By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Eminent Victorians
Author: Strachey, Lytton, 1880-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eminent Victorians" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



by Lytton Strachey


THE history of the Victorian Age will never be written; we know too much
about it. For ignorance is the first requisite of the historian--ignorance,
which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid
perfection unattainable by the highest art. Concerning the Age which has
just passed, our fathers and our grandfathers have poured forth and
accumulated so vast a quantity of information that the industry of a
Ranke would be submerged by it, and the perspicacity of a Gibbon would
quail before it. It is not by the direct method of a scrupulous
narration that the explorer of the past can hope to depict that singular
epoch. If he is wise, he will adopt a subtler strategy. He will attack
his subject in unexpected places; he will fall upon the flank, or the
rear; he will shoot a sudden, revealing searchlight into obscure
recesses, hitherto undivined. He will row out over that great ocean of
material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which
will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen, from
those far depths, to be examined with a careful curiosity. Guided by
these considerations, I have written the ensuing studies. I have
attempted, through the medium of biography, to present some Victorian
visions to the modern eye. They are, in one sense, haphazard
visions--that is to say, my choice of subjects has been determined by no
desire to construct a system or to prove a theory, but by simple motives
of convenience and of art. It has been my purpose to illustrate rather
than to explain. It would have been futile to hope to tell even a precis
of the truth about the Victorian age, for the shortest precis must fill
innumerable volumes. But, in the lives of an ecclesiastic, an
educational authority, a woman of action, and a man of adventure, I have
sought to examine and elucidate certain fragments of the truth which
took my fancy and lay to my hand.

I hope, however, that the following pages may prove to be of interest
from the strictly biographical, no less than from the historical point
of view. Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms
of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal
processes--which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake. The art
of biography seems to have fallen on evil times in England. We have had,
it is true, a few masterpieces, but we have never had, like the French,
a great biographical tradition; we have had no Fontenelles and
Condorcets, with their incomparable eloges, compressing into a few
shining pages the manifold existences of men. With us, the most delicate
and humane of all the branches of the art of writing has been relegated
to the journeymen of letters; we do not reflect that it is perhaps as
difficult to write a good life as to live one. Those two fat volumes,
with which it is our custom to commemorate the dead--who does not know
them, with their ill-digested masses of material, their slipshod style,
their tone of tedious panegyric, their lamentable lack of selection, of
detachment, of design? They are as familiar as the cortege of the
undertaker, and wear the same air of slow, funereal barbarism. One is
tempted to suppose, of some of them, that they were composed by that
functionary as the final item of his job. The studies in this book are
indebted, in more ways than one, to such works--works which certainly
deserve the name of Standard Biographies. For they have provided me not
only with much indispensable information, but with something even more
precious--an example. How many lessons are to be learned from them! But
it is hardly necessary to particularise. To preserve, for instance, a
becoming brevity--a brevity which excludes everything that is redundant
and nothing that is significant--that, surely, is the first duty of the
biographer. The second, no less surely, is to maintain his own freedom
of spirit. It is not his business to be complimentary; it is his
business to lay bare the facts of the case, as he understands them. That
is what I have aimed at in this book--to lay bare the facts of some
cases, as I understand them, dispassionately, impartially, and without
ulterior intentions. To quote the words of a Master--'Je n'impose rien;
je ne propose rien: j'expose.'


A list of the principal sources from which I have drawn is appended to
each Biography. I would indicate, as an honourable exception to the
current commodity, Sir Edward Cook's excellent Life of Florence
Nightingale, without which my own study, though composed on a very
different scale and from a decidedly different angle, could not have
been written.

Cardinal Manning

HENRY EDWARD MANNING was born in 1807 and died in 1892. His life was
extraordinary in many ways, but its interest for the modern inquirer
depends mainly upon two considerations--the light which his career
throws upon the spirit of his age, and the psychological problems
suggested by his inner history. He belonged to that class of eminent
ecclesiastics--and it is by no means a small class--who have been
distinguished less for saintliness and learning than for practical
ability. Had he lived in the Middle Ages he would certainly have been
neither a Francis nor an Aquinas, but he might have been an Innocent. As
it was, born in the England of the nineteenth century, growing up in the
very seed-time of modern progress, coming to maturity with the first
onrush of Liberalism, and living long enough to witness the victories of
Science and Democracy, he yet, by a strange concatenation of
circumstances, seemed almost to revive in his own person that long line
of diplomatic and administrative clerics which, one would have thought,
had come to an end for ever with Cardinal Wolsey.

In Manning, so it appeared, the Middle Ages lived again. The tall gaunt
figure, with the face of smiling asceticism, the robes, and the biretta,
as it passed in triumph from High Mass at the Oratory to philanthropic
gatherings at Exeter Hall, from Strike Committees at the Docks to
Mayfair drawing-rooms where fashionable ladies knelt to the Prince of
the Church, certainly bore witness to a singular condition of affairs.
What had happened? Had a dominating character imposed itself upon a
hostile environment? Or was the nineteenth century, after all, not so
hostile? Was there something in it, scientific and progressive as it
was, which went out to welcome the representative of ancient tradition
and uncompromising faith? Had it, perhaps, a place in its heart for such
as Manning--a soft place, one might almost say? Or, on the other hand,
was it he who had been supple and yielding? He who had won by art what
he would never have won by force, and who had managed, so to speak, to
be one of the leaders of the procession less through merit than through
a superior faculty for gliding adroitly to the front rank? And, in any
case, by what odd chances, what shifts and struggles, what combinations
of circumstance and character, had this old man come to be where he was?
Such questions are easier to ask than to answer; but it may be
instructive, and even amusing, to look a little more closely into the
complexities of so curious a story.


UNDOUBTEDLY, what is most obviously striking in the history of Manning's
career is the persistent strength of his innate characteristics. Through
all the changes of his fortunes the powerful spirit of the man worked on
undismayed. It was as if the Fates had laid a wager that they would
daunt him; and in the end they lost their bet.

His father was a rich West Indian merchant, a governor of the Bank of
England, a Member of Parliament, who drove into town every day from his
country seat in a coach and four, and was content with nothing short of
a bishop for the christening of his children. Little Henry, like the
rest, had his bishop; but he was obliged to wait for him--for as long as
eighteen months. In those days, and even a generation later, as Keble
bears witness, there was great laxity in regard to the early baptism of
children. The delay has been noted by Manning's biographer as the first
stumbling-block in the spiritual life of the future Cardinal; but he
surmounted it with success.

His father was more careful in other ways.

'His refinement and delicacy of mind were such,' wrote Manning long
afterwards, 'that I never heard out of his mouth a word which might not
have been spoken in the presence of the most pure and sensitive--except,'
he adds, 'on one occasion. He was then forced by others to repeat a
negro story which, though free from all evil de sexu, was indelicate. He
did it with great resistance. His example gave me a hatred of all such

The family lived in an atmosphere of Evangelical piety. One day the
little boy came in from the farmyard, and his mother asked him whether
he had seen the peacock. 'I said yes, and the nurse said no, and my
mother made me kneel down and beg God to forgive me for not speaking the
truth.' At the age of four the child was told by a cousin of the age of
six that 'God had a book in which He wrote down everything we did wrong.
This so terrified me for days that I remember being found by my mother
sitting under a kind of writing-table in great fear. I never forgot this
at any time in my life,' the Cardinal tells us, 'and it has been a great
grace to me.' When he was nine years old he 'devoured the Apocalypse;
and I never all through my life forgot the "lake that burneth with fire
and brimstone". That verse has kept me like an audible voice through all
my life, and through worlds of danger in my youth.'

At Harrow the worlds of danger were already around him; but yet he
listened to the audible voice. 'At school and college I never failed to
say my prayers, so far as memory serves me, even for a day.' And he
underwent another religious experience: he read Paley's Evidences. 'I
took in the whole argument,' wrote Manning, when he was over seventy,
'and I thank God that nothing has ever shaken it.' Yet on the whole he
led the unspiritual life of an ordinary schoolboy. We have glimpses of
him as a handsome lad, playing cricket, or strutting about in tasselled
Hessian top-boots. And on one occasion at least he gave proof of a
certain dexterity of conduct which deserved to be remembered. He went
out of bounds, and a master, riding by and seeing him on the other side
of a field, tied his horse to a gate, and ran after him. The astute
youth outran the master, fetched a circle, reached the gate, jumped on
to the horse's back and rode off. For this he was very properly
chastised; but, of what use was chastisement? No whipping, however
severe, could have eradicated from little Henry's mind a quality at
least as firmly planted in it as his fear of Hell and his belief in the
arguments of Paley.

It had been his father's wish that Manning should go into the Church;
but the thought disgusted him; and when he reached Oxford, his tastes,
his ambitions, his successes at the Union, all seemed to mark him out
for a political career. He was a year junior to Samuel Wilberforce, and
a year senior to Gladstone. In those days the Union was the
recruiting-ground for young politicians; Ministers came down from London
to listen to the debates; and a few years later the Duke of Newcastle
gave Gladstone a pocket borough on the strength of his speech at the
Union against the Reform Bill. To those three young men, indeed, the
whole world lay open. Were they not rich, well-connected, and endowed
with an infinite capacity for making speeches? The event justified the
highest expectations of their friends; for the least distinguished of
the three died a bishop. The only danger lay in another direction.

'Watch, my dear Samuel,' wrote the elder Wilberforce to his son, 'watch
with jealousy whether you find yourself unduly solicitous about
acquitting yourself; whether you are too much chagrined when you fail,
or are puffed up by your success. Undue solicitude about popular
estimation is a weakness against which all real Christians must guard
with the utmost jealous watchfulness. The more you can retain the
impression of your being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses of the
invisible world, to use the scripture phrase, the more you will be armed
against this besetting sin.'

But suddenly it seemed as if such a warning could, after all, have very
little relevance to Manning; for, on his leaving Oxford, the brimming
cup was dashed from his lips. He was already beginning to dream of
himself in the House of Commons, the solitary advocate of some great
cause whose triumph was to be eventually brought about by his
extraordinary efforts, when his father was declared a bankrupt, and all
his hopes of a political career came to an end forever.

It was at this time that Manning became intimate with a pious lady, the
sister of one of his College friends, whom he used to describe as his
Spiritual Mother. He made her his confidante; and one day, as they
walked together in the shrubbery, he revealed the bitterness of the
disappointment into which his father's failure had plunged him. She
tried to cheer him, and then she added that there were higher aims open
to him which he had not considered. 'What do you mean?' he asked. 'The
kingdom of Heaven,' she answered; 'heavenly ambitions are not closed
against you.' The young man listened, was silent, and said at last that
he did not know but she was right. She suggested reading the Bible
together; and they accordingly did so during the whole of that Vacation,
every morning after breakfast. Yet, in spite of these devotional
exercises, and in spite of a voluminous correspondence on religious
subjects with his Spiritual Mother, Manning still continued to indulge
in secular hopes. He entered the Colonial Office as a supernumerary
clerk, and it was only when the offer of a Merton Fellowship seemed to
depend upon his taking orders that his heavenly ambitions began to
assume a definite shape. Just then he fell in love with Miss Deffell,
whose father would have nothing to say to a young man without prospects,
and forbade him the house. It was only too true; what WERE the prospects
of a supernumerary clerk in the Colonial Office? Manning went to Oxford
and took orders. He was elected to the Merton Fellowship, and obtained
through the influence of the Wilberforces a curacy in Sussex. At the
last moment he almost drew back. 'I think the whole step has been too
precipitate,' he wrote to his brother-in-law. 'I have rather allowed the
instance of my friends, and the allurements of an agreeable curacy in
many respects, to get the better of my sober judgment.' His vast
ambitions, his dreams of public service, of honours, and of power, was
all this to end in a little country curacy 'agreeable in many respects'?
But there was nothing for it; the deed was done; and the Fates had
apparently succeeded very effectively in getting rid of Manning. All he
could do was to make the best of a bad business.

Accordingly, in the first place, he decided that he had received a call
from God 'ad veritatem et ad seipsum'; and, in the second, forgetting
Miss Deffell, he married his rector's daughter. Within a few months the
rector died, and Manning stepped into his shoes; and at least it could
be said that the shoes were not uncomfortable. For the next seven years
he fulfilled the functions of a country clergyman. He was energetic and
devout; he was polite and handsome; his fame grew in the diocese. At
last he began to be spoken of as the probable successor to the old
Archdeacon of Chichester. When Mrs. Manning prematurely died, he was at
first inconsolable, but he found relief in the distraction of redoubled
work. How could he have guessed that one day he would come to number
that loss among 'God's special mercies? Yet so it was to be. In after
years, the memory of his wife seemed to be blotted from his mind; he
never spoke of her; every letter, every record, of his married life he
destroyed; and when word was sent to him that her grave was falling into
ruin: 'It is best so,' the Cardinal answered, 'let it be. Time effaces
all things.' But, when the grave was yet fresh, the young Rector would
sit beside it, day after day, writing his sermons.


IN the meantime, a series of events was taking place in another part of
England, which was to have a no less profound effect upon Manning's
history than the merciful removal of his wife. In the same year in which
he took up his Sussex curacy, the Tracts for the Times had begun to
appear at Oxford. The 'Oxford Movement', in fact, had started on its
course. The phrase is still familiar; but its meaning has become
somewhat obscured both by the lapse of time and the intrinsic ambiguity
of the subjects connected with it. Let us borrow for a moment the wings
of Historic Imagination, and, hovering lightly over the Oxford of the
thirties, take a rapid bird's-eye view.

For many generations the Church of England had slept the sleep of the
...comfortable. The sullen murmurings of dissent, the loud battle-cry of
Revolution, had hardly disturbed her slumbers. Portly divines subscribed
with a sigh or a smile to the Thirty-nine Articles, sank quietly into
easy living, rode gaily to hounds of a morning as gentlemen should, and,
as gentlemen should, carried their two bottles of an evening. To be in
the Church was in fact simply to pursue one of those professions which
Nature and Society had decided were proper to gentlemen and gentlemen
alone. The fervours of piety, the zeal of Apostolic charity, the
enthusiasm of self-renunciation--these things were all very well in
their way and in their place; but their place was certainly not the
Church of England. Gentlemen were neither fervid nor zealous, and above
all they were not enthusiastic. There were, it was true, occasionally to
be found within the Church some strait-laced parsons of the high Tory
school who looked back with regret to the days of Laud or talked of the
Apostolical Succession; and there were groups of square-toed
Evangelicals who were earnest over the Atonement, confessed to a
personal love of Jesus Christ, and seemed to have arranged the whole of
their lives, down to the minutest details of act and speech, with
reference to Eternity. But such extremes were the rare exceptions. The
great bulk of the clergy walked calmly along the smooth road of ordinary
duty. They kept an eye on the poor of the parish, and they conducted the
Sunday Services in a becoming manner; for the rest, they differed
neither outwardly nor inwardly from the great bulk of the laity, to whom
the Church was a useful organisation for the maintenance of Religion, as
by law established.

The awakening came at last, however, and it was a rude one. The liberal
principles of the French Revolution, checked at first in the terrors of
reaction, began to make their way into England. Rationalists lifted up
their heads; Bentham and the Mills propounded Utilitarianism; the Reform
Bill was passed; and there were rumours abroad of disestablishment. Even
Churchmen seemed to have caught the infection. Dr. Whately was so bold
as to assert that, in the interpretation of Scripture, different
opinions might be permitted upon matters of doubt; and, Dr. Arnold drew
up a disquieting scheme for allowing Dissenters into the Church, though
it is true that he did not go quite so far as to contemplate the
admission of Unitarians.

At this time, there was living in a country parish, a young clergyman of
the name of John Keble. He had gone to Oxford at the age of fifteen,
where, after a successful academic career, he had been made a Fellow of
Oriel. He had then returned to his father's parish and taken up the
duties of a curate. He had a thorough knowledge of the contents of the
Prayer-book, the ways of a Common Room, the conjugations of the Greek
Irregular Verbs, and the small jests of a country parsonage; and the
defects of his experience in other directions were replaced by a zeal
and a piety which were soon to prove themselves equal, and more than
equal, to whatever calls might be made upon them. The superabundance of
his piety overflowed into verse; and the holy simplicity of the
Christian Year carried his name into the remotest lodging-houses of

As for his zeal, however, it needed another outlet. Looking forth upon
the doings of his fellow-men through his rectory windows in
Gloucestershire, Keble felt his whole soul shaken with loathing, anger,
and dread. Infidelity was stalking through the land; authority was
laughed at; the hideous doctrines of Democracy were being openly
preached. Worse still, if possible, the Church herself was ignorant and
lukewarm; she had forgotten the mysteries of the sacraments, she had
lost faith in the Apostolical Succession; she was no longer interested
in the Early Fathers; and she submitted herself to the control of a
secular legislature, the members of which were not even bound to profess
belief in the Atonement. In the face of such enormities what could Keble
do? He was ready to do anything, but he was a simple and an unambitious
man, and his wrath would in all probability have consumed itself
unappeased within him had he not chanced to come into contact, at the
critical moment, with a spirit more excitable and daring than his own.

Hurrell Froude, one of Keble's pupils, was a clever young man to whom
had fallen a rather larger share of self-assurance and intolerance than
even clever young men usually possess. What was singular about him,
however, was not so much his temper as his tastes. The sort of ardour
which impels more normal youths to haunt Music Halls and fall in love
with actresses took the form, in Froude's case, of a romantic devotion
to the Deity and an intense interest in the state of his own soul. He
was obsessed by the ideals of saintliness, and convinced of the supreme
importance of not eating too much. He kept a diary in which he recorded
his delinquencies, and they were many. 'I cannot say much for myself
today,' he writes on September 29th, 1826 (he was twenty-three years
old). 'I did not read the Psalms and Second Lesson after breakfast,
which I had neglected to do before, though I had plenty of time on my
hands. Would have liked to be thought adventurous for a scramble I had
at the Devil's Bridge. Looked with greediness to see if there was a
goose on the table for dinner; and though what I ate was of the plainest
sort, and I took no variety, yet even this was partly the effect of
accident, and I certainly rather exceeded in quantity, as I was fuzzy
and sleepy after dinner.' 'I allowed myself to be disgusted, with--'s
pomposity,' he writes a little later, 'also smiled at an allusion in the
Lessons to abstemiousness in eating. I hope not from pride or vanity,
but mistrust; it certainly was unintentional.' And again, 'As to my
meals, I can say that I was always careful to see that no one else would
take a thing before I served myself; and I believe as to the kind of my
food, a bit of cold endings of a dab at breakfast, and a scrap of
mackerel at dinner, are the only things that diverged from the strict
rule of simplicity.' 'I am obliged to confess,' he notes, 'that in my
intercourse with the Supreme Being, I am be come more and more
sluggish.' And then he exclaims: 'Thine eye trieth my inward parts, and
knoweth my thoughts ... Oh that my ways were made so direct that I might
keep Thy statutes. I will walk in Thy Commandments when Thou hast set my
heart at liberty.'

Such were the preoccupations of this young man. Perhaps they would have
been different, if he had had a little less of what Newman describes as
his 'high severe idea of the intrinsic excellence of Virginity'; but it
is useless to speculate.

Naturally enough the fierce and burning zeal of Keble had a profound
effect upon his mind. The two became intimate friends, and Froude,
eagerly seizing upon the doctrines of the elder man, saw to it that they
had as full a measure of controversial notoriety as an Oxford common
room could afford. He plunged the metaphysical mysteries of the Holy
Catholic Church into the atmosphere of party politics. Surprised Doctors
of Divinity found themselves suddenly faced with strange questions which
had never entered their heads before. Was the Church of England, or was
it not, a part of the Church Catholic? If it was, were not the Reformers
of the sixteenth century renegades? Was not the participation of the
Body and Blood of Christ essential to the maintenance of Christian life
and hope in each individual? Were Timothy and Titus Bishops? Or were
they not? If they were, did it not follow that the power of
administering the Holy Eucharist was the attribute of a sacred order
founded by Christ Himself? Did not the Fathers refer to the tradition of
the Church as to something independent of the written word, and
sufficient to refute heresy, even alone? Was it not, therefore, God's
unwritten word? And did it not demand the same reverence from us as the
Scriptures, and for exactly the same reason--BECAUSE IT WAS HIS WORD?
The Doctors of Divinity were aghast at such questions, which seemed to
lead they hardly knew whither; and they found it difficult to think of
very apposite answers. But Hurrell Froude supplied the answers himself
readily enough. All Oxford, all England, should know the truth. The time
was out of joint, and he was only too delighted to have been born to set
it right.

But, after all, something more was needed than even the excitement of
Froude combined with the conviction of Keble to ruffle seriously the
vast calm waters of Christian thought; and it so happened that that
thing was not wanting: it was the genius of John Henry Newman. If Newman
had never lived, or if his father, when the gig came round on the fatal
morning, still undecided between the two Universities, had chanced to
turn the horse's head in the direction of Cambridge, who can doubt that
the Oxford Movement would have flickered out its little flame unobserved
in the Common Room of Oriel? And how different, too, would have been the
fate of Newman himself! He was a child of the Romantic Revival, a
creature of emotion and of memory, a dreamer whose secret spirit dwelt
apart in delectable mountains, an artist whose subtle senses caught,
like a shower in the sunshine, the impalpable rainbow of the immaterial
world. In other times, under other skies, his days would have been more
fortunate. He might have helped to weave the garland of Meleager, or to
mix the lapis lazuli of Fra Angelico, or to chase the delicate truth in
the shade of an Athenian palaestra, or his hands might have fashioned
those ethereal faces that smile in the niches of Chartres. Even in his
own age he might, at Cambridge, whose cloisters have ever been
consecrated to poetry and common sense, have followed quietly in Gray's
footsteps and brought into flower those seeds of inspiration which now
lie embedded amid the faded devotion of the Lyra Apostolica.

At Oxford, he was doomed. He could not withstand the last enchantment of
the Middle Age. It was in vain that he plunged into the pages of Gibbon
or communed for long hours with Beethoven over his beloved violin. The
air was thick with clerical sanctity, heavy with the odours of tradition
and the soft warmth of spiritual authority; his friendship with Hurrell
Froude did the rest. All that was weakest in him hurried him onward, and
all that was strongest in him too. His curious and vaulting imagination
began to construct vast philosophical fabrics out of the writings of
ancient monks, and to dally with visions of angelic visitations and the
efficacy of the oil of St Walburga; his emotional nature became absorbed
in the partisan passions of a University clique; and his subtle
intellect concerned itself more and more exclusively with the
dialectical splitting of dogmatical hairs. His future course was marked
out for him all too clearly; and yet by a singular chance the true
nature of the man was to emerge triumphant in the end. If Newman had
died at the age of sixty, today he would have been already forgotten,
save by a few ecclesiastical historians; but he lived to write his
Apologia, and to reach immortality, neither as a thinker nor as a
theologian, but as an artist who has embalmed the poignant history of an
intensely human spirit in the magical spices of words.

When Froude succeeded in impregnating Newman with the ideas of Keble,
the Oxford Movement began. The original and remarkable characteristic of
these three men was that they took the Christian Religion au pied de la
lettre. This had not been done in England for centuries. When they
declared every Sunday that they believed in the Holy Catholic Church,
they meant it. When they repeated the Athanasian Creed, they meant it.
Even, when they subscribed to the Thirty-nine Articles, they meant it-or
at least they thought they did. Now such a state of mind was
dangerous--more dangerous indeed--than they at first realised. They had
started with the innocent assumption that the Christian Religion was
contained in the doctrines of the Church of England; but, the more they
examined this matter, the more difficult and dubious it became. The
Church of England bore everywhere upon it the signs of human
imperfection; it was the outcome of revolution and of compromise, of the
exigencies of politicians and the caprices of princes, of the prejudices
of theologians and the necessities of the State. How had it happened
that this piece of patchwork had become the receptacle for the august
and infinite mysteries of the Christian Faith? This was the problem with
which Newman and his friends found themselves confronted. Other men
might, and apparently did, see nothing very strange in such a situation;
but other men saw in Christianity itself scarcely more than a convenient
and respectable appendage to existence, by which a sound system of
morals was inculcated, and through which one might hope to attain to
everlasting bliss.

To Newman and Keble it was otherwise. They saw a transcendent
manifestation of Divine power flowing down elaborate and immense through
the ages; a consecrated priesthood, stretching back, through the mystic
symbol of the laying on of hands, to the very Godhead; a whole universe
of spiritual beings brought into communion with the Eternal by means of
wafers; a great mass of metaphysical doctrines, at once incomprehensible
and of incalculable import, laid down with infinite certitude; they saw
the supernatural everywhere and at all times, a living force, floating
invisible in angels, inspiring saints, and investing with miraculous
properties the commonest material things. No wonder that they found such
a spectacle hard to bring into line with the institution which had been
evolved from the divorce of Henry VIII, the intrigues of Elizabethan
parliaments, and the Revolution of 1688. They did, no doubt, soon
satisfy themselves that they had succeeded in this apparently hopeless
task; but, the conclusions which they came to in order to do so were
decidedly startling.

The Church of England, they declared, was indeed the one true Church,
but she had been under an eclipse since the Reformation; in fact, since
she had begun to exist. She had, it is true, escaped the corruptions of
Rome; but she had become enslaved by the secular power, and degraded by
the false doctrines of Protestantism. The Christian Religion was still
preserved intact by the English priesthood, but it was preserved, as it
were, unconsciously--a priceless deposit, handed down blindly from
generation to generation, and subsisting less by the will of man than
through the ordinance of God as expressed in the mysterious virtue of
the Sacraments. Christianity, in short, had become entangled in a series
of unfortunate circumstances from which it was the plain duty of Newman
and his friends to rescue it forthwith. What was curious was that this
task had been reserved, in so marked a manner, for them. Some of the
divines of the seventeenth century had, perhaps, been vouchsafed
glimpses of the truth; but they were glimpses and nothing more. No, the
waters of the true Faith had dived underground at the Reformation, and
they were waiting for the wand of Newman to strike the rock before they
should burst forth once more into the light of day. The whole matter, no
doubt, was Providential--what other explanation could there be?

The first step, it was clear, was to purge the Church of her shames and
her errors. The Reformers must be exposed; the yoke of the secular power
must be thrown off; dogma must be reinstated in its old pre-eminence;
and Christians must be reminded of what they had apparently
forgotten--the presence of the supernatural in daily life. 'It would be
a gain to this country,' Keble observed, 'were it vastly more
superstitious, more bigoted, more gloomy, more fierce in its religion,
than at present it shows itself to be.' 'The only good I know of
Cranmer,' said Hurrell Froude, 'was that he burned well.' Newman
preached, and soon the new views began to spread. Among the earliest of
the converts was Dr Pusey, a man of wealth and learning, a professor, a
canon of Christ Church, who had, it was rumoured, been to Germany. Then
the Tracts for the Times were started under Newman's editorship, and the
Movement was launched upon the world.

The Tracts were written 'with the hope of rousing members of our Church
to comprehend her alarming position ... as a man might give notice of a
fire or inundation, to startle all who heard him'. They may be said to
have succeeded in their objective, for the sensation which they caused
among clergymen throughout the country was extreme. They dealt with a
great variety of questions, but the underlying intention of all of them
was to attack the accepted doctrines and practices of the Church of
England. Dr. Pusey wrote learnedly on Baptismal Regeneration; he also
wrote on Fasting. His treatment of the latter subject met with
considerable disapproval, which surprised the Doctor. 'I was not
prepared,' he said, 'for people questioning, even in the abstract, the
duty of fasting; I thought serious-minded persons at least supposed they
practised fasting in some way or other. I assumed the duty to be
acknowledged and thought it only undervalued.' We live and learn, even
though we have been to Germany.

Other tracts discussed the Holy Catholic Church, the Clergy, and the
Liturgy. One treated of the question 'whether a clergyman of the Church
of England be now bound to have morning and evening prayers daily in his
parish church?' Another pointed out the 'Indications of a superintending
Providence in the preservation of the Prayer-book and in the changes
which it has undergone'. Another consisted of a collection of 'Advent
Sermons on Antichrist'. Keble wrote a long and elaborate tract 'On the
Mysticism attributed to the Early Fathers of the Church', in which he
expressed his opinions upon a large number of curious matters.

'According to men's usual way of talking,' he wrote, 'it would be called
an accidental circumstance that there were five loaves, not more nor
less, in the store of Our Lord and His disciples wherewith to provide
the miraculous feast. But the ancient interpreters treat it as designed
and providential, in this surely not erring: and their conjecture is
that it represents the sacrifice of the whole world of sense, and
especially of the Old Dispensation, which, being outward and visible,
might be called the dispensation of the senses, to the FATHER of our
LORD JESUS CHRIST, to be a pledge and means of communion with Him
according to the terms of the new or evangelical law.

They arrived at this idea by considering the number five, the number of
the senses, as the mystical opponent of the visible and sensible
universe--ta aistheta, as distinguished from ta noita. Origen lays down
the rule in express terms. '"The number five,"' he says, '"frequently,
nay almost always, is taken for the five senses."' In another passage,
Keble deals with an even more recondite question. He quotes the teaching
of St. Barnabas that 'Abraham, who first gave men circumcision, did
thereby perform a spiritual and typical action, looking forward to the
Son'. St. Barnabas's argument is as follows: Abraham circumcised of his
house men to the number of 318. Why 318? Observe first the 18, then the
300. Of the two letters which stand for 18, 10 is represented by 1, 8 by
H. 'Thou hast here,' says St. Barnabas, 'the word of Jesus.' As for the
300, 'the Cross is represented by Tau, and the letter Tau represents
that number'.

Unfortunately, however, St. Barnabas's premise was of doubtful validity,
as the Rev. Mr. Maitland pointed out, in a pamphlet impugning the
conclusions of the Tract. 'The simple fact is,' he wrote, 'that when
Abraham pursued Chedorlaomer "he armed his trained servants, BORN IN HIS
OWN HOUSE, three hundred and eighteen". When, more than thirteen
(according to the common chronology, fifteen) years after, he
circumcised "all the men of his house, BORN IN THE HOUSE, AND BOUGHT
WITH MONEY OF THE STRANGER", and, in fact, every male who was as much as
eight days old, we are not told what the number amounted to. Shall we
suppose (just for the sake of the interpretation) that Abraham's family
had so dwindled in the interval as that now all the males of his
household, trained men, slaves, and children, equalled only and exactly
the number of his warriors fifteen years before?'

The question seems difficult to answer, but Keble had, as a matter of
fact, forestalled the argument in the following passage, which had
apparently escaped the notice of the Rev. Mr. Maitland:

'Now whether the facts were really so or not (if it were, it was surely
by special providence), that Abraham's household at the time of the
circumcision was exactly the same number as before; still the argument
of St. Barnabas will stand. As thus: circumcision had from the
beginning, a reference to our SAVIOUR, as in other respects, so in this;
that the mystical number, which is the cipher of Jesus crucified, was
the number of the first circumcised household in the strength of which
Abraham prevailed against the powers of the world. So St. Clement of
Alexandria, as cited by Fell.'

And Keble supports his contention through ten pages of close print, with
references to Aristeas, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and Dr. Whitby.

Writings of this kind could not fail in their effect. Pious youths in
Oxford were carried away by them, and began to flock around the standard
of Newman. Newman himself became a party chief--encouraging, organising,
persuading. His long black figure, swiftly passing through the streets,
was pointed at with awe; crowds flocked to his sermons; his words were
repeated from mouth to mouth; 'Credo in Newmannum' became a common
catchword. Jokes were made about the Church of England, and practices,
unknown for centuries, began to be revived. Young men fasted and did
penance, recited the hours of the Roman Breviary, and confessed their
sins to Dr. Pusey. Nor was the movement confined to Oxford; it spread in
widening circles through the parishes of England; the dormant devotion
of the country was suddenly aroused. The new strange notion of taking
Christianity literally was delightful to earnest minds; but it was also
alarming. Really to mean every word you said, when you repeated the
Athanasian Creed! How wonderful! And what enticing and mysterious vistas
burst upon the view! But then, those vistas, where were they leading?
Supposing--oh heavens!--supposing after all they were to lead to--!


IN due course, the Tracts made their appearance at the remote rectory in
Sussex. Manning was some years younger than Newman, and the two men had
only met occasionally at the University; but now, through common
friends, a closer relationship began to grow up between them. It was
only to be expected that Newman should be anxious to enroll the rising
young Rector among his followers; and, on Manning's side, there were
many causes which impelled him to accept the overtures from Oxford.

He was a man of a serious and vigorous temperament, to whom it was
inevitable that the bold high principles of the Movement should strongly
appeal. There was also an element in his mind that element which had
terrified him in his childhood with Apocalyptic visions, and urged him
in his youth to Bible readings after breakfast--which now brought him
under the spell of the Oxford theories of sacramental mysticism. And
besides, the Movement offered another attraction: it imputed an
extraordinary, transcendent merit to the profession which Manning
himself pursued. The cleric was not as his lay brethren; he was a
creature apart, chosen by Divine will and sanctified by Divine
mysteries. It was a relief to find, when one had supposed that one was
nothing but a clergyman, that one might, after all, be something
else--one might be a priest.

Accordingly, Manning shook off his early Evangelical convictions,
started an active correspondence with Newman, and was soon working for
the new cause. He collected quotations, and began to translate the works
of Optatus for Dr. Pusey. He wrote an article on Justin for the British
Critic, "Newman's Magazine". He published a sermon on Faith, with notes
and appendices, which was condemned by an evangelical bishop, and
fiercely attacked by no less a person than the celebrated Mr. Bowdler.
'The sermon,' said Mr Bowdler, in a book which he devoted to the
subject, 'was bad enough, but the appendix was abominable.' At the same
time he was busy asserting the independence of the Church of England,
opposing secular education, and bringing out pamphlets against the
Ecclesiastical Commission, which had been appointed by Parliament to
report on Church Property. Then we find him in the role of a spiritual
director of souls. Ladies met him by stealth in his church, and made
their confessions. Over one case--that of a lady, who found herself
drifting towards Rome--he consulted Newman. Newman advised him to
'enlarge upon the doctrine of I Cor. vii';

'also, I think you must press on her the prospect of benefiting the poor
Church, through which she has her baptism, by stopping in it. Does she
not care for the souls of all around her, steeped and stifled in
Protestantism? How will she best care for them by indulging her own
feelings in the communion of Rome, or in denying herself, and staying in
sackcloth and ashes to do them good?'

Whether these arguments were successful does not appear.

For several years after his wife's death, Manning was occupied with
these new activities, while his relations with Newman developed into
what was apparently a warm friendship. 'And now vive valeque, my dear
Manning', we find Newman writing in a letter dated 'in festo S. Car.
1838', 'as wishes and prays yours affectionately, John H. Newman'. But,
as time went on, the situation became more complicated. Tractarianism
began to arouse the hostility, not only of the evangelical, but of the
moderate churchmen, who could not help perceiving in the ever-deepening,
'catholicism' of the Oxford party, the dread approaches of Rome. The
"Record" newspaper an influential Evangelical journal--took up the
matter and sniffed Popery in every direction; it spoke of certain
clergymen as 'tainted'; and after that, preferment seemed to pass those
clergymen by. The fact that Manning found it wise to conduct his
confessional ministrations in secret was in itself highly significant.
It was necessary to be careful, and Manning was very careful indeed. The
neighbouring Archdeacon, Mr. Hare, was a low churchman; Manning made
friends with him, as warmly, it seemed, as he had made friends with
Newman. He corresponded with him, asked his advice about the books he
should read, and discussed questions of Theology--'As to Gal. vi 15, we
cannot differ.... With a man who reads and reasons I can have no
controversy; and you do both.' Archdeacon Hare was pleased, but soon a
rumour reached him, which was, to say the least of it, upsetting.
Manning had been removing the high pews from a church in Brighton, and
putting in open benches in their place. Everyone knew what that meant;
everyone knew that a high pew was one of the bulwarks of Protestantism,
and that an open bench had upon it the taint of Rome. But Manning
hastened to explain:

'My dear friend,' he wrote, 'I did not exchange pews for open benches,
but got the pews (the same in number) moved from the nave of the church
to the walls of the side aisles, so that the whole church has a regular
arrangement of open benches, which (irregularly) existed before ... I am
not today quite well, so farewell, with much regard--Yours ever, H. E.

Archdeacon Hare was reassured.

It was important that he should be, for the Archdeacon of Chichester was
growing very old, and Hare's influence might be exceedingly useful when
a vacancy occurred. So, indeed, it fell out. A new bishop, Dr.
Shuttleworth, was appointed to the See, and the old Archdeacon took the
opportunity of retiring. Manning was obviously marked out as his
successor, but the new bishop happened to be a low churchman, an
aggressive low churchman, who went so far as to parody the Tractarian
fashion of using Saints' days for the dating of letters by writing 'The
Palace, washing-day', at the beginning of his. And--what was equally
serious--his views were shared by Mrs. Shuttleworth, who had already
decided that the pushing young Rector was 'tainted'. But at the critical
moment Archdeacon Hare came to the rescue; he persuaded the Bishop that
Manning was safe; and the appointment was accordingly made--behind Mrs.
Shuttleworth's back. She was furious, but it was too late; Manning was
an Archdeacon. All the lady could do, to indicate her disapprobation,
was to put a copy of Mr. Bowdler's book in a conspicuous position on the
drawing-room table, when he came to pay his respects at the Palace.

Among the letters of congratulation which Manning received, was one from
Mr Gladstone, with whom he had remained on terms of close friendship
since their days together at Oxford.

'I rejoice,' Mr Gladstone wrote, 'on your account personally; but more
for the sake of the Church. All my brothers-in-law are here and scarcely
less delighted than I am. With great glee am I about to write your new
address; but, the occasion really calls for higher sentiments; and sure
am I that you are one of the men to whom it is specially given to
develop the solution of that great problem--how all our minor
distractions are to be either abandoned, absorbed, or harmonised through
the might of the great principle of communion in the body of Christ.'

Manning was an Archdeacon; but he was not yet out of the woods. His
relations with the Tractarians had leaked out, and the Record was
beginning to be suspicious. If Mrs. Shuttleworth's opinion of him were
to become general, it would certainly be a grave matter. Nobody could
wish to live and die a mere Archdeacon. And then, at that very moment,
an event occurred which made it imperative to take a definite step, one
way or the other. That event was the publication of Tract No. 90.

For some time it had been obvious to every impartial onlooker that
Newman was slipping down an inclined plane at the bottom of which lay
one thing, and one thing only--the Roman Catholic Church. What was
surprising was the length of time which he was taking to reach the
inevitable destination. Years passed before he came to realise that his
grandiose edifice of a Church Universal would crumble to pieces if one
of its foundation stones was to be an amatory intrigue of Henry VIII.
But, at last he began to see that terrible monarch glowering at him
wherever he turned his eyes. First he tried to exorcise the spectre with
the rolling periods of the Caroline divines; but it only strutted the
more truculently. Then in despair he plunged into the writings of the
early Fathers, and sought to discover some way out of his difficulties
in the complicated labyrinth of ecclesiastical history. After months
spent in the study of the Monophysite heresy, the alarming conclusion
began to force itself upon him that the Church of England was perhaps in
schism. Eventually he read an article by a Roman Catholic on St.
Augustine and the Donatists, which seemed to put the matter beyond
doubt. St. Augustine, in the fifth century, had pointed out that the
Donatists were heretics because the Bishop of Rome had said so. The
argument was crushing; it rang in Newman's ears for days and nights;
and, though he continued to linger on in agony for six years more, he
never could discover any reply to it. All he could hope to do was to
persuade himself and anyone else who liked to listen to him that the
holding of Anglican orders was not inconsistent with a belief in the
whole cycle of Roman doctrine as laid down at the Council of Trent. In
this way he supposed that he could at once avoid the deadly sin of
heresy and conscientiously remain a clergyman in the Church of England;
and with this end in view, he composed Tract No. 90.

The object of the Tract was to prove that there was nothing in the
Thirty-nine Articles incompatible with the creed of the Roman Church.
Newman pointed out, for instance, that it was generally supposed that
the Articles condemned the doctrine of Purgatory; but they did not; they
merely condemned the Romish doctrine of Purgatory--and Romish, clearly,
was not the same thing as Roman. Hence it followed that believers in the
Roman doctrine of Purgatory might subscribe the Articles with a good
conscience. Similarly, the Articles condemned 'the sacrifices of
masses', but they did not condemn 'the sacrifice of the Mass'. Thus, the
Mass might be lawfully celebrated in English Churches. Newman took the
trouble to examine the Articles in detail from this point of view, and
the conclusion he came to in every case supported his contention in a
singular manner.

The Tract produced an immense sensation, for it seemed to be a deadly
and treacherous blow aimed at the very heart of the Church of England.
Deadly it certainly was, but it was not so treacherous as it appeared at
first sight. The members of the English Church had ingenuously imagined
up to that moment that it was possible to contain, in a frame of words,
the subtle essence of their complicated doctrinal system, involving the
mysteries of the Eternal and the Infinite on the one hand, and the
elaborate adjustments of temporal government on the other. They did not
understand that verbal definitions in such a case will only perform
their functions so long as there is no dispute about the matters which
they are intended to define: that is to say, so long as there is no need
for them. For generations this had been the case with the Thirty-nine
Articles. Their drift was clear enough; and nobody bothered over their
exact meaning. But directly someone found it important to give them a
new and untraditional interpretation, it appeared that they were a mass
of ambiguity, and might be twisted into meaning very nearly anything
that anybody liked. Steady-going churchmen were appalled and outraged
when they saw Newman, in Tract No. 90, performing this operation. But,
after all, he was only taking the Church of England at its word. And
indeed, since Newman showed the way, the operation has become so
exceedingly common that the most steady-going churchman hardly raises an
eyebrow at it now.

At the time, however, Newman's treatment of the Articles seemed to
display not only a perverted supersubtlety of intellect, but a temper of
mind that was fundamentally dishonest. It was then that he first began
to be assailed by those charges of untruthfulness which reached their
culmination more than twenty years later in the celebrated controversy
with Charles Kingsley, which led to the writing of the Apologia. The
controversy was not a very fruitful one, chiefly because Kingsley could
no more understand the nature of Newman's intelligence than a subaltern
in a line regiment can understand a Brahmin of Benares. Kingsley was a
stout Protestant, whose hatred of Popery was, at bottom, simply
ethical--an honest, instinctive horror of the practices of priestcraft
and the habits of superstition; and it was only natural that he should
see in those innumerable delicate distinctions which Newman was
perpetually drawing, and which he himself had not only never thought of,
but could not even grasp, simply another manifestation of the inherent
falsehood of Rome. But, in reality, no one, in one sense of the word,
was more truthful than Newman. The idea of deceit would have been
abhorrent to him; and indeed it was owing to his very desire to explain
what he had in his mind exactly and completely, with all the refinements
of which his subtle brain was capable, that persons such as Kingsley
were puzzled into thinking him dishonest. Unfortunately, however, the
possibilities of truth and falsehood depend upon other things besides
sincerity. A man may be of a scrupulous and impeccable honesty, and yet
his respect for the truth--it cannot be denied--may be insufficient. He
may be, like the lunatic, the lover, and the poet, 'of imagination all
compact'; he may be blessed, or cursed, with one of those 'seething
brains', one of those 'shaping fanatasies' that 'apprehend more than
cool reason ever comprehends'; he may be by nature incapable of sifting
evidence, or by predilection simply indisposed to do so. 'When we were
there,' wrote Newman in a letter to a friend after his conversion,
describing a visit to Naples, and the miraculous circumstances connected
with the liquefaction of St. Januarius's blood,

'the feast of St. Gennaro was coming on, and the Jesuits were eager for
us to stop--they have the utmost confidence in the miracle--and were the
more eager because many Catholics, till they have seen it, doubt it. Our
father director here tells us that before he went to Naples he did not
believe it. That is, they have vague ideas of natural means,
exaggeration, etc., not of course imputing fraud. They say conversions
often take place in consequence. It is exposed for the Octave, and the
miracle continues--it is not simple liquefaction, but sometimes it
swells, sometimes boils, sometimes melts--no one can tell what is going
to take place. They say it is quite overcoming-and people cannot help
crying to see it. I understand that Sir H. Davy attended everyday, and
it was this extreme variety of the phenomenon which convinced him that
nothing physical would account for it. Yet there is this remarkable fact
that liquefactions of blood are common at Naples--and, unless it is
irreverent to the Great Author of Miracles to be obstinate in the
inquiry, the question certainly rises whether there is something in the
air. (Mind, I don't believe there is--and, speaking humbly, and without
having seen it, think it a true miracle--but I am arguing.) We saw the
blood of St Patrizia, half liquid; i.e. liquefying, on her feast day. St
John Baptist's blood sometimes liquefies on the 29th of August, and did
when we were at Naples, but we had not time to go to the church. We saw
the liquid blood of an Oratorian Father; a good man, but not a saint,
who died two centuries ago, I think; and we saw the liquid blood of Da
Ponte, the great and holy Jesuit, who, I suppose, was almost a saint.
But these instances do not account for liquefaction on certain days, if
this is the case. But the most strange phenomenon is what happens at
Ravello, a village or town above Amalfi. There is the blood of St.
Pantaleon. It is in a vessel amid the stonework of the Altar-it is not
touched but on his feast in June it liquefies. And more, there is an
excommunication against those who bring portions of the True Cross into
the Church. Why? Because the blood liquefies, whenever it is brought. A
person I know, not knowing the prohibition, brought in a portion, and
the Priest suddenly said, who showed the blood, "Who has got the Holy
Cross about him?" I tell you what was told me by a grave and religious
man. It is a curious coincidence that in telling this to our Father
Director here, he said, "Why, we have a portion of St. Pantaleon's blood
at the Chiesa Nuova, and it is always liquid."'

After leaving Naples, Newman visited Loreto, and inspected the house of
the Holy Family, which, as is known to the faithful, was transported
thither, in three hops, from Palestine.

'I went to Loreto,' he wrote, 'with a simple faith, believing what I
still more believed when I saw it. I have no doubt now. If you ask me
why I believe it, it is because everyone believes it at Rome; cautious
as they are and sceptical about some other things. I have no antecedent
difficulty in the matter. He who floated the Ark on the surges of a
world-wide sea, and enclosed in it all living things, who has hidden the
terrestrial paradise, who said that faith might move mountains, who
sustained thousands for forty years in a sterile wilderness, who
transported Elias and keeps him hidden till the end, could do this
wonder also.'

Here, whatever else there may be, there is certainly no trace of a
desire to deceive. Could a state of mind, in fact, be revealed with more
absolute transparency?

When Newman was a child he 'wished that he could believe the Arabian
Nights were true'. When he came to be a man, his wish seems to have been

Tract No. 90 was officially condemned by the authorities at Oxford, and
in the hubbub that followed, the contending parties closed their ranks;
henceforward, any compromise between the friends and the enemies of the
Movement was impossible. Archdeacon Manning was in too conspicuous a
position to be able to remain silent; he was obliged to declare himself,
and he did not hesitate. In an archidiaconal charge, delivered within a
few months of his appointment, he firmly repudiated the Tractarians. But
the repudiation was not deemed sufficient, and a year later he repeated
it with greater emphasis. Still, however, the horrid rumours were
afloat. The "Record" began to investigate matters, and its vigilance was
soon rewarded by an alarming discovery: the sacrament had been
administered in Chichester Cathedral on a weekday, and 'Archdeacon
Manning, one of the most noted and determined of the Tractarians, had
acted a conspicuous part on the occasion'. It was clear that the only
way of silencing these malevolent whispers was by some public
demonstration whose import nobody could doubt. The annual sermon
preached on Guy Fawkes Day before the University of Oxford seemed to
offer the very opportunity that Manning required. He seized it; got
himself appointed preacher; and delivered from the pulpit of St. Mary's
a virulently Protestant harangue. This time there could indeed be no
doubt about the matter: Manning had shouted 'No Popery!' in the very
citadel of the Movement, and every one, including Newman, recognised
that he had finally cut himself off from his old friends. Everyone, that
is to say, except the Archdeacon himself. On the day after the sermon,
Manning walked out to the neighbouring village of Littlemore, where
Newman was now living in retirement with a few chosen disciples, in the
hope of being able to give a satisfactory explanation of what he had
done. But he was disappointed; for when, after an awkward interval, one
of the disciples appeared at the door, he was informed that Mr. Newman
was not at home.

With his retirement to Littlemore, Newman had entered upon the final
period of his Anglican career. Even he could no longer help perceiving
that the end was now only a matter of time. His progress was hastened in
an agitating manner by the indiscreet activity of one of his proselytes,
W. G. Ward. a young man who combined an extraordinary aptitude for a
priori reasoning with a passionate devotion to Opera Bouffe. It was
difficult, in fact, to decide whether the inner nature of Ward was more
truly expressing itself when he was firing off some train of scholastic
paradoxes on the Eucharist or when he was trilling the airs of Figaro
and plunging through the hilarious roulades of the Largo al Factotum.
Even Dr. Pusey could not be quite sure, though he was Ward's spiritual
director. On one occasion his young penitent came to him, and confessed
that a vow which he had taken to abstain from music during Lent was
beginning to affect his health. Could Dr. Pusey see his way to releasing
him from the vow? The Doctor decided that a little sacred music would
not be amiss. Ward was all gratitude, and that night a party was
arranged in a friend's rooms. The concert began with the solemn
harmonies of Handel, which were followed by the holy strains of the 'Oh
Salutaris' of Cherubini. Then came the elevation and the pomp of
'Possenti Numi' from the Magic Flute. But, alas! there lies much danger
in Mozart. The page was turned and there was the delicious duet between
Papageno and Papagena. Flesh and blood could not resist that; then song
followed song, the music waxed faster and lighter, until, at last Ward
burst into the intoxicating merriment of the Largo al Factotum. When it
was over, a faint but persistent knocking made itself heard upon the
wall; and it was only then that the company remembered that the rooms
next door were Dr. Pusey's.

The same entrainment which carried Ward away when he sat down to a piano
possessed him whenever he embarked on a religious discussion. 'The thing
that was utterly abhorrent to him,' said one of his friends, 'was to
stop short.' Given the premises, he would follow out their implications
with the mercilessness of a medieval monk, and when he had reached the
last limits of argument, be ready to maintain whatever propositions he
might find there with his dying breath. He had the extreme innocence of
a child and a mathematician. Captivated by the glittering eye of Newman,
he swallowed whole the supernatural conception of the universe which
Newman had evolved, accepted it as a fundamental premise, and 'began at
once to deduce from it whatsoever there might be to be deduced.' His
very first deductions included irrefutable proofs of (I) God's
particular providence for individuals; (2) the real efficacy of
intercessory prayer; (3) the reality of our communion with the saints
departed; (4) the constant presence and assistance of the angels of God.
Later on he explained mathematically the importance of the Ember Days:
'Who can tell,' he added, 'the degree of blessing lost to us in this
land by neglecting, as we alone of Christian Churches do neglect, these
holy days?' He then proceeded to convict the Reformers, not only of
rebellion, but'--for my own part I see not how we can avoid adding--of
perjury.' Every day his arguments became more extreme, more rigorously
exact, and more distressing to his master. Newman was in the position of
a cautious commander-in-chief being hurried into an engagement against
his will by a dashing cavalry officer. Ward forced him forward step by
step towards-no! he could not bear it; he shuddered and drew back. But
it was of no avail. In vain did Keble and Pusey wring their hands and
stretch forth their pleading arms to their now vanishing brother. The
fatal moment was fast approaching. Ward at last published a devastating
book in which he proved conclusively, by a series of syllogisms, that
the only proper course for the Church of England was to repent in
sackcloth and ashes her separation from the Communion of Rome. The
reckless author was deprived of his degree by an outraged University,
and a few weeks later was received into the Catholic Church.

Newman, in a kind of despair, had flung himself into the labours of
historical compilation. His views of history had changed since the days
when, as an undergraduate, he had feasted on the worldly pages of

'Revealed religion,' he now thought, 'furnishes facts to other sciences,
which those sciences, left to themselves, would never reach. Thus, in
the science of history, the preservation of our race in Noah's Ark is an
historical fact, which history never would arrive at without

With these principles to guide him, he plunged with his disciples into a
prolonged study of the English Saints. Biographies soon appeared of St.
Bega, St. Adamnan, St. Gundleus, St. Guthlake, Brother Drithelm, St.
Amphibalus, St. Wuistan, St. Ebba, St. Neot, St. Ninian, and Cunibert
the Hermit. Their austerities, their virginity, and their miraculous
powers were described in detail. The public learned with astonishment
that St Ninian had turned a staff into a tree; that St. German had
stopped a cock from crowing, and that a child had been raised from the
dead to convert St. Helier. The series has subsequently been continued
by a more modern writer whose relation of the history of the blessed St.
Mael contains, perhaps, even more matter for edification than Newman's

At the time, indeed, those works caused considerable scandal. Clergymen
denounced them in pamphlets. St. Cuthbert was described by his
biographer as having 'carried the jealousy of women, characteristic of
all the saints, to an extraordinary pitch'. An example was given,
whenever he held a spiritual conversation with St Ebba, he was careful
to spend the ensuing ours of darkness 'in prayer, up to his neck in
water'. 'Persons who invent such tales,' wrote one indignant
commentator, 'cast very grave and just suspicions on the purity of their
own minds. And young persons, who talk and think in this way, are in
extreme danger of falling into sinful habits. As to the volumes before
us, the authors have, in their fanatical panegyrics of virginity, made
use of language downright profane.'

One of the disciples at Littlemore was James Anthony Froude, the younger
brother of Hurrell, and it fell to his lot to be responsible for the
biography of St. Neot. While he was composing it, he began to feel some
qualms. Saints who lighted fires with icicles, changed bandits into
wolves, and floated across the Irish Channel on altar-stones, produced a
disturbing effect on his historical conscience. But he had promised his
services to Newman, and he determined to carry through the work in the
spirit in which he had begun it. He did so; but he thought it proper to
add the following sentence by way of conclusion: 'This is all, and
indeed rather more than all, that is known to men of the blessed St.
Neot; but not more than is known to the angels in heaven.'

Meanwhile, the English Roman Catholics were growing impatient; was the
great conversion never coming, for which they had prayed so fervently
and so long? Dr. Wiseman, at the head of them, was watching and waiting
with special eagerness. His hand was held out under the ripening fruit;
the delicious morsel seemed to be trembling on its stalk; and yet it did
not fall. At last, unable to bear the suspense any longer, he dispatched
to Littlemore Father Smith, an old pupil of Newman's, who had lately
joined the Roman communion, with instructions that he should do his
best, under cover of a simple visit of friendship, to discover how the
land lay. Father Smith was received somewhat coldly, and the
conversation ran entirely on topics which had nothing to do with
religion. When the company separated before dinner, he was beginning to
think that his errand had been useless; but, on their reassembling, he
suddenly noticed that Newman had changed his trousers, and that the
colour of the pair which he was now wearing was grey. At the earliest
moment, the emissary rushed back post-haste to Dr. Wiseman. 'All is
well,' he exclaimed; 'Newman no longer considers that he is in Anglican
orders." Praise be to God!' answered Dr Wiseman. 'But how do you know?'
Father Smith described what he had seen. 'Oh, is that all? My dear
father, how can you be so foolish?' But Father Smith was not to be
shaken. 'I know the man,' he said, and I know what it means. 'Newman will
come, and he will come soon.'

And Father Smith was right. A few weeks later, Newman suddenly slipped
off to a priest, and all was over. Perhaps he would have hesitated
longer still, if he could have foreseen how he was to pass the next
thirty years of his unfortunate existence; but the future was hidden,
and all that was certain was that the past had gone forever, and that
his eyes would rest no more upon the snapdragons of Trinity.

The Oxford Movement was now ended. The University breathed such a sigh
of relief as usually follows the difficult expulsion of a hard piece of
matter from a living organism, and actually began to attend to
education. As for the Church of England, she had tasted blood, and it
was clear that she would never again be content with a vegetable diet.
Her clergy, however, maintained their reputation for judicious
compromise, for they followed Newman up to the very point beyond which
his conclusions were logical, and, while they intoned, confessed, swung
incense, and burned candles with the exhilaration of converts, they yet
managed to do so with a subtle nuance which showed that they had nothing
to do with Rome. Various individuals underwent more violent changes.
Several had preceded Newman into the Roman fold; among others an unhappy
Mr. Sibthorpe, who subsequently changed his mind, and returned to the
Church of his fathers, and then--perhaps it was only natural--changed
his mind again. Many more followed Newman, and Dr. Wiseman was
particularly pleased by the conversion of a Mr. Morris, who, as he said,
was 'the author of the essay, which won the prize on the best method of
proving Christianity to the Hindus'. Hurrell Froude had died before
Newman had read the fatal article on St. Augustine; but his brother,
James Anthony, together with Arthur Clough, the poet, went through an
experience which was more distressing in those days than it has since
become; they lost their faith. With this difference, however, that while
in Froude's case the loss of his faith turned out to be rather like the
loss of a heavy portmanteau, which one afterwards discovers to have been
full of old rags and brickbats, Clough was made so uneasy by the loss of
his that he went on looking for it everywhere as long as he lived; but
somehow he never could find it. On the other hand, Keble and Pusey
continued for the rest of their lives to dance in an exemplary manner
upon the tight-rope of High Anglicanism; in such an exemplary manner,
indeed, that the tight-rope has its dancers still.


MANNING was now thirty-eight, and it was clear that he was the rising
man in the Church of England. He had many powerful connections: he was
the brother-in-law of Samuel Wilberforce, who had been lately made a
bishop; he was a close friend of Mr. Gladstone, who was a Cabinet
Minister; and he was becoming well known in the influential circles of
society in London. His talent for affairs was recognised not only in the
Church, but in the world at large, and he busied himself with matters of
such varied scope as National Education, the administration of the Poor
Law, and the Employment of Women. Mr. Gladstone kept up an intimate
correspondence with him on these and on other subjects, mingling in his
letters the details of practical statesmanship with the speculations of
a religious thinker. 'Sir James Graham,' he wrote, in a discussion of
the bastardy clauses of the Poor Law, 'is much pleased with the tone of
your two communications. He is disposed, without putting an end to the
application of the workhouse test against the mother, to make the remedy
against the putative father "real and effective" for expenses incurred
in the workhouse. I am not enough acquainted to know whether it would be
advisable to go further. You have not proposed it; and I am disposed to
believe that only with a revived and improved discipline in the Church
can we hope for any generally effective check upon lawless lust.' 'I
agree with you EMINENTLY,' he writes, in a later letter, 'in your
doctrine of FILTRATION. But it sometimes occurs to me, though the
question may seem a strange one, how far was the Reformation, but
especially the Continental Reformation, designed by God, in the region
of final causes, for that purification of the Roman Church which it has
actually realised?'

In his archdeaconry, Manning lived to the full the active life of a
country clergyman. His slim, athletic figure was seen everywhere in the
streets of Chichester, or on the lawns of the neighbouring rectories, or
galloping over the downs in breeches and gaiters, or cutting brilliant
figures on the ice. He was an excellent judge of horse-flesh, and the
pair of greys which drew his hooded phaeton so swiftly through the lanes
were the admiration of the county. His features were already beginning
to assume their ascetic cast, but the spirit of youth had not yet fled
from them, so that he seemed to combine the attractions of dignity and
grace. He was a good talker, a sympathetic listener, a man who
understood the difficult art of preserving all the vigour of a manly
character and yet never giving offence. No wonder that his sermons drew
crowds, no wonder that his spiritual advice was sought for eagerly by an
ever-growing group of penitents; no wonder that men would say, when his
name was mentioned, 'Oh, Manning! No power on earth can keep HIM from a

Such was the fair outward seeming of the Archdeacon's life; but, the
inward reality was different. The more active, the more fortunate, the
more full of happy promise his existence became, the more persistently
was his secret imagination haunted by a dreadful vision--the lake that
burneth forever with brimstone and fire. The temptations of the Evil One
are many, Manning knew; and he knew also that, for him at least, the
most subtle and terrible of all temptations was the temptation of
worldly success. He tried to reassure himself, but it was in vain. He
committed his thoughts to a diary, weighing scrupulously his every
motive, examining with relentless searchings into the depths of his
heart. Perhaps, after all, his longings for preferment were merely
legitimatehopes for 'an elevation into a sphere of higher usefulness'.
But no, there was something more than that. 'I do feel pleasure,' he
noted, 'in honour, precedence, elevation, the society of great people,
and all this is very shameful and mean.'

After Newman's conversion, he almost convinced himself that his 'visions
of an ecclesiastical future' were justified by the role that he would
play as a 'healer of the breach in the Church of England'. Mr. Gladstone
agreed with him; but there was One higher than Mr. Gladstone, and did He

'I am pierced by anxious thoughts. God knows what my desires have been
and are, and why they are crossed.... I am flattering myself with a
fancy about depth and reality.... The great question is: Is God enough
for you now? And if you are as now even to the end of life, will it
suffice you?... Certainly I would rather choose to be stayed on God,
than to be in the thrones of the world and the Church. Nothing else will
go into Eternity.'

In a moment of ambition, he had applied for the Readership of Lincoln's
Inn, but, owing chiefly to the hostile influence of the Record, the
appointment had gone elsewhere. A little later, a more important
position was offered to him--the office of sub-almoner to the Queen,
which had just been vacated by the Archbishop of York, and was almost
certain to lead to a mitre. The offer threw Manning into an agony of
self-examination. He drew up elaborate tables, after the manner of
Robinson Crusoe, with the reasons for and against his acceptance of the

               FOR                      AGAINST

    1. That it comes unsought.  1. Not therefore to be accepted. Such
                                  things are trials as well as leadings.

    2. That it is honourable.   2. Being what I am, ought I
                                   not therefore to decline it--
                                  (1) as humiliation;
                                  (2) as revenge on myself
                                      for Lincoln's Inn;

                                  (3) as a testimony?

And so on. He found in the end ten 'negative reasons', with no
affirmative ones to balance them, and, after a week's deliberation, he
rejected the offer.

But peace of mind was as far off from him as ever. First the bitter
thought came to him that 'in all this Satan tells me I am doing it to be
thought mortified and holy'; and then he was obsessed by the still
bitterer feelings of ineradicable disappointment and regret. He had lost
a great opportunity, and it brought him small comfort to consider that
'in the region of counsels, self-chastisement, humiliation,
self-discipline, penance, and of the Cross', he had perhaps done right.

The crisis passed, but it was succeeded by a fiercer one. Manning was
taken seriously ill, and became convinced that he might die at any
moment. The entries in his Diary grew more elaborate than ever; his
remorse for the past, his resolutions for the future, his protestations
of submission to the will of God, filled page after page of parallel
columns, headings and sub-headings, numbered clauses, and analytical
tables. 'How do I feel about Death?' he wrote.

    'Certainly great fear:

    1. Because of the uncertainty of our state before God.
    2. Because of the consciousness--
       (1) of great sins past,
       (2) of great sinfulness,
       (3) of most shallow repentance.

    What shall I do?'

He decided to mortify himself, to read St Thomas Aquinas, and to make
his 'night prayers forty instead of thirty minutes'. He determined
during Lent 'to use no pleasant bread (except on Sundays and feasts)
such as cake and sweetmeat'; but he added the proviso 'I do not include
plain biscuits'. Opposite this entry appears the word 'KEPT'. And yet
his back-slidings were many. Looking back over a single week, he was
obliged to register 'petulance twice' and 'complacent visions'. He heard
his curate being commended for bringing so many souls to God during
Lent, and he 'could not bear it'; but the remorse was terrible: 'I
abhorred myself on the spot, and looked upward for help.' He made out
list upon list of the Almighty's special mercies towards him, and they
included his creation, his regeneration, and (No. 5) 'the preservation
of my life six times to my knowledge:

    (1) In illness at the age of nine.
    (2) In the water.
    (3) By a runaway horse at Oxford.
    (4) By the same.
    (5) By falling nearly through the ceiling of a church.
    (6) Again by a fall of a horse. And I know not
        how often in shooting, riding, etc.'

At last he became convalescent; but the spiritual experiences of those
agitated weeks left an indelible mark upon his mind, and prepared the
way for the great change which was to follow.

For he had other doubts besides those which held him in torment as to
his own salvation; he was in doubt about the whole framework of his
faith. Newman's conversion, he found, had meant something more to him
than he had first realised. It had seemed to come as a call to the
redoubling of his Anglican activities; but supposing, in reality, it
were a call towards something very different--towards an abandonment of
those activities altogether? It might be 'a trial', or again it might be
a 'leading'; how was he to judge? Already, before his illness, these
doubts had begun to take possession of his mind.

'I am conscious to myself,' he wrote in his Diary, 'of an extensively
changed feeling towards the Church of Rome ... The Church of England
seems to me to be diseased: 1. ORGANICALLY (six sub-headings). 2.
FUNCTIONALLY (seven sub-headings) ... Wherever it seems healthy, it
approximates the system of Rome.'

Then thoughts of the Virgin Mary suddenly began to assail him:

    (1) If John the Baptist were sanctified from the womb,
        how much more the B.V.!

    (2) If Enoch and Elijah were exempted from death,
        why not the B.V. from sin?

    (3) It is a strange way of loving the Son to slight
        the mother!'

The arguments seemed irresistible, and a few weeks later the following
entry occurs--'Strange thoughts have visited me:

    (1) I have felt that the Episcopate of the Church of England is
        secularised and bound down beyond hope....

    (2) I feel as if a light had fallen upon me. My feeling about the
        Roman Church is not intellectual. I have intellectual
        difficulties, but the great moral difficulties seem melting.

    (3) Something keeps rising and saying, "You will end in the Roman

He noted altogether twenty-five of these 'strange thoughts'. His mind
hovered anxiously round--

    (1) The Incarnation,
    (2) The Real Presence,
           i. Regeneration,
          ii. Eucharist, and
    (3) The Exaltation of S. M. and Saints.

His twenty-second strange thought was as follows: 'How do I know where I
may be two years hence? Where was Newman five years ago?'

It was significant, but hardly surprising, that, after his illness,
Manning should have chosen to recuperate in Rome. He spent several
months there, and his Diary during the whole of that period is concerned
entirely with detailed descriptions of churches, ceremonies, and relics,
and with minute accounts of conversations with priests and nuns. There
is not a single reference either to the objects of art or to the
antiquities of the place; but another omission was still more
remarkable. Manning had a long interview with Pius IX, and his only
record of it is contained in the bald statement: 'Audience today at the
Vatican'. Precisely what passed on that occasion never transpired; all
that is known is that His Holiness expressed considerable surprise on
learning from the Archdeacon that the chalice was used in the Anglican
Church in the administration of Communion. 'What!' he exclaimed, is the
same chalice made use of by everyone?' 'I remember the pain I felt,'
said Manning, long afterwards, 'at seeing how unknown we were to the
Vicar of Jesus Christ. It made me feel our isolation.'

On his return to England, he took up once more the work in his
Archdeaconry with what appetite he might. Ravaged by doubt, distracted
by speculation, he yet managed to maintain an outward presence of
unshaken calm. His only confidant was Robert Wilberforce, to whom, for
the next two years, he poured forth in a series of letters, headed
'UNDER THE SEAL' to indicate that they contained the secrets of the
confessional--the whole history of his spiritual perturbations. The
irony of his position was singular; for, during the whole of this time,
Manning was himself holding back from the Church of Rome a host of
hesitating penitents by means of arguments which he was at the very
moment denouncing as fallacious to his own confessor. But what else
could he do? When he received, for instance, a letter such as the
following from an agitated lady, what was he to say?


' ... I am sure you would pity me and like to help me, if you knew the
unhappy, unsettled state my mind is in, and the misery of being
ENTIRELY, WHEREVER I AM, with those who look upon joining the Church of
Rome as the most awful "fall" conceivable to any one, and are devoid of
the smallest comprehension of how any enlightened person can do it....
My old Evangelical friends, with all my deep, deep love for them, do not
succeed in shaking me in the least....

'My brother has just published a book called "Regeneration", which all
my friends are reading and highly extolling; it has a very contrary
effect to what he would desire on my mind. I can read and understand it
all in an altogether different sense, and the facts which he quotes
about the articles as drawn up in 1536, and again in 1552, and of the
Irish articles of 1615 and 1634, STARTLE and SHAKE me about the Reformed
Church in England far more than anything else, and have done so ever
since I first saw them in Mr. Maskell's pamphlet (as quoted from Mr

'I do hope you have some time and thought to pray for me still. Mr.
Galton's letters long ago grew into short formal notes, which hurt me
and annoyed me particularly, and I never answered his last, so,
literally, I have no one to say things to and get help from, which in
one sense is a comfort when my convictions seem to be leading me on and
on, and gaining strength in spite of all the dreariness of my lot.

'Do you know I can't help being very anxious and unhappy about poor
Sister Harriet. I am afraid of her GOING OUT OF HER MIND. She comforts
herself by an occasional outpouring of everything to me, and I had a
letter this morning.... She says Sister May has promised the Vicar never
to talk to her or allow her to talk on the subject with her, and I doubt
whether this can be good for her, because though she has lost her faith,
she says, in the Church of England, yet she never thinks of what she
could have faith in, and resolutely without inquiring into the question
determines not to be a Roman Catholic, so that really, you see, she is
allowing her mind to run adrift and yet perfectly powerless.

'Forgive my troubling you with this letter, and believe me to be always
your faithful, grateful and affectionate daughter,


'P.S. I wish I could see you once more so very much.'

How was Manning, a director of souls, and a clergyman of the Church of
England, to reply that in sober truth there was very little to choose
between the state of mind of Sister Emma, or even of Sister Harriet, and
his own? The dilemma was a grievous one: when a soldier finds himself
fighting for a cause in which he has lost faith, it is treachery to
stop, and it is treachery to go on.

At last, in the seclusion of his library, Manning turned in agony to
those old writings which had provided Newman with so much instruction
and assistance; perhaps the Fathers would do something for him as well.
He ransacked the pages of St. Cyprian and St. Cyril; he went through the
complete works of St. Optatus and St. Leo; he explored the vast
treatises of Tertullian and Justin Martyr. He had a lamp put into his
phaeton, so that he might lose no time during his long winter drives.
There he sat, searching St. Chrysostom for some mitigation of his
anguish, while he sped along between the hedges to distant sufferers, to
whom he duly administered the sacraments according to the rites of the
English Church. He hurried back to commit to his Diary the analysis of
his reflections, and to describe, under the mystic formula of secrecy,
the intricate workings of his conscience to Robert Wilberforce. But,
alas! he was no Newman; and even the fourteen folios of St. Augustine
himself, strange to say, gave him very little help.

The final propulsion was to come from an entirely different quarter. In
November, 1847, the Reverend Mr. Gorham was presented by the Lord
Chancellor to the living of Bramford Speke in the diocese of Exeter. The
Bishop, Dr. Phillpotts, was a High Churchman, and he had reason to
believe that Mr. Gorham held evangelical opinions; he therefore
subjected him to an examination on doctrine, which took the form partly
of a verbal interrogatory, lasting thirty-eight hours, and partly of a
series of one hundred and forty-nine written questions. At the end of
the examination he came to the conclusion that Mr. Gorham held heretical
views on the subject of Baptismal Regeneration, and he therefore refused
to institute. Mr. Gorham, thereupon, took proceedings against the Bishop
in the Court of Arches. He lost his case; and he then appealed to the
judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The questions at issue were taken very seriously by a large number of
persons. In the first place, there was the question of Baptismal
Regeneration itself. This is by no means an easy one to disentangle; but
it may be noted that the doctrine of Baptism includes: (1) God's
intention, that is to say, His purpose in electing certain persons to
eternal life--an abstruse and greatly controverted subject, upon which
the Church of England abstains from strict definition; (2) God's action,
whether by means of sacraments or otherwise--concerning which the Church
of England maintains the efficacy of sacraments,' but does not formally
deny that grace may be given by other means, repentance and faith being
present; and (3) the question whether sacramental grace is given
instrumentally, by and at the moment of the act of baptism, or in
consequence of an act of prevenient grace rendering the receiver
worthy--that is to say, whether sacramental grace in baptism is given
absolutely or conditionally.

It was over this last question that the dispute raged hottest in the
Gorham Case. The High Church party, represented by Dr. Phillpotts,
asserted that the mere act of baptism conferred regeneration upon the
recipient and washed away his original sin. To this the Evangelicals,
headed by Mr. Gorham, replied that, according to the Articles,
regeneration would not follow unless baptism was RIGHTLY received. What,
then, was the meaning of 'rightly'? Clearly it implied not merely lawful
administration, but worthy reception; worthiness, therefore, is the
essence of the sacrament; and worthiness means faith and repentance.
Now, two propositions were accepted by both parties--that all infants
are born in original sin, and that original sin could be washed away by
baptism. But how could both these propositions be true, argued Mr.
Gorham, if it was also true that faith and repentance were necessary
before baptism could come into operation at all? How could an infant in
arms be said to be in a state of faith and repentance? How, therefore,
could its original sin be washed away by baptism? And yet, as every one
agreed, washed away it was.

The only solution of the difficulty lay in the doctrine of prevenient
grace; and Mr. Gorham maintained that unless God performed an act of
prevenient grace by which the infant was endowed with faith and
repentance, no act of baptism could be effectual; though to whom, and
under what conditions, prevenient grace was given, Mr. Gorham confessed
himself unable to decide. The light thrown by the Bible upon the whole
matter seemed somewhat dubious, for whereas the baptism of St. Peter's
disciples at Jerusalem and St. Philip's at Samaria was followed by the
gift of the Spirit, in the case of Cornelius the sacrament succeeded the
gift. St. Paul also was baptised; and as for the language of St. John
iii 5; Rom. vi 3, 4; I Peter iii 21, it admits of more than one
interpretation. There could, however, be no doubt that the Church of
England assented to Dr. Phillpotts' opinion; the question was whether or
not she excluded Mr. Gorham's. If it was decided that she did, it was
clear that henceforward, there would be very little peace for
Evangelicals within her fold.

But there was another issue, even more fundamental than that of
Baptismal Regeneration itself, involved in the Gorham trial. An Act
passed in 1833 had constituted the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council the supreme court of appeal for such cases; and this Committee
was a body composed entirely of laymen. It was thus obvious that the
Royal Supremacy was still a fact, and that a collection of lawyers
appointed by the Crown had the legal right to formulate the religious
doctrine of the Church of England. In 1850 their judgment was delivered;
they reversed the decision of the Court of Arches, and upheld the
position of Mr. Gorham. Whether his views were theologically correct or
not, they said, was not their business; it was their business to decide
whether the opinions under consideration were contrary or repugnant to
the doctrine of the Church of England as enjoined upon the clergy by its
Articles, Formularies, and Rubrics; and they had come to the conclusion
that they were not. The judgement still holds good; and to this day, a
clergyman of the Church of England is quite at liberty to believe that
Regeneration does not invariably take place when an infant is baptised.

The blow fell upon no one with greater violence than upon Manning. Not
only was the supreme efficacy of the sign of the cross upon a baby's
forehead one of his favourite doctrines, but up to that moment he had
been convinced that the Royal Supremacy was a mere accident--a temporary
usurpation which left the spiritual dominion of the Church essentially
untouched. But now the horrid reality rose up before him, crowned and
triumphant; it was all too clear that an Act of Parliament, passed by
Jews, Roman Catholics, and Dissenters, was the ultimate authority which
decided upon the momentous niceties of the Anglican faith. Mr. Gladstone
also, was deeply perturbed. It was absolutely necessary, he wrote, to
'rescue and defend the conscience of the Church from the present hideous
system'. An agitation was set on foot, and several influential
Anglicans, with Manning at their head, drew up and signed a formal
protest against the Gorham judgment. Mr. Gladstone however, proposed
another method of procedure: precipitate action, he declared, must be
avoided at all costs, and he elaborated a scheme for securing
procrastination, by which a covenant was to bind all those who believed
that an article of the creed had been abolished by Act of Parliament to
take no steps in any direction, nor to announce their intention of doing
so, until a given space of time had elapsed. Mr. Gladstone was hopeful
that some good might come of this--though indeed he could not be sure.
'Among others,' he wrote to Manning, 'I have consulted Robert
Wilberforce and Wegg-Prosser, and they seemed inclined to favour my
proposal. It might, perhaps, have kept back Lord Feilding. But he is
like a cork.'

The proposal was certainly not favoured by Manning. Protests and
procrastinations, approving Wegg-Prossers and cork-like Lord
Feildings--all this was feeding the wind and folly; the time for action
had come.

'I can no longer continue,' he wrote to Robert Wilberforce, 'under oath
and subscription binding me to the Royal Supremacy in Ecclesiastical
causes, being convinced:

  (1) That it is a violation of the Divine Office of the Church.

  (2) That it has involved the Church of England in a separation
  from the Universal Church, which separation I cannot clear of the
  character of schism.

  (3) That it has thereby suspended and prevented the functions of
  the Church of England.'

It was in vain that Robert Wilberforce pleaded, in vain that Mr.
Gladstone urged upon his mind the significance of John iii 8. ['The wind
bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst
not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is
born of the Spirit.']

'I admit,' Mr. Gladstone wrote, 'that the words might in some way be
satisfied by supposing our Lord simply to mean "the facts of nature are
unintelligible, therefore, be not afraid if revealed truths be likewise
beyond the compass of the understanding"; but this seems to me a meagre

Such considerations could hold him no longer, and Manning executed the
resignation of his office and benefice before a public notary. Soon
afterwards, in the little Chapel off Buckingham Palace Road, kneeling
beside Mr. Gladstone, he worshipped for the last time as an Anglican.
Thirty years later the Cardinal told how, just before the Communion
service commenced, he turned to his friends with the words:

'I can no longer take the Communion in the Church of England.' 'I rose
up, and laying my hand on Mr. Gladstone's shoulder, said "Come". It was
the parting of the ways. Mr. Gladstone remained; and I went my way. Mr.
Gladstone still remains where I left him.'

On April 6th, 1851, the final step was taken: Manning was received into
the Roman Catholic Church. Now at last, after the long struggle, his
mind was at rest.

'I know what you mean,' he wrote to Robert Wilberforce, 'by saying that
one sometimes feels as if all this might turn out to be only another
"Land of Shadows". I have felt it in time past, but not now. The
theologia from Nice to St. Thomas Aquinas, and the undivided unity
suffused throughout the world, of which the Cathedra Petri is the
centre, is now 1800 years old, and mightier in every power now than
ever--in intellect, in science, in separation from the world; and purer
too, refined by 300 years of conflict with the modern infidel
civilisation--all of this is a fact more solid than the earth.'


WHEN Manning joined the Church of Rome, he acted under the combined
impulse of the two dominating forces in his nature. His preoccupation
with the supernatural might, alone, have been satisfied within the fold
of the Anglican communion; and so might his preoccupation with
himself--the one might have found vent in the elaborations of High
Church ritual, and the other in the activities of a bishopric. But the
two together could not be quieted so easily. The Church of England is a
commodious institution; she is very anxious to please, but somehow or
other, she has never managed to supply a happy home to superstitious
egotists. 'What an escape for my poor soul!' Manning is said to have
exclaimed when, shortly after his conversion, a mitre was going
a-begging. But, in truth, Manning's 'poor soul' had scented nobler
quarry. To one of his temperament, how was it possible, when once the
choice was plainly put, to hesitate for a moment between the respectable
dignity of an English bishop, harnessed by the secular power, with the
Gorham judgment as a bit between his teeth, and the illimitable
pretensions of the humblest priest of Rome?

For the moment, however, it seemed as if the Fates had at last been
successful in their little game of shunting Manning. The splendid career
which he had so laboriously built up from the small beginnings of his
Sussex curacy was shattered--and shattered by the inevitable operation
of his own essential needs. He was over forty, and he had been put back
once more to the very bottom rung of the ladder--a middle-aged neophyte
with, so far as could be seen, no special claim to the attention of his
new superiors. The example of Newman, a far more illustrious convert,
was hardly reassuring: he had been relegated to a complete obscurity, in
which he was to remain until extreme old age. Why should there be
anything better in store for Manning? Yet it so happened that within
fourteen years of his conversion Manning was Archbishop of Westminster
and the supreme ruler of the Roman Catholic community in England. This
time the Fates gave up the unequal struggle; they paid over their stakes
in despair, and retired from the game.

Nevertheless it is difficult to feel quite sure that Manning's plunge
was as hazardous as it appeared. Certainly he was not a man who was
likely to forget to look before he leaped, nor one who, if he happened
to know that there was a mattress spread to receive him, would leap with
less conviction. In the light of after-events, one would be glad to know
what precisely passed at that mysterious interview of his with the Pope,
three years before his conversion. It is at least possible that the
authorities in Rome had their eye on Manning; the may well have felt
that the Archdeacon of Chichester would be a great catch. What did Pio
Nono say? It is easy to imagine the persuasive innocence of his Italian
voice. 'Ah, dear Signor Manning, why don't you come over to us? Do you
suppose that we should not look after you?'

At any rate, when he did go over, Manning was looked after very
thoroughly. There was, it is true, a momentary embarrassment at the
outset: it was only with the greatest difficulty that he could bring
himself to abandon his faith in the validity of Anglican Orders, in
which he believed 'with consciousness stronger than all reasoning'. He
was convinced that he was still a priest. When the Rev. Mr. Tierney, who
had received him into the Roman Catholic communion, assured him that
this was not the case, he was filled with dismay and mortification.
After a five hour discussion, he started to his feet in a rage. 'Then,
Mr. Tierney,' he exclaimed, 'you think me insincere.'

The bitter draught was swallowed at last, and, after that, all went
smoothly. Manning hastened to Rome, and was immediately placed by the
Pope in the highly select Accademia Ecclesiastica, commonly known as the
'Nursery of Cardinals', for the purpose of completing his theological
studies. When the course was finished, he continued, by the Pope's
special request, to spend six months of every year in Rome, where he
preached to the English visitors, became acquainted with the great
personages of the Papal court, and enjoyed the privilege of constant
interviews with the Holy Father. At the same time, he was able to make
himself useful in London, where Cardinal Wiseman, the newly created
Archbishop of Westminster, was seeking to reanimate the Roman Catholic
community. Manning was not only extremely popular in the pulpit and in
the confessional; he was not only highly efficient as a gleaner of
souls--and of souls who moved in the best society; he also possessed a
familiarity with official persons and official ways, which was
invaluable. When the question arose of the appointment of Catholic
chaplains in the Crimea during the war, it was Manning who approached
the Minister, interviewed the Permanent Secretary, and finally succeeded
in obtaining all that was required. When a special Reformatory for
Catholic children was proposed, Manning carried through the negotiation
with the Government. When an attempt was made to remove Catholic
children from the Workhouses, Manning was again indispensable. No wonder
Cardinal Wiseman soon determined to find some occupation of special
importance for the energetic convert. He had long wished to establish a
congregation of secular priests in London particularly devoted to his
service, and the opportunity for the experiment had clearly now arisen.
The order of the Oblates of St. Charles was founded in Bayswater, and
Manning was put at its head. Unfortunately, no portion of the body of
St. Charles could be obtained for the new community, but two relics of
his blood were brought over to Bayswater from Milan. Almost at the same
time the Pope signified his appreciation of Manning's efforts by
appointing him Provost of the Chapter of Westminster--a position which
placed him at the head of the Canons of the diocese.

This double promotion was the signal for the outbreak of an
extraordinary internal struggle, which raged without intermission for
the next seven years, and was to end only with the accession of Manning
to the Archbishopric. The condition of the Roman Catholic community in
England was at that time a singular one. On the one hand the old
repressive laws of the seventeenth century had been repealed by liberal
legislation, and on the other a large new body of distinguished converts
had entered the Roman Church as a result of the Oxford Movement. It was
evident that there was a 'boom' in English Catholicism, and, in 1850,
Pius IX recognised the fact by dividing up the whole of England into
dioceses, and placing Wiseman at the head of them as Archbishop of
Westminster. Wiseman's encyclical, dated 'from without the Flaminian
Gate', in which he announced the new departure, was greeted in England
by a storm of indignation, culminating in the famous and furibund letter
of Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, against the insolence of the
'Papal Aggression'. Though the particular point against which the outcry
was raised--the English territorial titles of the new Roman bishops--was
an insignificant one, the instinct of Lord John and of the English
people was in reality sound enough. Wiseman's installation did mean, in
fact, a new move in the Papal game; it meant an advance, if not an
aggression--a quickening in England of the long-dormant energies of the
Roman Church. That Church has never had the reputation of being an
institution to be trifled with; and, in those days, the Pope was still
ruling as a temporal Prince over the fairest provinces of Italy. Surely,
if the images of Guy Fawkes had not been garnished, on that fifth of
November, with triple crowns, it would have been a very poor compliment
to His Holiness.

But it was not only the honest Protestants of England who had cause to
dread the arrival of the new Cardinal Archbishop; there was a party
among the Catholics themselves who viewed his installation with alarm
and disgust. The families in which the Catholic tradition had been
handed down uninterruptedly since the days of Elizabeth, which had known
the pains of exile and of martyrdom, and which clung together an alien
and isolated group in the midst of English society, now began to feel
that they were, after all, of small moment in the counsels of Rome. They
had laboured through the heat of the day, but now it seemed as if the
harvest was to be gathered in by a crowd of converts who were
proclaiming on every side as something new and wonderful the truths
which the Old Catholics, as they came to be called, had not only known,
but for which they had suffered for generations. Cardinal Wiseman, it is
true, was no convert; he belonged to one of the oldest of the Catholic
families; but he had spent most of his life in Rome, he was out of touch
with English traditions, and his sympathy with Newman and his followers
was only too apparent. One of his first acts as Archbishop was to
appoint the convert W. G. Ward, who was not even in holy orders, to be
Professor of Theology at St. Edmund's College--the chief seminary for
young priests, in which the ancient traditions of Douay were still
flourishing. Ward was an ardent Papalist and his appointment indicated
clearly enough that in Wiseman's opinion there was too little of the
Italian spirit in the English community. The uneasiness of the Old
Catholics was becoming intense, when they were reassured by Wiseman's
appointing as his co-adjutor and successor his intimate friend, Dr.
Errington, who was created on the occasion Archbishop of Trebizond in
partibus infidelium. Not only was Dr. Errington an Old Catholic of the
most rigid type, he was a man of extreme energy, whose influence was
certain to be great; and, in any case, Wiseman was growing old, so that
before very long it seemed inevitable that the policy of the diocese
would be in proper hands. Such was the position of affairs when, two
years after Errington's appointment, Manning became head of the Oblates
of St. Charles and Provost of the Chapter of Westminster.

The Archbishop of Trebizond had been for some time growing more and more
suspicious of Manning's influence, and this sudden elevation appeared to
justify his worst fears. But his alarm was turned to fury when he
learned that St. Edmund's College, from which he had just succeeded in
removing the obnoxious W. G. Ward, was to be placed under the control of
the Oblates of St. Charles. The Oblates did not attempt to conceal the
fact that one of their principal aims was to introduce the customs of a
Roman Seminary into England. A grim perspective of espionage and
tale-bearing, foreign habits, and Italian devotions opened out before
the dismayed eyes of the Old Catholics; they determined to resist to the
utmost; and it was upon the question of the control of St. Edmund's that
the first battle in the long campaign between Errington and Manning was

Cardinal Wiseman was now obviously declining towards the grave. A man of
vast physique--'your immense', an Irish servant used respectfully to
call him--of sanguine temperament, of genial disposition, of versatile
capacity, he seemed to have engrafted upon the robustness of his English
nature the facile, child-like, and expansive qualities of the South. So
far from being a Bishop Blougram (as the rumour went) he was, in fact,
the very antithesis of that subtle and worldly-wise ecclesiastic. He had
innocently looked forward all his life to the reunion of England to the
See of Peter, and eventually had come to believe that, in God's hand, he
was the instrument destined to bring about this miraculous consummation.
Was not the Oxford Movement, with its flood of converts, a clear sign of
the Divine will? Had he not himself been the author of that momentous
article on St. Augustine and the Donatists, which had finally convinced
Newman that the Church of England was in schism? And then, had he not
been able to set afoot a Crusade of Prayer throughout Catholic Europe
for the conversion of England?

He awaited the result with eager expectation, and in the meantime he set
himself to smooth away the hostility of his countrymen by delivering
courses of popular lectures on literature and archaeology. He devoted
much time and attention to the ceremonial details of his princely
office. His knowledge of rubric and ritual, and of the symbolical
significations of vestments, has rarely been equalled, and he took a
profound delight in the ordering and the performance of elaborate
processions. During one of these functions, an unexpected difficulty
arose: the Master of Ceremonies suddenly gave the word for a halt, and,
on being asked the reason, replied that he had been instructed that
moment by special revelation to stop the procession. The Cardinal,
however, was not at a loss. 'You may let the procession go on,' he
smilingly replied. 'I have just obtained permission, by special
revelation, to proceed with it.' His leisure hours he spent in the
writing of edifying novels, the composition of acrostics in Latin Verse,
and in playing battledore and shuttlecock with his little nieces. There
was, indeed, only one point in which he resembled Bishop Blougram--his
love of a good table. Some of Newman's disciples were astonished and
grieved to find that he sat down to four courses of fish during Lent. 'I
am sorry to say,' remarked one of them afterwards, 'that there is a
lobster salad side to the Cardinal.'

It was a melancholy fate which ordained that the last years of this
comfortable, easygoing, innocent old man should be distracted and
embittered by the fury of opposing principles and the venom of personal
animosities. But so it was. He had fallen into the hands of one who
cared very little for the gentle pleasures of repose. Left to himself,
Wiseman might have compromised with the Old Catholics and Dr. Errington;
but when Manning had once appeared upon the scene, all compromise became
impossible. The late Archdeacon of Chichester, who had understood so
well and practised with such careful skill the precept of the golden
mean so dear to the heart of the Church of England, now, as Provost of
Westminster, flung himself into the fray with that unyielding intensity
of fervour, that passion for the extreme and the absolute, which is the
very lifeblood of the Church of Rome. Even the redoubtable Dr.
Errington, short, thickset, determined, with his `hawk-like expression
of face', as a contemporary described him, 'as he looked at you through
his blue spectacles', had been known to quail in the presence of his,
antagonist, with his tall and graceful figure, his pale ascetic
features, his compressed and icy lips, his calm and penetrating gaze. As
for the poor Cardinal, he was helpless indeed.

Henceforward, there was to be no paltering with that dangerous spirit of
independence--was it not almost Gallicanism which possessed the Old
Catholic families of England? The supremacy of the Vicar of Christ must
be maintained at all hazards. Compared with such an object, what were
the claims of personal affection and domestic peace? The Cardinal
pleaded in vain; his lifelong friendship with Dr. Errington was plucked
up by the roots, and the harmony of his private life was utterly
destroyed. His own household was turned against him. His favourite
nephew, whom he had placed among the Oblates under Manning's special
care, left the congregation and openly joined the party of Dr.
Errington. His secretary followed suit; but saddest of all was the case
of Monsignor Searle. Monsignor Searle, in the capacity of confidential
man of affairs, had dominated over the Cardinal in private for years
with the autocratic fidelity of a servant who has grown indispensable.
His devotion, in fact, seemed to have taken the form of physical
imitation, for he was hardly less gigantic than his master. The two were
inseparable; their huge figures loomed together like neighbouring
mountains; and on one occasion, meeting them in the street, a gentleman
congratulated Wiseman on 'your Eminence's fine son'. Yet now even this
companionship was broken up. The relentless Provost here too brought a
sword. There were explosions and recriminations. Monsignor Searle,
finding that his power was slipping from him, made scenes and protests,
and at last was foolish enough to accuse Manning of peculation to his
face; after that it was clear that his day was over; he was forced to
slink snarling into the background, while the Cardinal shuddered through
all his immensity, and wished many times that he were already dead.

Yet, he was not altogether without his consolations; Manning took care
to see to that. His piercing eye had detected the secret way into the
recesses of the Cardinal's heart--had discerned the core of simple faith
which underlay that jovial manner and that facile talk. Others were
content to laugh and chatter and transact their business; Manning was
more artistic. He watched his opportunity, and then, when the moment
came, touched with a deft finger the chord of the Conversion of England.
There was an immediate response, and he struck the same chord again, and
yet again. He became the repository of the Cardinal's most intimate
aspirations. He alone sympathised and understood. 'If God gives me
strength to undertake a great wrestling-match with infidelity,' Wiseman
wrote, 'I shall owe it to him.'

But what he really found himself undertaking was a wrestling-match with
Dr. Errington. The struggle over St. Edmund's College grew more and more
acute. There were high words in the Chapter, where Monsignor Searle led
the assault against the Provost, and carried a resolution declaring that
the Oblates of St. Charles had intruded themselves illegally into the
Seminary. The Cardinal quashed the proceedings of the Chapter;
whereupon, the Chapter appealed to Rome. Dr. Errington, carried away by
the fury of the controversy, then appeared as the avowed opponent of the
Provost and the Cardinal. With his own hand he drew up a document
justifying the appeal of the Chapter to Rome by Canon Law and the
decrees of the Council of Trent. Wiseman was deeply pained: 'My own
co-adjutor,' he exclaimed, 'is acting as solicitor against me in a
lawsuit.' There was a rush to Rome, where, for several ensuing years,
the hostile English parties were to wage a furious battle in the
antechambers of the Vatican. But the dispute over the Oblates now sank
into insignificance beside the rage of contention which centred round a
new and far more deadly question; for the position of Dr. Errington
himself was at stake. The Cardinal, in spite of illness, indolence, and
the ties of friendship, had been brought at last to an extraordinary
step--he was petitioning the Pope for nothing less than the deprivation
and removal of the Archbishop of Trebizond.

The precise details of what followed are doubtful. It is only possible
to discern with clearness, amid a vast cloud of official documents and
unofficial correspondences in English, Italian, and Latin, of Papal
decrees and voluminous scritture, of confidential reports of episcopal
whispers and the secret agitations of Cardinals, the form of Manning,
restless and indomitable, scouring like a stormy petrel the angry ocean
of debate. Wiseman, dilatory, unbusinesslike, and infirm, was ready
enough to leave the conduct of affairs in his hands. Nor was it long
before Manning saw where the key of the whole position lay. As in the
old days, at Chichester, he had secured the goodwill of Bishop
Shuttleworth by cultivating the friendship of Archdeacon Hare, so now,
on this vaster scale of operations, his sagacity led him swiftly and
unerringly up the little winding staircase in the Vatican and through
the humble door which opened into the cabinet of Monsignor Talbot, the
private secretary of the Pope. Monsignor Talbot was a priest who
embodied in a singular manner, if not the highest, at least the most
persistent traditions of the Roman Curia. He was a master of various
arts which the practice of ages has brought to perfection under the
friendly shadow of the triple tiara. He could mingle together astuteness
and holiness without any difficulty; he could make innuendoes as
naturally as an ordinary man makes statements of fact; he could apply
flattery with so unsparing a hand that even Princes of the Church found
it sufficient; and, on occasion, he could ring the changes of torture on
a human soul with a tact which called forth universal approbation. With
such accomplishments, it could hardly be expected that Monsignor Talbot
should be remarkable either for a delicate sense of conscientiousness or
for an extreme refinement of feeling, but then it was not for those
qualities that Manning was in search when he went up the winding stair.
He was looking for the man who had the ear of Pio Nono; and, on the
other side of the low-arched door, he found him. Then he put forth all
his efforts; his success was complete; and an alliance began which was
destined to have the profoundest effect upon Manning's career, and was
only dissolved when, many years later, Monsignor Talbot was
unfortunately obliged to exchange his apartment in the Vatican for a
private lunatic asylum at Passy.

It was determined that the coalition should be ratified by the ruin of
Dr. Errington. When the moment of crisis was seen to be approaching,
Wiseman was summoned to Rome, where he began to draw up an immense
scrittura containing his statement of the case. For months past, the
redoubtable energies of the Archbishop of Trebizond had been absorbed in
a similar task. Folio was being piled upon folio, when a sudden blow
threatened to put an end to the whole proceeding in a summary manner.
The Cardinal was seized by violent illness, and appeared to be upon his
deathbed. Manning thought for a moment that his labours had been in vain
and that all was lost. But the Cardinal recovered; Monsignor Talbot used
his influence as he alone knew how; and a papal decree was issued by
which Dr. Errington was 'liberated' from the Coadjutorship of
Westminster, together with the right of succession to the See.

It was a supreme act of authority--a 'colpo di stato di Dominiddio', as
the Pope himself said--and the blow to the Old Catholics was
correspondingly severe. They found themselves deprived at one fell swoop
both of the influence of their most energetic supporter and of the
certainty of coming into power at Wiseman's death. And in the meantime,
Manning was redoubling his energies at Bayswater. Though his Oblates had
been checked over St. Edmund's, there was still no lack of work for them
to do. There were missions to be carried on, schools to be managed,
funds to be collected. Several new churches were built; a community of
most edifying nuns of the Third Order of St. Francis was established;
and L30,000, raised from Manning's private resources and from those of
his friends, was spent in three years. 'I hate that man,' one of the Old
Catholics exclaimed, 'he is such a forward piece.' The words were
reported to Manning, who shrugged his shoulders.

'Poor man,' he said, 'what is he made of? Does he suppose, in his
foolishness, that after working day and night for twenty years in heresy
and schism, on becoming a Catholic, I should sit in an easy-chair and
fold my hands all the rest of my life?'

But his secret thoughts were of a different caste.

'I am conscious of a desire,' he wrote in his Diary, 'to be in such a
position: (I) as I had in times past; (2) as my present circumstances
imply; (3) as my friends think me fit for; and (4) as I feel my own
faculties tend to.

'But, God being my helper, I will not seek it by the lifting of a finger
or the speaking, of a word.'

So Manning wrote, and thought, and prayed; but what are words, and
thoughts, and even prayers, to the mysterious and relentless powers of
circumstance and character? Cardinal Wiseman was slowly dying; the
tiller of the Church was slipping from his feeble hand; and Manning was
beside him, the one man with the energy, the ability, the courage, and
the conviction to steer the ship upon her course. More than that; there
was the sinister figure of a Dr. Errington crouching close at hand,
ready to seize the helm and make straight--who could doubt it?--for the
rocks. In such a situation the voice of self-abnegation must needs grow
still and small indeed. Yet it spoke on, for it was one of the paradoxes
in Manning's soul that that voice was never silent. Whatever else he
was, he was not unscrupulous. Rather, his scruples deepened with his
desires; and he could satisfy his most exorbitant ambitions in a
profundity of self-abasement. And so now he vowed to Heaven that he
would SEEK nothing--no, not by the lifting of a finger or the speaking
of a word. But, if something came to him--? He had vowed not to seek; he
had not vowed not to take. Might it not be his plain duty to take? Might
it not be the will of God?

Something, of course, did come to him, though it seemed for a moment
that it would elude his grasp. Wiseman died, and there ensued in Rome a
crisis of extraordinary intensity. 'Since the creation of the
hierarchy,' Monsignor Talbot wrote, it is the greatest moment for the
Church that I have yet seen.' It was the duty of the Chapter of
Westminster to nominate three candidates for succession to the
Archbishopric; they made one last effort, and had the temerity to place
upon the list, besides the names of two Old Catholic bishops, that of
Dr. Errington. It was a fatal blunder. Pius IX was furious; the Chapter
had committed an 'insulta al Papa', he exclaimed, striking his breast
three times in his rage. 'It was the Chapter that did it,' said Manning,
afterwards; but even after the Chapter's indiscretion, the fatal
decision hung in the balance for weeks.

'The great point of anxiety with me, wrote Monsignor Talbot to Manning,
'is whether a Congregation will be held, or whether the Holy Father will
perform a Pontifical act. He himself is doubting. I therefore say mass
and pray every morning that he may have the courage to choose for
himself, instead of submitting the matter to a Congregation. Although
the Cardinals are determined to reject Dr. Errington, nevertheless I am
afraid that they should select one of the others. You know very well
that Congregations are guided by the documents that are placed before
them; it is for this reason that I should prefer the Pope's acting

But the Holy Father himself was doubting. In his indecision, he ordered
a month of prayers and masses. The suspense grew and grew. Everything
seemed against Manning. The whole English episcopate was opposed to him;
he had quarrelled with the Chapter; he was a convert of but few years'
standing; even the congregated Cardinals did not venture to suggest the
appointment of such a man. But suddenly, the Holy Father's doubts came
to an end. He heard a voice--a mysterious inward voice--whispering
something in his ear. 'Mettetelo li! Mettetelo li!' the voice repeated,
over and over again. Mettetelo li! It was an inspiration; and Pius IX,
brushing aside the recommendations of the Chapter and the deliberations
of the Cardinals, made Manning, by a Pontifical act, Archbishop of

Monsignor Talbot's felicity was complete; and he took occasion in
conveying his congratulations to his friend, to make some illuminating
reflections upon the great event.

'MY policy throughout,' he wrote, 'was never to propose you DIRECTLY to
the Pope, but, to make others do so, so that both you and I can always
say that it was not I who induced the Holy Father to name you--which
would lessen the weight of your appointment. This I say, because many
have said that your being named was all my doing. I do not say that the
Pope did not know that I thought you the only man eligible--as I took
care to tell him over and over again what was against all the other
candidates--and in consequence, he was almost driven into naming you.
After he had named you, the Holy Father said to me, "What a diplomatist
you are, to make what you wished come to pass!"

'Nevertheless,' concluded Monsignor Talbot, 'I believe your appointment
was specially directed by the Holy Ghost.'

Manning himself was apparently of the same opinion.

'My dear Child,' he wrote to a lady penitent, 'I have in these last
three weeks felt as if our Lord had called me by name. Everything else
has passed out of my mind. The firm belief that I have long had that the
Holy Father is the most supernatural person I have ever seen has given
me this feeling more deeply. 'Still, I feel as if I had been brought,
contrary to all human wills, by the Divine Will, into an immediate
relation to our Divine Lord.'

'If indeed,' he wrote to Lady Herbert, 'it were the will of our Divine
Lord to lay upon me this heavy burden, He could have done it in no way
more strengthening and consoling to me. To receive it from the hands of
His Vicar, and from Pius IX, and after long invocation of the Holy
Ghost, and not only without human influences, but in spite of manifold
aria powerful human opposition, gives me the last strength for such a


MANNING'S appointment filled his opponents with alarm. Wrath and
vengeance seemed to be hanging over them; what might not be expected
from the formidable enemy against whom they had struggled for so long,
and who now stood among them armed with archiepiscopal powers and
invested with the special confidence of Rome? Great was their amazement,
great was their relief, when they found that their dreaded master
breathed nothing but kindness, gentleness, and conciliation. The old
scores, they found, were not to be paid off, but to be wiped out. The
new archbishop poured forth upon every side all the tact, all the
courtesy, all the dignified graces of a Christian magnanimity. It was
impossible to withstand such treatment. Bishops who had spent years in
thwarting him became his devoted adherents; even the Chapter of
Westminster forgot its hatred. Monsignor Talbot was extremely surprised.
'Your greatest enemies have entirely come round,' he wrote. 'I received
the other day a panegyric of you from Searle. This change of feeling I
cannot attribute to anything but the Holy Ghost.' Monsignor Talbot was
very fond of the Holy Ghost; but, so far, at any rate as Searle was
concerned, there was another explanation. Manning, instead of dismissing
Searle from his position of 'oeconomus' in the episcopal household, had
kept him on--at an increased salary; and the poor man, who had not
scrupled in the days of his pride to call Manning a thief, was now duly

As to Dr. Errington, he gave an example of humility and submission by at
once withdrawing into a complete obscurity. For years the Archbishop of
Trebizond, the ejected heir to the See of Westminster, laboured as a
parish priest in the Isle of Man. He nursed no resentment in his heart,
and, after a long and edifying life of peace and silence, he died in
1886, a professor of theology at Clifton.

It might be supposed that Manning could now feel that his triumph was
complete. His position was secure; his power was absolute; his prestige
was daily growing. Yet there was something that irked him still. As he
cast his eyes over the Roman Catholic community in England, he was aware
of one figure which, by virtue of a peculiar eminence, seemed to
challenge the supremacy of his own. That figure was Newman's.

Since his conversion, Newman's life had been a long series of
misfortunes and disappointments. When he had left the Church of England,
he was its most distinguished, its most revered member, whose words,
however strange, were listened to with profound attention, and whose
opinions, however dubious, were followed in all their fluctuations with
an eager and indeed a trembling respect. He entered the Church of Rome,
and found himself forthwith an unimportant man. He was received at the
Papal Court with a politeness which only faintly concealed a total lack
of interest and understanding. His delicate mind, with its refinements,
its hesitations, its complexities--his soft, spectacled, Oxford manner,
with its half-effeminate diffidence-such things were ill calculated to
impress a throng of busy Cardinals and Bishops, whose days were spent
amid the practical details of ecclesiastical organisation, the
long-drawn involutions of papal diplomacy, and the delicious bickerings
of personal intrigue. And when, at last, he did succeed in making some
impression upon these surroundings, it was no better; it was worse. An
uneasy suspicion gradually arose; it began to dawn upon the Roman
authorities that Dr. Newman was a man of ideas. Was it possible that Dr.
Newman did not understand that ideas in Rome were, to say the least of
it, out of place? Apparently, he did not--nor was that all; not content
with having ideas, he positively seemed anxious to spread them. When
that was known, the politeness in high places was seen to be wearing
decidedly thin. His Holiness, who on Newman's arrival had graciously
expressed the wish to see him 'again and again', now, apparently, was
constantly engaged. At first Newman supposed that the growing coolness
was the result of misapprehension; his Italian was faulty, Latin was not
spoken at Rome, his writings had only appeared in garbled translations.
And even Englishmen had sometimes found his arguments difficult to
follow. He therefore determined to take the utmost care to make his
views quite clear; his opinions upon religious probability, his
distinction between demonstrative and circumstantial evidence, his
theory of the development of doctrine and the aspects of ideas--these
and many other matters, upon which he had written so much, he would now
explain in the simplest language. He would show that there was nothing
dangerous in what he held, that there was a passage in De Lugo which
supported him--that Perrone, by maintaining that the Immaculate
Conception could be defined, had implicitly admitted one of his main
positions, and that his language about Faith had been confused, quite
erroneously, with the fideism of M. Bautain.

Cardinal Barnabo, Cardinal Reisach, Cardinal Antonelli, looked at him
with their shrewd eyes and hard faces, while he poured into their ears
which, as he had already noticed with distress, were large and not too
clean--his careful disquisitions; but, it was all in vain--they had
clearly never read De Lugo or Perrone, and as for M. Bautain, they had
never heard of him. Newman, in despair, fell back upon St. Thomas
Aquinas; but, to his horror, he observed that St. Thomas himself did not
mean very much to the Cardinals. With a sinking heart, he realised at
last the painful truth: it was not the nature of his views, it was his
having views at all, that was objectionable. He had hoped to devote the
rest of his life to the teaching of Theology; but what sort of Theology
could he teach which would be acceptable to such superiors? He left
Rome, and settled down in Birmingham as the head of a small community of
Oratorians. He did not complain; it was God's will; it was better so. He
would watch and pray.

But God's will was not quite so simple as that. Was it right, after all,
that a man with Newman's intellectual gifts, his devoted ardour, his
personal celebrity, should sink away out of sight and use in the dim
recesses of the Oratory at Birmingham? If the call were to come to him
to take his talent out of the napkin, how could he refuse? And the call
did come. A Catholic University was being started in Ireland and Dr.
Cullen, the Archbishop of Armagh, begged Newman to become the Rector. At
first he hesitated, but when he learned that it was the Holy Father's
wish that he should take up the work, he could doubt no longer; the
offer was sent from Heaven. The difficulties before him were very great;
not only had a new University to be called up out of the void, but the
position was complicated by the presence of a rival institution--the
undenominational Queen's Colleges, founded by Peel a few years earlier
with the object of giving Irish Catholics facilities for University
education on the same terms as their fellow-countrymen. Yet Newman had
the highest hopes. He dreamt of something greater than a merely Irish
University--of a noble and flourishing centre of learning for the
Catholics of Ireland and England alike. And why should not his dream
come true? 'In the midst of our difficulties, he said, 'I have one
ground of hope, just one stay, but, as I think, a sufficient one, which
serves me in the stead of all other argument whatever. It is the
decision of the Holy See; St. Peter has spoken.'

The years that followed showed to what extent it was safe to depend upon
St. Peter. Unforeseen obstacles cropped up on every side. Newman's
energies were untiring, but so was the inertia of the Irish authorities.
On his appointment, he wrote to Dr. Cullen asking that arrangements
might be made for his reception in Dublin. Dr. Cullen did not reply.
Newman wrote again, but still there was no answer. Weeks passed, months
passed, years passed, and not a word, not a sign, came from Dr. Cullen.
At last, after dangling for more than two years in the uncertainties and
perplexities of so strange a situation, Newman was summoned to Dublin.
There he found nothing but disorder and discouragement. The laity took
no interest in the scheme; the clergy actively disliked it; Newman's
authority was disregarded. He appealed to Cardinal Wiseman, and then at
last a ray of hope dawned. The cardinal suggested that a bishopric
should be conferred upon him, to give him a status suitable to his
position; Dr. Cullen acquiesced, and Pius IX was all compliance.
'Manderemo a Newman la crocetta,' he said to Wiseman, smilingly drawing
his hands down each side of his neck to his breast, 'lo faremo vescovo
di Porfirio, o qualche luogo.' The news spread among Newman's friends,
and congratulations began to come in. But the official intimation seemed
to be unaccountably delayed; no crocetta came from Rome, and Cardinal
Wiseman never again referred to the matter. Newman was left to gather
that the secret representations of Dr. Cullen had brought about a change
of counsel in high quarters. His pride did not allow him to inquire
further; but one of his lady penitents, Miss Giberne, was less discreet.
'Holy Father,' she suddenly said to the Pope in an audience one day,
'why don't you make Father Newman a bishop?' Upon which the Holy Father
looked much confused and took a great deal of snuff.

For the next five years Newman, unaided and ignored, struggled
desperately, like a man in a bog, with the overmastering difficulties of
his task. His mind, whose native haunt was among the far aerial
boundaries of fancy and philosophy, was now clamped down under the
fetters of petty detail and fed upon the mean diet of compromise and
routine. He had to force himself to scrape together money, to write
articles for the students' Gazette, to make plans for medical
laboratories, to be ingratiating with the City Council; he was obliged
to spend months travelling through the remote regions of Ireland in the
company of extraordinary ecclesiastics and barbarous squireens. He was a
thoroughbred harnessed to a four-wheeled cab--and he knew it.
Eventually, he realised something else: he saw that the whole project of
a Catholic University had been evolved as a political and ecclesiastical
weapon against the Queen's Colleges of Peel, and that was all. As an
instrument of education, it was simply laughed at; and he himself had
been called in because his name would be a valuable asset in a party
game. When he understood that, he resigned his rectorship and returned
to the Oratory.

But, his tribulations were not yet over. It seemed to be God's will that
he should take part in a whole succession of schemes, which, no less
than the project of the Irish University, were to end in disillusionment
and failure. He was persuaded by Cardinal Wiseman to undertake the
editorship of a new English version of the Scriptures, which was to be a
monument of Catholic scholarship and an everlasting glory to Mother
Church. He made elaborate preparations; he collected subscriptions,
engaged contributors, and composed a long and learned prolegomena to the
work. It was all useless; Cardinal Wiseman began to think of other
things; and the scheme faded imperceptibly into thin air. Then a new
task was suggested to him: "The Rambler", a Catholic periodical, had
fallen on evil days; would Dr Newman come to the rescue, and accept the
editorship? This time he hesitated rather longer than usual; he had
burned his fingers so often--he must be specially careful now. 'I did
all I could to ascertain God's Will,' he said, and he came to the
conclusion that it was his duty to undertake the work. He did so, and
after two numbers had appeared, Dr. Ullathorne, the Bishop of
Birmingham, called upon him, and gently hinted that he had better leave
the paper alone. Its tone was not liked at Rome; it had contained an
article criticising St. Pius V, and, most serious of all, the orthodoxy
of one of Newman's own essays had appeared to be doubtful. He resigned,
and in the anguish of his heart, determined never to write again. One of
his friends asked him why he was publishing nothing. 'Hannibal's
elephants,' he replied, 'never could learn the goose-step.'

Newman was now an old man--he was sixty-three years of age. What had he
to look forward to? A few last years of insignificance and silence. What
had he to look back upon? A long chronicle of wasted efforts,
disappointed hopes, neglected possibilities, unappreciated powers. And
now all his labours had ended by his being accused at Rome of lack of
orthodoxy. He could no longer restrain his indignation, and in a letter
to one of his lady penitents, he gave vent to the bitterness of his
soul. When his Rambler article had been complained of, he said, there
had been some talk of calling him to Rome.

'Call me to Rome,' he burst out--'what does that mean? It means to sever
an old man from his home, to subject him to intercourse with persons
whose languages are strange to him--to food and to fashions which are
almost starvation on the one hand, and involve restless days and nights
on the other--it means to oblige him to dance attendance on Propaganda
week after week and month after month--it means his death. (It was the
punishment on Dr. Baines, 1840-1, to keep him at the door of Propaganda
for a year.)

'This is the prospect which I cannot but feel probable, did I say
anything which one Bishop in England chose to speak against and report.
Others have been killed before me. Lucas went of his own accord
indeed--but when he got there, oh!' How much did he, as loyal a son of
the Church and the Holy See as ever was, what did he suffer because Dr.
Cullen was against him? He wandered (as Dr. Cullen said in a letter he
published in a sort of triumph), he wandered from Church to Church
without a friend, and hardly got an audience from the Pope. 'And I too
should go from St. Philip to Our Lady, and to St. Peter and St. Paul,
and to St. Laurence and to St. Cecilia, and, if it happened to me as to
Lucas, should come back to die.'

Yet, in spite of all, in spite of these exasperations of the flesh,
these agitations of the spirit, what was there to regret? Had he not a
mysterious consolation which outweighed every grief? Surely, surely, he

    'Unveil, O Lord, and on us shine,
        In glory and in grace,'

he exclaims in a poem written at this time, called 'The Two Worlds':

    'This gaudy world grows pale before
       The beauty of Thy face.

    'Till Thou art seen it seems to he
       A sort of fairy ground,
    Where suns unsetting light the sky,
       And flowers and fruit abound.

    'But when Thy keener, purer beam
       Is poured upon our sight,
    It loses all its power to charm,
       And what was day is night ...

    'And thus, when we renounce for Thee
       Its restless aims and fears,
    The tender memories of the past,
       The hopes of coming years,

    'Poor is our sacrifice, whose eyes
       Are lighted from above;
    We offer what we cannot keep,
       What we have ceased to love.'

Such were Newman's thoughts when an unexpected event occurred which
produced a profound effect upon his life: Charles Kingsley attacked his
good faith, and the good faith of Catholics in general, in a magazine
article. Newman protested, and Kingsley rejoined in an irate pamphlet.
Newman's reply was the Apologia pro Vita Sua, which he wrote in seven
weeks, sometimes working twenty-two hours at a stretch, 'constantly in
tears, and constantly crying out with distress'. The success of the
book, with its transparent candour, its controversial brilliance, the
sweep and passion of its rhetoric, the depth of its personal feeling,
was immediate and overwhelming; it was recognised at once as a classic,
not only by Catholics, but by the whole English world. From every side
expressions of admiration, gratitude, and devotion poured in. It was
impossible for one so sensitive as Newman to the opinions of other
people to resist the happy influence of such an unlooked-for, such an
enormous triumph. The cloud of his dejection began to lift; et l'espoir
malgre lui s'est glisse dans son coeur.

It was only natural that at such a moment his thoughts should return to
Oxford. For some years past proposals had been on foot for establishing
there a Hall, under Newman's leadership, for Catholic undergraduates.
The scheme had been looked upon with disfavour in Rome, and it had been
abandoned; but now a new opportunity presented itself--some land in a
suitable position came into the market. Newman, with his reviving
spirits, felt that he could not let this chance go by, and bought the
land. It was his intention to build there not a Hall, but a Church, and
to set on foot a 'House of the Oratory'. What possible objection could
there be to such a scheme? He approached the Bishop of Birmingham, who
gave his approval; in Rome itself there was no hostile sign. The laity
were enthusiastic and subscriptions began to flow in. Was it possible
that all was well at last? Was it conceivable that the strange and weary
pilgrimage of so many years should end at length in quietude, if not in
happiness, where it had begun?

It so happened that it was at this very time that Manning was appointed
to the See of Westminster. The destinies of the two men, which had run
parallel to one another in so strange a fashion and for so many years,
were now for a moment suddenly to converge. Newly clothed with all the
attributes of ecclesiastical supremacy, Manning found himself face to
face with Newman, upon whose brows were glittering the fresh laurels of
spiritual victory--the crown of an apostolical life. It was the meeting
of the eagle and the dove. What followed showed, more clearly perhaps
than any other incident in his career, the stuff that Manning was made
of. Power had come to him at last; and he seized it with all the avidity
of a born autocrat, whose appetite for supreme dominion had been whetted
by long years of enforced abstinence and the hated simulations of
submission. He was the ruler of Roman Catholic England, and he would
rule. The nature of Newman's influence it was impossible for him to
understand, but he saw that it existed; for twenty years he had been
unable to escape the unwelcome iterations of that singular, that alien,
that rival renown; and now it stood in his path, alone and inexplicable,
like a defiant ghost. 'It is remarkably interesting,' he observed
coldly, when somebody asked him what he thought of the Apologia: 'it is
like listening to the voice of one from the dead.' And such voices, with
their sepulchral echoes, are apt to be more dangerous than living ones;
they attract too much attention; they must be silenced at all costs. It
was the meeting of the eagle and the dove; there was a hovering, a
swoop, and then the quick beak and the relentless talons did their work.

Even before his accession to the Archbishopric, Manning had scented a
peculiar peril in Newman's Oxford scheme, and so soon as he came into
power, he privately determined that the author of the Apologia should
never be allowed to return to his old University. Nor was there any lack
of excellent reasons for such a decision. Oxford was by this time a nest
of liberalism; it was no fit place for Catholic youths, and they would
inevitably be attracted there by the presence of Father Newman. And
then, had not Father Newman's orthodoxy been impugned? Had he not been
heard to express opinions of most doubtful propriety upon the question
of the Temporal Power? Was it not known that he might almost be said to
have an independent mind? An influence? Yes, he had an influence no
doubt; but what a fatal kind of influence to which to subject the rising
generation of Catholic Englishmen!

Such were the reflections which Manning was careful to pour into the
receptive car of Monsignor Talbot. That useful priest, at his post of
vantage in the Vatican, was more than ever the devoted servant of the
new Archbishop. A league, offensive and defensive, had been established
between the two friends.

'I daresay I shall have many opportunities to serve you in Rome,' wrote
Monsignor Talbot modestly, 'and I do not think any support will be
useless to you, especially on account of the peculiar character of the
Pope, and the spirit which pervades Propaganda; therefore, I wish you to
understand that a compact exists between us; if you help me, I shall
help you.' And a little later he added, 'I am glad you accept the
league. As I have already done for years, I shall support you, and I
have a hundred ways of doing so. A word dropped at the proper occasion
works wonders.'

Perhaps it was hardly necessary to remind his correspondent of that.

So far as Newman was concerned, it so fell out that Monsignor Talbot
needed no prompting. During the sensation caused by the appearance of
the Apologia, it had occurred to him that it would be an excellent plan
to secure Newman as a preacher during Lent for the fashionable
congregation which attended his church in the Piazza del Popolo; and, he
had accordingly written to invite him to Rome. His letter was
unfortunately not a tactful one. He assured Newman that he would find in
the Piazza del Popolo 'an audience of Protestants more educated than
could ever be the case in England', and 'I think myself,' he had added
by way of extra inducement, 'that you will derive great benefit from
visiting Rome, and showing yourself to the Ecclesiastical Authorities.'
Newman smiled grimly at this; he declared to a friend that the letter
was 'insolent'; and he could not resist the temptation of using his
sharp pen.

'Dear Monsignor Talbot,' he wrote in reply, 'I have received your
letter, inviting me to preach in your Church at Rome to an audience of
Protestants more educated than could ever be the case in England.

'However, Birmingham people have souls; and I have neither taste nor
talent for the sort of work which you cut out for me. And I beg to
decline your offer.

I am, yours truly,


Such words were not the words of wisdom. It is easy to imagine the
feelings of Monsignor Talbot. 'Newman's work none here can understand,'
he burst out to his friend. 'Poor man, by living almost ever since he
has been a Catholic, surrounded by a set of inferior men who idolise
him, I do not think he has ever acquired the Catholic instincts.' As for
his views on the Temporal Power--'well, people said that he had actually
sent a subscription to Garibaldi. Yes, the man was incomprehensible,
heretical, dangerous; he was "uncatholic and unchristian."' Monsignor
Talbot even trembled for the position of Manning in England.

'I am afraid that the old school of Catholics will rally round Newman in
opposition to you and Rome. Stand firm, do not yield a bit in the line
you have taken. As I have promised, I shall stand by you. You will have
battles to fight because every Englishman is naturally anti-Roman. To be
Roman is an effort to an Englishman an effort. Dr. Newman is more English than
the English. His spirit must be crushed.'

His spirit must be crushed! Certainly there could be no doubt of that.

'What you write about Dr Newman,' Manning replied, 'is true. Whether he
knows it or not, he has become the centre of those who hold low views
about the Holy See, are anti-Roman, cold and silent, to say no more,
about the Temporal Power; national, English, critical of Catholic
devotions, and always on the lower side.... You will take care,' he
concluded, 'that things are correctly known and understood where you

The confederates matured their plans. While Newman was making his
arrangements for the Oxford Oratory, Cardinal Reisach visited London.
'Cardinal Reisach has just left,' wrote Manning to Monsignor Talbot: 'he
has seen and understands all that is going on in England.' But Newman
had no suspicions. It was true that persistent rumours of his
unorthodoxy and his anti-Roman leanings had begun to float about, and
these rumours had been traced to Rome. But what were rumours? Then, too,
Newman found out that Cardinal Reisach had been to Oxford without his
knowledge, and had inspected the land for the Oratory. That seemed odd;
but all doubts were set at rest by the arrival from Propaganda of an
official ratification of his scheme. There would be nothing but plain
sailing now. Newman was almost happy; radiant visions came into his mind
of a wonderful future in Oxford, the gradual growth of Catholic
principles, the decay of liberalism, the inauguration of a second Oxford
Movement, the conversion--who knows?--of Mark Pattison, the triumph of
the Church.... 'Earlier failures do not matter now,' he exclaimed to a
friend. 'I see that I have been reserved by God for this.'

Just then a long blue envelope was brought into the room. Newman opened
it. 'All is over,' he said, 'I am not allowed to go.' The envelope
contained a letter from the Bishop announcing that, together with the
formal permission for an Oratory at Oxford, Propaganda had issued a
secret instruction to the effect that Newman himself was by no means to
reside there. If he showed signs of doing so, he was blandly and suavely
('blande suaviterque' were the words of the Latin instrument) to be
prevented. And now the secret instruction had come into
operation--blande suaviterque: Dr. Newman's spirit had been crushed.

His friends made some gallant efforts to retrieve the situation; but, it
was in vain. Father St. John hurried to Rome and the indignant laity of
England, headed by Lord Edward Howard, the guardian of the young Duke of
Norfolk, seized the opportunity of a particularly virulent anonymous
attack upon Newman, to send him an address in which they expressed their
feeling that 'every blow that touches you inflicts a wound upon the
Catholic Church in this country'. The only result was an outburst of
redoubled fury upon the part of Monsignor Talbot. The address, he
declared, was an insult to the Holy See. 'What is the province of the
laity?' he interjected. 'To hunt, to shoot, to entertain. These matters
they understand, but to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they have no
right at all.' Once more he warned Manning to be careful.

'Dr. Newman is the most dangerous man in England, and you will see that
he will make use of the laity against your Grace. You must not be afraid
of him. It will require much prudence, but you must be firm. The Holy
Father still places his confidence in you; but if you yield and do not
fight the battle of the Holy See against the detestable spirit growing
up in England, he will begin to regret Cardinal Wiseman, who knew how to
keep the laity in order.' Manning had no thought of 'yielding'; but, he
pointed out to his agitated friend that an open conflict between himself
and Newman would be 'as great a scandal to the Church in England, and as
great a victory to the Anglicans, as could be'. He would act quietly,
and there would be no more difficulty. The Bishops were united, and the
Church was sound.

On this, Monsignor Talbot hurried to Father St. John's lodgings in Rome
to express his regret at the misunderstanding that had arisen, to wonder
how it could possibly have occurred, and to hope that Dr. Newman might
consent to be made a Protonotary Apostolic. That was all the
satisfaction that Father St. John was to obtain from his visit to Rome.
A few weeks later, the scheme of the Oxford Oratory was finally quashed.

When all was over, Manning thought that the time had come for a
reconciliation. He made advances through a common friend; what had he
done, he asked, to offend Dr. Newman? Letters passed, and, naturally
enough, they only widened the breach. Newman was not the man to be

'I can only repeat,' he wrote at last, 'what I said when you last heard
from me. I do not know whether I am on my head or my heels when I have
active relations with you. In spite of my friendly feelings, this is the
judgment of my intellect.' 'Meanwhile,' he concluded, 'I propose to say
seven masses for your intention amid the difficulties and anxieties of
your ecclesiastical duties.'

And Manning could only return the compliment.

At about this time, the Curate of Littlemore had a singular experience.
As he was passing by the Church he noticed an old man, very poorly
dressed in an old grey coat with the collar turned up, leaning over the
lych gate, in floods of tears. He was apparently in great trouble, and
his hat was pulled down over his eyes as if he wished to hide his
features. For a moment, however, he turned towards the Curate, who was
suddenly struck by something familiar in the face. Could it be--? A
photograph hung over the Curate's mantelpiece of the man who had made
Littlemore famous by his sojourn there more than twenty years ago--he
had never seen the original; but now, was it possible--? He looked
again, and he could doubt no longer. It was Dr. Newman. He sprang
forward, with proffers of assistance. Could he be of any use? 'Oh no,
no!' was the reply. 'Oh no, no!' But the Curate felt that he could not
run away and leave so eminent a character in such distress. 'Was it not
Dr. Newman he had the honour of addressing?' he asked, with all the
respect and sympathy at his command. 'Was there nothing that could be
done?' But the old man hardly seemed to understand what was being said
to him. 'Oh no, no!' he repeated, with the tears streaming down his
face, 'Oh no, no!'


MEANWHILE, a remarkable problem was absorbing the attention of the
Catholic Church. Once more, for a moment, the eyes of all Christendom
were fixed upon Rome. The temporal Power of the Pope had now almost
vanished; but, as his worldly dominions steadily diminished, the
spiritual pretensions of the Holy Father no less steadily increased. For
seven centuries the immaculate conception of the Virgin had been highly
problematical; Pio Nono spoke, and the doctrine became an article of
faith. A few years later, the Court of Rome took another step: a
Syllabus Errorum was issued, in which all the favourite beliefs of the
modern world--the rights of democracies, the claims of science, the
sanctity of free speech, the principles of toleration--were
categorically denounced, and their supporters abandoned to the Divine

Yet it was observed that the modern world proceeded as before. Something
more drastic appeared to be necessary--some bold and striking measure
which should concentrate the forces of the faithful, and confound their
enemies. The tremendous doctrine of Papal Infallibility, beloved of all
good Catholics, seemed to offer just the opening that was required. Let
that doctrine be proclaimed, with the assent of the whole Church, an
article of faith, and, in the face of such an affirmation, let the
modern world do its worst! Accordingly, a General Council--the first to
be held since the Council of Trent more than 300 years before--was
summoned to the Vatican, for the purpose, so it was announced, of
providing 'an adequate remedy to the disorders, intellectual and moral,
of Christendom'. The programme might seem a large one, even for a
General Council; but everyone knew what it meant.

Everyone, however, was not quite of one mind. There were those to whom
even the mysteries of infallibility caused some searchings of heart. It
was true, no doubt, that Our Lord, by saying to Peter, 'Thou art Cephas,
which is by interpretation a stone', thereby endowed that Apostle with
the supreme and full primacy and principality over the Universal
Catholic Church; it was equally certain that Peter afterwards became the
Bishop of Rome; nor could it be doubted that the Roman Pontiff was his
successor. Thus it followed directly that the Roman Pontiff was the
head, heart, mind, and tongue of the Catholic Church; and moreover, it
was plain that when Our Lord prayed for Peter that his faith should not
fail, that prayer implied the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. All these
things were obvious, and yet--and yet--might not the formal declaration
of such truths in the year of his grace 1870 be, to say the least of it,
inopportune? Might it not come as an offence, as a scandal even, to
those unacquainted with the niceties of Catholic dogma? Such were the
uneasy reflections of grave and learned ecclesiastics and theologians in
England, France, and Germany. Newman was more than usually upset;
Monseigneur Dupanloup was disgusted; and Dr. Dollinger prepared himself
for resistance. It was clear that there would be a disaffected minority
at the Council.

Catholic apologists have often argued that the Pope's claim to
infallibility implies no more than the necessary claim of every ruler,
of every government, to the right of supreme command. In England, for
instance, the Estates of the Realm exercise an absolute authority in
secular matters; no one questions this authority, no one suggests that
it is absurd or exorbitant; in other words, by general consent the
Estates of the Realm are, within their sphere, infallible. Why,
therefore, should the Pope, within his sphere--the sphere of the
Catholic Church--be denied a similar infallibility? If there is nothing
monstrous in an Act of Parliament laying down what all men shall do, why
should there be anything monstrous in a Papal Encyclical laying down
what all men shall believe? The argument is simple; in fact, it is too
simple; for it takes for granted the very question which is in dispute.
Is there indeed no radical and essential distinction between supremacy
and infallibility? Between the right of a Borough Council to regulate
the traffic and the right of the Vicar of Christ to decide upon the
qualifications for Everlasting Bliss?

There is one distinction, at any rate, which is palpable: the decisions
of a supreme authority can be altered; those of an infallible authority
cannot. A Borough Council may change its traffic regulations at the next
meeting; but the Vicar of Christ, when in certain circumstances and with
certain precautions, he has once spoken, has expressed, for all the
ages, a part of the immutable, absolute, and eternal Truth. It is this
that makes the papal pretensions so extraordinary and so enormous. It is
also this that gives them their charm. Catholic apologists, when they
try to tone down those pretensions and to explain them away, forget that
it is in their very exorbitance that their fascination lies. If the Pope
were indeed nothing more than a magnified Borough Councillor, we should
hardly have heard so much of him. It is not because he satisfies the
reason, but because he astounds it, that men abase themselves before the
Vicar of Christ.

And certainly the doctrine of Papal Infallibility presents to the reason
a sufficiency of stumbling-blocks. In the fourteenth century, for
instance, the following case arose. John XXII asserted in his bull 'Cum
inter nonnullos' that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was
heretical. Now, according to the light of reason, one of two things must
follow from this--either John XXII was himself a heretic, or he was no
Pope. For his predecessor, Nicholas III, had asserted in his bull 'Exiit
qui seminat' that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was the true
doctrine, the denial of which was heresy. Thus if John XXII was right,
Nicholas III was a heretic, and in that case Nicholas's nominations of
Cardinals were void, and the conclave which elected John was illegal--so
that John was no Pope, his nominations of Cardinals were void, and the
whole Papal succession vitiated. On the other hand, if John was
wrong--well, he was a heretic; and the same inconvenient results
followed. And, in either case, what becomes of Papal Infallibility?

But such crude and fundamental questions as these were not likely to
trouble the Council. The discordant minority took another line.
Infallibility they admitted readily enough, the infallibility, that is
to say, of the Church; what they shrank from was the pronouncement that
this infallibility was concentrated in the Bishop of Rome. They would
not actually deny that, as a matter of fact, it was so concentrated; but
to declare that it was, to make the belief that it was an article of
faith--what could be more--it was their favourite expression--more
inopportune? In truth, the Gallican spirit still lingered among them. At
heart, they hated the autocracy of Rome--the domination of the
centralised Italian organisation over the whole vast body of the Church.
They secretly hankered, even at this late hour, after some form of
constitutional government, and they knew that the last faint vestige of
such a dream would vanish utterly with the declaration of the
infallibility of the Pope. It did not occur to them, apparently, that a
constitutional Catholicism might be a contradiction in terms, and that
the Catholic Church, without the absolute dominion of the Pope, might
resemble the play of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

Pius IX himself was troubled by doubts. 'Before I was Pope,' he
observed, 'I believed in Papal Infallibility, now I feel it.' As for
Manning, his certainty was no less complete than his master's. Apart
from the Holy Ghost, his appointment to the See of Westminster had been
due to Pio Nono's shrewd appreciation of the fact that he was the one
man in England upon whose fidelity the Roman Government could absolutely
rely. The voice which kept repeating 'Mettetelo li, mettetelo li' in his
Holiness's ear, whether or not it was inspired by God, was certainly
inspired by political sagacity. For now Manning was to show that he was
not unworthy of the trust which had been reposed in him. He flew to Rome
in a whirlwind of Papal enthusiasm. On the way, in Paris, he stopped for
a moment to interview those two great props of French respectability, M.
Guizot and M. Thiers. Both were careful not to commit themselves, but
both were exceedingly polite. 'I am awaiting your Council,' said M.
Guizot, 'with great anxiety. It is the last great moral power and may
restore the peace of Europe.' M. Thiers delivered a brief harangue in
favour of the principles of the Revolution, which, he declared, were the
very marrow of all Frenchmen; yet, he added, he had always supported the
Temporal Power of the Pope. 'Mais, M. Thiers,' said Manning, 'vous etes
effectivement croyant.' 'En Dieu,' replied M. Thiers.

The Rome which Manning reached towards the close of 1869 was still the
Rome which, for so many centuries, had been the proud and visible apex,
the palpitating heart, the sacred sanctuary, of the most extraordinary
mingling of spiritual and earthly powers that the world has ever known.
The Pope now, it is true, ruled over little more than the City
itself--the Patrimony of St. Peter--and he ruled there less by the Grace
of God than by the goodwill of Napoleon III; yet he was still a
sovereign Prince, and Rome was still the capital of the Papal State; she
was not yet the capital of Italy. The last hour of this strange dominion
had almost struck. As if she knew that her doom was upon her, the
Eternal City arrayed herself to meet it in all her glory.

The whole world seemed to be gathered together within her walls. Her
streets were filled with crowned heads and Princes of the Church, great
ladies and great theologians, artists and friars, diplomats and
newspaper reporters. Seven hundred bishops were there from all the
corners of Christendom, and in all the varieties of ecclesiastical
magnificence in falling lace and sweeping purple and flowing violet
veils. Zouaves stood in the colonnade of St Peter's, and Papal troops
were on the Quirinal. Cardinals passed, hatted and robed, in their
enormous carriage of state, like mysterious painted idols. Then there
was a sudden hush: the crowd grew thicker and expectation filled, the
air. Yes! it was he! He was coming! The Holy Father! But first there
appeared, mounted on a white mule and clothed in a magenta mantle, a
grave dignitary bearing aloft a silver cross. The golden coach followed,
drawn by six horses gorgeously caparisoned, and within, the smiling
white-haired Pio Nono, scattering his benedictions, while the multitude
fell upon its knees as one man. Such were the daily spectacles of
coloured pomp and of antique solemnity, which so long as the sun was
shining, at any rate--dazzled the onlooker into a happy forgetfulness of
the reverse side of the Papal dispensation--the nauseating filth of the
highways, the cattle stabled in the palaces of the great, and the fever
flitting through the ghastly tenements of the poor.

In St. Peter's, the North Transept had been screened off; rows of wooden
seats had been erected covered with Brussels carpet; and upon these
seats sat each crowned with a white mitre, the 700 Bishops in Council.
Here all day long rolled forth, in sonorous Latin, the interminable
periods of episcopal oratory; but it was not here that the issue of the
Council was determined. The assembled Fathers might talk till the
marbles of St. Peter's themselves grew weary of the reverberations; the
fate of the Church was decided in a very different manner--by little
knots of influential persons meeting quietly of a morning in the back
room of some inconspicuous lodging-house, by a sunset rendezvous in the
Borghese Gardens between a Cardinal and a Diplomatist by a whispered
conference in an alcove at a Princess's evening party, with the gay
world chattering all about. And, of course, on such momentous occasions
as these, Manning was in his element. None knew those difficult ropes
better than he; none used them with a more serviceable and yet discreet
alacrity. In every juncture he had the right word, or the right silence;
his influence ramified in all directions, from the Pope's audience
chamber to the English Cabinet. 'Il Diavolo del Concilio' his enemies
called him; and he gloried in the name.

The real crux of the position was less ecclesiastical than diplomatic.
The Papal Court, with its huge majority of Italian Bishops, could make
sure enough, when it came to the point, of carrying its wishes through
the Council; what was far more dubious was the attitude of the foreign
Governments--especially those of France and England. The French
Government dreaded a schism among its Catholic subjects; it disliked the
prospect of an extension of the influence of the Pope over the mass of
the population of France; and, since the very existence of the last
remnant of the Pope's Temporal Power depended upon the French army, it
was able to apply considerable pressure upon the Vatican. The interests
of England were less directly involved, but it happened that at this
moment Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister, and Mr. Gladstone entertained
strong views upon the Infallibility of the Pope. His opinions upon the
subject were in part the outcome of his friendship with Lord Acton, a
historian to whom learning and judgment had not been granted in equal
proportions, and who, after years of incredible and indeed well-nigh
mythical research, had come to the conclusion that the Pope could err.
In this Mr. Gladstone entirely concurred, though he did not share the
rest of his friend's theological opinions; for Lord Acton, while
straining at the gnat of Infallibility, had swallowed the camel of the
Roman Catholic Faith. 'Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galere?'
one cannot help asking, as one watched that laborious and scrupulous
scholar, that lifelong enthusiast for liberty, that almost hysterical
reviler of priesthood and persecution, trailing his learning so
discrepantly along the dusty Roman way. But, there are some who know how
to wear their Rome with a difference; and Lord Acton was one of these.

He was now engaged in fluttering like a moth round the Council and in
writing long letters to Mr. Gladstone, impressing upon him the gravity
of the situation, and urging him to bring his influence to bear. If the
Dogma were carried--he declared, no man who accepted it could remain a
loyal subject and Catholics would everywhere become 'irredeemable
enemies of civil and religious liberty'. In these circumstances, was it
not plainly incumbent upon the English Government, involved as it was
with the powerful Roman Catholic forces in Ireland, to intervene? Mr.
Gladstone allowed himself to become convinced, and Lord Acton began to
hope that his efforts would be successful. But, he had forgotten one
element in the situation; he had reckoned without the Archbishop of
Westminster. The sharp nose of Manning sniffed out the whole intrigue.
Though he despised Lord Acton almost as much as he disliked him--'such
men,' he said, 'are all vanity: they have the inflation of German
professors, and the ruthless talk of undergraduates'--yet he realised
clearly enough the danger of his correspondence with the Prime Minister,
and immediately took steps to counteract it. There was a semi-official
agent of the English Government in Rome, Mr. Odo Russell, and around him
Manning set to work to spin his spider's web of delicate and clinging
diplomacy. Preliminary politenesses were followed by long walks upon the
Pincio, and the gradual interchange of more and more important and
confidential communications. Soon poor Mr. Russell was little better
than a fly buzzing in gossamer. And Manning was careful to see that he
buzzed on the right note. In his dispatches to the Foreign Secretary,
Lord Clarendon, Mr. Russell explained in detail the true nature of the
Council, that it was merely a meeting of a few Roman Catholic prelates
to discuss some internal matters of Church discipline, that it had no
political significance whatever, that the question of Infallibility,
about which there had been so much random talk, was a purely theological
question, and that, whatever decision might be come to on the subject,
the position of Roman Catholics throughout the world would remain

Whether the effect of these affirmations upon Lord Clarendon was as
great as Manning supposed is somewhat doubtful; but it is at any rate
certain that Mr. Gladstone failed to carry the Cabinet with him; and,
when at last a proposal was definitely made that the English Government
should invite the Powers of Europe to intervene at the Vatican, it was
rejected. Manning always believed that this was the direct result of Mr.
Russell's dispatches, which had acted as an antidote to the poison of
Lord Acton's letters, and thus carried the day. If that was so, the
discretion of biographers has not yet entirely lifted the veil from
these proceedings Manning had assuredly performed no small service for
his cause. Yet his modesty would not allow him to assume for himself a
credit which, after all, was due elsewhere; and when he told the story
of those days, he would add, with more than wonted seriousness, 'It was
by the Divine Will that the designs of His enemies were frustrated'.

Meanwhile, in the North Transept of St. Peter's a certain amount of
preliminary business had been carried through. Various miscellaneous
points in Christian doctrine had been satisfactorily determined. Among
others, the following Canons were laid down by the Fathers: 'If anyone
does not accept for sacred and canonical the whole and every part of the
Books of Holy Scripture, or deny that they are divinely inspired, let
him be anathema.' 'If anyone says that miracles cannot be, and
therefore, the accounts of them, even those in Holy Scriptures must be
assigned a place among fables and myths, or that the divine origin of
the Christian religion cannot rightly be proved from them, let him be
anathema.' 'If anyone says that the doctrines of the Church can ever
receive a sense in accordance with the progress of science, other than
that sense which the Church has understood and still understands, let
him be anathema.' 'If anyone says that it is not possible, by the
natural light of human reason, to acquire a certain knowledge of the One
and True God, let him be anathema.' In other words, it became an article
of Faith that Faith was not necessary for a true knowledge of God.
Having disposed of these minor matters, the Fathers found themselves at
last approaching the great question of Infallibility.

Two main issues, it soon appeared, were before them: the. Pope's
infallibility was admitted, ostensibly at least, by all; what remained
to be determined was: (1) whether the definition of the Pope's
Infallibility was opportune, and (2) what the definition of the Pope's
Infallibility was.

(1) It soon became clear that the sense of the Council was
overwhelmingly in favour of a definition. The Inopportunists were a
small minority; they were outvoted, and they were obliged to give way.
It only remained, therefore, to come to a decision upon the second
question--what the definition should actually be.

(2) It now became the object of the Inopportunists to limit the scope of
the definition as much as possible, while the Infallibilists were no
less eager to extend it. Now everyone, or nearly everyone, was ready to
limit the Papal Infallibility to pronouncements ex cathedra--that is to
say, to those made by the Pope in his capacity of Universal Doctor; but
this only served to raise the ulterior, the portentous, and indeed the
really crucial question--to WHICH of the Papal pronouncements ex
cathedra did Infallibility adhere?

The discussions which followed were, naturally enough, numerous,
complicated, and embittered, and in all of them Manning played a
conspicuous part. For two months the Fathers deliberated; through fifty
sessions they sought the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The wooden seats,
covered though they were with Brussels carpet, grew harder and harder;
and still the mitred Councillors sat on. The Pope himself began to grow
impatient; for one thing, he declared, he was being ruined by the mere
expense of lodging and keeping the multitude of his adherents. 'Questi
infallibilisti mi faranno fallire', said his Holiness. At length it
appeared that the Inopportunists were dragging out the proceedings in
the hope of obtaining an indefinite postponement. Then the authorities
began to act; a bishop was shouted down, and the closure was brought
into operation. At this point the French Government, after long
hesitation, finally decided to intervene, and Cardinal Antonelli was
informed that if the Definition was proceeded with, the French troops
would be withdrawn from Rome. But the astute Cardinal judged that he
could safely ignore the threat. He saw that Napoleon III was tottering
to his fall and would never risk an open rupture with the Vatican.
Accordingly, it was determined to bring the proceedings to a close by a
final vote. Already the Inopportunists, seeing that the game was up, had
shaken the dust of Rome from their feet. On July 18th, 1870, the Council
met for the last time. As the first of the Fathers stepped forward to
declare his vote, a storm of thunder and lightning suddenly burst over
St. Peter's. All through the morning the voting continued, and every
vote was accompanied by a flash and a roar from heaven. Both sides, with
equal justice, claimed the portent as a manifestation of the Divine
Opinion. When the votes were examined, it was found that 533 were in
favour of the proposed definition and two against it. Next day, war was
declared between France and Germany, and a few weeks later the French
troops were withdrawn from Rome. Almost in the same moment, the
successor of St. Peter had lost his Temporal Power, and gained

What the Council had done was merely to assent to a definition of the
dogma of the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff which Pius IX had
issued, proprio motu, a few days before. The definition itself was
perhaps somewhat less extreme than might have been expected. The Pope,
it declared, is possessed, when he speaks ex cathedra, of 'that
infallibility with which the Redeemer willed that His Church should be
endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals'. Thus it became
a dogma of faith that a Papal definition regarding faith or morals is
infallible; but beyond that, both the Holy Father and the Council
maintained a judicious reserve. Over what OTHER matters besides faith
and morals the Papal infallibility might or might not extend still
remained in doubt. And there were further questions, no less serious, to
which no decisive answer was then, or ever has been since, provided.

How was it to be determined, for instance, which particular Papal
decisions did in fact come within the scope of the definition? Who was
to decide what was or was not a matter of faith or morals? Or precisely
WHEN the Roman Pontiff was speaking ex cathedra? Was the famous Syllabus
Errorum, for example, issued ex cathedra or not? Grave theologians have
never been able to make up their minds. Yet to admit doubts in such
matters as these is surely dangerous. 'In duty to our supreme pastoral
office,' proclaimed the Sovereign Pontiff, 'by the bowels of Christ we
earnestly entreat all Christ's faithful people, and we also command them
by the authority of God and our Saviour, that they study and labour to
expel and eliminate errors and display the light of the purest faith.'
Well might the faithful study and labour to such ends! For, while the
offence remained ambiguous, there was no ambiguity about the penalty.
One hair's-breadth from the unknown path of truth, one shadow of
impurity in the mysterious light of faith, and there shall be anathema!
anathema! anathema! When the framers of such edicts called upon the
bowels of Christ to justify them, might they not have done well to have
paused a little, and to have called to mind the counsel of another
sovereign ruler, though a heretic--Oliver Cromwell? 'Bethink ye, bethink
ye, in the bowels of Christ, that ye may be mistaken!'

One of the secondary results of the Council was the excommunication of
Dr. Dollinger, and a few more of the most uncompromising of the
Inopportunists. Among these, however, Lord Acton was not included.
Nobody ever discovered why. Was it because he was too important for the
Holy See to care to interfere with him? Or was it because he was not
important enough?

Another ulterior consequence was the appearance of a pamphlet by Mr.
Gladstone, entitled 'Vaticanism', in which the awful implications
involved in the declaration of Infallibility were laid before the
British Public. How was it possible, Mr. Gladstone asked, with all the
fulminating accompaniments of his most agitated rhetoric, to depend
henceforward upon the civil allegiance of Roman Catholics? To this
question the words of Cardinal Antonelli to the Austrian Ambassador
might have seemed a sufficient reply. 'There is a great difference,'
said his Eminence, between theory and practice. No one will ever prevent
the Church from proclaiming the great principles upon which its Divine
fabric is based; but, as regards the application of those sacred laws,
the Church, imitating the example of its Divine Founder, is inclined to
take into consideration the natural weaknesses of mankind.' And, in any
case, it was hard to see how the system of Faith, which had enabled Pope
Gregory XIII to effect, by the hands of English Catholics, a whole
series of attempts to murder Queen Elizabeth, can have been rendered a
much more dangerous engine of disloyalty by the Definition of 1870. But
such considerations failed to reassure Mr. Gladstone; the British Public
was of a like mind; and 145,000 copies of the pamphlet were sold within
two months. Various replies appeared, and Manning was not behindhand.
His share in the controversy led to a curious personal encounter.

His conversion had come as a great shock to Mr. Gladstone. Manning had
breathed no word of its approach to his old and intimate friend, and
when the news reached him, it seemed almost an act of personal injury.
'I felt,' Mr. Gladstone said, 'as if Manning had murdered my mother by
mistake.' For twelve years the two men did not meet, after which they
occasionally saw each other and renewed their correspondence. This was
the condition of affairs when Mr. Gladstone published his pamphlet. As
soon as it appeared, Manning wrote a letter to the New York Herald,
contradicting its conclusions and declaring that its publication was
'the first event that has overcast a friendship of forty-five years'.
Mr. Gladstone replied to this letter in a second pamphlet. At the close
of his theological arguments, he added the following passage:

'I feel it necessary, in concluding this answer, to state that
Archbishop Manning has fallen into most serious inaccuracy in his letter
of November 10th, wherein he describes 'my Expostulation as the first
event which has overcast a friendship of forty-five years. I allude to
the subject with regret; and without entering into details.'

Manning replied in a private letter:

'My dear Gladstone,' he wrote, 'you say that I am in error in stating
that your former pamphlet is the first act which has overcast our

'If you refer to my act in 1851 in submitting to the Catholic Church, by
which we were separated for some twelve years, I can understand it.

'If you refer to any other act either on your part or mine I am not
conscious of it, and would desire to know what it may be.

'My act in 1851 may have overcast your friendship for me. It did not
overcast my friendship for you, as I think the last years have shown.

'You will not, I hope, think me over-sensitive in asking for this
explanation. Believe me, yours affectionately,

'H. E. M.'

'My dear Archbishop Manning,' Mr. Gladstone answered, 'it did, I
confess, seem to me an astonishing error to state in public that a
friendship had not been overcast for forty-five years until now, which
your letter declares has been suspended as to all action for twelve ...

'I wonder, too, at your forgetting that during the forty-five years I
had been charged by you with doing the work of the Antichrist in regard
to the Temporal Power of the Pope.

'Our differences, my dear Archbishop, are indeed profound. We refer
them, I suppose, in humble silence to a Higher Power ... You assured me
once of your prayers at all and at the most solemn time. I received that
assurance with gratitude, and still cherish it. As and when they move
upwards, there is a meeting-point for those whom a chasm separates
below. I remain always, affectionately yours,


Speaking of this correspondence in after years, Cardinal Manning said:
'From the way in which Mr. Gladstone alluded to the overcasting of our
friendship, people might have thought that I had picked his pocket.'


IN 1875, Manning's labours received their final reward: he was made a
Cardinal. His long and strange career, with its high hopes, its bitter
disappointments, its struggles, its renunciations, had come at last to
fruition in a Princedom of the Church.

'Ask in faith and in perfect confidence,' he himself once wrote, and God
will give us what we ask. You may say, "But do you mean that He will
give us the very thing?" That, God has not said. God has said that He
will give you whatsoever you ask; but the form in which it will come,
and the time in which He will give it, He keeps in His own power.
Sometimes our prayers are answered in the very things which we put from
us; sometimes it may be a chastisement, or a loss, or a visitation
against which our hearts rise, and we seem to see that God has not only
forgotten us, but has begun to deal with us in severity. Those very
things are the answers to our prayers. He knows what we desire, and He
gives us the things for which we ask; but in the form which His own
Divine Wisdom sees to be best.'

There was one to whom Manning's elevation would no doubt have given a
peculiar satisfaction--his old friend Monsignor Talbot. But this was not
to be. That industrious worker in the cause of Rome had been removed
some years previously to a sequestered home at Passy, whose padded walls
were impervious to the rumours of the outer world. Pius IX had been much
afflicted by this unfortunate event; he had not been able to resign
himself to the loss of his secretary, and he had given orders that
Monsignor Talbot's apartment in the Vatican should be preserved
precisely as he had left it, in case of his return. But Monsignor Talbot
never returned. Manning's feelings upon the subject appear to have been
less tender than the Pope's. In all his letters, in all his papers, in
all his biographical memoranda, not a word of allusion is to be found to
the misfortune, nor to the death, of the most loyal of his adherents.
Monsignor Talbot's name disappears suddenly and for ever--like a stone
cast into the waters.

Manning was now an old man, and his outward form had assumed that
appearance of austere asceticism which is, perhaps, the one thing
immediately suggested by his name to the ordinary Englishman. The spare
and stately form, the head--massive, emaciated, terrible--with the great
nose, the glittering eyes, and the mouth drawn back and compressed into
the grim rigidities of age, self-mortification, and authority--such is
the vision that still lingers in the public mind--the vision which,
actual and palpable like some embodied memory of the Middle Ages, used
to pass and repass, less than a generation since, through the streets of
London. For the activities of this extraordinary figure were great and
varied. He ruled his diocese with the despotic zeal of a born
administrator. He threw himself into social work of every kind; he
organised charities, he lectured on temperance; he delivered innumerable
sermons; he produced an unending series of devotional books. And he
brooked no brother near the throne: Newman languished in Birmingham; and
even the Jesuits trembled and obeyed.

Nor was it only among his own community that his energy and his
experience found scope. He gradually came to play an important part in
public affairs, upon questions of labour, poverty, and education. He sat
on Royal Commissions and corresponded with Cabinet Ministers. At last,
no philanthropic meeting at the Guildhall was considered complete
without the presence of Cardinal Manning. A special degree of precedence
was accorded to him. Though the rank of a Cardinal-Archbishop is
officially unknown in England, his name appeared in public documents--as
a token, it must be supposed, of personal consideration--above the names
of peers and bishops, and immediately below that of the Prince of Wales.

In his private life he was secluded. The ambiguities of his social
position, and his desire to maintain intact the peculiar eminence of his
office, combined to hold him aloof from the ordinary gatherings of
society, though on the rare occasions of his appearance among
fashionable and exalted persons, he carried all before him. His
favourite haunt was the Athenaeum Club, where he sat scanning the
newspapers, or conversing with the old friends of former days. He was a
member, too, of that distinguished body, the Metaphysical Society, which
met once a month during the palmy years of the seventies to discuss, in
strict privacy, the fundamental problems of the destiny of man.

After a comfortable dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel, the Society, which
included Professor Huxley and Professor Tyndall, Mr. John Morley and Sir
James Stephen, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Tennyson, and Dean Church, would
gather around to hear and discuss a paper read by one of the members
upon such questions as: 'What is death?' 'Is God unknowable?' or 'The
nature of the Moral Principle'. Sometimes, however, the speculations of
the Society ranged in other directions.

'I think the paper that interested me most of all that were ever read at
our meetings,' says Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, 'was one on
"Wherein consists the special beauty of imperfection and decay?" in
which were propounded the questions "Are not ruins recognised and felt
to be more beautiful than perfect structures? Why are they so? Ought
they to be so?'

'Unfortunately, however, the answers given to these questions by the
Metaphysical Society have not been recorded for the instruction of

Manning read several papers, and Professor Huxley and Mr. John Morley
listened with attention while he expressed his views upon 'The Soul
before and after Death', or explained why it is 'That legitimate
Authority is an Evidence of Truth'. Yet, somehow or other, his Eminence
never felt quite at ease in these assemblies; he was more at home with
audiences of a different kind; and we must look in other directions for
the free and full manifestation of his speculative gifts.

In a series of lectures, for instance, delivered in 1861--it was the
first year of the unification of Italy--upon 'The Present Crisis of the
Holy See, tested by prophecy', we catch some glimpses of the kind of
problems which were truly congenial to his mind.

'In the following pages,' he said, 'I have endeavoured, but for so great
a subject most insufficiently, to show that what is passing in our times
is the prelude of the antichristian period of the final dethronement of
Christendom, and of the restoration of society without God in the
world.' 'My intention is,' he continued, 'to examine the present
relation of the Church to the civil powers of the world by the light of
a prophecy recorded by St Paul.'

This prophecy (2 Thess. ii 3 to 11) is concerned with the coming of the
Antichrist, and the greater part of the lectures is devoted to a minute
examination of this subject. There is no passage in Scripture, Manning
pointed out, relating to the coming of Christ more explicit and express
than those foretelling Antichrist; it therefore behoved the faithful to
consider the matter more fully than they are wont to do. In the first
place, Antichrist is a person. 'To deny the personality of Antichrist is
to deny the plain testimony of Holy Scripture.' And we must remember
that 'it is a law of Holy Scripture that when persons are prophesied of,
persons appear'.

Again, there was every reason to believe that Antichrist, when he did
appear, would turn out to be a Jew.

'Such was the opinion of St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, and of the author of
the work De Consummatione Mundi, ascribed to St. Hippolytus, and of a
writer of a Commentary on the Epistle to the Thessalonians, ascribed to
St. Ambrose, of many others, who said that he will be of the tribe of
Dan: as, for instance, St. Gregory the Great, Theodoret, Aretas of
Caesarea, and many more. Such also is the opinion of Bellarmine, who
calls it certain. Lessius affirms that the Fathers, with unanimous
consent, teach as undoubted that Antichrist will be a Jew. Ribera
repeats the same opinion, and adds that Aretas, St. Bede, Haymo, St.
Anselm, and Rupert affirm that for this reason the tribe of Dan is not
numbered among those who are sealed in the Apocalypse ... Now, I think
no one can consider the dispersion and providential preservation of the
Jews among all the nations of the world and the indestructible vitality
of their race without believing that they are reserved for some future
action of His judgment and Grace. And this is foretold again and again
in the New Testament.'

'Our Lord,' continued Manning, widening the sweep of his speculations,
'has said of these latter times: "There shall arise false Christs and
false prophets, insomuch as to deceive even the elect"; that is, they
shall not be deceived; but those who have lost faith in the Incarnation,
such as humanitarians, rationalists, and pantheists, may well be
deceived by any person of great political power and success, who should
restore the Jews to their own land, and people Jerusalem once more with
the sons of the Patriarchs. And, there is nothing in the political
aspect of the world which renders such a combination impossible; indeed,
the state of Syria, and the tide of European diplomacy, which 'is
continually moving eastward, render such an event within a reasonable

Then Manning threw out a bold suggestion. 'A successful medium,' he
said, 'might well pass himself off by his preternatural endowments as
the promised Messiahs.'

Manning went on to discuss the course of events which would lead to the
final catastrophe. But this subject, he confessed,

'deals with agencies so transcendent and mysterious, that all I shall
venture to do will be to sketch in outline what the broad and luminous
prophecies, especially of the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse, set
forth without attempting to enter into minute details, which can only be
interpreted by the event'.

While applauding his modesty, we need follow Manning no further in his
commentary upon those broad and luminous works; except to observe that
'the apostasy of the City of Rome from the Vicar of Christ and its
destruction by the Antichrist' was, in his opinion, certain. Nor was he
without authority for this belief. For it was held by 'Malvenda, who
writes expressly on the subject', and who, besides, 'states as the
opinion of Ribera, Gaspar Melus, Viegas, Suarez, Bellarmine, and Bosius
that Rome shall apostatise from the faith'.


THE death of Pius IX brought to Manning a last flattering testimony of
the confidence with which he was regarded at the Court of Rome. In one
of the private consultations preceding the Conclave, a Cardinal
suggested that Manning should succeed to the Papacy. He replied that he
was unfit for the position, because it was essential for the interests
of the Holy See that the next Pope should be an Italian. The suggestion
was pressed, but Manning held firm. Thus it happened that the Triple
Tiara seemed to come, for a moment, within the grasp of the late
Archdeacon of Chichester; and the cautious hand refrained.

Leo XIII was elected, and there was a great change in the policy of the
Vatican. Liberalism became the order of the day. And now at last the
opportunity seemed ripe for an act which, in the opinion of the majority
of English Catholics, had long been due--the bestowal of some mark of
recognition from the Holy See upon the labours and the sanctity of
Father Newman. It was felt that a Cardinal's hat was the one fitting
reward for such a life, and accordingly the Duke of Norfolk,
representing the Catholic laity of England, visited Manning, and
suggested that he should forward the proposal to the Vatican. Manning
agreed, and then there followed a curious series of incidents--the last
encounter in the jarring lives of those two men. A letter was drawn up
by Manning for the eye of the Pope, embodying the Duke of Norfolk's
proposal; but there was an unaccountable delay in the transmission of
this letter; months passed, and it had not reached the Holy Father. The
whole matter would, perhaps, have dropped out of sight and been
forgotten, in a way which had become customary when honours for Newman
were concerned, had not the Duke of Norfolk himself, when he was next in
Rome, ventured to recommend to Leo XIII that Dr. Newman should be made a
Cardinal. His Holiness welcomed the proposal; but, he said, he could do
nothing until he knew the views of Cardinal Manning. Thereupon, the Duke
of Norfolk wrote to Manning, explaining what had occurred; shortly
afterwards, Manning's letter of recommendation, after a delay of six
months, reached the Pope, and the offer of a Cardinalate was immediately
dispatched to Newman.

But the affair was not yet over. The offer had been made; would it be
accepted? There was one difficulty in the way. Newman was now an infirm
old man of seventy-eight; and it is a rule that all Cardinals who are
not also diocesan Bishops or Archbishops reside, as a matter of course,
at Rome. The change would have been impossible for one of his years--for
one, too, whose whole life was now bound up with the Oratory at
Birmingham. But, of course, there was nothing to prevent His Holiness
from making an exception in Newman's case, and allowing him to end his
days in England. Yet how was Newman himself to suggest this? The offer
of the Hat had come to him as an almost miraculous token of renewed
confidence, of ultimate reconciliation. The old, long, bitter
estrangement was ended at last. 'The cloud is lifted from me for ever!'
he exclaimed when the news reached him. It would be melancholy indeed if
the cup were now to be once more dashed from his lips and he was obliged
to refuse the signal honour. In his perplexity he went to the Bishop of
Birmingham and explained the whole situation. The Bishop assured him
that all would be well; that he himself would communicate with the
authorities, and put the facts of the case before them. Accordingly,
while Newman wrote formally refusing the Hat, on the ground of his
unwillingness to leave the Oratory, the Bishop wrote two letters to
Manning, one official and one private, in which the following passages

'Dr. Newman has far too humble and delicate a mind to dream of thinking
or saying anything which would look like hinting at any kind of terms
with the Sovereign Pontiff.... I think, however, that I ought to express
my own sense of what Dr. Newman's dispositions are, and that it will be
expected of me ... I am thoroughly confident that nothing stands in the
way of his most grateful acceptance, except what he tells me greatly
distresses him--namely, the having to leave the Oratory at a critical
period of its existence, and the impossibility of his beginning a new
life at his advanced age.'

And in his private letter the Bishop said:

'Dr. Newman is very much aged, and softened with age and the trials he
has had, especially the loss of his two brethren, St. John and Caswall;
he can never refer to these losses without weeping and becoming
speechless for a time. He is very much affected by the Pope's kindness
and would, I know, like to receive the great honour offered him, but
feels the whole difficulty at his age of changing his life or having to
leave the Oratory--which I am sure he could not do. If the Holy Father
thinks well to confer on him the dignity, leaving him where he is, I
know how immensely he would be gratified, and you will know how
generally the conferring on him the Cardinalate will be applauded.'

These two letters, together with Newman's refusal, reached Manning as he
was on the point of starting for Rome. After he had left England, the
following statement appeared in "The Times":

'Pope Leo XIII has intimated his desire to raise Dr. Newman to the rank
of Cardinal, but with expressions of deep respect for the Holy See, Dr.
Newman has excused himself from accepting the Purple.'

When Newman's eyes fell upon the announcement, he realised at once that
a secret and powerful force was working against him. He trembled, as he
had so often trembled before; and certainly the danger was not
imaginary. In the ordinary course of things, how could such a paragraph
have been inserted without his authority? And consequently, did it not
convey to the world, not only an absolute refusal which he had never
intended, but a wish on his part to emphasise publicly his rejection of
the proffered honour? Did it not imply that he had lightly declined a
proposal for which in reality he was deeply thankful? And when the fatal
paragraph was read in Rome, might it not actually lead to the offer of
the Cardinalate being finally withheld?

In great agitation, Newman appealed to the Duke of Norfolk.

'As to the statement,' he wrote, 'of my refusing a Cardinal's Hat, which
is in the papers, you must not believe it, for this reason:

'Of course, it implies that an offer has been made me, and I have sent
an answer to it. Now I have ever understood that it is a point of
propriety and honour to consider such communications sacred. This
statement, therefore, cannot come from me. Nor could it come from Rome,
for it was made public before my answer got to Rome.

'It could only come, then, from someone who not only read my letter,
but, instead of leaving to the Pope to interpret it, took upon himself
to put an interpretation upon it, and published that interpretation to
the world.

'A private letter, addressed to Roman Authorities, is interpreted on its
way and published in the English papers. How is it possible that anyone
can have done this?'

The crushing indictment pointed straight at Manning. And it was true.
Manning had done the impossible deed. Knowing what he did, with the
Bishop of Birmingham's two letters in his pocket, he had put it about
that Newman had refused the Hat. But a change had come over the spirit
of the Holy See. Things were not as they had once been: Monsignor Talbot
was at Passy, and Pio Nono was--where? The Duke of Norfolk intervened
once again; Manning was profuse in his apologies for having
misunderstood Newman's intentions, and hurried to the Pope to rectify
the error. Without hesitation, the Sovereign Pontiff relaxed the rule of
Roman residence, and Newman became a Cardinal.

He lived to enjoy his glory for more than ten years. Since he rarely
left the Oratory, and since Manning never visited Birmingham, the two
Cardinals met only once or twice. After one of these occasions, on
returning to the Oratory, Cardinal Newman said, 'What do you think
Cardinal Manning did to me? He kissed me!'

On Newman's death, Manning delivered a funeral oration, which opened

'We have lost our greatest witness for the Faith, and we are all poorer
and lower by the loss.

'When these tidings came to me, my first thought was this, in what way
can I, once more, show my love and veneration for my brother and friend
of more than sixty years?'

In private, however, the surviving Cardinal's tone was apt to be more
... direct. 'Poor Newman!' he once exclaimed in a moment of genial
expansion. 'Poor Newman! He was a great hater!'


IN that gaunt and gloomy building--more like a barracks than an
Episcopal palace--Archbishop's House, Westminster, Manning's existence
stretched itself out into an extreme old age. As his years increased,
his activities, if that were possible, increased too. Meetings,
missions, lectures, sermons, articles, interviews, letters--such things
came upon him in redoubled multitudes, and were dispatched with an
unrelenting zeal. But this was not all; with age, he seemed to acquire
what was almost a new fervour, an unaccustomed, unexpected, freeing of
the spirit, filling him with preoccupations which he had hardly felt
before. 'They say I am ambitious,' he noted in his Diary, 'but do I rest
in my ambition?'

No, assuredly he did not rest; but he worked now with no arriere pensee
for the greater glory of God. A kind of frenzy fell upon him. Poverty,
drunkenness, vice, all the horrors and terrors of our civilisation
seized upon his mind, and urged him forward to new fields of action and
new fields of thought. The temper of his soul assumed almost a
revolutionary cast. 'I am a Mosaic Radical,' he exclaimed; and, indeed,
in the exaltation of his energies, the incoherence of his conceptions,
the democratic urgency of his desires, combined with his awe-inspiring
aspect and his venerable age, it was easy enough to trace the mingled
qualities of the patriarch, the prophet, and the demagogue. As, in his
soiled and shabby garments, the old man harangued the crowds of
Bermondsey or Peckham upon the virtues of Temperance, assuring them,
with all the passion of conviction, as a final argument, that the
majority of the Apostles were total abstainers, this Prince of the
Church might have passed as a leader of the Salvation Army. His
popularity was immense, reaching its height during the great Dock
Strikes of 1889, when, after the victory of the men was assured, Manning
was able, by his persuasive eloquence and the weight of his character,
to prevent its being carried to excess. After other conciliators--among
whom was the Bishop of London--had given up the task in disgust, the
octogenarian Cardinal worked on with indefatigable resolution. At last,
late at night, in the schools in Kirby Street, Bermondsey, he rose to
address the strikers. An enthusiastic eye-witness has described the

'Unaccustomed tears glistened in the eyes of his rough and work-stained
hearers as the Cardinal raised his hand and solemnly urged them not to
prolong one moment more than they could help the perilous uncertainty
and the sufferings of their wives and children. Just above his uplifted
hand was a figure of the Madonna and Child; and some among the men tell
how a sudden light seemed to swim around it as the speaker pleaded for
the women and children. When he sat down all in the room knew that he
had won the day, and that, so far as the Strike Committee was concerned,
the matter was at an end.'

In those days, there were strange visitors at the Archbishop's House.
Careful priests and conscientious secretaries wondered what the world
was coming to when they saw labour leaders like Mr. John Burns and Mr.
Ben Tillett, and land-reformers like Mr. Henry George, being ushered
into the presence of his Eminence. Even the notorious Mr. Stead
appeared, and his scandalous paper with its unspeakable revelations lay
upon the Cardinal's table. This proved too much for one of the faithful
tonsured dependents of the place, and he ventured to expostulate with
his master. But he never did so again.

When the guests were gone, and the great room was empty, the old man
would draw himself nearer to the enormous fire, and review once more,
for the thousandth time, the long adventure of his life. He would bring
out his diaries and his memoranda, he would rearrange his notes, he
would turn over again the yellow leaves of faded correspondences;
seizing his pen, he would pour out his comments and reflections, and
fill, with an extraordinary solicitude, page after page with
elucidations, explanations, justifications, of the vanished incidents of
a remote past. He would snip with scissors the pages of ancient
journals, and with delicate ecclesiastical fingers, drop unknown
mysteries into the flames.

Sometimes he would turn to the four red folio scrapbooks with their
collection of newspaper cuttings, concerning himself, over a period of
thirty years. Then the pale cheeks would flush and the close-drawn lips
would grow even more menacing than before. 'Stupid, mulish malice,' he
would note. 'Pure lying--conscious, deliberate and designed.'
'Suggestive lying. Personal animosity is at the bottom of this.'

And then he would suddenly begin to doubt. After all, where was he? What
had he accomplished? Had any of it been worthwhile? Had he not been out
of the world all his life! Out of the world!

'Croker's "Life and Letters", and Hayward's "Letters",' he notes, 'are
so full of politics, literature, action, events, collision of mind with
mind, and that with such a multitude of men in every state of life, that
when I look back, it seems as if I had been simply useless.'

And again, 'The complete isolation and exclusion from the official life
of England in which I have lived, makes me feel as if I had done
nothing'. He struggled to console himself with the reflexion that all
this was only 'the natural order'. 'If the natural order is moved by the
supernatural order, then I may not have done nothing. Fifty years of
witness for God and His Truth, I hope, has not been in vain.' But the
same thoughts recurred. 'In reading Macaulay's life I had a haunting
feeling that his had been a life of public utility and mine a vita
umbratilis, a life in the shade.' Ah! it was God's will. 'Mine has been
a life of fifty years out of the world as Gladstone's has been in it.
The work of his life in this world is manifest. I hope mine may be in
the next. I suppose our Lord called me out of the world because He saw
that I should lose my soul in it.' Clearly, that was the explanation.

And yet he remained sufficiently in the world to discharge with absolute
efficiency the complex government of his diocese almost up to the last
moment of his existence. Though his bodily strength gradually ebbed, the
vigour of his mind was undismayed. At last, supported by cushions, he
continued, by means of a dictated correspondence, to exert his
accustomed rule. Only occasionally would he lay aside his work to plunge
into the yet more necessary duties of devotion. Never again would he
preach; never again would he put into practice those three salutary
rules of his in choosing a subject for a sermon: '(1) asking God to
guide the choice; (2) applying the matter to myself; (3) making the sign
of the cross on my head and heart and lips in honour of the Sacred
Mouth;' but he could still pray; he could turn especially to the Holy

'A very simple but devout person,' he wrote in one of his latest
memoranda, 'asked me why in my first volume of sermons I said so little
about the Holy Ghost. I was not aware of it; but I found it to be true.
I at once resolved that I would make a reparation every day of my life
to the Holy Ghost. This I have never failed to do to this day. To this I
owe the light and faith which brought me into the truefold. I bought all
the books I could about the Holy Ghost. I worked out the truths about
His personality, His presence, and His office. This made me understand
the last paragraph in the Apostles' Creed, and made me a Catholic

So, though Death came slowly, struggling step by step with that bold and
tenacious spirit, when he did come at last the Cardinal was ready. Robed
in his archiepiscopal vestments, his rochet, his girdle, and his
mozzetta, with the scarlet biretta on his head, and the pectoral cross
upon his breast, he made his solemn Profession of Faith in the Holy
Roman Church. A crowd of lesser dignitaries, each in the garments of his
office, attended the ceremonial. The Bishop of Salford held up the
Pontificale and the Bishop of Amycla bore the wax taper. The provost of
Westminster, on his knees, read aloud the Profession of Faith,
surrounded by the Canons of the Diocese. Towards those who gathered
about him, the dying man was still able to show some signs of
recognition, and even, perhaps, of affection; yet it seemed that his
chief preoccupation, up to the very end, was with his obedience to the
rules prescribed by the Divine Authority. 'I am glad to have been able
to do everything in due order', were among his last words. 'Si fort
qu'on soit,' says one of the profoundest of the observers of the human
heart, 'on peut eprouver le besoin de s'incliner devant quelqu'un ou
quelque chose. S'incliner devant Dieu, c'est toujours le moins

Manning died on January 14th, 1892, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.
A few days later Mr. Gladstone took occasion, in a letter to a friend,
to refer to his relations with the late Cardinal. Manning's conversion
was, he said,

'altogether the severest blow that ever befell me. In a late letter the
Cardinal termed it a quarrel, but in my reply I told him it was not a
quarrel, but a death; and that was the truth. Since then there have been
vicissitudes. But I am quite certain that to the last his personal
feelings never changed; and I believe also that he kept a promise made
in 1851, to remember me before God at the most solemn moments; a promise
which I greatly valued. The whole subject is to me at once of extreme
interest and of considerable restraint.'

'His reluctance to die,' concluded Mr. Gladstone, 'may be explained by
an intense anxiety to complete unfulfilled service.'

The funeral was the occasion of a popular demonstration such as has
rarely been witnessed in the streets of London. The route of the
procession was lined by vast crowds of working people, whose
imaginations, in some instinctive manner, had been touched. Many who had
hardly seen him declared that in Cardinal Manning they had lost their
best friend. Was it the magnetic vigour of the dead man's spirit that
moved them? Or was it his valiant disregard of common custom and those
conventional reserves and poor punctilios which are wont to hem about
the great? Or was it something untameable in his glances and in his
gestures? Or was it, perhaps, the mysterious glamour lingering about
him, of the antique organisation of Rome? For whatever cause, the mind
of the people had been impressed; and yet, after all, the impression was
more acute than lasting. The Cardinal's memory is a dim thing today. And
he who descends into the crypt of that Cathedral which Manning never
lived to see, will observe, in the quiet niche with the sepulchral
monument, that the dust lies thick on the strange, the incongruous, the
almost impossible object which, with its elaborations of dependent
tassels, hangs down from the dim vault like some forlorn and forgotten
trophy--the Hat.


  E. S. Purcell. Life of Cardinal Manning.
  A. W. Hutton. Cardinal Manning.
  J. E. C. Bodley. Cardinal Manning and Other Essays.
  F. W. Cornish. The English Church in the Nineteenth Century.
  Dean Church. The Oxford Movement.
  Sir J. T. Coleridge. Memoir of the Rev. John Keble.
  Hurrell Froude. Remains.
  Cardinal Newman. Letters and Correspondence in the English
  Apologia pro Vita Sua.
  Wilfrid Ward. Life of Cardinal Newman. W. G. Ward and the Oxford
  Movement. W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival. Life of Cardinal
  H. P. Liddon. Life of E. B. Pusey.
  Tracts for the Times, by Members of the University of Oxford.
  Lord Morley. Life of Gladstone.
  Lives of the Saints, edited by J. H. Newman.
  Herbert Paul. Life of J.A. Froude.
  Mark Pattison. Autobiography.
  T. Mozley. Letters from Rome on the Occasion of the Oecumenical
  Lord Acton. Letters.
  H. L. Smith and V. Nash. The Story of the Dockers' Strike.

Florence Nightingale

EVERY one knows the popular conception of Florence Nightingale. The
saintly, self-sacrificing woman, the delicate maiden of high degree who
threw aside the pleasures of a life of ease to succour the afflicted;
the Lady with the Lamp, gliding through the horrors of the hospital at
Scutari, and consecrating with the radiance of her goodness the dying
soldier's couch. The vision is familiar to all--but the truth was
different. The Miss Nightingale of fact was not as facile as fancy
painted her. She worked in another fashion and towards another end; she
moved under the stress of an impetus which finds no place in the popular
imagination. A Demon possessed her. Now demons, whatever else they may
be, are full of interest. And so it happens that in the real Miss
Nightingale there was more that was interesting than in the legendary
one; there was also less that was agreeable.

Her family was extremely well-to-do, and connected by marriage with a
spreading circle of other well-to-do families. There was a large country
house in Derbyshire; there was another in the New Forest; there were
Mayfair rooms for the London season and all its finest parties; there
were tours on the Continent with even more than the usual number of
Italian operas and of glimpses at the celebrities of Paris. Brought up
among such advantages, it was only natural to suppose that Florence
would show a proper appreciation of them by doing her duty in that state
of life unto which it had pleased God to call her--in other words, by
marrying, after a fitting number of dances and dinner-parties, an
eligible gentleman, and living happily ever afterwards. Her sister, her
cousins, all the young ladies of her acquaintance, were either getting
ready to do this or had already done it.

It was inconceivable that Florence should dream of anything else; yet
dream she did. Ah! To do her duty in that state of life unto which it
had pleased God to call her! Assuredly, she would not be behindhand in
doing her duty; but unto what state of life HAD it pleased God to call
her? That was the question. God's calls are many, and they are strange.
Unto what state of life had it pleased Him to call Charlotte Corday, or
Elizabeth of Hungary? What was that secret voice in her ear, if it was
not a call? Why had she felt, from her earliest years, those mysterious
promptings towards ... she hardly knew what, but certainly towards
something very different from anything around her? Why, as a child in
the nursery, when her sister had shown a healthy pleasure in tearing her
dolls to pieces, had SHE shown an almost morbid one in sewing them up
again? Why was she driven now to minister to the poor in their cottages,
to watch by sick-beds, to put her dog's wounded paw into elaborate
splints as if it was a human being? Why was her head filled with queer
imaginations of the country house at Embley turned, by some enchantment,
into a hospital, with herself as matron moving about among the beds? Why
was even her vision of heaven itself filled with suffering patients to
whom she was being useful? So she dreamed and wondered, and, taking out
her diary, she poured into it the agitations of her soul. And then the
bell rang, and it was time to go and dress for dinner.

As the years passed, a restlessness began to grow upon her. She was
unhappy, and at last she knew it. Mrs. Nightingale, too, began to notice
that there was something wrong. It was very odd--what could be the
matter with dear Flo? Mr. Nightingale suggested that a husband might be
advisable; but the curious thing was that she seemed to take no interest
in husbands. And with her attractions, and her accomplishments, too!
There was nothing in the world to prevent her making a really brilliant
match. But no! She would think of nothing but how to satisfy that
singular craving of hers to be DOING something. As if there was not
plenty to do in any case, in the ordinary way, at home. There was the
china to look after, and there was her father to be read to after
dinner. Mrs. Nightingale could not understand it; and then one day her
perplexity was changed to consternation and alarm. Florence announced an
extreme desire to go to Salisbury Hospital for several months as a
nurse; and she confessed to some visionary plan of eventually setting up
in a house of her own in a neighbouring village, and there founding
'something like a Protestant Sisterhood, without vows, for women of
educated feelings'. The whole scheme was summarily brushed aside as
preposterous; and Mrs. Nightingale, after the first shock of terror, was
able to settle down again more or less comfortably to her embroidery.
But Florence, who was now twenty-five and felt that the dream of her
life had been shattered, came near to desperation.

And, indeed, the difficulties in her path were great. For not only was
it an almost unimaginable thing in those days for a woman of means to
make her own way in the world and to live in independence, but the
particular profession for which Florence was clearly marked out both by
her instincts and her capacities was at that time a peculiarly
disreputable one. A 'nurse' meant then a coarse old woman, always
ignorant, usually dirty, often brutal, a Mrs. Gamp, in bunched-up sordid
garments, tippling at the brandy bottle or indulging in worse
irregularities. The nurses in the hospitals were especially notorious
for immoral conduct; sobriety was almost unknown among them; and they
could hardly be trusted to carry out the simplest medical duties.

Certainly, things HAVE changed since those days; and that they have
changed is due, far more than to any other human being, to Miss
Nightingale herself. It is not to be wondered at that her parents should
have shuddered at the notion of their daughter devoting her life to such
an occupation. 'It was as if,' she herself said afterwards, 'I had
wanted to be a kitchen-maid.' Yet the want, absurd and impracticable as
it was, not only remained fixed immovably in her heart, but grew in
intensity day by day. Her wretchedness deepened into a morbid
melancholy. Everything about her was vile, and she herself, it was
clear, to have deserved such misery, was even viler than her
surroundings. Yes, she had sinned--'standing before God's judgment
seat'. 'No one,' she declared, 'has so grieved the Holy Spirit'; of that
she was quite certain. It was in vain that she prayed to be delivered
from vanity and hypocrisy, and she could not bear to smile or to be gay,
'because she hated God to hear her laugh, as if she had not repented of
her sin'.

A weaker spirit would have been overwhelmed by the load of such
distresses--would have yielded or snapped. But this extraordinary young
woman held firm, and fought her way to victory. With an amazing
persistency, during the eight years that followed her rebuff over
Salisbury Hospital, she struggled and worked and planned. While
superficially she was carrying on the life of a brilliant girl in high
society, while internally she was a prey to the tortures of regret and
of remorse, she yet possessed the energy to collect the knowledge and to
undergo the experience which alone could enable her to do what she had
determined she would do in the end. In secret she devoured the reports
of medical commissions, the pamphlets of sanitary authorities, the
histories of hospitals and homes. She spent the intervals of the London
season in ragged schools and workhouses. When she went abroad with her
family, she used her spare time so well that there was hardly a great
hospital in Europe with which she was not acquainted; hardly a great
city whose slums she had not passed through. She managed to spend some
days in a convent school in Rome, and some weeks as a 'Soeur de Charite'
in Paris. Then, while her mother and sister were taking the waters at
Carlsbad, she succeeded in slipping off to a nursing institution at
Kaiserswerth, where she remained for more than three months. This was
the critical event of her life. The experience which she gained as a
nurse at Kaiserswerth formed the foundation of all her future action and
finally fixed her in her career.

But one other trial awaited her. The allurements of the world she had
brushed aside with disdain and loathing; she had resisted the subtler
temptation which, in her weariness, had sometimes come upon her, of
devoting her baffled energies to art or literature; the last ordeal
appeared in the shape of a desirable young man. Hitherto, her lovers had
been nothing to her but an added burden and a mockery; but now--for a
moment--she wavered. A new feeling swept over her--a feeling which she
had never known before--which she was never to know again. The most
powerful and the profoundest of all the instincts of humanity laid claim
upon her. But it rose before her, that instinct, arrayed--how could it
be otherwise?--in the inevitable habiliments of a Victorian marriage;
and she had the strength to stamp it underfoot.

'I have an intellectual nature which requires satisfaction,' she noted,
'and that would find it in him. I have a passionate nature which
requires satisfaction, and that would find it in him. I have a moral, an
active nature which requires satisfaction, and that would not find it in
his life. Sometimes I think that I will satisfy my passionate nature at
all events....'

But no, she knew in her heart that it could not be. 'To be nailed to a
continuation and exaggeration of my present life ... to put it out of my
power ever to be able to seize the chance of forming for myself a true
and rich life'--that would be a suicide. She made her choice, and
refused what was at least a certain happiness for a visionary good which
might never come to her at all. And so she returned to her old life of
waiting and bitterness.

'The thoughts and feelings that I have now,' she wrote, 'I can remember
since I was six years old. A profession, a trade, a necessary
occupation, something to fill and employ all my faculties, I have always
felt essential to me, I have always longed for. The first thought I can
remember, and the last, was nursing work; and in the absence of this,
education work, but more the education of the bad than of the young ...
Everything has been tried--foreign travel, kind friends, everything. My
God! What is to become of me?'

A desirable young man? Dust and ashes! What was there desirable in such
a thing as that? 'In my thirty-first year,' she noted in her diary, 'I
see nothing desirable but death.'

Three more years passed, and then at last the pressure of time told; her
family seemed to realise that she was old enough and strong enough to
have her way; and she became the superintendent of a charitable nursing
home in Harley Street. She had gained her independence, though it was in
a meagre sphere enough; and her mother was still not quite resigned:
surely Florence might at least spend the summer in the country. At
times, indeed, among her intimates, Mrs. Nightingale almost wept. 'We
are ducks,' she said with tears in her eyes, 'who have hatched a wild
swan.' But the poor lady was wrong; it was not a swan that they had
hatched, it was an eagle.


Miss NIGHTINGALE had been a year in her nursing-home in Harley Street,
when Fate knocked at the door. The Crimean War broke out; the battle of
the Alma was fought; and the terrible condition of our military
hospitals at Scutari began to be known in England. It sometimes happens
that the plans of Providence are a little difficult to follow, but on
this occasion all was plain; there was a perfect coordination of events.
For years Miss Nightingale had been getting ready; at last she was
prepared--experienced, free, mature, yet still young (she was
thirty-four)--desirous to serve, accustomed to command: at that precise
moment the desperate need of a great nation came, and she was there to
satisfy it. If the war had fallen a few years earlier, she would have
lacked the knowledge, perhaps even the power, for such a work; a few
years later and she would, no doubt, have been fixed in the routine of
some absorbing task, and moreover, she would have been growing old.

Nor was it only the coincidence of time that was remarkable. It so fell
out that Sidney Herbert was at the War Office and in the Cabinet; and
Sidney Herbert was an intimate friend of Miss Nightingale's, convinced,
from personal experience in charitable work, of her supreme capacity.
After such premises, it seems hardly more than a matter of course that
her letter, in which she offered her services for the East, and Sidney
Herbert's letter, in which he asked for them, should actually have
crossed in the post. Thus it all happened, without a hitch. The
appointment was made and even Mrs. Nightingale, overawed by the
magnitude of the venture, could only approve. A pair of faithful friends
offered themselves as personal attendants; thirty-eight nurses were
collected; and within a week of the crossing of the letters Miss
Nightingale, amid a great burst of popular enthusiasm, left for

Among the numerous letters which she received on her departure was one
from Dr. Manning, who at that time was working in comparative obscurity
as a Catholic priest in Bayswater. 'God will keep you,' he wrote, 'and
my prayer for you will be that your one object of worship, Pattern of
Imitation, and source of consolation and strength, may be the Sacred
Heart of our Divine Lord.'

To what extent Dr. Manning's prayer was answered must remain a matter of
doubt; but this much is certain: that if ever a prayer was needed, it
was needed then for Florence Nightingale. For dark as had been the
picture of the state of affairs at Scutari, revealed to the English
public in the dispatches of "The Times Correspondent", and in a
multitude of private letters, yet the reality turned out to be darker
still. What had occurred was, in brief, the complete breakdown of our
medical arrangements at the seat of war. The origins of this awful
failure were complex and manifold; they stretched back through long
years of peace and carelessness in England; they could be traced through
endless ramifications of administrative incapacity--from the inherent
faults of confused systems, to the petty bunglings of minor officials,
from the inevitable ignorance of Cabinet Ministers, to the fatal
exactitudes of narrow routine.

In the inquiries which followed, it was clearly shown that the evil was
in reality that worst of all evils--one which has been caused by nothing
in particular and for which no one in particular is to blame. The whole
organisation of the war machine was incompetent and out of date. The old
Duke had sat for a generation at the Horse Guards repressing innovations
with an iron hand. There was an extraordinary overlapping of authorities
and an almost incredible shifting of responsibilities to and fro. As for
such a notion as the creation and the maintenance of a really adequate
medical service for the army--in that atmosphere of aged chaos, how
could it have entered anybody's head? Before the war, the easygoing
officials at Westminster were naturally persuaded that all was well--or
at least as well as could be expected; when someone, for instance,
actually had the temerity to suggest the formation of a corps of Army
nurses, he was at once laughed out of court. When the war had begun, the
gallant British officers in control of affairs had other things to think
about than the petty details of medical organisation. Who had bothered
with such trifles in the Peninsula? And surely, on that occasion, we had
done pretty well. Thus, the most obvious precautions were neglected, and
the most necessary preparations were put off from day to day. The
principal medical officer of the Army, Dr. Hall, was summoned from India
at a moment's notice, and was unable to visit England before taking up
his duties at the front. And it was not until after the battle of the
Alma, when we had been at war for many months, that we acquired hospital
accommodations at Scutari for more than a thousand men. Errors, follies,
and vices on the part of individuals there doubtless were; but, in the
general reckoning, they were of small account--insignificant symptoms of
the deep disease of the body politic--to the enormous calamity of
administrative collapse.

Miss Nightingale arrived at Scutari--a suburb of Constantinople, on the
Asiatic side of the Bosphorus--on November 4th, 1854; it was ten days
after the battle of Balaclava, and the day before the battle of
Inkerman. The organisation of the hospitals, which had already given way
under the stress of the battle of the Alma, was now to be subjected to
the further pressure which these two desperate and bloody engagements
implied. Great detachments of wounded were already beginning to pour in.
The men, after receiving such summary treatment as could be given them
at the smaller hospitals in the Crimea itself, were forthwith shipped in
batches of 200 across the Black Sea to Scutari. This voyage was in
normal times one of four days and a half; but the times were no longer
normal, and now the transit often lasted for a fortnight or three weeks.
It received, not without reason, the name of the 'middle passage'.
Between, and sometimes on the decks, the wounded, the sick, and the
dying were crowded--men who had just undergone the amputation of limbs,
men in the clutches of fever or of frostbite, men in the last stages of
dysentry and cholera--without beds, sometimes without blankets, often
hardly clothed. The one or two surgeons on board did what they could;
but medical stores were lacking, and the only form of nursing available
was that provided by a handful of invalid soldiers who were usually
themselves prostrate by the end of the voyage. There was no other food
beside the ordinary salt rations of ship diet; and even the water was
sometimes so stored that it was out of reach of the weak. For many
months, the average of deaths during these voyages was seventy-four in
1,000; the corpses were shot out into the waters; and who shall say that
they were the most unfortunate? At Scutari, the landing-stage,
constructed with all the perverseness of Oriental ingenuity, could only
be approached with great difficulty, and, in rough weather, not at all.
When it was reached, what remained of the men in the ships had first to
be disembarked, and then conveyed up a steep slope of a quarter of a
mile to the nearest of the hospitals. The most serious cases might be
put upon stretchers--for there were far too few for all; the rest were
carried or dragged up the hill by such convalescent soldiers as could be
got together, who were not too obviously infirm for the work. At last
the journey was accomplished; slowly, one by one, living or dying, the
wounded were carried up into the hospital. And in the hospital what did
they find?

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate: the delusive doors bore no such
inscription; and yet behind them Hell yawned. Want, neglect, confusion,
misery--in every shape and in every degree of intensity--filled the
endless corridors and the vast apartments of the gigantic barrack-house,
which, without forethought or preparation, had been hurriedly set aside
as the chief shelter for the victims of the war. The very building
itself was radically defective. Huge sewers underlay it, and cesspools
loaded with filth wafted their poison into the upper rooms. The floors
were in so rotten a condition that many of them could not be scrubbed;
the walls were thick with dirt; incredible multitudes of vermin swarmed
everywhere. And, enormous as the building was, it was yet too small. It
contained four miles of beds, crushed together so close that there was
but just room to pass between them. Under such conditions, the most
elaborate system of ventilation might well have been at fault; but here
there was no ventilation. The stench was indescribable. 'I have been
well acquainted,' said Miss Nightingale, 'with the dwellings of the
worst parts of most of the great cities in Europe, but have never been
in any atmosphere which I could compare with that of the Barrack
Hospital at night.' The structural defects were equalled by the
deficiencies in the commonest objects of hospital use. There were not
enough bedsteads; the sheets were of canvas, and so coarse that the
wounded men recoiled from them, begging to be left in their blankets;
there was no bedroom furniture of any kind, and empty beer bottles were
used for candlesticks. There were no basins, no towels, no soap, no
brooms, no mops, no trays, no plates; there were neither slippers nor
scissors, neither shoe-brushes nor blacking; there were no knives or
forks or spoons. The supply of fuel was constantly deficient. The
cooking arrangements were preposterously inadequate, and the laundry was
a farce. As for purely medical materials, the tale was no better.
Stretchers, splints, bandages--all were lacking; and so were the most
ordinary drugs.

To replace such wants, to struggle against such difficulties, there was
a handful of men overburdened by the strain of ceaseless work, bound
down by the traditions of official routine, and enfeebled either by old
age or inexperience or sheer incompetence. They had proved utterly
unequal to their task. The principal doctor was lost in the imbecilities
of a senile optimism. The wretched official whose business it was to
provide for the wants of the hospital was tied fast hand and foot by red
tape. A few of the younger doctors struggled valiantly, but what could
they do? Unprepared, disorganised, with such help only as they could
find among the miserable band of convalescent soldiers drafted off to
tend their sick comrades, they were faced with disease, mutilation, and
death in all their most appalling forms, crowded multitudinously about
them in an ever-increasing mass. They were like men in a shipwreck,
fighting, not for safety, but for the next moment's bare existence--to
gain, by yet another frenzied effort, some brief respite from the waters
of destruction.

In these surroundings, those who had been long inured to scenes of human
suffering--surgeons with a world-wide knowledge of agonies, soldiers
familiar with fields of carnage, missionaries with remembrances of
famine and of plague--yet found a depth of horror which they had never
known before. There were moments, there were places, in the Barrack
Hospital at Scutari, where the strongest hand was struck with trembling,
and the boldest eye would turn away its gaze.

Miss Nightingale came, and she, at any rate, in that inferno, did not
abandon hope. For one thing, she brought material succour. Before she
left London she had consulted Dr. Andrew Smith, the head of the Army
Medical Board, as to whether it would be useful to take out stores of
any kind to Scutari; and Dr. Andrew Smith had told her that 'nothing was
needed'. Even Sidney Herbert had given her similar assurances; possibly,
owing to an oversight, there might have been some delay in the delivery
of the medical stores, which, he said, had been sent out from England
'in profusion', but 'four days would have remedied this'. She preferred
to trust her own instincts, and at Marseilles purchased a large quantity
of miscellaneous provisions, which were of the utmost use at Scutari.
She came, too, amply provided with money--in all, during her stay in the
East, about L7,000 reached her from private sources; and, in addition,
she was able to avail herself of another valuable means of help. At the
same time as herself, Mr. Macdonald, of The Times, had arrived at
Scutari, charged with the duty of administering the large sums of money
collected through the agency of that newspaper in aid of the sick and
wounded; and Mr. Macdonald had the sense to see that the best use he
could make of The Times Fund was to put it at the disposal of Miss

'I cannot conceive,' wrote an eye-witness, 'as I now calmly look back on
the first three weeks after the arrival of the wounded from Inkerman,
how it could have been possible to have avoided a state of things too
disastrous to contemplate, had not Miss Nightingale been there, with the
means placed at her disposal by Mr. Macdonald.'

But the official view was different. What! Was the public service to
admit, by accepting outside charity, that it was unable to discharge its
own duties without the assistance of private and irregular benevolence?
Never! And accordingly when Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, our ambassador
at Constantinople, was asked by Mr. Macdonald to indicate how The Times
Fund could best be employed, he answered that there was indeed one
object to which it might very well be devoted--the building of an
English Protestant Church at Pera.

Mr. Macdonald did not waste further time with Lord Stratford, and
immediately joined forces with Miss Nightingale. But, with such a frame
of mind in the highest quarters, it is easy to imagine the kind of
disgust and alarm with which the sudden intrusion of a band of amateurs
and females must have filled the minds of the ordinary officer and the
ordinary military surgeon. They could not understand it--what had women
to do with war? Honest Colonels relieved their spleen by the cracking of
heavy jokes about 'the Bird'; while poor Dr. Hall, a rough terrier of a
man, who had worried his way to the top of his profession, was struck
speechless with astonishment, and at last observed that Miss
Nightingale's appointment was extremely droll.

Her position was, indeed, an official one, but it was hardly the easier
for that. In the hospitals it was her duty to provide the services of
herself and her nurses when they were asked for by the doctors, and not
until then. At first some of the surgeons would have nothing to say to
her, and, though she was welcomed by others, the majority were hostile
and suspicious. But gradually she gained ground. Her good will could not
be denied, and her capacity could not be disregarded. With consummate
tact, with all the gentleness of supreme strength, she managed at last
to impose her personality upon the susceptible, overwrought,
discouraged, and helpless group of men in authority who surrounded her.
She stood firm; she was a rock in the angry ocean; with her alone was
safety, comfort, life. And so it was that hope dawned at Scutari. The
reign of chaos and old night began to dwindle; order came upon the
scene, and common sense, and forethought, and decision, radiating out
from the little room off the great gallery in the Barrack Hospital
where, day and night, the Lady Superintendent was at her task. Progress
might be slow, but it was sure.

The first sign of a great change came with the appearance of some of
those necessary objects with which the hospitals had been unprovided for
months. The sick men began to enjoy the use of towels and soap, knives
and forks, combs and tooth-brushes. Dr. Hall might snort when he heard
of it, asking, with a growl, what a soldier wanted with a tooth-brush;
but the good work went on. Eventually the whole business of purveying to
the hospitals was, in effect, carried out by Miss Nightingale. She
alone, it seemed, whatever the contingency, knew where to lay her hands
on what was wanted; she alone could dispense her stores with readiness;
above all, she alone possessed the art of circumventing the pernicious
influences of official etiquette. This was her greatest enemy, and
sometimes even she was baffled by it. On one occasion 27,000 shirts,
sent out at her instance by the Home Government, arrived, were landed,
and were only waiting to be unpacked. But the official 'Purveyor'
intervened; 'he could not unpack them,' he said, 'with out a Board.'
Miss Nightingale pleaded in vain; the sick and wounded lay half-naked
shivering for want of clothing; and three weeks elapsed before the Board
released the shirts. A little later, however, on a similar occasion,
Miss Nightingale felt that she could assert her own authority. She
ordered a Government consignment to be forcibly opened while the
miserable 'Purveyor' stood by, wringing his hands in departmental agony.

Vast quantities of valuable stores sent from England lay, she found,
engulfed in the bottomless abyss of the Turkish Customs House. Other
ship-loads, buried beneath munitions of war destined for Balaclava,
passed Scutari without a sign, and thus hospital materials were
sometimes carried to and fro three times over the Black Sea, before they
reached their destination. The whole system was clearly at fault, and
Miss Nightingale suggested to the home authorities that a Government
Store House should be instituted at Scutari for the reception and
distribution of the consignments. Six months after her arrival this was

In the meantime, she had reorganised the kitchens and the laundries in
the hospitals. The ill-cooked hunks of meat, vilely served at irregular
intervals, which had hitherto been the only diet for the sick men, were
replaced by punctual meals, well-prepared and appetising, while
strengthening extra foods--soups and wines and jellies ('preposterous
luxuries', snarled Dr. Hall)--were distributed to those who needed them.
One thing, however, she could not effect. The separation of the bones
from the meat was no part of official cookery: the rule was that the
food must be divided into equal portions, and if some of the portions
were all bone--well, every man must take his chance. The rule, perhaps,
was not a very good one; but there it was. 'It would require a new
Regulation of the Service,' she was told, 'to bone the meat.' As for the
washing arrangements, they were revolutionised. Up to the time of Miss
Nightingale's arrival, the number of shirts the authorities had
succeeded in washing was seven. The hospital bedding, she found, was
'washed' in cold water. She took a Turkish house, had boilers installed,
and employed soldiers' wives to do the laundry work. The expenses were
defrayed from her own funds and that of The Times; and henceforward, the
sick and wounded had the comfort of clean linen.

Then she turned her attention to their clothing. Owing to military
exigencies, the greater number of the men had abandoned their kit; their
knapsacks were lost forever; they possessed nothing but what was on
their persons, and that was usually only fit for speedy destruction. The
'Purveyor', of course, pointed out that, according to the regulations,
all soldiers should bring with them into hospital an adequate supply of
clothing, and he declared that it was no business of his to make good
their deficiencies. Apparently, it was the business of Miss Nightingale.
She procured socks, boots, and shirts in enormous quantities; she had
trousers made, she rigged up dressing-gowns. 'The fact is,' she told
Sidney Herbert, I am now clothing the British Army.'

All at once, word came from the Crimea that a great new contingent of
sick and wounded might shortly be expected. Where were they to go? Every
available inch in the wards was occupied; the affair was serious and
pressing, and the authorities stood aghast. There were some dilapidated
rooms in the Barrack Hospital, unfit for human habitation, but Miss
Nightingale believed that if measures were promptly taken they might be
made capable of accommodating several hundred beds. One of the doctors
agreed with her; the rest of the officials were irresolute--it would be
a very expensive job, they said; it would involve building; and who
could take the responsibility? The proper course was that a
representation should be made to the Director-General of the Army
Medical Department in London; then the Director-General would apply to
the Horse Guards, the Horse Guards would move the Ordnance, the Ordnance
would lay the matter before the Treasury, and, if the Treasury gave its
consent, the work might be correctly carried through, several months
after the necessity for it had disappeared. Miss Nightingale, however,
had made up her mind, and she persuaded Lord Stratford--or thought she
had persuaded him--to give his sanction to the required expenditure. One
hundred and twenty-five workmen were immediately engaged, and the work
was begun. The workmen struck; whereupon Lord Stratford washed his hands
of the whole business. Miss Nightingale engaged 200 other workmen on her
own authority, and paid the bill out of her own resources. The wards
were ready by the required date; 500 sick men were received in them; and
all the utensils, including knives, forks, spoons, cans and towels, were
supplied by Miss Nightingale.

This remarkable woman was in truth performing the function of an
administrative chief. How had this come about? Was she not in reality
merely a nurse? Was it not her duty simply to tend the sick? And indeed,
was it not as a ministering angel, a gentle 'lady with a lamp', that she
actually impressed the minds of her contemporaries? No doubt that was
so; and yet it is no less certain that, as she herself said, the
specific business of nursing was 'the least important of the functions
into which she had been forced'. It was clear that in the state of
disorganisation into which the hospitals at Scutari had fallen, the most
pressing, the really vital, need was for something more than nursing; it
was for the necessary elements of civilised life--the commonest material
objects, the most ordinary cleanliness, the rudimentary habits of order
and authority. 'Oh, dear Miss Nightingale,' said one of her party as
they were approaching Constantinople, 'when we land, let there be no
delays, let us get straight to nursing the poor fellows!' 'The strongest
will be wanted at the wash-tub,' was Miss Nightingale's answer. And it
was upon the wash-tub, and all that the wash-tub stood for, that she
expended her greatest energies. Yet to say that, is perhaps to say too
much. For to those who watched her at work among the sick, moving day
and night from bed to bed, with that unflinching courage, with that
indefatigable vigilance, it seemed as if the concentrated force of an
undivided and unparalleled devotion could hardly suffice for that
portion of her task alone.

Wherever, in those vast wards, suffering was at its worst and the need
for help was greatest, there, as if by magic, was Miss Nightingale. Her
superhuman equanimity would, at the moment of some ghastly operation,
nerve the victim to endure, and almost to hope. Her sympathy would
assuage the pangs of dying and bring back to those still living
something of the forgotten charm of life. Over and over again her
untiring efforts rescued those whom the surgeons had abandoned as beyond
the possibility of cure. Her mere presence brought with it a strange
influence. A passionate idolatry spread among the men--they kissed her
shadow as it passed. They did more. 'Before she came,' said a soldier,
'there was cussin' and swearin' but after that it was as 'oly as a
church.' The most cherished privilege of the fighting man was abandoned
for the sake of Miss Nightingale. In those 'lowest sinks of human
misery', as she herself put it, she never heard the use of one
expression 'which could distress a gentlewoman'.

She was heroic; and these were the humble tributes paid by those of
grosser mould to that high quality. Certainly, she was heroic. Yet her
heroism was not of that simple sort so dear to the readers of novels and
the compilers of hagiologies--the romantic sentimental heroism with
which mankind loves to invest its chosen darlings: it was made of
sterner stuff. To the wounded soldier on his couch of agony, she might
well appear in the guise of a gracious angel of mercy; but the military
surgeons, and the orderlies, and her own nurses, and the 'Purveyor', and
Dr. Hall, and, even Lord Stratford himself, could tell a different
story. It was not by gentle sweetness and womanly self-abnegation that
she had brought order out of chaos in the Scutari hospitals, that, from
her own resources, she had clothed the British Army, that she had spread
her dominion over the serried and reluctant powers of the official
world; it was by strict method, by stern discipline, by rigid attention
to detail, by ceaseless labour, and by the fixed determination of an
indomitable will.

Beneath her cool and calm demeanour lurked fierce and passionate fires.
As she passed through the wards in her plain dress, so quiet, so
unassuming, she struck the casual observer simply as the pattern of a
perfect lady; but the keener eye perceived something more than that--the
serenity of high deliberation in the scope of the capacious brow, the
sign of power in the dominating curve of the thin nose, and the traces
of a harsh and dangerous temper--something peevish, something mocking,
and yet something precise--in the small and delicate mouth. There was
humour in the face; but the curious watcher might wonder whether it was
humour of a very pleasant kind; might ask himself, even as he heard the
laughter and marked the jokes with which she cheered the spirits of her
patients, what sort of sardonic merriment this same lady might not give
vent to, in the privacy of her chamber. As for her voice, it was true of
it, even more than of her countenance, that it 'had that in it one must
fain call master'. Those clear tones were in no need of emphasis: 'I
never heard her raise her voice', said one of her companions. 'Only when
she had spoken, it seemed as if nothing could follow but obedience.'
Once, when she had given some direction, a doctor ventured to remark
that the thing could not be done. 'But it must be done,' said Miss
Nightingale. A chance bystander, who heard the words, never forgot
through all his life the irresistible authority of them. And they were
spoken quietly--very quietly indeed.

Late at night, when the long miles of beds lay wrapped in darkness, Miss
Nightingale would sit at work in her little room, over her
correspondence. It was one of the most formidable of all her duties.
There were hundreds of letters to be written to the friends and
relations of soldiers; there was the enormous mass of official documents
to be dealt with; there were her own private letters to be answered;
and, most important of all, there was the composition of her long and
confidential reports to Sidney Herbert. These were by no means official
communications. Her soul, pent up all day in the restraint and reserve
of a vast responsibility, now at last poured itself out in these letters
with all its natural vehemence, like a swollen torrent through an open
sluice. Here, at least, she did not mince matters. Here she painted in
her darkest colours the hideous scenes which surrounded her; here she
tore away remorselessly the last veils still shrouding the abominable
truth. Then she would fill pages with recommendations and suggestions,
with criticisms of the minutest details of organisation, with elaborate
calculations of contingencies, with exhaustive analyses and statistical
statements piled up in breathless eagerness one on the top of the other.
And then her pen, in the virulence of its volubility, would rush on to
the discussion of individuals, to the denunciation of an incompetent
surgeon or the ridicule of a self-sufficient nurse. Her sarcasm searched
the ranks of the officials with the deadly and unsparing precision of a
machine-gun. Her nicknames were terrible. She respected no one: Lord
Stratford, Lord Raglan, Lady Stratford, Dr. Andrew Smith, Dr. Hall, the
Commissary-General, the Purveyor--she fulminated against them all. The
intolerable futility of mankind obsessed her like a nightmare, and she
gnashed her teeth against it. 'I do well to be angry,' was the burden of
her cry. 'How many just men were there at Scutari? How many who cared at
all for the sick, or had done anything for their relief? Were there ten?
Were there five? Was there even one?' She could not be sure.

At one time, during several weeks, her vituperations descended upon the
head of Sidney Herbert himself. He had misinterpreted her wishes, he had
traversed her positive instructions, and it was not until he had
admitted his error and apologised in abject terms that he was allowed
again into favour. While this misunderstanding was at its height, an
aristocratic young gentleman arrived at Scutari with a recommendation
from the Minister. He had come out from England filled with a romantic
desire to render homage to the angelic heroine of his dreams. He had, he
said, cast aside his life of ease and luxury; he would devote his days
and nights to the service of that gentle lady; he would perform the most
menial offices, he would 'fag' for her, he would be her footman--and
feel requited by a single smile. A single smile, indeed, he had, but it
was of an unexpected kind. Miss Nightingale at first refused to see him,
and then, when she consented, believing that he was an emissary sent by
Sidney Herbert to put her in the wrong over their dispute, she took
notes of her conversation with him, and insisted on his signing them at
the end of it. The young gentleman returned to England by the next ship.

This quarrel with Sidney Herbert was, however, an exceptional incident.
Alike by him, and by Lord Panmure, his successor at the War Office, she
was firmly supported; and the fact that during the whole of her stay at
Scutari she had the Home Government at her back, was her trump card in
her dealings with the hospital authorities. Nor was it only the
Government that was behind her: public opinion in England early
recognised the high importance of her mission, and its enthusiastic
appreciation of her work soon reached an extraordinary height. The Queen
herself was deeply moved. She made repeated inquiries as to the welfare
of Miss Nightingale; she asked to see her accounts of the wounded, and
made her the intermediary between the throne and the troops.

'Let Mrs. Herbert know,' she wrote to the War Minister, 'that I wish
Miss Nightingale and the ladies would tell these poor noble, wounded,
and sick men that NO ONE takes a warmer interest or feels MORE for their
sufferings or admires their courage and heroism MORE than their Queen.
Day and night she thinks of her beloved troops. So does the Prince. Beg
Mrs. Herbert to communicate these my words to those ladies, as I know
that our sympathy is much valued by these noble fellows.'

The letter was read aloud in the wards by the Chaplain. 'It is a very
feeling letter,' said the men.

And so the months passed, and that fell winter which had begun with
Inkerman and had dragged itself out through the long agony of the
investment of Sebastopol, at last was over. In May, 1855, after six
months of labour, Miss Nightingale could look with something like
satisfaction at the condition of the Scutari hospitals. Had they done
nothing more than survive the terrible strain which had been put upon
them, it would have been a matter for congratulation; but they had done
much more than that--they had marvellously improved. The confusion and
the pressure in the wards had come to an end; order reigned in them, and
cleanliness; the supplies were bountiful and prompt; important sanitary
works had been carried out. One simple comparison of figures was enough
to reveal the extraordinary change: the rate of mortality among the
cases treated had fallen from forty-two percent to twenty-two per 1,000.
But still, the indefatigable lady was not satisfied. The main problem
had been solved--the physical needs of the men had been provided for;
their mental and spiritual needs remained. She set up and furnished
reading-rooms and recreation rooms. She started classes and lectures.
Officers were amazed to see her treating their men as if they were human
beings, and assured her that she would only end by 'spoiling the
brutes'. But that was not Miss Nightingale's opinion, and she was
justified. The private soldier began to drink less and even--though that
seemed impossible--to save his pay. Miss Nightingale became a banker for
the Army, receiving and sending home large sums of money every month. At
last, reluctantly, the Government followed suit, and established
machinery of its own for the remission of money. Lord Panmure, however,
remained sceptical; 'it will do no good,' he pronounced; 'the British
soldier is not a remitting animal.' But, in fact during the next six
months L71,000 was sent home.

Amid all these activities, Miss Nightingale took up the further task of
inspecting the hospitals in the Crimea itself. The labour was extreme,
and the conditions of life were almost intolerable. She spent whole days
in the saddle, or was driven over those bleak and rocky heights in a
baggage cart. Sometimes she stood for hours in the heavily failing snow,
and would only reach her hut at dead of night after walking for miles
through perilous ravines. Her powers of resistance seemed incredible,
but at last they were exhausted. She was attacked by fever, and for a
moment came very near to death. Yet she worked on; if she could not
move, she could at least write, and write she did until her mind had
left her; and after it had left her, in what seemed the delirious trance
of death itself, she still wrote. When, after many weeks, she was strong
enough to travel, she was implored to return to England, but she utterly
refused. She would not go back, she said, before the last of the
soldiers had left Scutari.

This happy moment had almost arrived, when suddenly the smouldering
hostilities of the medical authorities burst out into a flame. Dr.
Hall's labours had been rewarded by a K.C.B--letters which, as Miss
Nightingale told Sidney Herbert, she could only suppose to mean 'Knight
of the Crimean Burial-Grounds'--and the honour had turned his head. He
was Sir John, and he would be thwarted no longer. Disputes had lately
arisen between Miss Nightingale and some of the nurses in the Crimean
hospitals. The situation had been embittered by rumours of religious
dissensions, while the Crimean nurses were Roman Catholics, many of
those at Scutari were suspected of a regrettable propensity towards the
tenets of Dr. Pusey. Miss Nightingale was by no means disturbed by these
sectarian differences, but any suggestion that her supreme authority
over all the nurses with the Army was, no doubt, enough to rouse her to
fury; and it appeared that Mrs. Bridgeman, the Reverend Mother in the
Crimea, had ventured to call that authority in question. Sir John Hall
thought that his opportunity had come, and strongly supported Mrs.
Bridgeman--or, as Miss Nightingale preferred to call her, the 'Reverend

There was a violent struggle; Miss Nightingale's rage was terrible. Dr.
Hall, she declared, was doing his best to 'root her out of the Crimea'.
She would bear it no longer; the War Office was playing her false; there
was only one thing to be done--Sidney Herbert must move for the
production of papers in the House of Commons, so that the public might
be able to judge between her and her enemies. Sidney Herbert, with great
difficulty, calmed her down. Orders were immediately dispatched putting
her supremacy beyond doubt, and the Reverend Brickbat withdrew from the
scene. Sir John, however, was more tenacious. A few weeks later, Miss
Nightingale and her nurses visited the Crimea for the last time, and the
brilliant idea occurred to him that he could crush her by a very simple
expedient--he would starve her into submission; and he actually ordered
that no rations of any kind should be supplied to her. He had already
tried this plan with great effect upon an unfortunate medical man whose
presence in the Crimea he had considered an intrusion; but he was now to
learn that such tricks were thrown away upon Miss Nightingale. With
extraordinary foresight, she had brought with her a great supply of
food; she succeeded in obtaining more at her own expense and by her own
exertions; and thus for ten days, in that inhospitable country, she was
able to feed herself and twenty-four nurses. Eventually, the military
authorities intervened in her favour, and Sir John had to confess that
he was beaten.

It was not until July, 1856--four months after the Declaration of
Peace--that Miss Nightingale left Scutari for England. Her reputation
was now enormous, and the enthusiasm of the public was unbounded. The
royal approbation was expressed by the gift of a brooch, accompanied by
a private letter.

'You are, I know, well aware,' wrote Her Majesty, 'of the high sense I
entertain of the Christian devotion which you have displayed during this
great and bloody war, and I need hardly repeat to you how warm my
admiration is for your services, which are fully equal to those of my
dear and brave soldiers, whose sufferings you have had the privilege of
alleviating in so merciful a manner. I am, however, anxious of marking
my feelings in a manner which I trust will be agreeable to you, and
therefore, send you with this letter a brooch, the form and emblems of
which commemorate your great and blessed work, and which I hope you will
wear as a mark of the high approbation of your Sovereign!

'It will be a very great satisfaction to me,' Her Majesty added, 'to
make the acquaintance of one who has set so bright an example to our

The brooch, which was designed by the Prince Consort, bore a St.
George's cross in red enamel, and the Royal cipher surmounted by
diamonds. The whole was encircled by the inscription 'Blessed are the


THE name of Florence Nightingale lives in the memory of the world by
virtue of the lurid and heroic adventure of the Crimea. Had she died--as
she nearly did--upon her return to England, her reputation would hardly
have been different; her legend would have come down to us almost as we
know it today--that gentle vision of female virtue which first took
shape before the adoring eyes of the sick soldiers at Scutari. Yet, as a
matter of fact, she lived for more than half a century after the Crimean
War; and during the greater part of that long period, all the energy and
all the devotion of her extraordinary nature were working at their
highest pitch. What she accomplished in those years of unknown labour
could, indeed, hardly have been more glorious than her Crimean triumphs,
but it was certainly more important. The true history was far stranger
even than the myth. In Miss Nightingale's own eyes the adventure of the
Crimea was a mere incident--scarcely more than a useful stepping-stone
in her career. It was the fulcrum with which she hoped to move the
world; but it was only the fulcrum. For more than a generation she was
to sit in secret, working her lever: and her real "life" began at the
very moment when, in the popular imagination, it had ended.

She arrived in England in a shattered state of health. The hardships and
the ceaseless effort of the last two years had undermined her nervous
system; her heart was pronounced to be affected; she suffered constantly
from fainting-fits and terrible attacks of utter physical prostration.
The doctors declared that one thing alone would save her--a complete and
prolonged rest. But that was also the one thing with which she would
have nothing to do. She had never been in the habit of resting; why
should she begin now? Now, when her opportunity had come at last; now,
when the iron was hot, and it was time to strike? No; she had work to
do; and, come what might, she would do it. The doctors protested in
vain; in vain her family lamented and entreated; in vain her friends
pointed out to her the madness of such a course. Madness?
Mad--possessed--perhaps she was. A demoniac frenzy had seized upon her.
As she lay upon her sofa, gasping, she devoured blue-books, dictated
letters, and, in the intervals of her palpitations, cracked her febrile
jokes. For months at a stretch she never left her bed. For years she was
in daily expectation of death. But she would not rest. At this rate, the
doctors assured her, even if she did not die, she would, become an
invalid for life. She could not help that; there was the work to be
done; and, as for rest, very likely she might rest ... when she had done

Wherever she went, in London or in the country, in the hills of
Derbyshire, or among the rhododendrons at Embley, she was haunted by a
ghost. It was the spectre of Scutari--the hideous vision of the
organisation of a military hospital. She would lay that phantom, or she
would perish. The whole system of the Army Medical Department, the
education of the Medical Officer, the regulations of hospital procedure
... REST? How could she rest while these things were as they were,
while, if the like necessity were to arise again, the like results would
follow? And, even in peace and at home, what was the sanitary condition
of the Army? The mortality in the barracks was, she found, nearly double
the mortality in civil life. 'You might as well take 1,100 men every
year out upon Salisbury Plain and shoot them,' she said. After
inspecting the hospitals at Chatham, she smiled grimly. 'Yes, this is
one more symptom of the system which, in the Crimea, put to death 16,000
men.' Scutari had given her knowledge; and it had given her power too:
her enormous reputation was at her back--an incalculable force. Other
work, other duties, might lie before her; but the most urgent, the most
obvious of all, was to look to the health of the Army.

One of her very first steps was to take advantage of the invitation
which Queen Victoria had sent her to the Crimea, together with the
commemorative brooch. Within a few weeks of her return she visited
Balmoral, and had several interviews with both the Queen and the Prince,
Consort. 'She put before us,' wrote the Prince in his diary, 'all the
defects of our present military hospital system, and the reforms that
are needed.' She related 'the whole story' of her experiences in the
East; and, in addition, she managed to have some long and confidential
talks with His Royal Highness on metaphysics and religion. The
impression which she created was excellent. 'Sie gefallt uns sehr,'
noted the Prince, 'ist sehr bescheiden.' Her Majesty's comment was
different--'Such a HEAD! I wish we had her at the War Office.'

But Miss Nightingale was not at the War Office, and for a very simple
reason: she was a woman. Lord Panmure, however, was (though indeed the
reason for that was not quite so simple); and it was upon Lord Panmure
that the issue of Miss Nightingale's efforts for reform must primarily
depend. That burly Scottish nobleman had not, in spite of his most
earnest endeavours, had a very easy time of it as Secretary of State for
War. He had come into office in the middle of the Sebastopol Campaign,
and had felt himself very well fitted for the position, since he had
acquired in former days an inside knowledge of the Army--as a Captain of
Hussars. It was this inside knowledge which had enabled him to inform
Miss Nightingale with such authority that 'the British soldier is not a
remitting animal'. And perhaps it was this same consciousness of a
command of his subject which had impelled him to write a dispatch to
Lord Raglan, blandly informing the Commander-in-Chief in the Field just
how he was neglecting his duties, and pointing out to him that if he
would only try he really might do a little better next time.

Lord Raglan's reply, calculated as it was to make its recipient sink
into the earth, did not quite have that effect upon Lord Panmure, who,
whatever might have been his faults, had never been accused of being
supersensitive. However, he allowed the matter to drop; and a little
later Lord Raglan died--worn out, some people said, by work and anxiety.
He was succeeded by an excellent red-nosed old gentleman, General
Simpson, whom nobody has ever heard of, and who took Sebastopol. But
Lord Panmure's relations with him were hardly more satisfactory than his
relations with Lord Raglan; for, while Lord Raglan had been too
independent, poor General Simpson erred in the opposite direction,
perpetually asked advice, suffered from lumbago, doubted (his nose
growingredder and redder daily) whether he was fit for his post, and, by
alternate mails, sent in and withdrew his resignation. Then, too, both
the General and the Minister suffered acutely from that distressingly
useful new invention, the electric telegraph. On one occasion General
Simpson felt obliged actually to expostulate. 'I think, my Lord,' he
wrote, 'that some telegraphic messages reach us that cannot be sent
under due authority, and are perhaps unknown to you, although under the
protection of your Lordship's name.

For instance, I was called up last night, a dragoon having come express
with a telegraphic message in these words, "Lord Panmure to General
Simpson--Captain Jarvis has been bitten by a centipede. How is he now?"'
General Simpson might have put up with this, though to be sure it did
seem 'rather too trifling an affair to call for a dragoon to ride a
couple of miles in the dark that he may knock up the Commander of the
Army out of the very small allowance of sleep permitted; but what was
really more than he could bear was to find 'upon sending in the morning
another mounted dragoon to inquire after Captain Jarvis, four miles off,
that he never has been bitten at all, but has had a boil, from which he
is fast recovering'. But Lord Panmure had troubles of his own. His
favourite nephew, Captain Dowbiggin, was at the front, and to one of his
telegrams to the Commander-in-Chief the Minister had taken occasion to
append the following carefully qualified sentence--'I recommend
Dowbiggin to your notice, should you have a vacancy, and if he is fit'.
Unfortunately, in those early days, it was left to the discretion of the
telegraphist to compress the messages which passed through his hands; so
that the result was that Lord Panmure's delicate appeal reached its
destination in the laconic form of 'Look after Dowb'. The Headquarters
Staff were at first extremely puzzled; they were at last extremely
amused. The story spread; and 'Look after Dowb' remained for many years
the familiar formula for describing official hints in favour of
deserving nephews.

And now that all this was over, now that Sebastopol had been, somehow or
another, taken; now that peace was, somehow or another, made; now that
the troubles of office might surely be expected to be at an end at
last--here was Miss Nightingale breaking in upon the scene with her talk
about the state of the hospitals and the necessity for sanitary reform.
It was most irksome; and Lord Panmure almost began to wish that he was
engaged upon some more congenial occupation--discussing, perhaps, the
constitution of the Free Church of Scotland--a question in which he was
profoundly interested. But no; duty was paramount; and he set himself,
with a sigh of resignation, to the task of doing as little of it as he
possibly could.

'The Bison' his friends called him; and the name fitted both his
physical demeanour and his habit of mind. That large low head seemed to
have been created for butting rather than for anything else. There he
stood, four-square and menacing in the doorway of reform; and it
remained to be seen whether, the bulky mass, upon whose solid hide even
the barbed arrows of Lord Raglan's scorn had made no mark, would prove
amenable to the pressure of Miss Nightingale. Nor was he alone in the
doorway. There loomed behind him the whole phalanx of professional
conservatism, the stubborn supporters of the out-of-date, the
worshippers and the victims of War Office routine. Among these it was
only natural that Dr. Andrew Smith, the head of the Army Medical
Department, should have been pre-eminent--Dr. Andrew Smith, who had
assured Miss Nightingale before she left England that 'nothing was
wanted at Scutari'. Such were her opponents; but she too was not without
allies. She had gained the ear of Royalty--which was something; at any
moment that she pleased she could gain the ear of the public--which was
a great deal. She had a host of admirers and friends; and--to say
nothing of her personal qualities--her knowledge, her tenacity, her
tact--she possessed, too, one advantage which then, far more even than
now, carried an immense weight--she belonged to the highest circle of
society. She moved naturally among Peers and Cabinet Ministers--she was
one of their own set; and in those days their set was a very narrow one.
What kind of attention would such persons have paid to some middle-class
woman with whom they were not acquainted, who possessed great experience
of Army nursing and had decided views upon hospital reform? They would
have politely ignored her; but it was impossible to ignore Flo
Nightingale. When she spoke, they were obliged to listen; and, when they
had once begun to do that--what might not follow? She knew her power,
and she used it. She supported her weightiest minutes with familiar
witty little notes. The Bison began to look grave. It might be
difficult--it might be damned difficult--to put down one's head against
the white hand of a lady ...

Of Miss Nightingale's friends, the most important was Sidney Herbert. He
was a man upon whom the good fairies seemed to have showered, as he lay
in his cradle, all their most enviable goods. Well born, handsome, rich,
the master of Wilton--one of those great country-houses, clothed with
the glamour of a historic past, which are the peculiar glory of
England--he possessed--besides all these advantages: so charming, so
lively, so gentle a disposition that no one who had once come near him
could ever be his enemy.

He was, in fact, a man of whom it was difficult not to say that he was a
perfect English gentleman. For his virtues were equal even to his good
fortune. He was religious, deeply religious. 'I am more and more
convinced every day,' he wrote, when he had been for some years a
Cabinet Minister, 'that in politics, as in everything else, nothing can
be right which is not in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel.' No
one was more unselfish; he was charitable and benevolent to a remarkable
degree; and he devoted the whole of his life, with an unwavering
conscientiousness, to the public service. With such a character, with
such opportunities, what high hopes must have danced before him, what
radiant visions of accomplished duties, of ever-increasing usefulness,
of beneficent power, of the consciousness of disinterested success! Some
of those hopes and visions were, indeed, realised; but, in the end, the
career of Sidney Herbert seemed to show that, with all their generosity,
there was some gift or other--what was it?--some essential gift--which
the good fairies had withheld, and that even the qualities of a perfect
English gentleman may be no safeguard against anguish, humiliation, and

That career would certainly have been very different if he had never
known Miss Nightingale. The alliance between them which had begun with
her appointment to Scutari, which had grown closer and closer while the
war lasted, developed, after her return, into one of the most
extraordinary friendships. It was the friendship of a man and a woman
intimately bound together by their devotion to a public cause; mutual
affection, of course, played a part in it, but it was an incidental
part; the whole soul of the relationship was a community of work.
Perhaps out of England such an intimacy could hardly have existed--an
intimacy so utterly untinctured not only by passion itself but by the
suspicion of it. For years Sidney Herbert saw Miss Nightingale almost
daily, for long hours together, corresponding with her incessantly when
they were apart; and the tongue of scandal was silent; and one of the
most devoted of her admirers was his wife. But what made the connection
still more remarkable was the way in which the parts that were played in
it were divided between the two. The man who acts, decides, and
achieves; the woman who encourages, applauds, and--from a
distance--inspires: the combination is common enough; but Miss
Nightingale was neither an Aspasia nor an Egeria. In her case it is
almost true to say that the roles were reversed; the qualities of
pliancy and sympathy fell to the man, those of command and initiative to
the woman.

There was one thing only which Miss Nightingale lacked in her equipment
for public life; she had not--she never could have--the public power and
authority which belonged to the successful politician. That power and
authority Sidney Herbert possessed; that fact was obvious, and the
conclusions no less so: it was through the man that the woman must work
her will. She took hold of him, taught him, shaped him, absorbed him,
dominated him through and through. He did not resist--he did not wish to
resist; his natural inclination lay along the same path as hers; only
that terrific personality swept him forward at her own fierce pace and
with her own relentless stride. Swept him--where to? Ah! Why had he ever
known Miss Nightingale? If Lord Panmure was a bison, Sidney Herbert, no
doubt, was a stag--a comely, gallant creature springing through the
forest; but the forest is a dangerous place. One has the image of those
wide eyes fascinated suddenly by something feline, something strong;
there is a pause; and then the tigress has her claws in the quivering
haunches; and then--!

Besides Sidney Herbert, she had other friends who, in a more restricted
sphere, were hardly less essential to her. If, in her condition of
bodily collapse, she were to accomplish what she was determined that she
should accomplish, the attentions and the services of others would be
absolutely indispensable. Helpers and servers she must have; and
accordingly there was soon formed about her a little group of devoted
disciples upon whose affections and energies she could implicitly rely.
Devoted, indeed, these disciples were, in no ordinary sense of the term;
for certainly she was no light taskmistress, and he who set out to be of
use to Miss Nightingale was apt to find, before he had gone very far,
that he was in truth being made use of in good earnest to the very limit
of his endurance and his capacity. Perhaps, even beyond those limits;
why not? Was she asking of others more than she was giving herself? Let
them look at her lying there pale and breathless on the couch; could it
be said that she spared herself? Why, then, should she spare others? And
it was not for her own sake that she made these claims. For her own
sake, indeed! No! They all knew it! it was for the sake of the work. And
so the little band, bound body and soul in that strange servitude,
laboured on ungrudgingly.

Among the most faithful was her 'Aunt Mai', her father's sister, who
from the earliest days had stood beside her, who had helped her to
escape from the thraldom of family life, who had been with her at
Scutari, and who now acted almost the part of a mother to her, watching
over her with infinite care in all the movements and uncertainties which
her state of health involved. Another constant attendant was her
brother-in-law, Sir Harry Verney, whom she found particularly valuable
in parliamentary affairs. Arthur Clough, the poet, also a connection by
marriage, she used in other ways. Ever since he had lost his faith at
the time of the Oxford Movement, Clough had passed his life in a
condition of considerable uneasiness, which was increased rather than
diminished by the practice of poetry. Unable to decide upon the purpose
of an existence whose savour had fled together with his belief in the
Resurrection, his spirits lowered still further by ill-health, and his
income not all that it should be, he had determined to seek the solution
of his difficulties in the United States of America. But, even there,
the solution was not forthcoming; and, when, a little later, he was
offered a post in a government department at home, he accepted it, came
to live in London, and immediately fell under the influence of Miss
Nightingale. Though the purpose of existence might be still uncertain
and its nature still unsavoury, here, at any rate, under the eye of this
inspired woman, was something real, something earnest: his only doubt
was--could he be of any use? Certainly he could. There were a great
number of miscellaneous little jobs which there was nobody handy to do.
For instance, when Miss Nightingale was travelling, there were the
railway-tickets to be taken; and there were proof-sheets to be
corrected; and then there were parcels to be done up in brown paper, and
carried to the post. Certainly he could be useful. And so, upon such
occupations as these, Arthur Clough was set to work. 'This that I see,
is not all,' he comforted himself by reflecting, 'and this that I do is
but little; nevertheless it is good, though there is better than it.' As
time went on, her 'Cabinet', as she called it, grew larger. Officials
with whom her work brought her into touch and who sympathised with her
objects, were pressed into her service; and old friends of the Crimean
days gathered around her when they returned to England. Among these the
most indefatigable was Dr. Sutherland, a sanitary expert, who for more
than thirty years acted as her confidential private secretary, and
surrendered to her purposes literally the whole of his life. Thus
sustained and assisted, thus slaved for and adored, she prepared to
beard the Bison.

Two facts soon emerged, and all that followed turned upon them. It
became clear, in the first place, that that imposing mass was not
immovable, and, in the second, that its movement, when it did move,
would be exceeding slow. The Bison was no match for the Lady. It was in
vain that he put down his head and planted his feet in the earth; he
could not withstand her; the white hand forced him back. But the process
was an extraordinarily gradual one. Dr. Andrew Smith and all his War
Office phalanx stood behind, blocking the way; the poor Bison groaned
inwardly, and cast a wistful eye towards the happy pastures of the Free
Church of Scotland; then slowly, with infinite reluctance, step by step,
he retreated, disputing every inch of the ground.

The first great measure, which, supported as it was by the Queen, the
Cabinet, and the united opinion of the country, it was impossible to
resist, was the appointment of a Royal Commission to report upon the
health of the Army. The question of the composition of the Commission
then immediately arose; and it was over this matter that the first
hand-to-hand encounter between Lord Panmure and Miss Nightingale took
place. They met, and Miss Nightingale was victorious; Sidney Herbert was
appointed Chairman; and, in the end, the only member of the Commission
opposed to her views was Dr. Andrew Smith. During the interview, Miss
Nightingale made an important discovery: she found that 'the Bison was
bullyable'--the hide was the hide of a Mexican buffalo, but the spirit
was the spirit of an Alderney calf. And there was one thing above all
others which the huge creature dreaded--an appeal to public opinion. The
faintest hint of such a terrible eventuality made his heart dissolve
within him; he would agree to anything he would cut short his
grouse-shooting--he would make a speech in the House of Lords, he would
even overrule Dr. Andrew Smith--rather than that. Miss Nightingale held
the fearful threat in reserve--she would speak out what she knew; she
would publish the truth to the whole world, and let the whole world
judge between them. With supreme skill, she kept this sword of Damocles
poised above the Bison's head, and more than once she was actually on
the point of really dropping it--for his recalcitrancy grew and grew.

The personnel of the Commission once determined upon, there was a
struggle, which lasted for six months, over the nature of its powers.
Was it to be an efficient body, armed with the right of full inquiry and
wide examination, or was it to be a polite official contrivance for
exonerating Dr. Andrew Smith? The War Office phalanx closed its ranks,
and fought tooth and nail; but it was defeated: the Bison was bullyable.
'Three months from this day,' Miss Nightingale had written at last, 'I
publish my experience of the Crimean Campaign, and my suggestions for
improvement, unless there has been a fair and tangible pledge by that
time for reform.'

Who could face that?

And, if the need came, she meant to be as good as her word. For she had
now determined, whatever might be the fate of the Commission, to draw up
her own report upon the questions at issue. The labour involved was
enormous; her health was almost desperate; but she did not flinch, and
after six months of incredible industry she had put together and written
with her own hand her Notes affecting the Health, Efficiency, and
Hospital Administration of the British Army. This extraordinary
composition, filling more than 800 closely printed pages, laying down
vast principles of far-reaching reform, discussing the minutest details
of a multitude of controversial subjects, containing an enormous mass of
information of the most varied kinds--military, statistical, sanitary,
architectural--was never given to the public, for the need never came;
but it formed the basis of the Report of the Royal Commission; and it
remains to this day the leading authority on the medical administration
of armies.

Before it had been completed, the struggle over the powers of the
Commission had been brought to a victorious close. Lord Panmure had
given way once more; he had immediately hurried to the Queen to obtain
her consent; and only then, when Her Majesty's initials had been
irrevocably affixed to the fatal document, did he dare to tell Dr.
Andrew Smith what he had done. The Commission met, and another immense
load fell upon Miss Nightingale's shoulders. Today she would, of course,
have been one of the Commission herself; but at that time the idea of a
woman appearing in such a capacity was unheard of; and no one even
suggested the possibility of Miss Nightingale's doing so. The result was
that she was obliged to remain behind the scenes throughout, to coach
Sidney Herbert in private at every important juncture, and to convey to
him and to her other friends upon the Commission the vast funds of her
expert knowledge--so essential in the examination of witnesses--by means
of innumerable consultations, letters, and memoranda. It was even
doubtful whether the proprieties would admit of her giving evidence; and
at last, as a compromise, her modesty only allowed her to do so in the
form of written answers to written questions. At length, the grand
affair was finished. The Commission's Report, embodying almost word for
word the suggestions of Miss Nightingale, was drawn up by Sidney
Herbert. Only one question remained to be answered--would anything,
after all, be done? Or would the Royal Commission, like so many other
Royal Commissions before and since, turn out to have achieved nothing
but the concoction of a very fat bluebook on a very high shelf?

And so the last and the deadliest struggle with the Bison began. Six
months had been spent in coercing him into granting the Commission
effective powers; six more months were occupied by the work of the
Commission; and now yet another six were to pass in extorting from him
the means whereby the recommendations of the Commission might be
actually carried out. But, in the end, the thing was done. Miss
Nightingale seemed, indeed, during these months, to be upon the very
brink of death. Accompanied by the faithful Aunt Mai, she moved from
place to place--to Hampstead, to Highgate, to Derbyshire, to Malvern--in
what appeared to be a last desperate effort to find health somewhere;
but she carried that with her which made health impossible. Her desire
for work could now scarcely be distinguished from mania. At one moment
she was writing a 'last letter' to Sidney Herbert; at the next she was
offering to go out to India to nurse the sufferers in the Mutiny. When
Dr. Sutherland wrote, imploring her to take a holiday, she raved.

'I am lying without my head, without my claws, and you all peck at me.
It is de rigueur, d'obligation, like the saying something to one's hat,
when one goes into church, to say to me all that has been said to me 110
times a day during the last three months. It is the obbligato on the
violin, and the twelve violins all practise it together, like the clocks
striking twelve o'clock at night all over London, till I say like Xavier
de Maistre, Assez, je sais, je ne le sais que trop. I am not a penitent;
but you are like the R.C. confessor, who says what is de rigueur....'

Her wits began to turn, and there was no holding her. She worked like a
slave in a mine. She began to believe, as she had begun to believe at
Scutari, that none of her fellow-workers had their hearts in the
business; if they had, why did they not work as she did? She could only
see slackness and stupidity around her. Dr. Sutherland, of course, was
grotesquely muddle-headed; and Arthur Clough incurably lazy. Even Sidney
Herbert ... oh yes, he had simplicity and candour and quickness of
perception, no doubt; but he was an eclectic; and what could one hope
for from a man who went away to fish in Ireland just when the Bison most
needed bullying? As for the Bison himself, he had fled to Scotland where
he remained buried for many months. The fate of the vital recommendation
in the Commission's Report--the appointment of four Sub-Commissions
charged with the duty of determining upon the details of the proposed
reforms and of putting them into execution--still hung in the balance.
The Bison consented to everything; and then, on a flying visit to
London, withdrew his consent and hastily returned to Scotland. Then for
many weeks all business was suspended; he had gout--gout in the
hands--so that he could not write. 'His gout was always handy,' remarked
Miss Nightingale. But eventually it was clear even to the Bison that the
game was up, and the inevitable surrender came.

There was, however, one point in which he triumphed over Miss
Nightingale: the building of Netley Hospital had been begun under his
orders, before her return to England. Soon after her arrival she
examined the plans, and found that they reproduced all the worst faults
of an out-of-date and mischievous system of hospital construction. She
therefore urged that the matter should be reconsidered, and in the
meantime the building stopped. But the Bison was obdurate; it would be
very expensive, and in any case it was too late. Unable to make any
impression on him, and convinced of the extreme importance of the
question, she determined to appeal to a higher authority. Lord
Palmerston was Prime Minister; she had known him from her childhood; he
was a near neighbour of her father's in the New Forest. She went down to
the New Forest, armed with the plan of the proposed hospital and all the
relevant information, stayed the night at Lord Palmerston's house, and
convinced him of the necessity of rebuilding Netley.

'It seems to me,' Lord Palmerston wrote to Lord Panmure, 'that at Netley
all consideration of what would best tend to the comfort and recovery of
the patients has been sacrificed to the vanity of the architect, whose
sole object has been to make a building which should cut a dash when
looked at from the Southampton river ... Pray, therefore, stop all
further progress in the work until the matter can be duly considered.'
But the Bison was not to be moved by one peremptory letter, even if it
was from the Prime Minister. He put forth all his powers of
procrastination, Lord Palmerston lost interest in the subject, and so
the chief military hospital in England was triumphantly completed on
insanitary principles, with unventilated rooms, and with all the
patients' windows facing northeast.

But now the time had come when the Bison was to trouble and to be
troubled no more. A vote in the House of Commons brought about the fall
of Lord Palmerston's Government, and, Lord Panmure found himself at
liberty to devote the rest of his life to the Free Church of Scotland.
After a brief interval, Sidney Herbert became Secretary of State for
War. Great was the jubilation in the Nightingale Cabinet: the day of
achievement had dawned at last. The next two and a half years (1859-61)
saw the introduction of the whole system of reforms for which Miss
Nightingale had been struggling so fiercely--reforms which make Sidney
Herbert's tenure of power at the War Office an important epoch in the
history of the British Army. The four Sub-Commissions, firmly
established under the immediate control of the Minister, and urged
forward by the relentless perseverance of Miss Nightingale, set to work
with a will. The barracks and the hospitals were remodelled; they were
properly ventilated and warmed and lighted for the first time; they were
given a water supply which actually supplied water, and kitchens where,
strange to say, it was possible to cook. Then the great question of the
Purveyor--that portentous functionary whose powers and whose lack of
powers had weighed like a nightmare upon Scutari--was taken in hand, and
new regulations were laid down, accurately defining his responsibilities
and his duties. One Sub-Commission reorganised the medical statistics of
the Army; another established in spite of the last convulsive efforts of
the Department an Army Medical School. Finally, the Army Medical
Department itself was completely reorganised; an administrative code was
drawn up; and the great and novel principle was established that it was
as much a part of the duty of the authorities to look after the
soldier's health as to look after his sickness. Besides this, it was at
last officially admitted that he had a moral and intellectual side.
Coffee-rooms and reading-rooms, gymnasiums and workshops were
instituted. A new era did in truth appear to have begun. Already by 1861
the mortality in the Army had decreased by one-half since the days of
the Crimea. It was no wonder that even vaster possibilities began now to
open out before Miss Nightingale. One thing was still needed to complete
and to assure her triumphs. The Army Medical Department was indeed
reorganised; but the great central machine was still untouched. The War
Office itself--! If she could remould that nearer to her heart's
desire--there indeed would be a victory! And until that final act was
accomplished, how could she be certain that all the rest of her
achievements might not, by some capricious turn of Fortune's wheel--a
change of Ministry, perhaps, replacing Sidney Herbert by some puppet of
the permanent official gang--be swept to limbo in a moment?

Meanwhile, still ravenous for yet more and more work, her activities had
branched out into new directions. The Army in India claimed her
attention. A Sanitary Commission, appointed at her suggestion, and
working under her auspices, did for our troops there what the four
Sub-Commissions were doing for those at home. At the same time, these
very years which saw her laying the foundations of the whole modern
system of medical work in the Army, saw her also beginning to bring her
knowledge, her influence, and her activity into the service of the
country at large. Her "Notes on Hospitals" (1859) revolutionised the
theory of hospital construction and hospital management. She was
immediately recognised as the leading expert upon all the questions
involved; her advice flowed unceasingly and in all directions, so that
there is no great hospital today which does not bear upon it the impress
of her mind. Nor was this all. With the opening of the Nightingale
Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital (1860), she became
the founder of modern nursing.

But a terrible crisis was now fast approaching. Sidney Herbert had
consented to undertake the root and branch reform of the War Office. He
had sallied forth into that tropical jungle of festooned
obstructiveness, of intertwisted irresponsibilities, of crouching
prejudices, of abuses grown stiff and rigid with antiquity, which for so
many years to come was destined to lure reforming Ministers to their

'The War Office,' said Miss Nightingale, 'is a very slow office, an
enormously expensive office, and one in which the Minister's intentions
can be entirely negated by all his sub-departments, and those of each of
the sub-departments by every other.'

It was true; and of course, at the, first rumour of a change, the old
phalanx of reaction was bristling with its accustomed spears. At its
head stood no longer Dr. Andrew Smith, who, some time since, had
followed the Bison into outer darkness, but a yet more formidable
figure, the Permanent Under-Secretary himself, Sir Benjamin Hawes--Ben
Hawes the Nightingale Cabinet irreverently dubbed him 'a man remarkable
even among civil servants for adroitness in baffling inconvenient
inquiries, resource in raising false issues, and, in, short, a
consummate command of all the arts of officially sticking in the mud'.

'Our scheme will probably result in Ben Hawes's resignation,' Miss
Nightingale said; 'and that is another of its advantages.' Ben Hawes
himself, however, did not quite see it in that light. He set himself to
resist the wishes of the Minister by every means in his power. The
struggle was long, and desperate; and, as it proceeded, it gradually
became evident to Miss Nightingale that something was the matter with
Sidney Herbert. What was it? His health, never very strong, was, he
said, in danger of collapsing under the strain of his work. But, after
all, what is illness, when there is a War Office to be reorganised? Then
he began to talk of retiring altogether from public life. The doctors
were consulted, and declared that, above all things, what was necessary
was rest. Rest! She grew seriously alarmed. Was it possible that, at the
last moment, the crowning wreath of victory was to be snatched from her
grasp? She was not to be put aside by doctors; they were talking
nonsense; the necessary thing was not rest, but the reform of the War
Office; and, besides, she knew very well from her own case what one
could do even when one was on the point of death.

She expostulated vehemently, passionately; the goal was so near, so very
near; he could not turn back now! At any rate, he could not resist Miss
Nightingale. A compromise was arranged. Very reluctantly, he exchanged
the turmoil of the House of Commons for the dignity of the House of
Lords, and he remained at the War Office. She was delighted. 'One fight
more, the best and the last,' she said.

For several more months the fight did indeed go on. But the strain upon
him was greater even than she perhaps could realise. Besides the
intestine war in his office, he had to face a constant battle in the
Cabinet with Mr. Gladstone--a more redoubtable antagonist even than Ben
Hawes--over the estimates. His health grew worse and worse. He was
attacked by fainting-fits; and there were some days when he could only
just keep himself going by gulps of brandy. Miss Nightingale spurred him
forward with her encouragements and her admonitions, her zeal and her
example. But at last his spirit began to sink as well as his body. He
could no longer hope; he could no longer desire; it was useless, all
useless; it was utterly impossible. He had failed. The dreadful moment
came when the truth was forced upon him: he would never be able to
reform the War Office. But a yet more dreadful moment lay behind; he
must go to Miss Nightingale and tell her that he was a failure, a beaten

'Blessed are the merciful!' What strange ironic prescience had led
Prince Albert, in the simplicity of his heart, to choose that motto for
the Crimean brooch? The words hold a double lesson; and, alas! when she
brought herself to realise at length what was indeed the fact and what
there was no helping, it was not in mercy that she turned upon her old

'Beaten!' she exclaimed. 'Can't you see that you've simply thrown away
the game? And with all the winning cards in your hands! And so noble a
game! Sidney Herbert beaten! And beaten by Ben Hawes! It is a worse
disgrace ...' her full rage burst out at last, '... a worse disgrace
than the hospitals at Scutari.'

He dragged himself away from her, dragged himself to Spa, hoping vainly
for a return to health, and then, despairing, back again to England, to
Wilton, to the majestic house standing there resplendent in the summer
sunshine, among the great cedars which had lent their shade to Sir
Philip Sidney, and all those familiar, darling haunts of beauty which he
loved, each one of them, 'as if they were persons'; and at, Wilton he
died. After having received the Eucharist, he had become perfectly calm;
then, almost unconscious, his lips were seen to be moving. Those about
him bent down. 'Poor Florence! Poor Florence!' they just caught.' ...
Our joint work ... unfinished ... tried to do ...' and they could hear
no more.

When the onward rush of a powerful spirit sweeps a weaker one to its
destruction, the commonplaces of the moral judgment are better left
unmade. If Miss Nightingale had been less ruthless, Sidney Herbert would
not have perished; but then, she would not have been Miss Nightingale.
The force that created was the force that destroyed. It was her Demon
that was responsible. When the fatal news reached her, she was overcome
by agony. In the revulsion of her feelings, she made a worship of the
dead man's memory; and the facile instrument which had broken in her
hand she spoke of forever after as her 'Master'. Then, almost at the
same moment, another blow fell on her. Arthur Clough, worn out by
labours very different from those of Sidney Herbert, died too: never
more would he tie up her parcels. And yet a third disaster followed. The
faithful Aunt Mai did not, to be sure, die; no, she did something almost
worse: she left Miss Nightingale. She was growing old, and she felt that
she had closer and more imperative duties with her own family. Her niece
could hardly forgive her. She poured out, in one of her enormous
letters, a passionate diatribe upon the faithlessness, the lack of
sympathy, the stupidity, the ineptitude of women. Her doctrines had
taken no hold among them; she had never known one who had appris a
apprendre; she could not even get a woman secretary; 'they don't know
the names of the Cabinet Ministers--they don't know which of the
Churches has Bishops and which not'. As for the spirit of
self-sacrifice, well--Sidney Herbert and Arthur Clough were men, and
they indeed had shown their devotion; but women--! She would mount three
widow's caps 'for a sign'. The first two would be for Clough and for her
Master; but the third--'the biggest widow's cap of all'--would be for
Aunt Mai. She did well to be angry; she was deserted in her hour of
need; and after all, could she be sure that even the male sex was so
impeccable? There was Dr. Sutherland, bungling as usual. Perhaps even he
intended to go off one of these days, too? She gave him a look, and he
shivered in his shoes. No!--she grinned sardonically; she would always
have Dr. Sutherland. And then she reflected that there was one thing
more that she would always have--her work.


SIDNEY HERBERT'S death finally put an end to Miss Nightingale's dream of
a reformed War Office. For a moment, indeed, in the first agony of her
disappointment, she had wildly clutched at a straw; she had written to
M. Gladstone to beg him to take up the burden of Sidney Herbert's work.
And Mr. Gladstone had replied with a sympathetic account of the funeral.

Succeeding Secretaries of State managed between them to undo a good deal
of what had been accomplished, but they could not undo it all; and for
ten years more (1862-72) Miss Nightingale remained a potent influence at
the War Office. After that, her direct connection with the Army came to
an end, and her energies began to turn more and more completely towards
more general objects. Her work upon hospital reform assumed enormous
proportions; she was able to improve the conditions in infirmaries and
workhouses; and one of her most remarkable papers forestalls the
recommendations of the Poor Law Commission of 1909. Her training, school
for nurses, with all that it involved in initiative, control,
responsibillity, and combat, would have been enough in itself to have
absorbed the whole efforts of at least two lives of ordinary vigour. And
at the same time her work in connection with India, which had begun with
the Sanitary Commission on the Indian Army, spread and ramified in a
multitude of directions. Her tentacles reached the India Office and
succeeded in establishing a hold even upon those slippery high places.
For many years it was de rigueur for the newly appointed Viceroy, before
he left England, to pay a visit to Miss Nightingale.

After much hesitation, she had settled down in a small house in South
Street, where she remained for the rest of her life. That life was a
very long one; the dying woman reached her ninety-first year. Her ill
health gradually diminished; the crises of extreme danger became less
frequent, and at last altogether ceased; she remained an invalid, but an
invalid of a curious character--an invalid who was too weak to walk
downstairs and who worked far harder than most Cabinet Ministers. Her
illness, whatever it may have been, was certainly not inconvenient. It
involved seclusion; and an extraordinary, an unparalleled seclusion was,
it might almost have been said, the mainspring of Miss Nightingale's
life. Lying on her sofa in the little upper room in South Street, she
combined the intense vitality of a dominating woman of the world with
the mysterious and romantic quality of a myth. She was a legend in her
lifetime, and she knew it. She tasted the joys of power, like those
Eastern Emperors whose autocratic rule was based upon invisibility, with
the mingled satisfactions of obscurity and fame.

And she found the machinery of illness hardly less effective as a
barrier against the eyes of men than the ceremonial of a palace. Great
statesmen and renowned generals were obliged to beg for audiences;
admiring princesses from foreign countries found that they must see her
at her own time, or not at all; and the ordinary mortal had no hope of
ever getting beyond the downstairs sitting-room and Dr. Sutherland. For
that indefatigable disciple did, indeed, never desert her. He might be
impatient, he might be restless, but he remained. His 'incurable
looseness of thought', for so she termed it, continued at her service to
the end. Once, it is true, he had actually ventured to take a holiday;
but he was recalled, and he did not repeat the experiment. He was wanted
downstairs. There he sat, transacting business answering correspondence,
interviewing callers, and exchanging innumerable notes with the unseen
power above. Sometimes word came down that Miss Nightingale was just
well enough to see one of her visitors. The fortunate man was led up,
was ushered, trembling, into the shaded chamber, and, of course, could
never afterwards forget the interview. Very rarely, indeed, once or
twice a year, perhaps, but nobody could be quite certain, in deadly
secrecy, Miss Nightingale went out for a drive in the Park.
Unrecognised, the living legend flitted for a moment before the common
gaze. And the precaution was necessary; for there were times when, at
some public function, the rumour of her presence was spread abroad; and
ladies, mistaken by the crowd for Miss Nightingale, were followed,
pressed upon, vehemently supplicated 'Let me touch your shawl'; 'Let me
stroke your arm'; such was the strange adoration in the hearts of the
people. That vast reserve of force lay there behind her; she could use
it, if she could. But she preferred never to use it. On occasions, she
might hint or threaten, she might balance the sword of Damocles over the
head of the Bison; she might, by a word, by a glance, remind some
refractory Minister, some unpersuadable Viceroy, sitting in audience
with her in the little upper room, that she was something more than a
mere sick woman, that she had only, so to speak, to go to the window and
wave her handkerchief, for ... dreadful things to follow. But that was
enough; they understood; the myth was there--obvious, portentous,
impalpable; and so it remained to the last.

With statesmen and governors at her beck and call, with her hands on a
hundred strings, with mighty provinces at her feet, with foreign
governments agog for her counsel, building hospitals, training
nurses--she still felt that she had not enough to do. She sighed for
more worlds to conquer--more, and yet more.

She looked about her--what was left? Of course! Philosophy! After the
world of action, the world of thought. Having set right the health of
the British Army, she would now do the same good service for the
religious convictions of mankind. She had long noticed--with regret--the
growing tendency towards free-thinking among artisans. With regret, but
not altogether with surprise, the current teaching of Christianity was
sadly to seek; nay, Christianity itself was not without its defects. She
would rectify these errors. She would correct the mistakes of the
Churches; she would point out just where Christianity was wrong; and she
would explain to the artisans what the facts of the case really were.
Before her departure for the Crimea, she had begun this work; and now,
in the intervals of her other labours, she completed it. Her
'Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers After Truth Among the Artisans
of England' (1860), unravels, in the course of three portly volumes, the
difficulties hitherto, curiously enough, unsolved--connected with such
matters as Belief in God, the Plan of Creation, the Origin of Evil, the
Future Life, Necessity and Free Will, Law, and the Nature of Morality.

The Origin of Evil, in particular, held no perplexities for Miss
Nightingale. 'We cannot conceive,' she remarks, 'that Omnipotent
Righteousness would find satisfaction in solitary existence.' This
being, so, the only question remaining to be asked is: 'What beings
should we then conceive that God would create?' Now, He cannot create
perfect beings, 'since, essentially, perfection is one'; if He did so,
He would only be adding to Himself. Thus the conclusion is obvious: He
must create imperfect ones. Omnipotent Righteousness, faced by the
intolerable impasse of a solitary existence, finds itself bound by the
very nature of the cause, to create the hospitals at Scutari. Whether
this argument would have satisfied the artisans was never discovered,
for only a very few copies of the book were printed for private
circulation. One copy was sent to Mr. Mill, who acknowledged it in an
extremely polite letter. He felt himself obliged, however, to confess
that he had not been altogether convinced by Miss Nightingale's proof of
the existence of God. Miss Nightingale was surprised and mortified; she
had thought better of Mr. Mill; for surely her proof of the existence of
God could hardly be improved upon. 'A law,' she had pointed out,
'implies a law-giver.' Now the Universe is full of laws--the law of
gravitation, the law of the excluded middle, and many others; hence it
follows that the Universe has a law-giver--and what would Mr. Mill be
satisfied with, if he was not satisfied with that?

Perhaps Mr. Mill might have asked why the argument had not been pushed
to its logical conclusion. Clearly, if we are to trust the analogy of
human institutions, we must remember that laws are, as a matter of fact,
not dispensed by lawgivers, but passed by Act of Parliament. Miss
Nightingale, however, with all her experience of public life, never
stopped to consider the question whether God might not be a Limited
Monarchy. Yet her conception of God was certainly not orthodox. She felt
towards Him as she might have felt towards a glorified sanitary
engineer; and in some of her speculations she seems hardly to
distinguish between the Deity and the Drains. As one turns over these
singular pages, one has the impression that Miss Nightingale has got the
Almighty too into her clutches, and that, if He is not careful, she will
kill Him with overwork.

Then, suddenly, in the very midst of the ramifying generalities of her
metaphysical disquisitions, there is an unexpected turn and the reader
is plunged all at once into something particular, something personal,
something impregnated with intense experience--a virulent invective upon
the position of women in the upper ranks of society. Forgetful alike of
her high argument and of the artisans, the bitter creature rails through
a hundred pages of close print at the falsities of family life, the
ineptitudes of marriage, the emptinesses of convention, in the spirit of
an Ibsen or a Samuel Butler. Her fierce pen, shaking with intimate
anger, depicts in biting sentences the fearful fate of an unmarried girl
in a wealthy household. It is a cri du coeur; and then, as suddenly, she
returns once more to instruct the artisans upon the nature of Omnipotent

Her mind was, indeed, better qualified to dissect the concrete and
distasteful fruits of actual life than to construct a coherent system of
abstract philosophy. In spite of her respect for Law, she was never at
home with a generalisation. Thus, though the great achievement of her
life lay in the immense impetus which she gave to the scientific
treatment of sickness, a true comprehension of the scientific method
itself was alien to her spirit. Like most great men of action--perhaps
like all--she was simply an empiricist. She believed in what she saw,
and she acted accordingly; beyond that she would not go. She had found
in Scutari that fresh air and light played an effective part in the
prevention of the maladies with which she had to deal; and that was
enough for her; she would not inquire further; what were the general
principles underlying that fact--or even whether there were any--she
refused to consider. Years after the discoveries of Pasteur and Lister,
she laughed at what she called the 'germ-fetish'. There was no such
thing as 'infection'; she had never seen it, therefore it did not exist.
But she had seen the good effects of fresh air; therefore, there could
be no doubt about them; and therefore, it was essential that the
bedrooms of patients should be well ventilated. Such was her doctrine;
and in those days of hermetically scaled windows it was a very valuable
one. But it was a purely empirical doctrine, and thus it led to some
unfortunate results. When, for instance, her influence in India was at
its height, she issued orders that all hospital windows should be
invariably kept open. The authorities, who knew what an open window in
the hot weather meant, protested, but in vain; Miss Nightingale was
incredulous. She knew nothing of the hot weather, but she did know the
value of fresh air--from personal experience; the authorities were
talking nonsense; and the windows must be kept open all the year round.
There was a great outcry from all the doctors in India, but she was
firm; and for a moment it seemed possible that her terrible commands
would have to be put into execution. Lord Lawrence, however, was
Viceroy, and he was able to intimate to Miss Nightingale, with
sufficient authority, that himself had decided upon the question, and
that his decision must stand, even against her own. Upon that she gave
way, but reluctantly and quite unconvinced; she was only puzzled by the
unexpected weakness of Lord Lawrence. No doubt, if she had lived today,
and if her experience had lain, not among cholera cases at Scutari, but
among yellow-fever cases in Panama, she would have declared fresh air a
fetish, and would have maintained to her dying day that the only really
effective way of dealing with disease was by the destruction of

Yet her mind, so positive, so realistic, so ultra-practical, had its
singular revulsions, its mysterious moods of mysticism and of doubt. At
times, lying sleepless in the early hours, she fell into long, strange,
agonised meditations, and then, seizing a pencil, she would commit to
paper the confessions of her soul. The morbid longings of her
pre-Crimean days came over her once more; she filled page after page
with self-examination, self-criticism, self-surrender. 'Oh Father,' she
wrote, 'I submit, I resign myself, I accept with all my heart, this
stretching out of Thy hand to save me.... Oh how vain it is, the vanity
of vanities, to live in men's thoughts instead of God's!'

She was lonely, she was miserable. 'Thou knowest that through all these
horrible twenty years, I have been supported by the belief that I was
working with Thee who would bring everyone, even our poor nurses, to
perfection'--and yet, after all, what was the result? Had not even she
been an unprofitable servant? One night, waking suddenly, she saw, in
the dim light of the night-lamp, tenebrous shapes upon the wall. The
past rushed back upon her. 'Am I she who once stood on that Crimean
height?' she wildly asked--'The Lady with a lamp shall stand.... The lamp
shows me only my utter shipwreck.'

She sought consolation in the writings of the Mystics and in a
correspondence with Mr. Jowett. For many years the Master of Balliol
acted as her spiritual adviser. He discussed with her in a series of
enormous letters the problems of religion and philosophy; he criticised
her writings on those subjects with the tactful sympathy of a cleric who
was also a man of the world; and he even ventured to attempt at times to
instil into her rebellious nature some of his own peculiar suavity. 'I
sometimes think,' he told her, 'that you ought seriously to consider how
your work may be carried on, not with less energy, but in a calmer
spirit. I am not blaming the past ... But I want the peace of God to
settle on the future.' He recommended her to spend her time no longer in
'conflicts with Government offices', and to take up some literary work.
He urged her to 'work out her notion of Divine Perfection', in a series
of essays for Frazer's Magazine. She did so; and the result was
submitted to Mr. Froude, who pronounced the second essay to be 'even
more pregnant than the first. I cannot tell,' he said, 'how sanitary,
with disordered intellects, the effects of such papers will be.'

Mr. Carlyle, indeed, used different language, and some remarks of his
about a lost lamb bleating on the mountains, having been unfortunately
repeated to Miss Nightingale, required all Mr. Jowett's suavity to keep
the peace. In a letter of fourteen sheets, he turned her attention from
this painful topic towards a discussion of Quietism. 'I don't see why,'
said the Master of Balliol, 'active life might not become a sort of
passive life too.' And then, he added, 'I sometimes fancy there are
possibilities of human character much greater than have been realised.'
She found such sentiments helpful, underlining them in blue pencil; and,
in return, she assisted her friend with a long series of elaborate
comments upon the Dialogues of Plato, most of which he embodied in the
second edition of his translation. Gradually her interest became more
personal; she told him never to work again after midnight, and he obeyed
her. Then she helped him to draw up a special form of daily service for
the College Chapel, with selections from the Psalms under the heads of
'God the Lord, God the judge, God the Father, and God the
Friend'--though, indeed, this project was never realised; for the Bishop
of Oxford disallowed the alterations, exercising his legal powers, on
the advice of Sir Travers Twiss.

Their relations became intimate. 'The spirit of the Twenty-third Psalm
and the spirit of the Nineteenth Psalm should be united in our lives,'
Mr. Jowett said. Eventually, she asked him to do her a singular favour.
Would he, knowing what he did of her religious views, come to London and
administer to her the Holy Sacrament? He did not hesitate, and
afterwards declared that he would always regard the occasion as a solemn
event in his life. He was devoted to her--though the precise nature of
his feelings towards her never quite transpired. Her feelings towards
him were more mixed. At first, he was 'that great and good man'--'that
true saint, Mr. Jowett'; but, as time went on, some gall was mingled
with the balm; the acrimony of her nature asserted itself. She felt that
she gave more sympathy than she received; she was exhausted, and she was
annoyed by his conversation. Her tongue, one day, could not refrain from
shooting out at him: 'He comes to me, and he talks to me,' she said, 'as
if I were someone else.'


AT one time she had almost decided to end her life in retirement as a
patient at St. Thomas's Hospital. But partly owing to the persuasions of
Mr. Jowett, she changed her mind; for forty-five years she remained in
South Street; and in South Street she died. As old age approached,
though her influence with the official world gradually diminished, her
activities seemed to remain as intense and widespread as before. When
hospitals were to be built, when schemes of sanitary reform were in
agitation, when wars broke out, she was still the adviser of all Europe.
Still, with a characteristic self-assurance, she watched from her
Mayfair bedroom over the welfare of India. Still, with an indefatigable
enthusiasm, she pushed forward the work, which, perhaps, was nearer to
her heart, more completely her own, than all the rest--the training of
nurses. In her moments of deepest depression, when her greatest
achievements seemed to lose their lustre, she thought of her nurses, and
was comforted. The ways of God, she found, were strange indeed. 'How
inefficient I was in the Crimea,' she noted. 'Yet He has raised up from
it trained nursing.'

At other times, she was better satisfied. Looking back, she was amazed
by the enormous change which, since her early days, had come over the
whole treatment of illness, the whole conception of public and domestic
health--a change in which, she knew, she had played her part. One of her
Indian admirers, the Aga Khan, came to visit her. She expatiated on the
marvellous advances she had lived to see in the management of
hospitals--in drainage, in ventilation, in sanitary work of every kind.
There was a pause; and then, 'Do you think you are improving?' asked the
Aga Khan. She was a little taken aback, and said, 'What do you mean by
"improving"?' He replied, 'Believing more in God.' She saw that he had a
view of God which was different from hers. 'A most interesting man,' she
noted after the interview; 'but you could never teach him sanitation.'

When old age actually came, something curious happened. Destiny, having
waited very patiently, played a queer trick on Miss Nightingale. The
benevolence and public spirit of that long life had only been equalled
by its acerbity. Her virtue had dwelt in hardness, and she had poured
forth her unstinted usefulness with a bitter smile upon her lips. And
now the sarcastic years brought the proud woman her punishment. She was
not to die as she had lived. The sting was to be taken out of her; she
was to be made soft; she was to be reduced to compliance and
complacency. The change came gradually, but at last it was unmistakable.
The terrible commander who had driven Sidney Herbert to his death, to
whom Mr. Jowett had applied the words of Homer, amoton memaniia--raging
insatiably--now accepted small compliments with gratitude, and indulged
in sentimental friendships with young girls. The author of "Notes on
Nursing"--that classical compendium of the besetting sins of the
sisterhood, drawn up with the detailed acrimony, the vindictive relish,
of a Swift--now spent long hours in composing sympathetic Addresses to
Probationers, whom she petted and wept over in turn. And, at the same
time, there appeared a corresponding alteration in her physical mood.
The thin, angular woman, with her haughty eye and her acrid mouth, had
vanished; and in her place was the rounded, bulky form of a fat old
lady, smiling all day long. Then something else became visible. The
brain which had been steeled at Scutari was indeed, literally, growing
soft. Senility--an ever more and more amiable senility--descended.
Towards the end, consciousness itself grew lost in a roseate haze, and
melted into nothingness.

It was just then, three years before her death, when she was
eighty-seven years old (1907), that those in authority bethought them
that the opportune moment had come for bestowing a public honour on
Florence Nightingale. She was offered the Order of Merit. That Order,
whose roll contains, among other distinguished names, those of Sir
Lawrence Alma Tadema and Sir Edward Elgar, is remarkable chiefly for the
fact that, as its title indicates, it is bestowed because its recipient
deserves it, and for no other reason. Miss Nightingale's representatives
accepted the honour, and her name, after a lapse of many years, once
more appeared in the Press. Congratulations from all sides came pouring
in. There was a universal burst of enthusiasm--a final revivification of
the ancient myth. Among her other admirers, the German Emperor took this
opportunity of expressing his feelings towards her. 'His Majesty,' wrote
the German Ambassador, 'having just brought to a close a most enjoyable
stay in the beautiful neighbourhood of your old home near Romsey, has
commanded me to present you with some flowers as a token of his esteem.'
Then, by Royal command, the Order of Merit was brought to South Street,
and there was a little ceremony of presentation. Sir Douglas Dawson,
after a short speech, stepped forward, and handed the insignia of the
Order to Miss Nightingale. Propped up by pillows, she dimly recognised
that some compliment was being paid her. 'Too kind--too kind,' she
murmured; and she was not ironical.


    Sir E. Cook. Life of Florence Nightingale.
    A. W. Kinglake. The Invasion of the Crimea.
    Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne. Scutari and its Hospitals.
    S. M. Mitra. Life of Sir John Hall.
    Lord Stanmore. Sidney Herbert.
    Sir G. Douglas. The Panmure Papers.
    Sir H. Maxwell. Life and Letters of the Fourth Earl of Clarendon.

    E. Abbott and L. Campbell. Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett.
    A.H. Clough. Poems and Memoir.

Dr. Arnold

IN 1827 the headmastership of Rugby School fell vacant, and it became
necessary for the twelve trustees, noblemen and gentlemen of
Warwickshire, to appoint a successor to the post. Reform was in the
air--political, social, religious; there was even a feeling abroad that
our great public schools were not quite all that they should be, and
that some change or other--no one precisely knew what--but some change
in the system of their management, was highly desirable. Thus it was
natural that when the twelve noblemen and gentlemen, who had determined
to be guided entirely by the merits of the candidates, found among the
testimonials pouring in upon them a letter from Dr. Hawkins, the Provost
of Oriel, predicting that if they elected Mr. Thomas Arnold he would
'change the face of education all through the public schools of
England', they hesitated no longer; obviously, Mr. Thomas Arnold was
their man. He was elected therefore; received, as was fitting, priest's
orders; became, as was no less fitting, a Doctor of Divinity; and in
August, 1828, took up the duties of his office.

All that was known of the previous life of Dr. Arnold seemed to justify
the prediction of the Provost of Oriel, and the choice of the Trustees.
The son of a respectable Collector of Customs, he had been educated at
Winchester and at Oxford, where his industry and piety had given him a
conspicuous place among his fellow students. It is true that, as a
schoolboy, a certain pompousness in the style of his letters home
suggested to the more clear-sighted among his relatives the possibility
that young Thomas might grow up into a prig; but, after all, what else
could be expected from a child who, at the age of three, had been
presented by his father, as a reward for proficiency in his studies,
with the twenty-four volumes of Smollett's History of England?

His career at Oxford had been a distinguished one, winding up with an
Oriel fellowship. It was at about this time that the smooth and
satisfactory progress of his life was for a moment interrupted: he began
to be troubled by religious doubts. These doubts, as we learn from one
of his contemporaries, who afterwards became Mr. Justice Coleridge,

'were not low nor rationalistic in their tendency, according to the bad
sense of that term; there was no indisposition in him to believe merely
because the article transcended his reason, he doubted the proof and the
interpretation of the textual authority'.

In his perturbation, Arnold consulted Keble, who was at that time one of
his closest friends, and a Fellow of the same College.

'The subject of these distressing thoughts,' Keble wrote to Coleridge,
'is that most awful one, on which all very inquisitive reasoning minds
are, I believe, most liable to such temptations--I mean, the doctrine of
the blessed Trinity. Do not start, my dear Coleridge; I do not believe
that Arnold has any serious scruples of the UNDERSTANDING about it, but
it is a defect of his mind that he cannot get rid of a certain feeling
of objections.' What was to be done? Keble's advice was peremptory.
Arnold was 'bid to pause in his inquiries, to pray earnestly for help
and light from above, and turn himself more strongly than ever to the
practical duties of a holy life'. He did so, and the result was all that
could be wished. He soon found himself blessed with perfect peace of
mind, and a settled conviction.

One other difficulty, and one only, we hear of at this point in his
life. His dislike of early rising amounted, we are told, 'almost to a
constitutional infirmity'. This weakness too he overcame, yet not quite
so successfully as his doubts upon the doctrine of the Trinity. For in
afterlife, the Doctor would often declare 'that early rising continued
to be a daily effort to him and that in this instance he never found the
truth of the usual rule that all things are made easy by custom.

He married young and settled down in the country as a private tutor for
youths preparing for the Universities. There he remained for ten
years--happy, busy, and sufficiently prosperous. Occupied chiefly with
his pupils, he nevertheless devoted much of his energy to wider
interests. He delivered a series of sermons in the parish church; and he
began to write a History of Rome, in the hope, as he said, that its tone
might be such 'that the strictest of what is called the Evangelical
party would not object to putting it into the hands of their children'.
His views on the religious and political condition of the country began
to crystallise. He was alarmed by the 'want of Christian principle in
the literature of the day', looking forward anxiously to 'the approach
of a greater struggle between good and evil than the world has yet
seen'; and, after a serious conversation with Dr. Whately, began to
conceive the necessity of considerable alterations in the Church

All who knew him during these years were profoundly impressed by the
earnestness of his religious convictions and feelings, which, as one
observer said, 'were ever bursting forth'. It was impossible to
disregard his 'deep consciousness of the invisible world' and 'the
peculiar feeling of love and adoration which he entertained towards our
Lord Jesus Christ'. 'His manner of awful reverence when speaking of God
or of the Scriptures' was particularly striking. 'No one could know him
even a little,' said another friend, 'and not be struck by his absolute
wrestling with evil, so that like St. Paul, he seemed to be battling
with the wicked one, and yet with a feeling of God's help on his side.'

Such was the man who, at the age of thirty-three, became headmaster of
Rugby. His outward appearance was the index of his inward character;
everything about him denoted energy, earnestness, and the best
intentions. His legs, perhaps, were shorter than they should have been;
but the sturdy athletic frame, especially when it was swathed (as it
usually was) in the flowing robes of a Doctor of Divinity, was full of
an imposing vigour; and his head, set decisively upon the collar, stock,
and bands of ecclesiastical tradition, clearly belonged to a person of
eminence. The thick, dark clusters of his hair, his bushy eyebrows and
curling whiskers, his straight nose and bulky chin, his firm and
upward-curving lower lip--all these revealed a temperament of ardour and
determination. His eyes were bright and large; they were also obviously
honest. And yet--why was it? Was it in the lines of the mouth or the
frown on the forehead?--it was hard to say, but it was
unmistakable--there was a slightly puzzled look upon the face of Dr.

And certainly, if he was to fulfil the prophecy of the Provost of Oriel,
the task before him was sufficiently perplexing. The public schools of
those days were still virgin forests, untouched by the hand of reform.
Keate was still reigning at Eton; and we possess, in the records of his
pupils, a picture of the public school education of the early nineteenth
century, in its most characteristic state. It was a system of anarchy
tempered by despotism. Hundreds of boys, herded together in
miscellaneous boarding-houses, or in that grim 'Long Chamber' at whose
name in after years aged statesmen and warriors would turn pale, lived,
badgered and overawed by the furious incursions of an irascible little
old man carrying a bundle of birch-twigs, a life in which licensed
barbarism was mingled with the daily and hourly study of the niceties of
Ovidian verse. It was a life of freedom and terror, of prosody and
rebellion, of interminable floggings and appalling practical jokes.
Keate ruled, unaided--for the undermasters were few and of no
account--by sheer force of character. But there were times when even
that indomitable will was overwhelmed by the flood of lawlessness. Every
Sunday afternoon he attempted to read sermons to the whole school
assembled; and every Sunday afternoon the whole school assembled shouted
him down. The scenes in Chapel were far from edifying; while some
antique Fellow doddered in the pulpit, rats would be let loose to scurry
among the legs of the exploding boys. But next morning the hand of
discipline would reassert itself; and the savage ritual of the
whipping-block would remind a batch of whimpering children that, though
sins against man and God might be forgiven them, a false quantity could
only be expiated in tears and blood.

From two sides this system of education was beginning to be assailed by
the awakening public opinion of the upper middle classes. On the one
hand, there was a desire for a more liberal curriculum; on the other,
there was a demand for a higher moral tone. The growing utilitarianism
of the age viewed with impatience a course of instruction which excluded
every branch of knowledge except classical philology; while its growing
respectability was shocked by such a spectacle of disorder and brutality
as was afforded by the Eton of Keate. 'The public schools,' said the
Rev. Mr. Bowdler, 'are the very seats and nurseries of vice.'

Dr. Arnold agreed. He was convinced of the necessity for reform. But it
was only natural that to one of his temperament and education it should
have been the moral rather than the intellectual side of the question
which impressed itself upon his mind. Doubtless it was important to
teach boys something more than the bleak rigidities of the ancient
tongues; but how much more important to instil into them the elements of
character and the principles of conduct! His great object, throughout
his career at Rugby, was, as he repeatedly said, to 'make the school a
place of really Christian education'. To introduce 'a religious
principle into education', was his 'most earnest wish', he wrote to a
friend when he first became headmaster; 'but to do this would be to
succeed beyond all my hopes; it would be a happiness so great, that, I
think, the world would yield me nothing comparable to it'. And he was
constantly impressing these sentiments upon his pupils. 'What I have
often said before,' he told them, 'I repeat now: what we must look for
here is, first, religious and moral principle; secondly, gentlemanly
conduct; and thirdly, intellectual ability.'

There can be no doubt that Dr. Arnold's point of view was shared by the
great mass of English parents. They cared very little for classical
scholarship; no doubt they would be pleased to find that their sons were
being instructed in history or in French; but their real hopes, their
real wishes, were of a very different kind. 'Shall I tell him to mind
his work, and say he's sent to school to make himself a good scholar?'
meditated old Squire Brown when he was sending off Tom for the first
time to Rugby.

'Well, but he isn't sent to school for that--at any rate, not for that
mainly. I don't care a straw for Greek particles, or the digamma; no
more does his mother. What is he sent to school for?... If he'll only
turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a Christian,
that's all I want.'

That was all; and it was that that Dr. Arnold set himself to accomplish.
But how was he to achieve his end? Was he to improve the character of
his pupils by gradually spreading around them an atmosphere of
cultivation and intelligence? By bringing them into close and friendly
contact with civilised men, and even, perhaps, with civilised women? By
introducing into the life of his school all that he could of the humane,
enlightened, and progressive elements in the life of the community? On
the whole, he thought not. Such considerations left him cold, and he
preferred to be guided by the general laws of Providence. It only
remained to discover what those general laws were. He consulted the Old
Testament, and could doubt no longer. He would apply to his scholars, as
he himself explained to them in one of his sermons, 'the principle which
seemed to him to have been adopted in the training of the childhood of
the human race itself'. He would treat the boys at Rugby as Jehovah had
treated the Chosen People: he would found a theocracy; and there should
be judges in Israel.

For this purpose, the system, prevalent in most of the public schools of
the day, by which the elder boys were deputed to keep order in the
class-rooms, lay ready to Dr. Arnold's hand. He found the Praepostor a
mere disciplinary convenience, and he converted him into an organ of
government. Every boy in the Sixth Form became ipso facto a Praepostor,
with powers extending over every department of school life; and the
Sixth Form as a body was erected into an authority responsible to the
headmaster, and to the headmaster alone, for the internal management of
the school.

This was the means by which Dr. Arnold hoped to turn Rugby into 'a place
of really Christian education'. The boys were to work out their own
salvation, like the human race. He himself, involved in awful grandeur,
ruled remotely, through his chosen instruments, from an inaccessible
heaven. Remotely--and yet with an omnipresent force. As the Israelite of
old knew that his almighty Lawgiver might at any moment thunder to him
from the whirlwind, or appear before his very eyes, the visible
embodiment of power or wrath, so the Rugby schoolboy walked in a holy
dread of some sudden manifestation of the sweeping gown, the majestic
tone, the piercing glance, of Dr. Arnold. Among the lower forms of the
school his appearances were rare and transitory, and upon these young
children 'the chief impression', we are told, 'was of extreme fear'. The
older boys saw more of him, but they did not see much. Outside the Sixth
Form, no part of the school came into close intercourse with him; and it
would often happen that a boy would leave Rugby without having had any
personal communication with him at all.

Yet the effect which he produced upon the great mass of his pupils was
remarkable. The prestige of his presence and the elevation of his
sentiments were things which it was impossible to forget. In class,
every line of his countenance, every shade of his manner imprinted
themselves indelibly on the minds of the boys who sat under him. One of
these, writing long afterwards, has described, in phrases still
impregnated with awestruck reverence, the familiar details of the scene:
'the glance with which he looked round in the few moments of silence
before the lesson began, and which seemed to speak his sense of his own
position'--'the attitude in which he stood, turning over the pages of
Facciolati's Lexicon, or Pole's synopsis, with his eye fixed upon the
boy who was pausing to give an answer'--'the pleased look and the
cheerful "thank you", which followed upon a successful translation'--'the
fall of his countenance with its deepening severity, the stern elevation
of the eyebrows, the sudden "sit down" which followed upon the
reverse'--and 'the startling earnestness with which he would check in a
moment the slightest approach to levity'.

To be rebuked, however mildly, by Dr. Arnold was a Potable experience.
One boy could never forget how he drew a distinction between 'mere
amusement' and 'such as encroached on the next day's duties', nor the
tone of voice with which the Doctor added 'and then it immediately
becomes what St. Paul calls REVELLING'. Another remembered to his dying
day his reproof of some boys who had behaved badly during prayers.
'Nowhere,' said Dr. Arnold, 'nowhere is Satan's work more evidently
manifest than in turning holy things to ridicule.' On such occasions, as
another of his pupils described it, it was impossible to avoid 'a
consciousness almost amounting to solemnity' that, 'when his eye was
upon you, he looked into your inmost heart'.

With the boys in the Sixth Form, and with them alone, the severe
formality of his demeanour was to some degree relaxed. It was his wish,
in his relations with the Praepostors, to allow the Master to be
occasionally merged in the Friend. From time to time, he chatted with
them in a familiar manner; once a term he asked them to dinner; and
during the summer holidays he invited them, in rotation, to stay with
him in Westmorland.

It was obvious that the primitive methods of discipline which had
reached their apogee under the dominion of Keate were altogether
incompatible with Dr. Arnold's view of the functions of a headmaster and
the proper governance of a public school. Clearly, it was not for such
as he to demean himself by bellowing and cuffing, by losing his temper
once an hour, and by wreaking his vengeance with indiscriminate
flagellations. Order must be kept in other ways. The worst boys were
publicly expelled; many were silently removed; and, when Dr. Arnold
considered that a flogging was necessary, he administered it with
gravity. For he had no theoretical objection to corporal punishment. On
the contrary, he supported it, as was his wont, by an appeal to general
principles. 'There is,' he said, 'an essential inferiority in a boy as
compared with a man'; and hence 'where there is no equality the exercise
of superiority implied in personal chastisement' inevitably followed.

He was particularly disgusted by the view that 'personal correction', as
he phrased it, was an insult or a degradation to the boy upon whom it
was inflicted; and to accustom young boys to think so appeared to him to
be 'positively mischievous'.

'At an age,' he wrote, 'when it is almost impossible to find a true,
manly sense of the degradation of guilt or faults, where is the wisdom
of encouraging a fantastic sense of the degradation of personal
correction? What can be more false, or more adverse to the simplicity,
sobriety, and humbleness of mind which are the best ornaments of youth,
and offer the best promise of a noble manhood?'

One had not to look far, he added, for 'the fruits of such a system'. In
Paris, during the Revolution of 1830, an officer observed a boy of
twelve insulting the soldiers, and

'though the action was then raging, merely struck him with the flat part
of his sword, as the fit chastisement for boyish impertinence. But the
boy had been taught to consider his person sacred, and that a blow was a
deadly insult; he therefore followed the officer, and having watched his
opportunity, took deliberate aim at him with a pistol and murdered him.'

Such were the alarming results of insufficient whipping.

Dr. Arnold did not apply this doctrine to the Praepostors, but the boys
in the lower parts of the school felt its benefits, with a double force.
The Sixth Form was not only excused from chastisement; it was given the
right to chastise. The younger children, scourged both by Dr Arnold and
by the elder children, were given every opportunity of acquiring the
simplicity, sobriety, and humbleness of mind, which are the best
ornaments of youth.

In the actual sphere of teaching, Dr. Arnold's reforms were tentative
and few. He introduced modern history, modern languages, and mathematics
into the school curriculum; but the results were not encouraging. He
devoted to the teaching of history one hour a week; yet, though he took
care to inculcate in these lessons a wholesome hatred of moral evil, and
to point out from time to time the indications of the providential
government of the world, his pupils never seemed to make much progress
in the subject. Could it have been that the time allotted to it was
insufficient? Dr. Arnold had some suspicions that this might be the
case. With modern languages there was the same difficulty. Here his
hopes were certainly not excessive. 'I assume it,' he wrote, 'as the
foundation of all my view of the case, that boys at a public school
never will learn to speak or pronounce French well, under any
circumstances.' It would be enough if they could 'learn it grammatically
as a dead language. But even this they very seldom managed to do.

'I know too well, [he was obliged to confess,] that most of the boys
would pass a very poor examination even in French grammar. But so it is
with their mathematics; and so it will be with any branch of knowledge
that is taught but seldom, and is felt to be quite subordinate to the
boys' main study.'

The boys' main study remained the dead languages of Greece and Rome.
That the classics should form the basis of all teaching was an axiom
with Dr. Arnold. 'The study of language,' he said, 'seems to me as if it
was given for the very purpose of forming the human mind in youth; and
the Greek and Latin languages seem the very instruments by which this is
to be effected.' Certainly, there was something providential about
it--from the point of view of the teacher as well as of the taught. If
Greek and Latin had not been 'given' in that convenient manner, Dr.
Arnold, who had spent his life in acquiring those languages, might have
discovered that he had acquired them in vain. As it was, he could set
the noses of his pupils to the grindstone of syntax and prosody with a
clear conscience. Latin verses and Greek prepositions divided between
them the labours of the week.

As time went on he became, he declared, 'increasingly convinced that it
is not knowledge, but the means of gaining knowledge which I have to
teach'. The reading of the school was devoted almost entirely to
selected passages from the prose writers of antiquity. 'Boys,' he
remarked, 'do not like poetry.' Perhaps his own poetical taste was a
little dubious; at any rate, it is certain that he considered the Greek
Tragedians greatly overrated, and that he ranked Propertius as 'an
indifferent poet'. As for Aristophanes, owing to his strong moral
disapprobation, he could not bring himself to read him until he was
forty, when, it is true, he was much struck by the 'Clouds'. But
Juvenal, the Doctor could never bring himself to read at all.

Physical science was not taught at Rugby. Since, in Dr. Arnold's
opinion, it was too great a subject to be studied en parergo, obviously
only two alternatives were possible: it must either take the chief place
in the school curriculum, or it must be left out altogether. Before such
a choice, Dr. Arnold did not hesitate for a moment.

'Rather than have physical science the principal thing in my son's
mind,' he exclaimed in a letter to a friend, I would gladly have him
think that the sun went around the earth, and that the stars were so
many spangles set in the bright blue firmament. Surely the one thing
needful for a Christian and an English man to study is Christian, moral,
and political philosophy.'

A Christian and an Englishman! After all, it was not in the classroom,
nor in the boarding-house, that the essential elements of instruction
could be imparted which should qualify the youthful neophyte to deserve
those names. The final, the fundamental lesson could only be taught in
the school chapel; in the school chapel the centre of Dr. Arnold's
system of education was inevitably fixed. There, too, the Doctor himself
appeared in the plenitude of his dignity and his enthusiasm. There, with
the morning sun shining on the freshly scrubbed faces of his 300 pupils,
or, in the dusk of evening, through a glimmer of candles, his stately
form, rapt in devotion or vibrant with exhortation, would dominate the
scene. Every phase of the Church service seemed to receive its supreme
expression in his voice, his attitude, his look. During the Te Deum, his
whole countenance would light up; and he read the Psalms with such
conviction that boys would often declare, after hearing him, that they
understood them now for the first time.

It was his opinion that the creeds in public worship ought to be used as
triumphant hymns of thanksgiving, and, in accordance with this view,
although unfortunately he possessed no natural gift for music, he
regularly joined in the chanting of the Nicene Creed with a visible
animation and a peculiar fervour, which it was impossible to forget. The
Communion service he regarded as a direct and special counterpoise to
that false communion and false companionship, which, as he often
observed, was a great source of mischief in the school; and he bent
himself down with glistening eyes, and trembling voice, and looks of
paternal solicitude, in the administration of the elements. Nor was it
only the different sections of the liturgy, but the very divisions of
the ecclesiastical year that reflected themselves in his demeanour; the
most careless observer, we are told, 'could not fail to be struck by the
triumphant exultation of his whole manner on Easter Sunday'; though it
needed a more familiar eye to discern the subtleties in his bearing
which were produced by the approach or Advent, and the solemn thoughts
which it awakened of the advance of human life, the progress of the
human race, and the condition of the Church of England.

At the end of the evening service, the culminating moment of the week
had come: the Doctor delivered his sermon. It was not until then, as all
who had known him agreed, it was not until one had heard and seen him in
the pulpit, that one could fully realise what it was to be face to face
with Dr. Arnold. The whole character of the man--so we are
assured--stood at last revealed. His congregation sat in fixed attention
(with the exception of the younger boys, whose thoughts occasionally
wandered), while he propounded the general principles both of his own
conduct and that of the Almighty, or indicated the bearing of the
incidents of Jewish history in the sixth century B.C. upon the conduct
of English schoolboys in 1830. Then, more than ever, his deep
consciousness of the invisible world became evident; then, more than
ever, he seemed to be battling with the wicked one. For his sermons ran
on the eternal themes of the darkness of evil, the craft of the tempter,
the punishment of obliquity, and he justified the persistence with which
he dwelt upon these painful subjects by an appeal to a general
principle: 'The spirit of Elijah,' he said, 'must ever precede the
spirit of Christ.'

The impression produced upon the boys was remarkable. It was noticed
that even the most careless would sometimes, during the course of the
week, refer almost involuntarily to the sermon of the past Sunday, as a
condemnation of what they were doing. Others were heard to wonder how it
was that the Doctor's preaching, to which they had attended at the time
so assiduously, seemed, after all, to have such a small effect upon what
they did. An old gentleman, recalling those vanished hours, tried to
recapture in words his state of mind as he sat in the darkened chapel,
while Dr. Arnold's sermons, with their high-toned exhortations, their
grave and sombre messages of incalculable import, clothed, like Dr.
Arnold's body in its gown and bands, in the traditional stiffness of a
formal phraseology, reverberated through his adolescent ears. 'I used,'
he said, 'to listen to those sermons from first to last with a kind of

His success was not limited to his pupils and immediate auditors. The
sermons were collected into five large volumes; they were the first of
their kind; and they were received with admiration by a wide circle of
pious readers. Queen Victoria herself possessed a copy in which several
passages were marked in pencil, by the Royal hand.

Dr. Arnold's energies were by no means exhausted by his duties at Rugby.
He became known not merely as a headmaster, but as a public man. He held
decided opinions upon a large number of topics; and he enunciated
them--based as they were almost invariably upon general principles--in
pamphlets, in prefaces, and in magazine articles, with an impressive
self-confidence. He was, as he constantly declared, a Liberal. In his
opinion, by the very constitution of human nature, the principles of
progress and reform had been those of wisdom and justice in every age of
the world--except one: that which had preceded the fall of man from
Paradise. Had he lived then, Dr. Arnold would have been a Conservative.
As it was, his Liberalism was tempered by an 'abhorrence of the spirit
of 1789, of the American War, of the French Economistes, and of the
English Whigs of the latter part of the seventeenth century'; and he
always entertained a profound respect for the hereditary peerage. It
might almost be said, in fact, that he was an orthodox Liberal. He
believed in toleration too, within limits; that is to say, in the
toleration of those with whom he agreed. 'I would give James Mill as
much opportunity for advocating his opinion,' he said, 'as is consistent
with a voyage to Botany Bay.'

He had become convinced of the duty of sympathising with the lower
orders ever since he had made a serious study of the Epistle of St.
James; but he perceived clearly that the lower orders fell into two
classes, and that it was necessary to distinguish between them. There
were the 'good poor'--and there were the others. 'I am glad that you
have made acquaintance with some of the good poor,' he wrote to a
Cambridge undergraduate. 'I quite agree with you that it is most
instructive to visit them.' Dr. Arnold himself occasionally visited
them, in Rugby; and the condescension with which he shook hands with old
men and women of the working classes was long remembered in the
neighbourhood. As for the others, he regarded them with horror and
alarm. 'The disorders in our social state,' he wrote to the Chevalier
Bunsen in 1834, 'appear to me to continue unabated. You have heard, I
doubt not, of the Trades Unions; a fearful engine of mischief, ready to
not or to assassinate; and I see no counteracting power.'

On the whole, his view of the condition of England was a gloomy one. He
recommended a correspondent to read

'Isaiah iii, v, xxii; Jeremiah v, xxii, xxx; Amos iv; and Habakkuk ii',
adding, 'you will be struck, I think, with the close resemblance of our
own state with that of the Jews before the second destruction of

When he was told that the gift of tongues had descended on the
Irvingites at Glasgow, he was not surprised. 'I should take it,' he
said, 'merely as a sign of the coming of the day of the Lord.' And he
was convinced that the day of the Lord was coming--'the termination of
one of the great [Greek: aiones] of the human race'. Of that he had no
doubt whatever; wherever he looked he saw 'calamities, wars, tumults,
pestilences, earthquakes, etc., all marking the time of one of God's
peculiar seasons of visitation'. His only uncertainty was whether this
termination of an [Greek: aion] would turn out to be the absolutely
final one; but that he believed 'no created being knows or can know'. In
any case, he had 'not the slightest expectation of what is commonly
meant by the Millennium'. And his only consolation was that he preferred
the present Ministry, inefficient as it was, to the Tories.

He had planned a great work on Church and State, in which he intended to
lay bare the causes and to point out the remedies of the evils which
afflicted society. Its theme was to be, not the alliance or union, but
the absolute identity of the Church and the State; and he felt sure that
if only this fundamental truth were fully realised by the public, a
general reformation would follow. Unfortunately, however, as time went
on, the public seemed to realise it less and less. In spite of his
protests, not only were Jews admitted to Parliament, but a Jew was
actually appointed a governor of Christ's Hospital; and Scripture was
not made an obligatory subject at the London University.

There was one point in his theory which was not quite plain to Dr.
Arnold. If Church and State were absolutely identical, it became
important to decide precisely which classes of persons were to be
excluded, owing to their beliefs, from the community. Jews, for
instance, were decidedly outside the pale; while Dissenters--so Dr.
Arnold argued--were as decidedly within it. But what was the position of
the Unitarians? Were they, or were they not, members of the Church of
Christ? This was one of those puzzling questions which deepened the
frown upon the Doctor's forehead and intensified the pursing of his
lips. He thought long and earnestly upon the subject; he wrote elaborate
letters on it to various correspondents; but his conclusions remained
indefinite. 'My great objection to Unitarianism,' he wrote, 'in its
present form in England, is that it makes Christ virtually dead.' Yet he
expressed 'a fervent hope that if we could get rid of the Athanasian
Creed many good Unitarians would join their fellow Christians in bowing
the knee to Him who is Lord both of the dead and the living'. Amid these
perplexities, it was disquieting to learn that 'Unitarianism is becoming
very prevalent in Boston'. He inquired anxiously as to its 'complexion'
there; but received no very illuminating answer. The whole matter
continued to be wrapped in a painful obscurity, There were, he believed,
Unitarians and Unitarians; and he could say no more.

In the meantime, pending the completion of his great work, he occupied
himself with putting forward various suggestions of a practical kind. He
advocated the restoration of the Order of Deacons, which, he observed,
had long been 'quoad the reality, dead; for he believed that 'some plan
of this sort might be the small end of the wedge, by which Antichrist
might hereafter be burst asunder like the Dragon of Bel's temple'. But
the Order of Deacons was never restored, and Dr. Arnold turned his
attention elsewhere, urging in a weighty pamphlet the desirabitity of
authorising military officers, in congregations where it was impossible
to procure the presence of clergy, to administer the Eucharist, as well
as Baptism. It was with the object of laying such views as these before
the public--'to tell them plainly', as he said, 'the evils that exist,
and lead them, if I can, to their causes and remedies'--that he started,
in 1831, a weekly newspaper, "The Englishman's Register". The paper was
not a success, in spite of the fact that it set out to improve its
readers morally and, that it preserved, in every article, an avowedly
Christian tone. After a few weeks, and after he had spent upon it more
than L200, it came to an end.

Altogether, the prospect was decidedly discouraging. After all his
efforts, the absolute identity of Church and State remained as
unrecognised as ever.

'So deep', he was at last obliged to confess, 'is the distinction
between the Church and the State seated in our laws, our language, and
our very notions, that nothing less than a miraculous interposition of
God's Providence seems capable of eradicating it.'

Dr. Arnold waited in vain.

But, he did not wait in idleness. He attacked the same question from
another side: he explored the writings of the Christian Fathers, and
began to compose a commentary on the New Testament. In his view, the
Scriptures were as fit a subject as any other book for free inquiry and
the exercise of the individual judgment, and it was in this spirit that
he set about the interpretation of them. He was not afraid of facing
apparent difficulties, of admitting inconsistencies, or even errors, in
the sacred text. Thus he observed that 'in Chronicles xi, 20 and xiii,
2, there is a decided difference in the parentage of Abijah's
mother;'--'which', he added, 'is curious on any supposition'. And at one
time he had serious doubts as to the authorship of the Epistle to the
Hebrews. But he was able, on various problematical points, to suggest
interesting solutions.

At first, for instance, he could not but be startled by the cessation of
miracles in the early Church; but upon consideration, he came to the
conclusion that this phenomenon might be 'truly accounted for by the
supposition that none but the Apostles ever conferred miraculous powers,
and that therefore they ceased of course, after one generation'. Nor did
he fail to base his exegesis, whenever possible, upon an appeal to
general principles. One of his admirers points out how Dr. Arnold

'vindicated God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son and to the
Jews to exterminate the nations of Canaan', by explaining the principles
on which these commands were given, and their reference to the moral
state of those to whom they were addressed--thereby educing light out of
darkness, unravelling the thread of God's religious education of the
human race, and holding up God's marvellous counsels to the devout
wonder and meditation of the thoughtful believer'.

There was one of his friends, however, who did not share this admiration
for the Doctor's methods of Scriptural interpretation. W. G. Ward, while
still a young man at Oxford, had come under his influence, and had been
for some time one of his most enthusiastic disciples. But the star of
Newman was rising at the University; Ward soon felt the attraction of
that magnetic power; and his belief in his old teacher began to waver.
It was, in particular, Dr. Arnold's treatment of the Scriptures which
filled Ward's argumentative mind, at first with distrust, and at last
with positive antagonism. To subject the Bible to free inquiry, to
exercise upon it the criticism of the individual judgment--where might
not such methods lead? Who could say that they would not end in
Socinianism?--nay, in Atheism itself? If the text of Scripture was to be
submitted to the searchings of human reason, how could the question of
its inspiration escape the same tribunal? And the proofs of revelation,
and even of the existence of God? What human faculty was capable of
deciding upon such enormous questions? And would not the logical result
be a condition of universal doubt?

'On a very moderate computation, Ward argued, 'five times the amount of
a man's natural life might qualify a person endowed with extraordinary
genius to have some faint notion (though even this we doubt) on which
side truth lies.' It was not that he had the slightest doubt of Dr.
Arnold's orthodoxy--Dr. Arnold, whose piety was universally
recognised--Dr. Arnold, who had held up to scorn and execration
Strauss's Leben Jesu without reading it. What Ward complained of was the
Doctor's lack of logic, not his lack of faith. Could he not see that if
he really carried out his own principles to a logical conclusion he
would eventually find himself, precisely, in the arms of Strauss? The
young man, whose personal friendship remained unshaken, determined upon
an interview, and went down to Rugby primed with first principles,
syllogisms, and dilemmas. Finding that the headmaster was busy in
school, he spent the afternoon reading novels on the sofa in the
drawing-room. When at last, late in the evening, the Doctor returned,
tired out with his day's work, Ward fell upon him with all his vigour.
The contest was long and furious; it was also entirely inconclusive.
When it was over, Ward, with none of his brilliant arguments disposed
of, and none of his probing questions satisfactorily answered, returned
to the University to plunge headlong into the vortex of the Oxford
Movement; and Dr. Arnold, worried, perplexed, and exhausted, went to
bed, where he remained for the next thirty-six hours.

The Commentary on the New Testament was never finished, and the great
work on Church and State itself remained a fragment. Dr. Arnold's active
mind was diverted from political and theological speculations to the
study of philology, and to historical composition. His Roman History,
which he regarded as 'the chief monument of his historical fame', was
based partly upon the researches of Niebuhr, and partly upon an aversion
to Gibbon.

'My highest ambition,' he wrote, 'is to make my history the very reverse
of Gibbon in this respect, that whereas the whole spirit of his work,
from its low morality, is hostile to religion, without speaking directly
against it, so my greatest desire would be, in my History, by its high
morals and its general tone, to be of use to the cause without actually
bringing it forward.'

These efforts were rewarded, in 1841, by the Professorship of Modern
History at Oxford. Meanwhile, he was engaged in the study of the
Sanskrit and Slavonic languages, bringing out an elaborate edition of
Thucydides, and carrying on a voluminous correspondence upon a multitude
of topics with a large circle of men of learning. At his death, his
published works, composed during such intervals as he could spare from
the management of a great public school, filled, besides a large number
of pamphlets and articles, no less than seventeen volumes. It was no
wonder that Carlyle, after a visit to Rugby, should have characterised
Dr. Arnold as a man of 'unhasting, unresting diligence'.

Mrs. Arnold, too, no doubt agreed with Carlyle. During the first eight
years of their married life, she bore him six children; and four more
were to follow. In this large and growing domestic circle his hours of
relaxation were spent. There those who had only known him in his
professional capacity were surprised to find him displaying the
tenderness and jocosity of a parent. The dignified and stern headmaster
was actually seen to dandle infants and to caracole upon the hearthrug
on all fours. Yet, we are told, 'the sense of his authority as a father
was never lost in his playfulness as a companion'. On more serious
occasions, the voice of the spiritual teacher sometimes made itself
heard. An intimate friend described how 'on a comparison having been
made in his family circle, which seemed to place St. Paul above St.
John,' the tears rushed to the Doctor's eyes and how, repeating one of
the verses from St. John, he begged that the comparison might never
again be made. The longer holidays were spent in Westmorland, where,
rambling with his offspring among the mountains, gathering wild flowers,
and pointing out the beauties of Nature, Dr. Arnold enjoyed, as he
himself would often say, 'an almost awful happiness'. Music he did not
appreciate, though he occasionally desired his eldest boy, Matthew, to
sing him the Confirmation Hymn of Dr. Hinds, to which he had become
endeared, owing to its use in Rugby Chapel. But his lack of ear was, he
considered, amply recompensed by his love of flowers: 'they are my
music,' he declared. Yet, in such a matter, he was careful to refrain
from an excess of feeling, such as, in his opinion, marked the famous
lines of Wordsworth:

    'To me the meanest flower that blows can give
     Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.'

He found the sentiment morbid. 'Life,' he said, 'is not long enough to
take such intense interest in objects in themselves so little.' As for
the animal world, his feelings towards it were of a very different cast.
'The whole subject,' he said, 'of the brute creation is to me one of
such painful mystery, that I dare not approach it.' The Unitarians
themselves were a less distressing thought.

Once or twice he found time to visit the Continent, and the letters and
journals recording in minute detail his reflections and impressions in
France or Italy show us that Dr. Arnold preserved, in spite of the
distractions of foreign scenes and foreign manners, his accustomed
habits of mind. Taking very little interest in works of art, he was
occasionally moved by the beauty of natural objects; but his principal
preoccupation remained with the moral aspects of things. From this point
of view, he found much to reprehend in the conduct of his own
countrymen. 'I fear,' he wrote, 'that our countrymen who live abroad are
not in the best possible moral state, however much they may do in
science or literature.' And this was unfortunate, because 'a thorough
English gentleman--Christian, manly, and enlightened--is more, I
believe, than Guizot or Sismondi could comprehend; it is a finer
specimen of human nature than any other country, I believe, could
furnish'. Nevertheless, our travellers would imitate foreign customs
without discrimination, 'as in the absurd habit of not eating fish with
a knife, borrowed from the French, who do it because they have no knives
fit for use'. Places, no less than people, aroused similar reflections.
By Pompeii, Dr. Arnold was not particularly impressed.

'There is only,' he observed, 'the same sort of interest with which one
would see the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, but indeed there is less. One
is not authorised to ascribe so solemn a character to the destruction of

The lake of Como moved him more profoundly. As he gazed upon the
overwhelming beauty around him, he thought of 'moral evil', and was
appalled by the contrast. 'May the sense of moral evil', he prayed, 'be
as strong in me as my delight in external beauty, for in a deep sense of
moral evil, more perhaps than in anything else, abides a saving
knowledge of God!'

His prayer was answered: Dr. Arnold was never in any danger of losing
his sense of moral evil. If the landscapes of Italy only served to
remind him of it, how could he forget it among the boys at Rugby School?
The daily sight of so many young creatures in the hands of the Evil One
filled him with agitated grief.

'When the spring and activity of youth,' he wrote, 'is altogether
unsanctified by anything pure and elevated in its desires, it becomes a
spectacle that is as dizzying and almost more morally distressing than
the shouts and gambols of a set of lunatics.'

One thing struck him as particularly strange: 'It is very startling,' he
said, 'to see so much of sin combined with so little of sorrow.' The
naughtiest boys positively seemed to enjoy themselves most. There were
moments when he almost lost faith in his whole system of education, when
he began to doubt whether some far more radical reforms than any he had
attempted might not be necessary, before the multitude of children under
his charge--shouting and gambolling, and yet plunged all the while deep
in moral evil--could ever be transformed into a set of Christian
gentlemen. But then he remembered his general principles, the conduct of
Jehovah with the Chosen People, and the childhood of the human race. No,
it was for him to make himself, as one of his pupils afterwards
described him, in the words of Bacon, 'kin to God in spirit'; he would
rule the school majestically from on high. He would deliver a series of
sermons analysing 'the six vices' by which 'great schools were
corrupted, and changed from the likeness of God's temple to that of a
den of thieves'. He would exhort, he would denounce, he would sweep
through the corridors, he would turn the pages of Facciolati's Lexicon
more imposingly than ever; and the rest he would leave to the
Praepostors in the Sixth Form.

Upon the boys in the Sixth Form, indeed, a strange burden would seem to
have fallen. Dr. Arnold himself was very well aware of this. 'I cannot
deny,' he told them in a sermon, 'that you have an anxious duty--a duty
which some might suppose was too heavy for your years'; and every term
he pointed out to them, in a short address, the responsibilities of
their position, and impressed upon them 'the enormous influence' they
possessed 'for good or for evil'. Nevertheless most youths of seventeen,
in spite of the warnings of their elders, have a singular trick of
carrying moral burdens lightly. The Doctor might preach and look grave;
but young Brooke was ready enough to preside at a fight behind the
Chapel, though he was in the Sixth, and knew that fighting was against
the rules. At their best, it may be supposed that the Praepostors
administered a kind of barbaric justice; but they were not always at
their best, and the pages of "Tom Brown's Schooldays" show us what was
no doubt the normal condition of affairs under Dr. Arnold, when the boys
in the Sixth Form were weak or brutal, and the blackguard Flashman, in
the intervals of swigging brandy-punch with his boon companions, amused
himself by toasting fags before the fire.

But there was an exceptional kind of boy, upon whom the high-pitched
exhortations of Dr. Arnold produced a very different effect. A minority
of susceptible and serious youths fell completely under his sway,
responded like wax to the pressure of his influence, and moulded their
whole lives with passionate reverence upon the teaching of their adored
master. Conspicuous among these was Arthur Clough. Having been sent to
Rugby at the age of ten, he quickly entered into every phase of school
life, though, we are told, 'a weakness in his ankles prevented him from
taking a prominent part in the games of the place'. At the age of
sixteen, he was in the Sixth Form, and not merely a Praepostor, but head
of the School House. Never did Dr. Arnold have an apter pupil. This
earnest adolescent, with the weak ankles and the solemn face, lived
entirely with the highest ends in view. He thought of nothing but moral
good, moral evil, moral influence, and moral responsibility. Some of his
early letters have been preserved, and they reveal both the intensity
with which he felt the importance of his own position, and the strange
stress of spirit under which he laboured. 'I have been in one continued
state of excitement for at least the last three years,' he wrote when he
was not yet seventeen, 'and now comes the time of exhaustion.' But he
did not allow himself to rest, and a few months later he was writing to
a schoolfellow as follows:

'I verily believe my whole being is soaked through with the wishing and
hoping and striving to do the school good, or rather to keep it up and
hinder it from falling in this, I do think, very critical time, so that
my cares and affections and conversations, thoughts, words, and deeds
look to that in voluntarily. I am afraid you will be inclined to think
this "cant" and I am conscious that even one's truest feelings, if very
frequently put out in the light, do make a bad and disagreeable
appearance; but this, however, is true, and even if I am carrying it too
far, I do not think it has made me really forgetful of my personal
friends, such as, in particular, Gell and Burbidge and Walrond, and
yourself, my dear Simpkinson.'

Perhaps it was not surprising that a young man brought up in such an
atmosphere, should have fallen a prey at Oxford, to the frenzies of
religious controversy; that he should have been driven almost out of his
wits by the ratiocinations of W. G. Ward; that he should have lost his
faith; that he should have spent the rest of his existence lamenting
that loss, both in prose and verse; and that he should have eventually
succumbed, conscientiously doing up brown paper parcels for Florence

In the earlier years of his headmastership Dr. Arnold had to face a good
deal of opposition. His advanced religious views were disliked, and
there were many parents to whom his system of school government did not
commend itself. But in time this hostility melted away. Succeeding
generations of favourite pupils began to spread his fame through the
Universities. At Oxford especially, men were profoundly impressed by the
pious aims of the boys from Rugby. It was a new thing to see
undergraduates going to Chapel more often than they were obliged, and
visiting the good poor. Their reverent admiration for Dr. Arnold was no
less remarkable. Whenever two of his old pupils met, they joined in his
praises; and the sight of his picture had been known to call forth, from
one who had not even reached the Sixth, exclamations of rapture lasting
for ten minutes and filling with astonishment the young men from other
schools who happened to be present.

He became a celebrity; he became at last a great man. Rugby prospered;
its numbers rose higher than ever before; and, after thirteen years as
headmaster, Dr. Arnold began to feel that his work there was
accomplished, and that he might look forward either to other labours or,
perhaps, to a dignified retirement. But it was not to be.

His father had died suddenly at the age of fifty-three from angina
pectoris; and he himself was haunted by forebodings of an early death.
To be snatched away without a warning, to come in a moment from the
seductions of this World to the presence of Eternity--his most ordinary
actions, the most casual remarks, served to keep him in remembrance of
that dreadful possibility. When one of his little boys clapped his hands
at the thought of the approaching holidays, the Doctor gently checked
him, and repeated the story of his own early childhood; how his own
father had made him read aloud a sermon on the text 'Boast not thyself
of tomorrow"; and how, within the week, his father was dead. On the
title page of his MS. volume of sermons, he was always careful to write
the date of its commencement, leaving a blank for that of its
completion. One of his children asked him the meaning of this. 'It is
one of the most solemn things I do,' he replied, 'to write the beginning
of that sentence, and think that I may perhaps not live to finish it.'

It was noticed that in the spring of 1842 such thoughts seemed to be
even more frequently in his mind than usual. He was only in his
forty-seventh year, but he dwelt darkly on the fragility of human
existence. Towards the end of May, he began to keep a diary--a private
memorandum of his intimate communings with the Almighty. Here, evening
after evening, in the traditional language of religious devotion, he
humbled himself before God, prayed for strength and purity, and threw
himself upon the mercy of the Most High.

'Another day and another month succeed', he wrote on May 31st. 'May God
keep my mind and heart fixed on Him, and cleanse me from all sin. I
would wish to keep a watch over my tongue, as to vehement speaking and
censuring of others ...I would desire to remember my latter end to which
I am approaching ... May God keep me in the hour of death, through Jesus
Christ; and preserve me from every fear, as well as from presumption.'

On June 2nd he wrote, 'Again the day is over and I am going to rest. Oh
Lord, preserve me this night, and strengthen me to bear whatever Thou
shalt see fit to lay on me, whether pain, sickness, danger, or
distress.' On Sunday, June 5th, the reading of the newspaper aroused
'painful and solemn' reflections ... 'So much of sin and so much of
suffering in the world, as are there displayed, and no one seems able to
remedy either. And then the thought of my own private life, so full of
comforts, is very startling.' He was puzzled; but he concluded with a
prayer: 'May I be kept humble and zealous, and may God give me grace to
labour in my generation for the good of my brethren and for His Glory!'

The end of the term was approaching, and to all appearance the Doctor
was in excellent spirits. On June 11th, after a hard day's work, he
spent the evening with a friend in the discussion of various topics upon
which he often touched in his conversation the comparison of the art of
medicine in barbarous and civilised ages, the philological importance of
provincial vocabularies, and the threatening prospect of the moral
condition of the United States. Left alone, he turned to his diary.

'The day after tomorrow,' he wrote, 'is my birthday, if I am permitted
to live to see it--my forty-seventh birthday since my birth. How large a
portion of my life on earth is already passed! And then--what is to
follow this life? How visibly my outward work seems contracting and
softening away into the gentler employments of old age. In one sense how
nearly can I now say, "Vivi". And I thank God that, as far as ambition
is concerned, it is, I trust, fully mortified; I have no desire other
than to step back from my present place in the world, and not to rise to
a higher. Still there are works which, with God's permission, I would do
before the night cometh.'

Dr. Arnold was thinking of his great work on Church and State.

Early next morning he awoke with a sharp pain in his chest. The pain
increasing, a physician was sent for; and in the meantime Mrs. Arnold
read aloud to her husband the Fifty-first Psalm. Upon one of their boys
coming into the room,

'My son, thank God for me,' said Dr. Arnold; and as the boy did not at
once catch his meaning, he added, 'Thank God, Tom, for giving me this
pain; I have suffered so little pain in my life that I feel it is very
good for me. Now God has given it to me, and I do so thank Him for it.'

Then Mrs. Arnold read from the Prayer-book the 'Visitation of the Sick',
her husband listening with deep attention, and assenting with an
emphatic 'Yes' at the end of many of the sentences. When the physician
arrived, he perceived at once the gravity of the case: it was an attack
of angina pectoris. He began to prepare some laudanum, while Mrs. Arnold
went out to fetch the children. All at once, as the medical man was
bending over his glasses, there was a rattle from the bed; a convulsive
struggle followed; and, when the unhappy woman, with the children, and
all the servants, rushed into the room, Dr. Arnold had passed from his
perplexities forever.

There can be little doubt that what he had achieved justified the
prediction of the Provost of Oriel that he would 'change the face of
education all through the public schools of England'. It is true that,
so far as the actual machinery of education was concerned, Dr. Arnold
not only failed to effect a change, but deliberately adhered to the old
system. The monastic and literary conceptions of education, which had
their roots in the Middle Ages, and had been accepted and strengthened
at the revival of Learning, he adopted almost without hesitation. Under
him, the public school remained, in essentials, a conventional
establishment, devoted to the teaching of Greek and Latin grammar. Had
he set on foot reforms in these directions, it seems probable that he
might have succeeded in carrying the parents of England with him. The
moment was ripe; there was a general desire for educational changes; and
Dr. Arnold's great reputation could hardly have been resisted. As it
was, he threw the whole weight of his influence into the opposite scale,
and the ancient system became more firmly established than ever.

The changes which he did effect were of a very different nature. By
introducing morals and religion into his scheme of education, he altered
the whole atmosphere of public-school life. Henceforward the old
rough-and-tumble, which was typified by the regime of Keate at Eton,
became impossible. After Dr. Arnold, no public school could venture to
ignore the virtues of respectability. Again, by his introduction of the
prefectorial system, Dr. Arnold produced far-reaching effects--effects
which he himself, perhaps, would have found perplexing. In his day, when
the school hours were over, the boys were free to enjoy themselves as
they liked; to bathe, to fish, to ramble for long afternoons in the
country, collecting eggs or gathering flowers. 'The taste of the boys at
this period,' writes an old Rugbaean who had been under Arnold, 'leaned
strongly towards flowers'. The words have an odd look today. 'The modern
reader of "Tom Brown's Schooldays" searches in vain for any reference to
compulsory games, house colours, or cricket averages. In those days,
when boys played games they played them for pleasure; but in those days
the prefectorial system--the system which hands over the life of a
school to an oligarchy of a dozen youths of seventeen--was still in its
infancy, and had not yet borne its fruit.

Teachers and prophets have strange after-histories; and that of Dr.
Arnold has been no exception. The earnest enthusiast who strove to make
his pupils Christian gentlemen and who governed his school according to
the principles of the Old Testament, has proved to be the founder of the
worship of athletics and the worship of good form. Upon those two poles
our public schools have turned for so long that we have almost come to
believe that such is their essential nature, and that an English public
schoolboy who wears the wrong clothes and takes no interest in football,
is a contradiction in terms. Yet it was not so before Dr. Arnold; will
it always be so after him? We shall see.


    Dean Stanley. Life and Correspondence of Dr Arnold.
    Thomas Hughes. Tom Brown's Schooldays.
    Sir H. Maxwell-Lyte. History of Eton College.
    Wilfrid Ward. W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement.
    H. Clough. Letters. An Old Rugbaean. Recollections of Rugby.
    Thomas Arnold. Passages in a Wandering Life.

The End of General Gordon

DURING the year 1883 a solitary English gentleman was to be seen,
wandering, with a thick book under his arm, in the neighbourhood of
Jerusalem. His unassuming figure, short and slight, with its
half-gliding, half-tripping motion, gave him a boyish aspect, which
contrasted, oddly, but not unpleasantly, with the touch of grey on his
hair and whiskers. There was the same contrast--enigmatic and
attractive--between the sunburnt brick-red complexion--the hue of the
seasoned traveller--and the large blue eyes, with their look of almost
childish sincerity. To the friendly inquirer, he would explain, in a
row, soft, and very distinct voice, that he was engaged in elucidating
four questions--the site of the Crucifixion, the line of division
between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, the identification of Gideon,
and the position of the Garden of Eden. He was also, he would add, most
anxious to discover the spot where the Ark first touched ground, after
the subsidence of the Flood: he believed, indeed, that he had solved
that problem, as a reference to some passages in the book which he was
carrying would show.

This singular person was General Gordon, and his book was the Holy

In such complete retirement from the world and the ways of men, it might
have seemed that a life of inordinate activity had found at last a
longed-for, final peacefulness. For month after month, for an entire
year, the General lingered by the banks of the Jordan. But then the
enchantment was suddenly broken. Once more adventure claimed him; he
plunged into the whirl of high affairs; his fate was mingled with the
frenzies of Empire and the doom of peoples. And it was not in peace and
rest, but in ruin and horror, that he reached his end.

The circumstances of that tragic history, so famous, so bitterly
debated, so often and so controversially described, remain full of
suggestion for the curious examiner of the past. There emerges from
those obscure, unhappy records an interest, not merely political and
historical, but human and dramatic. One catches a vision of strange
characters, moved by mysterious impulses, interacting in queer
complication, and hurrying at last--so it almost seems--like creatures
in a puppet show to a predestined catastrophe. The characters, too, have
a charm of their own: they are curiously English. What other nation on
the face of the earth could have produced Mr. Gladstone and Sir Evelyn
Baring and Lord Hartington and General Gordon? Alike in their emphasis
and their lack of emphasis, in their eccentricity and their
conventionality, in their matter-of-factness and their romance, these
four figures seem to embody the mingling contradictions of the English
spirit. As for the mise-en-scene, it is perfectly appropriate. But
first, let us glance at the earlier adventures of the hero of the piece.

Charles George Gordon was born in 1833. His father, of Highland and
military descent, was himself a Lieutenant-General; his mother came of a
family of merchants, distinguished for their sea voyages into remote
regions of the Globe. As a boy, Charlie was remarkable for his high
spirits, pluck, and love of mischief. Destined for the Artillery, he was
sent to the Academy at Woolwich, where some other characteristics made
their appearance. On one occasion, when the cadets had been forbidden to
leave the dining-room and the senior corporal stood with outstretched
arms in the doorway to prevent their exit, Charlie Gordon put his head
down, and, butting the officer in the pit of the stomach, projected him
down a flight of stairs and through a glass door at the bottom. For this
act of insubordination he was nearly dismissed--while the captain of his
company predicted that he would never make an officer. A little later,
when he was eighteen, it came to the knowledge of the authorities that
bullying was rife at the Academy. The new-comers were questioned, and
one of them said that Charlie Gordon had hit him over the head with a
clothes-brush. He had worked well, and his record was on the whole a
good one; but the authorities took a serious view of the case, and held
back his commission for six months. It was owing to this delay that he
went into the Royal Engineers, instead of the Royal Artillery.

He was sent to Pembroke, to work at the erection of fortifications; and
at Pembroke those religious convictions, which never afterwards left
him, first gained a hold upon his mind. Under the influence of his
sister Augusta and of a 'very religious captain of the name of Drew', he
began to reflect upon his sins, look up texts, and hope for salvation.
Though he had never been confirmed--he never was confirmed--he took the
sacrament every Sunday; and he eagerly perused the Priceless Diamond,
Scott's Commentaries, and The Remains of the Rev. R. McCheyne. 'No
novels or worldly books,' he wrote to his sister, 'come up to the
Commentaries of Scott.... I, remember well when you used to get them in
numbers, and I used to laugh at them; but, thank God, it is different
with me now. I feel much happier and more contented than I used to do. I
did not like Pembroke, but now I would not wish for any prettier place.
I have got a horse and gig, and Drew and myself drive all about the
country. I hope my dear father and mother think of eternal things ...
Dearest Augusta, pray for me, I beg of you.'

He was twenty-one; the Crimean War broke out; and before the year was
over, he had managed to get himself transferred to Balaclava. During the
siege of Sebastopol he behaved with conspicuous gallantry. Upon the
declaration of peace, he was sent to Bessarabia to assist in determining
the frontier between Russia and Turkey, in accordance with the Treaty of
Paris; and upon this duty he was occupied for nearly two years. Not long
after his return home, in 1860, war was declared upon China. Captain
Gordon was dispatched to the scene of operations, but the fighting was
over before he arrived. Nevertheless, he was to remain for the next four
years in China, where he was to lay the foundations of extraordinary

Though he was too late to take part in the capture of the Taku Forts, he
was in time to witness the destruction of the Summer Palace at
Peking--the act by which Lord Elgin, in the name of European
civilisation, took vengeance upon the barbarism of the East.

The war was over; but the British Army remained in the country, until
the payment of an indemnity by the Chinese Government was completed. A
camp was formed at Tientsin, and Gordon was occupied in setting up huts
for the troops. While he was thus engaged, he had a slight attack of
smallpox. 'I am glad to say,' he told his sister, 'that this disease has
brought me back to my Saviour, and I trust in future to be a better
Christian than I have been hitherto.'

Curiously enough a similar circumstance had, more than twenty years
earlier, brought about a singular succession of events which were now
upon the point of opening the way to Gordon's first great adventure. In
1837, a village schoolmaster near Canton had been attacked by illness;
and, as in the case of Gordon, illness had been followed by a religious
revulsion. Hong-Siu-Tsuen--for such was his name--saw visions, went into
ecstasies, and entered into relations with the Deity. Shortly
afterwards, he fell in with a Methodist missionary from America, who
instructed him in the Christian religion. The new doctrine, working upon
the mystical ferment already in Hong's mind, produced a remarkable
result. He was, he declared, the prophet of God; he was more--he was the
Son of God; he was Tien Wang, the Celestial King; he was the younger
brother of Jesus. The times were propitious, and proselytes soon
gathered around him. Having conceived a grudge against the Government,
owing to his failure in an examination, Hong gave a political turn to
his teaching, which soon developed into a propaganda of rebellion
against the rule of the Manchus and the Mandarins. The authorities took
fright, attempted to suppress Hong by force, and failed. The movement
spread. By 1850 the rebels were overrunning the populous and flourishing
delta of the Yangtse Kiang, and had become a formidable force. In 1853
they captured Nankin, which was henceforth their capital. The Tien Wang,
established himself in a splendid palace, and proclaimed his new
evangel. His theogony included the wife of God, or the celestial Mother,
the wife of Jesus, or the celestial daughter-in-law, and a sister of
Jesus, whom he married to one of his lieutenants, who thus became the
celestial son-in-law; the Holy Ghost, however, was eliminated.

His mission was to root out Demons and Manchus from the face of the
earth, and to establish Taiping, the reign of eternal peace. In the
meantime, retiring into the depths of his palace, he left the further
conduct of earthly operations to his lieutenants, upon whom he bestowed
the title of 'Wangs' (kings), while he himself, surrounded by thirty
wives and one hundred concubines, devoted his energies to the spiritual
side of his mission. The Taiping Rebellion, as it came to be called, had
now reached its furthest extent. The rebels were even able to occupy,
for more than a year, the semi-European city of Shanghai. But then the
tide turned. The latent forces of the Empire gradually asserted
themselves. The rebels lost ground, their armies were defeated, and in
1859 Nankin itself was besieged, and the Celestial King trembled in his
palace. The end seemed to be at hand, when there was a sudden twist of
Fortune's wheel. The war of 1860, the invasion of China by European
armies, their march into the interior, and their occupation of Peking,
not only saved the rebels from destruction, but allowed them to recover
the greater part of what they had lost. Once more they seized upon the
provinces of the delta, once more they menaced Shanghai. It was clear
that the Imperial army was incompetent, and the Shanghai merchants
determined to provide for their own safety as best they could. They
accordingly got together a body of troops, partly Chinese and partly
European, and under European officers, to which they entrusted the
defence of the town. This small force, which, after a few preliminary
successes, received from the Chinese Government the title of the 'Ever
Victorious Army', was able to hold the rebels at bay, but it could do no
more. For two years Shanghai was in constant danger. The Taipings,
steadily growing in power, were spreading destruction far and wide. The
Ever Victorious Army was the only force capable of opposing them, and
the Ever Victorious Army was defeated more often than not. Its first
European leader had been killed; his successor quarrelled with the
Chinese Governor, Li Hung Chang, and was dismissed. At last it was
determined to ask the General at the head of the British Army of
Occupation for the loan of an officer to command the force. The English,
who had been at first inclined to favour the Taipings, on religious
grounds, were now convinced, on practical grounds, of the necessity of
suppressing them. It was in these circumstances that, early in 1863, the
command of the Ever Victorious Army was offered to Gordon. He accepted
it, received the title of General from the Chinese authorities, and
entered forthwith upon his new task. He was just thirty.

In eighteen months, he told Li Hung Chang, the business would be
finished; and he was as good as his word. The difficulties before him
were very great. A vast tract of country was in the possession of the
rebels--an area, at the lowest estimate, of 14,000 square miles with a
population of 20,000,000. For centuries this low-lying plain of the
Yangtse delta, rich in silk and tea, fertilised by elaborate irrigation,
and covered with great walled cities, had been one of the most
flourishing districts in China. Though it was now being rapidly ruined
by the depredations of the Taipings, its strategic strength was
obviously enormous. Gordon, however, with the eye of a born general,
perceived that he could convert the very feature of the country which,
on the face of it, most favoured an army on the defence--its complicated
geographical system of interlacing roads and waterways, canals, lakes
and rivers--into a means of offensive warfare. The force at his disposal
was small, but it was mobile. He had a passion for map-making, and had
already, in his leisure hours, made a careful survey of the country
round Shanghai; he was thus able to execute a series of manoeuvres which
proved fatal to the enemy. By swift marches and counter-marches, by
sudden attacks and surprises, above all by the dispatch of armed
steamboats up the circuitous waterways into positions from which they
could fall upon the enemy in reverse, he was able gradually to force
back the rebels, to cut them off piecemeal in the field, and to seize
upon their cities. But, brilliant as these operations were, Gordon's
military genius showed itself no less unmistakably in other directions.
The Ever Victorious Army, recruited from the riff-raff of Shanghai, was
an ill-disciplined, ill-organised body of about three thousand men,
constantly on the verge of mutiny, supporting itself on plunder, and, at
the slightest provocation, melting into thin air. Gordon, by sheer force
of character, established over this incoherent mass of ruffians an
extraordinary ascendancy. He drilled them with rigid severity; he put
them into a uniform, armed them systematically, substituted pay for
loot, and was even able, at last, to introduce regulations of a sanitary
kind. There were some terrible scenes, in which the General, alone,
faced the whole furious army, and quelled it: scenes of rage, desperation,
towering courage, and summary execution. Eventually he attained an
almost magical prestige. Walking at the head of his troops with nothing
but a light cane in his hand, he seemed to pass through every danger
with the scatheless equanimity of a demi-god. The Taipings themselves
were awed into a strange reverence. More than once their leaders, in a
frenzy of fear and admiration, ordered the sharp-shooters not to take
aim at the advancing figure of the faintly smiling Englishman.

It is significant that Gordon found it easier to win battles and to
crush mutineers than to keep on good terms with the Chinese authorities.
He had to act in cooperation with a large native force; and it was only
natural that the general at the head of it should grow more and more
jealous and angry as the Englishman's successes revealed more and more
clearly his own incompetence. At first, indeed, Gordon could rely upon
the support of the Governor. Li Flung Chang's experience of Europeans
had been hitherto limited to low-class adventurers, and Gordon came as a

'It is a direct blessing from Heaven,' he noted in his diary, 'the
coming of this British Gordon.... He is superior in manner and bearing
to any of the foreigners whom I have come into contact with, and does
not show outwardly that conceit which makes most of them repugnant in my

A few months later, after he had accompanied Gordon on a victorious
expedition, the Mandarin's enthusiasm burst forth.

'What a sight for tired eyes,' he wrote, 'what an elixir for a heavy
heart--to see this splendid Englishman fight!... If there is anything
that I admire nearly as much as the superb scholarship of Tseng Kuofan,
it is the military qualities of this fine officer. He is a glorious
fellow!' In his emotion, Li Hung Chang addressed Gordon as his brother,
declaring that he 'considered him worthy to fill the place of the
brother who is departed. Could I have said more in all the words of the
world?' Then something happened which impressed and mystified the
sensitive Chinaman.

'The Englishman's face was first filled with a deep pleasure, and then
he seemed to be thinking of something depressing and sad; for the
smile went from his mouth and there were tears in his eyes when he
thanked me for what I had said. Can it be that he has, or has had, some
great trouble in his life, and that he fights recklessly to forget it,
or that Death has no terrors for him?'

But, as time went on, Li Hung Chang's attitude began to change. 'General
Gordon,' he notes in July, 'must control his tongue, even if he lets his
mind run loose.' The Englishman had accused him of intriguing with the
Chinese general, and of withholding money due to the Ever Victorious
Army. 'Why does he not accord me the honours that are due to me, as head
of the military and civil authority in these parts?' By September, the
Governor's earlier transports have been replaced by a more judicial
frame of mind.

'With his many faults, his pride, his temper, and his never-ending
demand for money, (for one is a noble man, and in spite of all I have
said to him or about him) I will ever think most highly of him.... He is
an honest man, but difficult to get on with.'

Disagreements of this kind might perhaps have been tided over until the
end of the campaign; but an unfortunate incident suddenly led to a more
serious quarrel. Gordon's advance had been fiercely contested, but it
had been constant; he had captured several important towns; and in
October he laid siege to the city of Soo-chow, once one of the most
famous and splendid in China. In December, its fall being obviously
imminent, the Taiping leaders agreed to surrender it on condition that
their lives were spared. Gordon was a party to the agreement, and laid
special stress upon his presence with the Imperial forces as a pledge of
its fulfilment. No sooner, however, was the city surrendered than the
rebel 'Wangs' were assassinated. In his fury, it is said that Gordon
searched everywhere for Li Hung Chang with a loaded pistol in his hand.
He was convinced of the complicity of the Governor, who, on his side,
denied that he was responsible for what had happened.

'I asked him why I should plot, and go around a mountain, when a mere
order, written with five strokes of the quill, would have accomplished
the same thing. He did not answer, but he insulted me, and said he would
report my treachery, as he called it, to Shanghai and England. Let him
do so; he cannot bring the crazy Wangs back.'

The agitated Mandarin hoped to placate Gordon by a large gratuity and an
Imperial medal; but the plan was not successful.

'General Gordon,' he writes, 'called upon me in his angriest mood. He
repeated his former speeches about the Wangs. I did not attempt to argue
with him ... He refused the 10,000 taels, which I had ready for him,
and, with an oath, said that he did not want the Throne's medal. This is
showing the greatest disrespect.'

Gordon resigned his command; and it was only with the utmost reluctance
that he agreed at last to resume it. An arduous and terrible series of
operations followed; but they were successful, and by June, 1864, the
Ever Victorious Army, having accomplished its task, was disbanded. The
Imperial forces now closed round Nankin; the last hopes of the Tien Wang
had vanished. In the recesses of his seraglio, the Celestial King,
judging that the time had come for the conclusion of his mission,
swallowed gold leaf until he ascended to Heaven. In July, Nankin was
taken, the remaining chiefs were executed, and the rebellion was at an
end. The Chinese Government gave Gordon the highest rank in its military
hierarchy, and invested him with the yellow jacket and the peacock's
feather. He rejected an enormous offer of money; but he could not refuse
a great gold medal, specially struck in his honour by order of the
Emperor. At the end of the year he returned to England, where the
conqueror of the Taipings was made a Companion of the Bath.

That the English authorities should have seen fit to recognise Gordon's
services by the reward usually reserved for industrious clerks was
typical of their attitude towards him until the very end of his career.
Perhaps if he had been ready to make the most of the wave of popularity
which greeted him on his return--if he had advertised his fame and, amid
high circles, played the part of Chinese Gordon in a becoming
manner--the results would have been different. But he was by nature
farouche; his soul revolted against dinner parties and stiff shirts; and
the presence of ladies--especially of fashionable ladies--filled him
with uneasiness. He had, besides, a deeper dread of the world's
contaminations. And so, when he was appointed to Gravesend to supervise
the erection of a system of forts at the mouth of the Thames, he
remained there quietly for six years, and at last was almost forgotten.
The forts, which were extremely expensive and quite useless, occupied
his working hours; his leisure he devoted to acts of charity and to
religious contemplation. The neighbourhood was a poverty-stricken one,
and the kind Colonel, with his tripping step and simple manner, was soon
a familiar figure in it, chatting with the seamen, taking provisions to
starving families, or visiting some bedridden old woman to light her
fire. He was particularly fond of boys. Ragged street arabs and rough
sailor-lads crowded about him. They were made free of his house and
garden; they visited him in the evenings for lessons and advice; he
helped them, found them employment, corresponded with them when they
went out into the world. They were, he said, his Wangs. It was only by a
singular austerity of living that he was able to afford such a variety
of charitable expenses. The easy luxuries of his class and station were
unknown to him: his clothes verged upon the shabby; and his frugal meals
were eaten at a table with a drawer, into which the loaf and plate were
quickly swept at the approach of his poor visitors. Special occasions
demanded special sacrifices. When, during the Lancashire famine, a
public subscription was opened, finding that he had no ready money, he
remembered his Chinese medal, and, after effacing the inscription,
dispatched it as an anonymous gift.

Except for his boys and his paupers, he lived alone. In his solitude, he
ruminated upon the mysteries of the universe; and those religious
tendencies, which had already shown themselves, now became a fixed and
dominating factor in his life. His reading was confined almost entirely
to the Bible; but the Bible he read and re-read with an untiring,
unending assiduity. There, he was convinced, all truth was to be found;
and he was equally convinced that he could find it. The doubts of
philosophers, the investigations of commentators, the smiles of men of
the world, the dogmas of Churches--such things meant nothing to the
Colonel. Two facts alone were evident: there was the Bible, and there
was himself; and all that remained to be done was for him to discover
what were the Bible's instructions, and to act accordingly. In order to
make this discovery it was only necessary for him to read the Bible over
and over again; and therefore, for the rest of his life, he did so.

The faith that he evolved was mystical and fatalistic; it was also
highly unconventional. His creed, based upon the narrow foundations of
Jewish Scripture, eked out occasionally by some English evangelical
manual, was yet wide enough to ignore every doctrinal difference, and
even, at moments, to transcend the bounds of Christianity itself. The
just man was he who submitted to the Will of God, and the Will of God,
inscrutable and absolute, could be served aright only by those who
turned away from earthly desires and temporal temptations, to rest
themselves whole-heartedly upon the in-dwelling Spirit. Human beings
were the transitory embodiments of souls who had existed through an
infinite past, and would continue to exist through an infinite future.
The world was vanity; the flesh was dust and ashes.

'A man,' Gordon wrote to his sister, 'who knows not the secret, who has
not the in-dwelling of God revealed to him, is like this--[picture of a
circle with Body and Soul written within it]. He takes the promises and
curses as addressed to him as one man, and will not hear of there being
any birth before his natural birth, in any existence except with the
body he is in. The man to whom the secret (the indwelling of God) is
revealed is like this: [picture of a circle with soul and body enclosed
in two separate circles].

He applies the promises to one and the curses to the other, if
disobedient, which he must be, except the soul is enabled by God to
rule. He then sees he is not of this world; for when he speaks of
himself he quite disregards the body his soul lives in, which is

Such conceptions are familiar enough in the history of religious
thought: they are those of the hermit and the fakir; and it might have
been expected that, when once they had taken hold upon his mind, Gordon
would have been content to lay aside the activities of his profession,
and would have relapsed at last into the complete retirement of holy
meditation. But there were other elements in his nature which urged him
towards a very different course. He was no simple quietist. He was an
English gentleman, an officer, a man of energy and action, a lover of
danger and the audacities that defeat danger; a passionate creature,
flowing over with the self-assertiveness of independent judgment and the
arbitrary temper of command.

Whatever he might find in his pocket-Bible, it was not for such as he to
dream out his days in devout obscurity. But, conveniently enough, he
found nothing in his pocket-Bible indicating that he should. What he did
find was that the Will of God was inscrutable and absolute; that it was
man's duty to follow where God's hand led; and, if God's hand led
towards violent excitements and extraordinary vicissitudes, that it was
not only futile, it was impious to turn another way. Fatalism is always
apt to be a double-edged philosophy; for while, on the one hand, it
reveals the minutest occurrences as the immutable result of a rigid
chain of infinitely predestined causes, on the other, it invests the
wildest incoherences of conduct or of circumstance with the sanctity of
eternal law. And Gordon's fatalism was no exception. The same doctrine
that led him to dally with omens, to search for prophetic texts, and to
append, in brackets, the apotropaic initials D.V. after every statement
in his letters implying futurity, led him also to envisage his moods and
his desires, his passing reckless whims and his deep unconscious
instincts, as the mysterious manifestations of the indwelling God. That
there was danger lurking in such a creed he was very well aware. The
grosser temptations of the world--money and the vulgar attributes of
power--had, indeed, no charms for him; but there were subtler and more
insinuating allurements which it was not so easy to resist. More than
one observer declared that ambition was, in reality, the essential
motive in his life: ambition, neither for wealth nor titles, but for
fame and influence, for the swaying of multitudes, and for that kind of
enlarged and intensified existence 'where breath breathes most even in
the mouths of men'. Was it so? In the depths of Gordon's soul there were
intertwining contradictions--intricate recesses where egoism and
renunciation melted into one another, where the flesh lost itself in the
spirit, and the spirit in the flesh. What was the Will of God? The
question, which first became insistent during his retirement at
Gravesend, never afterwards left him; it might almost be said that he
spent the remainder of his life in searching for the answer to it. In
all his Odysseys, in all his strange and agitated adventures, a day
never passed on which he neglected the voice of eternal wisdom as it
spoke through the words of Paul or Solomon, of Jonah or Habakkuk. He
opened his Bible, he read, and then he noted down his reflections upon
scraps of paper, which, periodically pinned together, he dispatched to
one or other of his religious friends, and particularly his sister
Augusta. The published extracts from these voluminous outpourings lay
bare the inner history of Gordon's spirit, and reveal the pious
visionary of Gravesend in the restless hero of three continents.

His seclusion came to an end in a distinctly providential manner. In
accordance with a stipulation in the Treaty of Paris, an international
commission had been appointed to improve the navigation of the Danube;
and Gordon, who had acted on a similar body fifteen years earlier, was
sent out to represent Great Britain. At Constantinople, he chanced to
meet the Egyptian minister, Nubar Pasha. The Governorship of the
Equatorial Provinces of the Sudan was about to fall vacant; and Nubar
offered the post to Gordon, who accepted it.

'For some wise design,' he wrote to his sister, 'God turns events one
way or another, whether man likes it or not, as a man driving a horse
turns it to right or left without consideration as to whether the horse
likes that way or not. To be happy, a man must be like a well-broken,
willing horse, ready for anything. Events will go as God likes.'

And then followed six years of extraordinary, desperate, unceasing, and
ungrateful labour. The unexplored and pestilential region of Equatoria,
stretching southwards to the Great Lakes and the sources of the Nile,
had been annexed to Egypt by the Khedive Ismail, who, while he
squandered his millions on Parisian ballet-dancers, dreamt strange
dreams of glory and empire. Those dim tracts of swamp and forest in
Central Africa were--so he declared--to be 'opened up'; they were to
receive the blessings of civilisation, they were to become a source of
eternal honour to himself and Egypt. The slave-trade, which flourished
there, was to be put down; the savage inhabitants were to become
acquainted with freedom, justice, and prosperity. Incidentally, a
government monopoly in ivory was to be established, and the place was to
be made a paying concern. Ismail, hopelessly in debt to a horde of
European creditors, looked to Europe to support him in his schemes.
Europe, and, in particular, England, with her passion for extraneous
philanthropy, was not averse. Sir Samuel Baker became the first Governor
of Equatoria, and now Gordon was to carry on the good work. In such
circumstances it was only natural that Gordon should consider himself a
special instrument in God's band. To put his disinterestedness beyond
doubt, he reduced his salary, which had been fixed at L10,000, to
L2,000. He took over his new duties early in 1874, and it was not long
before he had a first hint of disillusionment. On his way up the Nile,
he was received in state at Khartoum by the Egyptian Governor-General of
the Sudan, his immediate official superior.

The function ended in a prolonged banquet, followed by a mixed ballet of
soldiers and completely naked young women, who danced in a circle, beat
time with their feet, and accompanied their gestures with a curious
sound of clucking. At last the Austrian Consul, overcome by the
exhilaration of the scene, flung himself in a frenzy among the dancers;
the Governor-General, shouting with delight, seemed about to follow
suit, when Gordon abruptly left the room, and the party broke up in

When, 1,500 miles to the southward, Gordon reached the seat of his
government, and the desolation of the Tropics closed over him, the
agonising nature of his task stood fully revealed. For the next three
years he struggled with enormous difficulties--with the confused and
horrible country, the appalling climate, the maddening insects and the
loathsome diseases, the indifference of subordinates and superiors, the
savagery of the slave-traders, and the hatred of the inhabitants. One by
one the small company of his European staff succumbed. With a few
hundred Egyptian soldiers he had to suppress insurrections, make roads,
establish fortified posts, and enforce the government monopoly of ivory.
All this he accomplished; he even succeeded in sending enough money to
Cairo to pay for the expenses of the expedition. But a deep gloom had
fallen upon his spirit. When, after a series of incredible obstacles had
been overcome, a steamer was launched upon the unexplored Albert Nyanza,
he turned his back upon the lake, leaving the glory of its navigation to
his Italian lieutenant, Gessi. 'I wish,' he wrote, 'to give a practical
proof of what I think regarding the inordinate praise which is given to
an explorer.' Among his distresses and self-mortifications, he loathed
the thought of all such honours, and remembered the attentions of
English society with a snarl.

'When, D.V., I get home, I do not dine out. My reminiscences of these
lands will not be more pleasant to me than the China ones. What I shall
have done, will be what I have done. Men think giving dinners is
conferring a favour on you ... Why not give dinners to those who need

No! His heart was set upon a very different object.

'To each is allotted a distinct work, to each a destined goal; to some
the seat at the right hand or left hand of the Saviour. (It was not His
to give; it was already given--Matthew xx, 23. Again, Judas went to "HIS
OWN PLACE"--Acts i, 25.) It is difficult for the flesh to accept: "Ye
are dead, ye have naught to do with the world". How difficult for anyone
to be circumcised from the world, to be as indifferent to its pleasures,
its sorrows, and its comforts as a corpse is! That is to know the

But the Holy Bible was not his only solace. For now, under the parching
African sun, we catch glimpses, for the first time, of Gordon's hand
stretching out towards stimulants of a more material quality. For months
together, we are told, he would drink nothing but pure water; and then
... water that was not so pure. In his fits of melancholy, he would shut
himself up in his tent for days at a time, with a hatchet and a flag
placed at the door to indicate that he was not to be disturbed for any
reason whatever; until at last the cloud would lift, the signals would
be removed, and the Governor would reappear, brisk and cheerful.

During, one of these retirements, there was grave danger of a native
attack upon the camp. Colonel Long, the Chief of Staff, ventured, after
some hesitation, to ignore the flag and hatchet, and to enter the
forbidden tent. He found Gordon seated at a table, upon which were an
open Bible and an open bottle of brandy. Long explained the
circumstances, but could obtain no answer beyond the abrupt words--'You
are commander of the camp'--and was obliged to retire, nonplussed, to
deal with the situation as best he could. On the following morning,
Gordon, cleanly shaven, and in the full-dress uniform of the Royal
Engineers, entered Long's hut with his usual tripping step, exclaiming
'Old fellow, now don't be angry with me. I was very low last night.
Let's have a good breakfast--a little b. and s. Do you feel up to it?'
And, with these veering moods and dangerous restoratives, there came an
intensification of the queer and violent elements in the temper of the

His eccentricities grew upon him. He found it more and more
uncomfortable to follow the ordinary course. Official routine was an
agony to him. His caustic and satirical humour expressed itself in a
style that astounded government departments. While he jibed at his
superiors, his subordinates learned to dread the explosions of his
wrath. There were moments when his passion became utterly ungovernable;
and the gentle soldier of God, who had spent the day in quoting texts
for the edification of his sister, would slap the face of his Arab
aide-de-camp in a sudden access of fury, or set upon his Alsatian
servant and kick him until he screamed.

At the end of three years, Gordon resigned his post in Equatoria, and
prepared to return home. But again Providence intervened: the Khedive
offered him, as an inducement to remain in the Egyptian service, a
position of still higher consequence--the Governor-Generalship of the
whole Sudan; and Gordon once more took up his task. Another three years
were passed in grappling with vast revolting provinces, with the
ineradicable iniquities of the slave-trade, and with all the
complications of weakness and corruption incident to an oriental
administration extending over almost boundless tracts of savage
territory which had never been effectively subdued. His headquarters
were fixed in the palace at Khartoum; but there were various interludes
in his government. Once, when the Khedive's finances had become
peculiarly embroiled, he summoned Gordon to Cairo to preside over a
commission which should set matters to rights. Gordon accepted the post,
but soon found that his situation was untenable. He was between the
devil and the deep sea--between the unscrupulous cunning of the Egyptian
Pashas, and the immeasurable immensity of the Khedive's debts to his
European creditors. The Pashas were anxious to use him as a respectable
mask for their own nefarious dealings; and the representatives of the
European creditors, who looked upon him as an irresponsible intruder,
were anxious simply to get rid of him as soon as they could. One of
these representatives was Sir Evelyn Baring, whom Gordon now met for the
first time. An immediate antagonism flashed out between the two men. But
their hostility had no time to mature; for Gordon, baffled on all sides,
and deserted even by the Khedive, precipitately returned to his
Governor-Generalship. Whatever else Providence might have decreed, it
had certainly not decided that he should be a financier.

His tastes and his talents were indeed of a very different kind. In his
absence, a rebellion had broken out in Darfur--one of the vast outlying
provinces of his government--where a native chieftain, Zobeir, had
erected, on a basis of slave-traffic, a dangerous military power. Zobeir
himself had been lured to Cairo, where he was detained in a state of
semi-captivity; but his son, Suleiman, ruled in his stead, and was now
defying the Governor-General. Gordon determined upon a hazardous stroke.
He mounted a camel, and rode, alone, in the blazing heat, across
eighty-five miles of desert, to Suleiman's camp. His sudden apparition
dumbfounded the rebels; his imperious bearing overawed them; he
signified to them that in two days they must disarm and disperse; and
the whole host obeyed. Gordon returned to Khartoum in triumph. But he
had not heard the last of Suleiman. Flying southwards from Darfur to the
neighbouring province of Bahr-el-Ghazal, the young man was soon once
more at the head of a formidable force. A prolonged campaign of extreme
difficulty and danger followed. Eventually, Gordon, summoned again to
Cairo, was obliged to leave to Gessi the task of finally crushing the
revolt. After a brilliant campaign, Gessi forced Suleiman to surrender,
and then shot him as a rebel. The deed was to exercise a curious
influence upon Gordon's fate. Though Suleiman had been killed and his
power broken, the slave-trade still flourished in the Sudan. Gordon's
efforts to suppress it resembled the palliatives of an empiric treating
the superficial symptoms of some profound constitutional disease. The
root of the malady lay in the slave-markets of Cairo and Constantinople:
the supply followed the demand. Gordon, after years of labour, might
here and there stop up a spring or divert a tributary, but, somehow or
other the waters would reach the river-bed. In the end, he himself came
to recognise this. 'When you have got the ink that has soaked into
blotting-paper out of it,' he said, 'then slavery will cease in these
lands.' And yet he struggled desperately on; it was not for him to
murmur. 'I feel my own weakness, and look to Him who is Almighty, and I
leave the issue without inordinate care to Him.'

Relief came at last. The Khedive Ismail was deposed; and Gordon felt at
liberty to send in his resignation. Before he left Egypt, however, he
was to experience yet one more remarkable adventure. At his own request,
he set out on a diplomatic mission to the Negus of Abyssinia. The
mission was a complete failure. The Negus was intractable, and, when his
bribes were refused, furious. Gordon was ignominiously dismissed; every
insult was heaped on him; he was arrested, and obliged to traverse the
Abyssinian Mountains in the depth of winter under the escort of a savage
troop of horse. When, after great hardships and dangers, he reached
Cairo, he found the whole official world up in arms against him. The
Pashas had determined at last that they had no further use for this
honest and peculiar Englishman. It was arranged that one of his
confidential dispatches should be published in the newspapers;
naturally, it contained indiscretions; there was a universal outcry--the
man was insubordinate, and mad. He departed under a storm of obloquy. It
seemed impossible that he should ever return to Egypt. On his way home
he stopped in Paris, saw the English Ambassador, Lord Lyons, and
speedily came into conflict with him over Egyptian affairs. There ensued
a heated correspondence, which was finally closed by a letter from
Gordon, ending as follows:

'I have some comfort in thinking that in ten or fifteen years' time it
will matter little to either of us. A black box, six feet six by three
feet wide, will then contain all that is left of Ambassador, or Cabinet
Minister, or of your humble and obedient servant.'

He arrived in England early in 1880 ill and exhausted; and it might have
been supposed that after the terrible activities of his African exile he
would have been ready to rest. But the very opposite was the case; the
next three years were the most momentous of his life. He hurried from
post to post, from enterprise to enterprise, from continent to
continent, with a vertiginous rapidity. He accepted the Private
Secretaryship to Lord Ripon, the new Viceroy of India, and, three days
after his arrival at Bombay, he resigned. He had suddenly realised that
he was not cut out for a Private Secretary, when, on an address being
sent in from some deputation, he was asked to say that the Viceroy had
read it with interest. 'You know perfectly,' he said to Lord William
Beresford, 'that Lord Ripon has never read it, and I can't say that sort
of thing; so I will resign, and you take in my resignation.' He
confessed to Lord William that the world was not big enough for him,
that there was 'no king or country big enough'; and then he added,
hitting him on the shoulder, 'Yes, that is flesh, that is what I hate,
and what makes me wish to die.'

Two days later, he was off for Pekin. 'Every one will say I am mad,'
were his last words to Lord William Beresford; 'but you say I am not.'
The position in China was critical; war with Russia appeared to be
imminent; and Gordon had been appealed to in order to use his influence
on the side of peace. He was welcomed by many old friends of former
days, among them Li Hung Chang, whose diplomatic views coincided with
his own. Li's diplomatic language, however, was less unconventional. In
an interview with the Ministers, Gordon's expressions were such that the
interpreter shook with terror, upset a cup of tea, and finally refused
to translate the dreadful words; upon which Gordon snatched up a
dictionary, and, with his finger on the word 'idiocy', showed it to the
startled Mandarins. A few weeks later, Li Hung Chang was in power, and
peace was assured. Gordon had spent two and a half days in Pekin, and
was whirling through China, when a telegram arrived from the home
authorities, who viewed his movements with uneasiness, ordering him to
return at once to England. 'It did not produce a twitter in me,' he
wrote to his sister; 'I died long ago, and it will not make any
difference to me; I am prepared to follow the unrolling of the scroll.'
The world, perhaps, was not big enough for him; and yet how clearly he
recognised that he was 'a poor insect!' 'My heart tells me that, and I
am glad of it.'

On his return to England, he telegraphed to the Government of the Cape
of Good Hope, which had become involved in a war with the Basutos,
offering his services; but his telegram received no reply. Just then,
Sir Howard Elphinstone was appointed to the command of the Royal
Engineers in Mauritius. It was a thankless and insignificant post; and,
rather than accept it, Elphinstone was prepared to retire from the
Army--unless some other officer could be induced, in return for L800, to
act as his substitute. Gordon, who was an old friend, agreed to
undertake the work upon one condition: that he should receive nothing
from Elphinstone; and accordingly, he spent the next year in that remote
and unhealthy island, looking after the barrack repairs and testing the

While he was thus engaged, the Cape Government, whose difficulties had
been increasing, changed its mind, and early in 1882, begged for
Gordon's help. Once more he was involved in great affairs: a new field
of action opened before him; and then, in a moment, there was another
shift of the kaleidoscope, and again he was thrown upon the world.
Within a few weeks, after a violent quarrel with the Cape authorities,
his mission had come to an end. What should he do next? To what remote
corner or what enormous stage, to what self-sacrificing drudgeries or
what resounding exploits, would the hand of God lead him now? He waited,
in an odd hesitation. He opened the Bible, but neither the prophecies of
Hosea nor the epistles to Timothy gave him any advice. The King of the
Belgians asked if he would be willing to go to the Congo. He was
perfectly willing; he would go whenever the King of the Belgians sent
for him; his services, however, were not required yet. It was at this
juncture that he betook himself to Palestine. His studies there were
embodied in a correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Barnes, filling over
2,000 pages of manuscript--a correspondence which was only put an end to
when, at last, the summons from the King of the Belgians came. He
hurried back to England; but it was not to the Congo that he was being
led by the hand of God.

Gordon's last great adventure, like his first, was occasioned by a
religious revolt. At the very moment when, apparently forever, he was
shaking the dust of Egypt from his feet, Mahommed Ahmed was starting
upon his extraordinary career in the Sudan. The time was propitious for
revolutions. The effete Egyptian Empire was hovering upon the verge of
collapse. The enormous territories of the Sudan were seething with
discontent. Gordon's administration had, by its very vigour, only helped
to precipitate the inevitable disaster. His attacks upon the
slave-trade, his establishment of a government monopoly in ivory, his
hostility to the Egyptian officials, had been so many shocks, shaking to
its foundations the whole rickety machine. The result of all his efforts
had been, on the one hand, to fill the most powerful classes in the
community--the dealers in slaves and, ivory--with a hatred of the
government, and on the other to awaken among the mass of the inhabitants
a new perception of the dishonesty and incompetence of their Egyptian
masters. When, after Gordon's removal, the rule of the Pashas once more
asserted itself over the Sudan, a general combustion became inevitable:
the first spark would set off the blaze. Just then it happened that
Mahommed Ahmed, the son of an insignificant priest in Dongola, having
quarrelled with the Sheikh from whom he was receiving religious
instruction, set up as an independent preacher, with his headquarters at
Abba Island, on the Nile, 150 miles above Khartoum. Like Hong-siu-tsuen,
he began as a religious reformer, and ended as a rebel king. It was his
mission, he declared, to purge the true Faith of its worldliness and
corruptions, to lead the followers of the prophet into the paths of
chastity, simplicity, and holiness; with the puritanical zeal of a
Calvin, be denounced junketings and merrymakings, songs and dances, lewd
living and all the delights of the flesh. He fell into trances, he saw
visions, he saw the prophet and Jesus, and the Angel Izrail accompanying
him and watching over him forever. He prophesied and performed miracles,
and his fame spread through the land.

There is an ancient tradition in the Mohammedan world, telling of a
mysterious being, the last in succession of the twelve holy Imams, who,
untouched by death and withdrawn into the recesses of a mountain, was
destined, at the appointted hour, to come forth again among men. His
title was the Mahdi, the guide; some believed that he would be the
forerunner of the Messiah; others believed that he would be Christ
himself. Already various Mahdis had made their appearance; several had
been highly successful, and two, in medieval times, had founded
dynasties in Egypt. But who could tell whether all these were not
impostors? Might not the twelfth Imam be still waiting, in mystical
concealment, ready to emerge, at any moment, at the bidding of God?
There were signs by which the true Mahdi might be recognised--unmistakable
signs, if one could but read them aright. He must be of the family of
the prophet; he must possess miraculous powers of no common kind; and
his person must be overflowing with a peculiar sanctity. The pious
dwellers beside those distant waters, where holy men by dint of a
constant repetition of one of the ninety-nine names of God, secured the
protection of guardian angels, and where groups of devotees, shaking
their heads with a violence which would unseat the reason of less
athletic worshippers, attained to an extraordinary beatitude, heard with
awe of the young preacher whose saintliness was almost more than mortal
and whose miracles brought amazement to the mind. Was he not also of the
family of the prophet? He himself had said so, and who would disbelieve
the holy man? When he appeared in person, every doubt was swept away.

There was a strange splendour in his presence, an overpowering passion
in the torrent of his speech. Great was the wickedness of the people,
and great was their punishment! Surely their miseries were a visible
sign of the wrath of the Lord. They had sinned, and the cruel tax
gatherers had come among them, and the corrupt governors, and all the
oppressions of the Egyptians. Yet these things, 'Too, should have an
end. The Lord would raise up his chosen deliverer; the hearts of the
people would be purified, and their enemies would be laid low. The
accursed Egyptian would be driven from the land. Let the faithful take
heart and make ready. How soon might not the long-predestined hour
strike, when the twelfth Imam, the guide, the Mahdi, would reveal
himself to the world?' In that hour, the righteous 'Would triumph and
the guilty be laid low forever.' Such was the teaching of Mohammed
Ahmed. A band of enthusiastic disciples gathered round him, eagerly
waiting for the revelation which would crown their hopes. At last, the
moment came. One evening, at Abba Island, taking aside the foremost of
his followers, the Master whispered the portentous news. He was the

The Egyptian Governor-General at Khartoum, hearing that a religious
movement was afoot, grew disquieted, and dispatched an emissary to Abba
Island to summon the impostor to his presence. The emissary was
courteously received. Mohammed Ahmed, he said, must come at once to
Khartoum. 'Must!' exclaimed the Mahdi, starting to his feet, with a
strange look in his eyes. The look was so strange that the emissary
thought it advisable to cut short the interview and to return to
Khartoum empty-handed. Thereupon, the Governor-General sent 200 soldiers
to seize the audacious rebel by force. With his handful of friends, the
Mahdi fell upon the soldiers and cut them to pieces. The news spread
like wild-fire through the country: the Mahdi had arisen, the Egyptians
were destroyed. But it was clear to the little band of enthusiasts at
Abba Island that their position on the river was no longer tenable. The
Mahdi, deciding upon a second Hegira, retreated south-westward, into the
depths of Kordofan.

The retreat was a triumphal progress. The country, groaning under alien
misgovernment and vibrating with religious excitement, suddenly found in
this rebellious prophet a rallying-point, a hero, a deliverer. And now
another element was added to the forces of insurrection. The Baggara
tribes of Kordofan, cattle-owners and slave-traders, the most warlike
and vigorous of the inhabitants of the Sudan, threw in their lot with
the Mahdi. Their powerful Emirs, still smarting from the blows of
Gordon, saw that the opportunity for revenge had come. A holy war was
proclaimed against the Egyptian misbelievers. The followers of the
Mahdi, dressed, in token of a new austerity of living, in the 'jibbeh',
or white smock of coarse cloth, patched with variously shaped and
coloured patches, were rapidly organised into a formidable army. Several
attacks from Khartoum were repulsed; and at last, the Mahdi felt strong
enough to advance against the enemy. While his lieutenants led
detachments into the vast provinces lying to the west and the
south--Darfur and Bahr-el-Ghazal--he himself marched upon El Obeid, the
capital of Kordofan. It was in vain that reinforcements were hurried
from Khartoum to the assistance of the garrison: there was some severe
fighting; the town was completely cut off; and, after a six months'
siege, it surrendered. A great quantity of guns and ammunition and
L100,000 in spices fell into the hands of the Mahdi. He was master of
Kordofan: he was at the head of a great army; he was rich; he was
worshipped. A dazzling future opened before him. No possibility seemed
too remote, no fortune too magnificent. A vision of universal empire
hovered before his eyes. Allah, whose servant he was, who had led him
thus far, would lead him onward still, to the glorious end.

For some months he remained at El Obeid, consolidating his dominion. In
a series of circular letters, he described his colloquies with the
Almighty and laid down the rule of living which his followers were to
pursue. The faithful, under pain of severe punishment, were to return to
the ascetic simplicity of ancient times. A criminal code was drawn up,
meting out executions, mutilations, and floggings with a barbaric zeal.
The blasphemer was to be instantly hanged, the adulterer was to be
scourged with whips of rhinoceros hide, the thief was to have his right
hand and his left foot hacked off in the marketplace. No more were
marriages to be celebrated with pomp and feasting, no more was the
youthful warrior to swagger with flowing hair; henceforth, the believer
must banquet on dates and milk, and his head must be kept shaved. Minor
transgressions were punished by confiscation of property or by
imprisonment and chains. But the rhinoceros whip was the favourite
instrument of chastisement. Men were flogged for drinking a glass of
wine, they were flogged for smoking; if they swore, they received eighty
lashes for every expletive; and after eighty lashes it was a common
thing to die. Before long, flogging grew to be so everyday an incident
that the young men made a game of it, as a test of their endurance of

With this Spartan ferocity there was mingled the glamour and the mystery
of the East. The Mahdi himself, his four Khalifas, and the principal
Emirs, masters of sudden riches, surrounded themselves with slaves and
women, with trains of horses and asses, with body guards and glittering
arms. There were rumours of debaucheries in high places--of the Mahdi,
forgetful of his own ordinances, revelling in the recesses of his harem,
and quaffing date syrup mixed with ginger out of the silver cups looted
from the church of the Christians. But that imposing figure had only to
show itself for the tongue of scandal to be stilled. The tall,
broad-shouldered, majestic man, with the dark face and black beard and
great eyes--who could doubt that he was the embodiment of a superhuman
power? Fascination dwelt in every movement, every glance. The eyes,
painted with antimony, flashed extraordinary fires; the exquisite smile
revealed, beneath the vigorous lips, white upper teeth with a V-shaped
space between them--the certain sign of fortune. His turban was folded
with faultless art, his jibbeh, speckless, was perfumed with
sandal-wood, musk, and attar of roses. He was at once all courtesy and
all command. Thousands followed him, thousands prostrated themselves
before him; thousands, when he lifted up his voice in solemn worship,
knew that the heavens were opened and that they had come near to God.
Then all at once the onbeia--the elephant's-tusk trumpet--would give out
its enormous sound. The nahas--the brazen wardrums--would summon, with
their weird rolling, the whole host to arms. The green flag and the red
flag and the black flag would rise over the multitude. The great army
would move forward, coloured, glistening, dark, violent, proud,
beautiful. The drunkenness, the madness of religion would blaze on every
face; and the Mahdi, immovable on his charger, would let the scene grow
under his eyes in silence.

El Obeid fell in January, 1883. Meanwhile, events of the deepest
importance had occurred in Egypt. The rise of Arabi had synchronised
with that of the Mahdi. Both movements were nationalist; both were
directed against alien rulers who had shown themselves unfit to rule.
While the Sudanese were shaking off the yoke of Egypt, the Egyptians
themselves grew impatient of their own masters--the Turkish and
Circassian Pashas who filled with their incompetence all the high
offices of state. The army led by Ahmed Arabi, a Colonel of fellah
origin, mutinied, the Khedive gave way, and it seemed as if a new order
were about to be established. A new order was indeed upon the point of
appearing: but it was of a kind undreamt of in Arabi's philosophy. At
the critical moment, the English Government intervened. An English fleet
bombarded Alexandria, an English army landed under Lord Wolseley, and
defeated Arabi and his supporters at Tel-el-kebir. The rule of the
Pashas was nominally restored; but henceforth, in effect, the English
were masters of Egypt.

Nevertheless, the English themselves were slow to recognise this fact:
their Government had intervened unwillingly; the occupation of the
country was a merely temporary measure; their army was to be withdrawn
as soon as a tolerable administration had been set up. But a tolerable
administration, presided over by the Pashas, seemed long in coming, and
the English army remained. In the meantime, the Mahdi had entered El
Obeid, and his dominion was rapidly spreading over the greater part of
the Sudan.

Then a terrible catastrophe took place. The Pashas, happy once more in
Cairo, pulling the old strings and growing fat over the old flesh-pots,
decided to give the world an unmistakable proof of their renewed vigour.
They would tolerate the insurrection in the Sudan no longer; they would
destroy the Mahdi, reduce his followers to submission, and re-establish
their own beneficent rule over the whole country. To this end they
collected together an army of 10,000 men, and placed it under the
command of Colonel Hicks, a retired English officer. He was ordered to
advance and suppress the rebellion. In these proceedings the English
Government refused to take any part. Unable, or unwilling, to realise
that, so long as there was an English army in Egypt they could not avoid
the responsibilities of supreme power, they declared that the domestic
policy of the Egyptian administration was no concern of theirs. It was a
fatal error--an error which they themselves, before many weeks were
over, were to be forced by the hard logic of events to admit. The
Pashas, left to their own devices, mismanaged the Hicks expedition to
their hearts' content. The miserable troops, swept together from the
relics of Arabi's disbanded army, were dispatched to Khartoum in chains.
After a month's drilling, they were pronounced to be fit to attack the
fanatics of the Sudan. Colonel Hicks was a brave man; urged on by the
authorities in Cairo, he shut his eyes to the danger ahead of him, and
marched out from Khartoum in the direction of El Obeid at the beginning
of September, 1883. Abandoning his communications, he was soon deep in
the desolate wastes of Kordofan. As he advanced, his difficulties
increased; the guides were treacherous, the troops grew exhausted, the
supply of water gave out. He pressed on, and at last, on November 5th,
not far from El Obeid, the harassed, fainting, almost desperate army
plunged into a vast forest of gumtrees and mimosa scrub. There was a
sudden, appalling yell; the Mahdi, with 40,000 of his finest men, sprang
from their ambush. The Egyptians were surrounded, and immediately
overpowered. It was not a defeat, but an annihilation. Hicks and his
European staff were slaughtered; the whole army was slaughtered; 300
wounded wretches crept away into the forest.

The consequences of this event were felt in every part of the Sudan. To
the westward, in Darfur, the Governor, Slatin Pasha, after a prolonged
and valiant resistance, was forced to surrender, and the whole province
fell into the hands of the rebels. Southwards, in the Bahr-el-Ghazal,
Lupton Bey was shut up in a remote stronghold, while the country was
overrun. The Mahdi's triumphs were beginning to penetrate even into the
tropical regions of Equatoria; the tribes were rising, and Emir Pasha
was preparing to retreat towards the Great Lakes. On the East, Osman
Digna pushed the insurrection right up to the shores of the Red Sea and
laid siege to Suakin. Before the year was over, with the exception of a
few isolated and surrounded garrisons, the Mahdi was absolute lord of a
territory equal to the combined area of Spain, France, and Germany; and
his victorious armies were rapidly closing round Khartoum.

When the news of the Hicks disaster reached Cairo, the Pashas calmly
announced that they would collect another army of 10,000 men, and again
attack the Mahdi; but the English Government understood at last the
gravity of the case. They saw that a crisis was upon them, and that they
could no longer escape the implications of their position in Egypt. What
were they to do? Were they to allow the Egyptians to become more and
more deeply involved in a ruinous, perhaps ultimately a fatal, war with
the Mahdi? And, if not, what steps were they to take?

A small minority of the party then in power in England--the Liberal
Party--were anxious to withdraw from Egypt altogether and at once. On
the other hand, another and a more influential minority, with
representatives in the Cabinet, were in favour of a more active
intervention in Egyptian affairs--of the deliberate use of the power of
England to give to Egypt internal stability and external security; they
were ready, if necessary, to take the field against the Mahdi with
English troops. But the great bulk of the party, and the Cabinet, with
Mr. Gladstone at their head, preferred a middle course. Realising the
impracticality of an immediate withdrawal, they were nevertheless
determined to remain in Egypt not a moment longer than was necessary,
and, in the meantime, to interfere as little as possible in Egyptian

From a campaign in the Sudan conducted by an English army they were
altogether averse. If, therefore, the English army was not to be used,
and the Egyptian army was not fit to be used against the Mahdi, it
followed that any attempt to reconquer the Sudan must be abandoned; the
remaining Egyptian troops must be withdrawn, and in future military
operations must be limited to those of a strictly defensive kind. Such
was the decision of the English Government. Their determination was
strengthened by two considerations: in the first place, they saw that
the Mahdi's rebellion was largely a nationalist movement, directed
against an alien power, and, in the second place, the policy of
withdrawal from the Sudan was the policy of their own representative in
Egypt, Sir Evelyn Baring, who had lately been appointed Consul-General
at Cairo. There was only one serious obstacle in the way--the attitude
of the Pashas at the head of the Egyptian Government. The infatuated old
men were convinced that they would have better luck next time, that
another army and another Hicks would certainly destroy the Mahdi, and
that, even if the Mahdi were again victorious, yet another army and yet
another Hicks would no doubt be forthcoming, and that THEY would do the
trick, or, failing that ... but they refused to consider eventualities
any further. In the face of such opposition, the English Government,
unwilling as they were to interfere, saw that there was no choice open
to them but to exercise pressure. They therefore instructed Sir Evelyn
Baring, in the event of the Egyptian Government refusing to withdraw
from the Sudan, to insist upon the Khedive's appointing other Ministers
who would be willing to do so.

Meanwhile, not only the Government, but the public in England were
beginning to realise the alarming nature of the Egyptian situation. It
was some time before the details of the Hicks expedition were fully
known, but when they were, and when the appalling character of the
disaster was understood, a thrill of horror ran through the country. The
newspapers became full of articles on the Sudan, of personal
descriptions of the Mahdi, of agitated letters from colonels and
clergymen demanding vengeance, and of serious discussions of future
policy in Egypt. Then, at the beginning of the new year, alarming
messages began to arrive from Khartoum. Colonel Coetlogon, who was in
command of the Egyptian troops, reported a menacing concentration of the
enemy. Day by day, hour by hour, affairs grew worse. The Egyptians were
obviously outnumbered: they could not maintain themselves in the field;
Khartoum was in danger; at any moment, its investment might be complete.
And, with Khartoum once cut off from communication with Egypt, what
might not happen? Colonel Coetlogon began to calculate how long the city
would hold out. Perhaps it could not resist the Mahdi for a month,
perhaps for more than a month; but he began to talk of the necessity of
a speedy retreat. It was clear that a climax was approaching, and that
measures must be taken to forestall it at once. Accordingly, Sir Evelyn
Baring, on receipt of final orders from England, presented an ultimatum
to the Egyptian Government: the Ministry must either sanction the
evacuation of the Sudan, or it must resign. The Ministry was obstinate,
and, on January 7th, 1884, it resigned, to be replaced by a more pliable
body of Pashas. On the same day, General Gordon arrived at Southampton.
He was over fifty, and he was still, by the world's measurements, an
unimportant man. In spite of his achievements, in spite of a certain
celebrity--for 'Chinese Gordon' was still occasionally spoken of--he was
unrecognised and almost unemployed.

He had spent a lifetime in the dubious services of foreign governments,
punctuated by futile drudgeries at home; and now, after a long idleness,
he had been sent for--to do what?--to look after the Congo for the King
of the Belgians. At his age, even if he survived the work and the
climate, he could hardly look forward to any subsequent appointment; he
would return from the Congo, old and worn out, to a red-brick villa and
extinction. Such were General Gordon's prospects on January 7th, 1884.
By January 18th, his name was on every tongue, he was the favourite of
the nation, he had been declared to be the one living man capable of
coping with the perils of the hour; he had been chosen, with unanimous
approval, to perform a great task; and he had left England on a mission
which was to bring him not only a boundless popularity, but an immortal
fame. The circumstances which led to a change so sudden and so
remarkable are less easily explained than might have been wished. An
ambiguity hangs over them--an ambiguity which the discretion of eminent
persons has certainly not diminished. But some of the facts are clear

The decision to withdraw from the Sudan had no sooner been taken than it
had become evident that the operation would be a difficult and hazardous
one, and that it would be necessary to send to Khartoum an emissary
armed with special powers and possessed of special ability, to carry it
out. Towards the end of November, somebody at the War Office--it is not
clear who--had suggested that this emissary should be General Gordon.
Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary, had thereupon telegraphed to Sir
Evelyn Baring asking whether, in his opinion, the presence of General
Gordon would be useful in Egypt; Sir Evelyn Baring had replied that the
Egyptian Government was averse to this proposal, and the matter had

There was no further reference to Gordon in the official dispatches
until after his return to England. Nor, before that date, was any
allusion made to him as a possible unraveller of the Sudan difficulty,
in the Press. In all the discussions which followed the news of the
Hicks disaster, his name is only to be found in occasional and
incidental references to his work "In the Sudan". The "Pall Mall
Gazette", which, more than any other newspaper, interested itself in
Egyptian affairs, alluded to Gordon once or twice as a geographical
expert; but, in an enumeration of the leading authorities on the Sudan,
left him out of account altogether. Yet it was from the "Pall Mall
Gazette" that the impulsion which projected him into a blaze of
publicity finally came. Mr. Stead, its enterprising editor, went down to
Southampton the day after Gordon's arrival there, and obtained an
interview. Now when he was in the mood--after a little b. and s.,
especially--no one was more capable than Gordon, with his facile speech
and his free-and-easy manners, of furnishing good copy for a journalist;
and Mr. Stead made the most of his opportunity. The interview, copious
and pointed, was published next day in the most prominent part of the
paper, together with a leading article, demanding that the General
should be immediately dispatched to Khartoum with the widest powers. The
rest of the Press, both in London and in the provinces, at once took up
the cry: General Gordon was a capable and energetic officer, he was a
noble and God-fearing man, he was a national asset, he was a statesman
in the highest sense of the word; the occasion was pressing and
perilous; General Gordon had been for years Governor-General of the
Sudan; General Gordon alone had the knowledge, the courage, the virtue,
which would save the situation; General Gordon must go to Khartoum. So,
for a week, the papers sang in chorus. But already those in high places
had taken a step. Mr. Stead's interview appeared on the afternoon of
January 9th, and on the morning of January 10th Lord Granville
telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Baring, proposing, for a second time, that
Gordon's services should be utilised in Egypt. But Sir Evelyn Baring,
for the second time, rejected the proposal.

While these messages were flashing to and fro, Gordon himself was paying
a visit to the Rev. Mr. Barnes at the Vicarage of Heavitree, near
Exeter. The conversation ran chiefly on Biblical and spiritual
matters--on the light thrown by the Old Testament upon the geography of
Palestine, and on the relations between man and his Maker; but, there
were moments when topics of a more worldly interest arose. It happened
that Sir Samuel Baker, Gordon's predecessor in Equatoria, lived in the
neighbourhood. A meeting was arranged, and the two ex-Governors, with
Mr. Barnes in attendance, went for a drive together. In the carriage,
Sir Samuel Baker, taking up the tale of the "Pall Mall Gazette", dilated
upon the necessity of his friend's returning to the Sudan as
Governor-General. Gordon was silent; but Mr. Barnes noticed that his
blue eyes flashed, while an eager expression passed over his face. Late
that night, after the Vicar had retired to bed, he was surprised by the
door suddenly opening, and by the appearance of his guest swiftly
tripping into the room. 'You saw me today?' the low voice abruptly
questioned. 'You mean in the carriage?' replied the startled Mr. Barnes.
'Yes,' came the reply; 'you saw ME--that was MYSELF--the self I want to
get rid of.' There was a sliding movement, the door swung to, and the
Vicar found himself alone again.

It was clear that a disturbing influence had found its way into Gordon's
mind. His thoughts, wandering through Africa, flitted to the Sudan; they
did not linger at the Congo. During the same visit, he took the
opportunity of calling upon Dr. Temple, the Bishop of Exeter, and asking
him, merely as a hypothetical question, whether, in his opinion,
Sudanese converts to Christianity might be permitted to keep three
wives. His Lordship answered that this would be uncanonical.

A few days later, it appeared that the conversation in the carriage at
Heavitree had borne fruit. Gordon wrote a letter to Sir Samuel Baker,
further elaborating the opinions on the Sudan which he had already
expressed in his interview with Mr. Stead; the letter was clearly
intended for publication, and published it was in "The Times" of January
14th. On the same day, Gordon's name began once more to buzz along the
wires in secret questions and answers to and from the highest quarters.

'Might it not be advisable,' telegraphed Lord Granville to Mr.
Gladstone, to put a little pressure on Baring, to induce him to accept
the assistance of General Gordon?' Mr. Gladstone replied, also by a
telegram, in the affirmative; and on the 15th, Lord Wolseley telegraphed
to Gordon begging him to come to London immediately. Lord Wolseley, who
was one of Gordon's oldest friends, was at that time Adjutant-General of
the Forces; there was a long interview; and, though the details of the
conversation have never transpired, it is known that, in the course of
it, Lord Wolseley asked Gordon if he would be willing to go to the
Sudan, to which Gordon replied that there was only one objection--his
prior engagement to the King of the Belgians. Before nightfall, Lord
Granville, by private telegram, had 'put a little pressure on Baring'.
'He had,' he said, 'heard indirectly that Gordon was ready to go at once
to the Sudan on the following rather vague terms: His mission to be to
report to Her Majesty's Government on the military situation, and to
return without any further engagement. He would be under you for
instructions and will send letters through you under flying seal ... He
might be of use,' Lord Granville added, in informing you and us of the
situation. It would be popular at home, but there may be countervailing
objections. Tell me,' such was Lord Granville's concluding injunction,
'your real opinion.' It was the third time of asking, and Sir Evelyn
Baring resisted no longer.

'Gordon,' he telegraphed on the 16th, 'would be the best man if he will
pledge himself to carry out the policy of withdrawing from the Sudan as
quickly as is possible, consistently with saving life. He must also
understand that he must take his instructions from the British
representative in Egypt ... I would rather have him than anyone else,
provided there is a perfectly clear understanding with him as to what
his position is to be and what line of policy he is to carry out.
Otherwise, not ... Whoever goes should be distinctly warned that he will
undertake a service of great difficulty and danger.'

In the meantime, Gordon, with the Sudan upon his lips, with the Sudan in
his imagination, had hurried to Brussels, to obtain from the King of the
Belgians a reluctant consent to the postponement of his Congo mission.
On the 17th he was recalled to London by a telegram from Lord Wolseley.
On the 18th the final decision was made. 'At noon,' Gordon told the Rev.
Mr. Barnes, Wolseley came to me and took me to the Ministers. He went in
and talked to the Ministers, and came back and said: "Her Majesty's
Government wants you to undertake this. Government is determined to
evacuate the Sudan, for they will not guarantee future government. Will
you go and do it?" I said: "Yes." He said: "Go in." I went in and saw
them. They said: "Did Wolseley tell you your orders?" I said: "Yes." I
said: "You will not guarantee future government of the Sudan, and you
wish me to go up and evacuate now." They said: "Yes", and it was over.'

Such was the sequence of events which ended in General Gordon's last
appointment. The precise motives of those responsible for these
transactions are less easy to discern. It is difficult to understand
what the reasons could have been which induced the Government, not only
to override the hesitations of Sir Evelyn Baring, but to overlook the
grave and obvious dangers involved in sending such a man as Gordon to
the Sudan. The whole history of his life, the whole bent of his
character, seemed to disqualify him for the task for which he had been
chosen. He was before all things a fighter, an enthusiast, a bold
adventurer; and he was now to be entrusted with the conduct of an
inglorious retreat. He was alien to the subtleties of civilised
statesmanship, he was unamenable to official control, he was incapable
of the skilful management of delicate situations; and he was now to be
placed in a position of great complexity, requiring at once a cool
judgment, a clear perception of fact, and a fixed determination to carry
out a line of policy laid down from above. He had, it is true, been
Governor-General of the Sudan; but he was now to return to the scene of
his greatness as the emissary of a defeated and humbled power; he was to
be a fugitive where he had once been a ruler; the very success of his
mission was to consist in establishing the triumph of those forces which
he had spent years in trampling underfoot. All this should have been
clear to those in authority, after a very little reflection. It was
clear enough to Sir Evelyn Baring, though, with characteristic
reticence, he had abstained from giving expression to his thoughts. But,
even if a general acquaintance with Gordon's life and character were not
sufficient to lead to these conclusions, he himself had taken care to
put their validity beyond reasonable doubt. Both in his interview with
Mr. Stead and in his letter to Sir Samuel Baker, he had indicated
unmistakably his own attitude towards the Sudan situation. The policy
which he advocated, the state of feeling in which he showed himself to
be, was diametrically opposed to the declared intentions of the
Government. He was by no means in favour of withdrawing from the Sudan;
he was in favour, as might have been supposed, of vigorous military
action. It might be necessary to abandon, for the time being, the more
remote garrisons in Darfur and Equatoria; but Khartoum must be held at
all costs. To allow the Mahdi to enter Khartoum would not merely mean
the return of the whole of the Sudan to barbarism; it would be a menace
to the safety of Egypt herself. To attempt to protect Egypt against the
Mahdi by fortifying her southern frontier was preposterous. 'You might
as well fortify against a fever.' Arabia, Syria, the whole Mohammedan
world, would be shaken by the Mahdi's advance. 'In self-defence,' Gordon
declared to Mr. Stead, the policy of evacuation cannot possibly be
justified.' The true policy was obvious. A strong man--Sir Samuel Baker,
perhaps--must be sent to Khartoum, with a large contingent of Indian and
Turkish troops and with two millions of money. He would very soon
overpower the Mahdi, whose forces would 'fall to pieces of themselves'.
For in Gordon's opinion it was 'an entire mistake to regard the Mahdi as
in any sense a religious leader'; he would collapse as soon as he was
face to face with an English general. Then the distant regions of Darfur
and Equatoria could once more be occupied; their original Sultans could
be reinstated; the whole country would be placed under civilised rule;
and the slave-trade would be finally abolished. These were the views
which Gordon publicly expressed on January 9th and on January 14th; and
it certainly seems strange that on January 10th and on January 14th,
Lord Granville should have proposed, without a word of consultation with
Gordon himself, to send him on a mission which involved, not the
reconquest, but the abandonment of the Sudan; Gordon, indeed, when he
was actually approached by Lord Wolseley, had apparently agreed to
become the agent of a policy which was exactly the reverse of his own.
No doubt, too, it is possible for a subordinate to suppress his private
convictions and to carry out loyally, in spite of them, the orders of
his superiors. But how rare are the qualities of self-control and wisdom
which such a subordinate must possess! And how little reason there was
to think that General Gordon possessed them!

In fact, the conduct of the Government wears so singular an appearance
that it has seemed necessary to account for it by some ulterior
explanation. It has often been asserted that the true cause of Gordon's
appointment was the clamour in the Press. It is said--among others, by
Sir Evelyn Baring himself, who has given something like an official
sanction to this view of the case--that the Government could not resist
the pressure of the newspapers and the feeling in the country which it
indicated; that Ministers, carried off their feet by a wave of 'Gordon
cultus', were obliged to give way to the inevitable. But this suggestion
is hardly supported by an examination of the facts. Already, early in
December, and many weeks before Gordon's name had begun to figure in the
newspapers, Lord Granville had made his first effort to induce Sir
Evelyn Baring to accept Gordon's services. The first newspaper demand
for a Gordon mission appeared in the "Pall Mall Gazette" on the
afternoon of January 9th; and the very next morning, Lord Granville was
making his second telegraphic attack upon Sir Evelyn Baring. The feeling
in the Press did not become general until the 11th, and on the 14th Lord
Granville, in his telegram to Mr. Gladstone, for the third time proposed
the appointment of Gordon. Clearly, on the part of Lord Granville at any
rate, there was no extreme desire to resist the wishes of the Press. Nor
was the Government as a whole by any means incapable of ignoring public
opinion; a few months were to show that, plainly enough. It is difficult
to avoid the conclusion that if Ministers had been opposed to the
appointment of Gordon, he would never have been appointed. As it was,
the newspapers were in fact forestalled, rather than followed, by the

How, then, are we to explain the Government's action? Are we to suppose
that its members, like the members of the public at large, were
themselves carried away by a sudden enthusiasm, a sudden conviction that
they had found their saviour; that General Gordon was the man--they did
not quite know why, but that was of no consequence--the one man to get
them out of the whole Sudan difficulty--they did not quite know how, but
that was of no consequence either if only he were sent to Khartoum?
Doubtless even Cabinet Ministers are liable to such impulses; doubtless
it is possible that the Cabinet of that day allowed itself to drift, out
of mere lack of consideration, and judgment, and foresight, along the
rapid stream of popular feeling towards the inevitable cataract. That
may be so; yet there are indications that a more definite influence was
at work. There was a section of the Government which had never become
quite reconciled to the policy of withdrawing from the Sudan. To this
section--we may call it the imperialist section--which was led, inside
the Cabinet, by Lord Hartington, and outside by Lord Wolseley, the
policy which really commended itself was the very policy which had been
outlined by General Gordon in his interview with Mr. Stead and his
letter to Sir Samuel Baker. They saw that it might be necessary to
abandon some of the outlying parts of the Sudan to the Mahdi; but the
prospect of leaving the whole province in his hands was highly
distasteful to them; above all, they dreaded the loss of Khartoum. Now,
supposing that General Gordon, in response to a popular agitation in the
Press, were sent to Khartoum, what would follow? Was it not at least
possible that, once there, with his views and his character, he would,
for some reason or other, refrain from carrying out a policy of pacific
retreat? Was it not possible that in that case he might so involve the
English Government that it would find itself obliged, almost
imperceptibly perhaps, to substitute for its policy of withdrawal a
policy of advance? Was it not possible that General Gordon might get
into difficulties, that he might be surrounded and cut off from Egypt'?
If that were to happen, how could the English Government avoid the
necessity of sending an expedition to rescue him? And, if an English
expedition went to the Sudan, was it conceivable that it would leave the
Mahdi as it found him? In short, would not the dispatch of General
Gordon to Khartoum involve, almost inevitably, the conquest of the Sudan
by British troops, followed by a British occupation? And, behind all
these questions, a still larger question loomed. The position of the
English in Egypt itself was still ambiguous; the future was obscure; how
long, in reality, would an English army remain in Egypt? Was not one
thing, at least, obvious--that if the English were to conquer and occupy
the Sudan, their evacuation of Egypt would become impossible?

With our present information, it would be rash to affirm that all, or
any, of these considerations were present to the minds of the
imperialist section of the Government. Yet it is difficult to believe
that a man such as Lord Wolseley, for instance, with his knowledge of
affairs and his knowledge of Gordon, could have altogether overlooked
them. Lord Hartington, indeed, may well have failed to realise at once
the implications of General Gordon's appointment--for it took Lord
Hartington some time to realise the implications of anything; but Lord
Hartington was very far from being a fool; and we may well suppose that
he instinctively, perhaps subconsciously, apprehended the elements of a
situation which he never formulated to himself. However that may be,
certain circumstances are significant. It is significant that the
go-between who acted as the Government's agent in its negotiations with
Gordon was an imperialist--Lord Wolseley. It is significant that the
'Ministers' whom Gordon finally interviewed, and who actually determined
his appointment were by no means the whole of the Cabinet, but a small
section of it, presided over by Lord Hartington. It is significant, too,
that Gordon's mission was represented both to Sir Evelyn Baring, who was
opposed to his appointment, and to Mr. Gladstone, who was opposed to an
active policy in the Sudan, as a mission merely 'to report'; while, no
sooner was the mission actually decided upon, than it began to assume a
very different complexion. In his final interview with the 'Ministers',
Gordon we know (though he said nothing about it to the Rev. Mr Barnes)
threw out the suggestion that it might be as well to make him the
Governor-General of the Sudan. The suggestion, for the moment, was not
taken up; but it is obvious that a man does not propose to become a
Governor-General in order to make a report.

We are in the region of speculations; one other presents itself. Was the
movement in the Press during that second week of January a genuine
movement, expressing a spontaneous wave of popular feeling? Or was it a
cause of that feeling, rather than an effect? The engineering of a
newspaper agitation may not have been an impossibility--even so long ago
as 1884. One would like to know more than one is ever likely to know of
the relations of the imperialist section of the Government with Mr.

But it is time to return to the solidity of fact. Within a few hours of
his interview with the Ministers, Gordon had left England forever. At
eight o'clock in the evening, there was a little gathering of elderly
gentlemen at Victoria Station. Gordon, accompanied by Colonel Stewart,
who was to act as his second-in-command, tripped on to the platform.
Lord Granville bought the necessary tickets; the Duke of Cambridge
opened the railway-carriage door. The General jumped into the train; and
then Lord Wolseley appeared, carrying a leather bag, in which was L200
in gold, collected from friends at the last moment for the contingencies
of the journey. The bag was handed through the window. The train
started. As it did so, Gordon leaned out and addressed a last whispered
question to Lord Wolseley. Yes, it had been done. Lord Wolseley had seen
to it himself; next morning, every member of the Cabinet would receive a
copy of Dr. Samuel Clarke's Scripture Promises. That was all. The train
rolled out of the station.

Before the travellers reached Cairo, steps had been taken which finally
put an end to the theory--if it had ever been seriously held--that the
purpose of the mission was simply the making of a report. On the very
day of Gordon's departure, Lord Granville telegraphed to Sir Evelyn
Baring as follows: 'Gordon suggests that it may be announced in Egypt
that he is on his way to Khartoum to arrange for the future settlement
of the Sudan for the best advantage of the people.' Nothing was said of
reporting. A few days later, Gordon himself telegraphed to Lord
Granville suggesting that he should be made Governor-General of the
Sudan, in order to 'accomplish the evacuation', and to 'restore to the
various Sultans of the Sudan their independence'. Lord Granville at once
authorised Sir Evelyn Baring to issue, if he thought fit, a proclamation
to this effect in the name of the Khedive. Thus the mission 'to report'
had already swollen into a Governor-Generalship, with the object, not
merely of effecting the evacuation of the Sudan, but also of setting up
'various Sultans' to take the place of the Egyptian Government.

In Cairo, in spite of the hostilities of the past, Gordon was received
with every politeness. He was at once proclaimed Governor-General of the
Sudan, with the widest powers. He was on the point of starting off again
on his journey southwards, when a singular and important incident
occurred. Zobeir, the rebel chieftain of Darfur, against whose forces
Gordon had struggled for years, and whose son, Suleiman, had been
captured and executed by Gessi, Gordon's lieutenant, was still detained
at Cairo. It so fell out that he went to pay a visit to one of the
Ministers at the same time as the new Governor-General. The two men met
face to face, and, as he looked into the savage countenance of his old
enemy, an extraordinary shock of inspiration ran through Gordon's brain.
He was seized, as he explained in a State paper, which he drew up
immediately after the meeting, with a 'mystic feeling' that he could
trust Zobeir. It was true that Zobeir was 'the greatest slave-hunter who
ever existed'; it was true that he had a personal hatred of Gordon,
owing to the execution of Suleiman--'and one cannot wonder at it, if one
is a father'; it was true that, only a few days previously, on his way
to Egypt, Gordon himself had been so convinced of the dangerous
character of Zobeir that he had recommended by telegram his removal to
Cyprus. But such considerations were utterly obliterated by that one
moment of electric impact of personal vision; henceforward, there was a
rooted conviction in Gordon's mind that Zobeir was to be trusted, that
Zobeir must join him at Khartoum, that Zobeir's presence would paralyse
the Mahdi, that Zobeir must succeed him in the government of the country
after the evacuation. Did not Sir Evelyn Baring, too, have the mystic
feeling? Sir Evelyn Baring confessed that he had not. He distrusted
mystic feelings. Zobeir, no doubt, might possibly be useful; but, before
deciding upon so important a matter, it was necessary to reflect and to

In the meantime, failing Zobeir, something might perhaps be done with
the Emir Abdul Shakur, the heir of the Darfur Sultans. The Emir, who had
been living in domestic retirement in Cairo, was with some difficulty
discovered, given L2,000, an embroidered uniform, together with the
largest decoration that could be found, and informed that he was to
start at once with General Gordon for the Sudan, where it would be his
duty to occupy the province of Darfur, after driving out the forces of
the Mahdi. The poor man begged for a little delay; but no delay could be
granted. He hurried to the railway station in his frockcoat and fez, and
rather the worse for liquor. Several extra carriages for his
twenty-three wives and a large quantity of luggage had then to be
hitched on to the Governor-General's train; and at the last moment some
commotion was caused by the unaccountable disappearance of his
embroidered uniform. It was found, but his troubles were not over. On
the steamer, General Gordon was very rude to him, and he drowned his
chagrin in hot rum and water. At Assuan he disembarked, declaring that
he would go no farther. Eventually, however, he got as far as Dongola,
whence, after a stay of a few months, he returned with his family to

In spite of this little contretemps, Gordon was in the highest spirits.
At last his capacities had been recognised by his countrymen; at last he
had been entrusted with a task great enough to satisfy even his desires.
He was already famous; he would soon be glorious. Looking out once more
over the familiar desert, he felt the searchings of his conscience
stilled by the manifest certainty that it was for this that Providence
had been reserving him through all these years of labour and of sorrow
for this! What was the Mahdi to stand up against him! A thousand
schemes, a thousand possibilities sprang to life in his pullulating
brain. A new intoxication carried him away. 'Il faut etre toujours ivre.
Tout est la: c'est l'unique question.' Little though he knew it, Gordon
was a disciple of Baudelaire. 'Pour ne pas sentir l'horrible fardeau du
Temps qui brise vos epaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous
enivrer sans treve.' Yes--but how feeble were those gross resources of
the miserable Abdul-Shakur! Rum? Brandy? Oh, he knew all about them;
they were nothing. He tossed off a glass. They were nothing at all. The
true drunkenness lay elsewhere. He seized a paper and pencil, and dashed
down a telegram to Sir Evelyn Baring. Another thought struck him, and
another telegram followed. And another, and yet another. He had made up
his mind; he would visit the Mahdi in person, and alone. He might do
that; or he might retire to the Equator. He would decidedly retire to
the Equator, and hand over the Bahr-el-Ghazal province to the King of
the Belgians. A whole flock of telegrams flew to Cairo from every
stopping-place. Sir Evelyn Baring was patient and discrete; he could be
trusted with such confidences; but unfortunately Gordon's strange
exhilaration found other outlets. At Berber, in the course of a speech
to the assembled chiefs, he revealed the intention of the Egyptian
Government to withdraw from the Sudan. The news was everywhere in a
moment, and the results were disastrous. The tribesmen, whom fear and
interest had still kept loyal, perceived that they need look no more for
help or punishment from Egypt, and began to turn their eyes towards the
rising sun.

Nevertheless, for the moment, the prospect wore a favourable appearance.
The Governor-General was welcomed at every stage of his journey, and on
February 18th he made a triumphal entry into Khartoum. The feeble
garrison, the panic-stricken inhabitants, hailed him as a deliverer.
Surely they need fear no more, now that the great English Pasha had come
among them. His first acts seemed to show that a new and happy era had
begun. Taxes were remitted, the bonds of the usurers were destroyed, the
victims of Egyptian injustice were set free from the prisons; the
immemorial instruments of torture--the stocks and the whips and the
branding-irons were broken to pieces in the public square. A bolder
measure had been already taken. A proclamation had been issued
sanctioning slavery in the Sudan. Gordon, arguing that he was powerless
to do away with the odious institution, which, as soon as the withdrawal
was carried out, would inevitably become universal, had decided to reap
what benefit he could from the public abandonment of an unpopular
policy. At Khartoum the announcement was received with enthusiasm, but
it caused considerable perturbation in England. The Christian hero, who
had spent so many years of his life in suppressing slavery, was now
suddenly found to be using his high powers to set it up again. The
Anti-Slavery Society made a menacing movement, but the Government showed
a bold front, and the popular belief in Gordon's infallibility carried
the day.

He himself was still radiant. Nor, amid the jubilation and the devotion
which surrounded him, did he forget higher things. In all this turmoil,
he told his sister, he was 'supported'. He gave injunctions that his
Egyptian troops should have regular morning and evening prayers; 'they
worship one God,' he said, 'Jehovah.' And he ordered an Arabic text,
'God rules the hearts of all men', to be put up over the chair of state
in his audience chamber. As the days went by, he began to feel at home
again in the huge palace which he knew so well. The glare and the heat
of that southern atmosphere, the movement of the crowded city, the
dark-faced populace, the soldiers and the suppliants, the reawakened
consciousness of power, the glamour and the mystery of the whole strange
scene--these things seized upon him, engulfed him, and worked a new
transformation on his intoxicated heart. England, with its complications
and its policies, became an empty vision to him; Sir Evelyn Baring, with
his cautions and sagacities, hardly more than a tiresome name. He was
Gordon Pasha, he was the Governor-General, he was the ruler of the
Sudan. He was among his people--his own people, and it was to them only
that he was responsible--to them, and to God. Was he to let them fall
without a blow into the clutches of a sanguinary impostor? Never! He was
there to prevent that. The distant governments might mutter something
about 'evacuation'; his thoughts were elsewhere. He poured them into his
telegrams, and Sir Evelyn Baring sat aghast. The man who had left London
a month before, with instructions to 'report upon the best means of
effecting the evacuation of the Sudan', was now openly talking of
'smashing up the Mahdi' with the aid of British and Indian troops. Sir
Evelyn Baring counted upon his fingers the various stages of this
extraordinary development in General Gordon's opinions. But he might
have saved himself the trouble, for, in fact, it was less a development
than a reversion. Under the stress of the excitements and the realities
of his situation at Khartoum, the policy which Gordon was now proposing
to carry out had come to tally, in every particular, with the policy
which he had originally advocated with such vigorous conviction in the
pages of the Pall Mall Gazette.

Nor was the adoption of that policy by the English Government by any
means out of the question. For, in the meantime, events had been taking
place in the Eastern Sudan, in the neighbourhood of the Red Sea port of
Suakin, which were to have a decisive effect upon the prospects of
Khartoum. General Baker, the brother of Sir Samuel Baker, attempting to
relieve the beleaguered garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar, had rashly
attacked the forces of Osman Digna, had been defeated, and obliged to
retire. Sinkat and Tokar had then fallen into the hands of the Mahdi's
general. There was a great outcry in England, and a wave of warlike
feeling passed over the country. Lord Wolseley at once drew up a
memorandum advocating the annexation of the Sudan. In the House of
Commons even Liberals began to demand vengeance and military action,
whereupon the Government dispatched Sir Gerald Graham with a
considerable British force to Suakin. Sir Gerald Graham advanced, and in
the battles of El Teb and Tamai inflicted two bloody defeats upon the
Mahdi's forces. It almost seemed as if the Government was now committed
to a policy of interference and conquest; as if the imperialist section
of the Cabinet were at last to have their way. The dispatch of Sir
Gerald Graham coincided with Gordon's sudden demand for British and
Indian troops with which to 'smash up the Mahdi'. The business, he
assured Sir Evelyn Baring, in a stream of telegrams, could very easily
be done. It made him sick, he said, to see himself held in check and the
people of the Sudan tyrannised over by 'a feeble lot of stinking
Dervishes'. Let Zobeir at once be sent down to him, and all would be

The original Sultans of the country had unfortunately proved
disappointing. Their place should be taken by Zobeir. After the Mahdi
had been smashed up, Zobeir should rule the Sudan as a subsidised vassal
of England, on a similar footing to that of the Amir of Afghanistan. The
plan was perhaps feasible; but it was clearly incompatible with the
policy of evacuation, as it had been hitherto laid down by the English
Government. Should they reverse that policy? Should they appoint Zobeir,
reinforce Sir Gerald Graham, and smash up the Mahdi? They could not make
up their minds. So far as Zobeir was concerned, there were two
counterbalancing considerations; on the one hand, Evelyn Baring now
declared that he was in favour of the appointment; but, on the other
hand, would English public opinion consent to a man, described by Gordon
himself as 'the greatest slave-hunter who ever existed', being given an
English subsidy and the control of the Sudan? While the Cabinet was
wavering, Gordon took a fatal step. The delay was intolerable, and one
evening, in a rage, he revealed his desire for Zobeir--which had
hitherto been kept a profound official secret--to Mr Power, the English
Consul at Khartoum, and the special correspondent of "The Times."
Perhaps he calculated that the public announcement of his wishes would
oblige the Government to yield to them; if so, he was completely
mistaken, for the result was the very reverse. The country, already
startled by the proclamation in favour of slavery, could not swallow
Zobeir. The Anti-Slavery Society set on foot a violent agitation,
opinion in the House of Commons suddenly stiffened, and the Cabinet, by
a substantial majority, decided that Zobeir should remain in Cairo. The
imperialist wave had risen high, but it had not risen high enough; and
now it was rapidly subsiding. The Government's next action was decisive.
Sir Gerald Graham and his British Army were withdrawn from the Sudan.

The critical fortnight during which these events took place was the
first fortnight of March. By the close of it, Gordon's position had
undergone a rapid and terrible change. Not only did he find himself
deprived, by the decision of the Government, both of the hope of
Zobeir's assistance and of the prospect of smashing up the Mahdi with
the aid of British troops; the military movements in the Eastern Sudan
produced, at the very same moment, a yet more fatal consequence. The
adherents of the Mahdi had been maddened, they had not been crushed, by
Sir Gerald Graham's victories. When, immediately afterwards, the English
withdrew to Suakin, from which they never again emerged, the inference
seemed obvious; they had been defeated, and their power was at an end.
The warlike tribes to the north and the northeast of Khartoum had long
been wavering. They now hesitated no longer, and joined the Mahdi. From
that moment--it was less than a month from Gordon's arrival at
Khartoum--the situation of the town was desperate. The line of
communications was cut. Though it still might be possible for occasional
native messengers, or for a few individuals on an armed steamer, to win
their way down the river into Egypt, the removal of a large number of
persons--the loyal inhabitants or the Egyptian garrison--was
henceforward an impossibility. The whole scheme of the Gordon mission
had irremediably collapsed; worse still, Gordon himself, so far from
having effected the evacuation of the Sudan, was surrounded by the
enemy. 'The question now is,' Sir Evelyn Baring told Lord Granville, on
March 24th, 'how to get General Gordon and Colonel Stewart away from

The actual condition of the town, however, was not, from a military
point of view, so serious as Colonel Coetlogon, in the first moments of
panic after the Hicks disaster, had supposed. Gordon was of opinion that
it was capable of sustaining a siege of many months. With his usual
vigour, he had already begun to prepare an elaborate system of
earthworks, mines, and wire entanglements. There was a five or six
months' supply of food, there was a great quantity of ammunition, the
garrison numbered about 8,000 men. There were, besides, nine small
paddle-wheel steamers, hitherto used for purposes of communication along
the Nile, which, fitted with guns and protected by metal plates, were of
considerable military value. 'We are all right,' Gordon told his sister
on March 15th. 'We shall, D. V., go on for months.' So far, at any rate,
there was no cause for despair. But the effervescent happiness of three
weeks since had vanished. Gloom, doubt, disillusionment,
self-questioning, had swooped down again upon their victim.

'Either I must believe He does all things in mercy and love, or else I
disbelieve His existence; there is no half way in the matter. What holes
do I not put myself into! And for what? So mixed are my ideas. I believe
ambition put me here in this ruin.'

Was not that the explanation of it all? 'Our Lord's promise is not for
the fulfilment of earthly wishes; therefore, if things come to ruin here
He is still faithful, and is carrying out His great work of divine
wisdom.' How could he have forgotten that? But he would not transgress
again. 'I owe all to God, and nothing to myself, for, humanly speaking,
I have done very foolish things. However, if I am humbled, the better
for me.'

News of the changed circumstances at Khartoum was not slow in reaching
England, and a feeling of anxiety began to spread. Among the first to
realise the gravity of the situation was Queen Victoria. 'It is
alarming,' she telegraphed to Lord Hartington on March 25th. 'General
Gordon is in danger; you are bound to try to save him ... You have
incurred a fearful responsibility.' With an unerring instinct, Her
Majesty forestalled and expressed the popular sentiment. During April,
when it had become clear that the wire between Khartoum and Cairo had
been severed; when, as time passed, no word came northward, save vague
rumours of disaster; when at last a curtain of impenetrable mystery
closed over Khartoum, the growing uneasiness manifested itself in
letters to the newspapers, in leading articles, and in a flood of
subscriptions towards a relief fund. At the beginning of May, the public
alarm reached a climax. It now appeared to be certain, not only that
General Gordon was in imminent danger, but that no steps had yet been
taken by the Government to save him.

On the 5th, there was a meeting of protest and indignation at St.
James's Hall; on the 9th there was a mass meeting in Hyde Park; on the
11th there was a meeting at Manchester. The Baroness Burdett-Coutts
wrote an agitated letter to "The Times" begging for further
subscriptions. Somebody else proposed that a special fund should be
started with which 'to bribe the tribes to secure the General's personal
safety'. A country vicar made another suggestion. Why should not public
prayers be offered up for General Gordon in every church in the kingdom?
He himself had adopted that course last Sunday. 'Is not this,' he
concluded, 'what the godly man, the true hero, himself would wish to be
done?' It was all of no avail. General Gordon remained in peril; the
Government remained inactive. Finally, a vote of censure was moved in
the House of Commons; but that too proved useless. It was strange; the
same executive which, two months before, had trimmed its sails so
eagerly to the shifting gusts of popular opinion, now, in spite of a
rising hurricane, held on its course. A new spirit, it was clear--a
determined, an intractable spirit--had taken control of the Sudan
situation. What was it? The explanation was simple, and it was ominous.
Mr. Gladstone had intervened.

The old statesman was now entering upon the penultimate period of his
enormous career. He who had once been the rising hope of the stern and
unbending Tories, had at length emerged, after a lifetime of
transmutations, as the champion of militant democracy. He was at the
apex of his power. His great rival was dead; he stood pre-eminent in the
eye of the nation; he enjoyed the applause, the confidence, the
admiration, the adoration, even, of multitudes. Yet--such was the
peculiar character of the man, and such was the intensity of the
feelings which he called forth--at this very moment, at the height of
his popularity, he was distrusted and loathed; already an unparalleled
animosity was gathering its forces against him. For, indeed, there was
something in his nature which invited--which demanded--the clashing
reactions of passionate extremes. It was easy to worship Mr. Gladstone;
to see in him the perfect model of the upright man--the man of virtue
and of religion--the man whose whole life had been devoted to the
application of high principles to affairs of State; the man, too, whose
sense of right and justice was invigorated and ennobled by an
enthusiastic heart. It was also easy to detest him as a hypocrite, to
despise him as a demagogue, and to dread him as a crafty manipulator of
men and things for the purposes of his own ambition.

It might have been supposed that one or other of these conflicting
judgments must have been palpably absurd, that nothing short of gross
prejudice or wilful blindness, on one side or the other, could reconcile
such contradictory conceptions of a single human being. But it was not
so; 'the elements' were 'so mixed' in Mr. Gladstone that his bitterest
enemies (and his enemies were never mild) and his warmest friends (and
his friends were never tepid) could justify, with equal plausibility,
their denunciations or their praises. What, then, was the truth? In the
physical universe there are no chimeras. But man is more various than
nature; was Mr. Gladstone, perhaps, a chimera of the spirit? Did his
very essence lie in the confusion of incompatibles? His very essence? It
eludes the hand that seems to grasp it. One is baffled, as his political
opponents were baffled fifty years ago. The soft serpent coils harden
into quick strength that has vanished, leaving only emptiness and
perplexity behind. Speech was the fibre of his being; and, when he
spoke, the ambiguity of ambiguity was revealed. The long, winding,
intricate sentences, with their vast burden of subtle and complicated
qualifications, befogged the mind like clouds, and like clouds, too,
dropped thunder bolts. Could it not then at least be said of him with
certainty that his was a complex character? But here also there was a

In spite of the involutions of his intellect and the contortions of his
spirit, it is impossible not to perceive a strain of naivete in Mr.
Gladstone. He adhered to some of his principles that of the value of
representative institutions, for instance with a faith which was
singularly literal; his views upon religion were uncritical to
crudeness; he had no sense of humour. Compared with Disraeli's, his
attitude towards life strikes one as that of an ingenuous child. His
very egoism was simple-minded; through all the labyrinth of his passions
there ran a single thread. But the centre of the labyrinth? Ah! the
thread might lead there, through those wandering mazes, at last. Only,
with the last corner turned, the last step taken, the explorer might
find that he was looking down into the gulf of a crater. The flame shot
out on every side, scorching and brilliant; but in the midst, there was
a darkness.

That Mr. Gladstone's motives and ambitions were not merely those of a
hunter after popularity was never shown more clearly than in that part
of his career which, more than any other, has been emphasised by his
enemies--his conduct towards General Gordon. He had been originally
opposed to Gordon's appointment, but he had consented to it partly,
perhaps, owing to the persuasion that its purpose did not extend beyond
the making of a 'report'. Gordon once gone, events had taken their own
course; the policy of the Government began to slide, automatically, down
a slope at the bottom of which lay the conquest of the Sudan and the
annexation of Egypt. Sir Gerald Graham's bloody victories awoke Mr.
Gladstone to the true condition of affairs; he recognised the road he
was on and its destination; but there was still time to turn back.

It was he who had insisted upon the withdrawal of the English army from
the Eastern Sudan. The imperialists were sadly disappointed. They had
supposed that the old lion had gone to sleep, and suddenly he had come
out of his lair, and was roaring. All their hopes now centred upon
Khartoum. General Gordon was cut off; he was surrounded, he was in
danger; he must be relieved. A British force must be sent to save him.
But Mr. Gladstone was not to be caught napping a second time. When the
agitation rose, when popular sentiment was deeply stirred, when the
country, the Press, the Sovereign herself, declared that the national
honour was involved with the fate of General Gordon, Mr. Gladstone
remained immovable. Others might picture the triumphant rescue of a
Christian hero from the clutches of heathen savages; before HIS eyes was
the vision of battle, murder, and sudden death, the horrors of defeat
and victory, the slaughter and the anguish of thousands, the violence of
military domination, the enslavement of a people.

The invasion of the Sudan, he had flashed out in the House of Commons,
would be a war of conquest against a people struggling to be free. 'Yes,
those people are struggling to be free, and they are rightly struggling
to be free.' Mr. Gladstone--it was one of his old-fashioned
simplicities--believed in liberty. If, indeed, it should turn out to be
the fact that General Gordon was in serious danger, then, no doubt, it
would be necessary to send a relief expedition to Khartoum. But, he
could see no sufficient reason to believe that it was the fact.
Communications, it was true, had been interrupted between Khartoum and
Cairo, but no news was not necessarily bad news, and the little
information that had come through from General Gordon seemed to indicate
that he could hold out for months. So his agile mind worked, spinning
its familiar web of possibilities and contingencies and fine
distinctions. General Gordon, he was convinced, might be hemmed in, but
he was not surrounded. Surely, it was the duty of the Government to take
no rash step, but to consider and to inquire, and, when it acted, to act
upon reasonable conviction. And then, there was another question. If it
was true--and he believed it was true--that General Gordon's line of
retreat was open, why did not General Gordon use it?

Perhaps he might be unable to withdraw the Egyptian garrison, but it was
not for the sake of the Egyptian garrison that the relief expedition was
proposed; it was simply and solely to secure the personal safety of
General Gordon. And General Gordon had it in his power to secure his
personal safety himself; and he refused to do so; he lingered on in
Khartoum, deliberately, wilfully, in defiance of the obvious wishes of
his superiors. Oh! it was perfectly clear what General Gordon was doing:
he was trying to force the hand of the English Government. He was hoping
that if he only remained long enough at Khartoum, he would oblige the
English Government to send an army into the Sudan which should smash up
the Mahdi. That, then, was General Gordon's calculation! Well, General
Gordon would learn that he had made a mistake. Who was he that he should
dare to imagine that he could impose his will upon Mr. Gladstone? The
old man's eyes glared. If it came to a struggle between them--well, they
should see! As the weeks passed, the strange situation grew tenser. It
was like some silent deadly game of bluff. And who knows what was
passing in the obscure depths of that terrifying spirit? What mysterious
mixture of remorse, rage, and jealousy? Who was it that was ultimately
responsible for sending General Gordon to Khartoum? But then, what did
that matter? Why did not the man come back? He was a Christian hero,
wasn't he? Were there no other Christian heroes in the world? A
Christian hero! Let him wait until the Mahdi's ring was really round
him, until the Mahdi's spear was really about to fall! That would be the
test of heroism! If he slipped back then, with his tail between his
legs--! The world would judge.

One of the last telegrams sent by Gordon before the wire was cut seemed
to support exactly Mr. Gladstone's diagnosis of the case. He told Sir
Evelyn Baring that, since the Government refused to send either an
expedition or Zobeir, he would 'consider himself free to act according
to circumstances.' 'Eventually,' he said, 'you will be forced to smash
up the Mahdi', and he declared that if the Government persisted in its
present line of conduct, it would be branded with an 'indelible
disgrace'. The message was made public, and it happened that Mr.
Gladstone saw it for the first time in a newspaper, during a country
visit. Another of the guests, who was in the room at the moment, thus
describes the scene: 'He took up the paper, his eye instantly fell on
the telegram, and he read it through. As he read, his face hardened and
whitened, the eyes burned as I have seen them once or twice in the House
of Commons when he was angered--burned with a deep fire, as if they
would have consumed the sheet on which Gordon's message was printed, or
as if Gordon's words had burned into his soul, which was looking out in
wrath and flame. He said not a word. For perhaps two or three minutes he
sat still, his face all the while like the face you may read of in
Milton--like none other I ever saw. Then he rose, still without a word,
and was seen no more that morning.'

It is curious that Gordon himself never understood the part that Mr.
Gladstone was playing in his destiny. His Khartoum journals put this
beyond a doubt. Except for one or two slight and jocular references to
Mr. Gladstone's minor idiosyncrasies--the shape of his collars, and his
passion for felling trees, Gordon leaves him unnoticed while he lavishes
his sardonic humour upon Lord Granville. But in truth Lord Granville was
a nonentity. The error shows how dim the realities of England had grown
to the watcher in Khartoum. When he looked towards home, the figure that
loomed largest upon his vision was--it was only natural that it should
have been so the nearest--it was upon Sir Evelyn Baring that he fixed
his gaze. For him, Sir Evelyn Baring was the embodiment of England--or
rather the embodiment of the English official classes, of English
diplomacy, of the English Government with its hesitations, its
insincerities, its double-faced schemes. Sir Evelyn Baring, he almost
came to think at moments, was the prime mover, the sole contriver, of
the whole Sudan imbroglio.

In this he was wrong; for Sir Evelyn Baring, of course, was an
intermediary, without final responsibility or final power; but Gordon's
profound antipathy, his instinctive distrust, were not without their
justification. He could never forget that first meeting in Cairo, six
years earlier, when the fundamental hostility between the two men had
leapt to the surface. 'When oil mixes with water,' he said, 'we will mix
together.' Sir Evelyn Baring thought so too; but he did not say so; it
was not his way. When he spoke, he felt no temptation to express
everything that was in his mind. In all he did, he was cautious,
measured, unimpeachably correct. It would be difficult to think of a man
more completely the antithesis of Gordon. His temperament, all in
monochrome, touched in with cold blues and indecisive greys, was
eminently unromantic. He had a steely colourlessness, and a steely
pliability, and a steely strength. Endowed beyond most men with the
capacity of foresight, he was endowed as very few men have ever been
with that staying-power which makes the fruit of foresight attainable.
His views were long, and his patience was even longer. He progressed
imperceptibly; he constantly withdrew; the art of giving way he
practised with the refinement of a virtuoso. But, though the steel
recoiled and recoiled, in the end it would spring forward. His life's
work had in it an element of paradox. It was passed entirely in the
East; and the East meant very little to him; he took no interest in it.
It was something to be looked after. It was also a convenient field for
the talents of Sir Evelyn Baring. Yet it must not be supposed that he
was cynical; perhaps he was not quite great enough for that. He looked
forward to a pleasant retirement--a country place--some literary
recreations. He had been careful to keep up his classics. His ambition
can be stated in a single phrase--it was to become an institution; and
he achieved it. No doubt, too, he deserved it. The greatest of poets, in
a bitter mood, has described the characteristics of a certain class of
persons, whom he did not like. 'They,' he says,

    'that have power to hurt and will do none,
    That do not do the things they most do show,
    Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
    Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
    They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,
    And husband nature's riches from expense;
    They are the lords and owners of their faces ...'

The words might have been written for Sir Evelyn Baring.

Though, as a rule, he found it easy to despise those with whom he came
into contact, he could not altogether despise General Gordon. If he
could have, he would have disliked him less. He had gone as far as his
caution had allowed him in trying to prevent the fatal appointment; and
then, when it had become clear that the Government was insistent, he had
yielded with a good grace. For a moment, he had imagined that all might
yet be well; that he could impose himself, by the weight of his position
and the force of his sagacity, upon his self-willed subordinate; that he
could hold him in a leash at the end of the telegraph wire to Khartoum.
Very soon he perceived that this was a miscalculation. To his disgust,
he found that the telegraph wire, far from being an instrument of
official discipline, had been converted by the agile strategist at the
other end of it into a means of extending his own personality into the
deliberations at Cairo. Every morning Sir Evelyn Baring would find upon
his table a great pile of telegrams from Khartoum--twenty or thirty at
least; and as the day went on, the pile would grow. When a sufficient
number had accumulated he would read them all through, with the greatest
care. There upon the table, the whole soul of Gordon lay before him--in
its incoherence, its eccentricity, its impulsiveness, its romance; the
jokes, the slang, the appeals to the prophet Isaiah, the whirl of
contradictory policies--Sir Evelyn Baring did not know which exasperated
him most. He would not consider whether, or to what degree, the man was
a maniac; no, he would not. A subacid smile was the only comment he
allowed himself. His position, indeed, was an extremely difficult one,
and all his dexterity would be needed if he was to emerge from it with

On one side of him was a veering and vacillating Government; on the
other, a frenzied enthusiast. It was his business to interpret to the
first the wishes, or rather the inspirations, of the second, and to
convey to the second the decisions, or rather the indecisions, of the
first. A weaker man would have floated helplessly on the ebb and flow of
the Cabinet's wavering policies; a rasher man would have plunged
headlong into Gordon's schemes. He did neither; with a singular courage
and a singular caution he progressed along a razor-edge. He devoted all
his energies to the double task of evolving a reasonable policy out of
Gordon's intoxicated telegrams, and of inducing the divided Ministers at
home to give their sanction to what he had evolved. He might have
succeeded, if he had not had to reckon with yet another irreconcilable;
Time was a vital element in the situation, and Time was against him.
When the tribes round Khartoum rose, the last hope of a satisfactory
solution vanished. He was the first to perceive the altered condition of
affairs; long before the Government, long before Gordon himself, he
understood that the only remaining question was that of the extrication
of the Englishmen from Khartoum. He proposed that a small force should
be dispatched at once across the desert from Suakin to Barber, the point
on the Nile nearest to the Red Sea, and thence up the river to Gordon;
but, after considerable hesitation, the military authorities decided
that this was not a practicable plan. Upon that, he foresaw, with
perfect lucidity, the inevitable development of events. Sooner or later,
it would be absolutely necessary to send a relief expedition to
Khartoum; and, from that premise, it followed, without a possibility of
doubt, that it was the duty of the Government to do so at once. This he
saw quite clearly; but he also saw that the position in the Cabinet had
now altered, that Mr. Gladstone had taken the reins into his own hands.
And Mr. Gladstone did not wish to send a relief expedition. What was Sir
Evelyn Baring to do? Was he to pit his strength against Mr. Gladstone's?
To threaten resignation? To stake his whole future upon General Gordon's
fate? For a moment he wavered; he seemed to hint that unless the
Government sent a message to Khartoum promising a relief expedition
before the end of the year, he would be unable to be a party to their
acts. The Government refused to send any such message; and he perceived,
as he tells us, that 'it was evidently useless to continue the
correspondence any further'. After all, what could he do? He was still
only a secondary figure; his resignation would be accepted; he would be
given a colonial governorship and Gordon would be no nearer safety. But
then, could he sit by and witness a horrible catastrophe, without
lifting a hand? Of all the odious dilemmas which that man had put him
into this, he reflected, was the most odious. He slightly shrugged his
shoulders. No; he might have 'power to hurt', but he would 'do none'. He
wrote a dispatch--a long, balanced, guarded, grey dispatch, informing
the Government that he 'ventured to think' that it was 'a question
worthy of consideration whether the naval and military authorities
should not take some preliminary steps in the way of preparing boats,
etc., so as to be able to move, should the necessity arise'. Then,
within a week, before the receipt of the Government's answer, he left
Egypt. From the end of April until the beginning of September--during
the most momentous period of the whole crisis, he was engaged in London
upon a financial conference, while his place was taken in Cairo by a
substitute. With a characteristically convenient unobtrusiveness, Sir
Evelyn Baring had vanished from the scene.

Meanwhile, far to the southward, over the wide-spreading lands watered
by the Upper Nile and its tributaries, the power and the glory of him
who had once been Mohammed Ahmed were growing still. In the
Bahr-el-Ghazal, the last embers of resistance were stamped out with the
capture of Lupton Bey, and through the whole of that vast province three
times the size of England--every trace of the Egyptian Government was
obliterated. Still farther south the same fate was rapidly overtaking
Equatoria, where Emir Pasha, withdrawing into the unexplored depths of
Central Africa, carried with him the last vestiges of the old order. The
Mahdi himself still lingered in his headquarters at El Obeid; but, on
the rising of the tribes round Khartoum, he had decided that the time
for an offensive movement had come, and had dispatched an arm of 30,000
men to lay siege to the city. At the same time, in a long and elaborate
proclamation, in which he asserted, with all the elegance of oriental
rhetoric, both the sanctity of his mission and the invincibility of his
troops, he called upon the inhabitants to surrender. Gordon read aloud
the summons to the assembled townspeople; with one voice they declared
that they were ready to resist. This was a false Mahdi, they said; God
would defend the right; they put their trust in the Governor-General.
The most learned Sheikh in the town drew up a theological reply,
pointing out that the Mahdi did not fulfil the requirements of the
ancient prophets. At his appearance, had the Euphrates dried up and
revealed a hill of gold? Had contradiction and difference ceased upon
the earth? And, moreover, did not the faithful know that the true Mahdi
was born in the year of the Prophet 255, from which it surely followed
that he must be now 1,046 years old? And was it not clear to all men
that this pretender was not a tenth of that age?

These arguments were certainly forcible; but the Mahdi's army was more
forcible still. The besieged sallied out to the attack; they were
defeated; and the rout that followed was so disgraceful that two of the
commanding officers were, by Gordon's orders, executed as traitors. From
that moment the regular investment of Khartoum began. The Arab generals
decided to starve the town into submission. When, after a few weeks of
doubt, it became certain that no British force was on its way from
Suakin to smash up the Mahdi, and when, at the end of May, Berber, the
last connecting link between Khartoum and the outside world, fell into
the hands of the enemy, Gordon set his teeth, and sat down to wait and
to hope, as best he might. With unceasing energy he devoted himself to
the strengthening of his defences and the organisation of his
resources--to the digging of earthworks, the manufacture of ammunition,
the collection and the distribution of food. Every day there were
sallies and skirmishes; every day his little armoured steamboats paddled
up and down the river, scattering death and terror as they went.
Whatever the emergency, he was ready with devices and expedients. When
the earthworks were still uncompleted he procured hundreds of yards of
cotton, which he dyed the colour of earth, and spread out in long,
sloping lines, so as to deceive the Arabs, while the real works were
being prepared farther back. When a lack of money began to make itself
felt, he printed and circulated a paper coinage of his own. To combat
the growing discontent and disaffection of the townspeople, he
instituted a system of orders and medals; the women were not forgotten;
and his popularity redoubled. There was terror in the thought that harm
might come to the Governor-General. Awe and reverence followed him;
wherever he went he was surrounded by a vigilant and jealous guard, like
some precious idol, some mascot of victory. How could he go away? How
could he desert his people? It was impossible. It would be, as he
himself exclaimed in one of his latest telegrams to Sir Evelyn Baring,
'the climax of meanness', even to contemplate such an act. Sir Evelyn
Baring thought differently. In his opinion it was General Gordon's plain
duty to have come away from Khartoum. To stay involved inevitably a
relief expedition--a great expense of treasure and the loss of valuable
lives; to come away would merely mean that the inhabitants of Khartoum
would be 'taken prisoner by the Mahdi'. So Sir Evelyn Baring put it; but
the case was not quite so simple as that. When Berber fell, there had
been a massacre lasting for days--an appalling orgy of loot and lust and
slaughter; when Khartoum itself was captured, what followed was still
more terrible. Decidedly, it was no child's play to be 'taken prisoner
by the Mahdi'. And Gordon was actually there, among those people, in
closest intercourse with them, responsible, beloved. Yes; no doubt. But
was that in truth, his only motive? Did he not wish in reality, by
lingering in Khartoum, to force the hand of the Government? To oblige
them, whether they would or no, to send an army to smash up the Mahdi?
And was that fair? Was THAT his duty? He might protest, with his last
breath, that he had 'tried to do his duty'; Sir Evelyn Baring, at any
rate, would not agree.

But Sir Evelyn Baring was inaudible, and Gordon now cared very little
for his opinions. Is it possible that, if only for a moment, in his
extraordinary predicament, he may have listened to another and a very
different voice--a voice of singular quality, a voice which--for so one
would fain imagine--may well have wakened some familiar echoes in his
heart? One day, he received a private letter from the Mahdi. The letter
was accompanied by a small bundle of clothes.

'In the name of God!' wrote the Mahdi, 'herewith a suit of clothes,
consisting of a coat (jibbeh), an overcoat, a turban, a cap, a girdle,
and beads. This is the clothing of those who have given up this world
and its vanities, and who look for the world to come, for everlasting
happiness in Paradise. If you truly desire to come to God and seek to
live a godly life, you must at once wear this suit, and come out to
accept your everlasting good fortune.'

Did the words bear no meaning to the mystic of Gravesend? But he was an
English gentleman, an English officer. He flung the clothes to the
ground, and trampled on them in the sight of all. Then, alone, he went
up to the roof of his high palace, and turned the telescope once more,
almost mechanically, towards the north.

But nothing broke the immovability of that hard horizon; and, indeed,
how was it possible that help should come to him now? He seemed to be
utterly abandoned. Sir Evelyn Baring had disappeared into his financial
conference. In England, Mr. Gladstone had held firm, had outfaced the
House of Commons, had ignored the Press. He appeared to have triumphed.
Though it was clear that no preparations of any kind were being made for
the relief of Gordon, the anxiety and agitation of the public, which had
risen so suddenly to such a height of vehemence, had died down. The
dangerous beast had been quelled by the stern eye of its master. Other
questions became more interesting--the Reform Bill, the Russians, the
House of Lords. Gordon, silent in Khartoum, had almost dropped out of
remembrance. And yet, help did come after all. And it came from an
unexpected quarter. Lord Hartington had been for some time convinced
that he was responsible for Gordon's appointment; and his conscience was
beginning to grow uncomfortable.

Lord Hartington's conscience was of a piece with the rest of him. It was
not, like Mr. Gladstone's, a salamander-conscience--an intangible,
dangerous creature, that loved to live in the fire; nor was it, like
Gordon's, a restless conscience; nor, like Sir Evelyn Baring's, a
diplomatic conscience; it was a commonplace affair. Lord Hartington
himself would have been disgusted by any mention of it. If he had been
obliged, he would have alluded to it distantly; he would have muttered
that it was a bore not to do the proper thing. He was usually bored--for
one reason or another; but this particular form of boredom he found more
intense than all the rest. He would take endless pains to avoid it. Of
course, the whole thing was a nuisance--an obvious nuisance; and
everyone else must feel just as he did about it. And yet people seemed
to have got it into their heads that he had some kind of special faculty
in such matters--that there was some peculiar value in his judgment on a
question of right and wrong. He could not understand why it was; but
whenever there was a dispute about cards in a club, it was brought to
him to settle. It was most odd. But it was trite. In public affairs, no
less than in private, Lord Hartington's decisions carried an
extraordinary weight. The feeling of his idle friends in high society
was shared by the great mass of the English people; here was a man they
could trust. For indeed he was built upon a pattern which was very dear
to his countrymen. It was not simply that he was honest: it was that his
honesty was an English honesty--an honest which naturally belonged to
one who, so it seemed to them, was the living image of what an
Englishman should be.

In Lord Hartington they saw, embodied and glorified, the very qualities
which were nearest to their hearts--impartiality, solidity, common
sense--the qualities by which they themselves longed to be
distinguished, and by which, in their happier moments, they believed
they were. If ever they began to have misgivings, there, at any rate,
was the example of Lord Hartington to encourage them and guide
them--Lord Hartington who was never self-seeking, who was never excited,
and who had no imagination at all. Everything they knew about him fitted
into the picture, adding to their admiration and respect. His fondness
for field sports gave them a feeling of security; and certainly there
could be no nonsense about a man who confessed to two ambitions--to
become Prime Minister and to win the Derby--and who put the second above
the first. They loved him for his casualness--for his inexactness--for
refusing to make life a cut-and-dried business--for ramming an official
dispatch of high importance into his coat-pocket, and finding it there,
still unopened, at Newmarket, several days later. They loved him for his
hatred of fine sentiments; they were delighted when they heard that at
some function, on a florid speaker's avowing that 'this was the proudest
moment of his life', Lord Hartington had growled in an undertone 'the
proudest moment of my life was when MY pig won the prize at Skipton
Fair'. Above all, they loved him for being dull. It was the greatest
comfort--with Lord Hartington they could always be absolutely certain
that he would never, in any circumstances, be either brilliant, or
subtle, or surprising, or impassioned, or profound. As they sat,
listening to his speeches, in which considerations of stolid plainness
succeeded one another with complete flatness, they felt, involved and
supported by the colossal tedium, that their confidence was finally
assured. They looked up, and took their fill of the sturdy, obvious
presence. The inheritor of a splendid dukedom might almost have passed
for a farm hand. Almost, but not quite. For an air that was difficult to
explain, of preponderating authority, lurked in the solid figure; and
the lordly breeding of the House of Cavendish was visible in the large,
long, bearded, unimpressionable face.

One other characteristic--the necessary consequence, or, indeed, it
might almost be said, the essential expression, of all the
rest--completes the portrait: Lord Hartington was slow. He was slow in
movement, slow in apprehension, slow in thought and the communication of
thought, slow to decide, and slow to act. More than once this
disposition exercised a profound effect upon his career. A private
individual may, perhaps, be slow with impunity; but a statesman who is
slow--whatever the force of his character and the strength of his
judgment--can hardly escape unhurt from the hurrying of Time's winged
chariot, can hardly hope to avoid some grave disaster or some
irretrievable mistake. The fate of General Gordon, so intricately
interwoven with such a mass of complicated circumstance with the
policies of England and of Egypt, with the fanaticism of the Mahdi, with
the irreproachability of Sir Evelyn Baring, with Mr. Gladstone's
mysterious passions--was finally determined by the fact that Lord
Hartington was slow. If he had been even a very little quicker--if he
had been quicker by two days ... but it could not be. The ponderous
machinery took so long to set itself in motion; the great wheels and
levers, once started, revolved with such a laborious, such a painful
deliberation, that at last their work was accomplished--surely, firmly,
completely, in the best English manner, and too late.

Seven stages may be discerned in the history of Lord Hartington's
influence upon the fate of General Gordon. At the end of the first
stage, he had become convinced that he was responsible for Gordon's
appointment to Khartoum. At the end of the second, he had perceived that
his conscience would not allow him to remain inactive in the face of
Gordon's danger. At the end of the third, he had made an attempt to
induce the Cabinet to send an expedition to Gordon's relief. At the end
of the fourth, he had realised that the Cabinet had decided to postpone
the relief of Gordon indefinitely. At the end of the fifth, he had come
to the conclusion that he must put pressure upon Mr. Gladstone. At the
end of the sixth, he had attempted to put pressure upon Mr. Gladstone,
and had not succeeded. At the end of the seventh, he had succeeded in
putting pressure upon Mr. Gladstone; the relief expedition had been
ordered; he could do no more.

The turning-point in this long and extraordinary process occurred
towards the end of April, when the Cabinet, after the receipt of Sir
Evelyn Baring's final dispatch, decided to take no immediate measures
for Gordon's relief. From that moment it was clear that there was only
one course open to Lord Hartington--to tell Mr. Gladstone that he would
resign unless a relief expedition was sent. But it took him more than
three months to come to this conclusion. He always found the proceedings
at Cabinet meetings particularly hard to follow. The interchange of
question and answer, of proposal and counterproposal, the crowded
counsellors, Mr. Gladstone's subtleties, the abrupt and complicated
resolutions--these things invariably left him confused and perplexed.
After the crucial Cabinet at the end of April, he came away in a state
of uncertainty as to what had occurred; he had to write to Lord
Granville to find out; and by that time, of course, the Government's
decision had been telegraphed to Egypt. Three weeks later, in the middle
of May, he had grown so uneasy that he felt himself obliged to address a
circular letter to the Cabinet proposing that preparations for a relief
expedition should be set on foot at once. And then he began to
understand that nothing would ever be done until Mr. Gladstone, by some
means or other, had been forced to give his consent. A singular combat
followed. The slippery old man perpetually eluded the cumbrous grasp of
his antagonist. He delayed, he postponed, he raised interminable
difficulties, he prevaricated, he was silent, he disappeared. Lord
Hartington was dauntless. Gradually, inch by inch, he drove the Prime
Minister into a corner. But in the meantime many weeks had passed. On
July 1st, Lord Hartington was still remarking that he 'really did not
feel that he knew the mind or intention of the Government in respect of
the relief of General Gordon'. The month was spent in a succession of
stubborn efforts to wring from Mr. Gladstone some definite statement
upon the question. It was useless. On July 31st, Lord Hartington did the
deed. He stated that, unless an expedition was sent, he would resign. It
was, he said, 'a question of personal honour and good faith, and I don't
see how I can yield upon it'. His conscience had worked itself to rest
at last.

When Mr. Gladstone read the words, he realised that the game was over.
Lord Hartington's position in the Liberal Party was second only to his
own; he was the leader of the rich and powerful Whig aristocracy; his
influence with the country was immense. Nor was he the man to make idle
threats of resignation; he had said he would resign, and resign he
would: the collapse of the Government would be the inevitable result. On
August 5th, therefore, Parliament was asked to make a grant of L300,000,
in order 'to enable Her Majesty's Government to undertake operations for
the relief of General Gordon, should they become necessary'. The money
was voted; and even then, at that last hour, Mr. Gladstone made another,
final, desperate twist. Trying to save himself by the proviso which he
had inserted into the resolution, he declared that he was still
unconvinced of the necessity of any operations at all. 'I nearly,' he
wrote to Lord Hartington, 'but not quite, adopt words received today
from Granville. "It is clear, I think, that Gordon has our messages, and
does not choose to answer them."' Nearly, but not quite! The
qualification was masterly; but it was of no avail. This time, the
sinuous creature was held by too firm a grasp. On August 26th, Lord
Wolseley was appointed to command the relief expedition; and on
September 9th, he arrived in Egypt.

The relief expedition had begun, and at the same moment a new phase
opened at Khartoum. The annual rising of the Nile was now sufficiently
advanced to enable one of Gordon's small steamers to pass over the
cataracts down to Egypt in safety. He determined to seize the
opportunity of laying before the authorities in Cairo and London, and
the English public at large, an exact account of his position. A cargo
of documents, including Colonel Stewart's Diary of the siege and a
personal appeal for assistance addressed by Gordon to all the European
powers, was placed on board the Abbas; four other steamers were to
accompany her until she was out of danger from attacks by the Mahdi's
troops; after which, she was to proceed alone into Egypt. On the evening
of September 9th, just as she was about to start, the English and French
Consuls asked for permission to go with her--a permission which Gordon,
who had long been anxious to provide for their safety, readily granted.
Then Colonel Stewart made the same request; and Gordon consented with
the same alacrity.

Colonel Stewart was the second-in-command at Khartoum; and it seems
strange that he should have made a proposal which would leave Gordon in
a position of the gravest anxiety without a single European subordinate.
But his motives were to be veiled forever in a tragic obscurity. The
Abbas and her convoy set out. Henceforward the Governor-General was
alone. He had now, definitely and finally, made his decision. Colonel
Stewart and his companions had gone, with every prospect of returning
unharmed to civilisation. Mr. Gladstone's belief was justified; so far
as Gordon's personal safety was concerned, he might still, at this late
hour, have secured it. But he had chosen--he stayed at Khartoum.

No sooner were the steamers out of sight than he sat down at his
writing-table and began that daily record of his circumstances, his
reflections, and his feelings, which reveals to us, with such an
authentic exactitude, the final period of his extraordinary destiny. His
Journals, sent down the river in batches to await the coming of the
relief expedition, and addressed, first to Colonel Stewart, and later to
the 'Chief of Staff, Sudan Expeditionary Force', were official
documents, intended for publication, though, as Gordon himself was
careful to note on the outer covers, they would 'want pruning out'
before they were printed. He also wrote, on the envelope of the first
section, 'No secrets as far as I am concerned'. A more singular set of
state papers was never compiled. Sitting there, in the solitude of his
palace, with ruin closing round him, with anxieties on every hand, with
doom hanging above his head, he let his pen rush on for hour after hour
in an ecstasy of communication, a tireless unburdening of the spirit,
where the most trivial incidents of the passing day were mingled
pell-mell with philosophical disquisitions; where jests and anger, hopes
and terrors, elaborate justifications and cynical confessions, jostled
one another in reckless confusion. The impulsive, demonstrative man had
nobody to talk to any more, and so he talked instead to the pile of
telegraph forms, which, useless now for perplexing Sir Evelyn Baring,
served very well--for they were large and blank--as the repositories of
his conversation. His tone was not the intimate and religious tone which
he would have used with the Rev. Mr. Barnes or his sister Augusta; it
was such as must have been habitual with him in his intercourse with old
friends or fellow-officers, whose religious views were of a more
ordinary caste than his own, but with whom he was on confidential terms.
He was anxious to put his case to a select and sympathetic audience--to
convince such a man as Lord Wolseley that he was justified in what he
had done; and he was sparing in his allusions to the hand of Providence,
while those mysterious doubts and piercing introspections, which must
have filled him, he almost entirely concealed. He expressed himself, of
course, with eccentric ABANDON--it would have been impossible for him to
do otherwise; but he was content to indicate his deepest feelings with a
fleer. Yet sometimes--as one can imagine happening with him in actual
conversation--his utterance took the form of a half-soliloquy, a copious
outpouring addressed to himself more than to anyone else, for his own
satisfaction. There are passages in the Khartoum Journals which call up
in a flash the light, gliding figure, and the blue eyes with the candour
of childhood still shining in them; one can almost hear the low voice,
the singularly distinct articulation, the persuasive--the
self-persuasive--sentences, following each other so unassumingly between
the puffs of a cigarette.

As he wrote, two preoccupations principally filled his mind. His
reflections revolved around the immediate past and the impending future.
With an unerring persistency he examined, he excused, he explained, his
share in the complicated events which had led to his present situation.
He rebutted the charges of imaginary enemies; he laid bare the
ineptitude and the faithlessness of the English Government. He poured
out his satire upon officials and diplomatists. He drew caricatures, in
the margin, of Sir Evelyn Baring, with sentences of shocked pomposity
coming out of his mouth. In some passages, which the editor of the
Journals preferred to suppress, he covered Lord Granville with his
raillery, picturing the Foreign Secretary, lounging away his morning at
Walmer Castle, opening The Times and suddenly discovering, to his
horror, that Khartoum was still holding out. 'Why, HE SAID DISTINCTLY he
could ONLY hold out SIX MONTHS, and that was in March (counts the
months). August! why, he ought to have given in! What is to be done?
They'll be howling for an expedition.... It is no laughing matter; THAT
ABOMINABLE MAHDI! Why on earth does he not guard his roads better? WHAT
IS to be done?' Several times in his bitterness he repeats the
suggestion that the authorities at home were secretly hoping that the
fall of Khartoum would relieve them of their difficulties.

'What that Mahdi is about, Lord Granville is made to exclaim in another
deleted paragraph, 'I cannot make out. Why does he not put all his guns
on the river and stop the route? Eh what? "We will have to go to
Khartoum!" Why, it will cost millions, what a wretched business! What!
Send Zobeir? Our conscience recoils from THAT; it is elastic, but not
equal to that; it is a pact with the Devil.... Do you not think there is
any way of getting hold of H I M, in a quiet way?'

If a boy at Eton or Harrow, he declared, had acted as the Government had
acted, 'I THINK he would be kicked, and I AM SURE he would deserve it'.
He was the victim of hypocrites and humbugs. There was 'no sort of
parallel to all this in history--except David with Uriah the Hittite';
but then 'there was an Eve in the case', and he was not aware that the
Government had even that excuse.

From the past, he turned to the future, and surveyed, with a disturbed
and piercing vision, the possibilities before him. Supposing that the
relief expedition arrived, what would be his position? Upon one thing he
was determined: whatever happened, he would not play the part of 'the
rescued lamb'. He vehemently asserted that the purpose of the expedition
could only be the relief of the Sudan garrisons; it was monstrous to
imagine that it had been undertaken merely to ensure his personal
safety. He refused to believe it. In any case,

'I declare POSITIVELY,' he wrote, with passionate underlinings. 'AND
established which relieves me of the charge; therefore, if any emissary
or letter comes up here ordering me to comedown, I WILL NOT OBEY IT, BUT

This was sheer insubordination, no doubt; but he could not help that; it
was not in his nature to be obedient. 'I know if I was chief, I would
never employ myself, for I am incorrigible.' Decidedly, he was not
afraid to be 'what club men call insubordinate, though, of all
insubordinates, the club men are the worst'.

As for the government which was to replace him, there were several
alternatives: an Egyptian Pasha might succeed him as Governor-General,
or Zobeir might be appointed after all, or the whole country might be
handed over to the Sultan. His fertile imagination evolved scheme after
scheme; and his visions of his own future were equally various. He would
withdraw to the Equator; he would be delighted to spend Christmas in
Brussels; he would ... at any rate he would never go back to England.
That was certain.

'I dwell on the joy of never seeing Great Britain again, with its
horrid, wearisome dinner-parties and miseries. How we can put up with
those things, passes my imagination! It is a perfect bondage ... I would
sooner live 'like a Dervish with the Mahdi, than go out to dinner every
night in London. I hope, if any English general comes to Khartoum, he
will not ask me to dinner. Why men cannot be friends without bringing
the wretched stomachs in, is astounding.'

But would an English general ever have the opportunity of asking him to
dinner in Khartoum? There were moments when terrible misgivings assailed
him. He pieced together his scraps of intelligence with feverish
exactitude; he calculated times, distances, marches. 'If,' he wrote on
October 24th, they do not come before 30th November, the game is up, and
Rule Britannia.' Curious premonitions came into his mind. When he heard
that the Mahdi was approaching in person, it seemed to be the fulfilment
of a destiny, for he had 'always felt we were doomed to come face to
face'. What would be the end of it all? 'It is, of course, on the
cards,' he noted, 'that Khartoum is taken under the nose of the
Expeditionary Force, which will be JUST TOO LATE.' The splendid hawks
that swooped about the palace reminded him of a text in the Bible: 'The
eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the
ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat
it.' 'I often wonder,' he wrote, 'whether they are destined to pick my
eyes, for I fear I was not the best of sons.'

So, sitting late into the night, he filled the empty telegraph forms
with the agitations of his spirit, overflowing ever more hurriedly, more
furiously, with lines of emphasis, and capitals, and exclamation-marks
more and more thickly interspersed, so that the signs of his living
passion are still visible to the inquirer of today on those thin sheets
of mediocre paper and in the torrent of the ink. But he was a man of
elastic temperament; he could not remain forever upon the stretch; he
sought, and he found, relaxation in extraneous matters--in metaphysical
digressions, or in satirical outbursts, or in the small details of his
daily life. It amused him to have the Sudanese soldiers brought in and
shown their 'black pug faces' in the palace looking-glasses. He watched
with a cynical sympathy the impertinence of a turkey-cock that walked in
his courtyard. He made friends with a mouse who, 'judging from her
swelled-out appearance', was a lady, and came and ate out of his plate.
The cranes that flew over Khartoum in their thousands, and with their
curious cry, put him in mind of the poems of Schiller, which few ever
read, but which he admired highly, though he only knew them in Bulwer's
translation. He wrote little disquisitions on Plutarch and purgatory, on
the fear of death and on the sixteenth chapter of the Koran. Then the
turkey-cock, strutting with 'every feather on end, and all the colours
of the rainbow on his neck', attracted him once more, and he filled
several pages with his opinions upon the immortality of animals,
drifting on to a discussion of man's position in the universe, and the
infinite knowledge of God. It was all clear to him. And yet--'what a
contradiction, is life! I hate Her Majesty's Government for their
leaving the Sudan after having caused all its troubles, yet I believe
our Lord rules heaven and earth, so I ought to hate Him, which I
(sincerely) do not.'

One painful thought obsessed him. He believed that the two Egyptian
officers, who had been put to death after the defeat in March, had been
unjustly executed. He had given way to 'outside influences'; the two
Pashas had been 'judicially murdered'. Again and again he referred to
the incident with a haunting remorse. "The Times", perhaps, would
consider that he had been justified; but what did that matter? 'If The
Times saw this in print, it would say, "Why, then, did you act as you
did?" to which I fear I have no answer.' He determined to make what
reparation he could, and to send the families of the unfortunate Pashas
L1,000 each.

On a similar, but a less serious, occasion, he put the same principle
into action. He boxed the ears of a careless telegraph clerk--'and then,
as my conscience pricked me, I gave him $5. He said he did not mind if I
killed him--I was his father (a chocolate-coloured youth of twenty).'
His temper, indeed, was growing more and more uncertain, as he himself
was well aware. He observed with horror that men trembled when they came
into his presence--that their hands shook so that they could not hold a
match to a cigarette.

He trusted no one. Looking into the faces of those who surrounded him,
he saw only the ill-dissimulated signs of treachery and dislike. Of the
40,000 inhabitants of Khartoum he calculated that two-thirds were
willing--were perhaps anxious--to become the subjects of the Mahdi.
'These people are not worth any great sacrifice,' he bitterly observed.
The Egyptian officials were utterly incompetent; the soldiers were
cowards. All his admiration was reserved for his enemies. The meanest of
the Mahdi's followers was, he realised, 'a determined warrior, who could
undergo thirst and privation, who no more cared for pain or death than
if he were stone'. Those were the men whom, if the choice had lain with
him, he would have wished to command. And yet, strangely enough, he
persistently underrated the strength of the forces against him. A
handful of Englishmen--a handful of Turks would, he believed, be enough
to defeat the Mahdi's hosts and destroy his dominion. He knew very
little Arabic, and he depended for his information upon a few ignorant
English-speaking subordinates. The Mahdi himself he viewed with
ambiguous feelings. He jibed at him as a vulgar impostor; but it is easy
to perceive, under his scornful jocularities, the traces of an uneasy

He spent long hours upon the palace roof, gazing northwards; but the
veil of mystery and silence was unbroken. In spite of the efforts of
Major Kitchener, the officer in command of the Egyptian Intelligence
Service, hardly any messengers ever reached Khartoum; and when they did,
the information they brought was tormentingly scanty. Major Kitchener
did not escape the attentions of Gordon's pen. When news came at last,
it was terrible: Colonel Stewart and his companions had been killed. The
Abbas, after having passed uninjured through the part of the river
commanded by the Mahdi's troops, had struck upon a rock; Colonel Stewart
had disembarked in safety; and, while he was waiting for camels to
convey the detachment across the desert into Egypt, had accepted the
hospitality of a local Sheikh. Hardly had the Europeans entered the
Sheikh's hut when they were set upon and murdered; their native
followers shared their fate. The treacherous Sheikh was an adherent of
the Mahdi, and to the Mahdi all Colonel Stewart's papers, filled with
information as to the condition of Khartoum, were immediately sent. When
the first rumours of the disaster reached Gordon, he pictured, in a
flash of intuition, the actual details of the catastrophe. 'I feel
somehow convinced,' he wrote, they were captured by treachery ...
Stewart was not a bit suspicious (I am made up of it). I can see in
imagination the whole scene, the Sheikh inviting them to land ... then a
rush of wild Arabs, and all is over!' 'It is very sad,' he added, 'but
being ordained, we must not murmur.' And yet he believed that the true
responsibility lay with him; it was the punishment of his own sins. 'I
look on it,' was his unexpected conclusion, 'as being a Nemesis on the
death of the two Pashas.'

The workings of his conscience did indeed take on surprising shapes. Of
the three ex-governors of Darfur, Bahr-el-Ghazal, and Equatoria, Emin
Pasha had disappeared, Lupton Bey had died, and Slatin Pasha was held in
captivity by the Mahdi. By birth an Austrian and a Catholic, Slatin, in
the last desperate stages of his resistance, had adopted the expedient
of announcing his conversion to Mohammedanism, in order to win the
confidence of his native troops. On his capture, the fact of his
conversion procured him some degree of consideration; and, though he
occasionally suffered from the caprices of his masters, he had so far
escaped the terrible punishment which had been meted out to some other
of the Mahdi's European prisoners--that of close confinement in the
common gaol. He was now kept prisoner in one of the camps in the
neighbourhood of Khartoum. He managed to smuggle through a letter to
Gordon, asking for assistance, in case he could make his escape. To this
letter Gordon did not reply. Slatin wrote again and again; his piteous
appeals, couched in no less piteous French, made no effect upon the
heart of the Governor-General.

'Excellence!' he wrote, 'J'ai envoye deux lettres, sans avoir recu une
reponse de votre excellence.... Excellence! j'ai me battu 27 FOIS pour
le gouvernement contre l'ennemi--on m'a feri deux fois, et j'ai rien
fait contre l'honneur--rien de chose qui doit empeche votre excellence
de m'ecrir une reponse que je sais quoi faire. JE VOUS PRIE, Excellence,
de m'honore avec une reponse. P.S. Si votre Excellence ont peutetre
entendu que j'ai fait quelque chose contre l'honneur d'un officier et
cela vous empeche de m'ecrir, je vous prie de me donner l'occasion de me
defendre, et jugez apres la verite.'

The unfortunate Slatin understood well enough the cause of Gordon's
silence. It was in vain that he explained the motives of his conversion,
in vain that he pointed out that it had been made easier for him since
he had, 'PERHAPS UNHAPPILY, not received a strict religious education at
home'. Gordon was adamant. Slatin had 'denied his Lord', and that was
enough. His communications with Khartoum were discovered and he was put
in chains. When Gordon heard of it, he noted the fact grimly in his
diary, without a comment.

A more ghastly fate awaited another European who had fallen into the
hands of the Mahdi. Clavier Pain, a French adventurer, who had taken
part in the Commune, and who was now wandering, for reasons which have
never been discovered, in the wastes of the Sudan, was seized by the
Arabs, made prisoner, and hurried from camp to camp. He was attacked by
fever; but mercy was not among the virtues of the savage soldiers who
held him in their power. Hoisted upon the back of a camel, he was being
carried across the desert, when, overcome by weakness, he lost his hold,
and fell to the ground. Time or trouble were not to be wasted upon an
infidel. Orders were given that he should be immediately buried; the
orders were carried out; and in a few moments the cavalcade had left the
little hillock far behind. But some of those who were present believed
that Olivier Pain had been still breathing when his body was covered
with the sand.

Gordon, on hearing that a Frenchman had been captured by the Mahdi,
became extremely interested. The idea occurred to him that this
mysterious individual was none other than Ernest Renan, 'who,' he wrote,
in his last publication 'takes leave of the world, and is said to have
gone into Africa, not to reappear again'. He had met Renan at the rooms
of the Royal Geographical Society, had noticed that he looked bored--the
result, no doubt, of too much admiration--and had felt an instinct that
he would meet him again. The instinct now seemed to be justified. There
could hardly be any doubt that it WAS Renan; who else could it be? 'If
he comes to the lines,' he decided, 'and it is Renan, I shall go and see
him, for whatever one may think of his unbelief in our Lord, he
certainly dared to say what he thought, and he has not changed his creed
to save his life.' That the mellifluous author of the Vie de Jesus
should have determined to end his days in the depths of Africa, and have
come, in accordance with an intuition, to renew his acquaintance with
General Gordon in the lines of Khartoum, would indeed have been a
strange occurrence; but who shall limit the strangeness of the
possibilities that lie in wait for the sons of men? At that very moment,
in the south-eastern corner of the Sudan, another Frenchman, of a
peculiar eminence, was fulfilling a destiny more extraordinary than the
wildest romance. In the town of Harrar, near the Red Sea, Arthur Rimbaud
surveyed with splenetic impatience the tragedy of Khartoum.

'C'est justement les Anglais,' he wrote, 'avec leur absurde politique,
qui minent desormais le commerce de toutes ces cotes. Ils ont voulu tout
remanier et ils sont arrives a faire pire que les Egyptiens et les
Turcs, ruines par eux. Leur Gordon est un idiot, leur Wolseley un ane,
et toutes leurs entreprises une suite insensee d'absurdites et de

So wrote the amazing poet of the Saison d'Enfer amid those futile
turmoils of petty commerce, in which, with an inexplicable deliberation,
he had forgotten the enchantments of an unparalleled adolescence,
forgotten the fogs of London and the streets of Brussels, forgotten
Paris, forgotten the subtleties and the frenzies of inspiration,
forgotten the agonised embraces of Verlaine.

When the contents of Colonel Stewart's papers had been interpreted to
the Mahdi, he realised the serious condition of Khartoum, and decided
that the time had come to press the siege to a final conclusion. At the
end of October, he himself, at the head of a fresh army, appeared
outside the town. From that moment, the investment assumed a more and
more menacing character. The lack of provisions now for the first time
began to make itself felt. November 30th--the date fixed by Gordon as
the last possible moment of his resistance--came and went; the
Expeditionary Force had made no sign. The fortunate discovery of a large
store of grain, concealed by some merchants for purposes of speculation,
once more postponed the catastrophe. But the attacking army grew daily
more active; the skirmishes around the lines and on the river more
damaging to the besieged; and the Mahdi's guns began an intermittent
bombardment of the palace. By December 10th it was calculated that there
was not fifteen days' food in the town; 'truly I am worn to a shadow
with the food question', Gordon wrote; 'it is one continuous demand'. At
the same time he received the ominous news that five of his soldiers had
deserted to the Mahdi. His predicament was terrible; but he calculated,
from a few dubious messages that had reached him, that the relieving
force could not be very far away. Accordingly, on the 14th, he decided
to send down one of his four remaining steamers, the Bordeen, to meet it
at Metemmah, in order to deliver to the officer in command the latest
information as to the condition of the town. The Bordeen carried down
the last portion of the Journals, and Gordon's final messages to his
friends. Owing to a misunderstanding, he believed that Sir Evelyn Baring
was accompanying the expedition from Egypt, and some of his latest and
most successful satirical fancies played around the vision of the
distressed Consul-General perched for days upon the painful eminence of
a camel's hump. 'There was a slight laugh when Khartoum heard Baring was
bumping his way up here--a regular Nemesis.' But, when Sir Evelyn Baring
actually arrived--in whatever condition--what would happen? Gordon lost
himself in the multitude of his speculations. His own object, he
declared, was, 'of course, to make tracks'. Then in one of his strange
premonitory rhapsodies, he threw out, half in jest and half in earnest,
that the best solution of all the difficulties of the future would be
the appointment of Major Kitchener as Governor-General of the Sudan. The
Journal ended upon a note of menace and disdain:

'Now MARK THIS, if the Expeditionary Force, and I ask for no more than
200 men, does not come in ten days, the town may fall; and I have done
my best for the honour of our country. Good-bye.--C. G. GORDON.

'You send me no information, though you have lots of money. C. G. G.'

To his sister Augusta he was more explicit.

'I decline to agree,' he told her, 'that the expedition comes for my
relief; it comes for the relief of the garrisons, which I failed to
accomplish. I expect Her Majesty's Government are in a precious rage
with me for holding out and forcing their hand.'

The admission is significant. And then came the final adieux.

'This may be the last letter you will receive from me, for we are on our
last legs, owing to the delay of the expedition. However, God rules all,
and, as He will rule to His glory and our welfare, His will be done. I
fear, owing to circumstances, that my affairs are pecuniarily not over
bright ... your affectionate brother, C. G. GORDON.

'P.S. I am quite happy, thank God, and, like Lawrence, I have TRIED to
do my duty.'

The delay of the expedition was even more serious than Gordon had
supposed. Lord Wolseley had made the most elaborate preparations. He had
collected together a picked army of 10,000 of the finest British troops;
he had arranged a system of river transports with infinite care. For it
was his intention to take no risks; he would advance in force up the
Nile; he had determined that the fate of Gordon should not depend upon
the dangerous hazards of a small and hasty exploit. There is no
doubt--in view of the opposition which the relieving force actually met
with--that his decision was a wise one; but unfortunately, he had
miscalculated some of the essential elements in the situation. When his
preparations were at last complete, it was found that the Nile had sunk
so low that the flotillas, over which so much care had been lavished,
and upon which depended the whole success of the campaign, would be
unable to surmount the cataracts. At the same time--it was by then the
middle of November--a message arrived from Gordon indicating that
Khartoum was in serious straits. It was clear that an immediate advance
was necessary; the river route was out of the question; a swift dash
across the desert was the only possible expedient after all. But no
preparations for land transport had been made; weeks elapsed before a
sufficient number of camels could be collected; and more weeks before
those collected were trained for military march. It was not until
December 30th--more than a fortnight after the last entry in Gordon's
Journal--that Sir Herbert Stewart, at the head of 1,100 British troops,
was able to leave Korti on his march towards Metemmah, 170 miles across
the desert. His advance was slow, and it was tenaciously disputed by,
the Mahdi's forces. There was a desperate engagement on January 17th at
the wells of Abu Klea; the British square was broken; for a moment
victory hung in the balance; but the Arabs were repulsed. On the 19th
there was another furiously contested fight, in which Sir Herbert
Stewart was killed. On the 21st, the force, now diminished by over 250
casualties, reached Metemmah. Three days elapsed in reconnoitering the
country, and strengthening the position of the camp. On the 24th, Sir
Charles Wilson, who had succeeded to the command, embarked on the
Bordeen, and started up the river for Khartoum. On the following
evening, the vessel struck on a rock, causing a further delay of
twenty-four hours. It was not until January 28th that Sir Charles
Wilson, arriving under a heavy fire within sight of Khartoum, saw that
the Egyptian flag was not flying from the roof of the palace. The signs
of ruin and destruction on every hand showed clearly enough that the
town had fallen. The relief expedition was two days late.

The details of what passed within Khartoum during the last weeks of the
siege are unknown to us. In the diary of Bordeini Bey, a Levantine
merchant, we catch a few glimpses of the final stages of the
catastrophe--of the starving populace, the exhausted garrison, the
fluctuations of despair and hope, the dauntless energy of the
Governor-General. Still he worked on, indefatigably, apportioning
provisions, collecting ammunition, consulting with the townspeople,
encouraging the soldiers. His hair had suddenly turned quite white. Late
one evening, Bordeini Bey went to visit him in the palace, which was
being bombarded by the Mahdi's cannon. The high building, brilliantly
lighted up, afforded an excellent mark. As the shot came whistling
around the windows, the merchant suggested that it would be advisable to
stop them up with boxes full of sand. Upon this, Gordon Pasha became

'He called up the guard, and gave them orders to shoot me if I moved; he
then brought a very large lantern which would hold twenty-four candles.
He and I then put the candles into the sockets, placed the lantern on
the table in front of the window, lit the candles, and then we sat down
at the table. The Pasha then said, "When God was portioning out fear to
all the people in the world, at last it came to my turn, and there was
no fear left to give me. Go, tell all the people in Khartoum that Gordon
fears nothing, for God has created him without fear."'

On January 5th, Omdurman, a village on the opposite bank of the Nile,
which had hitherto been occupied by the besieged, was taken by the
Arabs. The town was now closely surrounded, and every chance of
obtaining fresh supplies was cut off. The famine became terrible; dogs,
donkeys, skins, gum, palm fibre, were devoured by the desperate
inhabitants. The soldiers stood on the fortifications like pieces of
wood. Hundreds died of hunger daily: their corpses filled the streets;
and the survivors had not the strength to bury the dead. On the 20th,
the news of the battle of Abu Klea reached Khartoum. The English were
coming at last. Hope rose; every morning the Governor-General assured
the townspeople that one day more would see the end of their sufferings;
and night after night his words were proved untrue.

On the 23rd, a rumour spread that a spy had arrived with letters, and
that the English army was at hand. A merchant found a piece of newspaper
lying in the road, in which it was stated that the strength of the
relieving forces was 15,000 men. For a moment, hope flickered up again,
only to relapse once more. The rumour, the letters, the printed paper,
all had been contrivances of Gordon to inspire the garrison with the
courage to hold out. On the 25th, it was obvious that the Arabs were
preparing an attack, and a deputation of the principal inhabitants
waited upon the Governor-General. But he refused to see them; Bordeini
Bey was alone admitted to his presence. He was sitting on a divan, and,
as Bordeini Bey came into the room, he snatched the fez from his head
and flung it from him.

'What more can I say?' he exclaimed, in a voice such as the merchant had
never heard before. 'The people will no longer believe me. I have told
them over and over again that help would be here, but it has never come,
and now they must see I tell them lies. I can do nothing more. Go, and
collect all the people you can on the lines, and make a good stand. Now
leave me to smoke these cigarettes.'

Bordeini Bey knew then, he tells us, that Gordon Pasha was in despair.
He left the room, having looked upon the Governor-General for the last

When the English force reached Metemmah, the Mahdi, who had originally
intended to reduce Khartoum to surrender through starvation, decided to
attempt its capture by assault. The receding Nile had left one portion
of the town's circumference undefended; as the river withdrew, the
rampart had crumbled; a broad expanse of mud was left between the wall
and the water, and the soldiers, overcome by hunger and the lassitude of
hopelessness, had trusted to the morass to protect them, and neglected
to repair the breach. Early on the morning of the 26th, the Arabs
crossed the river at this point. The mud, partially dried up, presented
no obstacle; nor did the ruined fortification, feebly manned by some
half-dying troops. Resistance was futile, and it was scarcely offered:
the Mahdi's army swarmed into Khartoum. Gordon had long debated with
himself what his action should be at the supreme moment. 'I shall never
(D.V.),' he had told Sir Evelyn Baring, 'be taken alive.' He had had
gunpowder put into the cellars of the palace, so that the whole building
might, at a moment's notice, be blown into the air. But then misgivings
had come upon him; was it not his duty 'to maintain the faith, and, if
necessary, to suffer for it'?--to remain a tortured and humiliated
witness of his Lord in the Mahdi's chains? The blowing up of the palace
would have, he thought, 'more or less the taint of suicide', would be,
in a way, taking things out of God's hands'. He remained undecided; and
meanwhile, to be ready for every contingency, he kept one of his little
armoured vessels close at hand on the river, with steam up, day and
night, to transport him, if so he should decide, southward, through the
enemy, to the recesses of Equatoria. The sudden appearance of the Arabs,
the complete collapse of the defence, saved him the necessity of making
up his mind. He had been on the roof, in his dressing-gown, when the
attack began; and he had only time to hurry to his bedroom, to slip on a
white uniform, and to seize up a sword and a revolver, before the
foremost of the assailants were in the palace. The crowd was led by four
of the fiercest of the Mahdi's followers--tall and swarthy Dervishes,
splendid in their many-coloured jibbehs, their great swords drawn from
their scabbards of brass and velvet, their spears flourishing above
their heads. Gordon met them at the top of the staircase. For a moment,
there was a deathly pause, while he stood in silence, surveying his
antagonists. Then it is said that Taha Shahin, the Dongolawi, cried in a
loud voice, 'Mala' oun el yom yomek!' (O cursed one, your time is come),
and plunged his spear into the Englishman's body. His only reply was a
gesture of contempt. Another spear transfixed him; he fell, and the
swords of the three other Dervishes instantly hacked him to death. Thus,
if we are to believe the official chroniclers, in the dignity of
unresisting disdain, General Gordon met his end. But it is only fitting
that the last moments of one whose whole life was passed in
contradiction should be involved in mystery and doubt. Other witnesses
told a very different story. The man whom they saw die was not a saint
but a warrior. With intrepidity, with skill, with desperation, he flew
at his enemies. When his pistol was exhausted, he fought on with his
sword; he forced his way almost to the bottom of the staircase; and,
among, a heap of corpses, only succumbed at length to the sheer weight
of the multitudes against him.

That morning, while Slatin Pasha was sitting in his chains in the camp
at Omdurman, he saw a group of Arabs approaching, one of whom was
carrying something wrapped up in a cloth. As the group passed him, they
stopped for a moment, and railed at him in savage mockery. Then the
cloth was lifted, and he saw before him Gordon's head. The trophy was
taken to the Mahdi: at last the two fanatics had indeed met face to
face. The Mahdi ordered the head to be fixed between the branches of a
tree in the public highway, and all who passed threw stones at it. The
hawks of the desert swept and circled about it--those very hawks which
the blue eyes had so often watched.

The news of the catastrophe reached England, and a great outcry arose.
The public grief vied with the public indignation. The Queen, in a
letter to Miss Gordon, immediately gave vent both to her own sentiments
and those of the nation.

'HOW shall I write to you,' she exclaimed, 'or how shall I attempt to
express WHAT I FEEL! To THINK of your dear, noble, heroic Brother, who
served his Country and his Queen so truly, so heroically, with a
self-sacrifice so edifying to the World, not having been rescued. That
the promises of support were not fulfilled--which I so frequently and
constantly pressed on those who asked him to go--is to me GRIEF
INEXPRESSIBLE! Indeed, it has made me ill ... Would you express to your
other sisters and your elder Brother my true sympathy, and what I do so
keenly feel, the STAIN left upon England, for your dear Brother's cruel,
though heroic, fate!'

In reply, Miss Gordon presented the Queen with her brother's Bible,
which was placed in one of the corridors at Windsor, open, on a white
satin cushion, and enclosed in a crystal case. In the meanwhile, Gordon
was acclaimed in every newspaper as a national martyr; State services
were held in his honour at Westminster and St Paul's; L20,000 was voted
to his family; and a great sum of money was raised by subscription to
endow a charity in his memory. Wrath and execration fell, in particular,
upon the head of Mr. Gladstone. He was little better than a murderer; he
was a traitor; he was a heartless villain, who had been seen at the play
on the very night when Gordon's death was announced. The storm passed;
but Mr. Gladstone had soon to cope with a still more serious agitation.
The cry was raised on every side that the national honour would be
irreparably tarnished if the Mahdi were left in the peaceful possession
of Khartoum, and that the Expeditionary Force should be at once employed
to chastise the false prophet and to conquer the Sudan. But it was in
vain that the imperialists clamoured; in vain that Lord Wolseley wrote
several dispatches, proving over and over again that to leave the Mahdi
unconquered must involve the ruin of Egypt; in vain that Lord Hartington
at last discovered that he had come to the same conclusion. The old man
stood firm. Just then, a crisis with Russia on the Afghan frontier
supervened; and Mr. Gladstone, pointing out that every available soldier
might be wanted at any moment for a European war, withdrew Lord Wolseley
and his army from Egypt. The Russian crisis disappeared. The Mahdi
remained supreme lord of the Sudan.

And yet it was not with the Mahdi that the future lay. Before six months
were out, in the plenitude of his power, he died, and the Khalifa
Abdullahi reigned in his stead. The future lay with Major Kitchener and
his Maxim-Nordenfeldt guns. Thirteen years later the Mahdi's empire was
abolished forever in the gigantic hecatomb of Omdurman; after which it
was thought proper that a religious ceremony in honour of General Gordon
should be held at the palace at Khartoum. The service was conducted by
four chaplains--of the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist
persuasions--and concluded with a performance of 'Abide with Me'--the
General's favourite hymn--by a select company of Sudanese buglers. Every
one agreed that General Gordon had been avenged at last. Who could doubt
it? General Gordon himself, possibly, fluttering, in some remote
Nirvana, the pages of a phantasmal Bible, might have ventured on a
satirical remark. But General Gordon had always been a contradictious
person--even a little off his head, perhaps, though a hero; and besides,
he was no longer there to contradict ... At any rate, it had all ended
very happily--in a glorious slaughter of 20,000 Arabs, a vast addition
to the British Empire, and a step in the Peerage for Sir Evelyn Baring.


    General Gordon. Reflections in Palestine. Letters. Khartoum Journals.
    E. Hake. The Story of Chinese Gordon.
    H. W. Gordon. Events in the Life of C. G. Gordon.
    D. C. Boulger. Life of General Gordon.
    Sir W. Butler. General Gordon.
    Rev. R. H. Barnes and C. E, Brown. Charles George Gordon: A Sketch.
    A. Bioves. Un Grand Aventurier.
    Li Hung Chang. Memoirs.*
    Colonel Chaille-Long. My Life in Four Continents.
    Lord Cromer. Modern Egypt.
    Sir R. Wingate. Mahdiism and the Sudan.
    Sir R. Slatin. Fire and Sword in the Sudan.
    J. Ohrwalder. Ten Years of Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp.
    C. Neufeld. A Prisoner of the Khaleefa.
    Wilfrid Blunt. A Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt.
    Gordon at Khartoum.
    Winston Churchill. The River War.
    F. Power. Letters from Khartoum.
    Lord Morley. Life of Gladstone.
    George W. Smalley. Mr Gladstone. Harper's Magazine, 1898.
    B. Holland. Life of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire.
    Lord Fitzmaurice. Life of the Second Earl Granville.
    S. Gwynn and Gertrude Tuckwell. Life of Sir Charles Dilke.
    Arthur Rimbaud. Lettres.
    G. F. Steevens. With Kitchener to Khartoum.

* The authenticity of the Diary contained in this book has been
disputed, notably by Mr. J. 0. P. Bland in his Li Hung Chang.
(Constable, 1917)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eminent Victorians" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.