almost impossible to put down
anything that in the slightest way might seem to reflect on the
departed. The mention of the most innocent failings in an obituary
notice is sure to offend somebody, the widow or the children, or some
dear friend. I thought that my Recollections had hitherto contained
nothing that could possibly offend anybody, nothing that could not
have been published during the lifetime of the man to whom it
referred. But no; I had ever so many complaints, and I gladly left
out, in later editions, names which in many cases were really of no
consequence compared with what they said and did.

Surely every man has his faults and his little and often ridiculous
weaknesses, and these weaknesses belong quite as much to a man’s
character as his strength; nay, with the suppression of the former the
latter would often become almost unintelligible.

I like the biographies of such friends of mine as Dean Stanley,
Charles Kingsley, and Baron Bunsen. But even these are deficient in
those shadows which would but help to bring out all the more clearly
the bright points in their character. We should remember the words of
Dr. Wendell Holmes: “We all want to draw perfect ideals, and all the
coin that comes from Nature’s mint is more or less clipped, filed,
‘sweated,’ or bruised, and bent and worn, even if it was pure metal
when stamped, which is more than we can claim, I suppose, for anything
human.” True, very true; and what would the departed himself say to
such biographies as are now but too common,—most flattering pictures
no doubt, but pictures without one spot or wrinkle? In Germany it was
formerly not an uncommon thing for the author of a book to write a
self-review (Selbst-Kritik), and these were generally far better than
reviews written by friends or enemies. For who knows the strong and
weak points of a book so well as the author? True; but a whole life is
more difficult to review and to criticize than a single book.
Nevertheless it must be admitted that an autobiography has many
advantages, and it might be well if every man of note, nay, every man
who has something to say for himself that he wishes posterity to know,
should say it himself. This would in time form a wonderful archive for
psychological study. Something of the kind has been done already at
Berlin in preserving private correspondences. Of course it is
difficult to keep such archives within reasonable limits, but here
again I am not afraid of self-laudation so much as of self-depreciation.

Professor Jowett, who did not write his own biography, was quite
right in saying that there is great danger of an autobiography being
rather self-depreciatory; there is certainly something so nauseous in
self-praise that most people would shrink far more from self-praise
than from self-blame. There may be some kind of subtle self-admiration
even in the fault-finding of an outspoken autobiographer; but who can
dive into those deepest depths of the human soul? To me it seems that
if an honest man takes himself by the neck, and shakes himself, he can
do it far better than anybody else, and the castigation, if well
deserved, comes certainly with a far better grace from himself than if
administered by others.

Few men, I believe, know their real goodness and greatness. Some of
the most handsome women, so we are assured, pass through life without
ever knowing from their looking-glass that they are handsome. And it
is certainly true that men, from sad experience, know their weak
points far better than their good points, which they look on as no
more than natural.

The Autos, for instance, described by John Stuart Mill, has no cause
to be grateful to the Autos that wrote his biography. Mill had been
threatened by several future biographers, and he therefore wrote the
short biographical account of himself almost in self-defence. But
besides the truly miraculous, and, if related by anybody else, hardly
credible achievements of his early boyhood and youth, his great
achievements in later life, the influence which he exercised both by
his writings and still more by his personal and public character,
would have found a far more eloquent and truthful interpreter in a
stranger than in Mill himself. I remember another case where a most
distinguished author tried to escape the oil and the blessings,
perhaps the opposite also, from the hands of his future biographers.
Froude destroyed the whole of his correspondence, and he wished
particularly that all letters written to him in the fullest confidence
should be burnt,—and they were. I think it was a pity, for I know
what valuable letters were destroyed in that _auto da fé_; and yet
when he had done all this, he seems to have been seized with fear, and
just before he returned to Oxford as Regius Professor of Modern
History he began to write a sketch of his own life, which was found
among his papers. Interesting it certainly was, but fortunately his
best friends prevented its publication. It would have added nothing to
what we know of him in his writings, and would never have put his real
merits in their proper light. Besides, it came to an end with his
youth and told us little of his real life.

I flattered myself that I had found the true way out of all these
difficulties, by writing not exactly my own life, but recollections of
my friends and acquaintances who had influenced me most, and guided me
in my not always easy passage through life. As in describing the
course of a river, we cannot do better than to describe the shores
which hem in and divert the river and are reflected on its waves, I
thought that by describing my environment, my friends, and fellow
workers, I could best describe the course of my own life. I hoped also
that in this way I myself could keep as much as possible in the
background, and yet in describing the wooded or rocky shores with
their herds, their cottages, and churches, describe their reflected
image on the passing river.

But now I am asked to give a much fuller account of myself, not only
of what I have seen, but also of what I have been, what were the
objects or ideals of my life, how far I have succeeded in carrying
them out, and, as I said, how often I have failed to accomplish what I
had sketched out as my task in life. People wished to know how a boy,
born and educated in a small and almost unknown town in the centre of
Germany, should have come to England, should have been chosen there to
edit the oldest book of the world, the Veda of the Brahmans, never
published before, whether in India or in Europe, should have passed
the best part of his life as a professor in the most famous and, as it
was thought, the most exclusive University in England, and should
actually have ended his days as a Member of Her Majesty’s most
honourable Privy Council. I confess myself it seems a very strange
career, yet everything came about most naturally, not by my own
effort, but owing again to those circumstances or to that environment
of which we have heard so much of late.

Young, struggling men also have written to me, and asked me how I
managed to keep my head above water in that keen struggle for life
that is always going on in the whirlpool of the learned world of
England. They knew, for I had never made any secret of it, how poor I
was in worldly goods, and how, as I said at Glasgow, I had nothing to
depend on after I left the University, but those fingers with which I
still hold my pen and write so badly that I can hardly read my
manuscript myself. When I arrived I had no family connections in
England, nor any influential friends, “and yet,” I was told, “in a
foreign country, you managed to reach the top of your profession. Tell
us how you did it; and how you preserved at the same time your
independence and never forsook the not very popular subjects, such as
language, mythology, religion, and philosophy, on which you continued
to write to the very end of your life.”

I generally said that most of these questions could best be answered
from my books, but they replied that few people had time to read all I
had written, and many would feel grateful for a thread to lead them
through this labyrinth of books, essays, and pamphlets, which have
issued from my workshop during the last fifty years.[3]

  [3] As giving a clear and complete abstract of my writings I
  may now recommend M. Montcalm’s _L’origine de la Pensée et de
  la Parole_, Paris, 1900.

All I could say was that each man must find his own way in life, but
if there was any secret about my success, it was simply due to the
fact that I had perfect faith, and went on never doubting even when
everything looked grey and black about me. I felt convinced that what
I cared for, and what I thought worthy of a whole life of hard work,
must in the end be recognized by others also as of value, and as
worthy of a certain support from the public. Had not Layard gained a
hearing for Assyrian bulls? Did not Darwin induce the world to take an
interest in Worms, and in the Fertilization of Orchids? And should the
oldest book and the oldest thoughts of the Aryan world remain despised
and neglected?

For many years I never thought of appointments or of getting on in the
world in a pecuniary sense. My friends often laughed at me, and when I
think of it now, I confess I must have seemed very Quixotic to many of
those who tried for this and that, got lucrative appointments, married
rich wives, became judges and bishops, ambassadors and ministers, and
could hardly understand what I was driving at with my Sanskrit
manuscripts, my proof-sheets and revises. Perhaps I did not know
myself. Still I was not quite so foolish as they imagined. True, I
declined several offers made to me which seemed very advantageous in a
worldly sense, but would have separated me entirely from my favourite

When at last a professorship of Modern Literature was offered me at
Oxford, I made up my mind, though it was not exactly what I should
have liked, to give up half of my time to studies required by this
professorship, keeping half of my time for the Veda and for Sanskrit
in general. This was not so bad after all. People often laughed at me
for being professor of the most modern languages, and giving so much
of my time and labour to the most ancient language and literature in
the world. Perhaps it was not quite right my giving up so much of my
time to modern languages, a subject so remote from my work in life,
but it was a concession which I could make with a good conscience,
having always held that language was one and indivisible, and that
there never had been a break between Sanskrit, Latin, and French, or
Sanskrit, Gothic, and German. One of my first lectures at Oxford was
“On the antiquity of modern languages,” so that I gave full notice to
the University as to how I meant to treat my subject, and on the whole
the University seems to have been satisfied with my professorial work,
so that when afterwards for very good reasons, whether financial,
theological, or national, I, or rather my friends, failed to secure a
majority in Convocation for a professorship of Sanskrit, the
University actually founded for me a Professorship of Comparative
Philology, an honour of which I had never dreamt, and to secure which
I certainly had never taken any steps.

Here is all my secret. At first, as I said, it required faith, but it
also required for many years a perfect indifference as to worldly
success. And here again in my career as a Sanskrit scholar, mere
circumstances were of great importance. They were circumstances which
I was glad to accept, but which I could never have created myself. It
was surely a mere accident that the Directors of the Old East India
Company voted a large sum of money for printing the six large quartos
of the Rig-veda of about a thousand pages each. It was at the time
when the fate of the Company hung in the balance, and when Bunsen, the
Prussian Minister, made himself _persona grata_ by delivering a speech
at one of the public dinners in the City, setting forth in eloquent
words the undeniable merits of the Old Company and the wonderful work
they had achieved. It was likewise a mere accident that I should have
become known to Bunsen, and that he should have shown me so much
kindness in my literary work. He had himself tried hard to go to India
to discover the Rig-veda, nay, to find out whether there was still
such a thing as the Veda in India. The same Bunsen, His Excellency
Baron Bunsen, the Prussian Minister in London, on his own accord went
afterwards to see the Chairman and the Directors of the East India
Company, and explained to them what the Rig-veda was, and that it
would be a real disgrace if such a work were published in Germany; and
they agreed to vote a sum of money such as they had never voted
before for any literary undertaking. Though after the mutiny nothing
could save them, I had at least the satisfaction of dedicating the
first volume of my edition of the Rig-veda to the Chairman and the
Directors of the much abused East India Company,—much abused though
splendidly defended also by no less a man than John Stuart Mill.

This is what I mean by friends and circumstances, and that is the
environment which I wished to describe in my Recollections instead of
always dwelling on what I meant to do myself and what I did myself.
Small and large things work wonderfully together. It was the change
threatening the government of India, and a mighty change it was, that
gave me the chance of publishing the Veda, a very small matter as it
may seem in the eyes of most people, and yet intended to bring about
quite as mighty a change in our views of the ancient people of the
world, particularly of their languages and religions. This, too—the
development of language and religion—seems of importance to some
people who do not care two straws for the East India Company,
particularly if it helps us to learn what we really are ourselves, and
how we came to be what we are.

In one sense biographies and autobiographies are certainly among the
most valuable materials for the historian. Biography, as Heinrich
Simon, not Henri Simon, said, is the best kind of history, and the
life of one man, if laid open before us with all he thought and all he
did, gives us a better insight into the history of his time than any
general account of it can possibly do.

Now it is quite true that the life of a quiet scholar has little to do
with history, except it may be the history of his own branch of study,
which some people consider quite unimportant, while to others it seems
all-important. This is as it ought to be, till the universal historian
finds the right perspective, and assigns to each branch of study and
activity its proper place in the panorama of the progress of mankind
towards its ideals. Even a quiet scholar, if he keeps his eyes open,
may now and then see something that is of importance to the historian.
While I was living in small rooms at Leipzig, or lodging _au
cinquième_ in the Rue Royale at Paris, or copying manuscripts in a
dark room of the old East India House in Leadenhall Street, I now and
then caught glimpses of the mighty stream of history as it was rushing
by. At Leipzig I saw much of Robert Blum who was afterwards _fusillé_
at Vienna by Windischgrätz in defiance of all international law, for
he was a member of the German Diet, then sitting at Frankfurt. From my
windows at Paris I looked over the _Boulevard de la Madeleine_, and
down on the right to the _Chambre des Députés_, and I saw from my
windows the throne of Louis Philippe carried along by its four legs by
four women on horseback, with Phrygian caps and red scarfs, and I saw
the next morning from the same windows the stretchers carrying the
dead and wounded from the Boulevards to a hospital at the back of my
street. In my small study at the East India House I saw several of the
Directors, Colonel Sykes and others, and heard them discussing the
fate of the East India Company and of the vast empire of India too,
and at the same time the private interests of those who hoped to be
Members of the new India Council, and those who despaired of that
distinction. I was the first to bring the news of the French
Revolution in February to London, and presented a bullet that had
smashed the windows of my room at Paris, to Bunsen, who took it in the
evening to Lord Palmerston. After I had seen the Revolution in Paris
and the flight of the King and the Duchesse d’Orléans, I was in time
to see in London the Chartist Deputation to Parliament, and the
assembled police in Trafalgar Square, when Louis Napoleon served as a
Special Constable, and I heard the Duke of Wellington explain to
Bunsen, that though no soldier was seen in the streets there was
artillery hidden under the bridges, and ready to act if wanted. I
could add more, but I must not anticipate, and after all, to me all
these great events seemed but small compared with a new manuscript of
the Veda sent from India, or a better reading of an obscure passage.
_Diversos diversa iuvant_, and it is fortunate that it should be so.

All these things, I thought, should form part of my Recollections,
and my own little self should disappear as much as possible. Even the
pronoun I should meet the reader but seldom, though in Recollections
it was as impossible to leave it out altogether as it would be to take
away the lens from a photographic camera. Now I believe I have always
been most willing to yield to my friends, and I shall in this matter
also yield to them so far that in the Recollections which follow there
will be more of my inward and outward struggles; but I must on the
whole adhere to my old plan. I could not, if I would, neglect the
environment of my life, and the many friends that advised and helped
me, and enabled me to achieve the little that I may have achieved in
my own line of study.

If my friends had been different from what they were, should I not
have become a different man myself, whether for good or for evil? And
the same applies to our natural surroundings also. And here I must
invoke the patience of my readers, if I try to explain in as few words
as possible what I think about _environment_, and what about
_heredity_ or _atavism_.

I was a thorough Darwinian in ascribing the shaping of my career to
environment, though I was always very averse to atavism, of which we
have heard so much lately in most biographies. Even with respect to
environment, however, I could not go quite so far as certain of our
Darwinian friends, who maintain that everything is the result of
environment, or translated into biographical language, that everybody
is a creature of circumstances. No, I could not go so far as that.
Environment may shape our course and may shape us, but there must be
something that is shaped, and allows itself to be shaped. I was once
seriously asked by one who considers himself a Darwinian whether I did
not know that the Mammoth was driven by the extreme cold of the
Pleiocene Period to grow a thick fur in his struggle for life. That he
grew then a thicker fur, I knew, but that surely does not explain the
whole of the Mammoth, with and without a thick fur, before and after
the fur. It is really a pity to see for how many of these downright
absurdities Darwin is made responsible by the Darwinians. He has
clearly shown how in many cases the individual may be modified almost
beyond recognition by environment, but the individual must always have
been there first. Before we had a spaniel and a Newfoundland dog there
must have been some kind of dog, neither so small as the spaniel nor
so large as the Newfoundland, and no one would now doubt that these
two belonged to the same species and presupposed some kind of a less
modified canine creature. It is equally true that every individual man
has been modified by his surroundings or environment, if not to the
same extent as certain animals, yet very considerably, as in the case
of Kaspar Hauser, the man with the iron mask, or the mutineers of the
_Bounty_ in the Pitcairn Islands. But there must have been the man
first, before he could be so modified. Now it was this very
individual, my own self in fact, the spiritual self even more than the
physical, that interested my critics, while I thought that the
circumstances which moulded that self would be of far greater interest
than the self itself. Of course all the modifications that men now
undergo are nothing if compared to the early modifications which
produced what we speak of as racial, linguistic, or even national
peculiarities. That we are English or German, that we are white or
black, nay, if you like, that we are human beings at all, all this has
modified our self, or our germ-plasm, far more powerfully than
anything that can happen to us as individuals now.

When my friends and readers assured me that an account of my early
struggles in the battle of life would be useful to many a young,
struggling man, all I could say was that here again it was really my
friends who did everything for me, and helped me over many a stile,
and many a ditch, nay, without whom I should never have done whatever
I did for the Sciences of Language, of Mythology, and Religion, in
fact for Anthropology in the widest sense of that word. My very
struggles were certainly a help to me, even my opponents were most
useful to me. The subjects on which I wrote had hardly been touched on
in England, at least from the historical point of view which I took,
and I had not only to overcome the indifference of the public, but to
disarm as much as possible the prejudices often felt, and sometimes
expressed also, against anything made in Germany! Now I confess I
could never understand such a prejudice among men of science. Was I
more right or more wrong because I was born in Germany? Is scientific
truth the exclusive property of one nation, of Germany, or of England?
If I say two and two make four in German, is that less true because it
is said by a German? and if I say, no language without thought, no
thought without language, has that anything to do with my native
country? The prejudice against strangers and particularly against
Germans is, no doubt, much stronger now than it was at the time when I
first came to England. I had spent nearly two years in Paris, and
there too there existed then so little of unfriendly feeling towards
Germany, that one of the best reviews to which the rising scholars and
best writers of Paris contributed was actually called _Revue
Germanique_. Who would now venture to publish in Paris such a review
and under such a title? If there existed such an anti-German feeling
anywhere in England when I arrived here in the year 1846, one would
suppose that it existed most strongly at Oxford. And so it did, no
doubt, particularly among theologians. With them German meant much the
same as unorthodox, and unorthodox was enough at that time to taboo a
man at Oxford. In one of the sermons preached in these early days at
St. Mary’s, German theologians such as Strauss and Neander (_sic_)
were spoken of as fit only to be drowned in the German Ocean, before
they reached the shores of England. I do not add what followed: the
story is too well known. I was chiefly amused by the juxtaposition of
Strauss and Neander, whose most orthodox lectures on the history of
the Christian Church I had attended at Berlin. Neander was certainly
to us at Berlin the very pattern of orthodoxy, and people wondered at
my attending his lectures. But they were good and honest lectures. He
was quite a character, and I feel tempted to go a little out of my way
in speaking of him. By birth a Jew, he became one of the most learned
Christian divines. Ever so many stories were told of him, some true,
some no doubt invented. I saw him often walking to and from the
University to give his lectures in a large fur coat, with high black
polished boots beneath, but showing occasionally as he walked along.
It was told that he once sent for a doctor because he was lame. The
doctor on examining his feet, saw that one boot was covered with mud,
while the other was perfectly clean. The Professor had walked with one
foot on the pavement, with the other in the gutter, and was far too
much absorbed in his ideas to discover the true cause of his
discomfort. He lived with his sister, who took complete care of him
and saw to his wardrobe also. She knew that he wore one pair of
trousers, and that on a certain day in the year the tailor brought him
a new pair. Great was her amazement when one day, after her brother
had gone to the University, she discovered his pair of trousers lying
on a chair near his bed. She at once sent a servant to the Professor’s
lecture-room to inquire whether he had his trousers on. The hilarity
of his class may be imagined. The fact was it was the very day on
which the tailor was in the habit of bringing the new pair of
trousers, which the Professor had put on, leaving his usual garment

Many more stories of his absent-mindedness were _en vogue_ about Dr.
Neander, but that this man, a pillar of strength to the orthodox in
Germany, who was looked up to as an infallible Pope, should have his
name coupled with that of Strauss certainly gave one a little shock.
Yet it was at Oxford that I pitched my tent, chiefly in order to
superintend the printing of my Rig-veda at the University Press there,
and never dreaming that a fellowship, still less a professorship in
that ancient Tory University, would ever be offered to me.

For me to go to Oxford to get a fellowship or professorship would have
seemed about as absurd as going to Rome to become a Cardinal or a
Pope; and yet in time I was chosen a Fellow of All Souls, and the
first married Fellow of the College, and even a professorship was
offered to me when I least expected it. The fact is, I never thought
of either, and no one was more surprised than myself when I was asked
to act as deputy, and then as full Taylorian Professor; no one could
have mistrusted his eyes more than I did, when one of the Fellows of
All Soul’s informed me by letter that it was the intention of the
College to elect me one of its fellows. My ambition had never soared
so high. I was thinking of returning to Leipzig as a _Privat-docent_,
to rise afterwards to an extraordinary and, if all went well, to an
ordinary professorship.

But after these two appointments at Oxford had secured to me what I
thought a fair social and financial position in England, I did not
feel justified in attempting to begin life again in Germany. I had not
asked for a professorship or fellowship. They were offered me, and my
ambition never went beyond securing what was necessary for my
independence. In Germany I was supposed to have become quite wealthy;
in England people knew how small my income really was, and wondered
how I managed to live on it. They did not suppose that I had chiefly
to depend on my pen in order to live as a professor is expected to
live at Oxford. I could not see anything anomalous in a German holding
a professorship in England. There were several cases of the same kind
in Germany. Lassen (1800-1876), our great Sanskrit professor at Bonn,
was a Norwegian by birth, and no one ever thought of his nationality.
What had that to do with his knowledge of Sanskrit? Nor was I ever
treated as an alien or as intruder at Oxford, at least not at that
early time. As to myself, I had now obtained what seemed to me a small
but sufficient income with perfect independence. The quiet life of a
quiet student had been from my earliest days my ideal in life. Even at
school at Dessau, when we boys talked of what we hoped to be, I
remember how my ideal was that of a monk, undisturbed in his
monastery, surrounded by books and by a few friends. The idea that I
should ever rise to be a professor in a university, or that any career
like that of my father, grandfather, and other members of my family
would ever be open to me, never entered my mind then. It seemed to me
almost disloyal to think of ever taking their places. Even when I saw
that there were no longer any Protestant monks, no Benedictines, the
place of an assistant in a large library, sitting in a quiet corner,
was my highest ambition.

I do not see why it should have been so, for all my relations and
friends occupied high places in the public service, but as I had no
father to open my eyes, and to stimulate my ambition—he having died
before I was four years old—my ideas of life and its possibilities
were evidently taken from my young widowed mother, whose one desire
was to be left alone, much as the world tempted her, then not yet
thirty years old, to give up her mourning and to return to society.
Thus it soon became my own philosophy of life, to be left alone, free
to go my own way, or like Diogenes, to live in my own tub. Here we see
what I call the influence of circumstances, of surroundings, or as
others call it, of environment. This, however, is very different from
atavism, as we shall see presently. Atavism also has been called a
kind of environment, attacking us and influencing us from the past,
and as it were, from behind, from the North in fact instead of the
South, the East, and the West, and from all the points of the compass.

But atavism means really a very different thing, if indeed it means
anything at all.

I must ease my conscience once for all on this point, and say what I
feel about atavism and environment. Environment in the shape of
friends, of locality, and other material circumstances, has certainly
influenced my life very much, and I could never see why such a hybrid
word as environment should be used instead of surroundings or
circumstances. Creatures of circumstances would be far better
understood than creatures of environment; but environment, I suppose,
would sound more scientific. Atavism also is a new word, instead of
family likeness, but unless carefully defined, the word is very apt to
mislead us.

When it is said[4] that children often resemble their grandfathers or
grandmothers more than their immediate parents, and that this
propensity is termed atavism, this does not seem quite correct even
etymologically, for atavus in Latin did not mean father or
grandfather, but at first great-great-great-grandfather, and then
only ancestors; and what should be made quite clear is that this
mysterious atavism should not be used by careful speakers, to express
the supposed influence of parents or even grandparents, but that of
more distant ancestors only, and possibly of a whole family.

  [4] _Oxford Dictionary_, s. v.; J. Rennie, _Science of
  Gardening_, p. 113.

Many biographers, such is the fashion now, begin their works with a
long account not only of father and mother, but of grandparents and of
ever so many ancestors, in order to show how these determined the
outward and inward character of the man whose life has to be written.
Who would deny that there is some truth, or at least some
plausibility, in atavism, though no one has as yet succeeded in giving
an intelligible account of it? It is supposed to affect the moral as
well as the physical peculiarities of the offspring, and that here,
too, physical and moral qualities often go together cannot be denied.
A blind person, for instance, is generally cautious, but happy and
quite at his ease in large societies. A deaf person is often
suspicious and unhappy in society. In inheriting blindness, therefore,
a man could well be said to have inherited cautiousness; in inheriting
deafness, suspiciousness would seem to have come to him by

But is blindness really inherited? Is the son of a father who has lost
his eyesight blind, and necessarily blind? We must distinguish between
atavistic and parental influences. Parental influences would mean the
influence of qualities acquired by the parents, and directly
bequeathed to their offspring; atavistic influences would refer to
qualities inherited and transmitted, it may be, through several
generations, and engrained in a whole family. In keeping these two
classes separate, we should only be following Weismann’s example, who
denies altogether that acquired qualities are ever heritable. His
examples are most interesting and most important, and many Darwinians
have had to accept his amendment. Besides, we should always consider
whether certain peculiarities are constant in a family or inconstant.
If a father is a drunkard, surely it does not follow that his sons
must be drunkards. Neither does it follow that all the children must
be sober if the parents are sober. Of course, in ordinary conversation
both parental and ancestral influences seem clear enough. But if a
child is said to favour his mother, because like her he has blue eyes
and fair hair, what becomes of the heritage from the father who may
have brown eyes and dark hair? Whatever may happen to the children,
there is always an excuse, only an excuse is not an explanation. If
the daughter of a beautiful woman grows up very plain, the Frenchman
was no doubt right when he remarked, _C’était alors le père qui
n’était pas bien_, and if the son of a teetotaller should later in
life become a drunkard, the conclusion would be even worse. In fact,
this kind of atavistic or parental influence is a very pleasant
subject for gossips, but from a scientific point of view, it is
perfectly futile. If it is not the father, it is the mother; if it is
not the grandmother, it is the grandfather; in fact, family influences
can always be traced to some source or other, if the whole pedigree
may be dug up and ransacked. But for that very reason they are of no
scientific value whatever. They can neither be accounted for, nor can
they be used to account for anything themselves. Even of twins, though
very like each other in many respects, one may be phlegmatic, the
other passionate. Some scientists, such as Weismann and others, have
therefore denied, and I believe rightly, that any acquired characters,
whether physical or mental, can ever be inherited by children from
their parents. Whatever similarity there is, and there is plenty, is
traced back by him to what he calls the germ-plasm, working on
continuously in spite of all individual changes. If that germ-plasm is
liable to certain peculiar modifications in the father or grandfather,
it is liable to the same or similar modifications in the offspring,
that is, if the father could become a drunkard, so could the son, only
we must not think that the _post hoc_ is here the same as the _propter
hoc_. If we compare the germ-plasm to the molecules constituting the
stem or branches of a vine, its grapes and leaves in their similarity
and their variety would be comparable to the individuals belonging to
the same family, and springing from the same family tree. But then the
grape we see would not be what the grape of last year, or the grape
immediately preceding it on the same branch, had made it, though there
can be no doubt that the antecedent possibilities of the new grape
were the same as those of the last. If one grape is blue, the next
will be blue too, but no one would say that it was blue because the
last grape was blue. The real cause would be that the molecules of the
protoplasm have been so affected by long continued generation, that
some of the peculiar qualities of the vine have become constant.

The child of a negro must always be a negro; his peculiarities are
constant, though it may be quite true that the negro and other races
are not different species, but only varieties rendered constant by
immense periods of time. What the cause of these constant and
inconstant peculiarities may be, not even Weismann has yet been able
to explain satisfactorily.

The deafness of my mother and the prevalence of the misfortune in
numerous members of her family acted on me as a kind of external
influence, as something belonging to the environment of my life; it
never frightened me as an atavistic evil. It justified me in being
cautious and in being prepared for the worst, and so far it may be
said to have helped in shaping or narrowing the course of my life.
Fortunately, however, this tendency to deafness seems now to have
exhausted itself. In my own generation there is one case only, and the
next two generations, children and grandchildren of mine, show no
signs of it. If, on the other hand, my son was congratulated when
entering the diplomatic service, on being the son of his father, it is
clear that the difference between inherited and acquired qualities, so
strongly insisted on by Weismann, had not been fully appreciated by
his friends. Besides, my own power of speaking foreign languages has
always been very limited, and I have many times declined the
compliment of being a second Mezzofanti.[5] I worked at languages as a
musician studies the nature and capacities of musical instruments,
though without attempting to perform on every one of them. There was
no time left for acquiring a practical familiarity with languages, if
I wanted to carry on my researches into the origin, the nature and
history of language. My own study of languages could therefore have
been of very little use to me, nor did my son himself perceive such an
advantage in learning to converse in French, Spanish, Turkish, &c. The
facts were wrong, and the theory of atavism perfectly unreasonable as
applied to such a case.

  [5] _Science of Language_, vol. i. p. 24 (1861).

If the theory of atavism were stretched so far, it would soon do away
with free will altogether. That heredity has something to do with our
moral character, no one would deny who knows the influence of our
national, nay even of racial character. We are Aryan by heredity; we
might be Negroes or Chinese, and share in their tendencies. Animals
also have their instincts. Only while animals, like serpents for
instance, would never hesitate to follow their innate propensity, man,
when he feels the power of what we may call inherited human instinct,
feels also that he can fight against it, and preserve his freedom,
even while wearing the chains of his slavery. This may have removed
some of Dr. Wendell Holmes’ scruples in writing his powerful story,
_Elsie Venner_, and may likewise quiet the fears of his many critics.

I believe that language also—our own inherited language—exercises
the most powerful influence on our reason and our will, far more
powerful than we are aware of.

A Greek speaking Greek and a Roman speaking Latin would certainly have
been very different beings from the Romance and French descendants of
a Horace or a Cicero, and this simply on account of the language which
they had to speak, whether Greek, Latin, French, or Spanish. We cannot
tell whether the original differentiation of language, symbolized by
the story of the Tower of Babel, took place before or after the racial
differentiation of men. Anyhow it must have taken place in quite
primordial times. Without speaking positively on this point, I
certainly hold as strongly as ever that language makes the man, and
that therefore for classificatory purposes also language is far more
useful than colour of skin, hair, cranial or gnathic peculiarities.
Whether it be true that with every new language we speak we become
new men, certain it is that language prepares for us channels in which
our thoughts have to run, unless they are so powerful as to break all
dams and dykes, and to dig for themselves new beds.

For a long time people would not see that languages can be classified;
and as languages always presuppose speakers of language, these
speakers also can be classified accordingly. It is quite true that
some of these Aryan speakers may in some cases have Negro blood and
Negro features, as when a Negro becomes an English bishop. Conquered
tribes also may in time have learnt to speak the language of their
conquerors, but this too is exceptional, and if we call them Aryas, we
do not commit ourselves to any opinion as to their blood, their bones,
or their hair. These will never submit to the same classification as
their speech, and why should they? Nor should it be forgotten that
wherever a mixture of language takes place, mixed marriages also would
most likely take place at the same time. But whatever confusion may
have arisen in later times in language and in blood, no language could
have arisen without speakers, and we mean by Aryas no more than
speakers of Aryan languages, whatever their skulls or their hair may
have been. An Octoroon, and even a Quadroon, may have blonde waving
hair, but if he speaks English he would be classified as Aryan, if
Berber as a Negro. But who is injured by such a classification? Let
blood and skulls and hair and jaws be classified by all means, but let
us speak no longer of Aryan skulls or Semitic blood. We might as well
speak of a prognathic language.

While fully admitting, therefore, the influence which family,
nationality, race, and language exercise on us, it should be clearly
perceived that habits acquired by our parents are not heritable, that
the sons of drunkards need not be drunkards, as little as the sons of
sober people must be sober. But though biographers may agree to this
in general they seem inclined, to hold out very strongly for what are
called _special talents in certain families_. This subject is
decidedly amusing, but it admits of no scientific treatment, as far as
I can see.

The grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy for instance, though
not a composer, was evidently a man of genius, a philosopher of
considerable intellectual capacity and moral strength. The father of
the composer was a rich banker at Berlin, and he used to say: “When I
was young I was the son of the great Mendelssohn, now that I am old, I
am the father of the great Mendelssohn; then what am I?” Even a poor
man to become a rich banker must be a kind of genius, and so far the
son may be said to have come of a good stock. But the great musical
talent that was developed in the third generation both in Felix and
his sisters, failed entirely in his brother, who, to save his life,
could never have sung “God save the Queen.” In the little theatrical
performances of the whole family for which Felix composed the music,
and his sister Fanny (Hensel) some of the songs, the unmusical
brother—was it not Paul?—had generally to be provided with some such
part as that of a night watchman, and he managed to get through his
song with as much credit as the _Nachtwächter_ in the little town of
Germany, where he sang or repeated, as I well remember, in his cracked

    “Hört, ihr Herren, und lasst euch sagen,
     Die Glock’ hat zwölf geschlagen;
     Wahret das Feuer und auch das Licht,
     Dass Keinem kein Schade geschicht.”

    “Listen, gents, and let me tell,
     The clock struck twelve by its last knell;
     Watch o’er the fire and o’er the light
     That no one suffer any plight.”

I have known in my life many musicians and their families, but I
remember very few instances indeed, where the son of a distinguished
musician was a great musician himself. If the children take to music
at all they may become very fair musicians, but never anything
extraordinary. The Bach family may be quoted against me, but music,
before Sebastian Bach, was almost like a profession, and could be
learned like any other handicraft.

Nor are the cases of painters being the sons of great painters, or of
poets being the sons of great poets, more numerous. It seems almost as
if the artistic talent was exhausted by one generation or one
individual, so that we often see the sons of great men by no means
great, and if they do anything in the same line as their fathers, we
must remember that there was much to induce them to follow in their
steps without admitting any atavistic influences.

For the present, I can only repeat the conclusion I arrived at after
weighing all the arguments of my friends and critics, namely, to
continue my Recollections much as I began them, to try to explain what
made me what I am, to describe, in fact, my environment; though as my
years advance, and my labours and plans grow wider and wider, I shall,
no doubt, have to say a great deal more about myself than in the
volumes of _Auld Lang Syne_. In fact, my Recollections will become
more and more of an autobiography, and the I and the Autos will appear
more frequently than I could have wished.

In an autobiography the painter is of course supposed to be the same
as the sitter, but quite apart from the metaphysical difficulties of
such a supposition, there is the physical difficulty when the writer
is an old man, and the model is a young boy. Is the old man likely to
be a fair judge of the young man, whether it be himself or some one
else? As a rule, old men are very indulgent, while young men are apt
to be stern and strict in their judgments. The very fact that they
often invent excuses for themselves shows that they feel that they
want excuses. The words of the Preacher, vii. 16: “Be not righteous
over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy
thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why
shouldest thou die before thy time?” are evidently the words of an old
man when judging of himself or of others. A young man would have
spoken differently. He would have made no allowance; for anything like
compassion for an erring friend is as yet unknown to him. In an
autobiography written by an old man there is therefore a double
danger, first the indulgence of the old man, and secondly the kindly
feeling of the writer towards the object of his remarks.

All these difficulties stand before me like a mountain wall. And it
seems better to confess at once that an old man writing his own life
can never be quite just, however honest he tries to be. He may be too
indulgent, but he may also be too strict and stern. To say, for
instance, of a man that he has not kept his promise, would be a very
serious charge if brought against anybody else. Yet my oldest friend
in the world knows how many times he has made a promise to himself,
and has not only not kept it but has actually found excuses why he did
not keep it. The more sensitive our conscience becomes, the more
blameworthy many an act of our life seems to be, and what to an
ordinary conscience is no fault at all, becomes almost a sin under a
fiercer light.

This changes the moral atmosphere of youth when painted by an old man,
but the physical atmosphere also assumes necessarily a different hue.
Whether we like it or not, distance will always lend enchantment to
the view. If the azure hue is inseparable from distant mountains and
from the distant sky, we need not wonder that it veils the distant
paradise of youth. A man who keeps a diary from his earliest years,
and who as an old man simply copies from its yellow pages, may give us
a very accurate black and white image of what he saw as a boy, but as
in old faded photographs, the life and light are gone out of them,
while unassisted memory may often preserve tints of their former
reality. There is life and light in such recollections, but I am
willing to admit that memory can be very treacherous also. Thus in my
own case I can vouch that whatever I relate is carefully and
accurately transcribed from the tablets of my memory, as I see them
now, but though I can claim truthfulness to myself and to my memory, I
cannot pretend to photographic accuracy. I feel indeed for the
historian who uses such materials unless he has learnt to make
allowance for the dim sight of even the most truthful narrators.

I doubt whether any historian would accept a statement made thirty
years after the event without independent confirmation. I could not
give the date of the battle of Sadowa, though I well remember reading
the full account of it in the _Times_ from day to day. I can of
course get at the date from historical books, and from that kind of
artificial memory which arises by itself without any _memoria
technica_. There is a favourite German game of cards called Sixty-six,
and it was reported that when the French in 1870 shouted _À Berlin_,
the then Crown-Prince who had won the battle of Sadowa, or Königgrätz,
said: “Ah, they want another game of Sixty-six!” that is they want a
battle like that of Sadowa. In this way I shall always remember the
date of that decisive battle. But I could not give the date of the
Crimean battles nor a trustworthy account of the successive stages of
that war. I doubt whether even my old friend, Sir William H. Russell,
could do that now without referring to his letters in the _Times_.
After thirty years no one, I believe, could take an oath to the
accuracy of any statement of what he saw or heard so many years ago.

All then that I can vouch for is that I read my memory as I should the
leaves of an old MS. from which many letters, nay, whole words and
lines have vanished, and where I am often driven to decipher and to
guess, as in a palimpsest, what the original uncial writing may have
been. I am the first to confess that there may be flaws in my memory,
there may be before my eyes that magic azure which surrounds the
distant past; but I can promise that there shall be no invention, no
_Dichtung_ instead of _Wahrheit_, but always, as far as in me lies,
truth. I know quite well that even a certain dislocation of facts is
not always to be avoided in an old memory. I know it from sad
experience. As the spires of a city—of Oxford for instance—arrange
themselves differently as we pass the old place on the railway, so
that now one and now the other stands in the centre and seems to rise
above the heads of the rest, so it is with our friends and
acquaintances. Some who seemed giants at one time assume smaller
proportions as others come into view towering above them. The whole
scenery changes from year to year. Who does not remember the trees in
our garden that seemed like giants in our childhood, but when we see
them again in our old age, they have shrunk, and not from old age

And must I make one more confession? It is well known that George the
Fourth described the battle of Waterloo so often that at last he
persuaded himself that he had been present, in fact that he had won
that battle. I also remember Dr. Routh, the venerable president of
Magdalen College, who died in his hundredth year, and who had so often
repeated all the circumstances of the execution of Charles I, that
when Macaulay expressed a wish to see him, he declined “because that
young man has given quite a wrong account of the last moments of the
king,” which he then proceeded to relate, as if he had been an
eye-witness throughout.

Are we not liable to the same hallucination, though, let us hope, in a
more mitigated form? Have we never told a story as if it were our
own, not from any wish to deceive, but simply because it seemed
shorter and easier to do so than to explain step by step how it
reached us? And after doing that once or twice, is there not great
danger of our being surprised at somebody else claiming the story as
his own, or actually maintaining that it was he who told it to us?

Not very long ago I remember reading in a journal a story of the Duke
of Wellington. His servant had been sent before to order dinner for
him at an out-of-the-way hotel, and in order to impress the landlord
with the dignity of his coming guest, he had recited a number of the
Duke’s titles, which were very numerous. The landlord, thinking that
the Duke of Vittoria, the Prince of Waterloo, the Marquis of Torres
Vedras, and all the rest, were friends invited to dine with the Duke
of Wellington, ordered accordingly a very sumptuous banquet to the
great dismay of the real Duke. This may or may not be a very old and a
very true story; all I know is that much the same thing was told at
Oxford of Dr. Bull, who was Canon of Christ Church, Canon of Exeter,
Prebendary of York, Vicar of Staverton, and lastly, the Rev. Dr. Bull
himself. Dinner was provided for each of these persons, and we are
told that the reverend pluralist had to eat all the dishes on the
table and pay for them. This also may have been no more than one of
the many “Common-roomers” which abounded in Oxford when Common Rooms
were more frequented than they are now. But what I happen to know as a
fact is that Dean Stanley received no less than four invitations to a
hall at Blenheim, addressed A. P. Stanley, Esq., the Rev. A. P.
Stanley, Canon Stanley, Professor Stanley, all evidently copied from
some books of reference.

I may perhaps claim one advantage in trying to describe what happened
to myself in my passage through life. From the earliest days that I
can recollect, I felt myself as a twofold being—as a subject and an
object, as a spectator and as an actor. I suppose we all talk to
ourselves, and say to our better and worse selves, O thou fool! or,
Well done, my boy! Well this inward conversation began with me at a
very early time, and left the impression that I was the coachman, but
at the same time the horse too which he drove and sometimes whipped
very cruelly. And this phase of thought, or rather this state of
feeling, seems soon to have led me on to another view which likewise
dates from a very early time, though it afterwards vanished. As a
little boy, when I could not have the same toys which other boys
possessed, I could fully enjoy what they enjoyed, as if they had been
my own. There is a German phrase, “Ich freue mich in deiner Seele,”
which exactly expressed what I often felt. It was not the result of
teaching, still less of reasoning—it was a sentiment given me and
which certainty did not leave me till much later in life, when
competition, rivalry, jealousy, and envy seemed to accentuate my own I
as against all other I’s or Thou’s. I suppose we all remember how the
sight of a wound of a fellow creature, nay even of a dog, gives us a
sharp twitch in the same part of our own body. That bodily sympathy
has never left me, I suffer from it even now as I did seventy years
ago. And is there anybody who has not felt his eyes moisten at the
sudden happiness of his friends? All this seems to me to account, to a
certain extent at least, for that feeling of identity with so-called
strangers, which came to me from my earliest days, and has returned
again with renewed strength in my old age. The “know thyself,”
ascribed to Chilon and other sages of ancient Greece, gains a deeper
meaning with every year, till at last the I which we looked upon as
the most certain and undoubted fact, vanishes from our grasp to become
the Self, free from the various accidents and limitations which make
up the I, and therefore one with the Self that underlies all
individual and therefore vanishing I’s. What that common Self may be
is a question to be reserved for later times, though I may say at once
that the only true answer given to it seems to me that of the
Upanishads and the Vedanta philosophy. Only we must take care not to
mistake the moral Self, that finds fault with the active Self, for the
Highest Self that knows no longer of good or evil deeds.

Long before I had worked and thought out this problem as the
fundamental truth of all philosophy, it presented itself to me as if
by intuition, long before I could have fathomed it in its metaphysical
meaning. I had just heard of the death of a dear little child, and was
standing in our garden, looking at a rose-bush, covered in summer with
hundreds of rose-buds and rose-flowers. While I was looking I broke
off one small withered bud from the midst of a large cluster of roses,
and after I had done so a question came to me, and I said to myself,
What has happened? Is it only that one small bud is dead and gone, or
have not all the other roses been touched by the breath of death that
fell on it? Have they not all suffered from the death of their sister,
for they all spring from the same stem, they all have their life from
the same source? And if one rose suffers, must not all the others
suffer with it? Then all the buds and flowers of the cluster seemed to
me to become one, as it were a family of roses, and each single bud
seemed but the repetition of the same thing, the manifestation of the
same thought, namely the thought of the rose. But my eyes were carried
still further, and the stem from which the bunch of roses sprang was
lost with other stems in a branch, and it was that branch on which all
the roses of the branchlets and stems depended, and without which they
could not flower or exist. The single roses thus became identified
with the branch from which they had sprung, and by which they lived. I
wondered more and more, and after another look all the branches with
all their branchlets became absorbed in the stem, and the stem was the
tree, and the tree sprang from a seed, or as it is now called, the
protoplasm; but beyond that seed there was nothing else that the eye
could see or the mind could grasp. And while this vision floated
before my eyes I thought of my little friend, and the home from which
she had been broken off, and the same vision which had changed the
rose-bush with all its flowers, and buds, and branchlets, and
branches, into a stem and a tree, and at last into one invisible germ
and seed, seemed now to change my little friend and her brothers and
sisters, her parents too and all her family, into one being which,
like an old oak tree, started from an invisible stem, or an invisible
seed, or from an invisible thought, and that divine thought was man,
as the other divine thought had been rose.

Perhaps I did not see it so fully then as I see it now, and I
certainly did not reason about it. I simply felt that in the death of
my little friend, something of myself had gone, though she was no
relation, but only a stray human friend. We see many things as
children which we cannot see as grown-up men and women, for, as
Longfellow said, “the thoughts of youth are long long thoughts.” Nay,
I feel convinced that He who spoke the parable of the vine had seen
the same vision when He said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself
except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.”
And it is on this vision, or this parable of the vine, that
immediately afterwards follows the lesson, “Love one another, as I
have loved you.” In loving one another we are in truth loving the
others as ourselves, as one with ourselves; and while we are loving
Him who is the vine, we are loving the branches, ourselves—aye, even
our own little selves.

Such vague visions or intuitions often remain with us for life, but
while they seem to be the same, they vary as we vary ourselves. We
imagine we saw their deepest meaning from the first, but, like a
parable, they gain in meaning every time they come back to us.



In a small town such as Dessau was when I lived there as a child and
as a boy, one lived as in an enchanted island. The horizon was very
narrow, and nothing happened to disturb the peace of the little oasis.
The Duchy was indeed a little oasis in the large desert of Central
Germany. The landscape was beautiful: there were rivers small and
large—the Mulde and the Elbe; there were magnificent oak forests;
there were regiments of firs standing in regular columns like so many
grenadiers; there were parks such as one sees in England only. The
town, the capital of the Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, had been cared for by
successive rulers—men mostly far in advance of their time—who had
read and travelled, and brought home the best they could find abroad.
Their old castle, centuries old, over-awed the town; it was by far the
largest building, though there were several other smaller places in
the town for members of the ducal family. All the public buildings,
theatres, libraries, schools, and barracks, had been erected by the
Dukes, as well as several private residences intended for some of the
higher officials. The whole town was, in fact, the creation of the
Dukes; the whole ground on which it stood had been originally their
property, but it was mostly held as freehold by those who had built
their own private houses on it. No one would have built a house on
leasehold land, and several of the houses were of so substantial a
character that one saw they had been intended to last for more than
ninety-nine years. The same family often remained in their house for
generations, and the different stories were occupied by three
generations at the same time—by grandparents, parents, and children.
In this small town I was born on December 6, 1823. My father, Wilhelm
Müller, was Librarian of the Ducal Library, and one of the most
popular poets in Germany. A national monument was erected to his
memory at Dessau in the year 1891, nearly a hundred years after his

  [Illustration: MY FATHER]

What a blessing it would be if such a rule were followed with all
great men, who seem so great at the time of their death, and who, a
hundred years later, are almost forgotten, or at all events
appreciated by a small number of admirers only. This Monument- and
Society-mania is indeed becoming very objectionable, for if for some
time there has been no room for tombs and statues in Westminster
Abbey, there will soon be no room for them in the streets of London.
The result is that many of the people who walk along the Thames
Embankment, particularly foreigners, often ask, “Cur?” when looking at
the human idols in bronze and marble put up there; while historians,
remembering the really great men of England, would ask quite as often,
“Cur non?” There is a curious race of people, who, as soon as a man of
any note dies, are ready to found anything for him—a monument, a
picture, a school, a prize, a society—to keep alive his memory. Of
course these societies want presidents, members of council,
committees, secretaries, &c., and at last, subscriptions also. Thus it
has happened that the name of founder (_Gründer_) has assumed,
particularly in Germany, a perfume by no means sweet. Those who are
asked to subscribe to such testimonials know how disagreeable it is to
decline to give at least their name, deeply as they feel that in
giving it they are offending against all the rules of historical
perspective. I should not say that my father was one of the great
poets of Germany, though Heine, no mean critic, declared that he
placed his lyric poetry next to that of Goethe. Besides, he was barely
thirty-three when he died. He had been a favourite pupil of F. A.
Wolf, and had proved his classical scholarship by his _Homerische
Vorschule_, and other publications. His poems became popular in the
true sense of the word, and there are some which the people in the
street sing even now without being aware of the name of their author.
Schubert’s compositions also have contributed much to the wide
popularity of his _Schöne Müllerin_ and his _Winterreise_, so that
though it might truly be said of him that he wanted no monument in
bronze or stone, it seemed but natural that a small town like Dessau
should wish to honour itself by honouring the memory of one of its
sons. In the company of Mendelssohn, the philosopher, and of F.
Schneider, the composer, a monument of my father in the principal
street of his native town, and before the school in which he had been
a pupil and a teacher, could hardly seem out of place. That the Greek
Parliament voted the Pentelican marble for the poet of the
_Griechenlieder_, as it had done for Lord Byron, was another
inducement for his fellow citizens to do honour to their honoured
poet. He died when I was hardly four years old, so that my
recollection of him is very faint and vague, made up, I believe, to a
great extent, of pictures, and things that my mother told me. I seem
to remember him as a bright, sunny, and thoroughly joyful man,
delighted with our little naughtinesses. One book I still possess
which he bought for me and which was to be the first book of my
library. It was a small volume of Horace, printed by Pickering in
1820. It has now almost vanished among the 12,000 big volumes that
form my library, but I am delighted that I am still able, at
seventy-six, to read it without spectacles. I think I remember my
father taking my sister and me on his knees, and telling us the most
delightful stories, that set us wondering and laughing and crying till
we could laugh and cry no longer. He had been a fellow worker with the
brothers Grimm, and the stories he told were mostly from their
collection, though he knew how to embellish them with anything that
could make a child cry and laugh.

People have little idea how great and how lasting an influence such
popular stories about kings and queens, and princesses and knights,
about ogres and witches, about men that have been changed into
animals, and about animals that talk and behave like human beings,
exercise on the imagination of young children. While we listened, a
new world seemed to open before us, and anything like doubt as to the
reality of these beings never existed. What was reality or unreality
to young children of four and five? How few people know what real
reality is, even after they have reached the age of fifty or sixty.
For children, such names as reality and unreality do not exist, nor
the ideas which they express. They listen to what their father tells
them, and they cannot see any difference between what he tells them of
Frederick Barbarossa, of Romulus and Remus suckled by a wolf, or of
the dwarfs that guarded the coffin of Schneewittchen.

Some people, however, have thought that from an educational point of
view, a belief in this imaginary world must be mischievous. I doubt
it, and it would be easy to show that originally these stories and
fables were really meant to inculcate right and good principles.
Luther declared that he would not lose these wonderful stories of his
tender childhood for any sum of money, and Camerarius (_Fabulae
Aesopeae_, p. 406, Lipsiae, 1570) speaks of these German fables as
filling the minds of the people, and particularly of children, with
terror, hope, and religion. The oldest collections in which some of
these Aesopean fables occur, the Pantschatantra and Hitopadesa in
Sanskrit, were distinctly intended for the education of princes, and
though they may make the young listeners inclined to be superstitious,
such superstitiousness is not likely to last long. Children delight in
_Märchen_ as in a kind of pantomime, and when the curtain has fallen
on that fairy world they often think of it as of a beautiful dream
that has passed away. The stories are certainly more impressive than
the proverbs and wise saws which many of them were meant to
illustrate, without always saying, _haec fabula docet_. Even if some
of these stories touch sometimes on what may not seem to us quite
correct, it is done to make children laugh rather at the silliness
than cry at the downright wickedness of some of the heroes. It is by
no means uncommon, for instance, that a good-for-nothing fellow
succeeds, while his virtuous companions fail. But there is either a
reason for it, or the injustice provokes the indignation of children,
long before they have learnt that in real life also virtue does not
always receive its reward, while falsehood often prospers, at least
for a time. There is no harm, I think, in a certain dreaminess in
children. I remember that I have often laughed with all my heart at
Rumpelstilzchen, and shed bitter tears at Brüderchen and
Schwesterchen. I seemed to see brother and sister driven into the
wood, the brother being changed into a deer, and the sister sleeping
with her head on his warm fur, till at last the deer was killed by a
huntsman, and the little sister had to travel on quite alone in the
forest. Of course in the end she became a princess, and the brother a
prince who married a queen, and all ended in great joy and jubilation
in which we all joined. How good for children that they should for a
time at least have lived in such a dreamland, in which truthfulness
was as a rule rewarded, and falsehood punished in the end.

It was like a recollection of a Paradise, and such a recollection,
even if it brought out the contrast between the dream-world and the
real world, would often set children musing on what ought and what
ought not to be. They did not long believe in Dornröschen and
Schneewittchen, they learnt but too soon that Dornröschen and
Schneewittchen belonged to another world. They may even have come to
learn that Dornröschen (thorn-rose) and Schneewittchen (snow-white)
were meant originally for the sleep or death of nature in her
snow-white shroud, and the return of the sun; but woe to the boy who
on first learning these stories should have declared that they were
mere bosh, or, as Sir Walter Scott says, the detritus of nature-myths.

My father’s father, whom I never knew, seems not to have been
distinguished in any way. He was, however, a useful tradesman and a
respected citizen of Dessau, and, as I see, the founder of the first
lending library in that small town. He married a second time, a rich
widow, chiefly, as I was told, to enable him to give his son, my
father, a liberal education. She grew to be very old, and I well
remember her, to me, forbidding and terrifying appearance. She quite
belonged to a past generation, and when I saw her again after having
been in England, she asked me whether I had seen Napoleon who had been
taken prisoner and sent to England, but had lately escaped and resumed
his throne in Paris. She evidently mixed up the two Napoleons, and I
did not contradict her. To me her conversation was interesting as
showing how little the traditions of the people can be relied on, and
how easily, by the side of real history, a popular history could grow
up. After all, the poems of Charlemagne besieging Jerusalem owed their
origin very likely to some similar confusion in the minds of old
women. My sister and I were always terrified when we were sent to
visit her, for with her dishevelled grey hair, her thin white face,
and her piercing eyes, she was to us the old grandmother, or the witch
of Grimm’s stories; and the language she used was such that, if we
repeated it at home, we were severely reprimanded. She knew very
little about my father, but her memory about her first husband and
about her own youth and childhood was very clear, though not always
edifying. Her stories about ghosts, witches, ogres, nickers, and the
whole of that race were certainly enough to frighten a child, and some
of them clung to me for a very long time. On my mother’s side my
relations were more civilized, and they had but little social
intercourse with my grandmother and her relatives. My mother’s father
was von Basedow, the President, that is Prime Minister of the Duchy of
Anhalt-Dessau, a position in which he was succeeded by his eldest son,
my uncle. He was the first man in the town; the Duke and he really
ruled the Duchy exactly as they pleased. There was no check on them of
any kind, and yet no one, as far as I know, ever complained of any
tyranny. My grandfather’s father again was the famous reformer of
public education in Germany. He (1723-1790) had to brave the
conservative and clerical parties throughout the country. His home at
Hamburg was burnt in a riot, and it was then that he migrated to
Dessau, to become the founder of the _Philanthropinum_, and at the
same time the path-breaker for men such as Pestalozzi (1746-1827) and
Froebel (1782-1852). Considering his lifelong struggles, he deserved a
better monument at Dessau than he has found there. No doubt he was a
passionate and violent man, and his outbreaks are still remembered at
Dessau, while his beneficial activity has almost been forgotten. I was
often told that I took after my mother’s family, whatever that may
mean, and this was certainly the case in outward appearance, though I
hope not in temper. My great grandfather, the Pedagogue as he was
called, was a friend of Goethe’s, and is mentioned in his poems.

My childhood at home was often very sad. My mother, who was left a
widow at twenty-eight with two children, my sister and myself, was
heart-broken. The few years of her married life had been most bright
and brilliant. My father was a rising poet, and such was his
popularity that he was able to indulge his tastes as he liked, whether
in travelling or in making his house a pleasant centre of social life.
Contemporaries and friends of my father, particularly Baron Simolin, a
very intimate friend, who spent the Christmas of 1825 in our house,
have written of the bright gaiety, the whole-hearted enjoyment of life
that reigned there, and have told how, though his income was to say
the least of it small, Wilhelm Müller’s home was the rallying-point
for all the cultivated, scientific, and artistic society of Dessau,
who felt attracted by the simple and unaffected yet truly genial
disposition of the master of the house.

It would be interesting to know how much an author could make at that
time by his pen. Publishers seem to have been far more liberal then
than they are now. The circumstances were different. The number of
writers was of course much smaller, and the sale of really popular
books probably much larger. Anyhow, my father, whose salary was
minute, seems to have been able to enjoy the few years of his married
life in great comfort. The thought of saving money, however, seems
never to have entered his poetical mind, and after his unexpected
death, due to paralysis of the heart, it was found that hardly any
provision had been made for his family. Even the life insurance, which
is obligatory on every civil servant, and the pension granted by the
Duke, gave my mother but a very small income, fabulously small, when
one considers that she had to bring up two children on it. It has been
a riddle to me ever since how she was able to do it.

However, it was done, and could only have been done in a small town
like Dessau, where education was as good as it was cheap, and where
very little was expected by society. We must also take into account
the very low prices which then ruled at Dessau with regard to almost
all the necessaries of life. I see from the old newspapers that beef
sold at about threepence a pound (two groschen), mutton at about
twopence. Wine was sold at seven to eight groschen a bottle, a better
sort for twelve to fourteen groschen—a groschen being about a penny.
People drank mostly beer, and this was sold under Government
inspection at two to three groschen per quart. Fish was equally cheap,
and such, at the beginning of the century, was the abundance of salmon
caught in the Elbe, and even in the Mulde at Dessau, that it was
stipulated as in Scotland, that servants should not have salmon more
than twice or thrice in the week. The lowest price for salmon was
then twopence halfpenny a pound. As a boy I can remember seeing the
salmon in large numbers leap over a weir in the very town of Dessau,
and though they had travelled for so many miles inland, the fish was
very good, though not so good as Severn salmon. Game also was very
cheap, and sold for not much more than mutton, nay, at certain times
it was given away; it could not be exported. Corn was sold at three
shillings per _Scheffel_, and by corn was chiefly meant rye. No one
took wheaten bread, and the bread was therefore called brown bread and
black bread. White bread was only taken with coffee, and peasants in
the villages would not have touched it, because it was not supposed to
make such strong bones as rye-bread. With such prices we can
understand that a salary of £300 was considered sufficient for the
highest officers of state.

My mother’s relations, who were all high in the public service, my
grandfather, as I said, being the Duke’s chief minister, made life
more easy and pleasant for us; but for many years my mother never went
into society, and our society consisted of members of our own family
only. All I remember of my mother at that time was that she took her
two children day after day to the beautiful _Gottesacker_ (God’s
Acre), where she stood for hours at our father’s grave, and sobbed and
cried. It was a beautiful and restful place, covered with old acacia
trees. The inscription over the gateway was one of my earliest
puzzles. _Tod ist nicht Tod, ist nur Veredlung menschlicher Natur_
(Death is not death, ’tis but the ennobling of man’s nature). On each
side there stood a figure, representing the genius of sleep and the
genius of death. All this was the work of the old Duke, Leopold
Friedrich Franz, who tried to educate his people as he had educated
himself, partly by travel, partly by intercourse with the best men he
could attract to Dessau.

  [Illustration: MY MOTHER]

At home the atmosphere was certainly depressing to a boy. I heard and
thought more about death than about life, though I knew little of
course of what life or death meant. I had but few pleasures, and my
chief happiness was to be with my mother. I shared her grief without
understanding much about it. She was passionately devoted to her
children, and I was passionately fond of her. What there was left of
life to her, she gave to us, she lived for us only, and tried very
hard not to deprive our childhood of all brightness. She was certainly
most beautiful, and quite different from all other ladies at Dessau,
not only in the eyes of her son, but as it seemed to me, of everybody.
Then she had a most perfect voice, and when I first began music she
helped and encouraged me in every possible way. We played _à quatre
mains_, and soon she made me accompany her when she sang. As far as I
can recollect, I was never so happy as when I could be with her. She
read so much to us that I was quite satisfied, and saw perhaps less of
my young friends than I ought. When my mother said she wished to
die, and to be with our father, I feel sure that my sister and I were
only anxious that she should take us with her, for there were few
golden chains that bound us as yet to this life. I see her now,
sitting on a winter’s evening near the warm stove, a candle on the
table, and a book from which she read to us in her hands, while the
spinning-wheel worked by the servant-maid in the corner went on
humming all the time. She read Paul Gerhard’s translation of St.

    “Salve caput cruentatum,
     Totum spinis coronatum,
     Conquassatum, vulneratum,
     Arundine verberatum,
     Facies sputis illita.”

    “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,
     Voll Schmerz und voller Hohn!
     O Haupt zu Spott gebunden
     Mit einer Dornenkron,
     O Haupt sonst schön gezieret
     Mit höchster Ehr und Zier,
     Jetzt aber hoch schimpfiret:
     Gegrüsset seist du mir!”

Though the German translation does not come near the powerful majesty
of the original, yet such was the effect produced on me that I saw the
bleeding head before my eyes, and cried and cried until my mother had
to comfort me by assuring me that the sufferer was now in Heaven and
that it was only a song to be sung in church. How deeply such scenes
seem engraved on the memory; how vividly they return when the rubbish
of many years is swept away and all is again as it was then, and the
_caput cruentatum_ looks down on us once more, as it did then, with
the human eyes full of divine love, so truly human that one could say
with St. Bernard, “Tuum caput huc inclina, in meis pausa brachiis.”
But willingly as I listened to these readings at home, and full as my
heart was of love to Christ, I suffered intensely when I was taken to
church as a young boy. It was a very large church, and in winter
bitterly cold. Even though I liked the singing, the long sermon was
real torture to me. I could not understand a word of it, and being
thinly clad my teeth would have chattered if I had not been told that
it was wrong “to make a noise in church.” Oh! what misery is inflicted
on childhood by this enforced attendance at church. When a church can
be warmed the suffering is less intense, but a huge whitewashed church
that feels like an ice-cellar is about the worst torture that human
ingenuity could have invented to make children hate the very name of
church. These early impressions often remain for life, and the worst
of it is that the idea remains in the minds of children, and of
grown-up people too, that by going to church and repeating the same
prayers over and over again, and listening to long and often dreary
sermons, they are actually doing a service to God (_Gottesdienst_).
Why does no new prophet arise and say in the name of God, as David did
in the name of Jehovah, “Sermons and long prayers ‘thou didst not

Many years later I had to discuss the same question with Keshub
Chunder Sen, the Indian Reformer. He wanted to know what kind of
service should be adopted by his new church, the Brahmo Somaj; his
friends thought of sermons, singing, and processions with flags and
flowers through the streets. “No,” I said to him, “service of God
should be service of men; if you want divine service, let it be a real
service, such as God would approve of. Let other people go to church,
to their mosques or their temples, but take you your own friends on
certain days of the week to whatever you like to call your
meeting-place, and after a short prayer or a few words of advice send
some of them to the poorest streets in the city, others to the
prisons, others to the hospitals. Let them pray with all who wish to
pray, but let them speak words of true love and comfort also, and when
they can, let them help them with their alms. That would be a real
Divine Service and a divine Sunday for you, and you would all come
home, it may be sadder, but certainly wiser and better men.”

I am afraid he did not agree with me. He did not think that true
religion was to visit the poor and the afflicted. That might do for a
practical people like the English, but the Hindu wanted something
else, he wanted some outward show and ceremony for the people, and at
the same time some silent communion with God. Who can tell what
different people understand by religion? and who can prescribe the
spiritual food that is best for them? “Only,” I said, “do not call it
practical to encourage millions of people to waste hours and hours in
mere repetition, and to spend millions and millions in supplying this
cold comfort, when next door to the magnificent cathedral there are
squalid streets, and squalid houses, and squalid beds to lie and die

The religious and devotional element is very strong in Germany, but
the churches are mostly empty. A German keeps his religion for
weekdays rather than for Sunday. When the German regiments marched,
and when they made ready for battle, they did not sing ribald songs,
they sang the songs of Luther and Paul Gerhard, which they knew by
heart and which strengthened them to face death as it ought to be

Fortunately, while enforced attendance at church was apt to produce
the strongest aversion in the young heart against anything that was
called religion, religious instruction both at home and at school too
was excellent, and undid much of the mischief that had been done
during cold winter days. True religious sentiments can be planted in
the soul at home only, by a mother better even than by a father. The
sense of a divine presence everywhere, πἁντα πλἡρη θεὡν, once planted
in the heart of a child remains for life. Of course the child soon
begins to argue, and says to his mother that God cannot be at the same
time in two rooms. But only let a mother show to the child the rays of
the sun in the sky, in the streets, and in every corner of the house,
and it will begin to understand that nothing can be hid from the eyes
of Him who is greater than the sun. And when a child doubts whether
the voice of conscience can be the voice of God, and asks how he could
hear that voice without seeing the speaker, ask him only whose voice
it can be that tells him not to do what he himself wishes to do, and
not to say what he could say without any fear of men; and his idea of
God will be raised from that of a visible being like the sun, to the
concept of a presence that never vanishes, that is not only without,
in the sky, in the mountains, and in the storm, but nearer also
within, in the sense of fear, in the sense of shame, and in the hope
of pardon and love.

At school our religious teaching was chiefly historical and moral.
There was no difficulty in finding proper teachers for that, and there
were no attempts on the part of parents to interfere with religious
instruction or to demand separate teaching for each sect. It is true
that religious sects are not so numerous in Germany as they are in
England. Some, though by no means all, children of Roman Catholic and
Jewish parents were allowed to be absent from religious lessons. But
most parents knew that the history of the Jewish religion would be
taught at school in so impartial and truly historical a spirit as
never to offend Jewish children. Respect for historical truth, and an
implanted sense of the reverence due to children, would keep any
teacher from making the history of the Christian Church, whether
before or after the Reformation, an excuse for offending one of the
little ones committed to his care. If Jews or Roman Catholics wished
for any special religious instruction it was given by their own
priests or Rabbis, and was given without any interference on the part
of the Government. But such was at my time the state of public feeling
that I hardly knew at school who among my young friends were Roman
Catholics, or Lutherans, or Reformed. I must admit, however, that the
very name of Luther might have offended Roman Catholics. He was
represented to us as a perfect saint, almost as inspired and
infallible. His hymns sung in church seemed to us little different
from the Psalms of David, and I well remember what a shock it gave me
when at Oxford, much later in life, I heard Luther spoken of like any
other mortal, nay, as a heretic, and a most dangerous heretic too.
When I was a boy I remember that in some places the same building had
to be used for Protestant and Roman Catholic services. All that, I am
afraid, is now changed, and the old liberal and tolerant feeling then
prevailing on all sides is now often stigmatized as indifference, and
by other ugly names. It should really be called the golden age of
Christianity, and this so-called indifference should be classed among
the highest Christian virtues, and as the fullest realization of the
spirit of Christ.

Thus we grew up from our earliest youth, being taught to look upon
Christianity as an historical fact, on Christ and His disciples as
historical characters, on the Old and New Testaments as real
historical books. Though we did not understand as yet the deeper
meaning of Christ and of His words, we had at least nothing to unlearn
in later times, or to feel that our parents had ever told us what they
themselves could not have held to be true. Our simple faith was not
shaken by mere questions of criticism, or by the problem how any human
being could take upon himself to declare any book to be revealed,
unless he claimed for himself a more than human insight. The simplest
rules of logic should make such a declaration impossible, whatever the
sacred book may be to which it is applied. Granted that the Pope was
infallible, how could the Cardinals know that he was, unless they
claimed for themselves the same or even greater infallibility? It is
far more easy to be inspired than to know some one else is or was
inspired; the true inspiration is, and always has been, the spirit of
truth within, and this is but another name for the spirit of God. It
is truth that makes inspiration, not inspiration that makes truth.
Whoever knows what truth is, knows also what inspiration is: not only
_theopneustos_, blown into the soul by God, but the very voice of God,
the real presence of God, the only presence in which we, as human
beings, can ever perceive Him.

How often have I in later life tried to explain this to my friends in
France and in England who endured mental agonies before they could
arrive at the simple conclusion that revelation can never be
objective, but must always be subjective. I may return to this
question at a later period of my life, when I had to discuss with
Renan, at Paris, with Froude, Kingsley, and Liddon, in England, and
tried to show how entirely self-made some of their difficulties were.
At present I have only to explain how it was that I had never to
extricate myself from a net in which so many honest thinkers find
themselves entangled without any fault of their own; as Samson, when
he awoke, found himself bound with seven green withs and had to break
them with all his might before he could hope to escape from the
Philistines. The Philistines never bound me. During my early
school-days these difficulties did not exist, but I have often been
grateful in after life that the seven locks of my head have never been
woven with the web.

I remember a number of small events in my school-life at Dessau, but
though they were full of interest to me, nay, full of meaning, and not
without an influence on my later life, they would have no meaning and
no interest for others, and may remain as if they had never been. The
influence which music exercised on my mind, and, I believe, on my
heart also, I have related in my _Musical Recollections_. The image of
those passing years, though its general tone was melancholy, chiefly
owing to my mother’s melancholy, seemed to me at the time free from
all unhappiness. My work at school and at home was not too heavy; I
was fond of it, and very fond of books. Books were scarce then, and
whoever possessed a new and valuable book was expected to lend it to
his friends in the little town. If a man was known to possess, say,
Goethe’s works or Jean Paul’s works, the consequence was that one went
to him or to her to ask for the loan of them. And not only books, but
paper and pens also were scarce. The first steel pens came in when I
was still in the lower school, and bad as they were they were looked
upon as real treasures by the schoolboys who possessed them. Paper was
so dear that one had to be very sparing in its use. Every margin and
cover was scribbled over before it was thrown away, and I felt often
so hampered by the scarcity of paper that I gladly accepted a set of
copybooks instead of any other present that I might have asked for on
my birthday or at Christmas. I am sorry to say I have had to suffer
all my life from the inefficiency of our writing master, or maybe from
the fact that my thoughts were too quick for my pen. In other subjects
I did well, but though I was among the first in each class, I was by
no means cleverer than other boys. In the lower school work was more
like conversation or like hearing news from our teachers. The idea of
effort did not yet exist. The drudgery began, however, when I entered
the upper school, the gymnasium, and learnt the elements of Latin and
Greek. Though our teachers were very conscientious, they tried to make
our work no burden to us, and the constant change of places in each
class kept up a lively rivalry among the boys, though I am not sure
that it did not make me rather ambitious and at times conceited.
Still, I had few enemies, and it seemed of much more consequence who
could knock down another boy than who could gain a place above him. I
feel sure I could have done a great deal more at school than I did,
but it was partly my music and partly my incessant headaches that
interfered with my school work.

I remember as a boy that certain streets were inhabited exclusively by
Jewish families. A large number of Jews had been received at Dessau by
a former Duke; but though he granted them leave to settle at Dessau
when they were persecuted in other parts of Germany, he stipulated
that they should only settle in certain streets. These streets were by
no means the worst streets of the town; on the contrary they showed
greater comfort and hardly any of the squalor which disgraced the
Jewish quarters in other towns in Germany. As children we were brought
up without any prejudice against the Jews, though we had, no doubt, a
certain feeling that they were tolerated only, and were not quite on
the same level with ourselves. We also felt the religious difficulty
sometimes very strongly. Were not the Jews the murderers of Christ?
and had they not said: “the blood be on us and on our children”? But
as we were told that it was wrong to harbour feelings of revenge, we
boys soon forgot and forgave, and played together as the best friends.
I remember picking up a number of Jewish words which would not have
been understood anywhere else. I was hardly aware that they were
Jewish and used them like any other words. But I once gave great
offence to my friend Professor Bernays, who was a Jew. He had uttered
some quite incredible statement, and I exclaimed, “Sind Sie denn ganz
maschukke?”—Hebrew for “mad.” I meant no harm, but he was very much

I knew several Jewish families, and received much kindness from them
as a boy. Many of these families were wealthy, but they never
displayed their wealth, and in consequence excited no envy. All that
is changed now. The children of the Jews who formerly lived in a very
quiet style at Dessau, now occupy the best houses, indulge in most
expensive tastes, and try in every way to outshine their non-Jewish
neighbours. They buy themselves titles, and, when they can, stipulate
for stars and orders as rewards for successful financial operations,
carried out with the money of princely personages. Hence the
revulsion of feeling all over Germany, or what is called
Anti-Semitism, which has assumed not only a social but a political
significance. I doubt whether there is anything religious in it, as
there was when we were boys. The Anti-Semitic hatred is the hatred of
money-making, more particularly of that kind of money-making which
requires no hard work, but only a large capital to begin with, and
boldness and astuteness in speculating, that is in buying and selling
at the right moment. The sinews of war for that kind of financial
warfare were mostly supplied by the fathers and grandfathers of the
present generation. Sometimes, no doubt, the capital was lost, and in
those cases it must be said that the Jewish speculator disappears from
the stage without a sigh or a cry. He begins again, and if he should
have to do what his grandfather did, walk from house to house with a
bag on his back, he does not whine.

One cannot blame the Jews or any other speculators for using their
opportunities, but they must not complain either if they excite envy,
and if that envy assumes in the end a dangerous character. The Jews,
so far from suffering from disabilities, enjoy really certain
privileges over their Christian competitors in Germany. They belong to
a _regnum_, but also to a _regnum in regno_. They have, so to say, our
Sunday and likewise their Sabbath. Jew will always help Jew against a
Christian; and again who can blame them for that? All one can say is
that they should not complain of their unpopularity, but take into
account the risk they are running. No one hated the Jews such as they
were in Dessau fifty years ago. They had their own schools and
synagogues, and no one interfered with them when they built their
bowers in the streets at the time of their Feast of Tabernacles, and
lived, feasted, and slept in them to keep up the memory of their
sojourning in the desert. They indulged in even more offensive
practices, such as, for instance, putting three stones in the coffins
to be thrown by the dead at the Virgin Mary, her husband, and their
Son. No one suspected or accused them of kidnapping Christian
children, or offering sacrifices with their blood. They were known too
well for that. Conversions of Jews were not infrequent, and converted
Jews were not persecuted by their former co-religionists as they are
now. Even marriages between Christians and Jews were by no means
uncommon, particularly when the young Jewesses were beautiful or rich,
still better if they were both. Disgraceful as the Anti-Semitic riots
have been in Germany and Russia, there can be no doubt that in this as
in most cases both sides were to blame, and there is little prospect
of peace being re-established till many more heads have been broken.

What helped very much to keep the peace in the small town of Dessau,
as it did all over Germany, nay, all over the world, till about the
year 1848, was the small number of newspapers. In my childhood and
youth their number was very small. In Dessau I only knew of one, which
was then called the _Wochenblatt_, afterwards the _Staatsanzeiger_. At
that time newspapers were really read for the news which they
contained, not for leading or misleading articles and all the rest.
What a happy time it was when a newspaper consisted of a sheet, or
half a sheet in quarto, with short paragraphs about actual events,
which had often taken place weeks and months before. A battle might
have been fought in Spain or Turkey, in India or China, and no one
knew of it till some official information was vouchsafed by the
respective Governments or by Jewish bankers. War-correspondents or
regular reporters did not exist, and the old telegraphic dispatches
were sent by wooden telegraphs fixed on high towers, which from a
distance looked like gallows on which a criminal was hanging and
gesticulating with arms and feet. Anybody who watched these signals
could decipher them far more easily than a hieroglyphic inscription.

The peace of Europe, nay, of the whole world, was then in the keeping
of sovereigns and their ministers, and Prince Metternich might
certainly take some credit for having kept what he called the Thirty
Years’ Peace. Shall we ever, as long as there are newspapers, have
peace again—peace between the great nations of the world, and peace
at home between contending parties, and peace in our mornings at home
which are now so ruthlessly broken in upon, nay, swallowed up by
those paper-giants, most unwelcome yet irresistible callers, just when
we want to settle down to a quiet day’s work? It is no use protesting
against the inevitable, nor can we quite agree with those who maintain
that no newspaper carries the slightest weight or exercises the
smallest influence on home or foreign politics. A very influential
statesman and wise thinker used to say that we should never have had
Christianity if newspapers had existed at the time of Augustus. When
unsuccessful _littérateurs_ or bankrupt bankers’ clerks were the chief
contributors to the newspapers, their influence might have been small;
but when Bismarcks turned journalists, and Gortchakoffs prompted,
newspapers could hardly be called _quantités négligeables_.

The horizon of Dessau was very narrow, but within its bounds there was
a busy and happy life. Everybody did his work honestly and
conscientiously. There were, of course, two classes, the educated and
the uneducated. The educated consisted of the members of the
Government service, the clergy, the schoolmasters, doctors, artists,
and officers; the uneducated were the tradesmen, mechanics, and
labourers. The trade was mostly in the hands of Jews, it had become
almost a Jewish monopoly. When one of these tradesmen went bankrupt,
there was a commotion over the whole town, and I remember being taken
to see one of these bankrupt shops, expecting to find the whole house
broken up and demolished, and being surprised to see the tradesman
standing whole, and sound, and smiling, in his accustomed place. My
etymological tastes must have developed very early, for I had asked
why this poor Jew was called a bankrupt, and had been duly informed
that it was because his bank had been broken, _banca rotta_, which of
course I took in a literal sense, and expected to see all the
furniture broken to pieces. The commercial relations of our Dessau
tradesmen did not extend much beyond Leipzig, Berlin, possibly Hamburg
and Cologne. If a burgher of Dessau travelled to these or to more
distant parts the whole town knew of it and talked about it, whereas a
journey to Paris or London was an event worthy to be mentioned and
discussed in the newspapers. These old newspapers are full of curious
information. We find that if a person wished to travel to Cologne or
further, he advertised for a companion, and it was for the Burgomaster
to make the necessary arrangements for him.

French was studied and spoken, particularly at Court, but English was
a rare acquirement, still more Italian or Spanish. There was, however,
a small inner circle where these languages were studied, chiefly in
order to read the master-works of modern literature. And this was all
the more creditable because there were no good teachers to be found at
Dessau, and people had to learn what they wished to learn by
themselves, with the help of a grammar and dictionary. We learnt
French at school, but the result was deplorable. As in all public
schools, the French master who had to teach the language at the Ducal
Gymnasium could not keep order among the boys. He of course spoke
French, but that was all. He did not know how to teach, and could not
excite any interest in the boys, who insisted on pronouncing French as
if it were German. The poor man’s life was made a burden to him. His
name was Noel, and he had all the pleasing manners of a Frenchman, but
that served only to rouse the antagonism of the young barbarians. The
result was that we learnt very little, and I was sent to an old Jew to
learn French and a little English. That old Jew, called Levy Rubens,
was a perfect gentleman. He probably had been a commercial traveller
in his early days, though no one knew exactly where he came from or
how he had learnt languages. He had taught my father and grandfather
and he was delighted to teach the third generation. He certainly spoke
French and English fluently, but with the strongest Jewish accent, and
this was inherited by all his pupils at Dessau. I feel ashamed when I
think of the tricks we played the old man—putting mice into his
pockets, upsetting inkstands over his table, and placing crackers
under his chairs. But he never lost his temper; he never would have
dared to punish us as we deserved; but he went on with his lesson as
if nothing had happened. He took his small pay, and was satisfied
when his lessons were over and he could settle down to his long pipe
and his books. He lived quite alone and died quite alone, a
hardworking, honest, poor Jew, not exactly despised or persecuted, but
not treated with the respect which he certainly deserved, and which he
would have received if he had not been a Jew.

Our public school was as good as any in Germany. These small duchies
generally followed the example of Prussia, and they carried out the
instructions issued by the Ministry of Education at Berlin according
to the very letter. Besides, several of the reigning dukes had taken a
very warm and personal interest in popular education, and at the
beginning of the century the eyes of the whole of Germany, nay, of
Europe, were turned towards the educational experiments carried on by
my great-grandfather, Basedow,[6] at the so-called Philanthropinum at
Dessau under the patronage of the Duke and of several of the more
enlightened sovereigns of Europe, such as the Empress Catherine of
Russia, the King of Denmark, the Emperor Joseph of Austria, Prince
Adam Czartoryski, &c. Even after Basedow’s death the interest in
education was kept alive in Dessau, and all was done that could be
done in so small a town to keep the different schools—elementary,
middle-class, and high schools—on the highest possible level of

  [6] Johann Bernhard Basedow, von seinem Urenkel, F. M. M.
  (Essays, Band IV).

Bathing was a very healthful recreation, though I very nearly came to
grief from trusting to my seniors. They could swim and I could not
yet. But while bathing with two of my friends in a part of the river
which was safe, they swam along and asked me to follow them. Having
complete confidence in them I jumped in from the shore, but very soon
began to sink. My shouts brought my friends back, and they rescued me,
not without some difficulty, from drowning.

In an English school the influence of the master is, of course, more
constant, because one of the masters is always within call, while in
Germany he is visible during school-hours only. If a master is fond of
his pupils, and takes an interest in them individually, he can do them
more good than parents at home, or the teacher at a day school. The
boys at a German school are, no doubt, a very mixed crew, but that
cannot be helped. This mixture of classes may be a drawback in some
respects, but from an educational point of view the sons of very rich
parents are by no means more valuable than the poor boys. Far from it.
Many of the evils of schoolboy life come from the sons of the rich,
while the sons of poor parents are generally well behaved. But for all
that, there was a rough and rude tone among some of the boys at
school, arising from defects in the education at home, and this
sometimes embittered what ought to be the happiest time of life,
particularly in the case of delicate boys. The son of a Minister has
often to sit by the side of the son of a wealthy butcher, and the very
fact that he is the son of a gentleman often exposes the more refined
boy to the bullying of his muscular neighbour. I was fortunate at
school. I could hold my own with the boys, and as to the masters,
several of them had known my father or had been his pupils, and they
took a personal interest in me.

I remember more particularly one young master who was very kind to me,
and took me home for private lessons and for giving me some good
advice. There was something sad and very attractive about him, and I
found out afterwards that he knew that he was dying of consumption,
and that besides that he was liable to be prosecuted for political
liberalism, which at that time was almost like high treason. I believe
he was actually condemned and sent to prison like many others, and he
died soon after I had left Dessau. His name was Dr. Hönicke, and he
was the first to try to impress on me that I ought to show myself
worthy of my father, an idea which had never entered my mind before,
nay, which at first I could hardly understand, but which,
nevertheless, slumbered on in my mind till years afterwards it was
called out and became a strong influence for the whole of my life. I
still have some lines which he wrote for my album. They were the
well-known lines from Horace, which, at the time, I had great
difficulty in construing, but which have remained graven in my memory
ever since:

    “Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis,
     Est in iuvencis est in equis patrum
       Virtus nec imbellem feroces
         Progenerant aquilae columbam.
     Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
     Rectique cultus pectora roborant;
       Utcunque defecere mores,
         Dedecorant bene nata culpae.”

In my childhood I had to pass through the ordinary illnesses, but it
was the faith in our doctor that always saved me. The doctor was to my
mind the man who was called in to make me well again, and while my
mother was agitated about her only son, I never dreamt of any danger.
The very idea of death never came near me till my grandfather died
(1835), but even then I was only about twelve years old, and though I
had seen much of him, particularly during the years that my mother
lived again in his house, yet he was too old to take much share in his
grandchildren’s amusements. He left a gap, no doubt, in our life, but
that gap was filled again with new figures in the life of a boy of
twelve. He was only sixty-one years old when he died, and yet my idea
of him was always that of a very old man. Everything was done for him,
his servant dressed him every morning, he was lifted into his carriage
and out of it, and he certainly lived the life of an invalid, such as
I should not consent to own to at seventy-six. He made no secret that
he cared more for the son of his son who was the heir, and was to
perpetuate the name of von Basedow, than for the son of his daughter.
He was very fond of driving and of shooting, and he frequently took my
cousin out shooting with him. When my cousin came home with a hare he
had shot, I confess I was sometimes jealous, but I was soon cured of
my wish to go with my grandfather into the forest. Once when I was
with him in his little carriage, my grandfather, not being able to see
well, had the misfortune to kill a doe which had come out with her two
little ones. The misery of the mother and afterwards of her two young
ones, was heart-rending, and from that day on I made up my mind never
to go out shooting, and never to kill an animal. And I have kept my
word, though I was much laughed at. It may be that later in life and
after my grandfather’s death I had little opportunity of shooting, but
the cry of the doe and the whimpering of the young ones who tried to
get suck from their dead mother have remained with me for life.

My grandfather, though he aged early, remained in harness as Prime
Minister to the end of his life, and it was his great desire to
benefit his country by new institutions. It was he who, at the time
when people hardly knew yet what railroads meant, succeeded in getting
the line from Berlin to Halle and Leipzig to pass by Dessau. He
offered to build the bridge across the Elbe and to give the land and
the wood for the sleepers gratis, and what seemed at the time a far
too generous offer has proved a blessing to the duchy, making it as it
were the centre of the great railway connecting Berlin, Leipzig,
Magdeburg, the Elbe, Hanover, Bremen, nay, Cologne also, the Rhine,
and Western Europe. He was in his way a good statesman, though we are
too apt to measure a man’s real greatness by the circumstances in
which he moves.

As far back as I can remember I was a martyr to headaches. No doctor
could help me, no one seemed to know the cause. It was a migraine, and
though I watched it carefully I could not trace it to any fault of
mine. The idea that it came from overwork was certainly untrue. It
came and went, and if it was one day on the right side it was always
the next time on the left, even though I was free from it sometimes
for a week or a fortnight, or even longer. It was strange also that it
seldom lasted beyond one day, and that I always felt particularly
strong and well the day after I had been prostrate. For prostrate I
was, and generally quite unable to do anything. I had to lie down and
try to sleep. After a good sleep I was well, but when the pain had
been very bad I found that sometimes the very skin of my forehead had
peeled off. In this way I often lost two or three days in a week, and
as my work had to be done somehow, it was often done anyhow, and I was
scolded and punished, really without any fault of my own. After all
remedies had failed which the doctor and nurses prescribed (and I well
remember my grandmother using massage on my neck, which must have
been about 1833 to 1835) I was handed over to Hahnemann, the founder
of homeopathy. Hahnemann (born 1755) had been practising as doctor at
Dessau as early as 1780—that is somewhat before my time—but had left
it, and when in 1820 he had been prohibited by the Government from
practising and lecturing at Leipzig, he took refuge once more in the
neighbouring town of Coethen. From there he paid visits to Dessau as
consulting physician, and after I had explained to him as well as I
could all the symptoms of my chronic headache, he assured my mother
that he would cure it at once. He was an imposing personality—a
powerful man with a gigantic head and strong eyes and a most
persuasive voice. I can quite understand that his personal influence
would have gone far to effect a cure of many diseases. People forget
too much how strong a curative power resides in the patient’s faith in
his doctor, in fact how much the mind can do in depressing and in
reinvigorating the body. I shall never forget in later years
consulting Sir Andrew Clarke, and telling him of ever so many, to my
mind, most serious symptoms. I had lost sleep and appetite, and
imagined myself in a very bad state indeed. He examined me and knocked
me about for full three quarters of an hour, and instead of
pronouncing my doom as I fully expected, he told me with a bright look
and most convincing voice that he had examined many men who had worked
their brains too much, but had never seen a man at my time of life so
perfectly sound in every organ. I felt young and strong at once, and
meeting my old friend Morier on my way home, we ate some dozens of
oysters together and drank some pints of porter without the slightest
bad effect. In fact I was cured without a pill or a drop of medicine.

And who does not know how, if one makes up one’s mind at last to have
a tooth pulled out, the pain seems to cease as soon as we pull the
bell at the dentist’s?

However, Hahnemann did not succeed with me. I swallowed a number of
his silver and gold globules, but the migraine kept its regular
course, right to left and left to right, and this went on till about
the year 1860. Then my doctor, the late Mr. Symonds of Oxford, told me
exactly what Hahnemann had told me—that he would cure me, if I would
go on taking some medicine regularly for six months or a year. He told
me that he and his brother had made a special study of headaches, and
that there were ever so many kinds of headache, each requiring its own
peculiar treatment. When I asked him to what category of headaches
mine belonged, I was not a little abashed on being told that my
headache was what they called the Alderman’s headache. “Surely,” I
said, “I don’t overeat, or overdrink.” I had thought that mine was a
mysterious nervous headache, arising from the brain. But no, it seemed
to be due to turtle soup and port wine. However, the doctor, seeing my
surprise, comforted me by telling me that it was the nerves of the
head which affected the stomach, and thus produced indirectly the same
disturbance in my digestion as an aldermanic diet. Whether this was
true or was only meant as a _solatium_ I do not know. But what I do
know is, that by taking the medicine regularly for about half a year,
the frequency and violence of my headaches were considerably reduced,
while after about a year they vanished completely. I was a new being,
and my working time was doubled.

One lesson may be learnt from this, namely, that the English system of
doctoring is very imperfect. In England we wait till we are ill, then
go to a doctor, describe our symptoms as well as we can, pay one
guinea, or two, get our prescription, take drastic medicine for a
month and expect to be well. My German doctor, when he saw the
prescription of my English doctor, told me that he would not give it
to a horse. If after a month we are not better we go again; he
possibly changes our medicine, and we take it more or less regularly
for another month. The doctor cannot watch the effect of his medicine,
he is not sure even whether his prescriptions have been carefully
followed; and he knows but too well that anything like a chronic
complaint requires a chronic treatment. The important thing, however,
was that my headaches yielded gradually to the continued use of
medicine; it would hardly have produced the desired effect if I had
taken it by fits and starts. All this seems to me quite natural; but
though my English doctor cured me, and my German doctors did not, I
still hold that the German system is better. Most families have their
doctor in Germany, who calls from time to time to watch the health of
the old and young members of the family, particularly when under
medical treatment, and receives his stipulated annual payment, which
secures him a safe income that can be raised, of course, by attendance
on occasional patients. Perhaps the Chinese system is the best; they
pay their doctor while they are well, and stop payment as long as they
are ill. I know the unanswerable argument which is always thrown at my
head whenever I suggest to my friends that there are some things which
are possibly managed better in Germany than in England. If my remarks
refer to the study and practice of medicine I am asked whether more
men are killed in England than in Germany; if I refer to the study and
practice of law I am assured that quite as many murderers are hanged
in England as in Germany; and if I venture to hint that the study of
theology might on certain points be improved at Oxford, I am told that
quite as many souls are saved in England as in Germany, nay, a good
many more. As I cannot ascertain the facts from trustworthy
statistics, I have nothing to reply; all I feel is that most nations,
like most individuals, are perfect in their own eyes, but that those
are most perfect who are willing to admit that there is something to
be learnt from their neighbours.

But to return to Hahnemann. He was very kind to me, and I looked up to
him as a giant both in body and in mind. But he could not deliver me
from my enemy, the ever recurrent migraine. The cures, however, both
at Dessau and at Coethen, where he had been made a _Hofrath_ by the
reigning Duke, were very extraordinary. Hahnemann remained in Coethen
till 1835, and in that year, when he was eighty, he married a young
French lady, Melanie d’Hervilly, and was carried off by her to Paris,
where he soon gained a large practice, and died in 1843, that is at
the age of eighty-eight. Much of his success, I feel sure, was due to
his presence and to the confidence which he inspired. How do I know
that Sir Andrew Clarke, seeing that I was in low spirits about my
health, did not think it right to encourage me, and by encouraging me
did certainly make me feel confident about myself, and thus raised my
vitality, my spirits, or whatever we like to call it? “Thy faith hath
made thee whole” is a lesson which doctors ought not to neglect.

How little we know the effect of the environment in which we grow up.
My old granny has drawn deeper furrows through my young soul than all
my teachers and preachers put together. I am not going to add a
chapter to that most unsatisfactory of all studies, child-psychology.
It is an impossible subject. The victim—the child—cannot be
interrogated till it is too late. The influences that work on the
child’s senses and mind cannot be determined; they are too many, and
too intangible. The observers of babies, mostly young fathers proud of
their first offspring, remind me always of a very learned friend of
mine, who presented to the Royal Society most laborious pages
containing his lifelong observations on certain deviations of the
magnetic needle, and who had forgotten that in making these
observations he always had a pair of steel spectacles on his nose.
However, I have nothing to say against these observations, nor against
their more or less successful interpretations. But the real harm
begins when people imagine that in studying the ways of infants they
can discover what man was like in his original condition, whether as a
hairy or a hairless creature. To imagine that we can learn from the
way in which children begin to use our old words, how the primitive
language of mankind was formed, seems to me like imagining that
children playing with counters would teach us how and for what purpose
the first money was coined. There is no doubt a grain of truth in this
infantile psychology, but it requires as many caveats as that which is
called ethnological psychology, which makes us see in the savages of
the present day the representation of the first ancestors of our race,
and would teach us to discover in their superstitions the antecedents
of the mythology and religion of the Aryan or Semitic races. The same
philosophers who constantly fall back on heredity and atavism in
order to explain what seems inexplicable in the beliefs and customs
of the Brahmans, Greeks, or Romans, seem quite unconscious of the many
centuries that must needs have passed over the heads of the
Patagonians of the present day as well as of the Greeks at the time of
Homer. They look upon the Patagonians as the _tabula rasa_ of
humanity, and they forget that even if we admitted that the ancestors
of the Aryan race had once been more savage than the Patagonians, it
would not follow that their savagery was identical with that of the
people of Tierra del Fuego. Why should not the distance between
Patagonian and Vedic Rishis have been at least as great as that
between Vedic Rishis and Homeric bards? If there are ever so many
kinds of civilized life, was there only one and the same savagery?

To take, for instance, the feeling of fear; is it likely that we shall
find out whether it is innate in human nature or acquired and
intensified in each generation, by shaking our fists in the face of a
little baby, to see whether it will wink or shrink or shriek? Some
children may be more fearless than others, but whether that
fearlessness arises from ignorance or from stolidity is again by no
means easy to determine. A burnt child fears the fire, an unburnt
child might boldly grasp a glowing coal, but all this would not help
us to determine whether fear is an innate or an acquired tendency or

All I can say for myself is that my young life and even my later years
were often rendered miserable by the foolish stories of one of my
grandmothers, and that I had to make a strong effort of will before I
could bring myself to walk across a churchyard in the dark. This shows
how much our character is shaped by circumstances, even when we are
least aware of it. I did not believe in ghosts and I was not a coward,
but I felt through life a kind of shiver in dark passages and at the
sound of mysterious noises, and the mere fact that I had to make an
effort to overcome these feelings shows that something had found its
way into my mental constitution that ought never to have been there,
and that caused me, particularly in my younger days, many a moment of

All such experiences constitute what may be called the background of
our life. My first ideas of men and women, and of the world at large,
that is of the unknown world, were formed within the narrow walls of
Dessau, for Dessau was still surrounded by walls, and the gates of the
city were closed every night, though the fears of a foreign enemy were
but small. Of course the views of life prevailing at Dessau were very
narrow, but they were wide enough for our purposes. Though we heard of
large towns like Dresden or Berlin, and of large countries like France
and Italy, my real world was Dessau and its neighbourhood. We had no
interests outside the walls of our town or the frontiers of our
duchy. If we heard of things that had happened at Leipzig or Berlin,
in Paris or London, they had no more reality for us than what we had
read about Abraham, or Romulus and Remus, or Alexander the Great. To
us the pulse of the world seemed to beat in the _Haupt- und
Residenzstadt_ of Dessau, though we knew perfectly well how small it
was in comparison with other towns.

And this, too, has left its impression on my thoughts all through
life, if only by making everything that I saw in later life in such
towns as Leipzig, Berlin, Paris, and London, appear quite
overwhelmingly grand. Boys brought up in any of these large towns
start with a different view of the world, and with a different measure
for what they see in later life. I do not know that they are to be
envied for that, for there is pleasure in admiration, pleasure even in
being stunned by the first sight of the life in the streets of Paris
or London. I certainly have been a great admirer all my life, and I
ascribe this disposition to the small surroundings of my early years
at Dessau.

And so it was with everything else. Having admired our
Cavalier-Strasse, I could admire all the more the Boulevards in Paris,
and Regent Street in London. Having enjoyed our small theatre, I stood
aghast at the Grand Opera, and at Drury Lane. This power of admiration
and enjoyment extended even to dinners and other domestic amusements.
Having been brought up on very simple fare, I fully enjoyed the
dinners which the Old East India Company gave, when we sat down about
400 people, and, as I was told, four pounds was paid for each guest. I
mention this because I feel that not only has the Spartan diet of my
early years given me a relish all through life for convivial
entertainments, even if not quite at four pounds a head, but that the
general self-denial which I had to exercise in my youth has made me
feel a constant gratitude and sincere appreciation for the small
comforts of my later years.

I remember the time when I woke with my breath frozen on my bedclothes
into a thin sheet of ice. We were expected to wash and dress in an
attic where the windows were so thickly frozen as to admit hardly any
light in the morning, and where, when we tried to break the ice in the
jug, there were only a few drops of water left at the bottom with
which to wash. No wonder that the ablutions were expeditious. After
they were performed we had our speedy breakfast, consisting of a cup
of coffee and a _semmel_ or roll, and then we rushed to school, often
through the snow that had not yet been swept away from the pavement.
We sat in school from eight to eleven or twelve, rushed home again,
had our very simple dinner, and then back to school, from two to four.
How we lived through it I sometimes wonder, for we were thinly clad
and often wet with rain or snow; and yet we enjoyed our life as boys
only can enjoy it, and had no time to be ill. One blessing this early
roughing has left me for life—a power of enjoying many things which
to most of my friends are matters of course or of no consequence. The
background of my life at Dessau and at Leipzig may seem dark, but it
has only served to make the later years of my life all the brighter
and warmer.

The more I think about that distant, now very distant past, the more I
feel how, without being aware of it, my whole character was formed by
it. The unspoiled primitiveness of life at Dessau as it was when I was
at school there till the age of twelve, would be extremely difficult
to describe in all its details. Everybody seemed to know everybody and
everything about everybody. Everybody knew that he was watched, and
gossip, in the best sense of the word, ruled supreme in the little
town. Gossip was, in fact, public opinion with all its good and all
its bad features. Still the result was that no one could afford to
lose caste, and that everybody behaved as well as he could. I really
believe that the private life of the people of Dessau at the beginning
of the century was blameless. The great evils of society did not
exist, and if now and then there was a black sheep, his or her life
became a burden to them. Everybody knew what had happened, and society
being on the whole so blameless, was all the more merciless on the
sinners, whether their sins were great or small. So from the very
first my idea was that there were only two classes—one class quite
perfect and pure as angels, the other black sheep, and altogether
unspeakable. There was no transition, no intermediate links, no
shading of light and dark. A man was either black or white, and this
rigid rule applied not only to moral character, but intellectual
excellence also was measured by the same standard. A work of art was
either superlatively beautiful, or it was contemptible. A man of
science was either a giant or a humbug. Some people spoke of Goethe as
the greatest of all poets and philosophers the world had ever known;
others called him a wicked man and an overvalued poet.[7]

  [7] That this was not only the case at Dessau, may be seen by a
  number of contemporary reviews of Goethe’s works republished
  some years ago and the exact title of which I cannot find.

It is dangerous, no doubt, to go through life with so imperfect a
measure, and I have for a long time suffered from it, particularly in
cases where I ought to have been able to make allowance for small
failings. But as I had been brought up to approach people with a
complete trust in their rectitude, and with an unlimited admiration of
their genius, it took me many years before I learnt to make allowance
for human weaknesses or temporary failures. I have lost many a
charming companion and excellent friend in my journey through life,
because I weighed them with my rusty Dessau balance. I had to learn by
long experience that there may be a spot, nay, several spots on the
soft skin of a peach, and yet the whole fruit may be perfect. I acted
very much like the merchant who tested a whole field of rice by the
first handful of grains, and who, if he found one or two bad grains,
would have nothing to do with the whole field. I had to learn what
was, perhaps, the most difficult lesson of all, that a trusted friend
could not always be trusted, and yet need not therefore be altogether
a reprobate. What was most difficult for me to digest was an untruth:
finding out that one who professed to be a friend had said and done
most unfriendly things behind one’s back. Still, in a long life one
finds out that even that may not be a deadly sin, and that if we are
so loth to forgive it, it is partly because the falsehood affected our
own interests. Thus only can we explain how a man whom we know to have
been guilty of falsehoods towards ourselves may be looked upon as
perfectly honest, straightforward, and trustworthy, by a large number
of his own friends. We see this over and over again with men occupying
eminent positions in Church and State. We see how a prime minister or
an archbishop is represented by men who know him as a liar and a
hypocrite, while by others he is spoken of as a paragon of honour and
honesty, and a true Christian. My narrow Dessau views became a little
widened when I went to school at Leipzig; still more when I spent two
years and a half at the University of Leipzig, and afterwards at
Berlin. Still, during all this time I saw but little of what is called
society, I only knew of people whom I loved and of people whom I
disliked. There was no room as yet for indifferent people, whom one
tolerates and is civil to without caring whether one sees them again
or not. Of the simplest duties of society also I was completely
ignorant. No one ever told me what to say and what to do, or what not
to say and what not to do. What I felt I said, what I thought right I
did. There was, in fact, in my small native town very little that
could be called society. One lived in one’s family and with one’s
intimate friends without any ceremony. It is a pity that children are
not taught a few rules of life-wisdom by their seniors. I know that
the Jews do not neglect that duty, and I remember being surprised at
my young Jewish friends at Dessau coming out with some very wise saws
which evidently had not been grown in their own hot-houses, but had
been planted out full grown by their seniors. The only rules of
worldly wisdom which I remember, came to me through proverbs and
little verses which we had either to copy or to learn by heart, such

    “Wer einmal lügt, dem glaubt man nicht
     Und wenn er auch die Wahrheit spricht.”

    “Morgenstunde hat Gold im Munde.”

    “Kein Faden ist so fein gesponnen,
     Er kommt doch endlich an die Sonnen.”

    “Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied.”

Some lines which hung over my bed I have carried with me all through
life, and I still think they are very true and very terse:

    “Im Glück nicht jubeln und im Sturm nicht zagen,
     Das Unvermeidliche mit Würde tragen,
     Das Rechte thun, am Schönen sich erfreuen,
     Das Leben lieben und den Tod nicht scheuen,
     Und fest an Gott und bessere Zukunft glauben,
     Heisst leben, heisst dem Tod sein Bitteres rauben.”

Still, all this formed a very small viaticum for a journey through
life, and I often thought that a few more hints might have preserved
me from the painful process of what was called rubbing off one’s
horns. Again and again I had to say to myself, “That would have done
very well at home, but it was a mistake for all that.” My social
rawness and simplicity stuck to me for many years, just as the Dessau
dialect remained with me for life; at least I was assured by my
friends that though I had spoken French and English for so many years,
they could always detect in my German that I came from Dessau or



It was certainly a poor kind of armour in which I set out from Dessau.
My mother, devoted as she was to me, had judged rightly that it was
best for me to be with other boys and under the supervision of a man.
I had been somewhat spoiled by her passionate love, and also by her
passionate severity in correcting the ordinary naughtinesses of a boy.
So having risen from form to form in the school at Dessau, I was sent,
at the age of twelve, to Leipzig, to live in the house of Professor
Carus and attend the famous Nicolai-Schule with his son, who was of
the same age as myself and who likewise wanted a companion. It was
thought that there would be a certain emulation between us, and so, no
doubt, there was, though we always remained the best of friends. The
house in which we lived stood in a garden and was really an
orthopaedic institution for girls. There were about twenty or thirty
of these young girls living in the house or spending the day there,
and their joyous company was very pleasant. Of course the names and
faces of my young friends have, with one or two exceptions, vanished
from my memory, but I was surprised when a few years ago (1895) I was
staying with Madame Salis-Schwabe at her delightful place on the Menai
Straits, and discovered that we had known each other more than fifty
years before in the house of Professor Carus at Leipzig. Though we had
met from time to time, we never knew of our early meeting at Leipzig,
till in comparing notes we discovered how we had spent a whole year in
the same house and among the same friends. Hers has been a life full
of work and entirely devoted to others. To the very end of her days
she was spending her large income in founding schools on the system
recommended by Froebel, not only in England, but in Italy. She died at
Naples in 1896, while visiting a large school that had been founded by
her with the assistance of the Italian Government. Her own house in
Wales was full of treasures of art, and full of memorials of her many
friends, such as Bunsen, Renan, Mole, Ary Scheffer, and many more. How
far her charity went may be judged by her being willing to part with
some of the most precious of Ary Scheffer’s pictures, in order to keep
her schools well endowed, and able to last after her death, which she
felt to be imminent.

Public schools are nearly all day schools in Germany. The boys live at
home, mostly in their own families, but they spend six hours every day
at school, and it is a mistake to imagine that they are not attached
to it, that they have no games together, and that they do not grow up
manly or independent. Most schools have playgrounds, and in summer
swimming is a favourite amusement for all the boys. There were two
good public schools at Leipzig, the Nicolai School and the Thomas
School. There was plenty of _esprit de corps_ in them, and often when
the boys met it showed itself not only in words but in blows, and the
discussions over the merits of their schools were often continued in
later life. I was very fortunate in being sent to the Nicolai School,
under Dr. Nobbe as head master. He was at the same time Professor at
the University of Leipzig, and is well known in England also as the
editor of Cicero. He was very proud that his school counted Leibniz[8]
among its former pupils. He was a classical scholar of the old school.
During the last three years of our school life we had to write plenty
of Latin and Greek verse, and were taught to speak Latin. The speaking
of Latin came readily enough, but the verses never attained a very
high level. Besides Nobbe we had Forbiger, well known by his books on
ancient geography, and Palm, editor of the same Greek Dictionary
which, in the hands of Dr. Liddell, has reached its highest
perfection. Then there was Funkhänel, known beyond Germany by his
edition of the Orations of Demosthenes, and his studies on Greek
orators. We were indeed well off for masters, and most of them seemed
to enjoy their work and to be fond of the boys. Our head master was
very popular. He was a man of the old German type, powerfully built,
with a large square head, very much like Luther, and, strange to say,
when in 1839 a great Luther festival was celebrated all over Germany,
he published a book in which he proved that he was a direct descendant
of Luther.

  [8] His own spelling of his name.

The school was carried on very much on the old plan of teaching
chiefly classics, but teaching them thoroughly. Modern languages,
mathematics, and physical science had a poor chance, though they
clamoured for recognition. Latin and Greek verse were considered far
more important. In the two highest forms we had to speak Latin, and
such as it was it seemed to us much easier than to speak French.
Hebrew was also taught as an optional subject during the last four
years, and the little I know of Hebrew dates chiefly from my
school-days. Schoolboys soon find out what their masters think of the
value of the different subjects taught at school, and they are apt to
treat not only the subjects themselves but the teachers also according
to that standard. Hence our modern language and our physical science
masters had a hard time of it. They could not keep their classes in
order, and it was by no means unusual for many of the boys simply to
stay away from their lessons. The old mathematical master, before
beginning his lesson, used to rub his spectacles, and after looking
round the half empty classroom, mutter in a plaintive voice: “I see
again many boys who are not here to-day.” When the same old master
began to lecture on physical science, he told the boys to bring a frog
to be placed under a glass from which the air had been extracted by an
air-pump. Of course every one of the twenty or thirty boys brought two
or three frogs, and when the experiment was to be made all these frogs
were hopping about the lecture-room, and the whole army of boys were
hopping after them over chairs and tables to catch them. No wonder
that during this tumult the master did not succeed with his
experiment, and when at last the glass bowl was lifted up and we were
asked to see the frog, great was the joy of all the boys when the frog
hopped out and escaped from the hands of its executioner. Such was the
wrath excited by these new-fangled lectures among the boys that they
actually committed the vandalism of using one of the forms as a
battering-ram against the enclosure in which the physical science
apparatus was kept, and destroyed some of the precious instruments
supplied by Government. Severe punishments followed, but they did not
serve to make physical science more popular.

We certainly did very well in Greek and Latin, and read a number of
classical texts, not only critically at school, but also cursorily at
home, having to give a weekly account of what we had thus read by
ourselves. I liked my classics, and yet I could not help feeling that
there was a certain exaggeration in the way in which every one of
them was spoken of by our teachers, nay, that as compared to German
poets and prose writers they were somewhat overpraised. Still, it
would have been very conceited not to admire what our masters admired,
and as in duty bound we went into the usual raptures about Homer and
Sophocles, about Horace and Cicero. Many things which in later life we
learn to admire in the classics could hardly appeal to the taste of
boys. The directness, the simplicity and originality of the ancient,
as compared with modern writers, cannot be appreciated by them, and I
well remember being struck with what we disrespectful boys called the
cheekiness of Horace expecting immortality (_non omnis moriar_) for
little poems which we were told were chiefly written after Greek
patterns. We had to admit that there were fewer false quantities in
his Latin verses than in our own, but in other respects we could not
see that his odes were so infinitely superior to ours. His hope of
immortality has certainly been fulfilled beyond what could have been
his own expectations. With so little of ancient history known to him,
his idea of the immortality of poetry must have been far more modest
in his time than in our own. He may have known the past glories of the
Persian Empire, but as to ancient literature, there was nothing for
him to know, whether in Persia, in Babylonia, in Assyria, or even in
Egypt, least of all in India. Literary fame existed for him in Greece
only, and in the Roman Empire, and his own ambition could therefore
hardly have extended beyond these limits. The exaggeration in the
panegyrics passed on everything Greek or Latin dates from the
classical scholars of the Middle Ages, who knew nothing that could be
compared to the classics, and who were loud in praising what they
possessed the monopoly of selling. Successive generations of scholars
followed suit, so that even in our time it seemed high treason to
compare Goethe with Horace, or Schiller with Sophocles. Of late,
however, the danger is rather that the reaction should go too far and
lead to a promiscuous depreciation even of such real giants as
Lucretius or Plato. The fact is that we have learnt from them and
imitated them, till in some cases the imitations have equalled or even
excelled the originals, while now the taste for classical correctness
has been wellnigh supplanted by an appetite for what is called
realistic, original, and extravagant.

With all that has been said or written against making classical
studies the most important element in a liberal education, or rather
against retaining them in their time-honoured position, nothing has as
yet been suggested to take their place. For after all, it is not
simply in order to learn two languages that we devote so large a share
of our time to the study of Greek and Latin; it is in order to learn
to understand the old world on which our modern world is founded; it
is in order to think the old thoughts, which are the feeders of our
own intellectual life, that we become in our youth the pupils of
Greeks and Romans. In order to know what we are, we have to learn how
we have come to be what we are. Our very languages form an unbroken
chain between us and Cicero and Aristotle, and in order to use many of
our words intelligently, we must know the soil from which they sprang,
and the atmosphere in which they grew up and developed.

I enjoyed my work at school very much, and I seem to have passed
rapidly from class to class. I frequently received prizes both in
money and in books, but I see a warning attached to some of them that
I ought not to be conceited, which probably meant no more than that I
should not show when I was pleased with my successes. At least I do
not know what I could have been conceited about. What I feel about my
learning at school is that it was entirely passive. I acquired
knowledge such as it was presented to me. I did not doubt whatever my
teachers taught me, I did not, as far as I can recollect, work up any
subject by myself. I find only one paper of mine of that early time,
and, curiously enough, it was on mythology; but it contains no inkling
of comparative mythology, but simply a chronological arrangement of
the sources from which we draw our knowledge of Greek mythology. I see
also from some old papers, that I began to write poetry, and that
twice or thrice I was chosen at great festivities to recite poems
written by myself. In the year 1839 three hundred years had passed
since Luther preached at Leipzig in the Church of St. Nicolai, and the
tercentenary of this event was celebrated all over Germany. My poem
was selected for recitation at a large meeting of the friends of our
school and the notables of the town, and I had to recite it, not
without fear and trembling. I was then but sixteen years of age.

In the next year, 1840, Leipzig celebrated the invention of printing
in 1440. It was on this occasion that Mendelssohn wrote his famous
_Hymn of Praise_. I formed part of the chorus, and I well remember the
magnificent effect which the music produced in the Church of St.
Thomas. Again a poem of mine was selected, and I had to recite it at a
large gathering in the Nicolai-Schule on July 18, 1840.

On December 23 another celebration took place at our school, at which
I had to recite a Latin poem of mine, _In Schillerum_. Lastly, there
was my valedictory poem when I left the school in 1841, and a Latin
poem “Ad Nobbium,” our head master.

I have found among my mother’s treasures the far too often flattering
testimonial addressed to her by Professor Nobbe on that occasion,
which ends thus: “I rejoice at seeing him leave this school with
testimonials of moral excellence not often found in one of his
years—and possessed of knowledge in more than one point, first-rate,
and of intellectual capacities excellent throughout. May his young
mind develop more and more, may the fruits of his labours hereafter be
a comfort to his mother for the sorrows and cares of the past.”

It was rather hard on me that I had to pass my examination for
admission to the University (_Abiturienten-Examen_) not at my own
school, but at Zerbst in Anhalt. This was necessary in order to enable
me to obtain a scholarship from the Anhalt Government. The schools in
Anhalt were modelled after the Prussian schools, and laid far more
stress on mathematics, physical science, and modern languages than the
schools in Saxony. I had therefore to get up in a very short time
several quite new subjects, and did not do so well in them as in Greek
and Latin. However, I passed with a first class, and obtained my
scholarship, small as it was. It was only the other day that I
received a letter from a gentleman who was at school at Zerbst when I
came there for my examination. He reminds me that among my examiners
there were such men as Dr. Ritter, the two Sentenis, and Professor
Werner, and he says that he watched me when I came upstairs and
entered the locked room to do my paper work. My friend’s career in
life had been that of Director of a Life Insurance Company, probably a
more lucrative career than what mine has been.

  [Illustration: _F. Max Müller Aged 14._]

During my stay at Leipzig, first in the house of Professor Carus, and
afterwards as a student at the University, my chief enjoyment was
certainly music. I had plenty of it, perhaps too much, but I pity
the man who has not known the charm of it. At that time Leipzig was
really the centre of music in Germany. Felix Mendelssohn was there,
and most of the distinguished artists and composers of the day came
there to spend some time with him and to assist at the famous
Gewandhaus Concerts. I find among my letters a few descriptions of
concerts and other musical entertainments, which even at present may
be of some interest. I was asked to be present at some concerts where
quartettes and other pieces were performed by Mendelssohn, Hiller,
Kaliwoda, David, and Eckart. Liszt also made his triumphant entry into
Germany at Leipzig, and everybody was full of expectation and
excitement. His concert had been advertised long before his arrival.
It was to consist of an Overture of Weber’s; a Cavatina from _Robert
le Diable_, sung by Madame Schlegel; a Concerto of Weber’s, to be
played by Liszt, the same which I had shortly before heard played by
Madame Pleyel; Beethoven’s Overture to _Prometheus_; Fantasia on _La
Juive_; Schubert’s _Ave Maria_ and _Serenade_, as arranged by Liszt. I
was the more delighted because I had myself played some of these
pieces. But suddenly there appeared a placard stating that Liszt, on
hearing that tickets were sold at one thaler (three shillings), had
declared he would play a few pieces only and without an orchestra. In
spite of that disappointment, the whole house was full, the staircase
crowded from top to bottom, and when we had pushed our way through, we
found that about 300 places had been retained for one and a half
thalers (four shillings and sixpence), while tickets at the box-office
were sold for two thalers (six shillings). Nevertheless, I managed to
get a very good place, by simply not seeing a number of ladies who
were pushing behind me. When Liszt appeared there was a terrible
hissing—he looked as if petrified, glanced like a demon at the
public, but nevertheless began to play the Scherzo and Finale of the
Pastoral Symphony. Then there burst out a perfect thunder of applause,
and all seemed pacified, while Madame Schmidt sang a song accompanied
by a certain Mr. Kermann. As soon as that was over, a new storm of
hisses arose, which was meant for this Mr. Kermann, who was a pupil,
but at the same time the man of business of Liszt. He and three other
men had made all arrangements, and Liszt knew nothing about them, as
he cared very little for the money, which went chiefly to his
managers. A Fantasia by Liszt followed, and lastly a _Galop
Chromatique_—but the public would not go away, and at length Liszt
was induced to play _Une grande Valse_. It was no doubt a new
experience; but I could not go into ecstasies like others, for after
all it was merely mechanical, though no doubt in the highest
perfection. The day after Liszt advertised that his original Programme
would be played, but at six o’clock Professor Carus, with whom I
lived, was called to see Liszt, who was said to be ill; the fact being
he had only sold fifty tickets at the raised prices. Many strangers
who had come to Leipzig to hear him went away, anything but pleased
with the new musical genius. At one concert, where he appeared in
Magyar costume, the ladies offered him a golden laurel wreath and
sword. He had just published his arrangement of _Adelaida_, which he
promised to play in one of the concerts.

Another very musical family at Leipzig was that of Professor Fröge. He
was a rich man, and had married a famous singer, Fräulein Schlegel.
One evening the _Sonnambula_ was performed in their house, which had
been changed into a theatre. She acted the Sonnambula, and her singing
as well as her acting was most finished and delightful. Mendelssohn
was much in their house, and made her sing his songs as soon as they
were written and before they were published. They were great friends,
the bond of their friendship being music. He actually died when
playing while she was singing. People talked as they always will talk
about what they cannot understand, but they evidently did not know
either Mendelssohn or Madame Fröge.

The house of Professor Carus was always open to musical geniuses, and
many an evening men like Hiller, Mendelssohn, David, Eckart, &c., came
there to play, while Madame Carus sang, and sang most charmingly. I
too was asked sometimes to play at these evening parties. I see that
Ernst gave a concert at Leipzig, and no doubt his execution was
admirable. Still, I could not understand what David meant when he
declared that after hearing Ernst he would throw his own instrument
into the fire.

Mendelssohn, who was delighted with Liszt—and no one could judge him
better than he—gave a soirée in honour of him. About 400 people were
invited—I among the rest, being one of the tenors who sang in the
Oratorio that Hiller was then rehearsing for the first performance. I
think it was the _Destruction of Babylon_. There was a complete
orchestra at Mendelssohn’s party, and we heard a symphony of Schubert
(posthumous), Mendelssohn’s psalm “As the hart pants,” and his
overture _Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt_. After that there was
supper for all the guests, and then followed a chorus from his _St.
Paul_, and a triple concerto of Bach, played on three pianofortes by
Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Hiller. It was a difficult piece—difficult to
play and difficult to follow. Lastly, Liszt played his new fantasia on
_Lucia di Lammermoor_, and his arrangement of the _Erlkönig_. All was
really perfect; and hearing so much music, I became more and more
absorbed in it. I even gave some concerts with Grabau, a great
violoncellist, at Merseburg, and at a Count Arnim’s, a very rich
nobleman near Merseburg, who had invited Liszt for one evening and
paid him 100 ducats. This seemed at that time a very large sum,
almost senseless. As a ducat was about nine shillings, it was after
all only £45, which would not seem excessive at present for an artist
such as Liszt.

I also heard Thalberg at Leipzig. They all came to see Mendelssohn,
and I believe did their best to please him. At that time my idea of
devoting myself altogether to the study of music became very strong;
and as Professor Carus married again, I proposed to leave Leipzig, and
to enter the musical school of Schneider at Dessau. But nothing came
of that, and I think on the whole it was as well.

While at school at Leipzig I had but little opportunity of travelling,
for my mother was always anxious to have me home during the holidays,
and I was equally anxious to be with her and to see my relations at
Dessau. Generally I went in a wretched carriage from Leipzig to
Dessau. It was only seven German miles (about thirty-five English
miles), but it took a whole day to get there; and during part of the
journey, when we had to cross the deep and desert-like sands, walking
on foot was much more expeditious than sitting inside the carriage.
But then we paid only one thaler for the whole journey, and sometimes,
in order to save that, I walked on foot the whole way. That also took
me a whole day; but when I tried it the first time, being then quite
young and rather delicate in health, I had to give in about an hour
before I came to Dessau, my legs refusing to go further, and my
muscles being cramped and stiff from exertion, I had to sit down by
the road. During one vacation I remember exploring the valley of the
Mulde with some other boys. We travelled for about a fortnight from
village to village, and lived in the simplest way. A more ambitious
journey I took in 1841 with a friend of mine, Baron von Hagedorn. He
was a curious and somewhat mysterious character. He had been brought
up by a great-aunt of mine, to whom he was entrusted as a baby. No one
knew his parents, but they must have been rich, for he possessed a
large fortune. He had a country place near Munich, and he spent the
greater part of the year in travelling about, and amusing himself. He
had been brought up with my mother and other members of our family,
and he took a very kind interest in me. I see from my letters that in
1841 he took me from Dessau to Coethen, Brunswick, and Magdeburg. At
Brunswick we saw the picture gallery, the churches, and the tomb of
Schill, one of the German volunteers in the War of Independence
against France. We also explored Hildesheim, saw the rose-tree
planted, as we were told, by Charlemagne; then proceeded to Göttingen,
and saw its famous library. We passed through Minden, where the Fulda
and Werra join, and arrived late at Cassel. From Cassel we explored
Wilhelmshöhe, the beautiful park where thirty years later Napoleon III
was kept as a prisoner.

Hagedorn, with all his love of mystery and occasional exaggeration,
was certainly a good friend to me. He often gave me good advice, and
was more of a father to me than a mere friend. He was a man of the
world; and he forgot that I never meant to be a man of the world, and
therefore his advice was not always what I wanted. He was also a great
friend of my cousin who was married to a Prince of Dessau, and they
had agreed among themselves that I should go to the Oriental Academy
at Vienna, learn Oriental languages, and then enter the diplomatic
service. As there were no children from the Prince’s marriage, I was
to be adopted by him, and, as if the princely fortune was not enough
to tempt me, I was told that even a wife had been chosen for me, and
that I should have a new name and title, after being adopted by the
Prince. To other young men this might have seemed irresistible. I at
once said no. It seemed to interfere with my freedom, with my studies,
with my ideal of a career in life; in fact, though everything was
presented to me by my cousin as on a silver tray, I shook my head and
remained true to my first love, Sanskrit and all the rest. Hagedorn
could not understand this; he thought a brilliant life preferable to
the quiet life of a professor. Not so I. He little knew where true
happiness was to be found, and he was often in a very melancholy mood.
He did not live long, but I shall never forget how much I owed him.
When I went to Paris, he allowed me to live in his rooms. They were,
it is true, _au cinquième_, but they were in the best quarter of
Paris, in the Rue Royale St. Honoré, opposite the Madeleine, and very
prettily furnished. This kept me from living in dusty lodgings in the
Quartier Latin, and the five flights of stairs may have strengthened
my lungs. I well remember what it was when at the foot of the
staircase I saw that I had forgotten my handkerchief and had to toil
up again. But in those days one did not know what it meant to be
tired. Whether my friends grumbled, I cannot tell, but I myself pitied
some of them who were old and gouty when they arrived at my door out
of breath.



In order to enable me to go to the University, my mother and sister
moved to Leipzig and kept house for me during all the time I was
there—that is, for two years and a half. In spite of the _res angusta
domi_, I enjoyed my student-life thoroughly, while my home was made
very agreeable by my mother and sister. My mother was full of
resource, and she was wise enough not to interfere with my freedom. My
sister, who was about two years older than myself, was most
kind-hearted and devoted both to me and to our mother. There was
nothing selfish in her, and we three lived together in perfect love,
peace, and harmony. My sister enjoyed what little there was of
society, whereas I kept sternly aloof from it. She was much admired,
and soon became engaged to a young doctor, Dr. A. Krug, the son of the
famous professor of philosophy at Leipzig, whose works, particularly
his _Dictionary of Philosophy_, hold a distinguished place in the
history of German philosophy. He was a thorough patriot, and so public
spirited that he thought it right to leave a considerable sum of money
to the University, without making sufficient provision for his
children. However, the young married couple lived happily at Chemnitz,
and my sister was proud in the possession of her children. It was the
sudden death of several of these children that broke her heart and
ruined her health; she died very young. Standing by the grave of her
children, she said to me shortly before her death, “Half of me is dead
already, and lies buried there; the other half will soon follow.”

Of society, in the ordinary sense of the word, I saw hardly anything.
I am afraid I was rather a bear, and declined even to invest in
evening dress. I joined a student club which formed part of the
_Burschenschaft_, but which in order to escape prosecution adopted the
title of _Gemeinschaft_. I went there in the evening to drink beer and
smoke, and I made some delightful acquaintances and friendships. What
fine characters were there, often behind a very rough exterior! My
dearest friend was Prowe, of Thorn in East Prussia—so honest, so
true, so straightforward, so over-conscientious in the smallest
things. He was a classical scholar, and later on entered the Prussian
educational service. As a master at the principal school at Thorn his
time was fully occupied, and of course he was cut off there from the
enlivening influences of literary society. Still he kept up his
interest in higher questions, and published some extremely valuable
books on Copernicus, a native of Thorn, for which he received the
thanks of astronomers and historians, and flattering testimonials
from learned societies. We met but seldom later in life, and my own
life in England was so busy and full that even our correspondence was
not regular. But I met him once more at Ems with a charming wife, and
decidedly happy in his own sphere of activity. These early friendships
form the distant landscape of life on which we like to dwell when the
present ceases to absorb all our thoughts. Our memory dwells on them
as a golden horizon, and there remains a constant yearning which makes
us feel the incompleteness of this life. After all, the number of our
true friends is small; and yet how few even of that small number
remain with us for life. There are other faces and other names that
rise from beyond the clouds which more and more divide us from our
early years.

There were some wild spirits among us who fretted at the narrow-minded
policy which went by the name of the Metternich system. Repression was
the panacea which Metternich recommended to all the governments of
Germany, large and small. No doubt the system of keeping things quiet
secured to Germany and to Europe at large a thirty years’ peace, but
it could not prevent the accumulation of inflammable material which,
after several threatenings, burst forth at last in the conflagration
of 1848. Among my friends I remember several who were ready for the
wildest schemes in order to have Germany united, respected abroad,
and under constitutional government at home. Splendid fellows they
were, but they either ended their days within the walls of a prison,
or had to throw up everything and migrate to America. What has become
of them? Some have risen to the surface in America, others have
yielded to the inevitable and become peaceful citizens at home; nay, I
am grieved to say, have even accepted service under Government to spy
on their former friends and fellow-dreamers. But not a few saw the
whole of their life wrecked either in prison or in poverty, though
they had done no wrong, and in many cases were the finest characters
it has been my good fortune to know. They were before their time, the
fruit was not ripe as it was in 1871, but Germany certainly lost some
of her best sons in those miserable years; and if my father escaped
this political persecution, it was probably due to the influence of
the reigning Duke and the Duchess, a Princess of Prussia, who knew
that he was not a dangerous man, and not likely to blow up the German

I myself got a taste of prison life for the offence of wearing the
ribbon of a club which the police regarded with disfavour. I cannot
say that either the disgrace or the discomfort of my two days’ durance
vile weighed much with me, as my friends were allowed free access to
me, and came and drank beer and smoked cigars in my cell—of course at
my expense—but what I dreaded was the loss of my stipendium or
scholarship, which alone enabled me to continue my studies at
Leipzig, and which, as a rule, was forfeited for political offences.
On my release from prison I went to the Rector of the University and
explained to him the circumstances of the case—how I had been
arrested simply for membership of a suspected club. I assured him that
I was innocent of any political propaganda, and that the loss of my
stipendium would entail my leaving the University. Much to my relief,
the old gentleman replied: “I have heard nothing about this; and if I
do, how am I to know that it refers to you, there are many Müllers in
the University?” Fortunately the distinctive prefix Max had not yet
been added to my name.

I must confess that I and my boon companions were sometimes guilty of
practices which in more modern days, and certainly at Oxford or
Cambridge, would be far more likely to bring the culprits into
collision with the authorities than mere membership of societies in
which comparatively harmless political talk was indulged in.

Duelling was then, as it is now, a favourite pastime among the
students; and though not by nature a brawler, I find that in my
student days at Leipzig I fought three duels, of two of which I carry
the marks to the present day.

I remember that on one occasion before the introduction of cabs we
hired all the sedan-chairs in Leipzig, with their yellow-coated
porters, and went in procession through the streets, much to the
astonishment of the good citizens, and annoyance also, as they were
unable to hire any means of conveyance till a peremptory stop was put
to our fun. Not content with this exploit, when the first cabs were
introduced into Leipzig, thirty or forty being put on the street at
first, I and my friends secured the use of all of them for the day,
and proceeded out into the country. The inhabitants who were eagerly
looking forward to a drive in one of the new conveyances were
naturally annoyed at finding themselves forestalled, and the result
was that a stop was put to such freaks in future by the issue of a
police regulation that nobody was allowed to hire more than two cabs
at a time.

Very innocent amusements, if perhaps foolish, but very happy days all
the same; and it must be remembered that we had just emerged from the
strict discipline of a German school into the unrestricted liberty of
German university life.

It is in every respect a great jump from a German school to a German
university. At school a boy even in the highest form, has little
choice. All his lessons are laid down for him; he has to learn what he
is told, whether he likes it or not. Few only venture on books outside
the prescribed curriculum. There is an examination at the end of every
half-year, and a boy must pass it well in order to get into a higher
form. Boys at a public school (gymnasium), if they cannot pass their
examination at the proper time, are advised to go to another school,
and to prepare for a career in which classical languages are of less

I must say at once that when I matriculated at Leipzig, in the summer
of 1841, I was still very young and very immature. I had determined to
study philology, chiefly Greek and Latin, but the fare spread out by
the professors was much too tempting. I read Greek and Latin without
difficulty; I often read classical authors without ever attempting to
translate them; I also wrote and spoke Latin easily. Some of the
professors lectured in Latin, and at our academic societies Latin was
always spoken. I soon became a member of the classical seminary under
Gottfried Hermann, and of the Latin Society under Professor Haupt.
Admission to these seminaries and societies was obtained by submitting
essays, and it was no doubt a distinction to belong to them. It was
also useful, for not only had we to write essays and discuss them with
the other members, generally teachers, and with the professor, but we
could also get some useful advice from the professor for our private
studies. In that respect the German universities do very little for
the students, unless one has the good fortune to belong to one of
these societies. The young men are let loose, and they can choose
whatever lectures they want. I still have my _Collegien-Buch_, in
which every professor has to attest what lectures one has attended.
The number of lectures on various subjects which I attended is quite
amazing, and I should have attended still more if the honorarium had
not frightened me away. Every professor lectured _publice_ and
_privatim_, and for the more important courses, four lectures a week,
he charged ten shillings, for more special courses less or nothing.
This seems little, but it was often too much for me; and if one added
these honoraria to the salary of a popular professor, his income was
considerable, and was more than the income of most public servants. I
have known professors who had four or five hundred auditors. This gave
them £250 twice a year, and that, added to their salary, was
considered a good income at that time. All this has been much changed.
Salaries have been raised, and likewise the honoraria, so that I well
remember the case of Professor von Savigny, who, when he was chosen
Minister of Justice at Berlin, declared that he would gladly accept if
only his salary was raised to what his income had been as Professor of
Law. Of course, professors of Arabic or Sanskrit were badly off, and
_Privatdocenten_ (tutors) fared still worse, but the _professores
ordinarii_, particularly if they lectured on an obligatory subject and
were likewise examiners, were very well off. In fact, it struck me
sometimes as very unworthy of them to keep a _famulus_, a student who
had to tell every one who wished to hear a distinguished professor
once or twice, that he would not allow him to come a third time.

One great drawback of the professorial system is certainly the small
measure of personal advice that a student may get from the professors.
Unless he is known to them personally, or has gained admission to
their societies or seminaries, the young student or freshman is quite
bewildered by the rich fare in the shape of lectures that is placed
before him. Some students, no doubt, particularly in their early
terms, solve this difficulty by attending none at all, and there is no
force to make them do so, except the examinations looming in the
distance. But there are many young men most anxious to learn, only
they do not know where to begin. I open my old _Collegien-Buch_ and I
find that in the first term or Semester I attended the following
lectures, and I may say I attended them regularly, took careful notes,
and read such books as were recommended by the professors. I find

   1. The first book of Thucydides          Gottfried Hermann.
   2. On Scenic Antiquities                 The same.
   3. On Propertius                         P. M. Haupt.
   4. History of German Literature          The same.
   5. The Ranae of Aristophanes             Stallbaum.
   6. Disputatorium (in Latin)              Nobbe.
   7. Aesthetics                            Weisse.
   8. Anthropology                          Lotze.
   9. Systems of Harmonic Composition       Fink.
  10. Hebrew Grammar                        Fürst.
  11. Demosthenes                           Westermann.
  12. Psychology                            Heinroth.

This was enough for the summer half-year. Except Greek and Latin, the
other subjects were entirely new to me, and what I wanted was to get
an idea of what I should like to study. It may be interesting to add
the other Semesters as far as I have them in my _Collegien-Buch_.

  13. Aeschyli Persae                       Hermann.
  14. On Criticism                          The same.
  15. German Grammar                        Haupt.
  16. Walther von der Vogelweide            The same.
  17. Tacitus, Agricola, and De Oratoribus  The same.
  18. On Hegel                              Weisse.
  19. Disputatorium (Latin)                 Nobbe.
  20. Modern History                        Wachsmuth.
  21. Sanskrit Grammar                      Brockhaus.
  22. Latin Society                         Haupt.

Then follows the summer term of 1842.

  23. Pindar                                Hermann.
  24. Nibelungen                            Haupt.
  25. Nala                                  Brockhaus.
  26. History of Oriental Literature        The same.
  27. Arabic Grammar                        Fleischer.
  28. Latin Society                         Haupt.
  29. Plauti Trinumus                       Becker.

Winter term, 1842.

  30. Prabodha Chandrodaya                  Brockhaus.
  31. History of Indian Literature          The same.
  32. Aristophanes’ Vespae                  Hermann.
  33. Plauti Rudens                         The same.
  34. Greek Syntax                          The same.
  35. Juvenal                               Becker.
  36. Metaphysics and Logic                 Weisse.
  37. Philosophy of History                 The same.
  38. Greek and Latin Seminary              Hermann & Klotze.
  39. Latin Society                         Haupt.
  40. Philosophical Society                 Weisse.
  41. Philosophical Society                 Drobisch.

Summer term, 1843.

  42. Greek and Latin Seminary              Hermann & Klotze.
  43. Philosophical Society                 Drobisch.
  44. Philosophical Society                 Weisse.
  45. Soma-deva                             Brockhaus.
  46. Hitopadesa                            The same.
  47. History of Greeks and Romans          Wachsmuth.
  48. History of Civilization               The same.
  49. History after the Fifteenth Century   Flathe.
  50. History of Ancient Philosophy         Niedner.

Winter term, 1843-4.

  51. Rig-veda                              Brockhaus.
  52. Elementa Persica                      Fleischer.
  53. Greek and Latin Seminary              Hermann & Klotze.

Here my _Collegien-Buch_ breaks off, the fact being that I was
preparing to go to Berlin to hear the lectures of Bopp and Schelling.

It will be clear from the above list that I certainly attempted too
much. I ought either to have devoted all my time to classical studies
exclusively, or carried on my philosophical studies more
systematically. I confess that, delighted as I was with Gottfried
Hermann and Haupt as my guides and teachers in classics, I found
little that could rouse my enthusiasm for Greek and Latin literature,
and I always required a dose of that to make me work hard. Everything
seemed to me to have been done, and there was no virgin soil left to
the plough, no ruins on which to try one’s own spade. Hermann and
Haupt gave me work to do, but it was all in the critical line—the
genealogical relation of various MSS., or, again, the peculiarities of
certain poets, long before I had fully grasped their general
character. What Latin vowels could or could not form elision in
Horace, Propertius, or Ovid, was a subject that cost me much labour,
and yet left very small results as far as I was personally concerned.
One clever conjecture, or one indication to show that one MS. was
dependent on the other, was rewarded with a Doctissime or
Excellentissime, but a paper on Aeschylus and his view of a divine
government of the world received but a nodding approval.

They certainly taught their pupils what accuracy meant; they gave us
the new idea that MSS. are not everything, unless their real value has
been discovered first by finding the place which they occupy in the
pedigree of the MSS. of every author. They also taught us that there
are mistakes in MSS. which are inevitable, and may safely be left to
conjectural emendation; that MSS. of modern date may be and often are
more valuable than more ancient MSS., for the simple reason that they
were copied from a still more ancient MS., and that often a badly
written and hardly legible MS. proves more helpful than others
written by a calligraphist, because it is the work of a scholar who
copied for himself and not for the market. All these things we learnt
and learnt by practical experience under Hermann and Haupt, but what
we failed to acquire was a large knowledge of Greek and Latin
literature, of the character of each author and of the spirit which
pervaded their works. I ought to have read in Latin, Cicero, Tacitus,
and Lucretius; in Greek, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle;
but as I read only portions of them, my knowledge of the men
themselves and their objects in life remained very fragmentary. For
instance, my real acquaintance with Plato and Aristotle was confined
to a few dialogues of the former and some of the logical works of the
latter. The rest I learnt from such works as Ritter and Preller’s
_Historia Philosophiae Graecae et Romanae ex fontium locis contexta_,
and from the very useful lectures of Niedner on the history of ancient
philosophy. However, I thought I had to do what my professors told me,
and shaped my reading so that they should approve of my work.

This must not be understood as in any way disparaging my teachers.
Such an idea never entered my head at the time. People have no idea in
England what kind of worship is paid by German students to their
professors. To find fault with them or to doubt their _ipse dixit_
never entered our minds. What they said of other classical scholars
from whom they differed, as Hermann did from Otfried Müller, or Haupt
from Orelli, was gospel, and remained engraved on our memory for a
long time. Once when attending Hermann’s lectures, another student who
was sitting at the same table with me made disrespectful remarks about
old Hermann. I asked him to be quiet, and when he went on with his
foolish remarks, I could only stop him by calling him out. As soon as
the challenge was accepted he had of course to be quiet, and a few
days after we fought our duel without much damage to either of us. I
only mention this because it shows what respect and admiration we felt
for our professor, also because it exemplifies the usefulness of
duelling in a German university, where after a challenge not another
word can be said or violence be threatened even by the rudest
undergraduate. A duel for a Greek conjecture may seem very absurd, but
in duels of this kind all that is wanted is really a certain knowledge
of fencing, care being taken that nothing serious shall happen. And
yet, though that is so, the feeling of a possible danger is there, and
keeps up a certain etiquette and a certain proper behaviour among men
taken from all strata of society. Nor can I quite deny that when I
went in the morning to a beautiful wood in the neighbourhood of
Leipzig, certain misgivings were difficult to suppress. I saw myself
severely wounded, possibly killed, by my antagonist, and carried to a
house where my mother and sister were looking for me. This went off
when I met the large assembly of students, beautifully attired in
their club uniforms, the beer barrels pushed up on one side, the
surgeon and his instruments waiting on the other. There were ever so
many, thirty or forty couples I think, waiting to fight their duels
that morning. Some fenced extremely well, and it was a pleasure to
look on; and when one’s own turn came, all one thought of was how to
stand one’s ground boldly, and how to fence well. Some of the
combatants came on horseback or in carriages, and there was a small
river close by to enable us to escape if the police should have heard
of our meeting. For popular as these duels are, they are forbidden and
punished, and the severest punishment seemed always to be the loss of
our uniforms, our arms, our flags, and our barrels of beer. However,
we escaped all interference this time, and enjoyed our breakfast in
the forest thoroughly, nothing happening to disturb the hilarity of
the morning.

Not being satisfied with what seemed to me a mere chewing of the cud
in Greek and Latin, I betook myself to systematic philosophy, and even
during the first terms read more of that than of Plato and Aristotle.
I belonged to the philosophical societies of Weisse, of Drobisch, and
of Lotze, a membership in each of which societies entailed a
considerable amount of reading and writing.

At Leipzig, Professor Drobisch represented the school of Herbart,
which prided itself on its clearness and logical accuracy, but was
naturally less attractive to the young spirits at the University who
had heard of Hegel’s Idea and looked to the dialectic process as the
solution of all difficulties. I wished to know what it all meant, for
I was not satisfied with mere words. There is hardly a word that has
so many meanings as Idea, and I doubt whether any of the raw recruits,
just escaped from school, and unacquainted with the history of
philosophy, could have had any idea of what Hegel’s Idea was meant
for. Yet they talked about it very eloquently and very positively over
their glasses of beer; and anybody who came from Berlin and could
speak mysteriously or rapturously about the Idea and its evolution by
the dialectic process, was listened to with silent wonder by the young
Saxons, who had been brought up on Kant and Krug. The Hegelian fever
was still very high at that time. It is true Hegel himself was dead
(1831), and though he was supposed to have declared on his deathbed
that he left only one true disciple, and that that disciple had
misunderstood him, to be a Hegelian was considered a _sine qua non_,
not only among philosophers, but quite as much among theologians, men
of science, lawyers, artists, in fact, in every branch of human
knowledge, at least in Prussia. If Christianity in its Protestant form
was the state-religion of the kingdom, Hegelianism was its
state-philosophy. Beginning with the Minister of Instruction down to
the village schoolmaster, everybody claimed to be a Hegelian, and
this was supposed to be the best road to advancement. Though
Altenstein, who was then at the head of the Ministry of Instruction,
began to waver in his allegiance to Hegel, even he could not resist
the rush of public and of official opinion. It was he who, when a new
professor of philosophy was recommended to him either by Hegel himself
or by some of his followers, is reported to have said: “Gentlemen, I
have read some of the young man’s books, and I cannot understand a
word of them. However, you are the best judges, only allow me to say
that you remind me a little of the French officer who told his tailor
to make his breeches as tight as possible, and dismissed him with the
words: ‘Enfin, si je peux y entrer, je ne les prendrai pas.’ This
seems to me very much what you say of your young philosopher. If I can
understand his books, I am not to take him.” This Hegelian fever was
very much like what we have passed through ourselves at the time of
the Darwinian fever; Darwin’s natural evolution was looked upon very
much like Hegel’s dialectic process, as the general solvent of all
difficulties. The most egregious nonsense was passed under that name,
as it was under the name of evolution. Hegel knew very well what he
meant, so did Darwin. But the empty enthusiasm of his followers became
so wild that Darwin himself, the most humble of all men, became quite
ashamed of it. The master, of course, was not responsible for the
folly of his so-called disciples, but the result was inevitable.
After the bow had been stretched to the utmost, a reaction followed,
and in the case of Hegelianism, a complete collapse. Even at Berlin
the popularity of Hegelianism came suddenly to an end, and after a
time no truly scientific man liked to be called a Hegelian. These
sudden collapses in Germany are very instructive. As long as a German
professor is at the head of affairs and can do something for his
pupils, his pupils are very loud in their encomiums, both in public
and in private. They not only exalt him, but help to belittle all who
differ from him. So it was with Hegel, so it was at a later time with
Bopp, and Curtius, and other professors, particularly if they had the
ear of the Minister of Education. But soon after the death of these
men, particularly if another influential star was rising, the change
of tone was most sudden and most surprising; even the sale of their
books dwindled down, and they were referred to only as landmarks,
showing the rapid advance made by living celebrities. Perhaps all this
cannot be helped, as long as human nature is what it is, but it is
nevertheless painful to observe.

I had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with Hegelianism through
Professor Christian Weisse at Leipzig, who, though he was considered a
Hegelian, was a very sober Hegelian, a critic quite as much as an
admirer of Hegel. He had a very small audience, because his manner of
lecturing was certainly most trying and tantalizing. But by being
brought into personal contact with him one was able to get help from
him wherever he could give it. Though Weisse was convinced of the
truth of Hegel’s Dialectic Method, he often differed from him in its
application. This Dialectic Method consisted in showing how thought is
constantly and irresistibly driven from an affirmative to a negative
position, then reconciles the two opposites, and from that point
starts afresh, repeating once more the same process. Pure being, for
instance, from which Hegel’s ideal evolution starts, was shown to be
the same as empty being, that is to say, nothing, and both were
presented as identical, and in their identity giving us the new
concept of Becoming (_Werden_), which is being and not-being at the
same time. All this may appear to the lay reader rather obscure, but
could not well be passed over.

So far Weisse followed the great thinker, and I possess still, in his
own writing, the picture of a ladder on which the intellect is
represented as climbing higher and higher from the lowest concept to
the highest—a kind of Jacob’s ladder on which the categories, like
angels of God, ascend and descend from heaven to earth. We must
remember that the true Hegelian regarded the Ideas as the thoughts of
God. Hegel looked upon this evolution of thought as at the same time
the evolution of Being, the Idea being the only thing that could be
said to be truly real. In order to understand this, we must remember
that the historical key to Hegel’s Idea was really the Neo-Platonic
or Alexandrian Logos. But of this Logos we ignorant undergraduates,
sitting at the feet of Prof. Weisse, knew absolutely nothing, and even
if the Idea was sometimes placed before us as the Absolute, the
Infinite, or the Divine, it was to us, at least to most of us, myself
included, _vox et praeterea nihil_. We watched the wonderful
evolutions and convolutions of the Idea in its Dialectic development,
but of the Idea itself or himself we had no idea whatever. It was all
darkness, a vast abyss, and we sat patiently and wrote down what we
could catch and comprehend of the Professor’s explanations, but the
Idea itself we never could lay hold of. It would not have been so
difficult if the Professor had spoken out more boldly. But whenever he
came to the relation of the Idea to what we mean by God, there was
always even with him, who was a very honest man, a certain theological
hesitation. Hegel himself seems to shrink occasionally from the
consequence that the Idea really stands in the place of God, and that
it is in the self-conscious spirit of humanity that the ideal God
becomes first conscious of himself. Still, that is the last word of
Hegel’s philosophy, though others maintain that the Idea with Hegel
was the thought of God, and that human thought was but a repetition of
that divine thought. With Hegel there is first the evolution of the
Idea in the pure ether of logic from the simplest to the highest
category. Then follows Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, that is, the
evolution of the Idea in nature, the Idea having by the usual
dialectic process negatived itself and entered into its opposite
(_Anderssein_), passing through a new process of space and time, and
ending in the self-conscious human soul. Thus nature and spirit were
represented as dominated by the Idea in its logical development.
Nature was one manifestation of the Idea, History the other, and it
became the task of the philosopher to discover its traces both in the
progress of nature and in the historical progress of thought.

And here it was where the strongest protests began to be heard.
Physical Science revolted, and Historical Research soon joined the
rebellion. Professor Weisse also, in spite of his great admiration for
Hegel, protested in his Lectures against this idealization of history,
and showed how often Hegel, if he could not find the traces he was
looking for in the historical development of the Idea, was misled by
his imperfect knowledge of facts, and discovered what was not there,
but what he felt convinced ought to have been there. Nowhere has this
become so evident as in Hegel’s _Philosophy of Religion_. The
conception was grand of seeing in the historical development of
religion a repetition of the Dialectic Progress of the Idea. But facts
are stubborn things, and do not yield even to the supreme command of
the Idea. Besides, if the historical facts of religion were really
such as the Dialectic Process of the Idea required, these facts are
no longer what they were before 1831, and what would become then of
the Idea which, as he wrote in his preface to his _Metaphysics_, could
not possibly be changed to please the new facts? It was this part of
Weisse’s lectures, it was the protest of the historical conscience
against the demands of the Idea, that interested me most. I see as
clearly the formal truth as the material untruth of Hegel’s
philosophy. The thorough excellence of its method and the desperate
baldness of its results, strike me with equal force. Though I did not
yet know what kind of thing or person the Idea was really meant for, I
knew myself enough of ancient Greek philosophy and of Oriental
religions to venture to criticize Hegel’s representation and
disposition of the facts themselves. I could not accept the answer of
my more determined Hegelian friends, _Tant pis pour les faits_, but
felt more and more the old antagonism between what ought to be and
what is, between the reasonableness of the Idea, and the
unreasonableness of facts. I found a strong supporter in a young
Privat-Docent who at that time began his brilliant career at Leipzig,
Dr. Lotze. He had made a special study of mathematics and physical
science, and felt the same disagreement between facts and theories in
Hegel’s _Philosophy of Nature_ which had struck me so much in reading
his _Philosophy of Religion_. I joined his philosophical society, and
I lately found among my old papers several essays which I had written
for our meetings. They amused me very much, but I should be sorry to
see them published now. It is curious that after many years I, as a
Delegate of the University Press at Oxford, was instrumental in
getting the first English translation of Lotze’s _Metaphysics_
published in England; and it is still more curious that Mark Pattison,
the late Rector of Lincoln, should have opposed it with might and main
as a useless book which would never pay its expenses. I stood up for
my old teacher, and I am glad to say to the honour of English
philosophers, that the translation passed through several editions,
and helped not a little to establish Lotze’s position in England and
America. He died in 1881.

It is extraordinary how the young minds in German universities survive
the storms and fogs through which they have to pass in their academic
career. I confess I myself felt quite bewildered for a time, and began
to despair altogether of my reasoning powers. Why should I not be able
to understand, I asked myself, what other people seemed to understand
without any effort? We speak the same language, why should we not be
able to think the same thought? I took refuge for a time in
history—the history of language, of religion, and of philosophy.
There was a very learned professor at Leipzig, Dr. Niedner, who
lectured on the History of Greek Philosophy, and whose _Manual for the
History of Philosophy_ has been of use to me through the whole of my
life. Socrates said of Heraclitus: “What I have understood of his
book is excellent, and I suppose therefore that even what I have not
understood is so too; but one must be a Delian swimmer not to be
drowned in it.” I tried for a long time to follow this advice with
regard to Hegel and Weisse, and though disheartened did not despair. I
understood some of it, why should not the rest follow in time? Thus, I
never gave up the study of philosophy at Leipzig and afterwards at
Berlin, and my first contributions to philosophical journals date from
that early time, when I was a student in the University of Leipzig. My
very earliest, though very unsuccessful, struggles to find an entrance
into the mysteries of philosophy date even from my school-days.

I remember some years before, when I was quite young, perhaps no more
than fifteen years of age, listening with bated breath to some
professors at Leipzig who were talking very excitedly about philosophy
in my presence. I had no idea what was meant by philosophy, still less
could I follow when they began to discuss Kant’s _Kritik der reinen
Vernunft_. One of my friends, whom I looked up to as a great
authority, confessed that he had read the book again and again, but
could not understand the whole of it. My curiosity was much excited,
and once, while he was taking a walk with me, I asked him very timidly
what Kant’s book was about, and how a man could write a book that
other men could not understand. He tried to explain what Kant’s book
was about, but it was all perfect darkness before my eyes; I was
trying to lay hold of a word here and there, but it all floated before
my mind like mist, without a single ray of light, without any way out
of all that maze of words. But when at last he said he would lend me
the book, I fell on it and pored over it hour after hour. The result
was the same. My little brain could not take in the simplest ideas of
the first chapters—that space and time were nothing by themselves;
that we ourselves gave the form of space and time to what was given us
by the senses. But though defeated I would not give in; I tried again
and again, but of course it was all in vain. The words were here and I
could construe them, but there was nothing in my mind which the words
could have laid hold on. It was like rain on hard soil, it all ran
off, or remained standing in puddles and muddles on my poor brain.

At last I gave it up in despair, but I had fully made up my mind that
as soon as I went to the University I would find out what philosophy
really was, and what Kant meant by saying that space and time were
forms of our sensuous intuition. I see that, accordingly, in the
summer of 1841, I attended lectures on Aesthetics by Professor Weisse,
on Anthropology by Lotze, and on Psychology by Professor Heinroth, and
I slowly learnt to distinguish between what was going on within me,
and what I had been led to imagine existed outside me, or at least
quite independent of me. But before I had got a firm grasp of Kant,
of his forms of intuition, and the categories of the understanding, I
was thrown into Hegelianism. This, too, was at first entire darkness,
but I was not disheartened. I attended Professor Weisse’s lectures on
Hegel in the winter of 1841-2, and again in the winter of 1842-3 I
attended his lectures on Logic and Metaphysics, and on the Philosophy
of History. He took an interest in me, and I felt most strongly
attracted by him. Soon after I joined his Philosophical Society, and
likewise that of Professor Drobisch. In these societies every member,
when his turn came, had to write an essay and defend it against the
professor and the other members of the society. All this was very
helpful, but it was not till I had heard a course of lectures on the
History of Philosophy, by Professor Niedner, that my interest in
Philosophy became strong and healthy. While Weisse was a leading
Hegelian philosopher, and Drobisch represented the opposite philosophy
of Herbart, Niedner was purely historical, and this appealed most to
my taste. Still, my philosophical studies remained very disjointed. At
last I was admitted to Lotze’s Philosophical Society also, and here we
chiefly read and discussed Kant’s _Kritik_. Lotze was then quite a
young man, undecided as yet himself between physical science and pure

Weisse was certainly the most stirring lecturer, but his delivery was
fearful. He did not read his lectures, as many professors did, but
would deliver them _extempore_. He had no command of language, and
there was a pause after almost every sentence. He was really thinking
out the problem while he was lecturing; he was constantly repeating
his sentences, and any new thought that crossed his mind would carry
him miles away from his subject. It happened sometimes in these
rhapsodies that he contradicted himself, but when I walked home with
him after his lecture to a village near Leipzig where he lived, he
would readily explain how it happened, how he meant something quite
different from what he had said, or what I had understood. In fact he
would give the whole lecture over again, only much more freely and
more intelligibly. I was fully convinced at that time that Hegel’s
philosophy was the final solution of all problems; I only hesitated
about his philosophy of history as applied to the history of religion.
I could not bring myself to admit that the history of religion, nor
even the history of philosophy as we know it from Thales to Kant, was
really running side by side with his Logic, showing how the leading
concepts of the human mind, as elaborated in the Logic, had found
successive expression in the history and development of the schools of
philosophy as known to us. Weisse was strong both in his analysis of
concepts and in his knowledge of history, and though he taught Hegel
as a faithful interpreter, he always warned us against trusting too
much in the parallelism between Logic and History. Study the writings
of the good philosophers, he would say, and then see whether they will
or will not fit into the Procrustean bed of Hegel’s Logic. And this
was the best lesson he could have given to young men. How well founded
and necessary the warning was I found out myself, the more I studied
the religion and philosophies of the East, and then compared what I
saw in the original documents with the account given by Hegel in his
_Philosophy of Religion_. It is quite true that Hegel at the time when
he wrote, could not have gained a direct or accurate knowledge of the
principal religions of the East. But what I could not help seeing was
that what Hegel represented as the necessity in the growth of
religious thought, was far away from the real growth, as I had watched
it in some of the sacred books of these religions. This shook my
belief in the correctness of Hegel’s fundamental principles more than
anything else.

At that time Herbart’s philosophy, as taught by Drobisch at Leipzig,
came to me as a most useful antidote. The chief object of that
philosophy is, as is well known, the analysing and clearing, so to
speak, of our concepts. This was exactly what I wanted, only that
occupied as I was with the problems of language, I at once translated
the object of his philosophy into a definition of words. Henceforth
the object of my own philosophical occupations was the accurate
definition of every word. All words, such as reason, pure reason,
mind, thought, were carefully taken to pieces and traced back, if
possible, to their first birth, and then through their further
developments. My interest in this analytical process soon took an
historical, that is etymological, character in so far as I tried to
find out why any words should now mean exactly what, according to our
definition, they ought to mean. For instance, in examining such words
as _Vernunft_ or _Verstand_, a little historical retrospect showed
that their distinction as reason and understanding was quite modern,
and chiefly due to a scientific definition given and maintained by the
Kantian school of philosophy. Of course every generation has a right
to define its philosophical terms, but from an historical point of
view Kant might have used with equal right _Vernunft_ for _Verstand_,
and _Verstand_ for _Vernunft_. Etymologically or historically both
words have much the same meaning. _Vernunft_, from _Vernehmen_, meant
originally no more than perception, while _Verstand_ meant likewise
perception, but soon came to imply a kind of understanding, even a
kind of technical knowledge, though from a purely etymological
standpoint it had nothing that fitted it more for carrying the
meaning, which is now assigned to it in German in distinction to
_Vernunft_, than understanding had as distinguished from reason. It
requires, of course, a very minute historical research to trace the
steps by which such words as reason and understanding diverge in
different directions, in the language of the people and in
philosophical parlance. This teaches us a very important distinction,
namely that between the popular development of the meaning of a word,
and its meaning as defined and asserted by a philosopher or by a poet
in the plenitude of his power. Etymological definition is very useful
for the first stages in the history of a word. It is useful to know,
for instance, that _deus_, God, meant originally bright, bright
whether applied to sky, sun, moon, stars, dawn, morning, dayspring,
spring of the year, and many other bright objects in nature, that it
thus assumed a meaning common to them all, splendid, or heavenly,
beneficent, powerful, so that when in the Veda already we find a
number of heavenly bodies, or of terrestrial bodies, or even of
periods of time called Devas, this word has assumed a more general,
more comprehensive, and more exalted meaning. It did not yet mean what
the Greeks called θεοἱ or gods, but it meant something common to all
these θεοἱ, and thus could naturally rise to express what the Greeks
wanted to express by that word. There was as yet no necessity for
defining deva or θεὁς, when applied to what was meant by gods, but of
course the most opposite meanings had clustered round it. While a
philosophical Greek would maintain that θεὁς meant what was one and
never many, a poetical Greek or an ordinary Greek would hold that it
meant what was by nature many. But while in such a case philosophical
analysis and historical genealogy would support each other, there are
ever so many cases where etymological analysis is as hopeless as
logical analysis. Who is to define _romantic_, in such expressions as
romantic literature. Etymologically we know that romantic goes back
finally to Rome, but the mass of incongruous meanings that have been
thrown at random into the caldron of that word, is so great that no
definition could be contrived to comprehend them all. And how should
we define _Gothic_ or _Romanic_ architecture, remembering that as no
Goths had anything to do with pointed arches, neither were any Romans
responsible for the flat roofs of the German churches of the Saxon

Enough to show what I meant when I said that Professor Drobisch, in
his Lectures on Herbart, gave one great encouragement in the special
work in which I was already engaged as a mere student, the Science of
Language and Etymology. If Herbart declared philosophy to consist in a
thorough examination (_Bearbeitung_) of concepts, or conceptual
knowledge, my answer was, Only let it be historical, nay, in the
beginning, etymological; I was not so foolish as to imagine that a
word as used at present, meant what it meant etymologically. _Deus_ no
longer meant brilliant, but it should be the object of the true
historian of language to prove how _Deus_, having meant originally
brilliant, came to mean what it means now.

For a time I thought of becoming a philosopher, and that sounded so
grand that the idea of preparing for a mere schoolmaster, teaching
Greek and Latin, seemed to me more and more too narrow a sphere. Soon,
however, while dreaming of a chair of philosophy at a German
University, I began to feel that I must know something special,
something that no other philosopher knew, and that induced me to learn
Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian. I had only heard what we call in German
the chiming, not the striking of the bells of Indian philosophy; I had
read Frederick Schlegel’s explanatory book _Über die Sprache und
Weisheit der Indier_ (1808), and looked into Windischmann’s _Die
Philosophie im Fortgange der Weltgeschichte_ (1827-1834). These books
are hardly opened now—they are antiquated, and more than antiquated;
they are full of mistakes as to facts, and mistakes as to the
conclusions drawn from them. But they had ushered new ideas into the
world of thought, and they left on many, as they did on me, that
feeling which the digger who prospects for minerals is said to have,
that there must be gold beneath the surface, if people would only dig.
That feeling was very vague as yet, and might have been entirely
deceptive, nor did I see my way to go beyond the point reached by
these two dreamers or explorers. The thought remained in the
rubbish-chamber of my mind, and though forgotten at the time, broke
forth again when there was an opportunity. It was a fortunate
coincidence that at that very time, in the winter of 1841, a new
professorship was founded at Leipzig and given to Professor Brockhaus.
Uncertain as I was about the course I had to follow in my studies, I
determined to see what there was to be learnt in Sanskrit. There was a
charm in the unknown, and, I must confess, a charm also in studying
something which my friends and fellow students did not know. I called
on Professor Brockhaus, and found that there were only two other
students to attend his lectures, one Spiegel, who already knew the
elements of Sanskrit, and who is still alive in Erlangen,[9] as a
famous professor of Sanskrit and Zend, though no longer lecturing, and
another, Klengel; both several years my seniors, but both extremely
amiable to their younger fellow student. Klengel was a scholar, a
philosopher, and a musician, and though after a term or two he had to
give up his study of Sanskrit, he was very useful to me by his good
advice. He encouraged me and praised me for my progress in Sanskrit,
which was no doubt more rapid than his own, and he confirmed me in my
conviction that something might be made of Sanskrit by the philologist
and by the philosopher. It should not be forgotten that at that time
there was a strong prejudice against Sanskrit among classical
scholars. The number of men who stood up for it, though it included
names such as W. von Humboldt, F. and A. W. von Schlegel, was still
very small. Even Herder’s and Goethe’s prophetic words produced
little effect. It is said that when the Government had been persuaded,
chiefly by the two Humboldts, to found a chair of Sanskrit at the
University of Würzburg, and had nominated Bopp as its first occupant,
the philological faculty of the University protested against such a
desecration, and the appointment fell through. It is true, no doubt,
that in their first enthusiasm the students of Sanskrit had uttered
many exaggerated opinions. Sanskrit was represented as the mother of
all languages, instead of being the elder sister of the Aryan family.
The beginning of all language, of all thought, of all religion was
traced back to India, and when Greek scholars were told that Zeus
existed in the Veda under the name of Dyaus, there was a great flutter
in the dovecots of classical scholarship. Many of these enthusiastic
utterances had afterwards to be toned down. How we did enjoy those
enthusiastic days, which even in their exaggerated hopes were not
without some use. Problems such as the beginning of language, of
thought, of mythology and religion, were started with youthful hope
that the Veda would solve them all, as if the Vedic Rishis had been
present at the first outburst of roots, of concepts, nay, that like
Pelops and other descendants of Zeus, those Vedic poets had enjoyed
daily intercourse with the gods, and had been present at the
mutilation of Ouranos, or at the over-eating of Kronos. We may be
ashamed to-day of some of the dreams of the early spring of man’s
sojourn on earth, but they were enchanting dreams, and all our
thoughts of man’s nature and destiny on earth were tinged with the
colours of a morning that threw light over the grey darkness which
preceded it. It was delightful to see that Dyaus meant originally the
bright sky, something actually seen, but something that had to become
something unseen. All knowledge, whether individual or possessed by
mankind at large, must have begun with what the senses can perceive,
before it could rise to signify something unperceived by the senses.
Only after the blue aether had been perceived and named, was it
possible to conceive and speak of the sky as active, as an agent, as a
god. Dyaus or Zeus might thus be called the most sublime, he who
resides in the aether, αἰθἑρι ναἱων ὑψἱζυγος, the heavenly one, or
οὐρἁνιος ὕπατος and ὕψιστος, the highest, and at last _Iupiter Optimus
Maximus_, a name applied even to the true God. When Zeus had once
become like the sky, all seeing or omniscient (ἐπὁψιος), would he not
naturally be supposed to see, not only the good, but the evil deeds of
men also, nay, their very thoughts, whether pure or criminal? And if
so, would he not be the avenger of evil, the watcher of oaths
(ὅρκιος), the protector of the helpless (ἱκἑσιος)? Yet, if conceived,
as for a long time all the gods were conceived and could only be
conceived, namely, as human in their shape, should we not necessarily
get that strange amalgamation of a human being doing superhuman
work—hurling the thunderbolt, shouting in thunder, hidden by dark
clouds, and smiling in the serene blue of the sky with its brilliant
scintillations? All this and much more became perfectly intelligible,
the step from the visible to the invisible, from the perceived to the
conceived, from nature to nature’s gods, and from nature’s god to a
more sublime unseen and spiritual power. All this seemed to pass
before our very eyes in the Veda, and then to be reflected in Homer
and Pindar.

  [9] Herr Geheimrath von Spiegel now lives at Munich.

Some details of this restored picture of the world of gods and men in
early times, nay, in the very spring of time, may have to be altered,
but the picture, the eidyllion remained, and nothing could curb the
adventurous spirit and keep it from pushing forward and trying to do
what seemed to others almost impossible, namely, to watch the growth
of the human mind as reflected in the petrifactions of language.
Language itself spoke to us with a different voice, and a formerly
unsuspected meaning.

We knew, for instance, that _ewig_ meant eternal, but whence eternal.
Nothing eternal was ever seen, and it seemed to the philosopher that
eternal could be expressed by a negation only, by a negation of what
was temporary. But we now learnt that _ewig_ was derived in word and
therefore in thought from the Gothic _aiwar_, time. _Ewigkeit_ was
therefore originally time, and “for all time” came naturally to mean
“for all eternity.” Eternity also came from _aeternus_, that is
_aeviternus_, for time, i. e. for all time, and thus for eternity,
while _aevum_ meant life, lifetime, age. But now came the question, if
_aevum_ shows the growth of this word, and its origin, and how it
arrives in the end at the very opposite pole, life and time coming to
mean eternity, could we not by the same process discover the origin
and growth of such short Greek words as ἀεἱ and aἰeἱ? It seems almost
impossible, yet remembering that _aevum_ meant originally life, we
find in Vedic Sanskrit _eva_, course, way, life, the same as _aevum_,
while the Sanskrit _âyush_, likewise derived from _i_, to go, forms
its locative _âyushi_. _Âyushi_, or originally _âyasi_, would mean “in
life, in time,” and turned into Greek would regularly become then
aἰeἱ, lifelong, or ever. It was not difficult to find fault with this
and other etymologies, and to ask for an explanation of αἰἑν and αἰἑς,
as derived from the same word _âyus_. It is curious that people will
not see that etymologies, and particularly the gradual development in
the form and meaning of words, can hardly ever be a matter of
mathematical certainty.

Historical, nay, even individual, influences come in which prevent the
science of language from becoming purely mechanical. Pott, and
Curtius, and others stood up against Bopp and Grimm, maintaining that
there could be nothing irregular in language, particularly in phonetic
changes. If this means no more than that under the same circumstances
the same changes will always take place, it would be of course a mere
truism. The question is only whether we can ever know all the
circumstances, and whether there are not some of these circumstances
which cause what we are apt to call irregularities. When Bopp said
that Sanskrit _d_ corresponds to a Greek δ, but often also to a Greek
θ, I doubt whether this is often the case. All I say is, if _deva_
corresponds to θεὁς, we must try to find the reason or the
circumstances which caused so unusual a correspondence. If no more is
meant than that there must be a reason for all that seems irregular,
no one would gainsay that, neither Bopp nor Grimm, and no one ever
doubted that as a principle. But to establish these reasons is the
very difficulty with which the Science of Language has to deal.

There is no word that has not an etymology, only if we consider the
distance of time that separates us from the historical facts we are
trying to account for, we should sometimes be satisfied with
probabilities and not always stipulate for absolute certainty. Many of
Bopp’s, Grimm’s, and Pott’s etymologies have had to be surrendered,
and yet our suzerainty over that distant country which they conquered,
over the Aryan home, remains. If there is an etymology containing
something irregular, and for which no reason has as yet been found, we
must wait till some better etymology can be suggested, or a reason be
found for that apparent irregularity. If the etymological meaning of
_duhitar_, daughter, as milkmaid, is doubted, let us have a better
explanation, not a worse; but the general picture of the early family
among the Aryans “somewhere in Asia” is not thereby destroyed. The
father, Sk. _pitar_, remains the protector or nourisher, though the
_i_ for _a_ in _pater_ and πατἡρ is irregular. The mother, _mâtar_,
remains the bearer of children, though _mâ_ is no longer used in that
sense in any of the Aryan languages. _Pati_ is the lord, the strong
one—therefore the husband; _vadhû_, the yoke-fellow, or the wife as
brought home, possibly as carried off by force. _Vis_ or _vesa_ is the
home, οἰκος or _vicus_, what was entered for shelter. _Svasura_,
ἑκυρὁς, _Socer_, the father-in-law, is the old man of the _svas_, the
_famuli_, or the family, or the clients, though the first _s_ is
irregular, and can be defended only on the ground of mistaken analogy.
_Bhrâtar_, _frater_, brother, was the supporter; _svastar_, _soror_,
sister, the comforter, &c.

What do a few objections signify? The whole picture remains, as if we
could look into the _vesa_, the οἰκος the _veih_, the home, the
village of the ancient Aryans, and watch them, the _svas_, the people,
in their mutual relations. Even compound words, such as _vis-pati_,
lord of a family or a village, have been preserved to the present day
in the Lithuanian _Veszpats_, lord, whether King or God. It is enough
for us to see that the relationship between husband and wife, between
parents and children, between brothers and sisters, nay, even between
children-in-law and parents-in-law, had been recognized and sanctified
by names. That there are, and always will be, doubts and slight
differences of opinion on these prehistoric thoughts and words, is
easily understood. We were pleased for a long time to see in _vidua_,
widow, the Sanskrit _vidua_, i. e. without a man or a husband. We now
derive _vi-dhavâ_, widow, from _vidh_, to be separated, to be without
(cf. _vido_ in _divido_, and Sk. _vidh_), but the picture of the Aryan
family remains much the same.

When these and similar antiquities were for the first time brought to
light by Bopp, Grimm, and Pott, what wonder that we young men should
have jumped at them, and shouted with delight, more even than the
diggers who dug up Babylonian palaces or Egyptian temples! No one did
more for these antiquarian finds and restorations than A. Kuhn, a
simple schoolmaster, but afterwards a most distinguished member of the
Berlin Academy. How often did I sit with him in his study as he
worked, surrounded by his Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit books. In later
times also, when I had made some discoveries myself as to the
mythological names or beings identical in Vedic and Greek writings,
how pleasant was it to see him rub his hands or shake his head. Long
before I had published my identifications they were submitted to him,
and he communicated to me his own guesses as I communicated mine to
him. Kuhn would never appropriate what belonged to anybody else, and
even in cases where we agreed, he would always make it clear that we
had both arrived independently at the same result.

It is in the nature of things that every new generation of scholars
should perfect their tools, and with these discover flaws in the work
left by their predecessors. Still, what is the refined chiselling of
later scholars compared with the rough-hewn stones of men like Bopp or
Grimm? If the Cyclopean stones of the Pelasgians are not like the
finished works of art by Phidias, what would the Parthenon be without
the walls ascribed to the Cyclops? It is the same in all sciences, and
we must try to be just, both to the genius of those who created, and
to the diligence of those who polished and refined.

For all this, however, I met with but small sympathy and encouragement
at Leipzig; nay, I had to be very careful in uttering what were
supposed to be heretical or unscholarlike opinions in the seminary of
Gottfried Hermann, or in the Latin society of Haupt. The latter
particularly, though he knew very well how much light had been spread
on the growth of language by the researches of Bopp, Grimm, and Pott,
and though Grimm was his intimate friend of whom he always spoke with
real veneration, could not bear his own pupils dabbling in this
subject. And of course at that time my knowledge of comparative
philology was a mere dabbling. If he could discover a false quantity
in any etymology, great was his delight, and his sarcasm truly
withering, particularly as it was poured out in very classical Latin.
Gottfried Hermann was a different character. He saw there was a new
light and he would not turn his back to it. He knew how lightly his
antagonist, Otfried Müller, valued Sanskrit in his mythological
essays, and he set to work, and in one of his last academical programs
actually gave the paradigms of Sanskrit verbs as compared with those
of Greek. He saw that the coincidences between the two could not be
casual, and if they were so overwhelming in the mere termination of
verbs, what might we not expect in words and names, even in
mythological names? He by no means discouraged me, nay, he was sorry
to lose me, when in my third year I went to Berlin. He showed me great
kindness on several occasions, and when the time came to take my
degree of M.A. and Ph.D., he, as Dean of the Faculty, invited me to
return to Leipzig, offering me an exhibition to cover the expenses of
the Degree.

  [Illustration: F. MAX MÜLLER _Aged Twenty_]

My wish to go to Berlin arose partly from a desire to hear Bopp, but
yet more from a desire to make the acquaintance of Schelling. My
inclination towards philosophy had become stronger and stronger; I had
my own ideas about the mythological as a necessary form of ancient
philosophy, and when I saw that the old philosopher had advertised his
lectures or lecture on mythology, I could not resist, and went to
Berlin in 1844. I must say at once that Professor Bopp, though he was
extremely kind to me, was at that time, if not old—he was only
fifty-three—very infirm. In his lectures he simply read his
_Comparative Grammar_ with a magnifying glass, and added very little
that was new. He lent me some manuscripts which he had copied in Latin
in his younger days, but I could not get much help from him when I
came to really difficult passages. This, I confess, puzzled me at the
time, for I looked on every professor as omniscient. The time comes,
however, when we learn that even at fifty-three a man may have
forgotten certain things, nay, may have let many books and new
discoveries even in his own subject pass by, because he has plenty to
do with his own particular studies. We remember the old story of the
professor who, when charged by a young and rather impertinent student
with not knowing this or that, replied: “Sir, I have forgotten more
than you ever knew.” And so it is indeed. Human nature and human
memory are very strong during youth and manhood, but even at fifty
there is with many people a certain decline of mental vigour that
tells chiefly on the memory. Things are not exactly forgotten, but
they do not turn up at the right time. They just leave a certain
knowledge of where the missing information can be found; they leave
also a kind of feeling that the ground is not quite safe and that we
must no longer trust entirely to our memory. In one respect this
feeling is very useful, for instead of writing down anything, trusting
to our memory as we used to do, we feel it necessary to verify many
things which formerly were perfectly clear and certain in our memory
without such reference to books.

I remember being struck with the same thing in the case of Professor
Wilson, the well-known Oxford Professor of Sanskrit. He was kind
enough to read with me, and I certainly was often puzzled, not only by
what he knew, but also by what he had forgotten. I feel now that I
misjudged him, and that his open declaration, “I don’t know, let us
look it up,” really did him great honour. I still have in my
possession a portion of Pânini’s Vedic grammar translated by him. I
put by the side of it my own translation, and he openly acknowledged
that mine, with the passages taken from the Veda, was right. There was
no humbug about Wilson. He never posed as a scholar; nay, I remember
his saying to me more than once, “You see, I am not a scholar, I am a
gentleman who likes Sanskrit, and that is all.” He certainly did like
Sanskrit, and he knew it better than many a professor, but in his own
way. He had enjoyed the assistance of really learned Pandits, and he
never forgot to record their services. But he had himself cleared the
ground—he had really done original work. In fact, he had done nothing
but original work, and then he was abused for not having always found
at the first trial what others discovered when standing on his
shoulders. Again, he was found fault with for not having had a
classical education. His education was, I believe, medical, but when
once in the Indian Civil Service, he made himself useful in many ways,
educational and otherwise. When he left India he was Master of the
Mint. Such a man might not know Greek and Latin like F. A. von
Schlegel, or any other professor, but he knew his own subject, and it
is simply absurd if classical scholars imagine that anybody can carry
on his Greek and Latin and at the same time make himself a perfect
scholar in Sanskrit. Such a feeling is natural among small
schoolmasters, but it is dying out at last among real scholars. I have
known very good Sanskrit scholars who knew no Greek at all, and very
little Latin. And I have also known Greek scholars who knew no
Sanskrit and yet attempted comparisons between the two. When Lepsius
was made a Member of the Berlin Academy, Lachmann, who ought to have
known better, used to say of him: “He knows many things which nobody
knows, but he also is ignorant of many things which everybody knows.”
Such remarks never speak well for the man who makes them.

Another disadvantage from which the aged scholar suffers is that he is
blamed for not having known in his youth what has been discovered in
his old age, and is still violently assailed for opinions he may have
uttered fifty years ago. When quite a young man I wrote, at Baron
Bunsen’s request, a long letter on the Turanian Languages. It was
published in 1854, but it still continues to be criticized as if it
had been published last year. Of course, considering the rapid advance
of linguistic studies, a great part of that letter became antiquated
long ago; but at the time of its first appearance it contained nearly
all that could then be known on these allophylian, that is, non-Aryan
and non-Semitic languages; and I may, perhaps, quote the opinion of
Professor Pott, no mean authority at that time, who, after severely
criticizing my letter, declared that it belonged to the most important
publications that had appeared on linguistic subjects for many years.
And yet, though I have again and again protested that I could not
possibly have known in 1854 what has been discovered since as to a
number of these Turanian languages, everybody who writes on any of
them seems to be most anxious to show that in 1894 he knows more than
I did in 1854. No astronomer is blamed for not having known the planet
Neptune before its discovery in 1846, or for having been wrong in
accounting for the irregularities of Saturn. But let that pass; I only
share the fate of others who have lived too long.

After all, all our knowledge, whatever show we may make of it, is very
imperfect, and the more we know the better we learn how little it is
that we do know, and how much of unexplored country there is beyond
the country which we have explored. We must judge a man by what he has
done—by his own original work. There are many scholars, and very
useful they are in their own way, but if their books are examined, one
easily finds the stores from which they borrowed their materials. They
may add some notes of their own and even some corrections,
particularly corrections of the authors from whom they have borrowed
most; but at the end where is the fresh ore that they have raised;
where is the gold they have extracted and coined? There are cases
where the original worker is quite forgotten, whereas the retailers
flourish. Well, facts are facts, whether known or not known, and the
triumphal chariot of truth has to be dragged along by many hands and
many shoulders.



My stay in Paris from March, 1845, to June, 1846, was a very useful
intermezzo. It opened my mind and showed me a new world; showed me, in
fact, that there was a world besides Germany, though even of Germany
and German society I had seen as yet very little. I had been working
away at school and university, but with the exception of my short stay
in Berlin, I had little experience of men and manners outside the
small sphere of Dessau and Leipzig.

I had been at Berlin some nine months when, in December, 1844, my old
friend Baron Hagedorn came to see me, and invited me to spend some
time with him in Paris. He had his own apartments there, and promised
to look after me. At the same time my cousin, Baroness Stolzenberg,
whom I have mentioned before as wishing me to enter the Austrian
diplomatic service, offered to send me to England at her expense as a
teacher. I hesitated for some days between these two offers. I knew
that my own patrimony had been nearly spent at Leipzig and Berlin, and
the time had come for me to begin to support myself; and how was I to
do that in Paris? On the other hand, I had long felt that for
continuing my Sanskrit studies a stay in Paris, and later perhaps in
London also, was indispensable. I had also to consider the feelings of
my mother, whose whole heart was absorbed in her only son. However,
Sanskrit, and my love of an independent life won the day, and I
decided to accept Hagedorn’s proposal. My mind once made up, I wanted
to be off at once, but Hagedorn could not fix the exact time when he
would be free to leave, and told me to keep myself in readiness to
start whenever he found himself free to go. I accordingly went to stay
with my mother and my married sister at Chemnitz, and indulged in
idleness and the unwonted dissipations of parties, dances, and long
skating expeditions. At last, feeling I could not afford to wait any
longer, I went off to Dessau to see Hagedorn, and found to my great
disappointment that he was detained by important legal business in
connection with his property near Munich, and could not yet fix a date
for his departure. So it was settled that I was to go on to Paris
without him, and instal myself in his apartment, 25, Rue Royale St.

I got my passport wherein I was carefully described with all my
particular marks, and started off on my foreign travels. At first all
went well. I stopped a few days at Bonn, and again at Brussels, where
I had my first experience of hearing a foreign language spoken round
me, and found that my French was sadly deficient. But from Brussels
on, my experiences were anything but agreeable. The journey to Paris
took twenty-four hours, and we travelled day and night without any
stop for meals. Most of the passengers were well provided with food
and wine, but had it not been for the kindness of some old ladies, my
fellow-travellers, I should really have starved. When we crossed the
frontier the luggage of all passengers was carefully examined. But the
_douanier_, in trying to open my portmanteau, broke the lock, and then
began a fearful cursing and swearing. I was perfectly helpless. I
could hardly understand what the French _douaniers_ said, still less
make them understand what I had to say. They had done the damage, but
would do nothing to remedy it. The train would not wait, and I should
certainly have been left behind if the other travellers had not taken
my part, and I was allowed to go on to Paris. I looked a mere boy,
very harmless, not at all the clever smuggler the officials took me to
be. If they had forced the portmanteau open they would have found
nothing but the most essential wearing apparel and a few books and
papers all in Sanskrit.

But my miseries were not yet over, on the contrary, they became much
worse. On my arrival in Paris I got a _fiacre_ and told the man to
drive to 25, Rue St. Honoré; _Royale_ I considered of no importance;
but, alas! at the right number of the Rue St. Honoré, the _concierge_
stared at me, telling me that no Baron Hagedorn lived there. Try
Faubourg St. Honoré, they said, but here the same thing happened. And
all this was on a rainy afternoon, I being tired out with travelling
and fasting, and perfectly overwhelmed by the immensity of Paris. I
knew nobody at Paris, having trusted for all such things to Baron
Hagedorn, in fact I was _au désespoir_. Then as I was driving along
the Boulevard des Italiens, looking out of window, I saw a familiar
figure—a little hunchback whom I had known at Dessau, where he
studied music under Schneider. It was M. Gathy, a man well known by
his musical writings, particularly his _Dictionary of Music_. I
shrieked Gathy! Gathy! and he was as much surprised when he recognized
the little boy from Dessau, as I was when in this vast Paris I
discovered at last a face which I knew. I jumped out of my carriage,
told Gathy all that had happened to me, being all the time between
complete despair and perfect delight. He knew Hagedorn and his rooms
very well. It was the Rue Royale St. Honoré. The _concierge_ was quite
prepared for my arrival, and took us both to the rooms which were _au
cinquième_, but large and extremely well furnished. I was so tired
that I lay down on the sofa, and called out in my best French,
_Donnez-moi quelque chose à manger et à boire_. This was not so easily
done as said, but at last, after toiling up and down five flights of
stairs, he brought me what I wanted; I restored myself in the true
sense of the word, and then began to discuss the most necessary
matters with M. Gathy. He was the most charming of men, half German,
half French, full of _esprit_, and, what was more important to me,
full of real kindness and love. As soon as I saw him I felt I was
safe, and so I was, though I had still some battles to fight. First of
all, I had taken but little money with me, looking upon Hagedorn as my
banker. Fortunately I remembered the name of one of his friends, about
whom Hagedorn had often spoken to me and who was in Rothschild’s Bank.
I went there to find that he was away, but another gentleman there
told me that I could have as much as I liked till Hagedorn or his
friend came back. So I was lucky, unlucky as I had been before.

The next step I had to consider was what I should do for my breakfast,
luncheon, and dinner. Breakfast I could have at home, but for the
other meals I had to go out and get what I wanted wherever I could. It
was not always what I wanted, for it had to be cheap, and even a
dinner _à deux francs_ in the Palais Royal seemed to me extravagant. I
became more knowing by-and-by, and discovered smaller and simpler
restaurants, where Frenchmen dined and had arranged for a less showy
but more wholesome diet.

The impression that my first experience of life in one of the great
capitals of the world made on me is still fresh in my memory. My
principal amusement at first was to go on voyages of discovery through
the town. The beauty of the city itself, and the rush and crowd in
the streets delighted me, and I remember specially a few days after my
arrival, when I went to watch “le tout Paris” going out to the races
at Longchamps, that I was so struck by the difference between these
streets full of equipages of all sorts, ladies in resplendent dresses,
and well-groomed gentlemen, and the quiet streets that I had been
accustomed to in Dessau and Leipzig, that I could hardly keep myself
from laughing out loud. However, when the novelty wore off there was
another contrast that struck me, and made me more inclined to cry this
time than to laugh, and that was, that while at home I knew almost
every face I passed, here in these crowds I was a stranger and knew no
one, and I suffered cruelly from the solitude at first.

I began my work, however, at once, and on the third day after my
arrival I was at the Bibliothèque Royale armed with a letter of
introduction from Humboldt, and the very next day was already at work
collating the MSS. of the _Kathaka Upanishad_. I had also to devote
some hours daily to the study of French; for, much as I grudged these
hours, I fully realized that in order to get full advantage from my
stay in Paris, I must first master French.

Next came the great question, how to make the acquaintance of Burnouf.
I did not know the world. I did not know whether I should write to him
first, in what language, and to what address. I knew Burnouf from his
books, and I felt a desperate respect for him. After a time Gathy
discovered his address for me, and I summoned up courage to call on
him. My French was very poor as yet, but I walked in and found a dear
old gentleman in his _robe de chambre_, surrounded by his books and
his children—four little daughters who were evidently helping him in
collecting and alphabetically arranging a number of slips on which he
had jotted down whatever had struck him as important in his reading
during the day. He received me with great civility, such as I had not
been accustomed to before. He spoke of some little book which I had
published, and inquired warmly after my teachers in Germany, such as
Brockhaus, Bopp, and Lassen. He told me I might attend his lectures in
the Collège de France, and he would always be most happy to give me
advice and help.

I at once felt perfect trust in the man, and was really _aux cieux_ to
have found such an adviser. He was, indeed, a fine specimen of the
real French savant. He was small, and his face was decidedly German,
with the _tête carrée_ which one sees so often in Germany, only
lighted up by a constant sparkle, which is distinctively French. I
must have seemed very stupid to him when I tried to explain to him
what I really wanted to do in Paris. He told me himself afterwards
that he could not make me out at first. I wanted to study the Veda,
but I had told him at the same time that I thought the Vedic hymns
very stupid, and that I cared chiefly for their philosophy, that is,
the Upanishads. This was really not true, but it came up first in
conversation, and I thought it would show Burnouf that my interest in
the Veda was not simply philological, but philosophical also. No doubt
at first I chiefly copied the Upanishads and their commentaries, but
Burnouf was not pleased. “We know what is in the Upanishads,” he used
to say, “but we want the hymns and their native comments.” I soon came
to understand what he meant; I carefully attended his lectures, which
were on the hymns of the Rig-veda and opened an entirely new world to
my mind. We had the first book of the Rig-veda as published by Rosen,
and Burnouf’s explanations were certainly delightful. He spoke freely
and conversationally in his lectures, and one could almost assist at
the elaboration of his thoughts. His audience was certainly small;
there was nothing like Renan’s eloquence and wit. But Burnouf had ever
so many new facts to communicate to us. He explained to us his own
researches, he showed us new MSS. which he had received from India, in
fact he did all he could to make us fellow workers. Often did he tell
us to look up some passage in the Veda, to compare and copy the
commentaries, and to let him have the result of our researches at the
next lecture. All this was very inspiriting, particularly as Burnouf,
upon examining our work, was very generous in his approval, and quite
ready, if we had failed, to point out to us new sources that should
be examined. He never asserted his own authority, and if ever we had
found out something which he had not known before, he was delighted to
let us have the full credit for it. After all, it was a new and
unknown country, that had to be explored and mapped out, and even a
novice might sometimes find a grain of gold.

His select class contained some good men. There were Barthélemy St.
Hilaire, the famous translator of Aristotle, and for a time Minister
of Foreign Affairs in France, the Abbé Bardelli, R. Roth, Th.
Goldstücker, and a few more.

Barthélemy St. Hilaire was a personal friend of Burnouf, and came to
the Collège de France not so much to learn Sanskrit as to hear
Burnouf’s lucid exposition of ancient Indian religion and philosophy.
Bardelli was a regular Italian Abbé, studying Sanskrit at Paris, but
chiefly interested in Coptic. He was, like St. Hilaire, much my
senior, but we became great friends, and he once confided to me what
had certainly puzzled me—his reasons for becoming an ecclesiastic. He
had been deeply in love with a young lady; his love was returned, but
he was too poor to marry, and she was persuaded and almost forced to
marry a rich man. Dear old Abbé, always taking snuff while he told me
his agonies, and then finishing up by saying that he became a priest
so as to put an end for ever to his passion. Who would have suspected
such a background to his jovial face? I don’t know how it was that
people, much my seniors, so often confided to me their secret
sufferings. I may have to mention some other cases, and I feel that
after my friends are gone, and so many years have passed over their
graves, there is no indiscretion in speaking of their confidences. It
may possibly teach us to remember how much often lies buried under a
grave bright with flowers. I saw Bardelli’s own grave many years later
in the famous cemetery at Pisa. R. Roth and Th. Goldstücker were both
strenuous Sanskrit scholars. Both owed much to Burnouf, Roth even more
than Goldstücker, though the latter has perhaps more frequently spoken
of what he owed to Burnouf. Roth was my senior by several years, and
engaged in much the same work as myself. But we never got on well
together. It is curious from what small things and slight impressions
our likes and dislikes are often formed. I have heard men give as a
reason for disliking some one, that he had forgotten to pay half a
cab-fare. So in Roth’s case, I never got over a most ordinary
experience. He and two other young students and myself, having to
celebrate some festal occasion, had ordered a good luncheon at a
restaurant. To me with my limited means this was a great extravagance,
but I could not refuse to join. Roth, to my great surprise and, I may
add, being very fond of oysters, annoyance, took a very unfair share
of that delicacy, and whenever I met him in after life, whether in
person or in writing, this incident would always crop up in my mind;
and when later on he offered to join me in editing the Rig-veda, I
declined, perhaps influenced by that early impression which I could
not get rid of. I blame myself for so foolish a prejudice, but it
shows what creatures of circumstance we are.

With Goldstücker I was far more intimate. He was some years older than
myself and quite independent as far as money went. He knew how small
my means were, and would gladly have lent me money. But through the
whole of my life I never borrowed from my friends, or in fact from
anybody, though I was forced sometimes when very hard up for ready
money, and when I knew that money was due to me but had not arrived
when I expected it, to apply to some friend for a temporary advance. I
will try and recall the lines in which I once applied to Gathy for
such a loan.

    Versuch’ ich’s wohl, mein herzgeliebter Gathy,
    Mit schmeichelndem Sonnet Sie anzupumpen?
    Ich bitte nicht um schwere Goldesklumpen,
    Ich bitte nur um etliche Ducati.
    Auch zahl’ ich wieder ultimo Monati.
    Auf Wiedersehn bei Morel und Frascati
    Und Nachsicht für den Brief, den allzu plumpen!
    Zwar reiche Nabobs sind die braven Inder,
    Doch arme Teufel die Indianisten!
    Reich sind hienieden schon die Heiden-Kinder,
    Doch selig werden nur die armen Christen!
    Reimsucher bin ich, doch kein Reimefinder,
    Und _sans critique_ sind all die Sanscritisten.

This kind of negotiating a loan I have to confess to, but the idea of
borrowing money, without knowing when I could repay it, never entered
my mind. Relations who could have helped me I had none, and nothing
remained to me but to work for others. Indeed my want of money soon
began to cause me very serious anxiety in Paris. Little as I spent, my
funds became lower and lower. I did not, like many other scholars,
receive help from my Government. I had mapped out my course for
myself, and instead of taking to teaching on leaving the University,
had settled to come to Paris and continue my Sanskrit studies, and it
was in my own hands whether I should swim or sink. It was, indeed, a
hard struggle, far harder than those who have known me in later life
would believe. All I could do to earn a little money was to copy and
collate MSS. for other people. I might indeed have given private
lessons, but I have always had a strong objection to that form of
drudgery, and would rather sit up a whole night copying than give an
hour to my pupils. My plan was as follows: to sit up the whole of one
night, to take about three hours’ rest the next night, but without
undressing, and then to take a good night’s rest the third night, and
start over again. It was a hard fight, and cannot have been very good
for me physically, but I do not regret it now.

Often did I go without my dinner, being quite satisfied with boiled
eggs and bread and butter, which I could have at home without toiling
down and toiling up five flights of stairs that led to my room.
Sometimes I went with some of my young friends _hors de la barrière_,
that is, outside Paris, outside the barrier where the _octroi_ has to
be paid on meat, wine, &c. Here the food was certainly better for the
price I could afford to pay, but the society was sometimes peculiar. I
remember once seeing a strange lady sitting not very far from me, who
was the well-known Louve of Eugène Sue’s _Mystères de Paris_. One of
my companions on these expeditions was Karl de Schloezer, who was then
studying Arabic in Paris. He was always cheerful and amusing, and a
delightful companion. He knew much more of the world than I did, and
often surprised me by his diplomatic wisdom. “Let us stand up for each
other,” he said one day; “you say all the good you can of me, I saying
all the good I can of you.” I became very fierce at the time, charging
him with hypocrisy and I do not know what. He, however, took it all in
good part, and we remained friends all the time he was at Paris, and
indeed to the day of his death. He was very fond of music, but I was,
perhaps, the better performer on the pianoforte. He had invited me, a
violin, and violoncello, to play some of Mozart’s and Beethoven’s
Sonatas. Alas! when we found that he murdered his part, I sat down and
played the whole evening, leaving him to listen, not, I fear, in the
best of moods. He took his revenge, however; and the next time he
asked me and the two other musicians to his room, we found indeed
everything ready for us to play, but our host was nowhere to be found.
He maintained that he had been called away; I am certain, however,
that the little trick was played on purpose.

He afterwards entered the Prussian diplomatic service and was the
protégé of the Princess of Prussia, afterwards the Empress of Germany.
That was enough to make Bismarck dislike him, and when Schloezer
served as Secretary of Legation under Bismarck as Ambassador at St.
Petersburg, he committed the outrage of challenging his chief to a
duel. Bismarck declined, nor would it, according to diplomatic
etiquette, have been possible for him not to decline. Later on,
however, Schloezer was placed _en disponibilité_, that is to say, he
was politely dismissed. He had to pay a kind of farewell visit to
Bismarck, who was then omnipotent. Being asked by Bismarck what he
intended to do, and whether he could be of any service to him,
Schloezer said very quietly, “Yes, your Excellency, I shall take to
writing my Memoirs, and you know that I have seen much in my time
which many people will be interested to learn.” Bismarck was quiet for
a time, looking at some papers, and then remarked quite unconcernedly,
“You would not care to go to the United States as Minister?” “I am
ready to go to-morrow,” replied Schloezer, and having carried his
point, having in fact outwitted Bismarck, he started at once for
Washington. Bismarck knew that Schloezer could wield a sharp pen, and
there was a time when he was sensitive to such pen-pricks. They did
not see much of each other afterwards, but, owing to the protection of
the Empress, Schloezer was later accredited as Prussian envoy to the
Pope, and died too soon for his friends in beautiful Italy.

One of my oldest friends at Paris was a Baron d’Eckstein, a kind of
diplomatic agent who knew everybody in Paris, and wrote for the
newspapers, French and German. He had, I believe, a pension from the
French Government, and was, as a Roman Catholic, strongly allied with
the Clerical Party. This did not concern me. What concerned me was his
love of Sanskrit and the ancient religion of India. He would sit with
me for hours, or take me to dine with him at a restaurant, discussing
all the time the Vedas and the Upanishad and the Vedanta philosophy.
There are several articles of his written at this time in the _Journal
Asiatique_, and I was especially grateful to him, for he gave me
plenty of work to do, particularly in the way of copying Sanskrit MSS.
for him, and he paid me well and so helped me to keep afloat in Paris.
Knowing as he did everybody, he was very anxious to introduce me to
his friends, such as George Sand, Lamennais, the Comtesse d’Agoult
(Daniel Stern), Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and others; but I much
preferred half an hour with him or with Burnouf to paying formal
visits. I heard afterwards many unkind things about Baron
d’Eckstein’s political and clerical opinions, but though in becoming a
convert to Roman Catholicism he may have shown weakness, and as a
political writer may have been influenced by his near friends and
patrons, I never found him otherwise than kind, tolerant, and
trustworthy. His life was to have been written by Professor
Windischmann, but he too died; and who knows what may have become of
the curious memoirs which he left? At the time of the February
revolution in 1848, he was in the very midst of it. He knew Lamartine,
who was the hero of the day, though of a few days only. He attended
meetings with Lamartine, Odilon, Barrot, and others, and he assured me
that there would be no revolution, because nobody was prepared for it.

Lamartine who had been asked by his friends, all of them royalists and
friends of order, whether he would, in case of necessity, undertake to
form a ministry under the Duchesse d’Orléans as regent, scouted such
an idea at first, but at last promised to be ready if he were wanted.
The time came sooner than he expected, and the Duchesse d’Orléans
counted on him when she went to the Chamber and her Regency was
proclaimed. Lamartine was then so popular that he might have saved the
situation. But the mob broke into the Chamber, shots were fired, and
there was no Lamartine. The Duchesse d’Orléans had to fly, and
fortunately escaped under the protection of the Duc de Nemours, the
only son of Louis Philippe then in Paris, and the dynasty of the
Orléans was lost—never to return. Baron d’Eckstein lost many of his
influential friends at that time, possibly his pension also, but he
had enough to live upon, and he died at last as a very old man in a
Roman Catholic monastery, a most interesting and charming man, whose
memoirs would certainly have been very valuable.

But to return to Burnouf, I never can adequately express my debt of
gratitude to him. He was of the greatest assistance to me in clearing
my thoughts and directing them into one channel. “Either one thing or
the other,” he said. “Either study Indian philosophy and begin with
the Upanishads and Sankara’s commentary, or study Indian religion and
keep to the Rig-veda, and copy the hymns and Sâyana’s commentary, and
then you will be our great benefactor.” A great benefactor! that was
too much for me, a mere dwarf in the presence of giants. But Burnouf’s
words confirmed me more and more in my desire to give myself up to the

Burnouf told me not only what Vedic MSS. there were at the
Bibliothèque Royale, he also brought me his own MSS. and lent them to
me to copy, with the condition, however, that I should not smoke while
working at them. He himself did not smoke, and could not bear the
smell of smoke, and he showed me several of his MSS. which had become
quite useless to him, because they smelt of stale tobacco smoke. I
did all I could to guard these sacred treasures against such

Another and even more useful warning came to me from Burnouf. “Don’t
publish extracts from the commentary only,” he said; “if you do, you
will publish what is easy to read, and leave out what is difficult.” I
certainly thought that extracts would be sufficient, but I soon found
out that here also Burnouf was right, though there was always the fear
that I should never find a publisher for so immense a work. This fear
I confided to Burnouf, but he always maintained his hopeful view. “The
commentary must be published, depend upon it, and it will be,” he

So I stuck to it and went on copying and collating my Sanskrit MSS.,
always trusting that a publisher would turn up at the proper time. I
had, of course, to do all the drudgery for myself, and I soon found
out that it was not in human nature, at least not in my nature, to
copy Sanskrit from a MS. even for three or four hours without
mistakes. To my great disappointment I found mistakes whenever I
collated my copy with the original. I found that like the copyists of
classical MSS. my eye had wandered from one line to another where the
same word occurred, that I had left out a word when the next word
ended with the same termination, nay that I had even left out whole
lines. Hence I had either to collate my own copy, which was very
tedious, or invent some new process. This new process I discovered by
using transparent paper, and thus tracing every letter. I had some
excellent _papier végétal_ made for me, and, instead of copying,
traced the whole Sanskrit MS. This had the great advantage that
nothing could be left out, and that when the original was smudged and
doubtful I could carefully trace whatever was clear and visible
through the transparent paper. At first I confess my work was slow,
but soon it went as rapidly as copying, and it was even less fatiguing
to the eyes than the constant looking from the MS. to the copy, and
from the copy to the MS. But the most important advantage was, that I
could thus feel quite certain that nothing was left out, so that even
now, after more than fifty years, these tracings are as useful to me
as the MS. itself. There was room left between the lines or on the
margin to note the various readings of other MSS.; in fact, my
materials grew both in extent and in value.

Still there remained the question of a publisher. To print the
Rig-veda in six volumes quarto of about a thousand pages each, and to
provide the editor with a living wage during the many years he would
have to devote to his task, required a large capital. I do not know
exactly how much, but what I do know is that, when a second edition of
the text of the Veda in four volumes was printed at the expense of the
Maharajah of Vizianagram, it cost that generous and patriotic prince
four thousand pounds, though I then gave my work gratuitously.

While I was working at the Bibliothèque Royale, Humboldt had used his
powerful influence with the king of Prussia, Frederick William IV, to
help me in publishing my edition of the Rig-veda in Germany. Nothing,
however, came of that plan; it proved too costly for any private
publisher, even with royal assistance.

Then came a vague offer from St. Petersburg. Boehtlingk, the great
Sanskrit scholar, as a member of the Imperial Russian Academy, invited
me to come to St. Petersburg and print the Veda there, in
collaboration with himself, and at the expense of the Academy. Burnouf
and Goldstücker both warned me against accepting this offer, but,
hopeless as I was of getting my Veda published elsewhere, I expressed
my willingness to go on condition that some provision should be made
for me before I decided to migrate to Russia, as I possessed
absolutely nothing but what I was able to earn myself. Boehtlingk, I
believe, suggested to the Academy that I should be appointed Assistant
Keeper of the Oriental Museum at St. Petersburg, but his colleagues
did not apparently consider so young a man, and a mere German scholar,
a fit candidate for so responsible a post. Boehtlingk wished me to
send him all my materials, and he would get the MSS. of the Rig-veda
and of Sâyana’s commentary from the Library of the East India Company,
and Paris. No definite proposition, however, came from the Imperial
Academy, but an announcement of Boehtlingk’s appeared in the papers
in January, 1846, to the effect that he was preparing, in
collaboration with Monsieur Max Müller of Paris, a complete edition of
the Rig-veda.

All this, I confess, began to frighten me. For me, a poor scholar, to
go to St. Petersburg without any official invitation, without any
appointment, seemed reckless, and though I have no doubt that
Boehtlingk would have done his best for me, yet even he could only
suggest private lessons, and that was no cheerful outlook. The Academy
would do nothing for me unless I joined Boehtlingk, but at last
offered to buy my materials, on which I had spent so much labour and
the small fund at my disposal. If the Academy could have got the
necessary MSS. from Paris and London, I should have been perfectly
helpless. Boehtlingk could have done the whole work himself, in some
respects better than I, because he was my senior, and besides, he knew
Pânini, the old Indian grammarian who is constantly referred to in
Sâyana’s Commentary, better than I did. With all these threatening
clouds around me, my decision was by no means easy.

It was Burnouf’s advice that determined me to remain quietly in Paris.
He warned me repeatedly against trusting to Boehtlingk, and promised,
if I would only stay in Paris, to give me his support with Guizot, who
was then Minister for Foreign Affairs, and very much interested in
Oriental studies.

Boehtlingk seems never to have forgiven me, and he and several of his
friends were highly displeased at my ultimate success in securing a
publisher for the Rig-veda in England. Their language was most
unbecoming, and they tried, and actually urged other Sanskrit
scholars, to criticize my edition, though I must say to their credit
that they afterwards confessed that it was all that could be desired.

Many years later, Boehtlingk published a violent attack on me,
entitled _F. Max Müller als Mythendichter_, but I thought it
unnecessary to take up the dispute, and preferred to leave my friends
to judge for themselves between me and this propounder of accusations,
the legitimacy of which he was utterly unable to establish. However,
as I discovered later that he accused me of having acted
discourteously towards the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg, with
whom I had never had any direct dealings, and stated that he had
prevented that illustrious body from ever making me a corresponding
member, I thought it right to offer an explanation to the Secretary,
and I have in my possession his reply, in which he wrote that there
was no foundation whatever for Professor Boehtlingk’s statements.

However, the outcome of it was that I did not go to St. Petersburg,
but went on with my work at the Library in Paris, till one day I found
it necessary to run over to London, to copy and collate certain MSS.,
and there I found the long-sought-for benefactors, who were to enable
me to carry out the work of my life.

Of course, during my stay in Paris there was no idea of my going into
society, or of buying tickets for theatres or concerts. I went out to
dinner at some small restaurant, but otherwise I remained at home, and
viewed Paris life from my high windows, looking out on the Chambre des
Députés on one side, the Madeleine close to me on the left, and the
Porte St. Martin far away at the end of the Boulevards. Baron
d’Eckstein, as I have said, was willing to introduce me into society,
but I refused his kind offers. In fact, I was more or less of a bear,
and I now regret having missed meeting many interesting characters,
and having kept aloof from others, because my interests were absorbed
elsewhere. Burnouf asked me sometimes to his house; so did a Monsieur
Troyer, who had been in India and published some Sanskrit texts, and
whose daughter, the Duchesse de Wagram, made much of me, as she was
very fond of music. There were some German families also, some rich,
some poor, who showed me great kindness.

I was too much oppressed with cares and anxieties about my life and my
literary plans to think much of society and enjoyment. Even of the
students and student life I saw but little, though I was actually
attending lectures with them. I must say, however, that the little I
did see of student life in Paris gave me a very different idea from
what is generally thought of their vagaries and extravagances. A
Frenchman, if he once begins to work, can work and does work very
hard. I remember seeing several instances of this, but it is possible
that I may have seen the pick of the Quartier Latin only. One who was
then a young man, preparing for the Church, but already with an eye to
higher flights, was Renan. At first he still looked upon all young
Germans with suspicion, but this feeling soon disappeared. I remember
him chiefly at the Bibliothèque Royale, where he had a very small
place in the Oriental Department. Hase, the Greek scholar, Reinaud,
the Arabist, and Stanislas Julien, the Sinologue, were librarians
then. Hase, a German by birth, was most obliging, but he was greatly
afraid of speaking German, and insisted on our always speaking French
to him. Often did he call Renan to fetch MSS. for me: “Renan,” he
would call out very loudly, “allez chercher, pour Monsieur Max Müller,
le manuscrit sanscrit, numéro ...,” and then followed a pause, till he
had translated “1637” into French. In later years Renan and I became
great friends, but we German scholars were often puzzled at his great
popularity, which certainly was owing to his style more even than to
his scholarship. Some time later, when I was already established in
England, we had a little controversy, and I printed a rather fierce
attack on his _Grammaire Sémitique_. But we were intimate enough for
me to show him my pamphlet, and when he wrote to me, “Pardonnez-moi,
je n’ai pas compris ce que vous vouliez dire,” I suppressed the
pamphlet, though it was printed, and we remained friends for life. He
translated my first article on Comparative Mythology, and I had a
number of most interesting letters from him. It was his wife who did
the translation, while he revised it. That French pamphlet is very
scarce now; my own pamphlet was entirely suppressed; even I myself can
find no copy of it among the rubbish of my early writings, and what I
regret most, I threw away his letters, not thinking how interesting
they would become in time.

With all my work, however, I found time to attend some lectures at the
Collège de France, and to make the acquaintance of some distinguished
French _savants_ of the _Institut_. I went there with Burnouf, or
Stanislas Julien, or Reinaud, little dreaming that I should some day
belong to the same august body. Many of my young French friends, who
afterwards became _Membres de l’Institut_, rose to that dignity much
later. I was made not only a corresponding, but a real member of the
Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres in 1869, before my
friends, such as G. Perrot 1874, Michel Bréal 1875, Gaston Paris 1876,
and Jules Oppert 1881, occupied their well-merited academical
_fauteuils_. The struggle when I was elected in 1869 was a serious
one; it was between Mommsen and myself, between classical and Oriental
scholarship, and for once Oriental scholarship carried the day.
Mommsen, however, was elected in 1895, and there can be little doubt
that his strong and outspoken political antipathies had something to
do with the late date of his election.

I am sorry to say that one result of my seeing so little of French
life was that my French did not make such progress as I expected.
Though I was able to express myself _tant bien que mal_, I have always
felt hampered in a long conversation. Of course, the French themselves
have always been polite enough to say that they could not have
detected that I was a German, but I knew better than that, and never
have I, even in later years, gained a perfect conversational command
of that difficult language.



While working in Paris I constantly felt the want of some essential
MSS. which were at the Library of the East India Company in London,
and my desire to visit England consequently grew stronger and
stronger; but I had not the wherewithal to pay for the journey, much
less for a stay of even a fortnight in London. At last (June, 1846) I
thought that I had scraped together enough to warrant my starting. At
that time I had never seen the sea, and I was very desirous of doing
so. I well remember my unbounded rapture at my first sight of the
silver stream, and like Xenophon’s Greeks I could have shouted,
θἁλαττα, θἁλαττα. Once on board my rapture soon collapsed and was
succeeded by that well-known feeling of misery which I have so
frequently experienced since then, and I huddled myself up in a corner
of the deck.

There a young fellow-traveller saw the poor bundle of misery, and
tried to comfort me, and brought me what he thought was good for me,
not, however, without a certain merry twinkle in his eye and a few
kindly jokes at my expense. We landed at the docks in London, a real
drizzly day, rain and mist, and such a crowd rushing on shore that I
missed my cheerful friend and felt quite lost. In addition to all this
a porter had run away with my portmanteau, which contained my books
and MSS., in fact all my worldly goods. At that moment my young friend
reappeared, and seeing the plight I was in, came to my assistance.
“You stay here,” he said, “and I will arrange everything for you;” and
so he did. He fetched a four-wheeler, put my luggage on the top,
bundled me inside, and drove with me through a maze of London streets
to his rooms in the Temple. Then, still knowing nothing about me, he
asked me to spend the night in his rooms, gave me a bed and everything
else I wanted for the night. The next morning he took me out to look
for lodgings, which we found in Essex Street, a small street leading
out of the Strand.

The room which I took was almost entirely filled by an immense
four-post bed. I had never seen such a structure before, and during
the first night that I slept in it, I was in constant fear that the
top of the bed would fall and smother me as in the German _Märchen_.
When the landlady came in to see me in the morning, after asking how I
had slept, the first thing she said was, “But, sir, don’t you want
another ‘pillar’?” I looked bewildered, and said: “Why, what shall I
do with another pillar? and where will you put it?” She then touched
the pillows under my head and said, “Well, sir, you shall have
another ‘pillar’ to-morrow.” “How shall I ever learn English,” I said
to myself, “if a ‘pillar’ means really a soft pillow?”

But to return to my unknown friend, he came every day to show me
things which I ought to see in London, and brought me tickets for
theatres and concerts, which he said were sent to him. His name was
William Howard Russell, endeared to so many, high and low, under the
name of “Billy” Russell, the first and most brilliant
war-correspondent of _The Times_ during the Crimean War. He remained
my warm and true friend through life, and even now when we are both
cripples, we delight in meeting and talking over very distant days.

I had come over to London expecting to stay about a fortnight, but I
had been there working at the Library in Leadenhall Street for nearly
a month, and my work was far from done, when I thought that I ought to
call and pay my respects to the Prussian Minister, Baron Bunsen. I
little thought at the time when I was ushered into his presence that
this acquaintance was to become the turning-point of my life. If I
owed much to Burnouf, how can I tell what I owed to Bunsen? I was
amazed at the kindness with which from the very first he received me.
I had no claim whatever on him, and I had as yet done very little as a
scholar. It is true that he had known my father in Italy, and that
Humboldt, with his usual kindness, had written him a strong letter of
recommendation on my behalf, but that was hardly sufficient reason to
account for the real friendship with which he at once honoured me.

Baroness Bunsen, in the life of her husband, writes: “The kindred
mind, their sympathy of heart, the unity in highest aspirations, a
congeniality in principles, a fellowship in the pursuit of favourite
objects, which attracted and bound Bunsen to his young friend (i. e.
myself), rendered this connexion one of the happiest of his life.” I
am proud to think it was so.

At first the chief bond between us was that I was engaged on a work
which as a young man he had proposed to himself as the work of his
life, namely, the _editio princeps_ of the Rig-veda. Often has he told
me how, at the time when he was prosecuting his studies at Göttingen,
the very existence of such a book was unknown as yet in Germany. The
name of Veda had no doubt been known, and there was a halo of mystery
about it, as the oldest book of the world. But what it was and where
it was to be found no one could tell. Mr. Astor, a pupil of Bunsen’s
at Göttingen, had arranged to take Bunsen to India to carry on his
researches there. But Bunsen waited and waited in Italy, till at last,
after maintaining himself by giving private lessons, he went to Rome,
was taken up by Brandes and Niebuhr, the Prussian Ambassador there,
became the friend of the future Frederick William IV, and thus
gradually drifted into diplomacy, giving up all hopes of discovering
or rescuing the Rig-veda.

People have hardly any idea now, how, in spite of the East India
Company conquering and governing India, India itself remained a _terra
incognita_, unapproachable by the students of England and of Europe.
That there were literary treasures to be discovered in India, that the
Brahmans were the depositaries of ancient wisdom, was known through
the labours of some of the most eminent servants of the East India
Company. It had been known even before, through the interesting
communications of Roman Catholic missionaries in India, that the
manuscripts themselves, at least those of the Veda, were not
forthcoming. Even as late as the times of Sir W. Jones, Colebrooke,
and Professor Wilson, the Brahmans were most unwilling to part with
MSS. of the Veda, except the Upanishads. Professor Wilson told me that
once, when examining the library of a native Râjah, he came across
some MSS. of the Rig-veda, and began turning them over; but “I
observed,” he said, “the ominous and threatening looks of some of the
Brahmans present, and thought it wiser to beat a retreat.” Dr. Mill
had known of a gentleman who had a very sacred hymn of the Veda, the
Gayatri, printed at Calcutta. The Brahmans were furious at this
profanation, and when the gentleman died soon after, they looked upon
his premature death as the vengeance of the offended gods.
Colebrooke, however, was allowed to possess himself of several most
valuable Vedic MSS., and he found Brahmans quite ready to read with
him, not only the classical texts, but also portions of the Veda.
“They do not even,” he writes, “conceal from us the most sacred texts
of the Veda.” His own essays on the Veda appeared in the _Asiatic
Researches_ as early as 1801. But people went on dreaming about the
Veda, instead of reading Colebrooke’s essays.

It was curious, however, that at the time when I prepared my edition
of the Rig-veda, Vedic scholarship was at a very low ebb in Bengal
itself, and there were few Brahmans there who knew the whole of the
Rig-veda by heart, as they still did in the South of India.
Manuscripts were never considered in India as of very high authority;
they were always over-ruled by the oral traditions of certain schools.
However, such manuscripts, good and bad, but mostly bad, existed, and
after a time some of them reached England, France, and even Germany.
Portions of those in Berlin and Paris I had copied and collated, so
that I could show Bunsen the very book which he had been in search of
in his youth. This opened his heart to me as well as the doors of his
house. “I am glad,” he said, “to have lived to see the Veda. Whatever
you want, let me know; I look upon you as myself grown young again.”
And he did help me, as only a father can help his son.

Perhaps he expected too much from the Veda, as many other people did
at that time, and before the _verba ipsissima_ were printed. As the
oldest book that ever was composed, the Veda was supposed to give us a
picture of what man was in his most primitive state, with his most
primitive ideas, and his most primitive language. Everybody interested
in the origin and the first development of language, thought,
religion, and social institutions, looked forward to the Veda as a new
revelation. All such dreams, natural enough before the Veda was known,
were dispersed by my laying sacrilegious hands on the Veda itself, and
actually publishing it, making it public property, to the dismay of
the Brahmans in India, and to the delight of all Sanskrit scholars in
Europe. The learned essays of Colebrooke in India, and the extracts
published by Rosen, the Oriental librarian of the British Museum,
might indeed have taught people that the Veda was not a book without
any antecedents, that it would not tell us the secrets of Adam and
Eve, or of Deukalion and Pyrrha. I myself had both said and written
that the Veda, like an old oak tree, shows hundreds and thousands of
circles within circles; and yet I was afterwards held responsible for
having excited the wildest hopes among archaeologists, when I had done
my best, if not to destroy them, at all events to reduce them to their
proper level. Schelling seemed quite disappointed when I showed him
some of the translations of the hymns of the Rig-veda; and Bunsen,
who was still under Schelling’s influence, had evidently expected a
great many more of such philosophical hymns as the famous one

“There was not nought nor was there aught at that time.”

To the scholar, no doubt, the Veda remained and always will remain the
oldest of real books, that has been preserved to us in an almost
miraculous way. By book, however, as I often explained, I mean a book
divided into chapters and verses, having a beginning and an end, and
handed down to us in an alphabetic form of writing. China may have
possessed older books in a half phonetic, half symbolic writing; Egypt
certainly possessed older hieroglyphic inscriptions and papyri;
Babylon had its cuneiform monuments; and certain portions of the Old
Testament may have existed in a written form at the time of Josiah,
when Hilkiah, the high priest, found the law book in the sanctuary (2
Kings xxii. 8). But the Veda, with its ten books or _Mandalas_, its
1017 hymns or _Suktas_, with every consonant and vowel and accent
plainly written, was a different thing. It may safely be called a
book. No doubt it existed for a long time, as it does even at present,
in oral tradition, but as it was in tradition, so it was when reduced
to writing, and in either form I doubt whether any other real book can
rival it in antiquity. More important, however, than the purely
chronological antiquity of the book, is the antiquity or primitiveness
of the thoughts which it contains. If the people of the Veda did not
turn out to be quite such savages as was hoped and expected, they
nevertheless disclosed to us a layer of thought which can be explored
nowhere else. The Vedic poets were not ashamed of exposing their fear
that the sun might tumble down from the sky, and there are no other
poets, as far as I know, who still trembled at the same not quite
unnatural thought. Nor do I find even savages who still wonder and
express their surprise that black cows should produce white milk. Is
not that childish enough for any ancient or modern savage? Mere
chronology is here of as little avail as with modern savages, whose
customs and beliefs, though known as but of yesterday, are represented
to us as older than the Veda, older than Babylonian cylinders, older
than anything written. When certain modern savages recognize the
relationship of paternity, maternity, and consanguinity, this is
called very ancient. If they admit traditional restrictions as to
marriage, food, the treatment of the dead, nay, even a life to come,
this too, no doubt, may be very old; but it may be of yesterday also.
There are even quite new gods, whose genesis has been watched by
living missionaries. The great difficulty in all such researches is to
distinguish between what is common to human nature, and what is really
inherited or traditional. All such questions have only as yet been
touched upon, and they must wait for their answer till real scholars
will take up the study of the language of living savages, in the same
scholarlike spirit in which they have taken up the study of Vedic and
Babylonian savages. But we must have patience and learn to wait. It
has been a favourite idea among anthropologists that the savage races
inhabiting parts of India give us a correct idea of what the Aryans of
India were before they were civilized. It may safely be said of this
as of other mere ideas, that it may be true, but that there is no
evidence to show that it is true. At all events it takes much for
granted, and neglects, as it would seem, the very lessons which the
theory of evolution has taught us. It is the nature of evolution to be
continuous, and not to proceed _per saltum_. Therein lies the beauty
of genealogical evolution that we can recognize the fibres which
connect the upper strata with the lower, till we strike the lowest, or
at least that which contains what seem to be the seeds and germs of
early thoughts, words, and acts. We can trace the most modern forms of
language back to Sanskrit, or rather to that postulated linguistic
stratum of which Sanskrit formed the most prominent representative,
just as we can trace the French _Dieu_ back to Latin _Deus_ and
Sanskrit _Devas_, the brilliant beings behind the phenomena of nature;
and again behind them, _Dyaus_, the brilliant sky, the Greek _Zeus_,
the Roman _Iovis_ and _Iuppiter_, the most natural of all the Aryan
gods of nature. This is real evolution, a real causal nexus between
the present and the past. It used to be called history or pragmatic
history, whether we take history in the sense of the description of
evolution, or in that of evolution itself. History has generally to
begin with the present, to go back to the past, and to point out the
palpable steps by which the past became again and again the present.
Evolution, on the contrary, prefers to begin with the distant past, to
postulate formations, even if they have left no traces, and to speak
of those almost imperceptible changes by which the postulated past
became the perceptible present, as not only necessary, but as real.
Perhaps the difference is of no importance, but the historical method
seems certainly the more accurate, and the more satisfactory from a
purely scientific point of view.

In all such evolutionary researches language has always been the most
useful instrument, and the study of the science of language may truly
be said to have been the first science which was treated according to
evolutionary or historical principles. Here, too, no doubt,
intermediate links which must have existed, are sometimes lost beyond
recovery, and when we arrive at the very roots of language, we feel
that there may have been whole aeons before that radical period. Here
science must recognize her inevitable horizons, but here again no
surviving literary monument could carry us so far as the Veda. Hence
its supreme importance for Aryan philology—for the philology of the
most important languages of historical mankind. Other languages,
whether Babylonian or Accadian, whether Hottentot or Maori, may be,
for all we know, much more ancient or much more primitive; but, as
scientific explorers, we can only speak of what we know, and we must
renounce all conjectures that go beyond facts.

In all these researches no one took a livelier interest and encouraged
me more than Bunsen. When some of my translations of the Vedic hymns
seemed fairly satisfactory, I used to take them to him, and he was
always delighted at seeing a little more of that ancient Aryan torso,
though at the time he was more specially interested in Egyptian
chronology and archaeology. Often when I was alone with him did we
discuss the chronological and psychological dates of Egyptian and
Aryan antiquity. Kind-hearted as he was, Bunsen could get very
excited, nay, quite violent in arguing, and though these fits soon
passed off, yet it made discussions between His Excellency the
Prussian Minister and a young German scholar somewhat difficult. At
that time much less was known of the earliest Egyptian chronology than
is now. But I was never much impressed by mere dates. If a king was
supposed to have lived 5,000 years before our era, “What is that to
us?” I used to say, “He sits on his throne _in vacuo_, and there is
nothing to fix him by, nothing contemporary which alone gives interest
to history. In India we have no dates; but whatever dates and names of
kings and accounts of battles the Egyptian inscriptions may give us,
as a book there is nothing so old in Egypt as the Veda in India.
Besides, we have in the Veda thoughts; and in the chronology of
thought the Veda seems to me older than even the Book of the Dead.”

As to the actual date of the Veda, I readily granted that
chronologically it was not so old as the pyramids, but supposing it
had been, would that in any way have increased its value for our
studies? If we were to place it at 5000 B. C., I doubt whether anybody
could refute such a date, while if we go back beyond the Veda, and
come to measure the time required for the formation of Sanskrit and of
the Proto-Aryan language I doubt very much whether even 5,000 years
would suffice for that. There is an unfathomable depth in language,
layer following after layer, long before we arrive at roots, and what
a time and what an effort must have been required for their
elaboration, and for the elaboration of the ideas expressed in them.

Our battles waxed sometimes very fierce, but we generally ended by
arriving at an understanding. As a young man, Bunsen had clearly
perceived the importance of the Veda for an historical study of
mankind and the growth of the human mind, but he was not discouraged
when he saw that it gave us less than had been expected. “It is a
fortress,” he used to say, “that must be besieged and taken, it cannot
be left in our rear.” But he little knew how much time it would take
to approach it, to surround it, and at last to take it. It has not
been surrendered even now, and will not be in my time. It is true
there are several translations of the whole of the Rig-veda, and their
authors deserve the highest credit for what they have done. People
have wondered why I have not given one of them in my Sacred Books of
the East. I thought it was more honest to give, in co-operation with
Oldenburg, specimens only in vols. xxxii and xlvi of that series, and
let it be seen in the notes how much uncertainty there still is, and
how much more of hard work is required, before we can call ourselves
masters of the old Vedic fortress.

Bunsen’s interest in my work, however, took a more practical turn than
mere encouragement. It was no good encouraging me to copy and collate
Sanskrit MSS. if they were not to be published. He saw that the East
India Company were the proper body to undertake that work. Bunsen’s
name was a power in England, and his patronage was the very best
introduction that I could have had. It was no easy task to persuade
the Board of Directors—all strictly practical and commercial men—to
authorize so considerable an expenditure, merely to edit and print an
old book that none of them could understand, and many of them had
perhaps never even heard of. Bunsen pointed out what a disgrace it
would be to them, if some other country than England published this
edition of the Sacred Books of the Brahmans.

Professor Wilson, Librarian of the Company, also gave my project his
support, and at last, not quite a year after my arrival in England,
after a long struggle and many fears of failure, it was settled that
the East India Company were to bear the cost of printing the Veda, and
were meanwhile to enable me to stay in London, and prepare my work for

I had already been working five years copying and collating, and my
first volume of the Rig-veda was progressing, but it was only when all
was settled that I realized how much there was still to do, and that I
should have very hard work indeed before the printing could begin. I
must enter into some details to show the real difficulties I had to

I felt convinced that the first thing to do was to publish a correct
text of the Rig-veda. That was not so difficult, though it brought me
the greatest kudos. The MSS. were very correct, and the text could
easily be restored by comparing the Pada and Sanhitâ texts, i. e. the
text in which every word was separated, and the text in which the
words were united according to the rules of Sandhi. Anybody might have
done that, yet this, as I said, was the part of my work for which I
have received the greatest praise.

When my edition of the Rig-veda containing text and commentary was
nearly finished, another scholar, who had assisted me in my work, and
who had always had the use of my MSS., my Indices, in fact of the
whole of my _apparatus criticus_, published a transcript of the text
in Latin letters, and thus anticipated part of the last volume of my
edition. His friends, who were perhaps not mine, seemed delighted to
call him the first editor of the Rig-veda, though they ceased to do so
when they discovered misprints or mistakes of my own edition repeated
in his. He himself was far above such tactics. He knew, and they knew
perfectly well that, whatever the _vulgus profanum_ may think, my real
work was the critical edition of Sâyana’s commentary on the Rig-veda.
I had determined that this also should be edited according to the
strictest rules of criticism. I knew what an amount of labour that
would involve, but I refused to yield to the pressure of my colleagues
to proceed more quickly but less critically.

Sâyana quotes a number of Sanskrit works which, at the time when I
began my edition, had not yet been edited. Such were the Nirukta, the
glossary of the Rig-veda; the Aitareya-brâhmana, a very old
explanation of the Vedic sacrifice; the Âsvalâyana Sûtras, on the
ceremonial; and sundry works of the same character. Sâyana generally
alludes very briefly only to these works and presupposes that they are
known to us, so that a short reference would suffice for his purposes.
To find such references and to understand them required, however, not
only that I should copy these works, which I did, but that I should
make indices and thus be able to find the place of the passages to
which he alluded. This I did also, but over and over again was I
stopped by some short enigmatical reference to Pânini’s grammar or
Yaska’s glossary, which I could not identify. All these references are
now added to my edition, and those who will look them up in the
originals, will see what kind of work it was which I had to do before
a single line of my edition could be printed. How often was I in
perfect despair, because there was some allusion in Sâyana which I
could not make out, and which no other Sanskrit scholar, not even
Burnouf or Wilson, could help me to clear up. It often took me whole
days, nay, weeks, before I saw light. A good deal of the commentary
was easy enough. It was like marching on the high road, when suddenly
there rises a fortress that has to be taken before any further advance
is to be thought of. In the purely mechanical part other men could and
did help me. But whenever any real difficulty arose, I had to face it
by myself, though after a time I gladly acknowledged that here, too,
their advice was often valuable to me. In fact I found, and all my
assistants seemed to have found out the same, that if they were
useful to me, the work they did for me was useful to them, and I am
proud to say that nearly all of them have afterwards risen to great
prominence in Sanskrit scholarship. From time to time I also worked at
interpreting and translating some of the Vedic hymns, though I had
always hoped that this part of the work would be taken up by other

Bunsen was also my social sponsor in London, and my first peeps into
English society were at the Prussian Legation. He often invited me to
his breakfast and dinner parties, and when I saw for the first time
the magnificent rooms crowded with ministers, and dukes, and bishops,
and with ladies in their grandest dresses, I was as in a dream, and
felt as if I had been lifted into another world. Men were pointed out
to me such as Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, Van der Weyer,
the Belgian Minister, Thirlwall, Bishop of St. David’s and author of
the _History of Greece_, Archdeacon Hare, Frederick Maurice, and many
more whom I did not know then, though I came to know several of them
afterwards. Anybody who had anything of his own to produce was welcome
in Bunsen’s house, and among the men whom I remember meeting at his
breakfast parties, were Rawlinson, Layard, Hodgson, Birch, and many
more. Those breakfast parties were then quite a new institution to me,
and it is curious how entirely they have gone out of fashion, though
Sir Harry Inglis, Member for Oxford, Gladstone, Member for Oxford,
Monckton Milnes (afterwards Lord Houghton), kept them up to the last,
while in Oxford they survived perhaps longer than anywhere else. They
had one great advantage, people came to them quite fresh in the
morning; but they broke too much into the day, particularly when, as
at Oxford, they ended with beer, champagne, and cigars, as was
sometimes the case in undergraduates’ rooms.

How I was able to swim in that new stream, I can hardly understand
even now. I had been quite unaccustomed to this kind of society, and
was ignorant of its simplest rules. Bunsen, however, was never put out
by my gaucheries, but gave me friendly hints in feeling my way through
what seemed to me a perfect labyrinth. He told me that I had offended
people by not returning their calls, or not leaving a card after
having dined with them, paying the so-called digestion-visit to them.
How should I know? Nobody had ever told me, and I thought it obtrusive
to call. Nor did I know that in England to touch fish with a knife, or
to help yourself to potatoes with a fork, was as fatal as to drop or
put in an _h_. Nor did I ever understand why to cut crisp pastry on
your plate with a knife was worse manners than to divide it with a
fork, often scattering it over your plate and possibly over the
table-cloth. I must confess also that fish-knives always seemed to me
more civilized than forks in dividing fish, but fish-knives did not
exist when I first came to England. The really interesting side of all
this is to watch how customs change—come in and go out—and by what a
slow and imperceptible process they are discarded. Let us hope it is
by the survival of the fittest. When I first went to Oxford everybody
took wine with his neighbours, now it is only at such conservative
colleges as my own—All Souls—that the old custom still survives. But
then we have not even given up wax candles yet, and we look upon gas
as a most objectionable innovation.

Another great difficulty I had was in writing letters and addressing
my friends properly as Sir, or Mr. Smith, or Smith. I was told that
the rule was very simple and that you addressed everybody exactly as
they addressed you. What was the consequence? When I received an
invitation to dine with the Bishop of Oxford who addressed me as “My
dear Sir,” I wrote back “My dear Sir,” and said that I should be very
happy. How Samuel Wilberforce must have chuckled when he read my
epistle. But how is any stranger to know all the intricacies of social
literature, particularly if he is wrongly informed by the highest
authorities. I must confess that even later in life I have often been
puzzled as to the right way of addressing my friends. There is no
difficulty about intimate friends, but as one grows older one knows
so many people more or less intimately, and according to their
different characters and stations in life, one often does not know
whether one offends by too great or too little familiarity. I was once
writing to a very eminent man in London who had been exceedingly
friendly to me at Oxford, and I addressed him as “My dear Professor
H.” At the end of his answer he wrote, “Don’t call me Professor.” All
depends on the tone in which such words are said. I imagined that
living in fashionable society in London, he did not like the somewhat
scholastic title of Professor which, in London particularly, has
always a by-taste of diluted omniscience and conceit. I accordingly
addressed him in my next letter as “My dear Sir,” and this, I am sorry
to say, produced quite a coldness and stiffness, as my friend
evidently imagined that I declined to be on more intimate terms with
him, the fact being that through life I have always been one of his
most devoted admirers. I did my best to conform to all the British
institutions, as well as I could, though in the beginning I must no
doubt have made fearful blunders, and possibly given offence to the
truly insular Briton. Bunsen seemed to delight in asking me whenever
he had Princes or other grandees to lunch or dine with him.

One day he took me with him to stay at Hurstmonceux with Archdeacon
Hare, and a delightful time it was. There were books in every room,
on the staircase, and in every corner of the house, and the Archdeacon
knew every one of them, and as soon as a book was mentioned, he went
and fetched it. He generally knew the very place at which the passage
that was being discussed, occurred, and excelled even the famous dog,
which at one of these literary breakfast parties—I believe in
Hallam’s house—was ordered on the spur of the moment to fetch the
fifth volume of Gibbon’s _History_, and at once climbed up the ladder
and brought down from the shelf the very volume in which the disputed
passage occurred. He had been taught this one trick of fetching a
certain volume from the shelves of the library, and the conversation
was turned and turned till it was brought round to a passage in that
very volume. The guests were, no doubt, amazed, but as it was before
the days of Darwin and Lubbock, it led to no more than a good laugh. I
was surprised and delighted at the honesty with which the Archdeacon
admitted the weak points of the Anglican system, and the dangers which
threatened not only the Church, but the religion of England. The real
danger, he evidently thought, came from the clergy, and their
hankering after Rome. “They have forgotten their history,” he said,
“and the sufferings which the sway of a Roman priesthood has inflicted
for centuries on their country.” I think it was he who told me the
story of a young Romanizing curate, who declared that he could never
see what was the use of the laity.

One day when I called on Bunsen with my books, and I frequently called
when I had something new to show him, he said: “You must come with me
to Oxford to the meeting of the British Association.” This was in
1847. Of course I did not know what sort of thing this British
Association was, but Bunsen said he would explain it all to me, only I
must at once sit down and write a paper. He, Bunsen, was to read a
paper on the “Results of the recent Egyptian Researches in reference
to Asiatic and African Ethnology and the Classification of Languages,”
and he wanted Dr. Karl Meyer and myself to support him, the former
with a paper on Celtic Philology, and myself with a paper on the Aryan
and Aboriginal Languages of India. I assured him that this was quite
beyond me. I had hardly been a year in England, and even if I could
write, I knew but too well that I could not read a paper before a
large audience. However, Bunsen would take no refusal. “We must show
them what we have done in Germany for the history and philosophy of
language,” he said, “and I reckon on your help.” There was no escape,
and to Oxford I had to go. I was fearfully nervous, for, as Prince
Albert was to be present, ever so many distinguished people had
flocked to the meeting, and likewise some not very friendly
ethnologists, such as Dr. Latham, and Mr. Crawford, known by the name
of the Objector General. Our section was presided over by the famous
Dr. Prichard, the author of that classical work, _Researches into the
Physical History of Mankind_, in five volumes, and it was he who
protected me most chivalrously against the somewhat frivolous
objections of certain members, who were not over friendly towards
Prince Albert, Chevalier Bunsen, and all that was called German in
scholarship. All, however, went off well. Bunsen’s speech was most
successful, and it is a pity that it should be buried in the
_Transactions of the British Association for 1847_. At that time it
was considered a great honour that his speech should appear there _in
extenso_. When Bunsen declared that he would not give it, unless Dr.
Meyer’s paper and my own were published in the _Transactions_ at the
same time, there was renewed opposition. I was so little proud of my
own essay, that I should much rather have kept it back for further
improvement, but printed it was in the _Transactions_, and much
canvassed at the time in different journals.

I have always been doubtful about the advantages of these public
meetings, so far as any scientific results are concerned. Everybody
who pays a guinea may become a member and make himself heard, whether
he knows anything on the subject or not. The most ignorant men often
occupy the largest amount of time. Some people look upon these
congresses simply as a means of advertising themselves, and I have
actually seen quoted among a man’s titles to fame the fact that he had
been a member of certain congresses. Another drawback is that no one,
not even the best of scholars, is quite himself before a mixed
audience. Whereas in a private conversation a man is glad to receive
any new information, no one likes to be told in public that he ought
to have known this or that, or that every schoolboy knows it. Then
follows generally a squabble, and the best pleader is sure to have the
laughter on his side, however ignorant he may be of the subject that
is being discussed. But Dr. Prichard was an excellent president and
moderator, and though he had unruly spirits to deal with, he succeeded
in keeping up a certain decorum among them. Dr. Prichard’s authority
stood very high, and justly so, and his _Researches into the Physical
History of Mankind_ still remain unparalleled in ethnology. His
careful weighing of facts and difficulties went out of fashion when
the theory of evolution became popular, and every change from a flea
to an elephant was explained by imperceptible degrees. He dealt
chiefly with what was perceptible, with well-observed facts, and many
of the facts which he marshalled so well, require even now, in these
post-Darwinian days I should venture to say, renewed consideration.
Like all great men, he was wonderfully humble, and allowed me to
contradict him, who ought to have been proud to listen and to learn
from him.

But though I cannot say that the result of these meetings and
wranglings was very great or valuable, I spent a few most delightful
days at Oxford, and I could not imagine a more perfect state of
existence than to be an undergraduate, a fellow, or a professor there.
A kind of silent love sprang up in my heart, though I hardly confessed
it to myself, much less to the object of my affections. I knew I had
to go back to be a University tutor or even a master in a public
school in Germany, and that was a hard life compared with the freedom
of Oxford. To be independent and free to work as I liked, that was
everything to me, but how I ever succeeded in realizing my ideal, I
hardly know. At that time I saw nothing but a life of drudgery and
severe struggle before me, but I did not allow myself to dwell on it;
I simply worked on, without looking either right or left, behind or

While at Oxford on this my first flying visit, I had a room in
University College, the very college in which my son was hereafter to
be an undergraduate. My host was Dr. Plumptre, the Master of the
College, a tall, stiff, and to my mind, very imposing person. He was
then Vice-Chancellor, and I believe I never saw him except in his cap
and gown and with two bedels walking before him, the one with a gold,
the other with a silver poker in his hands. We have no Esquire bedels
any longer! All the professors, too, and even the undergraduates,
dressed in their mediaeval academic costume, looked to me very grand,
and so different from the German students at Leipzig or still more at
Jena, walking about the streets in pink cotton trousers and
dressing-gowns. It seemed to me quite a different world, and I made
new discoveries every day. Being with Bunsen I was invited to all the
official dinners during the meeting of the British Association, and
here, too, the Vice-Chancellor acted his part with becoming dignity.
He never unbent; he never indulged in a joke or joined in the laughter
of his neighbours. When I remarked on his immovable features, I was
told that he slept in starched sheets—and I believed it. At one of
these dinners, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte caused a titter during a
speech about the freedom which people enjoyed in England. “In France,”
he said, “with all the declamations about _Liberté_, _Égalité_,
_Fraternité_, there is very little freedom, and, with all the trees of
_liberté_ which are being planted along the boulevards, there is very
little of real liberty to be found there!” “But you in England,” he
finished, “you have your old tree of liberty, which is always
flowering and showering _peas_ on the whole world.” He wanted to say
peace. We tried to look solemn but failed, and a suppressed laugh went
round till it reached the Vice-Chancellor. There it stopped. He was
far too well bred to allow a single muscle of his face to move. “He
throws a cold blanket on everything,” my neighbour said; and my
knowledge of English was still so imperfect that I accepted many of
these metaphorical remarks in their literal sense, and became more and
more puzzled about my host. It was evidently a pleasure to my friends
to see how easily I was taken in. On the walls of the houses at Oxford
I saw the letters F. P. about ten feet from the ground. Of course it
was meant for Fire Plug, but I was told that it marked the height of
the Vice-Chancellor, whose name was Frederick Plumptre.

My visit to Oxford was over all too soon, and I returned to London to
toil away at my Sanskrit MSS. in the little room that had been
assigned to me in the Old East India House in Leadenhall Street. That
building, too, in which the reins of the mighty Empire of India were
held, mostly by the hands of merchants, has vanished, and the place of
it knoweth it no more. However, I thought little of India, I only
thought of the library at the East India House, a real Eldorado for an
eager Sanskrit student, who had never seen such treasures before. I
saw little else there, I only remember seeing Tippoo Sahib’s tiger
which held an English soldier in his claws, and was regularly wound up
for the benefit of visitors, and then uttered a loud squeak, enough to
disturb even the most absorbed of students. I felt quite dazed by all
the books and manuscripts placed at my disposal, and revelled in them
every day till it became dark, and I had to walk home through Ludgate
Hill, Cheapside, and the Strand, generally carrying ever so many books
and papers under my arms. I knew nobody in the city, and no one knew
me; and what did I care for the world, as long as I had my beloved

In March, 1848, I had to go over to Paris to finish up some work
there, and just came in for the revolution. From my windows I had a
fine view of all that was going on. I well remember the pandemonium in
the streets, the aspect of the savage mob, the wanton firing of shots
at quiet spectators, the hoisting of Louis Philippe’s nankeen trousers
on the flag-staff of the Tuileries. When bullets began to come through
my windows, I thought it time to be off while it was still possible.
Then came the question how to get my box full of precious manuscripts,
&c., belonging to the East India Company, to the train. The only
railway open was the line to Havre, which had been broken up close to
the station, but further on was intact, and in order to get there we
had to climb three barricades. I offered my _concierge_ five francs to
carry my box, but his wife would not hear of his risking his life in
the streets; ten francs—the same result; but at the sight of a louis
d’or she changed her mind, and with an “Allez, mon ami, allez
toujours,” dispatched her husband on his perilous expedition. Arrived
in London I went straight to the Prussian Legation, and was the first
to give Bunsen the news of Louis Philippe’s flight from Paris. Bunsen
took me off to see Lord Palmerston, and I was able to show him a
bullet that I had picked up in my room as evidence of the bloody
scenes that had been enacted in Paris. So even a poor scholar had to
play his small part in the events that go to make up history.



It had been settled that my edition of the Rig-veda should be printed
at the Oxford University Press, and I found that I had often to go
there to superintend the printing. Not that the printers required much
supervision, as I must say that the printing at the University Press
was, and is, excellent—far better than anything I had known in
Germany. In providing copy for a work of six volumes, each of about
1000 pages, it was but natural that _lapsus calami_ should occur from
time to time. What surprised me was that several of these were
corrected in the proof-sheets sent to me. At last I asked whether
there was any Sanskrit scholar at Oxford who revised my proof-sheets
before they were returned. I was told there was not, but that the
queries were made by the printer himself. That printer was an
extraordinary man. His right arm was slightly paralysed, and he had
therefore been put on difficult slow work, such as Sanskrit. There are
more than 300 types which a printer must know in composing Sanskrit.
Many of the letters in Sanskrit are incompatible, i. e. they cannot
follow each other, or if they do, they have to be modified. Every
_d_, for instance, if followed by a _t_, is changed to _t_; every _dh_
loses its aspiration, becomes likewise _t_, or changes the next _t_
into _dh_. Thus from _budh_ + _ta_, we have _Buddha_, i. e. awakened.
In writing I had sometimes neglected these modifications, but in the
proof-sheets these cases were always either queried or corrected. When
I asked the printer, who did not of course know a word of Sanskrit,
how he came to make these corrections, he said: “Well, sir, my arm
gets into a regular swing from one compartment of types to another,
and there are certain movements that never occur. So if I suddenly
have to take up types which entail a new movement, I feel it, and I
put a query.” An English printer might possibly be startled in the
same way if in English he had to take up an _s_ immediately following
an _h_. But it was certainly extraordinary that an unusual movement of
the muscles of the paralysed arm should have led to the discovery of a
mistake in writing Sanskrit. In spite of the extreme accuracy of my
printer, however, I saw, that after all it would be better for myself,
and for the Veda, if I were on the spot, and I decided to migrate from
London to Oxford.

My first visit had filled me with enthusiasm for the beautiful old
town, which I regarded as an ideal home for a student. Besides, I
found that I was getting too gay in London, and in order to be able to
devote my evenings to society, I had to get up and begin work soon
after five. May, therefore, saw me established for the first time in
Oxford, in a small room in Walton Street. The moving of my books and
papers from London did not take long. At that time my library could
still be accommodated in my portmanteau, it had not yet risen to
12,000 volumes, threatening to drive me out of my house. A happy time
it was when I possessed no books which I had not read, and no one sent
books to me which I did not want, and yet had to find a place for in
my rooms, and to thank the author for his kindness.

I at once found that my work went on more rapidly at Oxford than in
London, though if I had expected to escape from all hospitality I
certainly was not allowed to do that. Accustomed as I was to the
Spartan diet of a German _convictorium_, or a dinner at the Palais
Royal _à deux francs_, the dinners to which I was invited by some of
the Fellows in Hall, or in Common Room, surprised me not a little. The
old plate, the old furniture, and the whole style of living, impressed
me deeply, particularly the after-dinner railway, an ingenious
invention for lightening the trouble of the guests who took wine in
Common Room. There was a small railway fixed before the fireplace, and
on it a wagon containing the bottles went backwards and forwards,
halting before every guest till he had helped himself. That railway, I
am afraid, is gone now; and what is more serious, the pleasant, chatty
evenings spent in Common Room are likewise a thing of the past.
Married Fellows, if they dine in Hall, return home after dinner, and
junior Fellows go to their books or pupils. In my early Oxford days, a
married Fellow would have sounded like a solecism. The story goes that
married Fellows were not entirely unknown, and that you could hold
even a fellowship, if you could hold your tongue. Young people,
however, who did not possess that gift of silence, had often to wait
till they were fifty, before a college living fell vacant, and the
quinquagenarian Fellow became a young husband and a young vicar.

What impressed me, however, even more than the great hospitality of
Oxford, was the real friendliness shown to an unknown German scholar.
After all, I had done very little as yet, but the kind words which
Bunsen and Dr. Prichard had spoken about me at the meeting of the
British Association, had evidently produced an impression in my favour
far beyond what I deserved. I must have seemed a very strange bird,
such as had never before built his nest at Oxford. I was very young,
but I looked even younger than I was, and my knowledge of the manners
of society, particularly of English society, was really nil. Few
people knew what I was working at. Some had a kind of vague impression
that I had discovered a very old religion, older than the Jewish and
the Christian, which contained the key to many of the mysteries that
had puzzled the ancient, nay, even the modern world. Frequently, when
I was walking through the streets of Oxford, I observed how people
stared at me, and seemed to whisper some information about me.
Tradespeople did not always trust me, though I never owed a penny to
anybody; when I wanted money I could always make it by going on faster
with printing the Rig-veda, for which I received four pounds a sheet.
This seemed to me then a large sum, though many a sheet took me at
first more than a week to get ready, copy, collate, understand, and
finally print. If I was interested in any other subject, my exchequer
suffered accordingly—but I could always retrieve my losses by sitting
up late at night. Poor as I was, I never had any cares about money,
and when I once began to write in English for English journals, I had
really more than I wanted. My first article in the _Edinburgh Review_
appeared in October, 1851.

At that time the idea of settling at Oxford, of remaining in this
academic paradise, never entered my head. I was here to print my
Rig-veda and work at the Bodleian; that I should in a few years be an
M.A. of Christ Church, a Fellow of the most exclusive of colleges,
nay, a married Fellow—a being not even invented then—and a professor
of the University, never entered into my wildest dreams. I could only
admire, and admire with all my heart. Everything seemed perfect, the
gardens, the walks in the neighbourhood, the colleges, and most of all
the inhabitants of the colleges, both Fellows and undergraduates. My
ideas were still so purely continental that I could not understand
how the University could do such a thing as incorporate a foreign
scholar—could, in fact, govern itself without a Minister of Education
to appoint professors, without a Royal Commissioner to look after the
undergraduates and their moral and political sentiments. And here at
Oxford I was told that the Government did not know Oxford, nor Oxford
the Government, that the only ruling power consisted in the Statutes
of the University, that professors and tutors were perfectly free so
long as they conformed to these statutes, and that certainly no
minister could ever appoint or dismiss a professor, except the Regius
professors. “If we want a thing done,” my friends used to explain to
me, “we do it ourselves, as long as it does not run counter to the

But Oxford changes with every generation. It is always growing old,
but it is always growing young again. There was an old Oxford four
hundred years ago, and there was an old Oxford fifty years ago. To a
man who is taking his M.A. degree, Oxford, as it was when he was a
freshman, seems quite a thing of the past. By the public at large no
place is supposed to be so conservative, so unchanging, nay, so
stubborn in resisting new ideas, as Oxford; and yet people who knew it
forty or fifty years ago, like myself, find it now so changed that,
when they look back they can hardly believe it is the same place. Even
architecturally the streets of the University have changed, and here
not always for the better. Architects unfortunately object to mere
imitation of the old Oxford style of building; they want to produce
something entirely their own, which may be very good by itself, but is
not always in harmony with the general tone of the college buildings.
I still remember the outcry against the Taylor Institution, the only
Palladian building at Oxford, and yet everybody has now grown
reconciled to it, and even Ruskin lectured in it, which he would not
have done, if he had disapproved of its architecture. He would never
lecture in the Indian Institute, and wrote me a letter sadly reproving
me for causing Broad Street to be defaced by such a building, when I
had had absolutely nothing to do with it. He was very loud in his
condemnation of other new buildings. He abused even the New Museum,
though he had a great deal to do with it himself. He had hoped that it
would be the architecture of the future, but he confessed after a time
that he was not satisfied with the result.

In his days we still had the old Magdalen Bridge, the Bodleian
unrestored, and no trams. Ruskin was so offended by the new bridge, by
the restored Bodleian, and by the tram-cars, that he would go ever so
far round to avoid these eyesores, when he had to deliver his
lectures; and that was by no means an easy pilgrimage. There was, of
course, no use in arguing with him. Most people like the new Magdalen
Bridge because it agrees better with the width of High Street; they
consider the Bodleian well restored, particularly now that the new
stone is gradually toning down to the colour of the old walls, and as
to tram-cars, objectionable as they are in many respects, they
certainly offend the eye less than the old dirty and rickety
omnibuses. The new buildings of Merton, in the style of a London
police-station, offended him deeply, and with more justice,
particularly as he had to live next door to them when he had rooms at

These new buildings could not be helped at Oxford. The stone, with
which most of the old colleges were built, was taken from a quarry
close to Oxford, and began to peel off and to crumble in a very
curious manner. Artists like these chequered walls, and by moonlight
they are certainly picturesque, but the colleges had to think of what
was safe. My own college, All Souls, has ever so many pinnacles, and
we kept an architect on purpose to watch which of them were unsafe and
had to be restored or replaced by new ones. Every one of these
pinnacles cost us about fifty pounds, and at every one of our meetings
we were told that so many pinnacles had been tested, and wanted
repairing or replacing. Many years ago, when I was spending the whole
Long Vacation at Oxford, I could watch from my windows a man who was
supposed to be testing the strength of these pinnacles. He was armed
with a large crowbar, which he ran with all his might against the
unfortunate pinnacle. I doubt whether the walls of any Roman castellum
could have resisted such a ram. I spoke to some of the Fellows, and
when the builder made his next report to us, we rather objected to the
large number of invalids. He was not to be silenced, however, so
easily, but told us with a very grave countenance that he could not
take the responsibility, as a pinnacle might fall any day on our
Warden when he went to chapel. This, he thought, would settle the
matter. But no, it made no impression whatever on the junior Fellows,
and the number of annual cripples was certainly very much reduced in

It is true that Oxford has always loved what is old better than what
is new, and has resisted most innovations to the very last. A
well-known liberal statesman used to say that when any measure of
reform was before Parliament, he always rejoiced to see an Oxford
petition against it, for that measure was sure to be carried very
soon. It should not be forgotten, however, that there always has been
a liberal minority at Oxford. It is still mentioned as something quite
antediluvian, that Oxford, that is the Hebdomadal Council, petitioned
against the Great Western Railway invading its sacred precincts; but
it is equally true that not many years later it petitioned for a
branch line to keep the University in touch with the rest of the

Many things, of course, have been changed, and are changing every year
before our very eyes; but what can never be changed, in spite of some
recent atrocities in brick and mortar, is the natural beauty of its
gardens, and the historical character of its architecture. Whether
Friar Bacon, as far back as the thirteenth century, admired the
colleges, chapels, and gardens of Oxford, we do not know; and even if
we did, few of them could have been the same as those which we admire
to-day. We must not forget that Greene’s _Honourable History of Friar
Bacon_ does not give us a picture of what Oxford was when seen by that
famous philosopher, who is sometimes claimed as a Fellow of Brasenose
College, probably long before that College existed; but what is said
in that play in praise of the University, may at least be taken as a
recollection of what Greene saw himself, when he took his degree as
Bachelor of Arts in 1578. In his play of the _History of Friar Bacon_,
Greene introduces the Emperor of Germany, Henry II, 1212-50, as paying
a visit to Henry III of England, 1216-73, and he puts into his mouth
the following lines, which, though they cannot compare with Shelley’s
or Mat Arnold’s, are at all events the earliest testimony to the
natural attractions of Oxford. Anyhow, Shelley’s and Mat Arnold’s
lines are well known and are always quoted, so that I venture to quote
Greene’s lines, not for the sake of their beauty, but simply because
they are probably known to very few of my readers:

    “Trust me, Plantagenet, these Oxford schools
     Are richly seated near the river-side:
     The mountains full of fat and fallow deer,
     The battling[10] pastures lade with kine and flocks,
     The town gorgeous with high built colleges,
     And scholars seemly in their grave attire.”

  [10] Will it be believed that the battels (bills) in College
  are connected with this word?

The mountains round Oxford we must accept as a bold poetical licence,
whether they were meant for Headington Hill or Wytham Woods. The
German traveller, Hentzner, who described Oxford in 1598, is more true
to nature when he speaks of the wooded hills that encompass the plain
in which Oxford lies.

But while the natural beauty of Oxford has always been admired and
praised by strangers, the doctors and professors of the old University
have not always fared so well at the hands of English and foreign
critics. I shall not quote from Giordano Bruno, who visited England in
1583-5, and calls Oxford “the widow of true science[11],” but Milton
surely cannot be suspected of any prejudice against Oxford. Yet he
writes in 1656 in a letter to Richard Jones: “There is indeed plenty
of amenity and salubrity in the place when you are there. There are
books enough for the needs of a University: if only the amenity of the
spot contributed so much to the genius of the inhabitants as it does
to pleasant living, nothing would seem wanting to the happiness of the

  [11] _Opere_, ed. Wagner, i. p. 179.

These ill-natured remarks about the Oxford Dons seem to go on to the
very beginning of our century. The buildings and gardens are praised,
but by way of contrast, it would seem, or from some kind of jealousy,
their inhabitants are always treated with ridicule. Not long ago a
book was published, _Memoirs of a Highland Lady_. Though published in
1898, it should be remembered that the memoirs go back as far as 1809.
Nor should it be forgotten that at that time the authoress was hardly
more than thirteen years of age, and certainly of a very girlish, not
to say frivolous, disposition. She stayed some time with the then
Master of University, Dr. Griffith, and for him, it must be said, she
always shows a certain respect. But no one else at Oxford is spared.
She arrived there at the time of Lord Grenville’s installation as
Chancellor of the University. Though so young, she was taken to the
Theatre, and this is her description of what she saw and heard:—“It
was a shock to me; I had expected to be charmed with a play, instead
of being nearly set to sleep by discourses in Latin from a pulpit.
There were some purple, and some gold, some robes and some wigs, a
great crowd, and some stir at times, while a deal of humdrum speaking
and dumb show was followed by the noisy demonstrations of the
students, as they applauded or condemned the honours bestowed; but in
the main I tired of the heat and the mob, and the worry of these
mornings, and so, depend upon it, did poor Lord Grenville, who sat up
in the chair of state among the dignitaries, like the Grand Lama in
his temple guarded by his priests.” One thing only she was delighted
with, that was the singing of Catalani at one of the concerts. Yet
even here she cannot repress her remark that she sang “Gott safe the
King.” She evidently was a flippant young lady or child, and with her
sister, who afterwards joined her at Oxford, seems to have found
herself quite a fish out of water in the grave society of the

The room in the Master’s Lodge which appalled her most and seems to
have been used as a kind of schoolroom, was the Library, full of
Divinity books, but without curtains, carpet, or fireplace. Here they
had lessons in music, drawing, arithmetic, history, geography, and
French. “And the Master,” she adds, “opened to us what had been till
then a sealed book, the New Testament, so that this visit to Oxford
proved really one of the fortunate chances of my life.”

This speaks well for the young lady, who in later life seems to have
occupied a most honoured and influential position in Scotch society.
But Oxford society evidently found no favour in her eyes.

Her uncle and aunt, as she tells us, were frequently out at dinner
with other Heads of Houses, for there was, of course, no other
society. These dinners seem to have been very sumptuous, though their
own domestic life was certainly very simple. For breakfast they had
tea, and butter on their bread, and at dinner a small glass of ale,
college home-brewed ale. “How fat we got!” she exclaims. The Master
seems to have been a man of refined taste, fond of drawing, and what
was called poker-painting; he was given also to caricaturing, and
writing of squibs. The two young ladies were evidently fond of his
society, but of the other Oxford society she only mentions the
ultra-Tory politics, and the stupidity and frivolity of the Heads of
Houses. “The various Heads,” she writes, “with their respective wives,
were extremely inferior to my uncle and aunt. More than half of the
Doctors of Divinity were of humble origin, the sons of small gentry or
country clergy, or even of a lower grade. Many of these, constant to
the loves of their youth, brought ladies of inferior manners to grace
what appeared to them so dignified a station. It was not a good style;
there was little talent, and less polish, and no sort of knowledge of
the world. And yet the ignorance of this class was less offensive than
the assumption of another, when a lady of high degree had fallen in
love with her brother’s tutor, and got him handsomely provided for in
the Church, that she might excuse herself for marrying him. Of the
lesser clergy, there were young witty ones—odious; young learned
ones—bores; and elderly ones—pompous; all, however, of all grades,
kind and hospitable. But the Christian pastor, humble, gentle,
considerate, and self-sacrificing, had no representative, as far as I
could see, among these dealers in old wines, rich dinners, fine china,
and massive plate.”

“The religion of Oxford appeared in those days to consist in honouring
the King and his Ministers, and in perpetually popping in and out of
chapel. Chapel was announced by the strokes of a big hammer, beaten on
every staircase half an hour before by a scout. The education was
suited to Divinity. A sort of supervision was said to be kept over the
young, riotous community, and to a certain extent the Proctors of the
University and the Deans of the different colleges did see that no
very open scandal was committed. There were rules that had in a
general way to be obeyed, and lectures that had to be attended, but as
for care to give high aims, provide refining amusements, give a worthy
tone to the character of responsible beings, there was none ever even
thought of. The very meaning of the word ‘education’ did not appear to
be understood. The college was a fit sequel to the school. The young
men herded together; they lived in their rooms, and they lived out of
them, in the neighbouring villages, where many had comfortable
establishments.... All sorts of contrivances were resorted to to
enable the dissipated to remain out all night, to shield a culprit, to
deceive the dignitaries.” This was in 1809, and even later.

And yet with all this, and while we are told that those who attended
lectures were laughed at, it seems strange that the best divines, and
lawyers, and politicians of the first half of our century, some of
whom we may have known ourselves, must have been formed under that
system. We can hardly believe that it was as bad as here described,
and we must remember that much of the _Memoirs_ of this Scotch lady
can have been written from memory only, and long after the time when
she and her sister lived at University College. Life there, no doubt,
may have been very dull, as there were no other young ladies at
Oxford, and it cannot have been very amusing for these young girls to
dine with sixteen Heads of Houses, all in wide silk cassocks, scarves
and bands, one or two in powdered wigs, so that, as we are told, they
often went home crying. All intercourse with the young men was
strictly forbidden, though it seems to have been not altogether
impossible to communicate, from the garden of the Master’s Lodge, with
the young men bending out of the college windows, or climbing down to
the gardens.

One of these young men, who was at University College at the same
time, might certainly not have been considered a very desirable
companion for these two Scotch girls. It was no other than Shelley.
What they say of him does not tell us much that is new, yet it
deserves to be repeated. “Mr. Shelley,” we read, “afterwards so
celebrated, was half crazy. He began his career with every kind of
wild prank at Eton. At University he was very insubordinate, always
infringing some rule, the breaking of which he knew could not be
overlooked. He was slovenly in his dress, and when spoken to about
these and other irregularities, he was in the habit of making such
extraordinary gestures, expressive of his humility under reproof, as
to overset first the gravity and then the temper of the lecturing
tutor. When he proceeded so far as to paste up atheistical squibs on
the chapel doors, it was considered necessary to expel him privately,
out of regard to Sir Timothy Shelley, the father, who came up at once.
He and his son left Oxford together.”

No one would recognize in this picture the University of Oxford, as it
is at present. _Nous avons changé tout cela_ might be said with great
truth by the Heads of Houses, the Professors, and Fellows of the
present day. And yet what the Highland lady, or rather the Highland
girl, describes, refers to times not so long ago but that some of the
men we have known might have lived through it. How this change came
about I cannot tell, though I can bear testimony to a few survivals of
the old state of things.

The Oxford of 1848 was still the Oxford of the Heads of Houses and of
the Hebdomadal Board. That board consisted almost entirely of Heads of
Houses, and a most important board it was, considering that the whole
administration of the University was really in its hands. The
colleges, on the other hand, were very jealous of their independence;
and even the authority of the Proctors, who represented the University
as such, was often contested within the gates of a college. It is
wonderful that this old system of governing the University through the
Heads of Houses should have gone on so long and so smoothly. Having
been trusted by the Fellows of his own society with considerable power
in the administration of his own college, it was supposed that the
Head would prove equally useful in the administration of the
University. A Head of a House became at once a member of the Council.
And, on the whole, they managed to drive the coach and horses very
well. But often when I had to take foreigners to hear the University
Sermon, and they saw a most extraordinary set of old gentlemen walking
into St. Mary’s in procession, with a most startling combination of
colours, black and red, scarlet and pink, on their heavy gowns and
sleeves, I found it difficult to explain who they were. “Are they your
professors?” I was asked. “Oh, no,” I said, “the professors don’t wear
red gowns, only Doctors of Divinity and of Civil Law, and as every
Head of a House must have something to wear in public, he is
invariably made a Doctor.” I remember one exception only, and at a
much later time, namely, the Master of Balliol, who, like Canning at
the Congress of Vienna, considered it among his most valued
distinctions never to have worn the gown of a D.C.L. or D.D. It is
well known that when Marshal Blücher was made a Doctor at Oxford he
asked, in the innocence of his heart, that General Gneisenau, his
right-hand man, might at least be made a chemist. He certainly had
mixed a most effective powder for the French army under Napoléon.

“But,” my friend would ask, “have you no _Senatus Academicus_, have
you no faculties of professors such as there are in all other
Christian universities?” “Yes and no,” I said. “We have professors,
but they are not divided into faculties, and they certainly do not
form the _Senatus Academicus_, or the highest authority in the

It seems very strange, but it is nevertheless a fact, that as soon as
a good tutor is made a professor, he is considered of no good for the
real teaching work of the colleges. His lectures are generally
deserted; and I could quote the names of certain professors who
afterwards rose to great eminence, but who at Oxford were simply
ignored and their lecture-rooms deserted. The real teaching or
coaching or cramming for examination is left to the tutors and Fellows
of each college, and the examinations also are chiefly in their hands.
Many undergraduates never see a professor, and, as far as the teaching
work of the University is concerned, the professorships might safely
be abolished. And yet, as I could honestly assure my foreign friends,
the best men who take honour degrees at Oxford are quite the equals of
the best men at Paris or Berlin. The professors may not be so
distinguished, but that is due to a certain extent to the small
salaries attached to some of the chairs. England has produced great
names both in science and philosophy and scholarship, but these have
generally drifted to some more attractive or lucrative centres. When I
first came to Oxford one professor received £40 a year, another
£1,500, and no one complained about these inequalities. A certain
amount of land had been left by a king or bishop for endowing a
certain chair, and every holder of the chair received whatever the
endowment yielded. The mode of appointing professors was very curious
at that time. Often the elections resembled parliamentary elections,
far more regard being paid to political or theological partisanship
than to scientific qualifications. Every M.A. had a vote, and these
voters were scattered all over the country. Canvassing was carried on
quite openly. Travelling expenses were freely paid, and lists were
kept in each college of the men who could be depended on to vote for
the liberal or the conservative candidate. Imagine a professor of
medicine or of Greek being elected because he was a liberal! Some
appointments rested with the Prime Minister, or, as it was called, the
Crown; and it was quoted to the honour of the Duke of Wellington, that
he, when Chancellor of the University, once insisted that the electors
should elect the best man, and they had to yield, though there were
electors who would declare their own candidate the best man, whatever
the opinion of really qualified judges might be. All this election
machinery is much improved now, though an infallible system of
electing the best men has not yet been discovered. One single elector,
who is not troubled by too tender a conscience, may even now vitiate a
whole election; to say nothing of the painful position in which an
elector is placed, if he has to vote against a personal friend or a
member of his own college, particularly when the feeling that it is
dishonourable to disclose the vote of each elector is no longer strong
enough to protect the best interests of the University.

It took me some time before I could gain an insight into all this. The
old system passed away before my very eyes, not without evident
friction between my different friends, and then came the difficulty of
learning to understand the working of the new machinery which had been
devised and sanctioned by Parliament. Reformers arose even among the
Heads of Houses, as, for instance, Dr. Jeune, the Master of Pembroke
College, who was credited with having _rajeuni l’ancienne université_.
But he was by no means the only, or even the chief actor in University
reform. Many of my personal friends, such as Dr. Tait, afterwards
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev. H. G. Liddell, afterwards Dean of
Christ Church, Professor Baden-Powell, and the Rev. G. H. S. Johnson,
afterwards Dean of Wells, with Stanley and Goldwin Smith as
Secretaries, did honest service in the various Royal and Parliamentary
Commissions, and spent much of their valuable time in serving the
University and the country. I could do no more than answer the
questions addressed to me by the Commissioners and by my friends, and
this is really all the share I had at that time in the reform of the
University, or what was called Germanizing the English Universities.
At one time such was the unpopularity of these reformers in the
University itself that one of them asked one of the junior professors
to invite him to dinner, because the Heads of Houses would no longer
admit him to their hospitable boards.

Certainly to have been a member of the much abused Hebdomadal Board,
and a Head of a College in those pre-reform days must have been a
delightful life. Before the days of agricultural distress the income
of the colleges was abundant; the authority of the Heads was
unquestioned in their own colleges; not only undergraduates, but
Fellows also had to be submissive. No junior Fellow would then have
dared to oppose his Head at college meetings. If there was by chance
an obstreperous junior, he was easily silenced or requested to retire.
The days had not yet come when a Master of Trinity ventured to remark
that even a junior Fellow might possibly be mistaken. Colleges seemed
to be the property of the Heads, and in some of them the Fellows were
really chosen by them, and the rest of the Fellows after some kind of
examination. The management of University affairs was likewise
entirely in the hands of the Heads of Colleges, and it was on rare
occasions only that a theological question stirred the interest of
non-resident M.A.s, and brought them to Oxford to record their vote
for or against the constituted authorities. Men like the Dean of
Christ Church, Dr. Gaisford, the Warden of Wadham, Dr. Parsons, and
the Provost of Oriel, Dr. Hawkins, were in their dominions supreme,
till the rebellious spirit began to show itself in such men as Dr.
Jeune, Professor Baden-Powell, A. P. Stanley, Goldwin Smith and

Nor were there many very flagrant abuses under the old régime. It was
rather the want of life that was complained of. It began to be felt
that Oxford should take its place as an equal by the side of foreign
Universities, not only as a high school, but as a home of what then
was called for the first time “original research.” There can be no
question that as a teaching body, as a high school at the head of all
the public schools in England, Oxford did its duty nobly. A man who at
that time could take a Double First was indeed a strong man, well
fitted for any work in after life. He would not necessarily turn out
an original thinker, a scholar, or a discoverer in physical science,
but he would know what it was to know anything thoroughly. To take
honours at the same time in classics and mathematics required strength
and grasp, and the effort was certainly considerable, as I found out
when occasionally I read a Greek or Latin author with a young
undergraduate friend. What struck me most was the accurate knowledge
a candidate acquired of special authors and special books, but also
the want of that familiarity with the language, Greek or Latin, which
would enable him to read any new author with comparative ease. The
young men whom I knew at the time they went in for their final
examination, were certainly well grounded in classics, and what they
knew they knew thoroughly.

The personal relations existing between undergraduates and their
tutors were very intimate. A tutor took a pride in his pupils, and
often became their friend for life. The teaching was almost private
teaching, and the idea of reading a written lecture to a class in
college did not exist as yet. It was real teaching with questions and
answers; while lectures, written and read out, were looked down upon
as good enough for professors, but entirely useless for the schools.
The social tone of the University was excellent. Many of the tutors
and of the undergraduates came of good families, and the struggle for
life, or for a college living, or college office, was not, as yet, so
fierce as it became afterwards. College tutors toiled on for life, and
certainly did their work to the last most conscientiously. There was
perhaps little ambition, little scheming or pushing, but the work of
the University, such as the country would have it, was well done. If
the Honour-Lists were small, the number of utter failures also was not
very large.

For a young scholar, like myself, who came to live at Oxford in those
distant days, the peace and serenity of life were most congenial,
though several of my friends were among the first who began to fret,
and wished for more work to be done and for better use to be made of
the wealth and the opportunities of the University. My impression at
that time was the same as it has been ever since, that a reform of the
Universities was impossible till the public schools had been
thoroughly reformed. The Universities must take what the schools send
them. There is every year a limited number of boys from the best
schools who would do credit to any University. But a large number of
the young men who are sent up to matriculate at Oxford are not up to
an academic standard. Unless the colleges agree to stand empty for a
year or two, they cannot help themselves, but have to keep the
standard of the matriculation examination low, and in fact do, to a
great extent, the work that ought to have been done at school. Think
of boys being sent up to Oxford, who, after having spent on an average
six years at a public school, are yet unable to read a line of Greek
or Latin which they have not seen before. Yet so it was, and so it is,
unless I am very much misinformed. It is easy for some colleges who
keep up a high standard of matriculation to turn out first-class men;
the real burden falls on the colleges and tutors who have to work hard
to bring their pupils up to the standard of a pass degree, and few
people have any idea how little a pass degree may mean. Those tutors
have indeed hard work to do and get little credit for it, though their
devotion to their college and their pupils is highly creditable. Fifty
years ago even a pass degree was more difficult than it is now,
because candidates were not allowed to pass in different subjects at
different times, but the whole examination had to be done all at once,
or not at all.

I had naturally made it a rule at Oxford to stand aloof from the
conflict of parties, whether academical, theological, or political. I
had my own work to do, and it did not seem to me good taste to obtrude
my opinions, which naturally were different from those prevalent at
Oxford. Most people like to wash their dirty linen among themselves;
and though I gladly talked over such matters with my friends who often
consulted me, I did not feel called upon to join in the fray. I lived
through several severe crises at Oxford, and though I had some
intimate friends on either side, I remained throughout a looker on.

Seldom has a University passed through such a complete change as
Oxford has since the year 1854. And yet the change was never violent,
and the University has passed through its ordeal really rejuvenated
and reinvigorated. It has been said that our constitution has now
become too democratic, and that a University should be ruled by a
Senatus rather than by a Juventus. This is true to a certain extent.
There has been too much unrest, too constant changes, and a lack of
continuity in the studies and in the government of the University.
Every three years a new wave of young masters came in, carried a
reform in the system of teaching and examining, and then left to make
room for a new wave which brought new ideas, before the old ones had a
fair trial. Senior members of the University, heads of houses and
professors, have no more voting power than the young men who have just
taken their degrees, nay, have in reality less influence than these
young Masters, who always meet together and form a kind of compact
phalanx when votes are to be taken. There was even a Non-placet club,
ready to throw out any measure that seemed to emanate from the
reforming party, or threatened to change any established customs,
whether beneficial or otherwise to the University. The University, as
such, was far less considered than the colleges, and money drawn from
the colleges for University purposes was looked upon as robbery,
though of course the colleges profited by the improvement of the
University, and the interests of the two ought never to have been
divided, as little as the interests of an army can be divided from the
interests of each regiment.

When I came to Oxford there was still practically no society except
that of the Heads of Houses, and there were no young ladies to grace
their dinners. Each head took his turn in succession, and had twice or
three times during term to feed his colleagues. These dinners were
sumptuous repasts, though they often took place as early as five. To
be invited to them was considered a great distinction, and, though a
very young man, I was allowed now and then to be present, and I highly
appreciated the honour. The company consisted almost entirely of Heads
of Houses, Canons, and Professors; sometimes there was a sprinkling of
distinguished persons from London, and even of ladies of various ages
and degrees. I confess I often sat among them, as we say in German,
_verrathen und verkauft_. After dinner I saw a number of young men
streaming in, and thought the evening would now become more lively.
But far from it. These young men with white ties and in evening dress
stood in their scanty gowns huddled together on one side of the room.
They received a cup of tea, but no one noticed them or spoke to them,
and they hardly dared to speak among themselves. This, as I was told,
was called “doing the perpendicular,” and they must have felt much
relieved when towards ten o’clock they were allowed to depart, and
exchange the perpendicular for a more comfortable position, indulging
in songs and pleasant talk, which I sometimes was invited to join.

At that time I remember only very few houses outside the circle of
Heads of Houses, where there was a lady and a certain amount of social
life—the houses of Dr. Acland, Dr. Greenhill, Professor Baden-Powell,
Professor Donkin, and Mr. Greswell. In their houses there was less of
the strict academical etiquette, and as they were fond of music,
particularly the Donkins, I spent some really delightful evenings with
them. Nay, as I played on the pianoforte, even the Heads of Houses
began to patronize music at their evening parties, though no gentleman
at that time would have played at Oxford. I being a German, and
Professor Donkin being a confirmed invalid, we were allowed to play,
and we certainly had an appreciative, though not always a silent,

In one respect, the old system of Oxford Fellowships was still very
perceptible in the society of the University. No Fellows were allowed
to marry, and the natural consequence was that most of them waited for
a college living, a professorship or librarianship, which generally
came to them when they were no longer young men. Headships of colleges
also had so long to be waited for that most of them were generally
filled by very senior and mostly unmarried men. Besides, headships
were but seldom given for excellence in scholarship, science, or even
divinity, but for the sake of personal popularity, and for business
habits. Some of the Fellows gave pleasant and, as I thought, very
Lucullic dinners in college; and I still remember my surprise when I
was asked to the first dinner in Common Room at Jesus College. My host
was Mr. Ffoulkes, who afterwards became a Roman Catholic, and then an
Anglican clergyman again. The carpets, the curtains, the whole
furniture and the plate quite confounded me, and I became still more
confounded when I was suddenly called upon to make a speech at a time
when I could hardly put two words together in English.

The City society was completely separated from the University society,
so that even rich bankers and other gentlemen would never have
ventured to ask members of the University to dine.

Considering the position then held by the Heads of Houses, I feel I
ought to devote some pages to describing some of the most prominent of
them. At my age I may well hold to the maxim _seniores priores_, and
will therefore begin with Dr. Routh, the centenarian President of
Magdalen, as, though, the headship of a house seems to be an excellent
prescription for longevity, there was no one to dispute the venerable
doctor’s claim to precedence in this respect. He was then nearly a
hundred years old, and he died in his hundredth year, and obtained his
wish to have the _C, anno centesimo_, on his gravestone, for, though
tired of life, he often declared, so I was told, that he would not be
outdone in this respect by another very old man, who was a dissenter;
he never liked to see the Church beaten. I might have made his
personal acquaintance, some friends of the old President offering to
present me to him. But I did not avail myself of their offer, because
I knew the old man did not like to be shown as a curiosity. When I saw
him sitting at his window he always wore a wig, and few had seen him
without his wig and without his academic gown. He was certainly an
exceptional man, and I believe he stood alone in the whole history of
literature, as having published books at an interval of seventy years.
His edition of the _Enthymemes_ and _Gorgias of Plato_ was published
in 1784, his papers on the _Ignatian Epistles_ in 1854. His _Reliquia
Sacra_ first appeared in 1814, and they are a work which at that time
would have made the reputation of any scholar and divine. His editions
of historical works, such as Burnet’s _History of his own Time_ and
the _History of the reign of King James_, show his considerable
acquaintance with English history. I have already mentioned how he
used to speak of events long before his time, such as the execution of
Charles I, as if he had been present; nor did he hesitate to declare
that even Bishop Burnet was a great liar. He certainly had seen many
things which connected him with the past. He had seen Samuel Johnson
mounting the steps of the Clarendon building in Broad Street, and
though he had not himself seen Charles I when he held his Parliament
at Oxford, he had known a lady whose mother had seen the king walking
round the Parks at Oxford.

However, we must not forget that many stories about the old President
were more or less mythical, as indeed many Oxford stories are. I was
told that he actually slept in wig, cap and gown, so that once when
an alarm of fire was raised in the quadrangle of his College, he put
his head out of window in an incredibly short time, fully equipped as
above. Many of these stories or “Common-Roomers” as they were called,
still lived in the Common Rooms in my time, when the Fellows of each
College assembled regularly after dinner, to take wine and dessert,
and to talk on anything but what was called _Shop_, i. e. Greek and
Latin. No one inquired about the truth of these stories, as long as
they were well told. In a place like Oxford there exists a regular
descent, by inheritance, of good stories. I remember stories told of
Dr. Jenkins, as Master of Balliol, and afterwards transferred to his
successor, Mr. Jowett. Bodleian stories descended in like manner from
Dr. Bandinell to Mr. Coxe, and will probably be told of successive
librarians till they become quite incongruous. I am old enough to have
watched the descent of stories at Oxford, just as one recognizes the
same furniture in college rooms occupied by successive generations of
undergraduates. To me they sometimes seem threadbare like the old
Turkish carpets in the college rooms, but I never spoil them by
betraying their age, and, if well told, I can enjoy them as much as if
I had never heard them before.

Dr. Hawkins, Provost of Oriel, was quite a representative of Old
Oxford, and a well-known character in the University. I had been
introduced to him by Baron Bunsen, and he showed me much hospitality.
I was warned that I should find him very stiff and forbidding. His own
Fellows called him the East-wind. But though he certainly was
condescending, he treated me with great urbanity. He had a very
peculiar habit; when he had to shake hands with people whom he
considered his inferiors, he stretched out two fingers, and if some of
them who knew this peculiarity of his, tendered him two fingers in
return, the shaking of hands became rather awkward. One of the Fellows
of his college told me that, as long as he was only a Fellow, he never
received more than two fingers; when, however, he became Head Master
of a school, he was rewarded with three fingers, or even with the
whole hand, but, as soon as he gave up this place, and returned to
live in college, he was at once reduced to the statutable two fingers.
I don’t recollect exactly how many fingers I was treated to, and I may
have shaken them with my whole hand. Anyhow, I am quite conscious now
of how many times I must have offended against academic etiquette.
How, for instance, is a man to know that people who live at Oxford
during term-time never shake hands except once during term? I doubt,
in fact, whether that etiquette existed when I first came to Oxford,
but it certainly had existed for some time before I discovered it.

Dr. Jenkins, Master of Balliol, was also the hero of many anecdotes.
It was of him that it was first told how he once found fault with an
undergraduate because, whenever he looked out of window, he
invariably saw the young man loitering about in the quad; to which the
undergraduate replied: “How very curious, for whenever I cross the
quad, I always see you, Sir, looking out of window.” He had a quiet
humour of his own, and delighted in saying things which made others
laugh, but never disturbed a muscle of his own face. One of his
undergraduates was called Wyndham, and he had to say a few sharp words
to him at “handshaking,” that is, at the end of term. After saying all
he wanted, he finished in Latin: “Et nunc valeas Wyndhamme,”—the last
two syllables being pronounced with great emphasis. The Master’s
regard for his own dignity was very great. Once, when returning from a
solitary walk, he slipped and fell. Two undergraduates seeing the
accident ran to assist him, and were just laying hands on him to lift
him up, when he descried a Master of Arts coming. “Stop,” he cried,
“stop, I see a Master of Arts coming down the street.” And he
dismissed the undergraduates with many thanks, and was helped on to
his legs by the M.A.

Accidents, or slips of the tongue, will happen to everybody, even to a
Head of a House. One of these old gentlemen, Dr. Symons, of Wadham,
when presiding at a missionary meeting, had to introduce Sir Peregrine
Maitland, a most distinguished officer, and a thoroughly good man.
When dilating on the Christian work which Sir Peregrine had done in
India, he called him again and again Sir Peregrine Pickle. The effect
was most ludicrous, for everybody was evidently well acquainted with
_Roderick Random_, and Sir Peregrine had great difficulty in remaining
serious when the Chairman called on Sir Peregrine Pickle once more to
address his somewhat perplexed audience.

But whatever may be said about the old Heads of Houses, most of them
were certainly gentlemen both by birth and by nature. They are
forgotten now, but they did good in their time, and much of their good
work remains. If I consider who were the Dean and Canons and Students
I met at Christ Church when I first became a member of the House, I
should have to give a very different account from that given by the
Highland lady in her _Memoirs_. The Dean of Christ Church, who
received me, who proposed me for the degree of M.A., and afterwards
allowed me to become a member of the House, was Dr. Gaisford, a real
scholar, though it may be of the old school. He was considered very
rough and rude, but I can only say he showed me more of real courtesy
in those days than anybody else at Oxford. He was, I believe, a little
shy, and easily put out when he suspected anybody, particularly the
young men, of want of consideration. I can quite believe that when an
undergraduate, in addressing him, stepped on the hearthrug on which he
was standing, he may have said: “Get down from my hearthrug,” meaning,
“keep at your proper distance.” I can only say that I never found him
anything but kind and courteous. It so happened that he had been made
a Member of the Bavarian Academy, and I, though very young, had
received the same distinction as a reward for my Sanskrit work, and
the Dean was rather pleased when he heard it. When I asked him whether
he would put my name on the books of the House, he certainly hesitated
a little, and asked me at last to come again next day and dine with
him. I went, but I confess I was rather afraid that the Dean would
raise difficulties. However, he spoke to me very nicely, “I have
looked through the books,” he said, “and I find two precedents of
Germans being members of the House, one of the name of Wernerus, and
another of the name of Nitzschius,” or some such name. “But,” he
continued, smiling, “even if I had not found these names, I should not
have minded making a precedent of your case.” People were amazed at
Oxford when they heard of the Dean’s courtesy, but I can only repeat
that I never found him anything but courteous.

Most of the Heads of Houses asked me to dine with them by sending me
an invitation. The Dean alone first came and called on me. I was then
living in a small room in Walton Street in which I worked, and dined,
and smoked. My bedroom was close by, and I generally got up early, and
shaved and finished my toilet at about 11 o’clock. I had just gone
into my bedroom to shave, my face was half covered with lather, when
my landlady rushed in and told me the Dean had called, and my dogs
were pulling him about. The fact was I had a Scotch terrier with a
litter of puppies in a basket, and when the Dean entered in full
academical dress, the dogs flew at him, pulling the sleeves of his
gown and barking furiously. Covered with lather as I was, I had to
rush in to quiet the dogs, and in this state I had to receive the Very
Rev. the Dean, and explain to him the nature of the work that brought
me to Oxford. It was certainly awkward, but in spite of the disorder
of my room, in spite also of the tobacco smoke of which the Dean did
not approve, all went off well, though, I confess, I felt somewhat
ashamed. In the same interview the Dean asked me about an Icelandic
Dictionary which had been offered to the press by Cleasby and Dasent.
“Surely it is a small barbarous island,” he said, “and how can they
have any literature?” I tried, as well as I could, to explain to the
Dean the extent and the value of Icelandic literature, and soon after
the press, which was then the Dean, accepted the Dictionary which was
brought out later by Dr. Vigfusson, in a most careful and scholarlike
manner. It might indeed safely be called his Dictionary, considering
how many dictionaries are called, not after the name of the compiler
or compilers, but after that of their editor.

This Dr. Vigfusson was quite a character. He was perfectly pale and
bloodless, and had but one wish, that of being left alone. He came to
Oxford first to assist Dr. Dasent, to whom Cleasby, when he died, had
handed over his collections; but afterwards he stayed, taking it for
granted that the University would give him the little he wanted. But
even that little was difficult to provide, as there were no funds that
could be used for that purpose, however uselessly other funds might
seem to be squandered. That led to constant grumbling on his part.
Ever so many expedients were tried to satisfy him, but none quite
succeeded. At last he fell ill and died, and when he was a patient at
the Acland Home, where the nurses did all they could for him, he
several times said to me when I sat with him, that he had never been
so happy in his life as in that Home. I sometimes blame myself for not
having seen more of him at Oxford. But he always seemed to me full of
suspicions and very easily offended, and that made any free
intercourse with him difficult and far from pleasant. Perhaps it was
my fault also. He may have felt that he might have claimed a
professorship of Icelandic quite as well as I, and he may have grudged
my settled position in Oxford, my independence and my freedom.
Whenever we did work together, I always found him pleasant at first,
but very soon he would become wayward and sensitive, do what I would,
and I had to let him go his own way, as I went mine.

I remember dining with the famous Dr. Bull, Canon of Christ Church,
who certainly managed to produce a dinner that would have done credit
to any French chef. He was one of the last pluralists, and many
stories were told about him. One story, which however was perfectly
true, showed at all events his great sagacity. A well-known banker had
been for years the banker of Christ Church. Dr. Bull who was the
College Bursar had to transact all the financial business with him. No
one suspected the banking house which he represented. Dr. Bull,
however, the last time he invited him to dinner, was struck by his
very pious and orthodox remarks, and by the change of tone in his
conversation, such as might suit a Canon of Christ Church, but not a
luxurious banker from London. Without saying a word, Dr. Bull went to
London next day, drew out all the money of the college, took all his
papers from the bank, and the day after, to the dismay of London, the
bank failed, the depositors lost their money, but Christ Church was

Another of the Canons of Christ Church at that time had spent half a
century in the place, and read the lessons there twice every day. Of
course he knew the prayer-book by heart, and as long as he could see
to read there was no harm in his reading. But when his eyesight failed
him and he had to trust entirely to his memory, he would often go from
some word in the evening prayer to the same word in the marriage
service, and from there to the burial service, with an occasional slip
into baptism. The result of it was that he was no longer allowed to
read the service in Chapel except during Long Vacation when the young
men were away. I frequently stayed at Oxford during vacation, and
thought of course that the evening service would never end, till at
last I was asked to name the child, and then I went home.

One Sunday I remember going to chapel, and after prayers had begun the
following conversation took place, loud enough to be heard all through
the chapel. Enter old Canon preceded by a beadle. He goes straight to
his stall, and finding it occupied by a well-known D.D. from London,
who is deeply engaged in prayer, he stands and looks at the
interloper, and when that produces no effect, he says to the beadle:
“Tell that man this is my stall; tell him to get out.”

Beadle: “Dr. A.’s compliments, and whether you would kindly occupy
another stall.”

D.D.: “Very sorry; I shall change immediately.”

Old Canon settles in his stall, prayers continue, and after about ten
minutes the Canon shouts: “Beadle, tell that man to dine with me at

Beadle: “Dr. A.’s compliments, and whether you would give him the
pleasure of your company at dinner at five.”

D.D.: “Very sorry, I am engaged.”

Beadle: “D.D. regrets he is engaged.”

Old Canon: “Oh, he won’t dine!”

The cathedral was very empty, and fortunately this conversation was
listened to by a small congregation only. I can, however, vouch for
it, as I was sitting close by and heard it myself.

Bodley’s Library, too, was full of good stories, though many of them
do not bear repeating. When I first began to work there, Dr. Bandinell
was Bodleian Librarian. Working in the Bodleian was then like working
in one’s private library. One could have as many books and MSS. as one
desired, and the six hours during which the Library was open were a
very fair allowance for such tiring work as copying and collating
Sanskrit MSS. I well remember my delight when I first sat down at my
table near one of the windows looking into the garden of Exeter. It
seemed a perfect paradise for a student. I must confess that I
slightly altered my opinion when I had to sit there every day during a
severe winter without any fire, shivering and shaking, and almost
unable to hold my pen, till kind Mr. Coxe, the sub-librarian, took
compassion on me and brought me a splendid fur that had been sent him
as a present by a Russian scholar, who had witnessed the misery of the
Librarian in this Siberian Library. Now all this is changed. The
Library is so full of students, both male and female, that one has
difficulty in finding a place, certainly in finding a quiet place; and
all sorts of regulations have been introduced which have no doubt
become necessary on account of the large number of readers, but which
have completely changed, or as some would say, improved the character
of the place. As to one improvement, however, there can be no two
opinions. The Library and the reading-room, the so-called Camera, are
now comfortably warmed, and students may in the latter place read for
twelve hours uninterruptedly, and not be turned out as we were by a
warning bell at four o’clock. And woe to you if you failed to obey the
warning. One day an unfortunate reader was so absorbed in his book
that he did not hear the bell, and was locked in. He tried in vain to
attract attention from the windows, for it was no pleasant prospect to
pass a night among so many ghosts. At last he saw a solitary woman,
and shouted to her that he was locked in. “No,” she said, “you are
not. The Library is closed at four.” Whether he spent the night among
the books is not known. Let us hope that he met with a less logical
person to release him from his cold prison.

Dr. Bandinell ruled supreme in his library, and even the Curators
trembled before him when he told them what had been the invariable
custom of the Library for years, and could not be altered. And,
curiously enough, he had always funds at his disposal, which is not
the case now, and whenever there was a collection of valuable MSS. in
the market he often prided himself on having secured it long before
any other library had the money ready. Now and then, it is true, he
allowed himself to be persuaded by a plausible seller of rare books
or MSS., but generally he was very wary. He was not always very
courteous to visitors, and still less so to his under-librarians. The
Oriental under-librarian Professor Reay, in particular, who was old
and somewhat infirm, had much to suffer from him, and the language in
which he was ordered about was such as would not now be addressed to
any menial. And yet Professor Reay belonged to a very good family,
though Dr. Bandinell would insist on calling him Ray, and declared
that he had no right to the e in his name. In revenge some people
would give him an additional i and call him Dr. Bandinelli, which made
him very angry, because, as he would say to me, “he had never been one
of those dirty foreigners.” Silence was enjoined in the library, but
the librarian’s voice broke through all rules of silence. I remember
once, when Professor Reay had been looking for ever so long to find
his spectacles without which he could not read the Arabic MSS., and
had asked everybody whether they had seen them, a voice came at last
thundering through the library: “You left your spectacles on my chair,
you old ----, and I sat on them!” There was an end of spectacles and
Arabic MSS. after that. There were two men only of whom Dr. Bandinell
and H. O. Coxe also were afraid, Dr. Pusey, who was one of the
Curators, and later on, Jowett, the Master of Balliol.

There was a vacancy in the Oriental sub-librarianship, and a very
distinguished young Hebrew scholar, William Wright, afterwards
Professor at Cambridge, was certainly by far the best candidate. But
as ill-luck—I mean ill-luck for the Library—would have it, he had
given offence by a lecture at Dublin, in which he declared that the
people of Canaan were Semitic, and not, as stated in Genesis, the
children of Ham. No one doubts this now, and every new inscription has
confirmed it. Still a strong effort was made to represent Dr. Wright
as a most dangerous young man, and thus to prevent his appointment at
Oxford. The appointment was really in the hands of Dr. Bandinell; and
after I had frankly explained to him the motives of this mischievous
agitation against Dr. Wright, and assured him that he was a scholar
and by no means given to what was then called “free-handling of the
Old Testament,” he promised me that he would appoint him and no one
else. However, poor man, he was urged and threatened and frightened,
and to my great surprise the appointment was given to some one else,
who at that time had given hardly any proofs of independent work as a
Semitic scholar, though he afterwards rendered very good and honest
service. I did not disguise my opinion of what had happened; and for
more than a year Dr. Bandinell never spoke to me nor I to him, though
we met almost daily at the library. At last the old man, evidently
feeling that he had been wrong, came to tell me that he was sorry for
what had happened, but that it was not his fault: after this, of
course, all was forgotten. Dr. Wright had a much more brilliant career
opened to him, first at the British Museum, and then as professor at
Cambridge, than he could possibly have had as sub-librarian at Oxford.
He always remained a scholar, and never dabbled in theology.

Some very heated correspondence passed at the time, and I remember
keeping the letters for a long while. They were curious as showing the
then state of theological opinion at Oxford; but I have evidently put
the correspondence away so carefully that nowhere can I find it now.
Let it be forgotten and forgiven.

Many, if not all, of the stories that I have written down in this
chapter may be legendary, and they naturally lose or gain as told by
different people. Who has not heard different versions of the story of
a well-known Canon of Christ Church in my early days, who, when rowing
on the river, saw a drowning man laying hold of his boat and nearly
upsetting it. “Providentially,” he explained, “I had brought my
umbrella, and I had presence of mind enough to hit him over the
knuckles. He let go, sank, and never rose again.” Nobody, I imagine,
would have vouched for the truth of this story, but it was so often
repeated that it provided the old gentleman with a nickname, that
stuck to him always.

I could add more Oxford stories, but it seems almost ill-natured to do
so, and I could only say in most cases _relata refero_. When I first
came here Oxford and Oxford society were to me so strange that I
probably accepted many similar stories as gospel truth. My young
friends hardly treated me quite fairly in this respect. I had many
questions to ask, and my friends evidently thought it great fun to
chaff me and to tell me stories which I naturally believed, for there
were many things which seemed to me very strange, and yet they were
true and I had to believe them. The existence of Fellows who received
from £300 to £800 a year, as a mere sinecure for life, provided they
did not marry, seemed to me at first perfectly incredible. In Germany
education at Public Schools and Universities was so cheap that even
the poorest could manage to get what was wanted for the highest
employments, particularly if they could gain an exhibition or
scholarship. But after a man had passed his examinations, the country
or the government had nothing more to do with him. “Swim or drown” was
the maxim followed everywhere; and it was but natural that the first
years of professional life, whether as lawyers, medical men, or
clergymen, were years of great self-denial. But they were also years
of intense struggle, and the years of hunger are said to have
accounted for a great deal of excellent work in order to force the
doors to better employment. To imagine that after the country had done
its duty by providing schools and universities, it would provide
crutches for men who ought to learn to walk by themselves, was beyond
my comprehension, particularly when I was told how large a sum was
yearly spent by the colleges in paying these fellowships without
requiring any _quid pro quo_.

Having once come to believe that, and several other to me
unintelligible things at Oxford, I was ready to believe almost
anything my friends told me. There are some famous stone images, for
instance, round the Theatre and the Ashmolean Museum. They are
hideous, for the sandstone of which they are made has crumbled away
again and again, but even when they were restored, the same brittle
stone was used. They are in the form of Hermae, and were planned by no
less an architect than Sir Christopher Wren. When I asked what they
were meant for, I was assured quite seriously that they were images of
former Heads of Houses. I believed it, though I expressed my surprise
that the stone-mason who made new heads, when the old showed hardly
more than two eyes and a nose, and a very wide mouth, should carefully
copy the crumbling faces, because, as I was informed, he had been told
to copy the former gentlemen.

It was certainly a very common amusement of my young undergraduate
friends to make fun of the Heads of Houses. They did not seem to feel
that shiver of unspeakable awe for them of which Bishop Thorold
speaks; nay, they were anything but respectful in speaking of the
Doctors of Divinity in their red gowns with black velvet sleeves. If
it is difficult for old men always to understand young men, it is
certainly even more difficult for young men to understand old men.
There is a very old saying, “Young men think that old men are fools,
but old men know that young men are.” Though very young myself, I came
to know several of the old Heads of Houses, and though they certainly
had their peculiarities, they did by no means all belong to the age of
the Dodo. They were enjoying their _otium cum dignitate_, as befits
gentlemen, scholars, and divines, and they certainly deserved greater
respect from the undergraduates than they received.

At the annual _Encaenia_, a great deal of licence was allowed to the
young men; and I know of several strangers, especially foreigners, who
have been scandalized at the riotous behaviour of the undergraduates
in the Theatre, the Oxford _Aula_, when the Vice-Chancellor stood up
to address the assembled audience. My first experience of this was
with Dr. Plumptre, who, as I have said, was very tall and stately;
when his first words were not quite distinct, the undergraduates
shouted, “Speak up, old stick.” When the Warden of Wadham, the Rev.
Dr. Symons, was showing some pretty young ladies to their seats in the
Theatre, he was threatened by the young men, who yelled at the top of
their voices, “I’ll tell Lydia, you wicked old man.” Now Lydia was his
most excellent spouse. At first the remarks of the undergraduates at
the _Encaenia_, or rather _Saturnalia_, were mostly good-natured and
at least witty; but they at last became so rude that distinguished
men, whom the University wished to honour by conferring on them
honorary degrees, felt deeply offended. Sir Arthur Helps declared that
he came to receive an honour, and received an insult. Well do I
remember the Rev. Dr. Salmon, who was asked where he had left his
lobster sauce; Dr. Wendell Holmes was shouted at, whether he had come
across the Atlantic in his “One Hoss Shay”; the Right Hon. W. H.
Smith, First Lord of the Admiralty, was presented with a Pinafore, and
Lord Wolseley with a Black Watch. There was a certain amount of wit in
these allusions, and the best way to take the academic row and riot
was Tennyson’s, who told me on coming out that “he felt all the time
as if standing on the shingle of the sea shore, the storm howling, and
the spray covering him right and left.” After a time, however, these
_Saturnalia_ had to be stopped, and they were stopped in a curious
way, by giving ladies seats among the undergraduates. It speaks well
for them that their regard for the ladies restrained them, and made
them behave like gentlemen.

The reign of the Heads of Houses, which was in full force when I first
settled in Oxford, began to wane when it was least expected. There
had, however, been grumblings among the Fellows and Tutors at Oxford,
who felt themselves aggrieved by the self-willed interference of the
Heads of Colleges in their tutorial work, and, it may be, resented the
airs assumed by men who, after all, were their equals, and in no sense
their betters, in the University.

Society distinctly profited when Fellows and Tutors were allowed to
marry, and when several of the newly-elected of the Heads of Houses,
having wives and daughters, opened their houses, and had interesting
people to dine with them from the neighbourhood and from London.

The Deanery of Christ Church was not only made architecturally into a
new house, but under Dr. Liddell, with his charming wife and
daughters, became a social centre not easily rivalled anywhere else.
There one met not only royalty, the young Prince of Wales, but many
eminent writers, artists, and political men from London, Gladstone,
Disraeli, Richmond, Ruskin, and many others. Another bright house of
the new era was that of the Principal of Brasenose, Dr. Cradock, and
his cheerful and most amusing wife. There one often met such men as
Lord Russell, Sir George C. Lewis, young Harcourt, and many more. She
was the true Dresden china marquise, with her amusing sallies, which
no doubt often gave offence to grave Heads of Houses and sedate
Professors. No one knew her age, she was so young; and yet she had
been maid of honour to some Queen, as I told her once, to Queen Anne.
Having been maid of honour, she never concealed her own peculiar
feelings about people who had not been presented. When she wanted to
be left alone, she would look out of window, and tell visitors who
came to call, “Very sorry, but I am not at home to-day.” Queen’s
College also, under Dr. Thomson, the future Archbishop of York, was a
most hospitable house. Mrs. Thomson presided over it with her peculiar
grace and genuine kindness, and many a pleasant evening I spent there
with musical performances. But here, too, the old leaven of Oxford
burst forth sometimes. Of course, we generally performed the music of
Handel and other classical authors; Mendelssohn’s compositions were
still considered as mere twaddle by some of the old school. At one of
these evenings, the old organist of New College, with his wooden leg,
after sitting through a rehearsal of Mendelssohn’s _Hymn of Praise_,
which I was conducting at the pianoforte, walked up to me, as I
thought, to thank me; but no, he burst out in a torrent of real and
somewhat coarse abuse of me, for venturing to introduce such flimsy
music at Oxford. I did not feel very guilty, and fortunately I
remained silent, whether from actual bewilderment or from a better
cause, I can hardly tell.

  [Illustration: _F. Max Müller Aged 30._]

Long before Commissions came down on Oxford a new life seemed to be
springing up there, and what was formerly the exception became more
and more the rule among the young Fellows and Tutors. They saw what a
splendid opportunity was theirs, having the very flower of England
to educate, having the future of English society to form. They
certainly made the best of it, helped, I believe, by the so-called
Oxford Movement, which, whatever came of it afterwards, was certainly
in the beginning thoroughly genuine and conscientious. The Tutors saw
a good deal of the young men confided to their care, and the result
was that even what was called the “fast set” thought it a fine thing
to take a good class. I could mention a number of young noblemen and
wealthy undergraduates who, in my early years, read for a first class
and took it; and my experience has certainly been that those who took
a first class came out in later life as eminent and useful members of
society. Not that eminence in political, clerical, literary, and
scientific life was restricted to first classes, far from it. But
first-class men rarely failed to appear again on the surface in later
life. It may be true that a first class did not always mean a
first-class man, but it always seemed to mean a man who had learned
how to work honestly, whether he became Prime Minister or Archbishop,
or spent his days in one of the public offices, or even in a
counting-house or newspaper office.

I felt it was an excellent mixture if a young man, after taking a good
degree at Oxford, spent a year or two at a German University. He
generally came back with fresh ideas, knew what kind of work still had
to be done in the different branches of study, and did it with a
perseverance that soon produced most excellent results. Of course
there was always the difficulty that young men wished to make their
way in life, that is to make a living. The Church, the bar, and the
hospital, absorbed many of those who in Germany would have looked
forward to a University career. In my own subject more particularly,
my very best pupils did not see their way to gaining even an
independence, unless they gave their time to first securing a curacy,
or a mastership at school; and they usually found that, in order to do
their work conscientiously, they had to give up their favourite
studies in which they would certainly have done excellent work, if
there had been no _dira necessitas_. I often tried to persuade my
friends at Oxford to make the fellowships really useful by
concentrating them and giving studious men a chance of devoting
themselves at the University to non-lucrative studies. But the feeling
of the majority was always against what was called derisively Original
Research, and the fellowship-funds continued to be frittered away,
payment by results being considered a totally mistaken principle, so
that often, as in the case of the new septennial fellowships, there
remained the payment only, but no results.

Still all this became clear to me at a much later time only. My first
years at Oxford were spent in a perfect bewilderment of joy and
admiration. No one can see that University for the first time,
particularly in spring or autumn, without being enchanted with it. To
me it seemed a perfect paradise, and I could have wished for myself no
better lot than that which the kindness of my friends later secured
for me there.



I was still very young when I came to settle at Oxford, only
twenty-four in fact; and, though occasionally honoured by invitations
from Heads of Houses and Professors, I naturally lived chiefly with
undergraduates and junior Fellows, such as Grant, Sellar, Palgrave,
Morier, and others. Grant, afterwards Sir Alexander Grant and
Principal of the University of Edinburgh, was a delightful companion.
He had always something new in his mind, and discussed with many
flashes of wit and satire. He possessed an aristocratic contempt for
anything commonplace, or self-evident, so that one had to be careful
in conversing with him. But he was generous, and his laugh reconciled
one to some of his sharp sallies. How little one anticipates the
future greatness of one’s friends. They all seem to us no better than
ourselves, when suddenly they emerge. Grant had shown what he could do
by his edition of Aristotle’s _Ethics_. He became one of the
Professors at the new University at Bombay and contributed much to the
first starting of that University, so warmly patronized by Sir Charles
Trevelyan. On returning to this country he was chosen to fill the
distinguished place of Principal of the Edinburgh University. More was
expected of him when he enjoyed this _otium cum dignitate_, but his
health seemed to have suffered in the enervating climate of India,
and, though he enjoyed his return to his friends most fully and
spending his life as a friend among friends, he died comparatively
young, and perhaps without fulfilling all the hopes that were
entertained of him. But he was a thoroughly genial man, and his
handshake and the twinkle of his eye when meeting an old friend will
not easily be forgotten.

Sellar was another Scotchman whom I knew as an undergraduate at
Balliol. When I first came to know him he was full of anxieties about
his health, and greatly occupied with the usual doubts about religion,
particularly the presence of evil or of anything imperfect in this
world. He was an honest fellow, warmly attached to his friends; and no
one could wish to have a better friend to stand up for him on all
occasions and against all odds. He afterwards became happily married
and a useful Professor of Latin at Edinburgh. I stayed with him later
in life in Scotland and found him always the same, really enjoying his
friends’ society and a talk over old days. He had begun to ail when I
saw him last, but the old boy was always there, even when he was
miserable about his chiefly imaginary miseries. Soon after I had left
him I received his last message and farewell from his deathbed. We
are told that all this is very natural and what we must be prepared
for—but what cold gaps it leaves. My thoughts often return to him, as
if he were still among the living, and then one feels one’s own
loneliness and friendlessness again and again.

Palgrave roused great expectations among undergraduates at Oxford, but
he kept us waiting for some time. He took early to office life in the
Educational Department, and this seems to have ground him down and
unfitted him for other work. He had a wonderful gift of admiring, his
great hero being Tennyson, and he was more than disappointed if others
did not join in his unqualified panegyrics of the great poet. At last,
somewhat late in life, he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford,
and gave some most learned and instructive lectures. His knowledge of
English Literature, particularly poetry, was quite astounding. I
certainly never went to him to ask him a question that he did not
answer at once and with exhaustive fullness. Some of his friends
complained of his great command of language, and even Tennyson, I am
told, found it sometimes too much. All I can say is that to me it was
a pleasure to listen to him. I owe him particular thanks for having,
in the kindest manner, revised my first English compositions. He was
always ready and indefatigable, and I certainly owed a good deal to
his corrections and his unstinted advice. His _Golden Treasury_ has
become a national possession, and certainly speaks well both for his
extensive knowledge and for his good taste.

Lastly there was Morier, of whom certainly no one expected when he was
at Balliol that he would rise to be British Ambassador at St.
Petersburg. His early education had been somewhat neglected, but when
he came to Balliol he worked hard to pass a creditable examination. He
was a giant in size, very good-looking, and his manners, when he
liked, most charming and attractive. Being the son of a diplomatist
there was something both English and foreign in his manner, and he
certainly was a general favourite at Oxford. His great desire was to
enter the diplomatic service, but when that was impossible, he found
employment for a time in the Education Office. But society in London
was too much for him, he was made for society, and society was
delighted to receive him. But it was difficult for him at the same
time to fulfil his duties at the Education Office, and the result was
that he had to give up his place. Things began to look serious, when
fortunately Lord Aberdeen, a great friend of his father, found him
some diplomatic employment; and that once found, Morier was in his
element. He was often almost reckless; but while several of his
friends came altogether to grief, he managed always to fall on his
feet and keep afloat while others went down. As an undergraduate he
came to me to read Greek with me, and I confess that with such
mistakes in his Greek papers as οἱ πἁθοι instead of τἀ πἁθη, I
trembled for his examinations. However, he did well in the schools,
knowing how to hide his weak points and how to make the best of his
strong ones. I travelled with him in Germany, and when the
Schleswig-Holstein question arose, he wrote a pamphlet which certainly
might have cost him his diplomatic career. He asked me to allow it to
be understood that the pamphlet, which did full justice to the claims
of Holstein and of Germany, had been written by me. I received many
compliments, which I tried to parry as well as I could. Fortunately
Lord John Russell stood by Morier, and his prophecies did certainly
turn out true. “Don’t let the Germans awake from their slumbers and
find a work ready made for them on which they all agree.” But the
signatories of the treaty of London did the very thing against which
Morier had raised his warning voice, as the friend of Germany as it
was, though perhaps not of the Germany that was to be. Schleswig-Holstein
_meer-umschlungen_ became the match, (the Schwefel-hölzchen), that was
to light the fire of German unity, a unity which for a time may not
have been exactly what England could have wished for, but which in the
future will become, we hope, the safety of Europe and the support of

Morier’s later advance in his diplomatic career was certainly most
successful. He possessed the very important art of gaining the
confidence of the crowned heads and ministers he had to deal with.
Bismarck, it is true, could not bear him, and tried several times to
trip him up. Even while Morier was at Berlin, as a Secretary of
Legation, Bismarck asked for his removal, but Lord Granville simply
declined to remove a young diplomatist who gave him information on all
parties in Germany, and to do so had to mix with people whom Bismarck
did not approve of. Besides, Morier was always a _persona grata_ with
the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess, and that was enough to make
Bismarck dislike him. Later in life Bismarck accused him of having
conveyed private information of the military position of the Germans
to the French Guards, such information being derived from the English
Court. The charge was ridiculous. Morier was throughout the war a
sympathizer with Germany as against France. The English Court had no
military information to convey or to communicate to Morier, and Morier
was too much of a diplomatist and a gentleman, if by accident he had
possessed any such information, to betray such a secret to an enemy in
the field. Bismarck was completely routed, though his son seemed
inclined to fasten a duel on the English diplomatist. Morier rose
higher and higher, and at last became Ambassador at St. Petersburg.
When I laughed and congratulated him he said, “He must be a great fool
who does not reach the top of the diplomatic tree.” That was too much
modesty, and yet modesty was not exactly his fault; but he agreed
with me as to _quam parva sapientia regitur mundus_.

Nothing could seem more prosperous than my friend Morier’s career; but
few people knew how utterly miserable he really was. He had one son,
in many respects the very image of his father, a giant in stature,
very handsome, and most attractive. In spite of all we said to him he
would not send his son to a public school in England, but kept him
with him at the different embassies, where his only companions were
the young attachés and secretaries. He had a private tutor, and when
that tutor declared that young Morier was fit for the University, his
father managed to get him into Balliol, recommending him to the
special care of the Master. He actually lived in the Master’s house
for a time, but enjoyed the greatest liberty that an undergraduate at
Oxford may enjoy. His father was wrapped up in his boy, but at the
same time tried to frighten him into hard work, or at least into
getting through the examinations. All was in vain; young Morier was so
nervous that he could never pass an examination. What might be
expected followed, and the father had at last to remove him to begin
work as an honorary attaché at his own embassy. I liked the young man
very much, but my own impression is that his nervousness quite
unfitted him for serious work. The end was beyond description sad. He
went to South Africa in the police force, distinguished himself very
much, came back to England, and then on his second voyage to the Cape
died suddenly on board the steamer. I have seldom seen such utter
misery as his father’s. He loved his son and the son loved his father
passionately, but the father expected more than it was physically and
mentally possible for the son to do. Hence arose misunderstandings,
and yet beneath the surface there was this passionate love, like the
love of lovers. When I saw my old friend last, he cried and sobbed
like a child: his heart was really broken. He went on for a few years
more, suffering much from ill health, but really killed at last by his
utter misery. I knew him in the bright morning of his life, at the
meridian of his great success, and last in the dark night when light
and life seems gone, when the moon and all the stars are extinguished,
and nothing remains but patient suffering and the hope of a brighter
morn to come.

How little one dreamt of all this when we were young, and when an
ambassador, nay, even a professor, seemed to us far beyond the reach
of our ambition. I could go on mentioning many more names of men with
whom I lived at Oxford in the most delightful intimacy, and who
afterwards turned up as bishops, archbishops, judges, ministers, and
all the rest. True, it is quite natural that it should be so with a
man who, as I did, began his English life almost as an undergraduate
among undergraduates. Nearly all Englishmen who receive a liberal
education must pass either through Oxford or through Cambridge, and I
was no doubt lucky in making thus early the acquaintance of a number
of men who later in life became deservedly eminent. The only drawback
was that, knowing my friends very intimately, I did not perhaps later
preserve on all occasions that deference which the dignity of an
ambassador or of an archbishop has a right to demand.

Thomson was a dear friend of mine when he was still a fellow of
Queen’s College. We worked together, as may be seen by my
contributions to his _Laws of Thought_, and the translation of a Vedic
hymn which he helped me to make. I think he had a kind of anticipation
of what was in store for him. Though for a time he had to be
satisfied, even when he was married, with a very small London living,
he soon rose in the Church, at a time when clergymen of a liberal way
of thinking had not much chance of Crown preferment. But having gone
at the head of a deputation to Lord Palmerston, to inform him that
Gladstone’s next election as member for Oxford was becoming doubtful,
owing to all the bishoprics being given to the Low Church party—the
party of Lord Shaftesbury—Palmerston remembered his stately and
courteous bearing, and when the see of Gloucester fell vacant, gave
him that bishopric to silence Gladstone’s supporters. This was a very
unexpected preferment at Oxford, but Thomson made such good use of his
opportunity that, when the Archbishopric of York became vacant, and
Palmerston found it difficult to make his own or Lord Shaftesbury’s
nominee acceptable to the Queen, he suggested that any one of the
lately elected bishops approved of by the Crown might go to York, and
some one else fill the see thus vacated. It so happened that Thomson’s
name was the first to be mentioned, and he was made Archbishop,
probably one of the youngest Archbishops England has ever known. He
certainly fulfilled all expectations and proved himself the people’s
Archbishop, for he was himself the son of a small tradesman, a fact of
which he was never ashamed, though his enemies did not fail to cast it
in his teeth. I confess I felt at first a little awkward with my old
friend who formerly had discussed every possible religious and
philosophical problem quite freely with me, and was now His Grace the
Lord Archbishop, with a palace to inhabit and an income of about
£10,000 a year. However, though as a German and as a friend of Bunsen
I was looked upon as a kind of heretic, I never made the Archbishop
blush for his old friend, and I always found him the same to the end
of his life, kind, courteous, and ready to help, though it is but fair
to remember that an Archbishop of York is one of the first subjects of
the Queen, and cannot do or say everything that he might like to do or
to say. When I had to ask him to do something for a friend of mine,
who as a clergyman had given great offence by his very liberal
opinions, he did all he could do, though he might have incurred great
obloquy by so doing.

But when I think of these men, friends and acquaintances of mine, whom
I remember as young men, very able and hard working no doubt, yet not
so entirely different from others who through life remained unknown,
it is as if I had slept through a number of years and dreamt, and had
then suddenly awoke to a new life. Some of my friends, I am glad to
say, I always found the same, whether in ermine or in lawn sleeves;
others, however, I am sorry to say, had _become_ something, the old
boy in them had vanished, and nothing was to be seen except the
bishop, the judge, or the minister.

It was not for me to remind them of their former self, and to make
them doubt their own identity, but I often felt the truth of Matthew
Arnold’s speeches, who, in social position, never rose beyond that of
inspector of schools, and who often laughed when at great dinners he
found himself surrounded by their Graces, their Excellencies, and my
Lords, recognizing faces that sat below him at school and whose names
in the class lists did not occupy so high a place as his own. Not that
Matthew Arnold was dissatisfied; he knew his worth, but, as he himself
asked for nothing, it is strange that his friends should never have
asked for something for him, which would have shown to the world at
large that he had not been left behind in the race. It strikes one
that while he was at Oxford, few people only detected in Arnold the
poet or the man of remarkable genius. I had many letters from him, but
I never kept them, and I often blame myself now that in his, as in
other cases, I should have thrown away letters as of no importance.
Then suddenly came the time when he returned to Oxford as the poet, as
the Professor of poetry, nay, afterwards as the philosopher also,
placed high by public opinion among the living worthies of England.
What was sometimes against him was his want of seriousness. A laugh
from his hearers or readers seemed to be more valued by him than their
serious opposition, or their convinced assent. He trusted, like
others, to _persiflage_, and the result was that when he tried to be
serious, people could not forget that he might at any time turn round
and smile, and decline to be taken _au grand sérieux_. People do not
know what a dangerous game this French _persiflage_ is, particularly
in England, and how difficult it becomes to exchange it afterwards for
real seriousness.

Those early Oxford days were bright days for me, and now, when those
young and old faces, whether undergraduates or archbishops, rise up
again before me, I being almost the only one left of that happy
company, I ask again, “Did they also belong to a mere dreamland, they
who gave life to my life, and made England my real home?” When I first
saw them at Oxford, I was really an undergraduate, though I had taken
my Doctor’s degree at Leipzig. I lived, in fact, my happy university
life over again, and it would be difficult to say which academical
years I enjoyed more, those at Leipzig and Berlin, or those at Oxford.
There were intermediate years in Paris, but during my stay there I saw
but little of students and student life. I was too much oppressed with
cares and anxieties about my present and future to think much of
society and enjoyment. At Oxford, these cares had become far less, and
I could by hard work earn as much money as I wanted, and cared to
spend. In Paris, I was already something of a scholar and writer; at
Oxford I became once more the undergraduate.

This young society into which I was received was certainly most
attractive, though that it contained the germs of future greatness
never struck me at the time. What struck me was the general tone of
the conversation. Of course, as Lord Palmerston said of himself when
he was no longer very young, “boys will be boys,” but there never was
anything rude or vulgar in their conversation, and I hardly ever heard
an offensive remark among them. Most of my friends came from Balliol,
and were serious-minded men, many of them occupied and troubled by
religious, philosophical, and social problems.

What puzzled me most was the entire absence of duels. Occasionally
there were squabbles and high words, which among German students could
have had one result only—a duel. But at Oxford, either a man
apologized at once or the next morning, and the matter was forgotten,
or, if a man proved himself a cad or a snob, he was simply dropped. I
do not mean to condemn the students’ duels in Germany altogether.
Considering how mixed the society of German universities is, and the
perfect equality that reigns among them—they all called each other
“thou” in my time—the son of a gentleman required some kind of
protection against the son of a butcher or of a day-labourer. Boxing
and fisticuffs were entirely forbidden among students, so that there
remained nothing to a young student who wanted to escape from the
insults of a young ruffian, but to call him out. As soon as a
challenge was given, all abuse ceased at once, and such was the power
of public opinion at the universities that not another word of insult
would be uttered. In this way much mischief is prevented. Besides,
every precaution is taken to guard against fatal accident, and I
believe there are fewer serious accidents on the _mensura_ than in the
hunting-field in England. When I was at Leipzig, where we had at least
four hundred duels during the year, only two fatal accidents happened,
and they were, indeed, accidents, such as will happen even at
football. Of course duels can never be defended, but for keeping up
good manners, also for bringing out a man’s character, these academic
duels seem useful. However small the danger is, it frightens the
coward and restrains the poltroon. For all that, what has taken place
in England may in time take place in Germany also, and men will cease
to think that it is impossible to defend their honour without a piece
of steel or a pistol. The last thing that a German student desires to
do in a duel is to kill his adversary. Hence pistol duels, which are
generally preferred by theological students, because they cannot
easily get a living if their face is scarred all over, are generally
the most harmless, except perhaps for the seconds.

Before closing this chapter, I should like to say a few words on the
impressions which the theological atmosphere of Oxford in 1848
produced on me, and which even now fills me with wonder and amazement.

When I came to Oxford, I was strongly recommended to Stanley on one
side, and to Manuel Johnson on the other,—a curious mixture. Johnson,
the Observer, was extremely kind and hospitable to me. He was a genial
man, full of love, possibly a little weak, but thoroughly honest, nay,
transparently so. I met at his house nearly all the leaders of the
High Church movement, though I never met Newman himself, who had then
already gone to reside at his retreat at Littlemore. On the other
hand, Stanley received me with open arms as a friend of Bunsen,
Frederick Maurice, and Julius Hare, and as I came straight from the
February revolution in 1848, he was full of interest and curiosity to
know from me what I had seen in Paris.

At first I knew nothing, and understood nothing of the movement, call
it ecclesiastical or theological, that was going on at Oxford at that
time. I dined almost every Sunday at Johnson’s house, and at his
dinners and Sunday afternoon garden parties I met men such as Church,
Mozley, Buckle, Palgrave, Pollen, Rigaud, Burgon, and Chrétian, who
inspired me with great respect, both for their learning and for what I
could catch of their character. Stanley, on the other hand, Froude,
and Jowett, proved themselves true friends to me in making me feel at
home, and initiating me into the secrets of the place. There was,
however, a curious reticence on both sides, and it was by sudden
glimpses only that I came to understand that these two sets were quite
divided, nay, opposed, and had very different ideals before them.

I had been at a German university, and the historical study of
Christianity was to me as familiar as the study of Roman history.
Professors whom I had looked up to as great authorities, implicitly to
be trusted, such as Lotze and Weisse at Leipzig, Schelling and
Michelet at Berlin, had, after causing in me a certain surprise at
first, left me with the firm conviction that the Old and New Testament
were historical books, and to be treated according to the same
critical principles as any other ancient book, particularly the sacred
books of the East of which so little was then known, and of which I
too knew very little as yet; enough, however, to see that they
contained nothing but what under the circumstances they could
contain, traditions of extreme antiquity collected by men who gathered
all they thought would be useful for the education of the people.
Anything like revelation in the old sense of the word, a belief that
these books had been verbally communicated by the Deity, or that what
seemed miraculous in them was to be accepted as historically real,
simply because it was recorded in these sacred books, was to me a
standpoint long left behind. To me the questions that occupied my
thoughts were to what date these books, such as we have them, could be
assigned, what portions of them were of importance to us, what were
the simple truths they contained, and what had been added to them by
later collectors. Well do I remember when, before going to Oxford, I
spoke to Bunsen of the preface to my Rig-veda, and used the
expression, “the great revelations of the world,” he, perfectly
understanding what I meant, warned me in his loud and warm voice,
“Don’t say that at Oxford.” I could see no harm, nor Bunsen either,
nor his son who was an Oxford man and a clergyman of the Church of
England; but I was told that I should be misunderstood. I knew far too
little to imagine that I had a right to speak of what was fermenting
and growing within me. During my stay at Leipzig and Berlin, and
afterwards in my intercourse with Renan and Burnouf, the principles of
the historical school had become quite familiar to me, but the
application of these principles to the early history of religion was
a different matter. How far the Old and the New Testament would stand
the critical tests enunciated by Niebuhr was a frequent subject of
controversy, during the time I spent at Paris, between young Renan and
myself. Though I did not go with him in his reconstruction of the
history of the Jews and the Jewish religion, and of the early
Christians and the Christian religion, I agreed with him in principle,
objecting only to his too free and too idyllic reconstruction of these
great religious movements. Besides, before all things, I was at that
time given to philosophical studies, chiefly to an inquiry into the
limits of our knowledge in the Kantian sense of the word, the origin
of thought and language, the first faltering and half-mythological
steps of language in the search for causes or divine agents. All this
occupied me far more than the age of the Fourth Gospel and its
position by the side of the Synoptic Gospels. I had talked with
Schelling and Schopenhauer, and little as I appreciated or understood
all their teachings, there were certain aspirations left in my mind
which led me far away beyond the historical foundations of
Christianity. What can we know? was the question which I often opposed
to Renan at the very beginning of our conversations and controversies.
That there were great truths in the teaching and preaching of Christ,
Renan was always ready to admit, but while it interested me how the
truths proclaimed by Christ could have sprung up in His mind and at
that time in the history of the human race, Renan’s eyes were always
directed to the evidence, and to what we could still know of the early
history of Christianity and its Founder. I could not deny that,
historically speaking, we knew very little of the life, the work, and
the teachings of Christ; but for that very reason I doubted our being
justified in giving our interpretation and reconstruction to the
fragments left to us of the real history of the life and teaching of
Christ. To this opinion I remained true through life. I claimed for
each man the liberty of believing in his own Christ, but I objected to
Renan’s idyllic Christ as I objected to Niebuhr’s filling the canvas
of ancient Roman history with the figures of his own imagination.

Naturally, when I came to Oxford, I thought these things were familiar
to all, however much they might admit of careful correction. Nor have
I any doubt that to some of my friends who were great theologians,
they were better known than to a young Oriental scholar like myself.
But unless engaged in conversation on these subjects, and this was
chiefly the case with my friends of the Stanley party, I did not feel
called upon to preach what, as I thought, every serious student knew
quite as well and probably much better than myself, though he might
for some reason or other prefer to keep silence thereon.

What was my surprise when I found that most of these excellent and
really learned men were much more deeply interested in purely
ecclesiastical questions, in the validity of Anglican orders, in the
wearing of either gowns or surplices in the pulpit, in the question of
candlesticks and genuflections. “What has all this to do with true
religion?” I once said to dear Johnson. He laughed with his genial
laugh, and blowing the smoke of his cigar away, said, “Oh, you don’t
understand!” But I did understand, and a great deal more than he
expected. Truly religious men, I thought, might please themselves with
incense and candlesticks, provided they gave no offence to their
neighbours. It seemed to me quite natural also that men like Johnson,
with a taste for art, should prefer the Roman ritual to the simple and
sometimes rather bare service of the Anglican Church, but that things
such as incense and censers, surplice and gown, should be taken as
they are, as paraphernalia, the work of human beings, the outcome of
personal and local influences, as church-service, no doubt, but not as
service of God. God has to be served by very different things, and
there is the danger of the formal prevailing over the essential, the
danger of idolatry of symbols as realities, whenever too much
importance is attributed to the external forms of worship and divine

The validity of Anglican orders was often discussed at the
Observatory, and I no doubt gave great offence by openly declaring in
my imperfect English that I considered Luther a better channel for
the transmission of the Holy Ghost than a Caesar Borgia or even a
Wolsey. Anyhow I could not bring myself to see the importance of such
questions, if only the heart was right and if the whole of our life
was in fact a real and constant life with God and in God. That is what
I called a truly religious and truly Christian life. What struck me
particularly, both on the Newman side, and among those whom I met at
Jowett’s and Froude’s, was a curious want of openness and manliness in
discussing these simple questions, simple, if not complicated by
ecclesiastical theories. When Newman at Iffley was spoken of, it was
in hushed tones, and when rumours of his going over to Rome reached
his friends at Oxford, their consternation seemed to be like that of
people watching the deathbed of a friend. I am sorry I saw nothing of
Newman at that time; when I sat with him afterwards in his study at
Birmingham, he was evidently tired of controversy, and unwilling to
reopen questions which to him were settled once for all, or if not
settled, at all events closed and relinquished. I could never form a
clear idea of the man, much as I admired his sermons; his brother and
his own friends gave such different accounts of him. That even at
Littlemore he was still faithful to his own national Church, anxious
only to bring it nearer to its ancient possibly Roman type, can hardly
be doubted. When he wrote from Littlemore to his friend De Lisle, he
had no reason to economize the truth. De Lisle hoped that Newman would
soon openly join the Church of Rome, but Newman answered: “You must
allow me to be honest with you in adding one thing. A distressing
feeling arises in my mind that such marks of kindness as these on your
part are caused by a belief that I am ever likely to join your
communion ... I must assure you then with great sincerity that I have
not the shadow of an internal movement known to myself towards such a
step. While God is with me where I am, I will not seek Him elsewhere.
I might almost say in the words of Scripture, ‘We have found the

How true this is, and yet the same Newman went over to the unreformed
Church, because the Archbishop of Canterbury had sanctioned Bunsen’s
proposal of an Anglo-German bishopric of Jerusalem, quite forgetful of
the fact that Synesius also had been bishop of Ptolemais. Again I say,
What have such matters to do with true religion, such as we read of in
the New Testament, as an ideal to be realized in our life on earth?
And it so happened that at the same time I knew of families rendered
miserable through Newman’s influence, of young girls, daughters of
narrow-minded Anglicans, hurried over to Rome, of young men at Oxford
with their troubled consciences which under Newman’s direct or
indirect guidance could end only in Rome. Newman’s influence must have
been extraordinary; the tone in which people who wished to free
themselves from him, who had actually left him, spoke of him, seemed
tremulous with awe. I would give anything to have known him at that
time, when I knew him through his disciples only. They were caught in
various ways. I know of one, a brilliant writer, who had been
entrusted by Newman with writing some of the _Lives of the Saints_. He
did it with great industry, but in the course of his researches he
arrived at the conviction that there was hardly anything truly
historical about his Saints and that the miracles ascribed to them
were insipid, and might be the inventions of their friends; such
legends, he felt, would take no root on English soil, at all events
not in the present generation. In consequence he informed Newman that
he could not keep his promise, or that, if he did so, he must speak
the truth, tell people what they might believe about these Saints, and
what was purely fanciful in the accounts of their lives. And what was
Newman’s answer? He did not respect the young man’s scruples, but
encouraged him to go on, because, as he said, people would never
believe more than half of these Lives, and that therefore some of
these unsupported legends also might prove useful, if only as a kind
of ballast.

“I rejoice to hear of your success,” he writes, August 21, 1843. “As
to St. Grimball, of course we must expect such deficiencies; where
matter is found, it is all gain, and there are plenty of Lives to put
together, as you will see, when you see the whole list.

“I am rather for _inserting_ (of course discreetly and in way of
selection) the miracles for which you have not good evidence. (1) They
are beautiful, you say, and will tell in the narrative. (2) Next you
can say that the evidence is weak, and this will be bringing credit
for the others where you say the evidence is strong. People will never
go _so far_ as your narrative. Cut it down to what is true, and they
will disbelieve a part of _it_; put in these legends and they will
compound for the true at the sacrifice of what may be true, but is not
well attested.”

I confess I cannot quite follow. If a man like Newman believed in
these saints and their miracles, his pleading would become
intelligible, but it seems from this very letter that he did not, and
yet he tried to persuade his young friend to go on and not to gather
the tares, “lest haply he might root up the wheat with them. Let both
grow together until the harvest.” I do not like to judge, but I doubt
whether this kind of teaching could have strengthened the healthy
moral fibre of a man’s conscience and have led him to depend entirely
on his sense of truth. And yet this was the man who at one time was
supposed to draw the best spirits of Oxford with him to Rome. This was
the man to whom some of the best spirits at Oxford confessed all they
had to confess, and that could have been very little, and of whom
they spoke with a subdued whisper as the apostle who would restore all
faith, and bring back the Anglican sheep to the Roman fold.

I saw and heard all that was going on, the hopes deferred, the secret
visits to Littlemore, the rumours and more than rumours of Newman’s
defection. Such was the devotion of some of these disciples that they
expected day by day a great catastrophe or a great victory, for after
the publication of so many letters written at the time by Wiseman,
Manning, De Lisle, and others, there can be little doubt that a great
conversion or perversion of England to the Romish Church was fully
expected. De Lisle writes: “England is now in full career of a great
Religious Revolution, this time back to Catholicism and to the Roman
See as its true centre ... the best friends of Rome in the Anglican
Church are obliged still to be guarded.” Such words admit of one
meaning only, and if Newman had been followed by a large number of his
Oxford friends, the results for England might really have been most
terrible. But here, no doubt, the English national feeling came in.
What England had suffered under Roman ecclesiastical rule had not yet
been entirely forgotten, and the idea that a foreign potentate and a
foreign priesthood should interfere with the highest interests of the
nation, was fortunately as distasteful as ever, not only to a large
party of the clergy, but to a still larger party of the laity also.
It seemed to me very curious that so many of Newman’s followers did
not see the unpatriotic character of their agitation. Either
subjection to Rome or civil war at home was the inevitable outcome of
what they discussed very innocently at the Observatory, and little as
I understood their schemes for the future, I often felt surprised at
what sounded to me like very unpatriotic utterances.

Another thing that struck me as utterly un-English and has often been
dwelt on by the historians of this movement, was the curiously secret
character of the agitation. What has an Englishman to fear when he
openly protests against what he disapproves of in Church or State? But
Newman’s friends at Oxford behaved really, as has been often said,
like so many naughty schoolboys, or like conspirators, yet they were
neither. A very similar charge, however, was brought against the
liberal party. They also seemed to think that they were out of bounds,
and were doing in secret what they did not dare to do openly. It is
well known that one friend of Newman’s, who afterwards became a Roman
Catholic, had a small chapel set up in his bedroom in college, with
pictures and candles and instruments of flagellation. No one was
allowed to see this room, till one evening when the flagellant had
retired after dinner and fallen asleep, the servants found him lying
before the altar. Nothing remained to him then but to exchange his
comfortable college rooms for the less comfortable cell of a Roman
monastery, and little was done by his new friends to make the evening
of his life serene and free from anxiety. These things were known and
talked about in Oxford, and generally with anything but the
seriousness that the subject seemed to me to require. Again at the
Observatory a point was made of having games in the garden such as
boccia on a Sunday afternoon, thus evading the strict observance of
the Sabbath, without openly trying to restore to it the character
which it had in Roman Catholic countries.

German theology was talked about as a kind of forbidden fruit, as if
it was not right for them to look at it, to taste it, or to examine
it. Even years later people were afraid to meet Professor Ewald,
Bishop Colenso, and other so-called heretics at my house. They even
fell on poor Ewald at an evening party. Ewald was staying with me and
working hard at some Hebrew MSS. at the Bodleian. He was then already
an old man, but in his appearance a powerful and venerable champion.
He is the only man I remember who, after copying Hebrew MSS. for
twelve hours at the Bodleian with nothing but a sandwich to sustain
him, complained of the short time allowed there for work. He came home
for dinner very tired, and when the conversation or rather the
disputation began between him and some of our young liberal
theologians, he spoke in short pithy sentences only. He considered
himself perfectly orthodox, nay, one of the pillars of religion in
Germany, and laid down the law with unhesitating conviction. As far as
I can remember, he was answering a number of questions about St. Paul,
and what he thought of Christ, of the Kingdom of Christ, and the Life
to come, and being pestered and driven into a corner by his various
questioners, and asked at last how he knew St. Paul’s secret thoughts,
he not knowing how to express himself in fluent English, exclaimed in
a loud voice, “I know it by the Holy Ghost.” Here the conversation
naturally stopped, and poor Ewald was allowed to finish his dinner in
peace. He had been Professor at Bonn, when Pusey came there as a young
man to study Hebrew after he had been appointed Canon of Christ Church
and Professor of Hebrew, and he expressed to me a wish to see Dr.
Pusey. I told him it would not be easy to arrange a meeting,
considering how strongly opposed Dr. Pusey was to Ewald’s opinions.
Personally I always found Pusey tolerant, and his kindness to me was a
surprise to all my young friends. But the fact was, we moved on
different planes, and though he knew my religious opinions well, they
only excited a smile, and he often said with a sigh, “I know you are a
German.” His own idea was that he was placed at Oxford in order to
save the younger generation from seeing the abyss into which he
himself had looked with terror. He had read more heresy, he used to
say, than anybody, and he wished no one to pass through the trials
and agonies through which he had passed, chiefly, I should think,
during his stay at a German university. The historical element was
wanting in him, nay, like Hegel, he sometimes seemed to lay stress on
the unhistorical character of Christianity. My idea, on the contrary,
was that Christianity was a true historical event, prepared by many
events that had gone before and alone made it possible and real. Even
the abyss, if there were such an abyss, was, as it seemed to me, meant
to be there on our passage through life, and was to be faced with a
brave heart.

But to return to my first experiences of the theological atmosphere of
Oxford, I confess I felt puzzled to see men, whose learning and
character I sincerely admired, absorbed in subjects which to my mind
seemed simply childish. I expected I should hear from them some new
views on the date of the gospels, the meaning of revelation, the
historical value of revelation, or the early history of the Church.
No, of all this not a word. Nothing but discussions on vestments, on
private confession, on candles on the altar, whether they were wanted
or not, on the altar being made of stone or of wood, of consecrated
wine being mixed with water, of the priest turning his back on the
congregation, &c. I could not understand how these men, so high above
the ordinary level of men in all other respects, could put aside the
fundamental questions of Christianity and give their whole mind to
what seemed to me rightly called in the newspapers “mere millinery.”
I sought information from Stanley, but he shrugged his shoulders and
advised me to keep aloof and say nothing. This I was most willing to
do; I cared for none of these things. My mind was occupied with far
more serious problems, such as I had heard explained by men of
profound learning and honest purpose in the great universities of
Germany; these troubles arose from questions which seemed to me to
have no connexion with true religion at all. Even the differences
between the reformed and unreformed churches were to me mere questions
of history, mere questions of human expediency. I did not consider
Roman Catholics as heretics—I had known too many of them of
unblemished character in Germany. I might have regretted the abuses
which called for reform, the excrescences which had disfigured
Christianity like many other religions, but which might be tolerated
as long as they did not lead to toleration for intolerance. Luther
might no longer appear to me in the light of a perfect saint, but that
he was right in suppressing the time-honoured abuses of the Roman
Church admitted with me of no doubt whatsoever. Large numbers always
had that effect on me, and when I saw how many good and excellent men
were satisfied with the unreformed teaching of the Roman Church, I
felt convinced that they must attach a different meaning to certain
doctrines and ecclesiastical practices from what we did. I had
learned to discover what was good and true in all religions, and I
could fully agree with Macaulay when he said, “If people had lived in
a country where very sensible people worshipped the cow, they would
not fall out with people who worship saints.”

I know that many of my friends on both sides looked upon me as a
latitudinarian, but my conviction has always been that we could not be
broad enough. They looked upon me as wishing to keep on good terms
with high and low and broad, and I made no secret of it, that I
thought I could understand Pusey as well as Stanley, and assign to
each his proper place. Stanley was of course more after my own heart
than Pusey, but Pusey too was a man who interested me very much. I saw
that he might become a great power whether for good or for evil in
England. He was, in fact, a historical character, and these were
always the men who interested me. He was fully aware of his importance
in England, and the great influence which his name exercised. That
influence was not always exercised in the right way, so at least it
seemed to me, particularly when it was directed against such friends
of mine as Kingsley, Froude, or Jowett. Once, I remember, when he had
come to my house, I ventured to tell him that he could not have meant
what he had said in declaring that the God worshipped by Frederic
Maurice was not the same as his God. Curious to say, he relented, and
admitted that he had used too strong language. To me everything that
was said of God seemed imperfect, and never to apply to God Himself
but only to the idea which the human mind had formed of Him. To me
even the Hindu, if he spoke of Brahman or Krishna, seemed to have
aimed at the true God, in spite of the idolatrous epithets which he
used; then how could a man like Frederic Maurice be said to have
worshipped a different God, considering that we all can but feel after
Him in the dark, not being able to do more than exclude all that seems
to us unworthy of Deity?

A very important element in the ecclesiastical views of some of my
friends was, no doubt, the artistic. If Johnson leant towards Rome, it
was the more ornate and beautiful service that touched and attracted
him. I sat near to him in St. Giles’ Church; he told me what to do and
what not to do during service. In spite of the Prayer-book, it is by
no means so easy as people imagine to do exactly the right thing in
church, and I had of course to learn a number of prayers and responses
by heart. To me the service, as it was in my parish church, seemed
already too ornate, accustomed as I had been to the somewhat bare and
cold service in the Lutheran Church at Dessau. But Johnson constantly
complained about the monotonous and mechanical performances of the
clergy. He had a strong feeling for all that was beautiful and
impressive in art, and he wanted to see the service of God in church
full both of reverence and beauty.

Johnson’s private collection of artistic treasures was very
considerable, and I learnt much from the Italian engravings and Dutch
etchings which he possessed and delighted in showing. I often spent
happy hours with him examining his portfolios, and wondered how he
could afford to buy such treasures. But he knew when and where to buy,
and I believe when his collection was sold after his death, it brought
a good deal more than it had cost him. Another collection of art was
that of Dr. Wellesley, the Principal of New Inn Hall, who was a friend
of Johnson’s and had collected most valuable antiquities during his
long stay in Italy. He was the son of the Marquis of Wellesley, a
handsome man, with all the refinement and courtesy of the old English
gentleman. Though not perhaps very useful in the work of the
University, he was most pleasant to live with, and full of information
in his own line of study, the history of art, chiefly of Italian art.

The beautiful services of the Roman Church abroad, and particularly at
Rome, certainly exercised a kind of magic attraction on many of the
friends of Wiseman and Newman, though one wonders that the sunny
grandeur of St. Peter’s at Rome should ever have seemed more
impressive than the sombre sublimity and serene magnificence of
Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, the introduction of a more ornate
service, even of harmless candlesticks and the often very useful
incense, had always a secret meaning. They were used as symbols of
something of which the people had no conception, whereas in the early
Church they had been really natural and useful.

In the midst of all this commotion, and chiefly secret commotion, I
felt a perfect stranger; I saw the bright and dark sides, but I
confess I saw little of what I called religion. Though my own
religious struggles lay behind me, still there were many questions
which pressed for a solution, but for which my friends at Oxford
seemed either indifferent or unprepared. My practical religion was
what I had learnt from my mother; that remained unshaken in all
storms, and in its extreme simplicity and childishness answered all
the purposes for which religion is meant. Then followed, in the
Universities of Leipzig and Berlin, the purely historical and
scientific treatment of religion, which, while it explained many
things and destroyed many things, never interfered with my early ideas
of right and wrong, never disturbed my life with God and in God, and
seemed to satisfy all my religious wants. I never was frightened or
shaken by the critical writings of Strauss or Ewald, of Renan or
Colenso. If what they said had an honest ring, I was delighted, for I
felt quite certain that they could never deprive me of the little I
really wanted. That little could never be little enough; it was like a
stronghold with no fortifications, no trenches, and no walls around
it. Suppose it was proved to me that, on geological evidence, the
earth or the world could not have been created in six days, what was
that to me? Suppose it was proved to me that Christ could never have
given leave to the unclean spirits to enter into the swine, what was
that to me? Let Colenso and Bishop Wilberforce, let Huxley and
Gladstone fight about such matters; their turbulent waves could never
disturb me, could never even reach me in my safe harbour. I had little
to carry, no learned impedimenta to safeguard my faith. If a man
possesses this one pearl of great price, he may save himself and his
treasure, but neither the tinselled vestments of a Cardinal, nor the
triple tiara that crowns the Head of the Church, will serve as
life-belts in the gales of doubt and controversy. My friends at Oxford
did not know that, though with my one jewel I seemed outwardly poor, I
was really richer and safer than many a Cardinal and many a Doctor of
Divinity. A confession of faith, like a prayer, may be very long, but
the prayer of the Publican may have been more efficient than that of
the Pharisee.

After a time I made an even more painful discovery: I found men, who
were considered quite orthodox, but who really were without any
belief. They spoke to me very freely, because they imagined that as a
German I would think as they did, and that I should not be surprised
if they looked on me as not quite sincere. It was not only honest
doubt that disturbed them. They had done with honest doubt, and they
were satisfied with a kind of Voltairian philosophy, which at last
ended in pure agnosticism. But even that, even professed agnosticism,
I could understand, because it often meant no more than a confession
of ignorance with regard to God, which we all confess, and need not
necessarily amount to the denial of the existence of Deity. But that
Voltairian levity which scoffs at everything connected with religion
was certainly something I did not expect to meet with at Oxford, and
which even now perplexes me. Of course, I should never think of
mentioning names, but it seemed to me necessary to mention the fact,
to complete the curious mosaic of theological and religious thought
that existed at Oxford at the time of my arrival.



One confession I have to make, and one for which I can hardly hope for
absolution, whether from my friends or from my enemies. I have never
done anything; I have never been a doer, a canvasser, a wirepuller, a
manager, in the ordinary sense of these words. I have also shrunk from
agitation, from clubs and from cliques, even from most respectable
associations and societies. Many people would call me an idle,
useless, and indolent man, and though I have not wasted many hours of
my life, I cannot deny the charge that I have neither fought battles,
nor helped to conquer new countries, nor joined any syndicate to roll
up a fortune. I have been a scholar, a _Stubengelehrter_, and _voilà

Much as I admired Ruskin when I saw him with his spade and
wheelbarrow, encouraging and helping his undergraduate friends to make
a new road from one village to another, I never myself took to
digging, and shovelling, and carting. Nor could I quite agree with
him, happy as I always felt in listening to him, when he said: “What
we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is in the end of
little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do.” My
view of life has always been the very opposite! What we do, or what we
build up, has always seemed to me of little consequence. Even Nineveh
is now a mere desert of sand, and Ruskin’s new road also has long
since been worn away. The only thing of consequence, to my mind, is
what we think, what we know, what we believe! To Ruskin’s ears such a
sentiment was downright heresy, and I know quite well that it would be
condemned as extremely dangerous, if not downright wicked, by most
people, particularly in England. My friend, Charles Kingsley, preached
muscular Christianity, that is, he was always up and doing. Another
old friend of mine, Carlyle, preached all his life that “it was no use
talking, if one would not do.” There is an old proverb in German, too,

    “Die nicht mit thaten,
     Die nicht mit rathen”;

actually denying the right of giving advice to those who had not taken
a part in the fight.

However, though I have not been a doer, a _faiseur_, as the French
would say, I do not wish to represent myself as a mere idle drone
during the long years of my quiet life. Nor did I stand quite alone in
looking on a scholar’s life—even when I was living in a garret _au
cinquième_—as a paradise on earth. Did not Emerson write, “The
scholar is the man of the age”? Did not even Mazzini, who certainly
was constantly up and trying to do, did not even he confess that men
must die, but that the amount of truth they have discovered does not
die with them? And Carlyle? Did he ever try to get into Parliament?
Did he ever accept directorates? Did he join either the Chartists or
the Special Constables in Trafalgar Square? As in a concert you want
listeners as well as performers, so in public life, those who look on
are quite as essential as those who shout and deal heavy blows.

Nature has not endowed everybody with the requisite muscle to be a
muscular Christian. But it may be said, that even if Carlyle and
Ruskin were absolved from doing muscular work in Trafalgar Square,
what excuse could they plead for not walking in procession to Hyde
Park, climbing up one of the platforms and haranguing the men and
women and children? I suppose they had the feeling which the razor has
when it is used for cutting stones: they would feel that it was not
exactly their _métier_. Arguing when reason meets reason is most
delightful, whether we win or lose; but arguing against unreason,
against anything that is by nature thick, dense, impenetrable,
irrational, has always seemed to me the most disheartening occupation.
Majorities, mere numerical majorities, by which the world is governed
now, strike me as mere brute force, though to argue against them is
no doubt as foolish as arguing against a railway train that is going
to crush you. Gladstone could harangue multitudes; so could Disraeli;
all honour to them for it. But think of Carlyle or Ruskin doing so!
Stroking the shell of a tortoise, or the cupola of St. Paul’s, would
have been no more attractive to them than addressing the discontented,
when in their hundreds and their thousands they descended into the
streets. All I claim is that there must be a division of labour, and
as little as Wayland Smith was useless in his smithy, when he hardened
the iron in the fire for making swords or horse-shoes, was Carlyle a
man that could be spared, while he sat in his study preparing thoughts
that would not bend or break.

But I cannot even claim to have been a man of action in the sense in
which Carlyle was in England, or Emerson in America. They were men who
in their books were constantly teaching and preaching. “Do this!” they
said; “Do not do that!” The Jewish prophets did much the same, and
they are not considered to have been useless men, though they did not
make bricks, or fight battles like Jehu. But the poor _Stubengelehrte_
has not even that comfort. Only now and then he gets some unexpected
recognition, as when Lord Derby, then Secretary of State for India,
declared that the scholars who had discovered and proved the close
relationship between Sanskrit and English, had rendered more valuable
service to the Government of India than many a regiment. This may be
called a mere assertion, and it is true that it cannot be proved
mathematically, but what could have induced a man like Lord Derby to
make such a statement, except the sense of its truth produced on his
mind by long experience?

However, I can only speak for myself, and of my idea of work. I felt
satisfied when my work led me to a new discovery, whether it was the
discovery of a new continent of thought, or of the smallest desert
island in the vast ocean of truth. I would gladly go so far as to try
to convince my friends by a simple statement of facts. Let them follow
the same course and see whether I was right or wrong. But to make
propaganda, to attempt to persuade by bringing pressure to bear, to
canvass and to organize, to found societies, to start new journals, to
call meetings and have them reported in the papers, has always been to
me very much against the grain. If we know some truth, what does it
matter whether a few millions, more or less, see the truth as we see
it? Truth is truth, whether it is accepted now or in millions of
years. Truth is in no hurry, at least it always seemed to me so. When
face to face with a man, or a body of men, who would not be convinced,
I never felt inclined to run my head against a stone wall, or to
become an advocate and use the tricks of a lawyer. I have often been
blamed for it, I have sometimes even regretted my indolence or my
quiet happiness, when I felt that truth was on my side and by my side.
I suppose there is no harm in personal canvassing, but as much as I
disliked being canvassed, did I feel it degrading to canvass others. I
know quite well how often it happened at a meeting when either a
measure or a candidate was to be carried, that the voters had
evidently been spoken to privately beforehand, had in the conscience
of their heart promised their votes. The facts and arguments at the
meeting itself might all be on one side, but the majority was in
favour of the other. Men whose time was of little value had been round
from house to house, a majority had been compacted into an inert
unreasoning mass; and who would feel inclined to use his spade of
reason against so much unreason? Some people, more honest than the
rest, after the mischief was done, would say, “Why did you not call?
why did you not write letters?” I may be quite wrong, but I can only
say that it seemed to me like taking an unfair advantage, unfair to
our opponents, and almost insulting to our friends. Still, from a
worldly point of view, I was no doubt wrong, and it is certainly true
that I was often left in a minority. My friends have told me again and
again that if a good measure or a good man is to be carried, good men
must do some dirty work. If they cannot do that, they are of no use,
and I doubt not that I have often been considered a very useless man
by my political and academic friends, because I trusted to reason
where there was no reason to trust to. I was asked to write letters,
to address and post letters, to promise travelling expenses or even
convivial entertainments at Oxford, to get leaders and leaderettes
inserted in newspapers. I simply loathed it, and at last declined to
do it. If a measure is carried by promise, not by argument, if an
election is carried by personal influence, not by reason, what happens
is very often the same as what happens when fruit is pulled off a tree
before it is ripe. It is expected to ripen by itself, but it never
becomes sweet, and often it rots. A premature measure may be carried
through the House by a minister with a powerful majority, but it does
not acquire vitality and maturity by being carried; it often remains
on the Statute-book a dead letter, till in the end it has to be
abolished with other rubbish.

However, I have learnt to admire the indefatigable assiduity of men
who have slowly and partially secured their converts and their
recruits, and thus have carried in the end what they thought right and
reasonable. I have seen it particularly at Oxford, where
undergraduates were indoctrinated by their tutors, till they had taken
their degree and could vote with their betters. I take all the blame
and shame upon myself as a useless member of Congregation and
Convocation, and of society at large. I was wrong in supposing that
the walls of Jericho would fall before the blast of reason, and wrong
in abstaining from joining in the braying of rams’ horns and the
shouts of the people. I was fortunate, however, in counting among my
most intimate friends some of the most active and influential
reformers in University, Church, and State, and it is quite possible
that I may often have influenced them in the hours of sweet converse;
nay, that standing in the second rank, I may have helped to load the
guns which they fired off with much effect afterwards. I felt that my
open partnership might even injure them more than it could help them;
for was it not always open to my opponents to say that I was a German,
and therefore could not possibly understand purely English questions?
Besides, there is another peculiarity which I have often observed in
England. People like to do what has to be done by themselves. It
seemed to me sometimes as if I had offended my friends if I did
anything by myself, and without consulting them. Besides, my position,
even after I had been in England for so many years, was always
peculiar; for though I had spent nearly a whole life in the service of
my adopted country, though my political allegiance was due and was
gladly given to England, still I was, and have always remained, a

And next to Germany, which was young and full of ideals when I was
young, there came India, and Indian thought which exercised their
quieting influence on me. From a very early time I became conscious of
the narrow horizon of this life on earth, and the purely phenomenal
character of the world in which for a few years we have to live and
move and have our being. As students of classical and other Oriental
history we come to admire the great empires with their palaces and
pyramids and temples and capitols. What could have seemed more real,
more grand, more likely to impress the young mind than Babylon and
Nineveh, Thebes and Alexandria, Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome? And now
where are they? The very names of their great rulers and heroes are
known to few people only and have to be learnt by heart, without
telling us much of those who wore them. Many things for which
thousands of human beings were willing to lay down their lives, and
actually did lay them down, are to us mere words and dreams, myths,
fables, and legends. If ever there was a doer, it was Hercules, and
now we are told that he was a mere myth!

If one reads the description of Babylonian and Egyptian campaigns, as
recorded on cuneiform cylinders and on the walls of ancient Egyptian
temples, the number of people slaughtered seems immense, the issues
overwhelming; and yet what has become of it all? The inroads of the
Huns, the expeditions of Genghis Khan and Timur, so fully described by
historians, shook the whole world to its foundations, and now the sand
of the desert disturbed by their armies lies as smooth as ever.

What India teaches us is that in a state advancing towards
civilization, there must be always two castes or two classes of men, a
caste of Brahmans or of thinkers, and a caste of Kshatriyas, who are
to fight; possibly other castes also of those who are to work and of
those who are to serve. Great wars went on in India, but they were
left to be fought by the warriors by profession. The peasants in their
villages remained quiet, accepting the consequences, whatever they
might be, and the Brahmans lived on, thinking and dreaming in their
forests, satisfied to rule after the battle was over.

And what applies to military struggles seems to me to apply to all
struggles—political, religious, social, commercial, and even
literary. Let those who love to fight, fight; but let others who are
fond of quiet work go on undisturbed in their own special callings.
That was, as far as we can see, the old Indian idea, or at all events
the ideal which the Brahmans wished to see realized. I do not stand up
for utter idleness or sloth, not even for drones, though nature does
not seem to condemn even _hoc genus_ altogether. All I plead for, as a
scholar and a thinker, is freedom from canvassing, from letter-reading
and letter-writing, from committees, deputations, meetings, public
dinners, and all the rest. That will sound very selfish to the ears of
practical men, and I understand why they should look upon men like
myself as hardly worth their salt. But what would they say to one of
the greatest fighters in the history of the world? What would they say
to Julius Caesar, when he declares that the triumphs and the laurel
wreaths of Cicero are as far nobler than those of warriors as it is a
greater achievement to extend the boundaries of the Roman intellect
than the domains of the Roman people?


Abiturienten, Examination at Zerbst, 106

Acland, Dr., 245

Admiration, power of, 90

Aitareya-brâhmana, 203

All Souls’ Fellowship, 23
  -- -- pinnacles, 225, 226

Altenstein, Minister of Instruction, 131

Anglican system, 209
  -- orders, 291

Anhalt-Dessau, Duchy of, 46

Antiquities hid in etymologies, 152-154

Anti-Semitism, 70, 71

Arnim, Count, 110

Arnold, Matthew, 282-283

Artistic element in the Oxford movement, 303, 304

Aryan speakers may differ in blood, 32
  -- and aboriginal languages of India, M. M.’s paper on, 210, 211

Aryans of India, 197

Aryas, meaning of, 32

Asvalâyana Sûtras, 203

Atavism, 17, 25, 26, 27, 30

Atavistic influences, 27

Autobiography, object of M. M. in writing his, vi

Autos, the, 35

Babies, studying, 86

Bach family, 34

Baden-Powell, Professor, 238, 245

Bandinell, Dr., 259-261

Bardelli, Abbé, 170

Basedow, von, President, 54
  -- the Pedagogue, 55, 76

Bathing, 77

Bernays, Professor, 69

Bibliothèque Royale, 167

Biographies, too lenient, 2
  -- best kind of history, 14

Bismarck, 175

Blücher, Marshal, 235

Blum, Robert, 15

Boden Professorship of Sanskrit, vii

Bodleian Library, 258, 259

Boehtlingk, 181, 182, 183

Books, scarcity of, 67

Bopp, 125, 132, 148, 151, 156
  -- his lectures, 156, 157

Brahmo Somaj, service for the, 61

Breakfast parties, 205

British Association at Oxford, 210, 215

Brockhaus, Professor, 147

Buckle, 287

Bull, Dr., 40, 255, 256

Bunsen, Baron, 5, 13, 16
  -- first visit to, 190, 191
  -- his kindness, 193, 199, 221

Burgon, 287

Burnouf, 167, 169, 178, 179-182, 288

Camerarius, 51

Canon of Christ Church, an old, 256-258

Canvassing, 312, 313

Carlyle, 310, 311

Carus, Professor, 98, 109

Chartist Deputation, 16

Chrétian, 287

Christianity, historical teaching of, in Germany, 65, 287, 291
  -- an historical event, 300

Church, Dr., 287

Church, not for young children, 60

Circumstances, influence of, 24

Clarke, Sir Andrew, 82, 86

Classics, exaggerated praise of the, 101, 102
  -- -- reactions from, 103
  -- nothing takes their place, 103

Colebrooke, 192

Colenso, 298, 305

Collegien-Buch, 121, 123-125

Comparative Philology, Professorship of, 12

Congregation and Convocation, why M. M. kept away from, 314, 315

Conscience, the voice of, 63

Coxe, Mr., 258

Cradock, Dr. and Mrs., 267

Crawford, Mr., the Objector General, 211

Curtius, 132, 151

Darwin, 2, 11, 17, 131

David, 107, 109

Deafness in M. M.’s family, 29

De Lisle, 293, 296

Dessau, Dukes of, 46
  -- cheapness of life at, 56, 57
  -- Gottesacker at, 57
  -- only two classes at, 73
  -- trade of, 73
  -- public school at, 76
  -- its walls, 89
  -- M. M.’s world, 89
  -- simplicity of life at, 92
  -- -- effect on the character, 92, 96
  -- moral sayings, 96

Devas, Θεὁς, 144

Dieu, Deus, Devas, 197

Donkin, Professor, 246

Double First, 240

Drobisch, 129, 140, 142, 145

Duels at University, 119, 128, 129, 284, 286

Dyaus, Zeus, Iovis, 197

Early life, roughing it, 91

East India Company, 14

East India House, 16, 215

Eckart, 107, 109

Eckstein, Baron d’, 176, 177

“Edinburgh Review,” first article in, 222

Egyptian chronology, 199

“Elsie Venner,” 31

Emerson, 310

Encaenia, 265, 266
  -- jokes at, 265

English and German Doctors, 84, 85

Environment, 17, 18, 25

Ernst, 110

Eternal, _ewig_, 150, 151

Etymologies, 152

Evolution, 198

Ewald, 298, 299, 305

Fairy tales, influence of, 50-52

Fear, the feeling of, 88

Feast of Tabernacles, 71

Fellowships, old system of, 246, 247, 263

Forbiger, 99

French master at Dessau, 75

French Revolution, 16, 216

Friar Bacon, 227

Fröge, Professor, 109
  -- his wife and Mendelssohn, 109

Froude, J. A., 8, 287

Funkhänel, 99

Gaisford, Dr., 240, 252-254

Gathy, M., 165, 172

German regiments, hymns sung by, 62
  -- students, 213

Germany and Germans, prejudice against, 20, 21
  -- religious feeling in, 62

Germ-plasm, 19, 28

Gewandhaus Concerts, 107

Giordano Bruno on Oxford, 228

Goethe, not always admired, 93

Goldstücker, 170-172

Goldwin Smith, 238

Gottesacker at Dessau, 57

Grabau, M. M.’s concerts with, 110

Grandfather of M. M., 79-81

Grandmother of M. M., 53

Grant, Sir Alexander, 272, 273

Greene’s Oxford, 227

Greenhill, Dr., 245

Grenville, Lord, 229

Greswell, Mr., 245

Griffith, Dr., Master of University, 229

Grimm, 151

Gründer, ein, 48

Guizot, 182

Habits acquired not hereditable, 33

Hagedorn, Baron, 112-114, 162
  -- journey with him, 112
  -- his plan of life for M. M., 113

Hahnemann, 82 _et seq._, 86

Hallam’s literary dog, 209

Hare, Archdeacon, 205, 286
  -- visit to, 208

Hase, 185

Haupt, his Latin Society, 121, 125
  -- his dislike to modern philology, 155, 156

Hawkins, Dr., 240, 249

Headaches, suffering from, 81 _et seq._
  -- how cured, 83

Heads of Houses, 234, 264
  -- -- their power, 239

Hebdomadal Board, 239, 255

Hebrew taught at the Nicolai-Schule, 100

Hegel, 2
  -- his philosophy, 130-138

Hegel’s idea, 133-135
  -- “Philosophy of Nature,” 135, 136
  -- “Philosophy of Religion,” 135, 142
  -- “Metaphysics,” 136

Heinroth, 139

Helps, Sir Arthur, 266

Hentzner, his description of Oxford, 228

Herbart, school of, 129, 140, 142

Heredity, 17

Hermann, Gottfried, 121, 125, 128
  -- welcomed modern philology, 155
  -- his kindness to M. M., 156

Hermae round the Theatre, 264

Highland lady at Oxford, 229

Hiller, 107, 109
  -- his oratorio, 110

Historical method, 198
  -- events, their influence transitory, 315, 316

Hitopadesa, 51

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 6, 266

Hönicke, Dr., 78

Horace, “cheekiness” of, 102

Human weaknesses, allowance must be made for, 93, 94

Humboldt, 181

Imprisonment, M. M.’s, at University, 118, 119

Indian thought, influence of, 315, 317

Indolence, M. M.’s, 312

Inherited and acquired qualities, difference between, 33

Inspiration and infallibility, 65, 66

Institut de France, 186
  -- M. M. made Member, 186, 187

Jenkins, Dr., Master of Balliol, 250

Jerusalem, Bishopric of, 293

Jews at Dessau, 68, 70
  -- their privileges in Germany, 70

Johnson, Manuel, 286, 303
  -- his art treasures, 303

Jowett, Professor, 4, 6, 287

Kaliwoda, 107

Kant’s “Kritik,” 138

Kaspar Hauser, 18

Keshub Chunder Sen, 61

Kingsley, Charles, 5
  -- and muscular Christianity, 309

Klengel, 147

Kuhn, A., 154

Lamartine, 177

Language, influence of, 31
  -- differentiation of, 31, 32, 33
  -- science of, 198

Lassen, 23

Latham, Dr., 210

Layard, 11, 205

Leipzig, 15
  -- school at, 97
  -- University, 115

Lepsius, 159

Liberals at University, 117, 118

Liddell, Dr., 238
  -- and Mrs., 267

Liddell’s Dictionary, 99

Liszt, 107-111

London, 188
  -- society, peeps into, 205
  -- M. M.’s social difficulties, 206-208

Longchamps, 167

Lotze, 129, 136, 139, 287

Louis Lucien Bonaparte, 214

Louis Napoleon, 16

Luther, 64
  -- his love of fairy tales, 50, 51
  -- tercentenary, 105

Maitland, Sir Peregrine, 251

Mammoth, 18

Manning, 296

Masters, influence of, in German and English schools, 77

Maurice, Frederick, 205, 286
  -- Pusey’s attack on, 302

Memory changes, 39

Mendelssohn family, 33, 34

Mendelssohn, Felix, 107, 110
  -- his death, 110
  -- his concert for Liszt, 110, 111

Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise,” 105
  -- music in Oxford, 268

Metternich, 72
  -- his system, 117

Mezzofanti, 30

Michelet, 287

Mill, John Stuart, 7, 14
  -- his Autos, 7

Mill, Dr., mention of a Vedic hymn printed at Calcutta, 192

Milton on Oxford, 228

Modern Literature, Professorship of, 12

Mommsen, 186, 187

Moncalm, “L’origine de la Pensée,” 10 _n._

Monk, M. M.’s wish to be a, 24

Monument-raising, 47

Morier, 275-279

Mother, M. M.’s, 57-59
  -- her relations, 54, 55

Mozley, 287

MSS., copying, 179

Mulde, excursion on foot along the, 112

Müller, Wilhelm, 47, 48
  -- his poems, 48
  -- his family, 52, 53
  -- his home and society, 55
  -- early death, 56
  -- monument to, 49
Music, its influence on M. M., 67
  -- wished to make it his career, 111

“Mystères de Paris,” 174

Natural Science and Mathematics little taught at Nicolai-Schule, 100

Neander, 21, 22

Newman, 286, 292-296
  -- want of openness in his friends, 292, 296
  -- his influence, 293
  -- on “Lives of the Saints,” 294, 295

Newspapers few in number, 71
  -- influence of modern, 72
  -- old, 74

Nicolai-Schule, 99
  -- chiefly for classics, 99-101

Niebuhr, 191, 289

Niedner, Dr., 127, 137, 140

Nirukta, the, 203

Nobbe, Dr., 99
  -- his testimonial, 105

Old and young men, 36

Oriental languages, 146

Orléans, Duchesse d’, 177

Oxford, first visit to, 213
  -- settled at, 220
  -- social life at, 220, 221
  -- changes in, 223-226
  -- new buildings, 224, 225
  -- conservative, 226
  -- Greene’s, 227
  -- Hentzner’s description of, 228
  -- Giordano Bruno on, 228
  -- Milton on, 228
  -- society in 1810, 229-231
  -- great changes in, 243, 244
  -- society at, in the forties and fifties, 244, 245
  -- city society of, 245, 246
  -- high tone of talk, 284
  -- theological atmosphere at, 286
  -- trivial questions of ceremony in, 291, 292, 300, 301

Palgrave, 274, 287

Palm, Dr., 99

Palmerston, Lord, 16, 217

Pânini, 182
  -- his grammar, 204

Pantschatantra, 51

Paper, scarcity of, 67

Parental influences, 27

Paris, 15, 162

Paris, journey to, 163, 164
  -- meals there, 166
  -- hard struggles in, 173, 283

Patagonians as types of humanity, 88

Peel, Sir Robert, 205

Philanthropinum, 54, 76

Philology, love of, 121

Philosophy, studied by M. M., 129, 137, 146

Physical science, revolt of, against Hegel, 135

Pillar and pillow, 189

“Pitar,” father, 153

Pitcairn Islands, 18

Plumptre, Dr., 213, 215, 265

Poems, M. M.’s, 104, 105

Pollen, 287

Pott, 151, 160

Pranks at University, 119, 120

“Presence of mind,” 262

Prichard, Dr., 211, 212, 221

Professor’s lectures and fees, 121, 122

Professors, feeling of German students for their, 127

Proto-Aryan language, 200

Prowe, Professor, 116, 117

Public schools in Germany, 98
  -- -- in England need reforming, 242

Pusey, Dr., 261, 299, 302

Race, differentiation of, 35

Rawlinson, Sir H., 205

Reay, Professor, 260

Reinaud, 186

Religion, practical, 305, 306

Religious feeling in Germany, 68
  -- -- great tolerance in, 70, 71
  -- sentiments must be taught at home, 62
  -- teaching in school, 63

Renan, 185, 186, 288, 289, 290, 305

Research, fellowships for, 270

Revelation, subjective not objective, 66
  -- in the old sense, 288

Rigaud, John, 287

Rig-veda, how to publish the, 181, 182
  -- printing of, 222

Roman Catholic Church, English national feeling opposed to, 296, 297

Rose-bush, vision of the, 43, 44

Roth, 170, 171

Routh, Dr., 247-249

Rubens, Levy, 75

Ruskin, 224

Russell, Sir W., 37, 190

Sadowa, and Sixty-six, 38

St. Hilaire, Barthélemy, 170

St. Petersburg, idea of going to, 181, 183

Salis-Schwabe, Madame, 98

Salmon at Dessau, 56, 57

“Salve caput cruentatum,” 59

Sanskrit Professorship, vii, 12
  -- chair of, at Leipzig, 147
  -- feeling against, 147
  -- unedited works, 204

Savigny, Professor, 122

Sâyana’s Commentary, 202-204

Schelling, 156, 195, 287, 289

Schlegel’s “Weisheit der Indier,” 146

Schleswig-Holstein question, 276

Schloezer, Karl von, 174, 176

School teaching, 67, 68
  -- success at, 104, 105
  -- routine of learning, 120

Schopenhauer, 289

Selbst-Kritik, 6

Self, the, 42

Sellar, Professor, 273, 274

Seminaries and societies at University, 123

Senatus Academicus, 236, 237

Shelley, 233

Simolin, Baron, 55

Sister, M. M.’s, 115, 116

Spiegel, Professor, 147

Sport, M. M.’s dislike of, 80

Stanislas Julien, 185

Stanley, Dr., 5, 41, 238, 286, 287, 302

Steel pens, 67

Stories in Oxford, regular descent of, 248

Strauss, 21, 305

Stubengelehrter, 308, 311

Student Clubs, 116

Student life in Paris, 184

Sunday games at the Observatory, 298

Sykes, Colonel, 16

Symons, Dr., 239, 240, 251

Sympathy in the joys and sufferings of others, 41, 42

Tait, Dr., 238

Talents in families, 33-35

Taylorian Professorship, 22

Telegraphs, old, 72

Testimonials, 4

Thalberg, 111

Thirlwall, 205

Thomson, Dr. and Mrs., 267, 268, 280, 281

Tippoo Sahib’s tiger, 215

Travelling in the thirties, 111

Troyer, M., and the Duchesse de Wagram, 184

Truth, 312

Turanian languages, M. M.’s letter on, 160, 161

Tutors and Fellows, 236
  -- -- their influence, 241, 268, 269

University, M. M.’s life at, 115, 116
  -- pranks, 119, 120
  -- duels at, 119, 128-130

University Press, 218, 219

Upanishads, 169

Van der Weyer, 205

Veda, 9, 12-14, 148, 168

Veda, a mystery, 191, 194
  -- MSS. of, in India, 192
  -- -- brought to Europe, 193
  -- oldest of real books, 195
  -- primitive thought in the, 195, 197-199
  -- date of, 200
  -- translations of, 201
  -- East India Company and the, 201
  -- forming correct text of the Rig-, 202
  -- enormous work involved, 204

Vedic scholarship, 193

_Veih_, home, 153

_Vernunft_ and _Verstand_, 143

Vigfusson, Dr., 254

Voltairian philosophy at Oxford, 307

Weismann, 27-30

Weisse, 129, 132-135, 139-142, 287

Wellesley, Dr., 304

Wellington, Duke of, 16, 40, 205

Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s, 304

Wilberforce, Samuel, 207, 208

Wilson, Professor, 158, 159

Wiseman, 296

Wolf, F. A., 48

Wolseley, Lord, 266

Wren, Sir Christopher, 264

Wright, Dr., 261, 262

Youth painted by the old, 35, 36

Zerbst, examined at, 106
  -- M. M.’s examiners at, 106

Zeus, Dyaus, 148, 149


Auld Lang Syne

_First Series._ Illustrated. 8vo, $2.00

“This book, the fruit of enforced leisure, as its author tells us, is
a charming mass of gossip about people whom Professor Max Müller has
known during his long career—musicians, literary men, princes, and
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amusing. To our mind, however, the chapter on musicians, with its
delightful pictures of the author’s early life, and the naïve
confessions as to musical tastes, with some of the stories about
celebrated composers, forms the most interesting portion of a work
which has not one dull page.”—_The Spectator._

“One of the most charming examples of reminiscent literature that has
recently seen the light.”—New York _Sun_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Auld Lang Syne

_Second Series._ =My Indian Friends.= 8vo, $2.00.

“The professor’s ‘Indian Friends’ are not all of the nineteenth
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loved to write. Indeed, he spent the best years of his life over the
text of the Rig Veda, and has a clear right to be heard upon the
classic he has done so much to make familiar.... But the real charm of
his recollections lies rather in their peaceful kindliness, in their
wide and tolerant sympathies, and in their earnest aim, which will
surely be attained in some measure, of bringing what is best in India
closer home to foreigners.”—_Literature._

Science of Language

Founded on Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution. _New Edition
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_CONTENTS:—Vol. I.—The Science of Language one of the Physical
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       *       *       *       *       *


=His Life and Sayings.= Crown 8vo, $1.50 _net_.

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Science of Thought

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greatest of literary faults—obscurity and dulness. A work in which
two of the driest and hardest of studies, analytic philology and
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       *       *       *       *       *

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Chips from a German Workshop

_Five Volumes._ Crown 8vo, $2.00 per vol.; the set, $10.00.

Vol. I. Essays on the Science of Religion.

Vol. II. Essays on Mythology, Traditions and Customs.

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Vol. V. Miscellaneous. Later Essays.

       *       *       *       *       *

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