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Title: More Pages from a Journal
Author: White, William Hale
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 "More Pages from a Journal" ***

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Transcribed from the 1910 Oxford University Press edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                                More Pages
                              From a Journal

                           _WITH OTHER PAPERS_

                             MARK RUTHERFORD

                                * * * * *

                               HENRY FROWDE
                         OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
                              AND MELBOURNE

                                * * * * *


                       Horace and Susan E. P. Smith

                                  A Most
                      Inadequate Acknowledgement of
                              A Great Debt.

                                                                     M. R.


A Bad Dream                                                1
Esther                                                    31
Kate Radcliffe                                            68
Mr. Whittaker’s Retirement                                87
Confessions of a Self-tormentor                          108
A letter to the ‘Rambler’                                124
A letter from the Authoress of ‘Judith Crowhurst’        137
Clearing-up after a storm in January                     149
The end of the North Wind                                151
Romney Marsh                                             154
Axmouth                                                  156
The Preacher and the Sea                                 158
Conversion                                               160
July                                                     164
A Sunday morning in November                             166
Under Beachy Head: December                              169
24th December                                            171
Dreaming                                                 174
Ourselves                                                176
The Riddle                                               179
An Epoch                                                 181
Belief                                                   184
Extracts from a diary on the Quantocks                   186
Godwin and Wordsworth                                    205
Notes                                                    219
Shakespeare                                              262


MISS TOLLER, a lady about forty years old, kept a boarding-house, called
Russell House, at Brighton, in a dull but genteel part of the town—so
dull that even those fortunate inhabitants who were reputed to have
resources in themselves were relieved by a walk to the shops or by a
German band.  Miss Toller could not afford to be nearer the front.  Rents
were too high for her, even in the next street, which claimed a sea-view
sideways through the bow-windows.  She was the daughter of a farmer in
Northamptonshire, and till she came to Brighton had lived at home.  When
she was five-and-twenty her mother died, and in two years her father
married again.  The second wife was a widow, good-looking but hard, and
had a temper.  She made herself very disagreeable to Miss Toller, and the
husband took the wife’s part.  Miss Toller therefore left the farm at
Barton Sluice, and with a little money that belonged to her purchased the
goodwill and furniture of Russell House.  She brought with her a
Northamptonshire girl as servant, and the two shared the work between
them.  At the time when this history begins she had five lodgers, all of
whom had been with her six months, and one for more than a year.

Mrs. Poulter, the senior in residence of the five, was the widow of a
retired paymaster in the Navy.  She was between fifty and sixty, a big,
portly woman.  After her husband was pensioned she lived in Southsea.  As
he belonged to the civilian branch, Mrs. Poulter had to fight undauntedly
in order to maintain a calling acquaintance with the wives of executive
officers, and in fact the highest she had on her list was a commander’s
lady.  When Paymaster Poulter died, and his pension ceased, she gave up
the struggle.  She had no children, and moved to Brighton with an annuity
of £150 a year derived from her husband’s insurance of £2000, and a life
interest in some property left by her mother.

Mr. Goacher was a bachelor clergyman of about forty.  He read prayers,
presided over the book-club, and by a judicious expenditure of oil
prevented friction between the other boarders.  It was understood that he
had been compelled to give up clerical duty by what is called clergyman’s
sore-throat.  It was not known whether he had been vicar, rector, or
curate, but he wore the usual white neck-band and a soft, low felt hat,
he was clean-shaven, his letters were addressed ‘Reverend,’ he was not
bad-looking; and these vouchers were considered sufficient.

Mrs. Mudge was the widow of a tradesman in London.  She was better off
than any of the other lodgers, and drank claret at twenty shillings a

Miss Everard, the youngest of the party, was a French mistress, but
English by birth, and gave lessons in two or three schools.  She was
never at home on weekdays excepting at breakfast and dinner.  After
dinner she generally corrected exercises in her bedroom, but when she was
not busy she sat in the drawing-room to save fire and light.

Miss Taggart was the daughter of a country doctor.  Both her parents were
dead, and she was poor.  She had a reputation for being enlightened, as
she was not regular in her attendance at public worship on Sunday, and
did not always go to the same church.  She told Mrs. Poulter once that
science should tincture theology, whereupon, appeal being made to Mr.
Goacher by that alarmed lady, he ventured to remark, that with all
respect to Miss Taggart, such observations were perhaps liable to
misconstruction in ordinary society, where they could not be fully
explained, and, although she was doubtless right in a way, the statement
needed qualification.  Miss Taggart was not very friendly with Mrs.
Poulter and Mr. Goacher, and despised Mrs. Mudge because she was
low-bred.  Miss Everard Miss Taggart dreaded, and accused her of being
vicious and spiteful.

It was still early in December, but the lodgers in Russell House who had
nothing to do—that is to say all of them excepting Miss Everard—were
making plans for Christmas.  They always thought a long time beforehand
of what was going to happen.  On Tuesday morning they began to anticipate
Sunday, and when the Sunday afternoon wore away slowly and drearily, they
looked forward to the excitement of omnibuses and butchers’ carts on
Monday.  A little more than a fortnight before Christmas, on Sunday at
early dinner, a leg of mutton was provided.  Mrs. Poulter always sat at
the head of the table and carved.  This was the position she occupied
when Mr. Goacher came, and she did not offer to resign it.  Mrs. Mudge
was helped first, but it was towards the knuckle and she had no fat.

‘Thank you, Mrs. Poulter, but will you please give me a piece of fat?’

Mrs. Poulter, scowling, placed a minute portion of hard, half-burnt skin
on Mrs. Mudge’s plate.

‘Much obliged, Mrs. Poulter, but I want a piece of _fat_—white fat—just
there,’ pointing to it with her fork.

Mrs. Poulter, as we have said, was at enmity with Mrs. Mudge.  Mrs. Mudge
also was Low Church; and Mrs. Poulter was High.  She had just returned
from a High Church service at St. Paul’s, and the demand for an undue
share of fat was particularly irritating.

‘Really, Mrs. Mudge, you forget that there is hardly enough to go round.
For my part, though, I care nothing about it.’

‘If I had thought you did, Mrs. Poulter, I am sure I should not have
dared to ask for it.’

‘I believe,’ said Miss Taggart, ‘that the office of fat in diet is to
preserve heat.’

‘If fat promotes heat,’ said Miss Everard, ‘and I have no doubt it is so,
considering Miss Taggart’s physiological knowledge, my advice is that we
abstain from it.’

‘It is a pity,’ said Mr. Goacher, smiling, ‘that animals will not suit
our requirements.  But to be practical, Miss Toller might be instructed
to order legs of mutton with more fat.  This reminds me of beef, and beef
reminds me of Christmas.  It is now the second Sunday in Advent, and
there is a subject which you will remember we had agreed to discuss this

This important subject was a proposal by Mrs. Mudge that Miss Toller
should dine with them on Christmas Day.

‘You, Mrs. Poulter,’ said Mr. Goacher, ‘are of opinion that we should not
invite her?’

‘Certainly.  I do not see how she is to send up the dinner properly if
she is to be our guest, and I imagine also she would not be comfortable
with us.’

_Mrs. M._  ‘Why shouldn’t she be comfortable?  Of course, if we don’t try
to make her so she won’t be.  There are ways to make people comfortable
and ways to make them uncomfortable.  Miss Toller is just as good as any
of us.’

_Miss T._  ‘She is not an educated woman, and I am sure she would rather
remain downstairs; our conversation would not interest her.’

_Miss E._  ‘Pray, Miss Taggart, what is an educated woman?’

_Miss T._  ‘What a question, Miss Everard!  By an educated woman is meant
a woman who has been taught the usual curriculum of a lady in cultivated

_Miss E._  ‘What is the curriculum of a cultivated lady?’

_Miss T._  ‘Really you are provoking; you understand perfectly as well as
I do.’

_Miss E._  ‘I am still in the dark.  What is the curriculum of a
cultivated lady?’

_Mrs. P._  ‘I much doubt if Miss Toller is acquainted with the ordinary
facts of geography, even those which are familiar to common seamen in the
Navy.  She probably could not tell us the situation of the Straits of

Mrs. Poulter had been reading something in the newspaper the day before
about the Panama Canal.

_Miss E._  ‘Straits of Panama!’ but she checked herself when she saw that
not a muscle moved on anybody’s face.  ‘Now, my dear Mrs. Poulter, I
assure you I have friends who dine in the best society, and I’ll be bound
they never heard of the Straits of Panama.’

_Mrs. P._  ‘The society in which _I_ was accustomed to mix, Miss Everard,
would have excluded a person who was so grossly ignorant.’

_Miss T._  ‘The possession of scientific truth, in addition to conferring
social advantages, adds so much to our happiness.’

_Miss E._  ‘This also I am inclined to dispute.  Do you really feel
happier, Mrs. Poulter, because you can tell us what continents are
divided by the Straits of Panama?’

_Mrs. M._  ‘I’ll lay a wager Miss Toller knows as much as we do, but the
things she knows aren’t the things we know.’

_Mr. G._  ‘We are digressing, I am afraid.  I suggest we should have a
ballot.  I will write “Yes” on five little pieces of paper, and “No” on
five, and after distribution we will fold them up, and each of us shall
drop one in the vase on the mantel-shelf.’

This was done, and there were three for the invitation and two against

Mrs. Poulter and Mr. Goacher were left alone after the table was cleared.

‘Permit me to say, dear madam, that I entirely agreed with you.’

‘You must have voted with Mrs. Mudge.’

‘I did, but not from any sympathy with her views.  I strive to keep the
peace.  In an establishment like this concord is necessary.’

Mr. Goacher, when he dropped his paper in the vase, had not forgotten
that Mrs. Mudge had offered to provide the wine for the dinner.  If she
had been defeated the offer might have been withdrawn.

‘I have fancied before now that I have seen in you a decided preference
for Mrs. Mudge.’

This was true.  He had ‘tried it on with her,’ to use her own words, but
she was impregnable.  ‘It was no good with me,’ she said to Miss Everard;
‘I saw what he was after.’

‘My dear Mrs. Poulter, your supposition is preposterous—forgive me—you do
not suppose that I am unable to recognise superiority in birth, in
manners, and in intellect.  It was better, on this particular occasion,
to conciliate Mrs. Mudge.  She is not worthy of serious opposition.  Miss
Toller will not sit near you.’

Mrs. Poulter was pacified.

‘I am glad to hear this explanation.  I had hoped that one might be

‘I am truly thankful I am worthy of hope, _truly_ thankful.’

Mrs. Poulter dropped Palmer’s _Ecclesiastical History_, which she had
begun to read every Sunday afternoon for three months.  Mr. Goacher
picked it up, and was about to take Mrs. Poulter’s hand, but Miss Taggart
entered and the conversation closed just when it was becoming

In a day or two Mrs. Poulter informed Miss Toller that the ladies and Mr.
Goacher had been pleased to express a wish that she should dine with them
on Christmas Day.  She consented with becoming humility, as even Mrs.
Poulter confessed, but with many secret misgivings.  She desired to
strengthen herself with her lodgers on whom her living depended, but
Helen was more than a servant.  She was her friend, and she could not
bear the thought of leaving her in the kitchen.  Helen, too, was
passionate and jealous.  Miss Toller therefore ventured to ask Mrs.
Poulter whether, as it was Christmas, Helen also might be invited.  Mrs.
Poulter signified to Miss Toller her extreme surprise at the suggestion.

‘The line, Miss Toller, must be drawn somewhere.  Helen will have the
gratuity usual at this season—she is a well-regulated person and will see
the impropriety of intrusion into a sphere for which she is unfit.’

Miss Toller withdrew.  She dared not venture to explain or apologise to
Helen, although delay would make matters worse.  She went into North
Street and spent ten shillings which she could ill afford in buying a
locket for her.

Christmas Eve was black and bitter.  After the lodgers had gone to bed,
Miss Toller and Helen sat by the kitchen fire.

‘Oh, Miss, I wish we were at Barton Sluice.’

‘What makes you wish it, now?’

‘I hate this place and everybody in it, excepting you.  I suppose it’s
Christmas makes me think of the old farm.’

‘I remember you said once that you thought you would like a town.’

‘Ah, I said so then.  I should love to see them meadows again.  The snow
when it melts there doesn’t go to dirty, filthy slush as it does in
Brighton.  But it’s the people here I can’t bear.  I could fly at that
Poulter and that Goacher at times, no matter if I was had up for it.’

‘You forget what a hard life you had with Mrs. Wootton at the Hatch.’

‘No, I don’t forget.  She had a rough tongue, but she was one of our set.
She got as good as she gave.  She spoke her mind, and I spoke mine, and
there was an end to it.  But this lot—they are so stuck-up and
stuck-round.  I never saw such folk in our parts—they make me feel as if
I were the dirt under their feet.’

‘Never mind them.  I have more to put up with than you have.  You know
all; you may be sure, if I could help it, I shouldn’t be here.’

‘I do know all.  I shouldn’t grieve if that stepmother of yours drank
herself to death.  O Lord, when I see what you have to go through I am
ashamed of myself.  But you were made one way and I another.  You dear,
patient creature!’

‘It’s half-past eleven.  It is time to go to bed.’

They went to their cold lean-to garrets under the slates.

Miss Toller lay awake for hours.  This, then, was Christmas Eve, one more
Christmas Eve.  She recollected another Christmas Eve twenty years gone.
She went out to a party, she and her father and mother and sister; mother
and sister now dead.  Somebody walked home with her that clear, frosty
night.  Strange!  Miss Toller, Brighton lodging-house keeper, always in
black gown—no speck of colour even on Sundays—whose life was spent before
sinks and stoves, through whose barred kitchen windows the sun never
shone, had wandered in the land of romance; in her heart also Juliet’s
flame had burned.  A succession of vivid pictures of her girlhood passed
before her: of the garden, of the farmyard and the cattle in it, of the
river, of the pollard willows sloping over it, of Barton Sluice covered
with snow—how still it was at that moment—the dog has been brought inside
because of the cold, and is asleep in the living-room—her father, is he
awake? the tall clock is ticking by the window, she could hear its slow
beats, and as she listened she fell asleep, but was presently awakened by
the bells proclaiming the birth in a manger.  She remembered that Mrs.
Poulter had to be called at seven that she might go to an early service.
She hastily put on her clothes and knocked at the door, but Mrs. Poulter
decided that, as it was freezing, it would not be safe to venture, and
having ordered a cup of tea in her bedroom at half-past eight, turned
round and fell asleep again.

It was a busy day.  The lodgers, excepting Miss Everard, went to church
in the morning, but Miss Toller and Helen had their hands full.  In the
afternoon Miss Toller was obliged to tell Helen the unpleasant news.

‘I don’t want to go, but I must not offend them.’

‘But you _are_ going?’

‘I can’t get out of it.’

Helen did not speak another word.  About half-past six Miss Toller put on
her best clothes and appeared in the dining-room.  Helen punctually
served the dinner.  A seat was allotted to Miss Toller at the bottom of
the table opposite Miss Everard and next to Mr. Goacher, who faced Mrs.
Poulter.  Mrs. Mudge’s wine was produced, and Mr. Goacher graciously
poured out a glass for Miss Toller.

‘At this festive season, ma’am.’

A second glass was not offered, although Mrs. Mudge’s supply was liberal.
Mr. Goacher did not stint himself.

‘There are beautiful churches in Northamptonshire, I believe, Miss
Toller?’ said the reverend gentleman after the third glass.

‘Yes, very beautiful.’

‘Ah! that is delightful.  To whatever school in the Establishment we
belong, we cannot be insensible to the harmony between it and our dear
old ivy-clad towers and the ancient gravestones.  I love old country
churches.  I often wish my lot had been cast in a simple rural parish.’

_Miss E._  ‘Why do you not go?’

_Mr. G._  ‘My unfortunate throat; and besides, I believe I am really
better fitted for an urban population.’

_Miss E._  ‘In what way?’

_Mr. G._  ‘Well, you see, Miss Everard, questions present themselves to
our hearers in towns which do not naturally occur to the rustic
mind—questions with which, if I may say so, I am perhaps fitted to deal.
The rustic mind needs nothing more than a simple presentation of the

_Miss E._  ‘What kind of questions?’

_Mr. G._  ‘You must be aware that our friend Mrs. Poulter, for instance,
accustomed as she is to the mental stimulus of Southsea and Brighton,
takes an interest in topics unfamiliar to an honest agriculturist who is
immersed all the week in beeves and ploughs and swine.’

Mr. Goacher had intended that Mrs. Poulter should hear that her name was

_Mrs. P._  ‘What are you saying about me?’

_Miss E._  ‘Nothing to your discredit.  We were talking about town and
country parishes, and Mr. Goacher maintains that in a town parish a
clergyman of superior intellect is indispensable.’

_Mrs. P._  ‘But what has that to do with me?’

_Miss E._  ‘Oh, we merely brought you forward as an example.  You have
moved in cultured society, and he is of opinion that he is better fitted
to preach to people like you than to farmers.’

_Mrs. M._  ‘Culture, fiddle-de-dee!  Afore I was married, I lived in the
country.  Five-and-twenty years I lived in it.  Don’t tell me.  A farmer
with five hundred acres of land, or even a cowman who has to keep a dozen
cows in order and look after his own garden, wants more brains than any
of your fine town-folk.  Ah, and our old parson had a good bit more than
any one of these half-witted curates such as you see here in Brighton
playing their popish antics in coloured clothes.’

Mrs. Poulter was very angry.

‘Mrs. Mudge,’ she said, speaking to nobody in particular, and looking
straight before her, ‘has chosen to-day of all days on which to insult, I
will not call it _my_ faith, but the faith of the Catholic Church.’

Mr. Goacher at once intervened with his oil-can.

‘My leanings, Mrs. Poulter, have latterly at any rate been in your
direction—without excesses, of course; but both you and I admit that the
Church is ample enough to embrace the other great parties so long as
there is agreement in essentials.  Unity, unity!  Mrs. Mudge’s ardour, we
must confess, proves her sincerity.’

Mr. Goacher took another glass of Mrs. Mudge’s wine.  After the dessert
of almonds and raisins, figs, apples, and oranges—also supplied by Mrs.
Mudge—Miss Toller rose and said she hoped she might be excused, but Mr.
Goacher pressed her to stay.  He had offered to entertain the company
with a trifling humorous composition of his own.  She consented, and he
recited a parody on ‘To be or not to be,’ descriptive of a young lady’s
perplexity at having received an offer of marriage.  When it was over
Miss Toller departed.  It was now nine o’clock, and she found that the
dinner things had been washed up, and that Helen had gone to bed.  The
next morning she went downstairs a little later than usual, but there was
no Helen.  She ran up to her bedroom.  It was empty; she had slept there
that night, but her box was packed and directed, and there was a paper on
it to say that the carrier would call for it.  Miss Toller was
confounded.  She would have rushed to the station, but the first train
had gone.  She was roused by the milkman at the area door, and hastened
down to light the fire.  At first she resolved to excuse Helen’s absence
on the ground that it was Boxing Day, but she would almost certainly not
return, and after breakfast Miss Toller went upstairs and told her
lodgers that Helen had left.  Mrs. Poulter managed to acquaint Mr.
Goacher and Miss Taggart that she desired to speak to them when Mrs.
Mudge and Miss Everard were out of the way, and at midday there was a
conference.  Mrs. Poulter declared that the time had now arrived for
decisive action, so far as she was concerned.  Mrs. Mudge’s behaviour
could not be endured.  Her insolence in the matter of the newspaper (this
will be explained in a moment), and her contempt for what was sacred,
made it impossible without loss of self-respect to live with her.  The
servant’s sudden departure for reasons unknown, had, to use Mrs.
Poulter’s words, ‘put the coping-stone to the edifice.’  The newspaper
grievance was this.  The _Morning Post_ was provided by Miss Toller for
her boarders.  Mrs. Poulter was always the first to take it, and her
claim as senior resident was not challenged.  One morning, however, Mrs.
Mudge, after fidgeting for a whole hour, while Mrs. Poulter leisurely
scanned every paragraph from the top of the first page down to the bottom
of the last, suggested that the paper should be divided, as other people
might wish to see it.  Mrs. Poulter dropped her eye-glass and handed Mrs.
Mudge the outside sheet, with the remark that if she would but have
intimated politely that she was in a hurry, she could have had it before.

‘I’m in no hurry,’ Mrs. Mudge replied, ‘and you don’t seem to be in any.
Thank you; this is not the bit I want; you needn’t trouble; I can order a
paper myself.’  The next day there was a _Standard_ for Mrs. Mudge, who
with some malice immediately offered it to Mr. Goacher.  Mrs. Poulter
glared at him, and after a little hesitation he expressed his obligation
but preferred to wait, as he had a letter to write which must be
dispatched immediately.  Mrs. Poulter never forgot Mrs. Mudge’s spite, as
she called it; the _Standard_ reminded her of it daily.

Mr. Goacher agreed with Mrs. Poulter that, for the reasons she gave, it
would be desirable to remove from Russell House.  He also felt that, as a
clergyman, he would do wisely in leaving, for he could not ascribe the
disappearance of ‘the domestic’ to anything but a consciousness of guilt.

Miss Taggart considered that Mrs. Mudge’s conduct was due to defective
training.  As to Helen, Miss Taggart added that ‘you never feel yourself
secure against moral delinquency in the classes from which servants are
drawn.  They have no basis.’

‘I understand,’ said Mrs. Poulter, ‘that Helen is a Dissenter.’

Miss Taggart, as the reader has been told, was not particularly fond of
Mrs. Poulter and Mr. Goacher, but to stay with Mrs. Mudge and Miss
Everard was impossible.  She had also once or twice received a hint from
Miss Toller that perhaps she had better suit herself elsewhere, as the
minute attention she demanded to her little needs, of which there were
many, was trying both to mistress and servant.

Miss Toller was promptly informed that three of her lodgers were going at
the end of the month.

‘I hope, Mrs. Poulter, that you are not dissatisfied.  I have no doubt I
shall soon be able to obtain assistance.’

_Mrs. P._  ‘Our reasons, Miss Toller, had better not be communicated;
they are sufficient.  Against you personally we have nothing to object.’

_Miss T._  ‘Have you searched the box which I understand has been left?’

_Miss Toller_.  ‘Have you missed anything, ma’am?’

_Miss T._  ‘Not at present.  I might discover my loss when it was too

_Mr. G._  ‘It would be better for the protection of all of us.’

_Miss Toller_.  ‘I couldn’t do it for worlds; you’ll pardon me for saying
so.  I’d sooner you left me without paying me a farthing.  Helen may have
her faults, but she is as honest as—.’  Miss Toller’s voice trembled and
she could not finish the sentence.

_Mrs. P._  ‘Have you any reason to suspect any—any improper

_Miss Toller_.  ‘I do not quite understand you.’

_Mr. G._  ‘Pardon me, Mrs. Poulter, it is my duty to relieve you of that
inquiry.  Mrs. Poulter cannot be explicit.  Do you surmise that Helen is
compelled to conceal?—you will comprehend me, I am sure.  I need not add
anything more.’

The poor landlady, habitually crushed by the anticipation of quarter-day
into fear of contradiction or offence, flamed up with sudden passion.
‘Sir,’ she cried, ‘Helen is my friend, my dearest friend.  How dare
you!—you a clergyman!  I let you and Mrs. Poulter know that she is as
pure and good as you are—yes, and a thousand times better than you are
with your hateful insinuations.  I shalt be thankful to see the last of
you!’ and she flung herself out of the room.

‘What do you think of that?’ said Mrs. Poulter.  ‘It is beyond comment.
We cannot remain another night.’  Mr. Goacher and Miss Taggart agreed,
and Miss Taggart was commissioned at once to engage rooms.  When she had
gone Mr. Goacher was compelled to explain that he was in a difficulty.

‘Of course, my dear Mrs. Poulter, after this open insult I must go at
once, but unhappily I am rather behind-hand in my payments to Miss
Toller.  Remittances I expected have been delayed.’

‘How much do you owe her?’

‘I believe it is now about fifteen pounds.  Her disgraceful conduct
discharges us from any liability beyond to-day.  Might I beg the loan of
twenty pounds from you?—say for a fortnight.  It is a favour I could not
dream of soliciting from anybody but Mrs. Poulter.’

It was most inconvenient to Mrs. Poulter to advance twenty pounds at that
moment.  But she had her own reasons for not wishing that Mr. Goacher
should imagine she was straitened.

‘I believe I can assist you.’

Mr. Goacher dropped on his knees and took the lady’s hand, kissing it

‘My dear madam, may I take this opportunity, in this position, of
declaring what must be obvious to you, that my heart—yes, my heart—has
been captured and is yours?  Identity of views on almost every subject,
social and religious, personal attachment beyond that felt to any other
woman I ever beheld—have we not sufficient reasons, if you can but
respond to my emotion, to warrant an Eden for us in the future?’

‘Mr. Goacher, you take me by surprise.  I cannot conceal my regard for
you, but you will not expect an answer upon a matter of such moment until
I have given it most mature consideration.  Miss Taggart will be here
directly: I think I hear the bell.’

Mr. Goacher slowly rose: Miss Taggart appeared and announced that the
rooms were secured.

To end this part of the story, it may be added that in about a fortnight
Mr. Goacher’s throat was quite well, and he announced to Mrs. Poulter his
intention of resuming active work in the Church.  The marriage,
therefore, was no longer delayed.

A little while afterwards Mrs. Goacher discovered that her husband had
been a missionary in the service of the Church Missionary Society and had
consequently been Low, that he had been returned a little damaged in
character; and that resumption of active work was undesirable.

Mrs. Mudge had lunch and tea with a friend.  When she came back Miss
Toller told her what had happened.

‘I dare say you’ll blame me.  It was wrong to let my temper get the
better of me, but I could not help it.’

‘Help it?  The wonder to me is you’ve stood it so long.  I couldn’t stand
them; I should have left if they hadn’t.  Have they paid you?’


‘What, that Goacher?  Then he borrowed it!’ and Mrs. Mudge laughed till
she cried.

The day wore on and no carrier came for the box.  After dinner Miss
Toller told Mrs. Mudge she must go out for a few minutes to get a
charwoman; that she would take the latch-key, and that nobody would call.
She had gone about a quarter of an hour when there was a ring at the
bell.  Mrs. Mudge went to the door and, behold, there was Helen!

‘The Lord have mercy on us!  Why did you run away so suddenly?’

‘Don’t ask me.  Never you say a word about it to me.  I’m a sinner:
where’s Miss Toller?’

Helen listened in silence as Mrs. Mudge told her the eventful history of
the last twelve hours.  She went upstairs: Miss Toller’s bedroom door was
open, and on the drawers she saw a little packet tied up with blue silk.

It was addressed ‘for dear Helen.’  She tore it open, and there was a
locket and in it was her beloved mistress’s hair—the mistress to whom she
had been so cruel, who had so nobly defended her.  She threw herself on
the bed and her heart almost broke.  Suddenly she leaped up, flew down
into the kitchen, and began washing up the plates and dishes.  Miss
Toller was away for nearly an hour; her search for a charwoman was
unsuccessful, and she came back dejected.  Helen rushed to meet her and
they embraced one another.

‘O Miss Toller, forgive me!  When I saw you sitting with that Poulter and
that Goacher, the Devil got the better of me, but—’

‘Hush, my dear; I oughtn’t to have gone, and never any more from this day
call me Miss Toller.  Call me Mary, always from this day—you promise me?’
and Miss Toller kissed Helen’s quivering lips.

Miss Toller did all she could to get other boarders, but none came and
she had a hard time.  It was difficult for her sometimes to find a dinner
for herself and Helen.  Good Mrs. Mudge was delicately considerate and
often said, ‘that meat need not come up again,’ and purposely ordered
more than she and Miss Everard could eat, but the butcher’s bill and the
milk bill were not paid so regularly as heretofore.  Worse than
privation, worse than debt, was the vain watching for inquiries and
answers to her advertisement.  What would become of her?  Where could she
go?  Three more boarders she must have or she could not live, and there
was no prospect of one.  If by great good luck she could obtain three,
they might not stay and the dismal struggle would begin again.
Lodging-house keepers are not the heroines of novels and poems, but if
endurance, wrestling with adversity, hoping in despair, be virtues, the
eternal scales will drop in favour of many underground basements against
battlefields.  At last, after one or two pressing notices from landlord
and rate-collector, Mrs. Mudge and Miss Everard were informed that
Russell House was to be given up.  She and Helen must seek situations as

Mrs. Mudge and Miss Everard went away at the end of the month.  On the
dining-room table after they had gone Miss Toller found two envelopes
directed to her.  Inside were some receipts.  Mrs. Mudge had paid all the
rent due to the end of Miss Toller’s term, and Miss Everard the taxes.
Next week Miss Toller had the following letter from her father:—

    ‘MY DEAR MARY,—This is to tell you that your stepmother departed this
    life last Tuesday fortnight.  She was taken with a fit on the Sunday.
    On Tuesday morning she came to herself and wished us to send for the
    parson.  He was here in an hour and she made her peace with God.  I
    did not ask you to the funeral as you had been so long away.  My dear
    Mary, I cannot live alone at my age.  I was sixty-five last
    Michaelmas, and I want you back in the old house.  Let bygones be
    bygones.  I shall always be, your affectionate father,

                                                           ‘THOMAS TOLLER.

    ‘_PS._—You can have the same bedroom you had when your own mother was

The furniture, modern stuff, was sold, every stick of it, and Miss Toller
rejoiced when the spring sofa and chairs which had been devoted to
Poulters and Goachers and Taggarts were piled up in the vans.  The
nightmares of fifteen years hid themselves in the mats and carpets.

Helen and she standing at the dresser ate their last meal in the dingy
kitchen of Russell House.  It was nothing but sandwiches, but it was the
most delicious food they had tasted there.  It is a mistake if you are
old to go back to the village in which you were born and bred.  Ghosts
meet you in every lane and look out from the windows.  There are new
names on the signboard of the inn and over the grocer’s shop.  A
steam-engine has been put in the mill, and the pathway behind to the mill
dam and to the river bank has been closed.  The people you see think you
are a visitor.  The church is restored, and there is a brand new Wesleyan
chapel.  Better stay where you are and amuse yourself by trying to make
flowers grow in your little, smoky, suburban back-garden.  But Miss
Toller and Helen were not too old.  Mr. Toller met them at the station
with a four-wheeled chaise.  Before the train had quite stopped, Helen
caught sight of somebody standing by the cart which was brought for the
luggage.  ‘It’s Tom! it’s Tom!’ she screamed; and it was Tom himself,
white-headed now and a little bent.  She insisted on walking with him by
the side of his horse the whole four miles to their journey’s end.  He
was between forty and fifty when she went away and had been with Mr.
Toller ever since—‘tried a bit at times,’ he confessed, ‘with the second
missus.’  ‘She’s with God, let us hope,’ said Tom, ‘and we’ll leave her

They came to Barton Sluice.  Flat and unadorned are the fields there, and
the Nen is slow, but it was their own land, they loved it, and they were
at rest.  They fell into their former habits, and the talk of crops, of
markets, of the weather, and of their neighbours was sweet.  Mrs. Mudge
and Miss Everard came now and then to see them in summer time, and when
Mr. Toller slept with his fathers, his daughter and Helen remained at the
farm and managed it between them.


                                    BLACKDEEP FEN, 24_th_ _November_ 1838.

MY DEAR ESTHER,—This is your birthday and your wedding-day, and I have
sent you a cake and a knitted cross-over, both of which I have made
myself.  I can still knit, although my eyes fail a bit.  I hope the
cross-over will be useful during the winter.  Tell me, my dear, how you
are.  Twenty-eight years ago it is since you came into the world.  It was
a dark day with a cold drizzling rain, but at eleven o’clock at night you
were born, and the next morning was bright with beautiful sunshine.  Some
people think that Blackdeep must always be dreary at this time of year,
but they are wrong.  I love the Fen country.  It is my own country.  This
house, as you know, has belonged to your father’s forefathers for two
hundred years or more, and my father’s old house has been in our family
nearly as long.  I could not live in London; but I ought not to talk in
this way, for I hold it to be wrong to set anybody against what he has to
do.  Your brother Jim is the best of sons.  He sits with me in the
evening and reads the paper to me.  He goes over to Ely market every
week.  He has his dinner at the ordinary, where many of the company drink
more than is good for them, but never once has he come home the worse for
liquor.  I had a rare fright a little while ago.  I thought there was
something between him and one of those Stanton girls at Ely.  I saw she
was trying to catch him.  It is all off now.  She is a town girl,
stuck-up, spends a lot of money on her clothes, and would have been no
wife for Jim.  She would not have been able to put her hand to anything
here.  She might have broken my heart, for she would have tried to draw
Jim away from me.  I don’t believe, my dearest child, in wedded love
which lessens the love for father and mother.  When you were going to be
married what agony I went through!  It was so wicked of me, for it was
jealousy with no cause.  I thank God you love me as much as ever.  I wish
I could see you again at Homerton, but the journey made me so ill last
winter that I dare not venture just yet.—Your loving mother,

                                                            RACHEL SUTTON.

                                * * * * *

                                             HOMERTON, 27_th_ _Nov._ 1838.

MY DEAREST MOTHER,—The cake was delicious: it tasted of Blackdeep, and
the cross-over will be most useful.  It will keep me warm on cold days,
and the love that came with it will thicken the wool.  But, mother, it is
not a month ago since you sent me the stockings.  You are always at work
for me.  You are just like father.  He gave us things not only on
birthdays, but when we never looked out for them.  Do you remember that
week when wheat dropped three shillings a quarter?  He had two hundred
quarters which he might have sold ten days earlier.  He was obliged to
sell them at the next market and lost thirty pounds, but he had seen at
Ely that day a little desk, and he knew I wanted a desk, and he bought it
for me with a fishing-rod and landing-net for Jim.

My husband said he could not think of anything I needed and wrote me a
cheque for two pounds.

O! that you could come here, and yet I am certain you must not.  My heart
aches to have you.  In my day-dreams I go over the long miles to
Blackdeep, through Ware, through Royston, through Cambridge, through
every village, and then I feel how far away you are.  I turned out of the
room the other day the chair in which you always sat.  I could not bear
to see it empty.  Charles noticed it had gone and ordered it to be
brought back.  He may have suspected the reason why I put it upstairs.
My dearest, dearest mother, never fear that my affection for you can
become less.  Sometimes after marriage a woman loves her mother more than
she ever loved her before.

It is a black fog here and not a breath of air is stirring.  How
different are our fogs at Blackdeep!  They may be thick, but they are
white and do not make us miserable.  I never shall forget when I was last
in Fortyacres and saw the mist lying near the river, and the church spire
bright in the sunlight.  The churchyard and the lower part of the church
were quite hidden.

What a mercy Jim was not trapped by Dolly, for I suppose it was she.  Jim
is not the first she has tried to get.  You are quite right.  She might
have broken your heart, and I am sure she would have broken Jim’s, for
she is as hard as a millstone.—Your loving child,


                                * * * * *

                                     BLACKDEEP FEN, 3_rd_ _December_ 1838.

Your letter made me feel unhappy.  I am afraid something is on your mind.
What is the matter?  I was not well before I went to Homerton the last
time, but maybe it was not London that upset me.  If you cannot leave, I
shall come.  Let me hear by the next post.

                                * * * * *

                                          HOMERTON, 5_th_ _December_ 1838.

I told Charles I was expecting you.  He said that your sudden
determination seemed odd.  ‘Your mother,’ he added, ‘is a woman who acts
upon impulses.  She ought always to take time for consideration.  This is
hardly the proper season for travelling.’  I asked him if he would let me
go to Blackdeep.  He replied that, unless there was some particular
reason for it, my proposal was as unwise as yours.  What am I to do?  A
particular reason!  It is a particular reason that I pine for my mother.
Can there be any reason more particular than a longing for the sight of a
dear face, for kisses and embraces?  You must counsel me.

                                * * * * *

                                        BLACKDEEP, 15_th_ _December_ 1838.

As Charles imagines I am carried away by what he calls impulses, I did
not answer your letter at once, and I have been thinking as much as I
can.  I am not a good hand at it.  Your dear father had a joke against
me.  ‘Rachel, you can’t think; but never mind, you can do much better
without thinking than other people can with it.’  I wish I had gone
straight to you at once, and yet it was better I did not.  It would have
put Charles out, and this would not have been pleasant for either you or
me.  I would not have you at Blackdeep now for worlds.  The low fever has
broken out, and to-day there were two funerals.  Parson preached a sermon
about it; it was a judgment from God.  Perhaps it is, but why did it take
your father three years ago?  It is all a mystery, and it looks to me
sometimes as if here on earth there were nothing but mystery.  I have
just heard that parson is down with the fever himself.

Do let me have a long letter at once.

                                * * * * *

                                         HOMERTON, 20_th_ _December_ 1838.

A Mrs. Perkins has been here.  She sat with me for an hour.  She spends
her afternoons in going her rounds among her friends, as she calls them,
but she does not care for them, nor do they care for her.  She looks and
speaks like a woman who could not care for anybody, and yet perhaps there
may be somewhere a person who could move her.

I am so weary of the talk of my neighbours.  It is so different from what
we used to have at Blackdeep.  Oh me! those evenings when father came in
at dark, and Mr. and Mrs. Thornley came afterwards and we had supper at
eight, and father and Mr. Thornley smoked their pipes and drank our
home-brewed ale and we had all the news—how much Mr. Thornley had got for
his malt, how that pig-headed old Stubbs wouldn’t sell his corn, and how
when he began to thresh it and the ferrets were brought, a hundred rats
were killed and bushels of wheat had been eaten.

You ask me what is the matter.  I do not deny I am not quite happy, but
it would be worse than useless to dwell upon my unhappiness and try to
give you reasons for it.  London, in the winter, most likely does not
suit me.  I shall certainly see you in the spring, and then I hope I
shall be better.

                                * * * * *

                                     BLACKDEEP FEN, _Christmas Day_, 1838.

As a rule it is right to hide our troubles, but it is not right that you
should hide yours from me.  You are my firstborn child and my only
daughter.  There are girls who are very good, but between their mothers
and them there is a wall.  They do what they are bid; they are kind, but
that is all.  They live apart from those that bore them.  I would not
give a straw for such duty and love.  I gathered one of our Christmas
roses this morning.  We have taken great care to keep them from being
splashed and spoilt.  There was not a speck on it.  I put it in water and
could not take my eyes off it.  Its white flower lay spread open and I
could look right down into it.  I thought of you.  When you were a little
one—ay, and after you were out of short frocks—you never feared to show
me every thought in your mind, you always declared that if you had wished
to hide anything from me, it would have been of no use to try.  What a
blessing that was to me!  How dreadful it would be if, now that you are
married, you were to change!  I am sure you will not and cannot.

                                * * * * *

                                           HOMERTON, 1_st_ _January_ 1839.

The New Year!  What will happen before the end of it?  I feel as if it
must be something strange.  I have just read your last letter again, and
I cannot hold myself in.  My dearest mother, I confess I am wretched.  It
might be supposed that misery like mine would express itself with no
effort, but it is not so: it would be far easier to describe ordinary
things.  I am afraid also to talk about it, lest that which is dim and
shapeless should become more real.

Since the day we were married Charles and I have never openly quarrelled.
He is really good: he spends his evenings at home and does not seem to
desire entertainment elsewhere.  He likes to see me well-dressed and does
not stint in house expenditure, although he examines it carefully and
pays a good many of the bills himself by cheque.  He has been promoted to
be manager of the bank, and takes up his new duties to-day.  Mrs.
Perkins, whose husband is one of the partners, told me that he had said
that there is nobody in the bank equal to Charles for sound sense and
business ability; that everything with which he has to do goes right; he
is always calm, never in a hurry, and never betrayed into imprudence.
This I can well believe.  As you know, Jim asked him a month ago in much
excitement for advice about Fordham, who owed him £200.  Jim had heard
there was something wrong.  Charles put the letter in the desk and did
not mention it to me again till a week afterwards, when he asked me to
tell Jim the next time I wrote to Blackdeep that he need not worry
himself, as Fordham was quite safe.  It is certainly a comfort to a woman
that her husband is a strong man and that he is much respected by his
employers.  Of what have I to complain?  O mother, life here is so dull!
This is not the right word; it is common, but if you can fill it up with
my meaning, there is no better.  It will then be terrible.  There is
hardly a flower in the garden, although not a weed is permitted.  The
sooty laurels unchanging through winter and summer I hate.  Some flowers
I am sure would grow, but Charles does not care for them.  Neatness is
what he likes, and if the beds are raked quite smooth, if the grass is
closely shaven and trimmed and not a grain of gravel in the path is
loose, he is content.  He cannot endure the least untidiness in the
house.  If papers are left lying loosely about, he silently puts them
evenly together.  He brings all his office ways into the dining-room; the
pens must never be put aside unwiped and the ink-bottles must be kept
filled to a certain height.  We do not get much sun at any time of day in
Homerton, and we face the west.  Charles wishes the blinds to be drawn
when it shines, so that it may not fade the curtains.  We have few books
excepting Rees’s cyclopædia, and they are kept in a glazed case.  If I
look at one I have to put it back directly I have done with it.  I saw
this place before I was married, but it did not look then as it looks
now, and I did not comprehend how much Blackdeep was a part of me.  The
front door always open in daytime, the hollyhocks down to the gate, the
strawberry beds, the currant and gooseberry bushes, the lilacs, roses,
the ragged orchard at the back, the going in and out without ‘getting
ready,’ our living-room with Jim’s pipes and tobacco on the mantel-shelf,
his gun over it, his fishing-tackle in the corner—I little understood
that such things and the ease which is felt when our surroundings grow to
us make a good part of the joy of life.  When I came to Blackdeep for my
holiday and lifted the latch, it was just as if a stiff, tight band round
my chest dropped from me.  I have nothing to do here.  We keep three
servants indoors.  I would much rather have but two and help a little
myself.  They are good servants, and the work seems to go by mechanism
without my interference.  I suggested to Charles that, as they were not
fully employed, we should get rid of one, but he would not consent.  He
preferred, he said, paid service.  To me the dusting of my room, paring
apples, or the cooking of any little delicacy, is not service.  The cook
asks for orders in the morning; the various dishes are properly prepared;
but if I were Charles, and my wife understood her business, I should like
to taste her hand in them.  I never venture into the kitchen.  ‘The
advantage of paid service,’ added Charles, ‘is that if it is inefficient
you can reprimand or dismiss.’  Nothing in me finds exercise.  I want to
work, to laugh, to expect.  There was always something going on at
Blackdeep, no two days alike.  I never got up in the morning knowing what
was before me till bedtime.  That outlook too from my window, how I miss
it!—the miles and miles of distance, the rainbow arch in summer complete
to the ground, the sunlight, the stormy wind, the stars from the point
overhead to the horizon far away—I hardly ever see them here.

You will exclaim ‘Is this all?’  If you were here you would think it
enough, but it—  The clock is striking one.  Charles is to be at home to
lunch.  He is going to buy the house and is to meet the owner this
afternoon, an old man who lives about ten minutes’ walk from us.  Charles
thinks the purchase will be a good investment and that another house
might be built on part of the garden.

                                * * * * *

                                         BLACKDEEP, 15_th_ _January_ 1839.

I am not surprised you find London dull, but I grieve that it has taken
such an effect on you.  I hoped that, as you are young, you would get
used to the bricks and mortar and the smoke.

Jim came in and I had to stop.  The Lynn coach is set fast in the snow
near the turnpike at the top of our lane, and he is going to help dig it
out.  I will take up my pen again.  You are no worse off than thousands
of country girls who are obliged to live in streets narrower than those
in Homerton.  I cannot help boding you are not quite free with me.  I do
beseech you to hide nothing.  There must even now be something the matter
beyond what I have heard.  I cannot say any more at present.  My head is
in a whirl.  May be you will have a child.  That will make all the
difference to you.

                                * * * * *

                                          HOMERTON, 20_th_ _January_ 1839.

How shall I begin?  I must tell the whole truth.  Mother, mother, I have
made a great mistake, the one great mistake of life.  I have mistaken the
man with whom I am to live.  Charles and I were engaged for two years.  I
have discovered nothing new in him.  I was familiar with all his ways and
thought them all good.  I compared him with other men who were
extravagant and who had vices, and I considered myself fortunate.  He was
cool, but how much better it was to be so than to have a temper, for I
should never hear angry words from him which cannot be forgotten?  I
remembered how measured my uncle Robert’s speech was, how quiet he was,
and yet no two human beings could have been more devoted to one another
than uncle and aunt.  Charles’s quietude seemed so like uncle’s.  Charles
was very methodical.  He always came to see me on the same days, at the
same hours, and stayed the same time.  It provoked me at first, but I
said to myself that he was not a creature of fits and starts and that I
could always depend on him.

He always kissed me when we met and when we parted.  I do not remember
that he ever had me in his arms, and I never felt he was warm and eager
when we were alone together; but I had heard of men and women who married
for what they called love, and in a twelvemonth it had vanished and there
was nothing left.  Of many small particulars I took but little notice.
When we chose the furniture I wanted bright-coloured curtains, but he did
not like them and bought dark red, gloomy stuff.  I tried to think they
were the best because they would not show the London dirt.  I had a
bonnet with scarlet trimmings which suited my black hair, but he asked me
to change them for something more sober, because they made me
conspicuous.  Again I thought he was right, and that what might do for
the country might not be proper in town.  Trifles! and yet to me now what
a meaning they have!  Two years—and everything is changed, although, as I
have just said, I have found out nothing new!  The quietude is absence of
emotion, different in its root from uncle Robert’s serenity.  It is the
deadly sameness of a soul to which nothing is strange and wonderful and a
woman’s heart is not so interesting as an advertisement column in the
newspaper.  He never cares to look into mine.  I do not pretend that
there is anything remarkable in it, but if he were to open it he would
find something worth having.  This absence of curiosity to explore what
is in me kills me.  What must the bliss of a wife be when her husband
searches her to her inmost depths, when she sees tender questions in his
eyes, when he asks her _do you really feel so_? and she looks at him and
replies _and you_?  I could endure the uneventfulness of outward life if
anything not unpleasant _happened_ between me and Charles.  Nothing
happens.  Something happens in my relationship to my dog.  I pat him and
he is pleased; he barks for joy when I go out.  I cannot live with
anybody with whom I am always on exactly the same even terms—no rising,
no falling, mere stagnation.  I am dead, but it is death without its
sleep and peace.  Fool, fool that I was!  I cannot go on.  What shall I
do?  If Charles drank I might cure or tolerate him; if he went after
another woman I might win him back.  I can lay hold of nothing.

A child?  Ah no!  I have longed unspeakably for a child sometimes, but
not for one fathered by him.

                                * * * * *

                                         BLACKDEEP, 24_th_ _January_ 1839.

I knew it all, but I dared not speak till you had spoken.  Your letter
came when we were at breakfast.  I could not open it, for my heart told
me what was in it.  Jim wondered why I let it lie on the table, and I
made some excuse.  After breakfast I took it upstairs into my own room
and sat down by the bed, your father’s bed, and cried and prayed.  If he
were alive he would have helped me, or if no help could have been found
he would have shared my sorrow.  It is dreadful that, no matter what my
distress may be, he cannot speak.  What counsel can I send you?  I have
had much to do with affliction, but not such as yours.  My love for you
is of no use.  I will be still.  I have always found, when I am in great
straits and my head is confused, I must hold my tongue and do nothing.
If I do not move, a way may open out to me.  Meantime, live in the
thought of Blackdeep and of me.  It will do you no harm and may keep you
from sinking.

                                * * * * *

                                          HOMERTON, 30_th_ _January_ 1839.

No complaint, no reproof.  You might have told me it was perhaps my

I always have to reflect on what I am about to say to him.  I go through
my sentences to the end before I open my lips.  He dislikes exaggeration,
and checks me if I use a strong word; but surely life sometimes needs
strong words, and those which are tame may be further from the truth than
those which burn.  When he first began to think about buying the house, I
was surprised and talked with less restraint than is usual with me.
After a little while he said that I had not contributed anything definite
to a settlement of the question.  I dare say I had not, but it is natural
to me to speak even when I do not pretend to settle questions.  He seems
to think that speech is useless unless for a distinct, practical purpose.
At Blackdeep almost everything that comes into my head finds its way to
my tongue.  The repression here is unbearable.

Last night it rained, and Charles’s overcoat was a little wet at the
bottom.  He asked that it might be put to the fire.  Directly he came
down in the morning he felt his coat and at breakfast said in his slow
way, ‘My coat has not been dried.’  I replied that I was very sorry, that
I had quite forgotten it, and that it should be dried before he was ready
to start.  I jumped up, brought it into the room and hung it on a chair
on the hearth-rug.  He did not thank me and appeared to take no notice.
‘I am indeed very sorry,’ I repeated.  He then spoke.  ‘I do not care
about the damp: it is the principle involved.  I have observed that you
do not endeavour systematically to impress my requests on your mind.  If
you were to take due note of them at the time they are made, and say them
aloud two or three times to yourself, they would not escape your memory.
Forgetfulness is never an excuse in business, and I do not see why it
should be at home.’  ‘O Charles!’ I cried, ‘do not talk about principles
in such a trifle; I simply forgot.  I should be more likely to forget my
cloak than your coat.’  He did not answer me, but opened a couple of
letters, finished his breakfast, and then began to write at the desk.  I
went upstairs, and when I returned to the breakfast room he had gone.  In
the evening he behaved as if nothing had passed between us.  He would
have thought it ridiculous if such a reproof had unsettled a clerk at the
bank, and why should it unsettle me?  The clerk expects to be taught his
lesson daily.  So does every rational being.

Nothing! nothing!  I can imagine Mrs. Perkins’ contempt if I were to
confide in her.  ‘As good a husband as ever lived.  What do you want, you
silly creature?  I suppose it’s what they call passion.  You should have
married a poet.  You have made an uncommonly good match and ought to be
thankful.’  A poet!  I know nothing of poets, but I do know that if
marriage for passion be folly, there is no true marriage without it.

                                * * * * *

                                         BLACKDEEP, 7_th_ _February_ 1839.

I am no clearer now than I was a fortnight ago.  I wish I could talk to
somebody, and then perhaps my thoughts would settle themselves.  Last
Sunday I made up my mind I would come to you at all costs; then I
doubted, and this morning again I was going to start at once.  Now my
doubts have returned.  Jim notices how worried I am, and I make excuses.

I cannot rest while I am not able to do more than put you off by praying
you to bear your lot patiently.  It is so hard to stand helpless and
counsel patience.  Could you give him up and live here?  I am held back,
though, from this at present.  I am not sure what might happen if you
were to leave him.  Perhaps he would be able to force you to return.  You
have no charge to make against him which anybody but myself would

I must still wait for the light which I trust will be given me.  It is
wonderful how sometimes it strikes down on me suddenly and sometimes
grows by degrees like the day over Ingleby Fen.  I lay in bed late this
morning, for I hadn’t slept much, and watched it as it spread, and I
thought of my Esther in London who never sees the sunrise.

                                * * * * *

                                         HOMERTON, 14_th_ _February_ 1839.

There is hardly anything to record—no event, that is to say—and yet I
have been swept on at a pace which frightens me.  The least word or act
urges me more than a blow.  Yesterday I made up my accounts and was ten
shillings short.  I went over them again and again and could not get them
right.  I was going to put into the cash-box ten shillings of my own
money, but I thought there might be some mistake and that Charles, who
always examines my books, would find it out, and that it would be worse
for me if he had discovered what I had done than if I had let them tell
their own tale.  After dinner he asked for them, counted my balance, and
at once found out there was ten shillings too little.  I said I knew it
and supposed I had forgotten to put down something I had spent.
‘Forgotten again?’ he replied; ‘it is unsatisfactory: there is evident
want of method.’  He locked the box and book in the desk and read the
newspaper while I sat and worked.  Next day I remembered the servant had
half-a-sovereign to pay the greengrocer, and I had not seen her since I
gave it to her.  When Charles returned from the bank my first words were,
‘O Charles, I know all about the half-sovereign: I am so glad.’  Would
not you have acknowledged you were glad too?  He looked at me just as he
did the night before.  I believe he would rather I had lost the money.
‘Your explanation,’ was his response, ‘makes no difference: in fact it
confirms my charge of lack of system.  I have brought you some tablets
which I wish you to keep in your pocket, and you must note in them every
outgoing at the time it is made.  These items are then to be regularly
adjusted, and transferred afterwards.’  I could not restrain myself.

‘Charles, Charles,’ I cried, ‘do not _charge_ me, as if I had committed a
crime.  For mercy’s sake, soften!  I have confessed I was careless; can
you not forgive?’  ‘It is much easier,’ was the answer, ‘to confess and
regret than to amend.  I am not offended, and as to forgiveness I do not
quite comprehend the term.  It is one I do not often use.  What is done
cannot be undone.  If you will alter your present habit, forgiveness,
whatever you may mean by it, becomes superfluous.’  His lips shut into
their usual rigidity.  Not a muscle in them would have stirred if I had
kissed them with tears.  No tears rose; I was struck into hardness equal
to his own, and with something added.  I _hated_ him.  ‘Henceforward,’ I
said to myself, ‘I will not submit or apologise; there shall be war.’

                                                   16_th_ _February_ 1839.

I left my letter unfinished.  War?  How can I make war or continue at
war?  I could not keep up the struggle for a week.  I am so framed that I
must make peace with those with whom I have disagreed or I must fly.  I
would take nine steps out of the ten—nay, the whole ten which divide me
from dear friends; I would say that this or that was not my meaning.  I
would abandon all arguing and wash away differences with sheer affection.
Toward Charles I cannot stir.  Sometimes, although but seldom, my brother
Jim and I have quarrelled.  Five minutes afterwards we have been in one
another’s arms and the angry words were as though they had never been
spoken.  Forgiveness is not a remission of consequences on repentance.
It is simply love, a love so strong that in its heat the offence
vanishes.  Without love—and so far Charles is right—forgiveness even of
the smallest mistake is impossible.

It is a thick, dark fog again this morning.  At Blackdeep most likely it
is bright sunlight.

Charles does not seem to suspect that his indifference has any effect on
me.  I suppose he is unable to conceive my world or any world but his
own.  If he were at Blackdeep now and the sun were shining, would it be
to him a glowing, blessed ball of fire?

He may have just as much right to complain of me as I have to complain of
him.  He sets store on the qualities necessary for his business, and he
knows what store the partners set on those qualities in him.  No doubt
they are of great importance to everybody.  It must be hard for him to
live with a woman who takes so little interest in city affairs and makes
so much of what to him is of no importance.  He looks down upon me as
though I were not able to talk on any subject which, for its
comprehension, requires intelligence.  If he had married Miss Stagg, who
has doubled the drapery business at Ely, they might have agreed together
very well.

This is true, but I come back to myself.  The virtues are not enough for
me.  Life with them alone is not worth the trouble of getting up in the
morning.  I thirst for you: I shall come, whatever may happen.

                                * * * * *

                                        BLACKDEEP, 20_th_ _February_ 1839.

I cannot write an answer to your letter.  You must come.  I could not
make up my mind last night, but this morning the light, the direction, as
my mother used to say, was like a star.  How you remind me of her! not in
your lot but in your ways, and she had your black hair.  She was a
stranger to these parts.  Where your grandfather first saw her I do not
know, but she was from the hill country in the far south-west.  She never
would hear anything against our flats.  When folk asked her if she did
not miss the hills, she turned on them as if she had been born in the
Fens and said she had found something in them better than hills.  But how
I do wander on!  That has nothing to do with you now, although I could
tell you, if it were worth while, how it came into my head.  I shall look
out for you this week.

                                * * * * *

                                      LOMBARD STREET, 14_th_ _March_ 1839.

DEAR ESTHER,—You have now been away three weeks and I shall be glad to
hear when you intend to return.  Your mother I hope is better, and if she
is not, I trust you will see that your absence cannot be indefinitely
prolonged.  I am writing at the Bank, and your reply marked ‘Private’
should be addressed here.  Some changes, now almost completed, are being
made in the lower rooms at Homerton which will give me one for any
business of my own.—Your affectionate husband,

                                                           CHARLES CRAGGS.

                                * * * * *

                                           BLACKDEEP, 17_th_ _March_ 1839.

DEAR CHARLES,—My mother is not well, and I shall be grateful to you if
you will give me another week.  I am sorry you have made alterations in
the house without saying anything to me.  It will be better now that I
should not come back till they are finished.—Your affectionate wife,

                                                            ESTHER CRAGGS.

                                * * * * *

                                            HOMERTON, 19_th_ _March_ 1839.

The paperhangers and painters have left; the carpets will be laid and the
furniture arranged to-day.  I trust to see you when I come home on the
22nd instant.  This will nearly give you the week you desired.  I shall
be late at the Bank on the 22nd, but if you are fatigued with your
journey there is no reason why you should not retire to rest, and we will
meet in the morning.

                                * * * * *

                                           BLACKDEEP, 21_st_ _March_ 1839.

I had hoped for a little delay, for I shrank from the necessity of
announcing my resolve, although it has for some time been fixed.  I shall
not return.  The reason for my refusal shall be given with perfect
sincerity.  I do not love you, and you do not love me.  I ought not to
have married you, and I can but plead the blindness of youth, which for
you is a poor excuse.  I shall be punished for the remainder of my days,
and not the least part of the punishment will be that I have done you a
grievous injury.  Worse, however—ten thousand times worse—would it be for
both of us if we were to continue chained together in apathy or hatred.
I would die for you this moment to make good what you have lost through
me, but to live with you as your wife would be a crime of which I dare
not be guilty.  This is all, and this is enough.

                                * * * * *

                                            HOMERTON, 24_th_ _March_ 1839.

Madam,—I am not surprised at the contents of your letter of the 21st
instant, nor am I surprised that your determination should have been made
known to me from your mother’s house.  I have no doubt that she has done
her best to inflame you against me.  How she contrives to reconcile with
her religion her advice to her daughter to break a divine law, I will not
inquire.  I am not going to remonstrate with you; I will not humiliate
myself by asking you to reconsider your resolution.  I will, however,
remind you of one or two facts, and point out to you the consequences of
your action, so that hereafter you may be unable to plead you were not

You will please bear in mind that _you_ have abandoned _me_; I have not
abandoned you.  You disappointed me: my house was not managed in
accordance with my wishes, but I was prepared to accept the consequences
of what I did deliberately and I desired to avoid open rupture.  I hoped
that in time you would learn by experience that the maxims which control
my conduct rest on a solid basis; that I was at least to be esteemed, and
that we might live together in harmony.  I repeat, you have cast me off,
though I was willing you should stay.

You confess you have done me a wrong, but have you reflected how great
that wrong is?  I have no legal grounds for divorce, and you therefore
prevent me from marrying again.  You have damaged my position in the
Bank.  Many of my colleagues, envious of my success, will naturally seize
their opportunity and propagate false reports, and I therefore inform you
that I shall require of you a document which my solicitor will prepare,
completely exonerating me.  This will be necessary for my protection.  A
Bank manager’s reputation is extremely sensitive, and a notorious
infringement of any article of the moral code would in many quarters
cause his commercial honesty to be suspected.

You allege that you are sincere, but I can hardly acquit you of
hypocrisy.  Your sentimental excuse for deserting me is suspicious.

When the document just mentioned has been signed, I shall send a copy of
it to the rector of your parish.  Without it he will know nothing but
what you and your mother tell him, and he will be in a false position.

I hereby caution you that I shall not lose sight of you, and if at any
time proof of improper relationship should be obtained, I shall take
advantage of it.

                                                           CHARLES CRAGGS.

                                * * * * *

                                           BLACKDEEP, 26_th_ _March_ 1839.

DEAREST MOTHER,—This letter came this morning, and I send it at once to
you at Ely.  Am I to answer it?  When I read some parts I wished he had
been near me that I might have caught him by the throat.  I should have
exulted that for once I could move him, although it should be by terror.
It is strange that not until now did I know he was so brutal.  Notice
that, according to him, if a wife leaves her husband it must be for a
rival.  He does not understand how much she can hate him, body and soul,
and with no thought of a lover; that her loathing needs no other passion
to inflame it, and that the touch of his clean finger may be worse to her
than a leper’s embrace.

When I had written so far I was afraid.  I knelt down and cried to our
Father who is in Heaven.—Your loving daughter,


                                * * * * *

                                                 ELY, 28_th_ _March_ 1839.

You must not reply.  I have always tried not to answer back if it will do
no good.  In a way, I am not sorry he has written in this style to you.
It proves that the leading I had was true.  I feared cruel claws ever
since I first set eyes on him notwithstanding he was so even-tempered,
and I am glad he has not shown them till you are safe in Blackdeep.  I
know what you will have to go through in time to come, but for all that I
am sure I am right and that you are right.  I am more sure than ever.  I
am sorry for him, but he will soon settle down and rejoice that you have
gone.  That spiteful word about my religion does not disturb me.  I have
my own religion.  I have brought up my children in it.  I have taught
them to fear God and to love the Lord Jesus Christ, who has stood by me
in all my troubles and guided me in all my straits whenever I have been
willing to wait His time.  I bless God, my dear child, that you have not
gone away from your mother’s faith—ay, and your father’s too—and that you
can still pray to your Heavenly Father in your distress.  Be thankful you
have been spared the worst, that you have not grown hard.

I shall come back this week; your aunt wants you here, and a change will
do you good.

                                * * * * *

                                           BLACKDEEP, 10_th_ _April_ 1839.

I am glad you went to Ely, for yesterday the parson called to see you.
He had received a letter from Mr. Craggs, and considered it his duty as a
Christian minister to endeavour to bring about a reconciliation.  I told
him at once he might spare himself the pains, for they would be useless.
He replied that I ought to think of the example.  Well, at that I broke
out.  I asked him whether that slut of a Quimby girl wasn’t a worse
example, who at five-and-twenty had married Horrocks, the hoary old
wretch, for his money, and leads him a dog’s life?  Had he ever warned
either of them?  They go to church regular.  I was very free, and I said
I thought it was a bright example that a woman should have given up a
fine house and money in London because there was no love with them, and
should have come back to her mother at Blackdeep.  Besides, I added, why
should my Esther suffer a living death for years for the sake of the folk
hereabouts?  They weren’t worth it.  She was too precious for that.
‘Oh!’ but he went on again, ‘they have souls to be saved.  Husbands and
wives may be led to imagine there is no harm in separating, and may yield
to the temptations of unlawful love.’  This made me very hot, and I gave
it him back sharp that a sinner could find in the Bible itself an excuse
for his sin.

He said no more except that it would be a nice scandal for the
Dissenters, and that he trusted God would bring me into a better frame of
mind.  He then went away.  His reasoning went in at one ear and out at
the other.  Parsons are bound to preach by rule.  It is all general: it
doesn’t fit the ins and outs.

                                * * * * *

                                              BLACKDEEP, 1_st_ _May_ 1839.

You had better stop at Ely as long as you can.  Everybody is gossiping,
for parson has told the story as he heard it from your husband.  It is
worse for Jim than for me, as he goes about among people here, and
although they daren’t say anything to him about you, there is no mistake
as to what they think.  Mrs. Horrocks inquired after me, and said she was
sorry to hear of my trouble.  Jim told her I was quite well, and that the
two cows were now all right.  He wouldn’t let her see he knew what she

Last night, Jim, who has been talking for a twelvemonth past about going
to his cousin in America, asked me whether I would not be willing to
leave.  I have always set my face against it.  To turn my back on the old
house and the Fen, to begin again at my time of life in a new strange
world would be the death of me.  More than ever now am I determined to
end my days here.  They’d say at once we had fled.  No, here we’ll bide
and face it out.

                                * * * * *

They did not fly.  Years went on, and to the astonishment of their
neighbours—perhaps they were a little sorry—there was no sign that Esther
had a lover.  Mrs. Horrocks’s eyes were feline, but she was obliged to
admit she was at fault.  Jim married, and an agreeable opportunity was
presented for the expression of amazement that his wife’s father and
mother felt safe in allowing their child to enter such a family—but then
she came from Norwich.  The majority of the poor in Blackdeep Fen sided
with the Suttons, and here and there a pagan farmer boldly declared that
old Mrs. Sutton and her daughter were of a right good sort, and that
there was not a straightforrarder man than Jim in Ely market.  But to
respectable Blackdeep society the Suttons remained a vexatious knot which
it could not unpick and lay straight.  Nobody, as Mrs. Horrocks observed,
knew how to take them.  Mrs. Craggs wore her wedding-ring, and when she
was in Mrs. Jarvis’s shop looked her straight in the face and asked for
what she wanted as if she were the parson’s wife.  But that, according to
Mrs. Horrocks, just showed her impudence.  ‘What a time that poor Craggs
in London must have had of it:’ (Mr. Horrocks was not present).  ‘Lord!
how I do pity the man.’  ‘And yet,’ added Mrs. Jarvis, ‘and _yet_, you
might eat your dinner off Mrs. Craggs’s floor.  I call it hers, for she
cleans it.’  Clearly the living-room ought to have been a pigsty.  It was
particularly annoying that, although Mrs. Sutton and her family by
absence from church had become infidels, they did not go to the devil
openly as they ought to do, and thereby relieve Blackdeep of that pain
and even hatred which are begotten by an obstinate exception to what
would otherwise be a general law.  Parson often preached that everybody
was either a sheep or a goat.  The Suttons were not sheep—that was
certain; and yet it was difficult to classify them as ordinary Blackdeep
goats, creatures with horns.  Mrs. Jarvis had heard that there was a
peculiar breed of goats with sheep’s wool and without horns.  ‘Esther
Craggs,’ she maintained, ‘will one day show us what she’s after; mark my
word, you’ll see.  If that brazen face means nothing, then I’m

After Jim’s marriage Esther continued to manage the house and the dairy,
leaving the cooking to her sister-in-law and the needlework to her
mother.  Soon after five o’clock on a bright summer morning the labourer
going to his work heard the unbarring of Mrs. Sutton’s shutters and the
withdrawal of bolts.  The casement windows and the door were then flung
open, and Esther generally came into the doorway and for a few minutes
faced the sun.  She did not shut herself up.  She walked the village like
a queen, and no Fen farmer or squireling ventured to jest with her.  Mrs.
Jarvis could not be brought to admit her stone-blindness and clung to the
theory of somebody in London; but as Esther never went to London, and
nobody from London came to her, and the postmistress swore no letters
passed between London and the Sutton family, Mrs. Jarvis became a little
distrusted, although some of her acquaintances believed her predictions
with greater firmness as they remained unfulfilled.  ‘I don’t care what
you may say; don’t tell me,’ was her reply to sceptical objections, and
it carried great weight.

Esther died of the Blackdeep fever in the fifth year after she came home.
As soon as he received the news of her death Mr. Craggs married Mrs.
Perkins, who had been twelve months a widow, was admitted into
partnership, and is now one of the most respected men in the City.


IN 1844 there were living between Carlisle and Keswick, Robert Radcliffe
and his only child Kate.  They belonged to an ancient Roman Catholic
family, remotely connected with the Earl of Derwentwater who was executed
in 1716; but Robert Radcliffe’s father had departed from the faith of his
ancestors, and his descendants, excepting one, had remained Protestant.
Robert had inherited a small estate and had not been brought up to any
profession.  He had been at Cambridge, and at one time it was thought he
might become a clergyman, but he had no call that way, and returned to
Cumberland after his father’s death to occupy himself with his garden and
books.  He was a good scholar and had a library of some three thousand
volumes.  He married when he was about eight-and-twenty, but his wife
died two years after Kate was born, and he did not marry again.  He took
no particular pleasure in field sports except angling, nor in the
gaieties of county society, although he was not a recluse and was on
friendly terms with most of his neighbours.  He was fond of wandering in
his own country, and knew every mountain and every pass for twenty miles
round him.  His daughter was generally his companion, sometimes on her
pony and sometimes on foot.  Neither of them had been abroad, save once
to France when she was about sixteen.  They cared little for travelling
in foreign parts, and he always said he got nothing out of a place in
which he was a lodger.  He went once a Sunday to the village church: he
was patron of the living.  The sermons were short and simple.
Theological questions did not much concern him, and he found in Horace,
Montaigne, Swift, and the County History whatever mental exercise he
needed.  So far he was the son of his father, but his mother had her
share in him.  She was a strange creature, often shaken by presentiments.
Years after she was married her husband had to go to Penrith on some
business which she knew would keep him there for a night.  She got it
into her head when she was alone in the evening that something had
happened to him.  She could not go to bed nor sit still, and at three
o’clock in the morning she called up her servant and bade him saddle his
horse and hers.  Off they started for Penrith, and she appeared before
her astonished husband just as he was leaving his room at the inn for an
early breakfast.  She rushed speechless into his arms and sobbed.

‘What is the matter?’ he cried.


‘Nothing wrong at home?’


She passed her hands slowly over his face as if to reassure herself,
pushed back his hair, looked in his eyes, took both his hands and said
softly, ‘Not another word, please.’

He understood her, at least in part.  She remained quietly at the inn
till the afternoon and then went home with him.  She was also peculiar in
her continual reference to first principles.  The meaningless traditions,
which we mistake for things, to her were nothing.  She constantly asked,
‘why not?’ and was therefore dangerous.  ‘If you go on asking “why not?”’
said her aunt to her once, ‘mark me you’ll come to some harm.’  She saw
realities, and yet—it was singular—she saw ghosts.  Mr. Radcliffe did not
obviously resemble his mother, nor did Kate, and yet across both of them
there often shot clear, and at times even flashing gleams, indisputable
evidence that in son and granddaughter she still lived.  It was in his
relationship to his daughter that Mr. Radcliffe betrayed his mother’s
blood.  His reading, as we have said, was in Horace, Montaigne, and
Swift, but if Kate went away for no longer than a couple of days to her
cousins at Penrith, he used to watch her departure till she was hidden at
the first bend of the road about half a mile distant, and then when he
went back to his room and looked at her empty chair, a half-mad,
unconquerable melancholy overcame him.  It was not to be explained by
anxiety.  It was inexplicable, a revelation of something in him dark and
terrible.  In 1844 Kate Radcliffe was twenty-four years old.  She had
never been handsome, and when she was sixteen her pony had missed its
footing on a treacherous mountain track and she narrowly escaped with her
life.  She was thrown on a rock, and her forehead was crossed henceforth
beyond remedy with a long broad mark.  She had never cared much for
company, and her disfigurement made her care for it less.  She could not
help feeling that everybody noticed it, and most people in truth noticed
nothing else.  She was ‘the girl with a scar.’  As time went on, this
self-consciousness, or rather consciousness of herself as the scar,
diminished, but her indifference remained, other reasons for it being
added.  She never had a lover; and, indeed, what man could be expected to
take to himself as wife even the wisest and most affectionate of women
whose brow was indented?  She was advised to wear some kind of head-gear
which would hide her misfortune, but she refused.  ‘Everybody,’ she said,
‘would know what was behind, and I will not be harassed by concealment.’
To her father her accident did but the more endear her.  There is no love
so wild, no, not even the love of a mistress, as that which is sometimes
found in a father or mother for a child, and often for one who is
physically or even mentally defective.  It is not subject to satiety and
lassitude, and grows with age.  To Kate also her father was more than the
whole world of men and women.  The best of friends weary of one another
and large spaces of separation are necessary, but these two were always
happy together.  Theirs was the blessed intimacy which is never unmeaning
and yet can endure silence.  They never felt that unpleasant stricture of
the chest caused by a search for entertainment or for some subject of

Nevertheless, although Mr. Radcliffe was so much to Kate, she was
herself, and consequently had wants which were not his.  There had been
born in her before 1844 a passion which could not be satisfied by any
human being, a leaning forward and outward to something she knew not
what.  The sun rose over the fells; they were purple in sunset; the
constellations slowly climbed the eastern sky on a clear night, and her
heart lay bare: she wondered, she was bowed down with awe, and she also
longed unspeakably.  When she was about twenty-five years old she
accepted an invitation to spend a few weeks with a friend in London.  She
was fond of music, and on her first Sunday she could not resist the
temptation to hear a mass by Mozart in Saint Mary’s, Moorfields.  She was
overpowered, and something moved in her soul which she had never felt in
the church at home.  She worshipped at Saint Mary’s several times
afterwards, and her friend rallied her on conversion to Roman

‘It is the music, Kate.’

‘Well, then, why not?’

‘The music is so tender, so overwhelming, that thinking is impossible.’

‘Is thinking the only way to the truth—putting two and two together?  The
noblest truth comes with music.  More solid truth has been demonstrated
by a song, a march, or a hymn, than by famous political and theological
treatises.  But I am not a Roman Catholic.’

‘Oh yes!  I know what you mean: it is a poetical way of saying that music
stimulates aspiration.’

‘No, that is not what I mean.  If there be such a mental operation as
passionless thinking it does not lead to much.  Emotion makes
intellectual discoveries.’

‘I do not understand you.  Revealed religion rests on intelligent
conviction.  It is the doctrine of a Creator, of law, of sin, of
redemption, of future happiness and misery.’

‘That is to say, your religion stands on authority or logic.  But I
cannot dispute with you.  The beliefs by which some of us live—“belief”
is not the right word—are not begotten or strengthened and cannot be
overthrown by argument.  We dare not expose them, but if they were to
fail, we should welcome death and annihilation.  I repeat, I am not a
Roman Catholic.’

Kate went back to her father and her native hills.  The drama of Saint
Mary Moorfields was continually before her eyes, and Mozart’s music was
continually in her ears.  An ideal human being had been revealed to her
who understood her, pitied her, and loved her.  She was no longer a mere
atom of dust, unnoticed amongst millions of millions.  But the intensity
of her faith gave birth to fear and doubt.  Her own words recurred to
her, but she was forced to admit that she must depend upon evidence.  If
Christ were nothing but a legend, she might as well kneel to a mist.

In those days, within five miles of her father’s house was a small Roman
Catholic chapel.  The priest had been well educated, but he had never
questioned any of the dogmas imposed on him as a child.  One Sunday
morning, when her father did not go to church, Kate walked over to the
chapel and heard mass.  The contrast with Saint Mary Moorfields was
great.  The sermon disappointed her.  It was little more than simple
insistence on ritual duty.  She reflected, however, that it was not
addressed to her, but to those who had been brought up to believe.  As
she walked home a strange conflict arose in her.  On the one hand were
her imperious needs, which almost compelled assumption of fact; but the
wind blew, and when she looked up the clouds sailed over the mountains.
She sat on a grey rock to rest.  It had lain there for thousands of
years, and she was reminded of the Druid circle above the Greta.  She
could get no further with her thinking, and knelt down and prayed for
light.  It is of all prayers the most sincere, but she was not
answered—at least not then.  The next Sunday she went again to mass, and
she had half a mind to signify her wish to confess, but what could she
confess?  She was burdened with no sins, and in confession she could not
fully explain her case.  She determined she would write to the priest and
ask him to grant her an interview.

Her desertion of the parish church was observed, and of course nobody was
surprised that Miss Radcliffe had turned Papist.  The old Radcliffes were
all Papists; there was Popery in the blood, and it came out like the
gout, missing a couple of generations.  Then again there was the scar,
and Miss Radcliffe would never be married.  One of the neighbours who
suggested the scar and maidenhood as a sufficient reason for apostasy was
a retired mill-owner, who was a Wesleyan Methodist when he was in
business in Manchester, but had become ostentatiously Anglican when he
retired into the country.  The village blacksmith, whose ancestors had
worked at the same forge since the days of Queen Elizabeth, was a
fearless gentleman, and hated the mill-owner as an upstart.  He therefore
made reply that ‘other people changed their religion because they wanted
to be respectable and get folk like the Radcliffes to visit them—which
they won’t,’ the last words being spoken with emphasis and scorn.

Mr. Radcliffe was much disturbed.  To him Roman Catholicism was
superstition, and he wondered how any rational person could submit to it.
To be sure he assented every week to supernatural history and doctrines
presented to him in his own parish church, but to these he was
accustomed, and his reason, acute as it was, made no objection.  There
was another cause for his distress.  His only sister, whom he tenderly
loved, had become a foreign nun and was lost to him for ever.  His life
was bound up with his child, and he dreaded intervention.  It is all very
well to say that religious differences need not be a bar to friendship.
This is one of the commonplaces of people who understand neither
friendship nor religion.  When Kate and he went for their long walks
together, they would no longer see the same hills; and there would always
be something behind her affection for him and above it.  He was moodily
jealous, and it was unendurable that he should be supplanted by an
intruder who would hear secrets which were not entrusted to a parent.
There was still some hope.  He did not know how far she had gone; and he
resolved to speak to her.  One morning, as soon as breakfast was over, he
proposed an excursion; he could talk more freely in the open air.  After
a few minutes’ indifferent conversation he asked her abruptly if she was
a Roman Catholic.

‘I cannot say.’

‘Cannot say!  Do you still belong to our church?’

‘Father, do not question me.’

‘Ah!  I see what has happened; it is lawful to hide from me, to
prevaricate and perhaps’—he checked himself.  ‘You know that ever since
you have grown up I have hidden nothing from you.  I have told you
everything about my own affairs: I have asked your counsel, for I am old,
and the wisdom of an old man is often folly.  You have also told me
everything: you have opened your heart to me.  Think of what you have
said to me: I have been mother and father to you.  The trouble to me is
not merely that you believe in transubstantiation and I do not, but that
there is something in you which you reserve for a stranger.  What has
come to you?—for God’s sake keep close to me for the few remaining years
or months of my life.  Have you reflected on the absurdities of Romanism?
Is it possible that my Kate should kneel at the feet of an ignorant

She was silent.  She knew as little as her father of Roman Catholic
history and creeds.

He went on:

‘Your aunt, my dear sister—a more beautiful creature never walked this
earth—I do not know if she is alive or dead.  Can that be true which
kills love?’

‘Father, father,’ she cried, sobbing, ‘nothing can separate us!’

He said no more on that subject, and seemed to recover his peace of mind,
although he was not really at rest.  He was getting into years and he saw
that words were useless and that he must wait the issue of forces which
were beyond his control.  ‘If she is to go, she must go: resistance will
make it worse for me: I must thank God if anything of her is left for me.
Thus spoke the weary submission of age, but it was not final, and the
half-savage desire for his child’s undivided love awoke in him again, and
he prayed that if he could not have it his end might soon come.

Kate’s love for her father was deep, but she could not move a single step
merely to pacify him.  She could have yielded herself entirely to him in
worldly matters; she would have doubted many of her strongest beliefs if
he had contested them; she would have given up all her happiness for him;
she would have died for him; but she could not let go the faintest of her
religious dreams, although it was impossible to put them into words.

She wrote her letter to the priest.  She found him living in a cottage
and was somewhat taken aback when she entered.

There were hardly any books to be seen, but a crucifix hung on the wall.

‘Miss Radcliffe—an old and honoured name!  What can be the object of your

‘Father, I am in distress.  I want something which perhaps you can give.’

‘Ah, my child, I understand.  You would like to confess, but you are
Protestant; I cannot absolve you.  Return to the true fold and you can be

‘O Father, I have committed no crime; I come to you because I doubt and I
_must_ believe.’

The holy father was unused to such a penitent, and was perplexed and

‘Doubt, my child—yes, even the faithful are sometimes troubled with
doubt, a temptation from the Enemy of souls.  Were you one of the flock I
could prescribe for you.  But perhaps you mean doubt of the heresies of
your communion.  In that case I can recommend a little manual.  Take it
away with you, study it, and see me again.’

‘Father,’ said Kate, pointing to the crucifix, ‘did He, the Son of God,
Son of the Virgin, really live on this earth? did He break His heart for
me?  If He did, I am saved.’

‘Surely your own minister has instructed you on this point; it is the
foundation even of Protestantism.’

‘I prefer to seek instruction and guidance from you; answer me this one

‘Satan has never thus assaulted me, and I have never heard of any such
suggestion to one of my people.  I am a poor parish priest.  Take the
manual.  It has been compiled by learned men: read it carefully with
prayer: I also will pray for you that you may be gathered into the
eternal Church.’

Kate took the manual and went home.  There was but little history in it,
but there was much about the person of Christ.  He was man and God
‘without confusion and without change.’  As man he had to learn as other
men learn, and, as God, he knew everything.  He was sinless, and the
lusts of the flesh had no power over him, but he had a human body, and
was necessarily subject to its infirmities.  His human nature was derived
from his mother.  God was not born from her, and yet she was the mother
of God.  Kate was able to see that some part of what looked like sheer
contradiction was the conjunction of opposites from which it is
impossible to escape in the attempt to express the Infinite, but in the
manual this contradiction was presented with repulsive hardness.  The
compiler desired to subjugate and depose the reason.  This was not the
Christ she wanted.  She hungered for the God, the Man, at whose feet she
could have fallen: she would have washed them with tears, she would have
wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed them and anointed them
with ointment.  She could have followed Him to the court of the High
Priest and have gloried in discipleship: she could have taken the thief’s
place beside Him on the cross, and she would not have exchanged those
moments of torture in companionship with Him for a life of earthly bliss.
But—that fatal _but_—did He ever live, did He still live, did He love
her, did He know how much she loved Him?  Thus it has always been.  There
is an impulse in man which drives him to faith; the commonplace world
does not satisfy him; he is forced to assume a divine object for his
homage and love, and when he goes out into the fields it has vanished.

Kate did not call again upon the priest.  Her father came to the
conclusion that there was nothing in his suspicions, and that she had
been suffering from one of her not uncommon fits of nervous restlessness
and depression.  This was a mercy, for his bodily health had begun to
fail.  The winter was very severe, and in the dark days just before
Christmas he took to his bed and presently died, having suffered no pain
and with no obscuration of his mind until the last ten minutes.  Kate had
nursed him with pious care: she was alone with him and closed his eyes
about four o’clock in the morning.  At first she was overcome with
hysterical passion, and this was succeeded by shapeless thoughts which
streamed up in her incessantly as the mists stream up from a valley at
sunrise.  Not until day broke did she leave the room and waken the

An epoch is created rather by the person than by the event.  The
experience which changes one man is nothing to another.  Some will pass
through life without a mark from anything that happens to them; others
are transformed by a smile or a cloud.  So also the same experience will
turn different men into totally different paths.  Kate had never seen
death before.  It smote her with such force that for months and months
her father was before her eyes and she could not convince herself that he
was not with her.  But she went no further towards Roman Catholicism.
She let the facts stand.  Once when she was walking on the moors she
stretched out her arms again and was urged to pray, but she felt that her
prayer would be loss of strength and she stood erect.  For nearly a
twelvemonth she simply endured.  She remembered a story in an old
_Amulet_, one of a series of annuals, bound in crimson cloth and
fashionable at that time, of a sailor stranded on a rock in the sea.  The
waves rose to his lips, but he threw back his head, and at that moment
there was a pause and the tide turned.  It might turn for her or it might
not; she must not move.  She read scarcely any books and lived much in
the open air.  The autumn was one of extraordinary splendour.  September
rains after a dry summer washed the air and filled the tarns and becks.
Wherever she went she was accompanied by that most delicious sound of
falling waters.  The clouds, which through July and August had been
nothing but undefined, barren vapour, gathered themselves together and
the interspaces of sky were once more brilliantly blue.  Day after day
earth and heaven were almost too beautiful, for it was painful that her
finite apprehension should be unequal to such infinite loveliness.  She
received no such answer as that for which she hoped when she knelt by the
grey rock, but that is the way with the celestial powers; they reply to
our passionate demands by putting them aside and giving us that for which
we did not ask.  _We know not how to pray as we ought_.


I HAD been a partner in the house of Whittaker, Johnson, and Marsh, in
the wholesale drug trade, for twenty-five years, and, for the last ten
years, senior partner.  For the first nine years of my seniority I was
not only nominally, but practically, the head of the firm.  I had ceased
to occupy myself with details, but nothing of importance was concluded
without consulting me: I was the pivot on which the management turned.
In the tenth year, after a long illness, my wife died: I was very ill
myself, and for months not a paper was sent to me.  When I returned to
work I found that the junior partners, who were pushing men, had
distributed between them what I was accustomed to do, and that some
changes which they thought to be indispensable had been made.  I resumed
my duties as well as I could, but it was difficult to pick up the dropped
threads, and I was dependent for explanation upon my subordinates.

Many transactions too, from a desire to avoid worrying me, were carried
through without my knowledge, although formerly, as a matter of course,
they would have been submitted to me.  Strangers, when they called, asked
to see Johnson or Marsh.  I directed the messenger that they were to be
shown into my room if I was disengaged.  This was a failure, for, when
they came, I was obliged to ask for help, which was not given very
generously.  Sometimes I sent for the papers, but it took a long time to
read them, and my visitors became impatient.  During one of these
interviews, I remember that I was sorely perplexed, but I had managed to
say something loosely with no particular meaning.  Johnson came in and at
once took up the case, argued for ten minutes while I sat silent and
helpless, and an arrangement was concluded in which I really had no voice
whatever.  Now and then I strove to assert myself by disapproval of
suggestions offered to me, but in the end was generally forced to admit I
was wrong.  We had a very large order for which we were obliged to make
special arrangements with manufacturers.  Both Johnson and Marsh were of
opinion that a particular firm which had often supplied us was not to be
trusted, as our dealings with them during my absence had been
unsatisfactory.  I was inclined foolishly but naturally, to attach little
importance to anything which had been done entirely without me, ridiculed
their objections, and forced my decision upon them.  The firm broke down;
our contract with them was cancelled; another had to be made under
pressure, and we lost about five hundred pounds.  Although I was not
reminded of my responsibility in so many words, I knew that I was solely
to blame; I became more than ever convinced I was useless, and I was much
dejected.  At last I made up my mind to retire.  I was urged to remain,
but not, as I imagined, with any great earnestness, and on the 31st
December 1856 I left the office in Eastcheap never to enter it again.

For the first two or three weeks I enjoyed my freedom, but when they had
passed I had had enough of it.  _I had nothing to do_!  Every day at the
hours when business was at its height, I thought of the hurry, of the
inquiries, of the people waiting in the anteroom, of the ringing of
bells, of the rapid instructions to clerks, of the consultations after
the letters were opened, of our anxious deliberations, of the journeys to
Scotland at an hour’s notice, and of the interviews with customers.  I
pictured to myself that all this still went on, but went on without me,
while I had no better occupation than to unpack a parcel, pick the knots
out of the string, and put it in a string-box.  I saw my happy neighbours
drive off in the morning and return in the evening.  I envied them the
haste, which I had so often cursed, over breakfast.  I envied them, while
I took an hour over lunch, the chop devoured in ten minutes; I envied
them the weariness with which they dragged themselves along their
gravel-paths, half an hour late for dinner.  I was thrown almost entirely
amongst women.  I had no children, but a niece thirty-five years old,
devoted to evangelical church affairs, kept house for me, and she had a
multitude of female acquaintances, two or three of whom called every
afternoon.  Sometimes, to relieve my loneliness, I took afternoon tea,
and almost invariably saw the curate.  I was the only man present.  It
was just as if, being strong, healthy, and blessed with a good set of
teeth, I were being fed on water-gruel.  The bird-wittedness, the absence
of resistance and of difficulty, were intolerable.  The curate, and
occasionally the rector, tried to engage me, as I was a good subscriber,
in discussion on church affairs, but there seemed to me to be nothing in
these which required the force which was necessary for the commonest day
in the City.  Mrs. Coleman and the rector were once talking together most
earnestly when I entered the room, and I instinctively sat down beside
them, but I found that the subject of their eager debate was the
allotment of stalls at a bazaar.  They were really excited—stirred I
fully admit to their depths.  I believe they were more absorbed and
anxious than I was on that never-to-be-forgotten morning when Mortons and
Nicholsons both failed, and for two hours it was just a toss-up whether
we should not go too.

I went with my niece one day to St. Paul’s Churchyard to choose a gown,
but it was too much for me to be in a draper’s shop when the brokers’
drug sales were just beginning.  I left my niece, walked round the
Churchyard as fast as I could, trying to make people believe I was busy,
and just as I came to Doctors Commons I stumbled against Larkins, who
used to travel for Jackman and Larkins.

‘Hullo, Whittaker!’ said he, ‘haven’t seen you since you left.  Lucky
dog!  Wish I could do the same.  Ta-ta; can’t stop.’

A year ago Mr. Larkins, with the most pressing engagement in front of
him, would have spared me just as much time as I liked to give him.

Formerly I woke up (sometimes, it is true, after a restless night) with
the feeling that before me lay a day of adventure.  I did not know what
was in my letters, nor what might happen.  Now, when I rose I had nothing
to anticipate but fifteen hours of monotony varied only by my meals.  My
niece proposed that I should belong to a club, but the members of clubs
were not of my caste.  I had taken a pride in my garden and determined I
would attend to it more myself.  I bought gardening books, but the
gardener knew far more than I could ever hope to know, and I could not
displace him.  I had been in the habit of looking through a microscope in
the evening, although I did not understand any science in which the
microscope is useful, and my slides were bought ready-made.  I brought it
out now in the daytime, but I was soon weary of it and sold it.  We went
to Worthing for a month.  We had what were called comfortable lodgings
and the weather was fine, but if I had been left to myself I should have
gone back to Stockwell directly my boxes were unpacked.  We drove
eastwards as far as we could and then westward, and after that there was
nothing more to be done except to do the same thing over again.  At the
end of the first week I could stand it no longer, and we returned.  I
fancied my liver was out of order and consulted a physician.  He gave me
some medicine and urged me to ‘cultivate cheerful society,’ and to take
more exercise.  I therefore tried long walks, and often extended them
beyond Croydon, and once as far as Reigate, but I had never been
accustomed to walking by myself, and as I knew the names of scarcely
half-a-dozen birds or trees, my excursions gave me no pleasure.  I have
stood on Banstead Downs in the blaze of sunlight on a still October
morning, and when I saw the smoke-cloud black as night hang over the
horizon northwards, I have longed with the yearning of an imprisoned
convict to be the meanest of the blessed souls enveloped in it.

I determined at last to break up my household at Stockwell, to move far
away into the country; to breed fowls—an occupation which I was assured
was very profitable and very entertaining; dismiss my niece and marry
again.  I began to consider which lady of those whom I knew would suit me
best, and I found one who was exactly the person I wanted.  She was about
thirty-five years old, was cheerful, fond of going out (I never was), a
good housekeeper, played the piano fairly well, and, as the daughter of a
retired major in the Army, had a certain air and manner which
distinguished her from the wives and daughters of our set and would
secure for me an acquaintance with the country gentlefolk, from which,
without her, I should probably be debarred.  She had also told me when I
mentioned my project to her, but saying nothing about marriage, that she
doted on fowls—they had such pretty ways.  As it was obviously prudent
not to engage myself until I knew more of her, I instigated my niece in a
careless way to invite her to stay a fortnight with us.  She came, and
once or twice I was on the verge of saying something decisive to her, but
I could not.  A strange terror of change in my way of life took hold upon
me.  I should now have to be more at home, and although I might occupy
myself with the fowls during the morning and afternoon, the evening must
be spent in company, and I could not endure for more than half an hour a
drawing-room after dinner.  There was another reason for hesitation.  I
could see the lady would accept me if I proposed to her, but I was not
quite sure why.  She would in all probability survive me, and I fancied
that her hope of survival might be her main reason for consenting.  I
gave her up, but no sooner had she left us than I found myself impelled
to make an offer to a handsome girl of eight-and-twenty who I was ass
enough to dream might love me.  I was happily saved by an accident not
worth relating, and although I afterwards dwelt much upon the charms of
two or three other ladies and settled with myself I would take one of
them, nothing came of my resolution.  I was greatly distressed by this
growing indecision.  It began to haunt me.  If I made up my mind to-day
that I would do this or that, I always had on the morrow twenty reasons
for not doing it.  I was never troubled with this malady in Eastcheap.  I
was told that decay in the power of willing was one of the symptoms of
softening of the brain, and this then was what was really the matter with
me!  It might last for years!  Wretched creature! my life was to be
nothing better than that of the horse in Bewick’s terrible picture.  I
was ‘waiting for death.’

Part of my income was derived from interest on money lent to a cousin.
Without any warning I had a letter to say that he was bankrupt, and that
his estate would probably not pay eighteenpence in the pound.  It was
quite clear that I must economise, and what to do and whither to go was
an insoluble problem to me.  By chance I met an old City acquaintance who
told me of a ‘good thing’ in Spanish bonds which, when information was
disclosed which he possessed, were certain to rise twenty per cent.  If
what he said was true—and I had no reason to doubt him—I could easily get
back without much risk about two-thirds of the money I had lost.  Had I
been in full work, I do not believe I should have wasted a shilling on
the speculation, but the excitement attracted me, and I ventured a
considerable sum.  In about a fortnight there was a sudden jump of two
per cent. in my securities, and I was so much elated that I determined to
go farther.  I doubled my stake; in three weeks another rise was
announced; I again increased the investment, and now I watched the market
with feverish eagerness.  One day I was downstairs a quarter of an hour
earlier than usual waiting for the boy who brought the paper.

I tore it open and to my horror saw that there was a panic on the Stock
Exchange; my bonds were worthless, and I was ruined.

I had always secretly feared that this would happen, and that I should be
so distracted as to lose my reason.  To my surprise, I was never more
self-possessed, and I was not so miserable as might have been expected.
I at once gave notice of discharge to my servants, sold nearly all my
furniture and let my house.  I was offered help, but declined it.  I
moved into a little villa in one of the new roads then being made at
Brixton, and found that I possessed a capital which, placed in
Consols—for I would not trust anything but the public funds—brought me
one hundred and twenty-five pounds a year.  This was not enough for my
niece, myself and a maid, and I was forced to consider whether I could
not obtain some employment.  To return to Eastcheap was clearly out of
the question, but there was a possibility, although I was fifty-six, that
my experience might make me useful elsewhere.  I therefore called on
Jackman and Larkins at twelve o’clock, the hour at which I knew there was
a chance of finding them able to see me.  During my prosperity I always
walked straight into their room marked ‘private,’ but now I went into the
clerks’ office, took off my hat and modestly inquired if either Mr.
Jackman or Mr. Larkins could spare me a minute.  I was not asked to sit
down—I, to whom these very clerks a little over a twelvemonth ago would
have risen when I entered; but my message was taken, and I was told in
reply that both Mr. Jackman and Mr. Larkins were engaged.  I was bold
enough to send in another message and was informed I might call in two
hours’ time.  I went out, crossed London Bridge, and seeing the doors of
St. Saviour’s, Southwark, open, rested there awhile.  When I returned at
the end of two hours, I had to wait another ten minutes until a luncheon
tray came out.  A bell then rang, which a clerk answered, and in about
five minutes, with a ‘come this way’ I was ushered into the presence of
Jackman, who was reading the newspaper with a decanter and a glass of
sherry by his side.

‘Well, Whittaker, what brings you here?  Ought to be looking after your
grapes at Stockwell—but I forgot; heard you’d given up grape-growing.
Ah! odd thing, a man never retires, but he gets into some mess; marries
or dabbles on the Stock Exchange.  I’ve known lots of cases like yours.
What can we do for you?  Times are horribly bad.’  Jackman evidently
thought I was going to borrow some money of him, and his tone altered
when he found I did not come on that errand.

‘I was very sorry—really I was, my dear fellow—to hear of your loss, but
it was a damned foolish thing to do, excuse me.’

‘Mr. Jackman,’ said I, ‘I have not lost all my property, but I cannot
quite live on what is left.  Can you give me some work?  My connection
and knowledge of your business may be of some service.’  I had put
hundreds of pounds in this man’s pocket, but forbore to urge this claim
upon him.

‘Delighted, I am sure, if it were possible, but we have no vacancy, and,
to be quite plain with you, you are much too old.  We could get more out
of a boy at ten shillings a week than we could out of you.’

Mr. Jackman drank another glass of sherry.

‘But, sir’—(sir! that I should ever call Tom Jackman ‘sir,’ but I
did)—‘as I just said, my experience and connection might be valuable.’

‘Oh, as to experience, me and Larkins supply all that, and the clerks do
as they are told.  Never keep a clerk more than two years: he then begins
to think he knows too much and wants more pay.  As to connection, pardon
me—mean nothing, of course—but your recommendation now wouldn’t bring

At this moment the door opened and Larkins entered in haste.  ‘I say,
Jackman—’ then turning and seeing me,—‘Hullo, Whittaker, what the devil
are you doing here?  Jackman, I’ve just heard—’

‘Good-bye, Whittaker,’ said Jackman, ‘sorry can’t help you.’

Neither of them offered to shake hands, and I passed out into the street.
The chop-houses were crammed; waiters were rushing hither and thither; I
looked up at the first floor of that very superior house, used solely by
principals, where I often had my lunch, and again crossed London Bridge
on my way back.  London Bridge at half-past one!  I do not suppose I had
ever been there at half-past one in my life.  I saw a crowd still passing
both southwards and northwards.  At half-past nine it all went one way
and at half-past six another.  It was the morning and evening crowd which
was the people to me.  These half-past one o’clock creatures were strange
to me, loafers, nondescripts.  I was faint and sick when I reached home,
for I walked all the way, and after vainly trying to eat something went
straight to bed.  But the next post brought me a note saying that Jackman
and Larkins were willing to engage me at a salary of £100 a year—much
more, it was added, than they would have paid for more efficient service,
but conceded as a recognition of the past.  The truth was, as I
afterwards found out, that Larkins persuaded Jackman that it would
increase their reputation to take old Whittaker.  Larkins too had become
a little tired of soliciting orders, and I could act as his substitute.
I was known to nearly all the houses with which they did business and
very likely should gain admittance where a stranger would be denied.  My
hours would be long, from nine till seven, and must be observed rigidly.
Instead of my three-and-sixpenny lunch I should now have to take in my
pocket whatever I wanted in the middle of the day.  For dinner I must
substitute a supper—a meal which did not suit me.  I should have to
associate with clerks, to meet as a humble subordinate those with whom I
was formerly intimate as an equal; but all this was overlooked, and I was
happy, happy as I had not been for months.

It was on a Wednesday when I received my appointment, and on Monday I was
to begin.  I said my prayers more fervently that night than I had said
them for years, and determined that, please God, I would always go to
church every Sunday morning no matter how fine it might be.  There were
only three clear week-days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, to be got
through.  I imagined them to be holidays, although I had never before
taken three consecutive holidays, save in those wretched Augusts or
Septembers, when pride annually forced me away to the seaside.  At last
Monday came: our breakfast hour was henceforth fixed at half-past seven,
and at eight o’clock I started to walk to Kennington, and thence to ride
by an omnibus to King William’s statue.  Oh! with what joy did I shut the
little garden gate and march down the road, once more somebody!  I looked
round, saw other little front gates open, each by-street contributed, so
that in the Kennington Road there was almost a procession moving steadily
and uniformly City-wards, and _I_ was in it.  I was still a part of the
great world; something depended on me.  Fifty-six? yes, but what was
that?  Many men are at their best at fifty-six.  So exhilarated was I,
that just before I mounted the omnibus—it was a cold morning, but I would
not ride inside—I treated myself to a twopenny cigar.  My excitement soon
wore off.  I could not so far forget myself as not to make suggestions
now and then, and Jackman took a delight in snubbing me.  It was a trial
to me also to sit with the clerks.  We had never set ourselves up as
grand people at Stockwell, but I had all my life been accustomed to
delicate food properly cooked, and now that my appetite was declining
with my years, I would almost at any time have gone without a meal rather
than eat anything that was coarse or dirtily served.  My colleagues
ridiculed my ‘Stockwell manners,’ as they called them, and were very
witty, so they thought, in their inquiries when I produced my sandwich
wrapped up in a clean napkin, how much it cost me for my washing.  They
were a very cheap set, had black finger-nails, and stuck their pens
behind their ears.  One of them always brought a black-varnished canvas
bag with him, not respectably stiff like leather—a puckered,
dejected-looking bag.  It was deposited in the washing place to be out of
the way of the sun.  At one o’clock it was brought out and emptied of its
contents, which were usually a cold chop and a piece of bread.  A plate,
knife and fork, and some pepper and salt were produced from the desk, and
after the meat, which could be cut off from the chop, was devoured, the
bone was gnawed, wrapped up in paper, and put back in the bag.  The
plate, knife, and fork were washed in the wash-hand basin and wiped with
the office jack-towel.  It was hard when old business friends called and
I had to knock at the inner door and say, ‘Mr. — wants to see you, sir,’
the object of the visit not being entrusted to me.  A few of them behaved
politely to me, but to others it seemed to be a pleasure to humble me.
On that very first Monday, Bullock, the junior in Wiggens, Moggs, and
Bullock, burst into the room.  He knew me very well, but took no notice
of me, although I was alone, except to ask—

‘Is Mr. Jackman in?’

‘No, sir, can I do anything for you?’

He did not deign to say a word, but went out, slamming the door behind

Nevertheless I kept up my spirits, or rather they kept themselves up.  At
five o’clock, when the scramble to get the letters signed began, I
thought of our street at home, so dull at that hour, of the milkman, and
the muffin-boy, of the curate, and of my niece’s companions, and
reflected, thank God, that I was in the City, a man amongst men.  When
seven o’clock came and the gas was put out, there was the anticipation
also of the fight for a place in the omnibus, especially if it was a wet
night, and the certainty that I should meet with one or two neighbours
who would recognise me.  No more putting up window-blinds, pulling up
weeds in the back garden, sticking in seeds which never grew, or errands
to suburban shops at midday.  How I used in my retirement to detest the
sight of those little shopkeepers when the doors of Glyn’s Bank were
swinging to and fro!  I came home dead-beaten now, it is true, but it was
a luxury to be dead-beaten, and I slept more soundly than I had ever
slept in my life.  In about six months my position improved a little.
Jackman’s love for sherry grew upon him, and once or twice, to Larkins’s
disgust, his partner was not quite as fit to appear in public as he ought
to have been.  Very often he was absent, sick.  Two of the cheap clerks
also left in order to better themselves.  I never shall forget the
afternoon—I felt as if I could have danced for joy—when Larkins said to
me, ‘Whittaker, Mr. Jackman hasn’t very good health, and if he’s not here
when I am out, you must answer anybody who calls, but don’t commit
yourself—and—let me see—I was going to tell you you’ll have ten pounds a
year more, beginning next quarter—and there was something else—Oh! I
recollect, if anybody should want to see Mr. Jackman when he happens to
be unwell here, and I am not with him, send for me if you know where I
am.  If you don’t know, you must do the best you can.’  My office coat
had hitherto been an old shiny, ragged thing, and I had always taken off
my shirt-cuffs when I began work, because they so soon became dirty.  I
rammed the old coat that night into the fire; brought my second-best coat
in a brown paper parcel the next morning, and wore my shirt-cuffs all day
long.  Continually I had to think—only fancy, to think—once more; in a
very small way, it is true, but still to think and to act upon my
thought, and when Larkins came in and inquired if anybody had called, he
now and then said ‘all right’ when I told him what I had done.  A clerk
from my old office swaggered in and did not remove his hat.  I descended
from my stool and put on my own hat.  The next time he came he was more
polite.  I have now had two years of it, and have not been absent for a
day.  I hope I may go on till I drop.  My father died in a fit; his
father died in a fit; and I myself often feel giddy, and things go round
for a few seconds.  I should not care to have a fit here, because there
would be a fuss and a muddle, but I should like, just when everything was
_quite_ straight, to be able to get home safely and then go off.  To lie
in bed for weeks and worry about my work is what I could not endure.


MY father was a doctor in a country town.  Strictly speaking it was not a
town, and yet it was something more than a village.  His practice
extended over a district with a radius of five or six miles from his
house; he drove a gig and dispensed his own medicines.  My mother was the
youngest daughter of a poor squire who owned two or three hundred acres
and lived at what was called the Park, which was really nothing more than
two or three fields generally laid for hay, a small enclosure being
reserved for a garden.  We were not admitted into county society, and my
mother would not associate with farmers and tradesfolk.  She was a good
woman, affectionate to her children and husband, but never forgot that—so
she thought—she had married below her station.  She had an uncle who had
been in the Indian Army, and his portrait in full regimentals hung in the
dining-room.  How her heart warmed to the person who inquired who that
officer was!  When she went home, it was never to her ‘home,’ but to the

My father’s income was not more than eight or nine hundred a year, and
his expenses were heavy, but nevertheless my mother determined that I
should go to the university, and I was accordingly sent to a grammar
school.  I had not been there more than three years, and was barely
fourteen years old, when my father was pitched out of his gig and killed.
He had insured his life for two thousand pounds, which was as much as he
could afford, and my mother had another two thousand pounds of her own.
Her income therefore was less than two hundred a year.  She could not
teach, she would not let lodgings, nor was she wanted at the Park.  She
therefore took a cottage, small but genteel, at a rental of ten pounds a
year, and managed as best she could.  The furniture was partly sold, but
the regimental portrait was saved.  Unhappily, as the cottage ceilings
were very low, it was not an easy task to hang it.  The only place to be
found for it, out of the way of the chairs, was opposite the window, in a
parlour about twelve feet square, called the drawing-room; but it was too
long even there, and my great-uncle’s legs descended behind the sofa, and
could not be seen unless it was moved.  ‘The cottage is a shocking
come-down,’ said my mother to the rector, ‘but it is not vulgar; it is at
least a place in which a lady can live.’  Of course the university was
now out of the question, and at fifteen I left school.  I had read a
little Virgil, a little Horace, and a book or two of Homer.  I had also
got through the first six books of Euclid after a fashion, and had
advanced as far as quadratic equations in algebra, but had no
mathematical talent whatever.  My mother would not hear of trade as an
occupation for me, and she could not afford to make me a soldier, sailor,
doctor, lawyer, or parson.  At last the county member, at the request of
her father, obtained for me a clerkship in the Stamps and Taxes
Department.  These were the days before competitive examinations.  She
was now able to say that her son was in H. M. Civil Service.  I had
eighty pounds a year, and lodged at Clapton with an aunt, my father’s

Although I had been only half-educated, I was fond of reading, and I had
plenty of time for it.  I read good books, and read them with enthusiasm.
I was much taken with the Greek dramatists, especially with Euripides,
but my only means of access to them was through translations.  My aunt
had another nephew who came to see her now and then.  He had obtained an
open exhibition at Oxford, and one day I found that he had a Greek
Euripides in his pocket, and that he needed little help from a
dictionary.  He sometimes brought with him a college friend, and well do
I remember a sneer from this gentleman about the poor creatures whose
acquaintance with Æschylus was derived from Potter.  I did not look at a
translation again for some time.

The men at my office were a curious set.  The father of one was a leader
of the lowest blackguards in a small borough, who had much to do with
determining elections there; another bore the strongest resemblance to a
well-known peer; and another was the legitimate and perfectly scoundrel
offspring of a newspaper editor.  I formed no friendships with any of my
colleagues, but one of them I greatly envied.  He was deaf and dumb, the
son of a poor clergyman, and had an extraordinary passion for botany.
Every holiday was devoted to rambling about the country near London.  He
cared little for anything but his favourite science, but that he
understood, and he never grew tired of it.  I took no account of his
deafness and dumbness; the one thing I saw was his mastership over a
single subject.  Gradually my incompleteness came to weigh on me like a
nightmare.  I imagined that if I had learned any craft which required
skill, I should have been content.  I was depressed when I looked at the
watchmaker examining my watch.  I should have walked the streets erect if
there had been one thing which I could do better than anybody I met.
There was nothing: I stood for nothing: no purpose was intended by God
through me.  I was also constitutionally inaccurate—this was another of
my troubles—and nothing short of the daily use of a fact made me sure of
it.  No matter how zealously I went over and over again a particular
historical period, I always broke down the moment my supposed
acquisitions were tested by questions or conversation.  I have read a
book with the greatest attention I could muster, and have found, when I
have seen a simple examination paper on it, that I could not have got a
dozen marks.  Of what value, then, were my notions on matters demanding
far greater concentration of thought?  Accuracy I fancied might be
acquired, but I was mistaken.  It is a gift as much as the art of writing
sublime poetry.  I struggled and struggled with pencil and précis, but I
did not improve.  My cousin’s before-mentioned friend took delight in
checking, like an accountant, what was said to him, especially by me, and
although I saw that this for the most part was a mere trick, I could not
deny that it proved continually that my so-called opinions were not worth
a straw.  The related virtues of accuracy, strength of memory, and clear
definition, are of great importance, but I over-estimated them.  I see
now that human affairs are so complicated, that had I possessed the
advantages bestowed on my cousin and his companion, they would not have
prevented delusions, all the more perilous, perhaps, because I should
have been more confident.  However, at the time of which I am speaking, I
was wretched, and believed that my wretchedness was entirely due to
deficiencies and weaknesses, from which my friends were free.  No sorrow
of genius is greater than the daily misery of the man with no gifts, who
is not properly equipped, and has desires out of all proportion to his

I had no real love of art and did not understand it.  I went to concerts,
but the only part of a sonata or symphony which took hold of me was that
which was melodious.  The long passages with no striking theme in them
conveyed nothing to me, and as to Bach, excepting now and then, his music
was like a skilful recitation of nonsense verses.  The _Marseillaise_ on
a barrel-organ was intelligible, but gymnastics on strings—what did they
represent?  With pictures the case was somewhat different.  I often left
Clapton early in order that I might have half an hour at Christie’s in
quiet, and I have spent many pleasant moments in those rooms on sunny
mornings in May and June before De Wint’s and Turner’s landscapes.  But I
knew nothing about them.  Without previous instruction I should probably
have placed something worthless on the same level with them, and I could
not fix my attention on them long.  A water-colour by Turner, on which
all his power had been expended, an abstract of years and years of toil
and observation, was unable to detain me for more than five minutes, and
in those five minutes I very likely did not detect one of its really
distinguishing qualities.  As to the early religious pictures of the
Italian school, I cared nothing either for subject or treatment, and
would have given a cartload of them for a drawing by Hunt of a bird’s
nest.  Wanting an ear for music and an eye for pictorial merit, I
believed, or affected to believe, that the raptures of people who
possessed the ear and eye were a sham.  It irritated me to hear my aunt
play, although she had been well taught in her youth and was a skilful
performer.  I know she would have liked to feel that she gave me some
pleasure, and that her playing was admired, but I was so openly
indifferent to it that at last she always shut the piano if I happened to
come into the room while she was practising.  I remember saying to her
when she was talking to me about one of Mozart’s quartets she had just
heard, that music was immoral, inasmuch as it provoked such enormous
insincerity.  It is strange that, although spite was painful to me,
especially towards her, I could not help indulging in it.

My failings gradually wrought in me confirmed bitterness.  I persuaded
myself that the interest which people appeared to take in me was mere
polite pretence.  There may be enough selfishness in the world to explain
misanthropy, but there is never enough to justify it, and what we imagine
to be indifference to us is often merely the reserve caused by our own
refusal to surrender ourselves to legitimate and generous emotions.
Oddly enough, I frequently made hasty and spasmodic offers of intimate
friendship to people who were not prepared for them, and the natural
absence of immediate response was a further reason for scepticism.  A man
to whom I was suddenly impelled was in want of money, and I pressed ten
pounds upon him.  He could not pay me at the appointed time, whereupon I
set him down as an ungrateful brute, and moralised like Timon.

There was at that time living in London a lady whom I must call Mrs. A.
She was the widow of a professor at Cambridge who had died young, and she
might have been about five-and-thirty or forty years old.  My cousin, who
had known her husband, introduced me to her.  She was not handsome; the
cheek-bones were a little too prominent, and her face was weather-worn,
but not by wind and sun.  Nevertheless it was a quietly victorious face.
Her ways were simple and refined.  She had travelled much, as far even as
Athens, and was complete mistress of Italian and French.  Her voice
struck me—it was so musical, and adapted itself so delicately to varying
shades of thought and emotion.  I have often reflected how little we get
out of the voice in talking.  How delightful is the natural modulation
which follows the sense, and how much the sense gains if it is so
expressed rather than in half-inarticulate grunts, say, between the
inspirations and expirations of a short pipe!

Mrs. A. took much notice of me, and her attitude towards me was singular.
She was not quite old enough to be motherly to me, but she was too old
for restrictions on her intercourse with me, and her wide experience and
wisdom well qualified her to be my directress.  Often when I went to her
house nobody was there, and she would talk to me with freedom on all
sorts of subjects.  I did not fall in love with her, but she was still
attractive as a woman, and difference of sex, delightful manners, subtle
intellect, expressive grey eyes, and lovely black hair streaked with
white, might have taught me much which I could have learned from no
ordinary friend.  My cousin often went with me to Mrs. A.’s, but I was
never at rest when he was there.  I fancied then that if I could have
rendered a dozen lines of Gray’s _Elegy_ into correct Greek, life would
have nothing more to give me.  Mrs. A. was too well-behaved to encourage
conversation in my cousin’s presence which disclosed my inferiority to
him, but without premeditation it sometimes turned where I could not
follow.  As I have said, she had travelled in Greece.  She understood
something of modern Greek, and she and my cousin one evening fell to
comparing it with ancient Greek.  I sat sulky and dumb.  At last she
turned to me, and asked me smilingly why I was so quiet.  I replied that
I did not understand a word of what they were saying (which was untrue),
and that if they would talk about Stamps and Taxes I could join.  She
divined in an instant what was the matter with me, and diverted the
discussion so that it might be within my reach.  ‘I must confess,’ she
said, ‘that my knowledge of philology is no better than yours.  Philology
demands the labour of a life.  I often wonder what the teacher, student,
and school history of England will be at the end of another thousand
years.  Perhaps, however, in another thousand years books will no longer
be written except on physics.  Men will say, “What have we to do with the
Wars of the Roses?” and as to general literature, they will become weary
of tossing over and over again the same old ideas and endeavouring to
imagine new variations of passion.  The literary man will cease from the
land.  Something of this sort must come to pass, unless the human race is
to be smothered.’  My cousin said he prayed that her prophecy might come
true, but I remained hard and stockish.  Her sweet temper, however, could
not be disturbed, and she announced that she was going to see Rachel, the
great actress, and invited us both to accompany her.  I refused, on the
ground that I knew nothing of French (also untrue).  She assured me that
if I would read the play beforehand I should be in no difficulty.  I was
really touched by her kindness, but the devil in me would not let me
yield.  I missed the opportunity of seeing Rachel, just as I missed many
other opportunities of more importance.  Oh! when I look back now over my
life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not
take, my heart is like to break.  The curse for me has not been plucking
forbidden fruit, but the refusal of divine fruit offered me by heavenly

Mrs. A.’s circle of acquaintances widened during the two or three years
of my friendship with her.  She often pressed me to meet them, but I
nearly always held back.  I told her that I did not care for mere
acquaintances, and that certainly not more than one or two of her
visitors would shed a tear if they heard she was dead.  ‘To possess one
or two friends,’ she said, ‘who would weep at my departure would be quite
enough.  It is as much as anybody ought to demand, but you are mistaken
in supposing that those who would not break their hearts for us may not
be of value, and even precious.  We are so made that the attraction which
unites us to our fellow-creatures is, and ought to be, of varying
intensity, and there is something to be obtained from a weaker bond which
is not to be had from a stronger.  I like the society of Mrs. Arnold and
Madame Sorel.  I enjoy the courtesy which is not
slipper-and-dressing-gown familiarity, and their way of looking at
things, especially Madame Sorel’s, is different from mine and instructs
me.  Forgive me for reminding you that in our Father’s house are many
mansions, and if we wish to be admitted to some of them we must wear our
best clothes, and when we are inside we must put on our company manners.’
She was quite right; Mrs. Arnold and Madame Sorel could have given me
just what I needed.

My visits to Mrs. A. became less and less frequent, and at last
altogether ceased.  It was actually painful to me to neglect her, but I
forced myself to it, or to put it more correctly the Demon of pure
Malignity, for there is such a demon in Hell, drove me to it.

Some years afterwards I wrote to her asking her if she could get work for
a starving man whom she had known in other days, and she helped him to
obtain it.  Two years after she had done this kind office, and had shown
she had not forgotten me, she died, and I went to her funeral in Brompton
Cemetery.  It was a cold day, and black fog hung over London.  When the
coffin was lowered into the grave I wept many tears.  I had been guilty
of a neglect which was wicked injustice, and I could never hear her say
she had forgiven me.  I understood the meaning of atonement, and why it
has been felt in all ages that, by itself, reformation is insufficient.
I attempted an expiation, which I need not describe.  It is painful, but
the sacrifice which I trust I shall offer to the end of my days brings me
a measure of relief.

About a twelvemonth after Mrs. A.’s death I fell sick with inflammation
of the lungs.  Once before, when I was ill, I declined my aunt’s
attendance.  I said that I did not believe it was possible for mere
friendship or affection to hold out against long watching, and that there
must come a time when the watcher would be relieved by the death of the
patient.  I declared that nothing was more intolerable to me than to know
that anybody sacrificed the least trifle on my behalf, and that if my
aunt really wished me to get better she would at once send for a paid
nurse.  I had a paid nurse, but Alice, our servant, told me afterwards
that my poor aunt cried a good deal when she saw her place taken by a
stranger.  She was now nearly seventy, but she offered herself again, and
I thankfully accepted her, stipulating of course that she should be
helped.  I wondered how she could retain her love for me, how she could
kiss me so tenderly morning and night, and apparently not remember my
unkindness to her.  But therein lies the difference between a man and a
woman.  Woman is Christian.  A woman’s love will sweep like a river in
flood over a wrong which has been done to it and bury it for ever.

I am not regenerate, but who is ever regenerate?  My insignificance and
defects do not worry me as they did: I do not kick at them, and I am no
longer covetous of other people’s talents and virtues.  I am grateful for
affection, for kindness, and even for politeness.  What a tremendous
price do we have to pay for what we so slowly learn, and learn so late!


SENT to the _Rambler_ March 1752, but, alas, in that month the _Rambler_
came to an end.  I am not sorry it was not printed.  On re-reading it I
find passages here and there which are unconscious and unavoidable
imitations of Dr. Johnson.  No use in re-writing them now.

                                                                     J. R.

_June_ 1760.

                                * * * * *

SIR,—I venture to send you a part of the history of my life, trusting
that my example may be a warning against confidence in our own strength
to resist even the meanest temptation.

My father was a prosperous haberdasher in Cheapside, and I was his eldest
son.  My mother was the daughter of the clerk to the Fellmongers’
Company.  She had reached the mature age of nine-and-twenty when she
received an offer of matrimony from my father, and after much anxious
consideration and much consultation with her parents, prudently decided
to accept it, although to the end of her days she did not scruple openly
to declare that she had lowered herself by marrying a man who was
compelled to bow behind a counter to the wife of a grocer, and stand
bareheaded at the carriage door of an alderman’s lady.  My mother, I am
sorry to say, abetted my natural aversion from trade and sent me to Saint
Paul’s School to learn Latin, Greek, and the mathematicks that I might be
qualified to separate myself from the class to which unhappily she was
degraded and that she might recover in her child the pride she had lost
in her husband.  My abilities were not despicable, my ambition was
restless, and my progress in my studies was therefore respectable.  I
conceived a genuine admiration for the classick authors; I was genuinely
moved by the majesty of Homer and the felicity of expression in Horace.
In due time I went to Oxford, and after the usual course there, in which
I was not unsuccessful, I took Holy Orders and became a curate.  When I
was about eight-and-twenty I was presented with a College living in the
village of A. about four miles from the county town of B. in the West of
England.  My parishioners were the squire, a half-pay captain in the
army, a retired custom-house surveyor who was supposed to be the
illegitimate son of a member of parliament, and the surrounding farmers
and labourers.  All were grossly illiterate, but I soon observed that a
common ignorance does not prevent, but rather tends to establish
artificial distinctions.  Inferiority by a single degree in the social
scale becomes not only a barrier to intercourse, but a sufficient reason
for contempt.  The squire and his lady spent their days in vain attempts
to secure invitations to my Lord’s at the Abbey and revenged themselves
by patronising the captain, who in his turn nodded to the surveyor but
would on no account permit intimacy.  The surveyor could not for his life
have condescended to enter a farmhouse, and yet was never weary of
denouncing as intolerably stuck-up the behaviour of those above him.  He
consoled himself by the reflection that they were the losers, and that,
poor creatures, their neglect of him was due to a lamentable
misapprehension of the dignity of H. M. Custom-house Service.  I can
assure you I thought the comedy played at A. very ridiculous, and often
laughed at it.

It was soon quite clear to me that if I was to live in peace I must take
to myself a wife.  The squire and the surveyor had daughters.  The
squire’s would each have a hundred a-year apiece, a welcome addition to
my small income.  They were good-looking, and by repute were virtuous and
easy of temper, but when I became acquainted with them I found that I
must not expect from them any entertainment save the description of
visits to the milliner, or schemes for parties, or the gossip of the
country-side.  I did not demand, _Mr. Rambler_, the critical acumen of
Mrs. Montagu, or the erudition of Mrs. Carter, but I believe you will
agree with me that a wife, and especially the wife of a clergyman and a
scholar, should be able to read a page of Dr. Barrow’s sermons without
yawning, and should not drop Mr. Pope’s _Iliad_ or _Odyssey_ in five
minutes unless she happened to light upon some particularly exciting
adventure.  I therefore dismissed the thought of these young ladies, and
the daughters of the surveyor were for the same reasons ineligible, with
the added objection that if I chose one of them the squire and his family
would never enter the church again.

One day I went over to B. to leave my watch for repairs.  I noticed a
fishing-rod in the shop, and as I was fond of the sport I asked the
watchmaker if it was his.  He said that he generally went fishing when he
could spare himself a holiday, and that he had just spent two days on the
Avon.  I was thinking of the Stratford river and foolishly inquired which
Avon, forgetting the one near us.

‘Our Avon,’ he replied; ‘our Avon, of course, sir; _the_ Avon.

    ‘“Proud of his adamants with which he shines
    And glisters wide, as als of wondrous Bath.”’

I did not recollect the lines, but discovered on inquiry that they were
Spenser’s, an author, I regret to say, whom I had not read.  I was
astonished that a person with a mechanical occupation who sat in a window
from morning to night dissecting time-pieces should be acquainted with
poetry, and I begged him to tell me something of his life.  He was the
son of a bookseller in Bristol who had been apprenticed to the celebrated
Mr. Bernard Lintot.  The father failed in business, and soon afterwards
died leaving a widow and six children.  My friend was then about fourteen
years old.  He had been well educated, but his mother was compelled to
accept the offer of a neighbour who took compassion on her, and he was
brought up to the watchmaking trade in Bath.  He had to work long hours
and endure many hardships which it might be supposed would tend to
repress the sallies of the most lively imagination, but some men are so
constituted that adverse circumstances do but stimulate a search for
compensation.  So it was with him.  In his leisure hours he studied not
only horological science but the works of our great English authors.

I was so much attracted to the watchmaker that I often called on him,
when I had no business with him.  He had a wife and daughter, both of
whom were his companions.  Melissa, the daughter, was about nineteen.
She was not beautiful according to the Grecian model, but her figure was
elegant, there was depth in her eyes, and she was always dressed with
simplicity and taste.  She spoke correctly, and surprised me by the
justness of her observations, not merely on local and personal matters,
but upon subjects with which women of more exalted rank are not usually
familiar.  Admission had been refused to her by every school in Bath, but
she had been taken in charge by two elderly gentlewomen, distant
relations of her grandfather, who had instructed her in the usual
branches of polite learning, including French.  I will content myself,
_Mr. Rambler_, with informing you that I fell in love with Melissa, and
that she did not discourage my attentions.  I had not altogether
overlooked the possibility of embarrassment at A., but my passion
prevented the clear foresight of consequences.  I have often found that
evils which are imaginary will press upon me with singular vivacity,
while those which may with certainty be deduced from any action are but
obscurely apprehended, so that in fact intensity of colour is an
indication of unreality.  I must add that if the future had presented
itself to me with prophetic distinctness, my love for Melissa was so
great that I should not have hesitated.  My frequent visits to B. had not
passed unnoticed at A., and the reason was suspected.  Hints were not
wanting, and the custom-house surveyor told me a harrowing tale of a
fellow-surveyor who had alienated all his friends and had been obliged to
leave his house near Tower Hill because he had chosen to marry the
daughter of a poor author who lived in Whitefriars.  One day early in the
morning I was in B. and met the squire’s young ladies with their mother.
She was a very proud dame.  Her maiden name was Bone, and her father had
been a sugar-baker in Bristol, but this was not a retail trade, and she
had often told me that she was descended from Geoffrey de Bohun, who was
in the retinue of William the Conqueror and killed five Saxons with his
own hand at the battle of Hastings.  Her children, she bade me observe,
had inherited the true Bohun ears as shown in an engraving she possessed
of a Bohun tomb in Normandy.  I walked with the party up the High Street,
and had not gone far when I saw Melissa coining towards us.  O, _Mr.
Rambler_, can I utter it!  She approached us, she knew that I must have
recognised her, but I turned my head towards a shop-window and called my
companions’ attention to the display of silks and satins.  After Melissa
had passed, my lady asked me if that was not the watchmaker’s daughter
and whether I knew anything about her.  I replied that I believed it was,
and that I had heard she was a respectable young woman.  My lady remarked
that she had understood that she was virtuous, but that she had been
unbecomingly brought up, and considered herself superior to her position.
Her ladyship confessed that she would not be surprised any day to hear
that Miss — had been obliged to leave B., for she had noticed that when a
female belonging to the lower orders strove to acquire knowledge
unsuitable to her station, the consequence was often ruin.  It is almost
incredible—I was silent!—but when I reached home I was overcome with
shame and despair.  This then was all that my love was worth; this was my
esteem for intelligence and learning; and I was the man who had thanked
God I was not as my neighbours at A.!  If in the beginning I had
deliberately resolved that it would be a mistake to ally myself with
Melissa’s family because my usefulness might be diminished, something
might have been pleaded on my behalf, but I was without excuse.  I had
sacrificed Melissa to no principle, but to detestable vulgar cowardice.
It was about two hours after noon when I returned, and in my confusion a
note from Melissa which lay upon my table was not at once noticed.  It
had been written the day before, and it tenderly upbraided me because I
had been absent for a whole week.  Enclosed was a copy of verses by Sir
Philip Sidney beginning, ‘My true love hath my heart.’  I mounted my
horse again, and in less than half an hour was in B.  I flew to Melissa.
She received me in silence, but without rebuke.  Indeed, before she had
time for a word, I had knelt at her feet and had covered my face with her
hands.  On my way through the town I had seen my lady with her children,
and one or two fashionably-dressed women, friends who lived in B.  My
lady was completing her purchases.  I implored Melissa immediately to
come out with me.  She was astonished and hesitated, but my impetuosity
was so urgent that she feared to refuse, and without any explanation I
almost dragged her into the street.  On the opposite side I descried my
lady and her party.  I crossed over, took Melissa’s arm in mine, came
close to them face to face, bowed, and then passed on.  We then recrossed
the road and turned into Melissa’s house.  I looked back and saw that
they were standing still, stricken with astonishment.  We went into the
little parlour: nobody was there.  Melissa threw her arms round my neck,
and happier tears were never shed.  In all the long years which have now
gone by since that memorable day I have never had to endure from that
divine creature a word or a hint which even the suspicion of wounded
self-respect could interpret as a reproach.

We were married at B.  The custom-house surveyor never entered his parish
church again, but went over to B. once every Sunday.  He wrote me a
letter to say that it was with much regret that he left the church of his
own village, but that it was no longer possible to derive any edification
from the services there.  The captain remained, but discontinued his
civilities.  The squire informed me that as I was still a priest and
possessed authority to administer the holy sacraments he should continue
his attendance, but that of course all personal intercourse must cease.
I expected that the common people would have been confirmed in their
attachment to me, but the opinion of the little village butcher was that
I had disgraced myself, and the farmers and labourers would not even
touch their hats to my wife when they met her.  However, we did not care,
and in time it was impossible even to the squire not to recognise her
tact, manners, and sense.  Her father had constructed an ingenious
sun-dial which he had placed on the front of his shop.  The great Mr.
Halley was staying with Mr. M., who lives about five miles from B., and
seeing the dial when he was in the town, called on my father-in-law, and
was so much struck with him that he obtained permission to invite him to
dinner.  There the squire met him and was obliged to sit opposite him,
amazed to hear him converse on equal terms with Mr. Halley and his host,
and to discover that he knew how to behave with decency.  Hostility
continued to wear away.  Few people are endowed with sufficient
perseverance to continue a quarrel unless the cause is constantly

My betrayal of Melissa has not been altogether without profit.  I had
imagined myself morally superior to my parishioners, and if I had put the
question to myself I should have said with confidence that it was
impossible that there should exist in me a weakness I had never
suspected, one which every day moved me to laughter or to scorn.  But,
sir, I now feel how true it is that in our immortal poet’s words, ‘Man,
proud man, is most ignorant of what he’s most assured, his glassy
essence.’  I hope you will pardon a reference to sacred history: I
understand how the Apostle Peter came to deny his Lord.  A few minutes
before the dreadful crime was committed he would have considered himself
as incapable of it as he was of the sale of his Master for money or of
that damning kiss, and a few minutes afterwards he would have suffered
death for His sake.  This, _Mr. Rambler_, is the lesson which induced me
to write to you.  Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
fall; and indeed he may take all heed and yet will fall, unless Divine
Providence mercifully catches him and holds him up.


YOU have asked me to tell you all about _Judith Crowhurst_.  I will tell
you something more and begin at the beginning.  You will remember that
Miss Hardman said to Mrs. Pryor, Mrs. Hardman’s governess: ‘WE need the
imprudences, extravagances, mistakes and crimes of a certain number of
fathers to sow the seed from which WE reap the harvest of governesses.
The daughters of tradespeople, however well educated, must necessarily be
under-bred, and as such unfit to be inmates of OUR dwellings, or
guardians of OUR children’s minds and persons.  WE shall ever prefer to
place those about OUR offspring, who have been born and bred with
somewhat of the same refinement as OURSELVES.’  I was one of those
unhappy women who, mercifully for the upper classes, inherit manners and
misery in order that the children of these superior creatures may not put
an ‘r’ at the end of ‘idea’ and may learn how to sit down in a chair with
propriety.  My father was a clergyman holding a small country living.  He
died when I was five-and-twenty, and I had to teach in order to earn my
bread.  I obtained a tolerably good situation, but at the end of two
years I was informed that, although a clergyman’s daughter would ‘do very
well’ so long as her pupils were quite young, it was now time that they
should be handed over to a lady who had been accustomed to Society.  I
had become thoroughly weary of my work.  I was not enthusiastic to
instruct girls for whom I did not care.  I suppose that if I had been a
born teacher, I should have been as happy with the little Hardmans as I
was in the nursery with my youngest sister now dead.  I should not have
said to myself, as I did every morning, ‘What does it matter?’  In my
leisure moments and holidays during those two years I had written a
novel.  I could supply conversation and description, but it was very
difficult to invent a plot, and still more difficult to invent one which
of itself would speak.  I had collected a quantity of matter of all kinds
before I began, and then I cast about for a frame in which to fit it.  At
last I settled that my hero, if hero he could be called, should fall in
love with a poor but intelligent and educated girl.  He had a fortune of
about two thousand pounds a year, nearly the whole of which he lost
through the defalcations of a brother, whose creditors received about
five shillings in the pound.  He felt that the fair name of his family
was stained, and he was consumed with a passion to repay his brother’s
debts and to recover possession of the old house and land which had been
sold.  He went abroad, worked hard, and met with a lady who was rich whom
he really admired.  His love for his betrothed had been weakened by
absence, the engagement, for some trifling reason, was broken off, and he
married the heiress.  At the end of five years he returned to England,
discharged every liability, and in two years more was the owner of his
birthplace.  The marriage, alas! was unhappy.  There was no obtrusive
fault in his wife, but he did not love her.  She could not understand his
resolution to take upon himself his brother’s debts, and she thought the
price he paid for the house was excessive, as indeed it was.  She was a
good manager, but without imagination.  He was rejoicing, in her
presence, one spring morning that he had been wakened by the clamour of
the rooks with which he had been familiar ever since he was a boy, and
her reply was that an estate equal in value to his own and possessing a
bigger rookery had been offered him for less money by one-third than he
had thrown away.  Unfortunately it is not in management or morality that
we crave companionship.  It is in religion and in the deepest emotions
that we thirst for it.  Gradually he became wretched, and life was almost
unbearable.  She took no pleasure in the ancient place and its beautiful
garden, he never asked her to admire them, and there was neither son nor
daughter to inherit his pious regard.  At this point I was obliged to
introduce the _Deus ex machina_, and the wife died.  The widower sought
out his first love; she had never wavered in her affection to him; they
were married, had children, and were happy.

My tale was a youthful blunder.  It was not really a tale.  I introduced,
in order to provide interest, all sorts of accessories—aunts, parsons,
gamekeepers, nurses, a fire and some hairbreadth escapes, but they were
none of them essential and they were all manufactured.  The only parts
not worthless were those which were autobiographical.

One of them I remember very well, although my MS. was burnt long ago.  I
believed then that Nature is not merely beautiful, but that she can speak
words which we can hear if we listen devoutly, and that if personality
has any meaning she is personal,

    ‘The guide, the guardian of the heart and soul.’

Towards the end of an autumn afternoon I had rambled up to the pillar
which was a landmark to seven counties.  It was wet during the morning,
but at five o’clock the rain ceased and a long, irregular line of ragged
cloud, dripping here and there, stretched itself above the opposite hills
from east to west.  Underneath it was a border of pale-golden, open sky,
and below was the sea.  The hills hid it, but I knew it was there.  I was
hushed and reassured.  When I got home I transferred my emotion to my
deserted heroine, and tears blotted the paper.  But it was a mere
episode, without connection and, in fact, an obstruction.

I sent my manuscript to a publisher and need hardly say that it was
returned as unsuitable.  I tried two others, but with no success.  The
third enclosed a copy of his reader’s opinion.  Here it is:—

‘ . . . is obviously a first attempt.  It evinces some power in passages,
but the characters lack distinction and are limited by ordinary
conventional rules.  I cannot recommend it to you for its own sake, and
there is no prospect in it of anything better.  The author might be
capable of short stories for a religious magazine.  It is singular that
Miss C.’s _Mariana_, which you also sent me, should be on somewhat the
same lines, but Mariana, his first love, is seduced by the man who
forsakes her and, in the end, marries her as his second wife.  During his
first marriage his intimacy with Mariana continues and Miss C. thereby
has an opportunity, which she used with much power, for realistic scenes,
that I believe will prove attractive.  I had no hesitation therefore in
advising you to purchase _Mariana_, although the plot is crude.’  I could
not take the publisher’s hint.  I put my papers back into my box and
obtained another situation.  In about a twelvemonth, notwithstanding my
disappointment, I was unable to restrain myself from trying again.  I
fancied that I might be able to project myself into actual history and
appropriate it.  I had been much attracted to Mary Tudor, and I had
studied everything about her on which I could lay my hands.  I did not
love her, but I pitied her profoundly, and the Holbein portrait of her
seemed to me to indicate a terrible and pathetic secret.  I cannot,
however, give a complete explanation of her fascination for me.  It is
impossible to account for the resistless magnetism with which one human
being draws another.  The elements are too various and are compounded
with too much subtlety.  Bitter Roman Catholic as Mary was, I wished I
could have been one of the ladies of her court, that I might have offered
my heart to her and might have wept with her in her sorrow.  But my
intense feeling for a picture of the Queen was no qualification to paint
the original, and although I strove to keep close to facts she insensibly
became myself.  I was altogether stopped when I happened to meet with
Aubrey de Vere’s _Mary Tudor_ and Tennyson’s _Queen Mary_.

Soon afterwards I read _Jane Eyre_ again, and was more than ever
astonished at it.  It is not to be classed; it is written not by a
limited human personality but by Nature herself.  The love in it is too
great for creatures who are ‘even as the generations of leaves’; the
existence of two mortals does not account for it.  There is an
irresistible sweep in it like that of the Atlantic Ocean in a winter’s
storm hurling itself over the western rocks of Scilly.  I do not wonder
that people were afraid of the book and that it was cursed.  The orthodox
daughter of a country parson broke conventional withes as if they were
cobwebs.  _Jane Eyre_ is not gross in a single word, but its freedom is
more complete than that of a licentious modern novel.  Do you recollect
St. John Rivers says to Jane: ‘Try to restrain the disproportionate
fervour with which you throw yourself into commonplace home pleasures.
Don’t cling so tenaciously to ties of the flesh; save your constancy and
ardour for an adequate cause; forbear to waste them on trite, transient
objects.  Do you hear, Jane?’

She replies—‘Yes; just as if you were speaking Greek.  I feel I have
adequate cause to be happy, and I _will_ be happy.  Good-bye!’

Therein speaks the worshipper of the Sun.  Do you also recollect that
voice in the night from Rochester?  She breaks from St. John, goes up to
her bedroom and prays.  ‘In my way—a different way to St. John’s, but
effective in its own fashion.  I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty
Spirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet.  I rose from the
thanksgiving—took a resolve—and lay down, unscared, enlightened—eager but
for the daylight.’  The Mighty Spirit, who was Jane Eyre’s God, had
directed her not to go to India as St. John’s bride to save souls from
damnation by conversion to Jehovah, but to set off that very day to
Rochester at Thornfield Hall.

Consider also how inseparably the important incidents in _Jane Eyre_ are
linked with one another and with character.  Jane refused Rochester at
first and St. John finally.  She could not possibly do otherwise.  But I
must stop.  You did not ask for an essay on Charlotte Bronte.  Suffice it
to say that when I had finished _Jane Eyre_ I said to myself that I would
not write any more.  Nor did I ever attempt fiction again.  _Judith
Crowhurst_ is a plain, true story, altered a little in order to prevent
recognition.  I knew her well.  There is no suffering in any stage
tragedy equal to that of the unmarried woman who is well brought up, with
natural gifts above those of women generally, living on a small income,
past middle-age, and unable to work.  It is not the suffering which is
acute torture ending in death, but worse, the black, moveless gloom of
the second floor in Hackney or Islington.  Almost certainly she has but
few friends, and those she has will be occupied with household or
wage-earning duties.  She is afraid of taking up their time; she never
calls without an excuse.  What is she to do?  She cannot read all day,
and, if she could, what is the use of reading?  Poets and philosophers do
not touch her case; descriptions of moonlit seas, mountains, moors, and
waterfalls darken by contrast the view of the tiles and chimneys from her
own window.  Ideas do not animate or interest her, for she never has a
chance of expressing them and, lacking expression, they are indistinct.
Her eyes wander down page after page of her book, but she is only
half-conscious.  Religion, such as it is now, gives no help.  It is based
on the necessity of forgiveness for some wrong done and on the notion of
future salvation.  She needs no forgiveness unless she takes upon herself
a burden of artificial guilt.  She rather feels she has to forgive—whom
or what she does not know.  The heaven of the churches and chapels is
remote, unprovable, and cannot affect her in the smallest degree.  There
is no religion for her and such as she, excepting that Catholic Faith of
one article only—_The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him_.  As I
have said, I knew Judith Crowhurst well, and after she was dead I wrote
her biography, because I believed there are thousands like her in London
alone.  I hoped that here and there I might excite sympathy with them.
We sympathise when we sit in a theatre overpowered by stage agony, but a
truer sympathy is that which may require some effort, pity for common,
dull, and deadly trouble that does not break out in shrieks and is not
provided with metre and scenery.

You were kind enough to get _Judith Crowhurst_ published for me, and it
has had what is called a ‘success,’ but I doubt if it will do any good.
People devour books but, when they have finished one, they never ask
themselves what is to be done.  It is immediately followed by another on
a different subject, and reading becomes nothing but a pastime or a
narcotic.  _Judith_ may be admired, but it is by those who will not
undergo the fatigue of a penny journey in an omnibus to see their own
Judith, perhaps nearly related to them, and will excuse themselves
because she is not entertaining.

I was asked the other day if I was not proud of some of the reviews.
Good God!  I would rather have been Alice Ayres, {148} and have died as
she died, than have been famous as the author of the _Divine Comedy_,
_Paradise Lost_, or _Hamlet_.  She is now forgotten and sleeps in an
obscure grave in some London cemetery.  No! there will be nothing more.
I have said all I had to say.


A WESTERLY storm of great strength had been blowing all day, shaking the
walls of the house and making us fear for the chimneys.  About four
o’clock, although the wind continued very high, the clouds broke, and
moved in a slow, majestic procession obliquely from the north-west to the
south-east.  Here and there small apertures revealed the undimmed heaven
behind.  Immense, rounded projections reared themselves from the main
body, and flying, ragged fragments, apparently at a lower level, fled
beside and before them.  These fragments of lesser density showed
innumerable tints of bluish grey from the darkest up to one which
differed but little from the pure sky-blue surrounding them.  Just after
the sun set a rosy flush of light spread almost instantaneously up to the
zenith and in an instant had gone.  Low down in the west was a long,
broadish bar of orange light, crossed by the black pines on the hill half
a mile away.  Their stems and the outline of each piece of foliage were
as distinct as if they were but a hundred yards distant.  Half the length
of the field in front of me lay a small pool full to its grassy margin.
It reflected with such singular fidelity the light and colour above it
that it seemed itself to be an original source of light and colour.  Of
all the sights to be seen in this part of the world none are more
strangely and suggestively beautiful than the little patches of rain or
spring water in the twilight on the moorland or meadows.  Presently the
wind rose again, and a rain-squall followed.  It passed, and the stars
began to come out, and Orion showed himself above the eastern woods.  He
seemed as if he were marching through the moonlit scud which drove
against him.  How urgent all the business of this afternoon and evening
has been, and yet what it meant who could say?  I was like a poor man’s
child who, looking out from the cottage window, beholds with amazement a
great army traversing the plain before him with banners and music and
knows nothing of its errand.


FOR about six weeks from the middle of February we had bitter northerly
winds.  The frost was not very severe, but the wind penetrated the
thickest clothing and searched the house through and through.  The
shrubs, even the hardiest, were blackened by its virulence.  There was
scarcely any sunshine, and every now and then a gloomy haze, like the
smoke in London suburbs, invaded us.  The rise and fall of the barometer
meant nothing more than a variation in the strength of the polar current.
Growth was nearly arrested, although one morning I found three primroses
in a sheltered hollow.  Never had the weather seemed more hopeless than
towards the close of March.  On the last evening of the month the sky was
curiously perplexed and agitated notwithstanding there was little
movement in the air above or below.  Next morning the change had come.
The wind had backed to the south, and a storm from the Channel was raging
with torrents of warm rain.  O the day that followed!  Massive April
clouds hung in the air.  How much the want of visible support adds to
their charm!  One enormous cloud, with its base nearly on the horizon,
rose up forty-five degrees or so towards the zenith.  Its weight looked
tremendous, but it floated lightly in the blue which encompassed it.
Towards the centre it was swollen and dark, but its edges were dazzling
white.  While I was watching it, it went away to the east and partly
broke up.  A new cloud, like and not like, succeeded it . . . I followed
the lane, stopped for a few minutes at a corner where the grassy
road-margin widens out near the tumble-down barn, looked over the gate
westward across the valley to the hills beyond, and then went down to the
brook that winds along the bottom.  It runs in a course which it has cut
for itself, and is flanked on either side by delicately-carved miniature
cliffs of yellow sandstone overhung with broom and furze.  It was full of
pure glittering moor-water, which seemed to add light to the stones in
its bed, so brilliant was their colour.  It fell with incessant, rippling
murmur over its little ledges, gathering itself up into pools between
each, and so it went on to the mill-pond a mile away.  Close to me a
blackbird was building her nest.  She moved when I peeped at her, but
presently returned.  Her back was struck by the warm sun and was glossy
in its rays.  A scramble of half a mile up a rough track brought me to
the common, and there, thirty miles distant, lay the chalk downs,
unsubstantial, a light-blue mist.

Youth with its heat in the blood may be more capable of exultation at
this season, but to the old man it brings the sounder hope and deeper


                ‘Proceeding from a source of untaught things’

                            (_Prelude_ xiii. 310)

HERE is Appledore; over there is Romney Marsh.  The sky has partly
cleared after heavy, south-westerly rain.  On the horizon where the sea
lies the clouds are in a line, and the air is so clear that their edges
are sharp against the blue.  Nearer to me they are slowly dissolving,
re-forming, and moving eastwards, and their shadows are crossing the wide
grassy plain on which in the distance Lydd Church is just discernible.  I
can report something of those greys and that azure, but the best part of
what is before me will not outline itself to me.  Still less can I shape
it in speech.  Necessity, majestic inevitable movement, the folly of heat
and hurry, all this emerges and again is blended in the simple unity of
transcendent loveliness.  But beyond there is something so close, so
precious! and yet elusive of every effort to grasp it.

   She came to meet me from the line
      Where lies the ocean miles away;
   And now she’s close; she must be mine:
      I wait the word that she must say.

   The magic word is not for me:
      The vision fades, and far and near
   The west wind stirs the grassy sea
      In whispers to the watching ear.


A TRUE Devonshire village, sloping upwards from the Axe.  The cottages
are thatched, and the walls are of cobbles, plastered.  A little gurgling
stream runs down the village street, and over the stream each cottage on
its bank has a little bridge.  The poor brook is much troubled,
unhappily, by cabbage leaves and the like defilement, and does its best
to oversweep them and carry them away, but does not quite succeed.  In a
few minutes, however, it will be in the Axe, and in half an hour it will
be in the pure sea.  A farmhouse stands at the end of the village with a
farmyard of deep manure and black puddles coming up to the side-door.
The church, once interesting, has been restored with more than usual
barbarity, blue slates, villa ridge-tiles, the vulgarest cheap pavement,
tawdry decorations and furniture, such as are supplied to churchwardens
by ecclesiastical tradesmen.  But the tower is still grey, and has looked
unchanged over the Axe estuary for hundreds of years.  Turning up from
the main street is a Devonshire lane eight feet wide or thereabouts.  It
ascends to a farm on the hillside, and its steep high banks are covered
with ferns and primroses.  A tiny brooklet twitters down by its side.  At
the top of the down is a line of old hawthorns blown slantingly by
south-west storms into a close, solid mass of shoots and prickles.  They
are dwarfed in their struggle, but have thick trunks, many of them
covered with brilliant yellow lichen.

For miles and miles before it comes to Axmouth, and above Axminster, the
Axe flows in singular loops, often returning almost upon itself,
reluctant to quit the lovely land of its birth, youth, and maturity; but
now it is straighter, for it is in the lowlands and feels the tide.
Flocks of seagulls wade or float in it.  It passes quietly under its last
bridge, but beyond it is confronted by a huge shingle barrier.  Sweeping
alongside it, it suddenly turns at right angles, cuts its way through
with an exulting rush, holds back for a few yards the sea waves that
ripple against it, and is then lost.


THIS morning as I walked by the sea, a man was preaching on the sands to
about a dozen people, and I stopped for a few minutes to listen.  He told
us that we were lying under the wrath of God, that we might die at any
moment, and that if we did not believe in the Lord Jesus we should be
damned everlastingly.  ‘Believe in the Lord,’ he shouted, ‘believe or you
will be lost; you can do nothing of yourselves; you must be saved by
grace alone, by blood, without blood is no remission of sins.  Some of
you think, no doubt, you are good people, and you may be, as the world
goes, but your righteousness is as filthy rags, you are all wounds and
bruises and putrefying sores; the devil will have you if you don’t turn
to the Lord, and you will go down to the bottomless, brimstone pit, where
shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth for ever and ever.  Believe,’ he
roared, ‘now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.’

Sunny clouds lay in the blue above him, and at his feet summer waves were
breaking peacefully on the shore, the sound of their soft, musical plash
filling up his pauses and commenting on his texts.


IN 1802 Lady B. was living at M— Park.  She was a proud, handsome,
worldly woman about fifty-five years old, a widow with no children, but
she had a favourite nephew who was at the Park for the larger part of the
year and was the heir to her property.  She had been gay in her youth,
was the leader of society in her county, and when she passed middle life
still followed the hounds.  She was a good landlord, respected and even
beloved by her tenantry, and a staunch Tory in politics.  The new
evangelical school of Newton and Romaine she detested bitterly, as much
in fact as she detested Popery.  The nephew, however, came under Newton’s
influence and was converted.  His aunt was in despair.  She could not
conquer her affection for him, but she almost raved when she reflected
that the inheritor of her estates was a pious Methodist, as she called
him.  She had a good-looking, confidential maid who had lived with her
for years.  In one of her fits she told this maid that she would give
half of what she possessed if her nephew were like other young men.  ‘I
don’t want him to be a sot or to gamble away my money,’ she cried, ‘but
there’s not much else I should mind if he were but a man.’

A few days afterwards she spoke to her maid again.  ‘Look you here,
Jarvis, I shall go distracted.  This morning he began to speak to me
about my soul—the brave boy that he used to be, talking of my soul to
_me_!  Listen to what I tell you and be reasonable.  I know perfectly
well, and so do you, that before he took up with this sickening cant he
was in love with you and you were in love with him.  I saw it all and
said nothing.  I understand there’s no more flirting now.  Ah, well, his
blood is red yet; I’ve not forgotten what five-and-twenty is, and he’ll
come if you whistle.  You can’t marry him, of course, but you can and
shall live comfortably afterwards for all that, and when he has done what
all other young fellows do there will be an end to the prayer-meetings.’

The girl was a little staggered, but after a time her mistress’s
suggestion ceased to shock her, for the nephew was a handsome fellow
capable of raising passion in a woman.  What the aunt had said was really
true.  She now threw the girl in his way.  She was sent to him with
messages when he was alone, and one evening when he had gone over to a
prayer-meeting in the town about two miles away, she was directed to go
there on an errand, to contrive to be late, and to return with him.  She
had half an hour to spare and was curious to know what the prayer-meeting
was like.  She stood close to the inner door, which was slightly ajar,
and heard her master praying earnestly.  He rose and spoke to the little
congregation for five minutes.  When he had finished she started for
home, and he came up with her before she had passed the last house.  It
was nearly dark, but he recognised her by a light from a window, and
asked her what she was doing in the town at that hour.  She excused
herself by unexpected detention, and they went on together.  About half a
mile further at the top of the hill was the stile of the pathway that was
a short cut to the park.  From that point there was an extensive view
over the plain eastwards, and the rising moon was just emerging from a
line of silvered clouds.  They were both struck with the beauty of the
spectacle and stood still gazing at it.

Suddenly she dropped on her knees and with violent sobbing called upon
God to help her.  He lifted her up, and when she was calmer she told him
everything.  They went on their way in silence.  Now comes the remarkable
part of the story.  It was he who would have been the tempter and she had
saved him.  When they reached the Park he found his aunt ill, and in a
fortnight she was dead.  In less than two years nephew and maid were
married.  His strict evangelicalism relaxed a little, but they were both
faithful to their Friend.  Lovers also they were to the last, and they
died in the same month after each of them had passed seventy-five years.

I fancy I read a long while ago somewhere in Wesley’s _Journal_ that an
attempt was made to ruin him or one of his friends with a woman, but I
think she was a bad woman.  If there is anything of the kind in the
_Journal_ it shows that Lady B’s plot is not incredible.


IT is a cool day in July, and the shaded sunlight slowly steals and
disappears over the landscape.  There are none of those sudden flashes
which come when the clouds are more sharply defined and the blue is more
intense.  I have wandered from the uplands down to the river.  The fields
are cleared of the hay, and the bright green of the newly mown grass
increases the darkness of the massive foliage of the bordering elms.  The
cows are feeding in the rich level meadows and now and then come to the
river to drink.  It is overhung with alders, and two or three stand on
separate little islands held together by roots.  The winter floods biting
into the banks have cut miniature cliffs, and at their base grow the
forget-me-not, the willow-herb, and flowering rush.  A brightly-plumaged
bird, too swift to be recognised—could it be a kingfisher?—darts along
the margin of the stream and disappears in its black shadows.  The wind
blows gently from the west: it is just strong enough to show the silver
sides of the willow leaves.  The sound of the weir, although so soft, is
able to exclude the clacking of the mill and all intermittent, casual
noises.  For two hours it has filled my ears and brought a deeper repose
than that of mere silence.  It is not uniform, for the voices of
innumerable descending threads of water with varying impulses can be
distinguished, but it is a unity.  Myriads of bubbles rise from the
leaping foam at the bottom, float away for a few yards and then break.

It is the very summit of the year, the brief poise of perfection.  In two
or three weeks the days will be noticeably shorter, the harvest will
begin, and we shall be on our way downwards to autumn, to dying leaves
and to winter.


THE walk from the high moorland to the large pond or lake lies through a
narrow grassy lane.  About half-way down it turns sharply to the left; in
front are the bluish-green pine woods.  Across the corner of them,
confronting me, slants a birch with its white bark and delicate foliage,
light-green and yellow in relief against the sombre background.  Fifty
yards before I reach the wood its music is perceptible, something like
the tones of an organ heard outside a cathedral.  In another minute the
lane enters: it is dark, but the ruddy stems catch the sun, and in open
patches are small beeches responding to it with intense golden-brown.
Along the edge of the path, springing from the mossy bank they grow to a
greater height.  A pine has pushed itself between the branches of one of
them as if on purpose to show off the splendour of its sister’s beauty.
It is stiller than it was outside; the murmur descends from aloft.  There
was a frost last night and the leaves will soon fall.  A beech leaf
detaches itself now and then and flutters peacefully and waywardly to the
ground, careless whether it finds its grave in the bracken or on the road
where it will be trodden underfoot.  The bramble is beginning to turn to
blood.  It is strange that leaves should show such character.  Here is a
corner on which there are not two of the same tint, but they spring from
the same root, and the circumstances of light and shade under which they
have developed are almost exactly similar.

It is eleven o’clock, and with the mounting sun the silence has become
complete save when it is broken by the heavy, quick flap of the
wood-pigeon or the remonstrance of a surprised magpie.  Service is just
beginning all over England in churches and the chapels belonging to a
hundred sects.  In the village two miles away the Salvation Army drum is
beating, but it cannot penetrate these recesses.  Stay! a faint vibration
from it comes over the hill, but now it has gone.  A fox, unaware of any
human being, walks from one side of the lane to the other, stopping in
the middle.  There is a breath of wind and the low solemn song begins
again above me.


AT the top of the hill the north-westerly wind blows fresh, but here
under the cliffs the sun strikes warm as in June.  There is not a cloud
in the sky, and behind me broken, chalk pinnacles intensely white rise
into the clear blue, which is bluer by their contrast.  In front lies the
calm, light-sapphire ocean with a glittering sun-path on it broadening
towards the horizon.  All recollection of bare trees and dead leaves has
gone.  The tide is drawing down and has left bare a wide expanse of
smooth untrodden sand through which ridges run of chalk rock black with
weed.  The sand is furrowed by little rivulets from the abandoned pools
above, and at its edge long low waves ripple over it, flattening
themselves out in thin sheets which invade one another with infinitely
complex, graceful curves.  I look southward: there is nothing between me
and the lands of heat but the water.  It unites me with them.

It is wonderful that winter should suddenly abdicate and summer resume
her throne.  On a morning like this there is no death, the sin of the
world is swallowed up; theological and metaphysical problems cease to
have any meaning.  Men and books make me painfully aware of my littleness
and defects, but here on the shore in silence complete save for the music
of the ebbing sea, they vanish.

When I am again in London and at work the dazzling light will not be
extinguished, and will illuminate the dreary darkness of the city.


MY housekeeper and her husband have begged for a holiday from this
morning till Boxing-day, and I could not refuse.  I can do without them
for so short a time.  I might have spent the Christmas with one of my
children, but they live far away and travelling is now irksome to me.  I
was seventy years old a month past.  Besides, they are married and have
their own friends, of whom I know nothing.  I have locked the door of my
cottage and shall walk to No-man’s Corner.

It is a dark day; the sky is covered evenly with a thick cloud.  There is
no wind except a breath now and then from the north-east.  It is not a
frost, but it is cold, and a thick mist covers the landscape.  It is no
thicker in the river bottom than on the hills; it is everywhere the same.
The field-paths are in many places a foot deep in mud, for the autumn has
been wet.  They are ploughing the Ten Acres, and the plough is going
along the top ridge so that horses and men are distinctly outlined, two
men and four horses, but the pace is slow, for the ground is very heavy.
I can just hear the ploughman talking to his team.  The upturned earth is
more beautiful in these parts than I have seen it elsewhere—a rich,
reddish brown, for there is iron in it.  The sides of the clods which are
smoothed by the ploughshare shine like silver even in this dull light.  I
pass through the hop-garden.  The poles are stacked and a beginning has
just been made with the weeds.  A little further on is the farmhouse.  It
lies in the hollow and there is no road to it, save a cart-track.  The
nearest hard road is half a mile distant.  The footpath crosses the
farmyard.  The house is whitewashed plaster and black-timbered, and
surrounded by cattle-pens in which the oxen and cows stand almost up to
their knees in slush.  A motionless ox looks over the bar of his pen and
turns his eyes to me and my dog as we pass.  It is now twelve, and it is
the dinner-hour.  The horses have stopped work and are steaming with
sweat under the hayrick.  The men are sitting in the barn.  Leaving the
farmyard I go down to the brook which steals round the wood and stop for
a few minutes on the foot-bridge.  I can hear the little stream in the
gully about twenty feet below, continually changing its note, which
nevertheless is always the same.  In the wood not a leaf falls.  O
eternal sleep, death of the passions, the burial of failures, follies,
bitter recollections, the end of fears, welcome sleep!


DURING the retreat from Moscow a French soldier was mortally wounded.
His comrades tried to lift him into a waggon.  ‘No bandages, no brandy!’
he cried; ‘go, you cannot help me.’  They hesitated, but seeing that he
could not recover, and knowing that the enemy was hard upon them in
pursuit, they left him.  For half an hour he was alive and alone.  The
Emperor, whom he worshipped, was far away; his friends had fled; to
remain would have been folly, and yet!  It was late in the afternoon and
bitterly cold.  He looked with dim and closing eyes over the vast,
dreary, snowy and silent plain.  What were the images which passed before
them?  Were they of home, of the Emperor and the retreating army, of the
crucifix and the figure thereon?  Who can tell?  Death is preceded by
thoughts which life cannot anticipate.  Perhaps his herald was a simple
longing to be at rest, joy at his approach blotting out all bitterness
and regret.  Who can tell?  But I dream and dream; the dying, wintry day,
the dark, heavily-clouded sky, the snow, and the blood.  A Cossack came
up and drove his lance through him.


LORD BACON says that ‘To be wise by rule and to be wise by experience are
contrary proceedings; he that accustoms himself to the one unfits himself
for the other.’  It is singular how little attention, in the guidance of
our lives, we pay to our own needs.  It is a common falsehood of these
times that all knowledge is good for everybody, the truth being that
knowledge is good only if it helps us, and that if it does not help us it
is bad.  ‘Whatever knowledge,’ to quote from Bacon again, ‘we cannot
convert into food or medicine endangereth a dissolution of the mind and
understanding.’  We ought to turn aside from what we cannot manage, no
matter how important it may seem to be.  David refused Saul’s helmet of
brass and coat of mail.  If he had taken the orthodox accoutrements and
weapons he would have been encumbered and slain.  He killed Goliath with
the rustic sling and stone.  No doubt if we determine to be ignorant of
those things with which the world thinks it necessary that everybody
should be familiar we shall be thought ill-educated, but our very
ignorance will be a better education, provided it be a principled
ignorance, than much which secures a local examination certificate or a
degree.  At the same time, if any study fits us, it should be pursued
unflaggingly.  We must not be afraid of the imputation of narrowness.
Our subject will begin to be of most service to us when we have passed
the threshold and can think for ourselves.  If we devote ourselves, for
example, to the works and biography of any great man, the pleasure and
moral effect come when we have read him and re-read him and have traced
every thread we can find, connecting him with his contemporaries.  It is
then, and then only, that we understand him and he becomes a living soul.
Flesh and blood are given by details.

We are misled by heroes whom we admire, and the greater the genius the
more perilous is its influence upon us if we allow it to be a dictator to
us.  It is really of little consequence to me what a saint or philosopher
thought it necessary to do in order to protect and save himself.  It is
myself that I have to protect and save.  Every man is prone to lean on
some particular side and on that side requires special support.  Every
man has particular fears and troubles, and it is against these and not
against the fears and troubles of others that he must provide remedies.
A religion is but a general direction, and the real working Thirty-nine
Articles or Assembly’s Catechism each one of us has to construct on his
own behalf.

A not insignificant advantage of loyalty to our Divine Director will be a
more correct and generally a more lenient criticism of our
fellow-creatures.  We shall cease to judge them by standards which are
not applicable to them.  Much that we might erroneously consider wrong we
shall discern to be a necessary effort to secure stability or even to
preserve sanity.  We shall pardon deviation from the obvious path.  The
boat which crosses the river may traverse obliquely the direct line to
the point for which it is making, and if we reflect that perhaps a strong
current besets it we shall not call the steersman a fool.


MEN had sinned against the gods, and had even denied their existence.
Zeus had a mind to destroy them, but at last resolved to inflict on them
a punishment worse than death.  He sent Hermes to one of the chief cities
with a scroll on which a few magic letters were written, and the wise men
declared they contained a riddle.  Its solution would bring immortal
happiness.  The whole human race, neglecting all ordinary pursuits,
applied itself ceaselessly to the solution of the mystery.  Professors
were appointed to lecture on it, it was attacked on all sides by
induction, deduction, and by flights of inspiration, but nobody was able
to unravel it.  At last a child, seeing the perplexity in which her
father and mother were, took one of the copies of the scroll which were
hung in all the public buildings of the city, and secretly set off to
consult a distant oracle of Phœbus Apollo of which she had heard.  She
had to traverse thirsty deserts, and not till she was nearly dead did she
reach the shrine.  She told her story and handed in her scroll to a
priestess, who disappeared in an inner chamber.  In a few minutes the
temple of the Sun-god was filled with blazing light, the child prostrated
herself on the floor, and she heard the words, _There is no riddle_.  She
lifted herself up, and, fortified with some food given her by the
priestess, began her journey home.  She was just able to struggle through
the city gates and deliver the message before she fell down lifeless.  It
was not believed; the Secret, the Secret, everybody upheld it, the
professors lectured, the mad inquisition and guesses continued, and the
vengeance of Zeus is not yet satisfied.


I WAS no longer young: in fact I was well over sixty.  The winter had
been dark and tedious.  For some reason or other I had not been able to
read much, and I began to think there were signs of the coming end.
Suddenly, with hardly any warning, spring burst upon us.  Day after day
we had clear, warm sunshine which deepened every contrast of colour, and
at intervals we were blessed with refreshing rains.  I spent most of my
time out of doors on the edge of a favourite wood.  All my life I had
been a lover of the country, and had believed, if this is the right word,
that the same thought, spirit, life, God, which was in everything I
beheld, was also in me.  But my creed had been taken over from books; it
was accepted as an intellectual proposition.  Most of us are satisfied
with this kind of belief, and even call it religion.  We are more content
the more definite the object becomes, no matter whether or not it is in
any intimate relationship with us, and we do not see that the moment God
can be named he ceases to be God.

One morning when I was in the wood something happened which was nothing
less than a transformation of myself and the world, although I ‘believed’
nothing new.  I was looking at a great, spreading, bursting oak.  The
first tinge from the greenish-yellow buds was just visible.  It seemed to
be no longer a tree away from me and apart from me.  The enclosing
barriers of consciousness were removed and the text came into my mind,
_Thou in me and I in thee_.  The distinction of self and not-self was an
illusion.  I could feel the rising sap; in me also sprang the fountain of
life up-rushing from its roots, and the joy of its outbreak at the
extremity of each twig right up to the summit was my own: that which kept
me apart was nothing.  I do not argue; I cannot explain; it will be easy
to prove me absurd, but nothing can shake me.  _Thou in me and I in
thee_.  Death! what is death?  There is no death: _in thee_ it is
impossible, absurd.


   He has vanished, the God of the Church and the Schools:
   He has gone for us all except children and fools;
   Where He dwelt is the uttermost limit of cold,
   And a fathomless depth is the Heaven of old.

   I turn from my books, and behold! I’m aware
   There’s a girl in the room, just a girl over there.
   She stole in while I mused; and she watches the verge
   Of a low-lying cloud whence a star doth emerge.

   A touch on her shoulder; I whisper a word,
   One more, and I know that the heavenly Lord
   Still loves and rejoices His creatures to meet:
   My faith still survives, for I kneel at her feet.


                                                             _Spring_ 18–.

WALKED from Holford to my lodgings on the hill.  Never remember to have
lived in such quietude.  The cottage stands half a mile away from any
house.  Woke very early the next morning and went down to Alfoxden House,
where Wordsworth and Dorothy lived a century ago.  Here also came
Coleridge.  It was almost too much to remember that they had trodden
those paths.  I could hardly believe they were not there, and yet they
were dead—such a strange overcoming sense of presence and yet of

A certain degree of ignorance is necessary for a summary essay on
creatures of this order.  The expression of Dorothy’s soul is spread over
large surfaces.  Some people require much space and time, and the
striking events of a life are often not those which are most significant.
It is in small, spontaneous actions and their reiteration that character
plainly appears.  After prolonged acquaintance with Dorothy we see that
she was great and we love her reverentially and passionately.  She could
look at a beautiful thing for an hour without reflection, but absorbed in
its pure beauty—a most rare gift.  For how long can we watch a birch tree
against the sky?  Here are two extracts from her journal in the very
place where I now am.  They are dated 26th January and 24th February
1798, in the winter it will be noticed.  ‘Sat in the sunshine.  The
distant sheep-bells; the sound of the stream; the woodman winding along
the half-marked road with his laden pony; locks of wool still spangled
with the dewdrops; the blue-grey sea, shaded with immense masses of
cloud, not streaked; the sheep glittering in the sunshine.’ . . . ‘Went
to the hill-top.  Sat a considerable time overlooking the country towards
the sea.  The air blew pleasantly around us. . . . Scattered farmhouses,
half-concealed by green, mossy orchards; fresh straw lying at the doors;
haystacks in the fields.  Brown fallows; the springing wheat, like a
shade of green over the brown earth; and the choice meadow plots, full of
sheep and lambs, of a soft and vivid green; a few wreaths of blue smoke,
spreading along the ground; the oaks and beeches in the hedges retaining
their yellow leaves; the distant prospect on the land side, islanded with
sunshine; the sea, like a basin full to the margin; the dark,
fresh-ploughed fields; the turnips, of a lively, rough green.’  That bit
about the farmhouses reminds me of two very early lines of Wordsworth
which are a prophecy of his peculiar quality:—

    ‘Calm is all nature as a resting wheel’;


    ‘By secret villages and lonely farms.’

                                                        (_first version_.)

The image in the first line looks rude and unpoetical, but will be felt
by anybody who has strolled observantly through a farmyard—say on a
Sunday summer afternoon—and has noticed a disused wheel leaning against a
wall.  Wordsworth shows himself not afraid of the commonplace.  A great
object may gain by comparison with one which is superficially lower or
even mean—nature with a cart-wheel.

                                * * * * *

Went over the hills to Bicknoller—a sunny, hazy day—and the Bristol
Channel was in a mist.  The note of the cuckoo was unceasing.  Down in
the valley at Bicknoller the hedges and banks of the lanes are in the
most ardent stage of spring.  Everything is pressing forward with joyous
impetuosity, and yet is satisfied with what it is at the present moment
and is completely at rest in it.  Along this path to Bicknoller the
_Ancient Mariner_ was begun.  The most wonderful piece of criticism on
record is perhaps that of Mrs. Barbauld on the poem.  She objected to it
because it had no moral.  Coleridge replied: ‘In my judgment the poem had
too much; and the only, or chief fault, if I might say so, was the
obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle
or cause of action in a work of such pure imagination.  It ought to have
no more moral than the Arabian Nights’ tale of the merchant’s sitting
down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside,
and lo! a genie starts up, and says he _must_ kill the aforesaid
merchant, _because_ one of the date-shells had, it seems, put out the eye
of the genie’s son.’

                                * * * * *

To the first draft of _Youth and Age_, written in 1823, there is a little
prose introduction, a reminiscence of the Quantocks, which is a lovely
example of the way in which one sensation gains by description in terms
of another.  ‘ . . .  At earliest dawn . . . the first skylark . . . was
a Song-Fountain, dashing up and sparkling to the Ear’s eye, in full
column or ornamented shaft of sound in the order of Gothic Extravaganza,
out of sight, over the Cornfields on the descent of the Mountain on the
other side—out of sight, tho’ twice I beheld its mute shoot downward in
the sunshine like a falling star of silver.’

                                * * * * *

Coleridge! Coleridge!  How empty do the sweeping judgments passed on him
appear if we recollect that by Wordsworth, Dorothy, Charles and Mary
Lamb, he was honoured and fervently loved.  If a man is loved by any
human being condemnation is rash, and we ought at least to be silent.

                                * * * * *

Wandered about Holford.  The apple-trees are in full blossom.  One of
them was a particularly exquisite survival of youth in old age.  Its head
was a white-and-pink mass, but it leaned almost horizontally, battered
and weather-worn.

                                * * * * *

Thunder off and on all day till the afternoon.  A low grey mist covered
the whole sky at five o’clock, and the landscape was uninteresting, but
in ten minutes the mist thinned a little, so that the sun came through it
and lighted up the torn vapour.

                                * * * * *

Went over to East Quantock’s Head and came back across the hill.  It was
a dark day; the sky was overcast, and the moors were very lonely.  The
thought of London and other big cities over the horizon somewhat marred
the solitude.  Nevertheless there are the deserts of Arabia and Africa,
the regions of the North and South Poles, the Ocean, and, encompassing
the globe itself, silent, infinite space.

                                * * * * *

To Nether Stowey and Tom Poole’s house.  In the hideous church is a
monument to him fairly appreciative, but disfigured by snobbism.  ‘His
originality and grasp of mind,’ says the inscription, ‘counterbalanced
the deficiencies of early education and secured him the friendship,’ etc.
His ‘originality and grasp of mind’—his soul, that is to say, managed,
when put in the scale, to turn it against those deficiencies which are
made good to youths providentially directed to Eton and Oxford.
According to the slab in the church, Poole died 8th September 1837,
seventy-two years old.  The house in which he lived in his later years is
a pleasant place, but has been tortured into modern gentility.  His
revolving grate, which he turned round when he went out, has been
replaced by an approved cast-iron ‘register.’  He was called ‘Justice
Poole’ in the country round.  Afterwards to Coleridge’s cottage—small,
somewhat squalid rooms.  Pity, pity, almost to tears.  The second edition
of his poems was published while he was here in 1797.  In a note added to
_Religious Musings_ in that edition he declares his belief in the
Millennium; that ‘all who in past ages have endeavoured to ameliorate the
state of man, will rise and enjoy the fruits and flowers, the
imperceptible seeds of which they had sown in their former life; and that
the wicked will, during the same period, be suffering the remedies
adapted to their several bad habits.’  This period is to be ‘followed by
the passing away of this earth, and by our entering the state of pure
intellect; when all creation shall rest from its labours.’  The
‘coadjutors of God’ in _Religious Musings_ are Milton, Newton, Hartley,
and Priestley.  In the beginning of 1798 Coleridge was preaching at the
Unitarian Chapel at Shrewsbury.  But on the 13th November 1797, at
half-past four in the afternoon (let us be particular in dating such an
event), he and Dorothy and her brother began their walk over these
Quantock hills, and _The Ancient Mariner_ was born.  These are the facts,
and rash indeed would anybody be who should attempt to deduce anything
from them.  Of all foolish criticism there is none more foolish than that
which treats the mental movement of men like Coleridge or Wordsworth as
if it were in an imaginary straight line.  Excepting lines 123–270,
composed in the latter part of 1796, Coleridge wrote his contribution to
_Joan of Arc_ between 1794 and 1795.  _The Rose_ and _Kisses_ were
written in 1793, and _On a Discovery Made Too Late_ in 1794.  Could
anybody, not knowing the dates, have believed that these three poems
last-named, if not written before the _Joan of Arc_, were contemporaneous
with it?  In the _Joan of Arc_ Coleridge is immature and led astray by
politics, religion, and philosophy, but in the three little poems where
he has subjects akin to him he is perfect, and could have done nothing
better ten years later.  Still more remarkable, _Lewti_, in its earliest
form, cannot have been written later than 1794, for it was originally
addressed to Mary Evans, from whom Coleridge parted in December 1794.  As
an example of the survival of his poetic power take _Love’s First Hope_,
written probably in 1824:

    ‘O fair is Love’s first hope to gentle mind!
    As Eve’s first star thro’ fleecy cloudlet peeping;
    And sweeter than the gentle south-west wind,
    O’er willowy meads, and shadow’d waters creeping,
    And Ceres’ golden field;—the sultry hind
    Meets it with brow uplift, and stays his reaping.’

Coleridge was indebted to Sir Philip Sidney for the third and fourth
lines, excepting ‘o’er willowy meads,’ but these three words and the
first and last two lines are his own.  Not only does his genius survive,
but emotion as pure and deep as that of the Nether Stowey days or those
preceding.  There is no trace of the interval between them and those of

                                * * * * *

In the post-office at Kilve hangs an old trombone, a memento of the time
when the village orchestra assisted in the service at the church.  How
well I remember those artists and their jealousies!  The clarionet or
‘clarnet,’ as he called himself, caused much ill-feeling because he
drowned the others, and the double-bass strove ineffectually to avenge
himself.  The churchyard yew is one of the largest I ever beheld—twenty
feet in girth by measurement, four feet from the ground.  A gay morning:
heavy, white masses of clouds sailing over the hills; light most
brilliant when the sun came out.  How singularly beautiful is a
definitely outlined white cloud when it is cut by the ridge of a hill!

                                * * * * *

Across the hills in a south-westerly storm of wind and rain to
Bicknoller.  A walk not to be forgotten: overcast sky, dark moors; clouds
sweeping over them and obscuring them.  I should not have found my way if
I had not lost it when I went to Bicknoller before.  I then put three
stones at the point where I afterwards discovered I had gone astray.
These three stones saved me to-day.

                                * * * * *

Whitsunday morning: sat at the open window between five and six: the
hills opposite lay in the light of the eastern sun.  Bicknoller church
and the little old village were beneath me.  Perfect quietude, save for
the bells of Stogumber church ringing a peal two miles away.  Earth has
nothing to give compared with this peace.  The air was so still that
delicious mingled scents floated up from the garden and fields below.  It
was one of those days on which every sense is satisfied, and no mortal
imperfection appears.  Took the _Excursion_ out of doors after breakfast,
and read _The Ruined Cottage_.

Much of the religion by which Wordsworth lives is very indefinite.  Look
at the close of this poem:—

    ‘I well remember that those very plumes,
    Those weeds, and the high spear-grass on that wall
    By mist and silent rain-drops silver’d o’er,
    As once I pass’d, did to my heart convey
    So still an image of tranquillity,
    So calm and still, and look’d so beautiful
    Amid the uneasy thoughts which fill’d my mind,
    That what we feel of sorrow and despair
    From ruin and from change, and all the grief
    The passing shows of Being leave behind,
    Appear’d an idle dream, that could not live
    Where meditation was.  I turn’d away,
    And walk’d along my road in happiness.’

Because this religion is indefinite it is not therefore the less

Why, by the way, did Wordsworth expunge from _Michael_ these wonderful

    ‘In his thoughts there were obscurities,
    Wonder, and admiration, things that wrought
    Not less than a religion in his heart.’

Something like them had been said before, but they ought to have been

                                * * * * *

The changes in the sky in this Quantock country are as sudden and strange
as in Cumberland.  During a walk from Cleeve Abbey to Bicknoller it
rained in torrents till within half a mile of the end of my journey.  All
at once it ceased, and the uniform sheet of rain-cloud broke into loose
ragged masses swirling in different directions and variously lighted, the
sun almost shining through some of the clefts between them.  Cleeve
Abbey, lying in the trough of a green valley through which runs a stream,
the cloister garth and the Abbot’s seat at the end of it, are most
impressive.  Under the turf lie the dead monks.  A place like this begets
half-unconscious dreaming which issues in nothing and is not wholesome.
It would be better employment to learn something about the history of the
abbey and about its architecture.

                                * * * * *


    Ye Woods! that listen to the night-birds’ singing,
    Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined,
    Save where your own imperious branches swinging,
    Have made a solemn music of the wind.’

These lines from _France_ were written by Coleridge when he was a little
over twenty-five years old.  In the combination of two gifts, music and
meaning, he is hardly surpassable at his best by any poet.  Not an atom
of meaning is sacrificed to gain a melody: in fact the melody adds to the

Here is another example showing how the poetic form with Coleridge is not
a hindrance to expression, but aids it.

    Gentle woman, for thy voice remeasures
    Whatever tones and melancholy pleasures
    The things of Nature utter; birds or trees,
    Or moan of ocean-gale in weedy caves,
    Or where the stiff grass ’mid the heath-plant waves,
    Murmur and music thin of sudden breeze.’

His similitudes are not mere external comparisons; the objects compared
become _modes_ of unity.  ‘A brisk gale and the foam that peopled the
_alive_ [italics C.’s] sea, most interestingly combined with the number
of white seagulls, that, repeatedly, it seemed as if the foam-spit had
taken life and wing, and had flown up.’

                                * * * * *

The intimations which are but whispered, the Presences which are but
half-disclosed, are those which we should intently obey.  The coarsely
obvious has its own strength.

       ‘She went forth alone
    Urged by the indwelling angel-guide, that oft,
    With dim inexplicable sympathies
    Disquieting the heart, shapes out Man’s course
    To the predoomed adventure.’

                                                     _Destiny of Nations_.

                                * * * * *

Wordworth’s habit of spending so much time in the open air and with the
humble people around him gives to what he says the value of experience,
distinguishable totally from the ideas of the literary man, which may be
brilliant, but do not agree with the sun, moon and stars, and turn out to
be nothing when we ask is the thing really _so_.

Wordsworth’s verses have been in the sun and wind.  It is a test of good
sane writing that we can read it out of doors.

                                * * * * *

If Wordsworth’s love of clouds and mountains ended there it would be no
better than the luxury of a refined taste.  But it does not end there.
It affects the whole of his relationships with men and women, and is
therefore most practical.

                                * * * * *

In Wordsworth what we expect does not come, but in its place the
unexpected.  In the twelfth book of the _Prelude_ he tells us:

    There are in our existence spots of time,
    That with distinct pre-eminence retain
    A renovating virtue, whence, depressed
    By false opinion and contentious thought,
    Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight
    In trivial occupations, and the round
    Of ordinary intercourse, our minds
    Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
    A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
    That penetrates, enables us to mount,
    When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
    This efficacious spirit chiefly lurks
    Among those passages of life that give
    Profoundest knowledge to what point, and how,
    The mind is lord and master—outward sense
    The obedient servant of her will.’

He then gives us one of these ‘passages,’ and what is it?  A day when as
a child he saw

    ‘A naked pool that lay beneath the hills,
    The beacon on the summit, and, more near,
    A girl, who bore a pitcher on her head,
    And seemed with difficult steps to force her way
    Against the blowing wind.’

It was, as he says, an ‘ordinary sight,’ but

    ‘Colours and words that are unknown to man’

would have failed him

    ‘To paint the visionary dreariness’

which invested what he saw.

Years afterwards, when he revisited the spot, the ‘loved one at his
side,’ there fell on it

    ‘A spirit of pleasure and youth’s golden gleam;
    And think ye not with radiance more sublime
    For these remembrances, and for the power
    They had left behind?  So feeling comes in aid
    Of feeling, and diversity of strength
    Attends us, if but once we have been strong.’

This was the experience, then, of ‘distinct pre-eminence’ in whose
recollection his mind was ‘nourished and invisibly repaired.’  It is in
such a moment that the soul’s strength is shown; when common objects
evoke what he calls the imagination, the reality, of which they are a
suggestion.  Although he expands here and elsewhere he does not
elaborate.  He stops where the fact ends and shuns abstractions.

                                * * * * *

    ‘So taught, so trained, we boldly face
    All accidents of time and place;
       Whatever props may fail,
    Trust in that sovereign law can spread
    New glory o’er the mountain’s head,
       Fresh beauty through the vale.’

This is from _The Wishing-Gate Destroyed_, a late poem, not published
till 1842, when Wordsworth was seventy-two years old.  It is his Nicene
and Apostles’ Creed and Thirty-Nine Articles.  Trust, with no credentials
but its own existence, and yet they are indisputable.

                                * * * * *

    ‘Is it that Man is soon deprest?
    A thoughtless Thing! who, once unblest,
    Does little on his memory rest,
       Or on his reason.’

                                                           _To the Daisy_.

An example of Wordsworth’s wisdom disclosing itself in his simplest
pieces.  For one sad conclusion to which the reason leads us, the
uncontrolled, baseless procedure in the brain which we call thinking, but
is really day-dreaming, leads us to a score.  Reason on the whole is

                                * * * * *

    ‘Blest Statesman He, whose Mind’s unselfish will
    Leaves him at ease among grand thoughts: whose eye
    Sees that, apart from magnanimity,
    Wisdom exists not, nor the humbler skill
    Of Prudence, disentangling good and ill
    With patient care.’

Exist not.  We are befooled by words.  We conceive wisdom, prudence, and
magnanimity as distinct entities, without intercommunication.  If we
could but see things as they are without the tyranny of definition!

                                * * * * *

Wordsworth has a singular power of expressing articulately that which
would be mere mist without him, but is of vital importance.


  (Reprinted from _The Pilot_, 20th April 1901.  With added postscript.)

DR. ÉMILE LEGOUIS, in his singularly interesting book, _La Jeunesse de
William Wordsworth_, well translated into English by Mr. T. W. Matthews
(Dent and Co., 1897), calls attention to the influence on Wordsworth in
his early years of Godwin’s _Political Justice_.  On reading _Political
Justice_ now, it is difficult to understand why Wordsworth should have
been so much affected by it.  Its philosophy, if philosophy it can be
called, is simply the denial of any rule of conduct or of any belief
which the understanding cannot prove, and the inclusion of man in the
necessity which controls inanimate nature.  ‘All vice is nothing more
than error and mistake’ (i. 31). {205}  ‘We differ from the inferior
animals in the greater facility with which we arrange our sensations, and
compare, prefer, and judge’ (i. 57).  ‘Justice . . . is coincident with
utility’ (i. 121).  ‘If my mother were in a house on fire, and I had a
ladder outside with which I could save her, she would not, because she
was my mother, have any greater claim than the other inmates on my
exertions’ (i. 83).  ‘But,’ says an objector, ‘your mother nourished you
in the helplessness of infancy.’  ‘When she first subjected herself,’
replies Godwin, ‘to the necessity of these cares, she was probably
influenced by no particular motives of benevolence to her future
offspring. . . .  It is the disposition of the mind . . . that entitles
to respect,’ and consequently justice demands that I should rescue the
most meritorious person first.’  All moral science may be reduced to this
one head, calculation of the future’ (ii. 468), and consequently a
promise is not an obligation.  The statement that it is essential that we
should be able to depend on engagements ‘would be somewhat more accurate
if we said “that it was essential to various circumstances of human
intercourse, that we should be known to bestow a steady attention upon
the quantities of convenience or inconvenience, of good or evil, that
might arise to others from our conduct”’ (i. 156).  The understanding is
supreme in us, and ‘depravity would have gained little ground in the
world, if every man had been in the exercise of his independent judgment’
(i. 174).  Reason (the Godwinian Reason) is sufficient to control or even
extinguish the strongest of all passions.  Marriage having been denounced
as ‘the most odious of all monopolies’ (ii. 850), Godwin is reminded that
half a dozen men perhaps might feel for a woman ‘the same preference that
I do.’  ‘This,’ says he, ‘will create no difficulty.  We may all enjoy
her conversation; and we shall be wise enough to consider the sensual
intercourse as a very trivial object.’  It was impossible not to
acknowledge that the understanding often finds the problem rather
abstruse of deciding whether an action will or will not secure ultimately
the largest balance of happiness.  Calvin was no fool, and yet he
deliberately came to the conclusion that in burning Servetus he was
promoting the welfare of mankind; but ‘Calvin was unacquainted with the
principles of justice, and therefore could not practise them.  The duty
of no man can exceed his capacity’ (i. 102).  As to Godwin’s
necessarianism, it is perhaps hardly worth while to cite passages in
order to explain it.  It is of the usual type, incontrovertible if the
question is to be settled by common logic.  ‘Volition is that state of an
intellectual being in which, the mind being affected in a certain manner
by the apprehension of an end to be accomplished, a certain motion of the
organs and members of the animal frame is found to be produced’ (i. 297).
‘A knife has a capacity of cutting.  In the same manner a human being has
a capacity of walking, though it may be no more true of him than of the
inanimate substance, that he has the power of exercising or not
exercising that capacity’ (i. 308).  ‘A knife is as capable as a man of
being employed in the purposes of virtue, and the one is no more free
than the other as to its employment.  The mode in which a knife is made
subservient to these purposes is by material impulse.  The mode in which
a man is made subservient is by inducement and persuasion.  But both are
equally the affair of necessity.  The man differs from the knife, just as
the iron candlestick differs from the brass one; he has one more way of
being acted upon.  This additional way in man is motive, in the
candlestick is magnetism’ (i. 309).

At first sight it is, as I have said, a wonder that Wordsworth should
have been much impressed by such doctrines as these, but the evidence is
strong that for a time they lay upon him like a nightmare.  I will not
quote the _Borderers_ for a reason which will be seen presently, but the
testimony of Hazlitt, Coleridge, the _Prelude_, and the _Excursion_ is
decisive.  “Throw aside your books of chemistry,” said Wordsworth to a
young man, a student in the Temple, “and read _Godwin on Necessity_”’
(Hazlitt’s _Spirit of the Age_, p. 49, 3rd edition).  Now it is a
question, important historically, but more important to ourselves
privately, whether Wordsworth’s temporary subjugation by _Political
Justice_ was due to pure intellectual conviction.  I think not.
Coleridge noticed that Wordsworth suffered much from hypochondria.  He
complains that during the Scotch tour in 1803 ‘Wordsworth’s
hypochondriacal feelings keep him silent and self-centred.’  He again
says to Richard Sharp, in 1804, that Wordsworth has ‘occasional fits of
hypochondriacal uncomfortableness, from which, more or less, and at
longer or shorter intervals, he has never been wholly free from his very
childhood,’ and that he has a ‘hypochondriacal graft in his nature.’
Wordsworth himself speaks of times when—

    ‘ . . . fears and fancies thick upon me came;
    Dim sadness—and blind thoughts, I knew not nor could name.’

He is haunted with

    ‘ . . . the fear that kills,’

and he thinks of Chatterton and his end.

During 1793, 1794, and part of 1795, this tendency to hypochondria must
have been greatly encouraged.  His hopes in the Revolution had begun to
fail, but the declaration of war against France made him wretched.  He
wandered about from place to place, unable to conjecture what his future
would be.  ‘I have been doing nothing,’ he tells Matthews, ‘and still
continue to do nothing.  What is to become of me I know not.’  He
proposed to start a Republican magazine to be called the
_Philanthropist_, and we find him inquiring whether he could get work on
the London newspapers.  Hypochondriacal misery is apt to take an
intellectual shape.  The most hopeless metaphysics or theology which we
happen to encounter fastens on us, and we mistake for an unbiased
conviction the form which the disease assumes.  The _Political Justice_
found in Wordsworth the aptest soil for germination; it rooted and grew

          ‘So I fared,
    Dragging all precepts, judgments, maxims, creeds
    Like culprits to the bar; calling the mind,
    Suspiciously, to establish in plain day
    Her titles and her honours; now believing,
    Now disbelieving; endlessly perplexed
    With impulse, motive, right and wrong, the ground
    Of obligation, what the rule and whence
    The sanction; till, demanding formal _proof_,
    And seeking it in everything, I lost
    All feeling of conviction, and, in fine,
    Sick, wearied out with contrarieties,
    Yielded up moral questions in despair.
    This was the crisis of that strong disease,
    This the soul’s last and lowest ebb; I drooped,
    Deeming our blessed reason of least use
    Where wanted most: “The lordly attributes
    Of will and choice,” I bitterly exclaimed,
    “What are they but a mockery of a Being
    Who hath in no concerns of his a test
    Of good and evil; knows not what to fear
    Or hope for, what to covet or to shun:
    And who, if those could be discerned, would yet
    Be little profited, would see, and ask,
    Where is the obligation to enforce?”’

In the autumn of 1795, Wordsworth, helped by the modest legacy of Raisley
Calvert, was able to move with Dorothy to Racedown, and he immediately
set to work on the _Borderers_, which I take to be the beginning of
recovery.  It was obviously written to exhibit the character of Oswald,
the villain.  He is one of a band of outlaws, and is jealous of the
appointment of Marmaduke as chief.  His revenge is a determination to
make Marmaduke as guilty as himself.  Marmaduke is in love with Idonea,
and Oswald, partly by inventing lies about her blind father, Herbert, and
partly by dexterous sophistry derived from _Political Justice_,
endeavours to persuade Marmaduke to kill him.  Marmaduke hesitates, but
is finally overpowered.  Although he cannot himself murder Herbert, he
draws him to a desolate moor and leaves him to perish.  Oswald then
recounts his own story.  When he was on a voyage to Syria he had believed
on false evidence, that some wrong had been done to him by his captain,
and accordingly contrived that he should be left to die in agony on a
barren island.  Oswald discovered that he had been deceived, but he
declares exultantly to Marmaduke that, after being somewhat stunned, he
found himself emancipated:—

    ‘Life stretched before me smooth as some broad way
    Cleared for a monarch’s progress.  Priests might spin
    Their veil, but not for me—’twas in fit place
    Among its kindred cobwebs.’

He concludes by avowing impudently that Herbert is innocent and that the
impulse which prompted the monstrous perfidy of procuring his death was—

    ‘I would have made us equal once again.’

This is the commentary by Wordsworth on Godwin’s parable by which he
illustrates the simplicity of action in what we call the soul.  ‘When a
ball upon a billiard-board is struck,’ etc. etc.  ‘Exactly similar to
this . . . are the actions of the human mind’ (i. 306–7).  Lacy, one of
the freebooters asks Wallace:—

    ‘But for the motive?’

and Wallace replies:—

       ‘Natures such as his
    Spin motives out of their own bowels, Lacy!’

The _Borderers_ is stuffed full with Godwinism.  ‘Remorse,’ exclaims

    ‘It cannot live with thought; think on, think on,
    And it will die.  What!  In this universe,
    Where the least things control the greatest, where
    The faintest breath that breathes can move a world;
    What! feel remorse, where, if a cat had sneezed,
    A leaf had fallen, the thing had never been
    Whose very shadow gnaws us to the vitals.’

So Godwin: ‘We shall, therefore, no more be disposed to repent of our own
faults than of the faults of others’ (i. 315).  The noxious thing is now,
however, with Wordsworth no longer subject but object, and when a man can
cast loose the enemy and survey him, victory is three parts achieved.

There is no evidence that Wordsworth attempted any reasoned confutation
of _Political Justice_.  It was falsified in him by Racedown, by better
health, by the society of his beloved sister, and finally by the
friendship with Coleridge, although there was but little intimacy with
him till the summer of 1797, and the _Borderers_ was finished in 1796.
This, then, is the moral—to repeat what has been said before—that certain
beliefs, at any rate with men of Wordsworth’s stamp, are sickness, and
that with the restoration of vitality and the influx of joy they

One other observation.  Wordsworth never afterwards vexed himself with
free will, necessity, and the like.  He knew such matters were not for
him.  Many problems may appear to be of great consequence, but it is our
duty to avoid them if our protecting genius warns us away.


THE most singular portion of _Political Justice_ is that which deals with
Population, and some notice of it, by way of postscript, may be pardoned,
for it cannot be neglected in our estimate of Godwin, and it is a curious
instance of the futility of attempting to comprehend character without
searching into corners and examination of facts which, judged by external
bulk, are small.  These small facts may contain principles which are
constituent of the man.  The chapter on Population occupies a few pages
at the end of the second volume of the _Political Justice_.

Godwin would like to see property equalised, or common, and he tries to
answer the argument that excessive population would ensue.  He quotes
(ii. 862) a reported conjecture of Franklin’s that ‘mind will one day
become omnipotent over matter.’  If over matter, which is outside us,
thinks Godwin, why not over our own bodies, ‘in a word, why may not man
be one day immortal’ (ii. 862).  He points out that the mind already has
great power over the body, that it can conquer pain, assist in the cure
of disease, and successfully resist old age.

‘Why is it that a mature man soon loses that elasticity of limb which
characterises the heedless gaiety of youth?  Because he desists from
youthful habits.  He assumes an air of dignity incompatible with the
lightness of childish sallies.  He is visited and vexed with all the
cares that rise out of our mistaken institutions, and his heart is no
longer satisfied and gay.  Hence his limbs become stiff and unwieldy.
This is the forerunner of old age and death’ (ii. 863–64).  ‘Medicine may
reasonably be stated to consist of two branches, the animal and
intellectual.  The latter of these has been infinitely too much
neglected’ (ii. 869).  We may look forward to a time when we shall be
‘indifferent to the gratifications of sense.  They please at present by
their novelty, that is because we know not how to estimate them.  They
decay in the decline of life indirectly because the system refuses them,
but directly and principally because they no longer excite the ardour and
passion of mind . . . The gratifications of sense please at present by
their imposture.  We soon learn to despise the mere animal function,
which, apart from the delusions of intellect, would be nearly the same in
all cases; and to value it, only as it happens to be relieved by personal
charms or mental excellence.  We absurdly imagine that no better road can
be found to the sympathy and intercourse of minds.  But a very slight
degree of attention might convince us that this is a false road, full of
danger and deception.  Why should I esteem another, or by another be
esteemed?  For this reason only, because esteem is due, and only so far
as it is due.

‘The men therefore who exist when the earth shall refuse itself to a more
extended population will cease to propagate, for they will no longer have
any motive, either of error or duty, to induce them.  In addition to this
they will perhaps be immortal.  The whole will be a people of men, and
not of children.  Generation will not succeed generation, nor truth have
in a certain degree to recommence her career at the end of every thirty
years.  There will be no war, no crimes, no administration of justice as
it is called, and no government.  These latter articles are at no great
distance; and it is not impossible that some of the present race of men
may live to see them in part accomplished.  But, besides this, there will
be no disease, no anguish, no melancholy, and no resentment.  Every man
will seek with ineffable ardour the good of all’ (ii. 870–72).

A very curious vein, not golden indeed but copper, let us say, is hidden
away in the earthy mass of Godwin.  The dull, heavy-featured creature
sees an apocalyptic vision and becomes poetical.  It is partly absurd,
but not because it is ideal, and there are lineaments in it of the true
Utopia.  Godwin probably would have denounced the Revelation of St. John
the Divine as superstitious nonsense, but he saw before him a kind of
misty, distorted reflection of the New Jerusalem, in which there shall be
no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any
more pain, where there shall be no more curse, no night, no candle, no
light of the sun.  It might have been thought that it was impossible to
establish a connection between Patmos and Skinner Street, but the first
postulate of Euclid’s elements holds good universally, ‘that a straight
line may be drawn from any one point to any other point.’


    _Ille velut fidis arcana sodalibus olim_
    _Credebat libris_.—HOR.  Sat., II. i. 30.

NOTHING is more dangerous than a mass of discontent which does not know
what remedy is to be sought.  All sorts of cures will be tried, many of
them mere quackery, and their failure will make matters worse.

                                * * * * *

Whatever may be the meaning of the process of the world, however
disheartening some steps in its evolution may be, they are necessary, and
without them, perhaps, some evil could not thoroughly have been worked

                                * * * * *

People often manifest a diseased desire to express their will.  A theory
is adopted, not because the facts force it upon them, but because its
adoption shows their power.  The larger, the freer the nature, the less
there is of this action of the will, the more the mind is led.

                                * * * * *

A mere dream, a vague hope may be more potent than certainty in a lesser
matter.  The faintest vision of God is more determinative of life than a
gross earthly certainty.

                                * * * * *

The more nearly the performer on a musical instrument approaches
perfection, the larger is that part of his execution which is
unconscious.  Consciousness arises with defect, or sense of something to
be overcome.  How conscious we are when striving to think and work in

                                * * * * *

The highest education is that which teaches us to guide ourselves by
motives which are intangible, remote, incapable of direct and material

                                * * * * *

Weak minds find confirmation of their beliefs in the discovery of the
same beliefs in other people.  They do not take the trouble to find out
how their neighbours obtained these beliefs.  If they are current at the
time, the probability is that the coincidence is worthless as any
evidence of validity.

                                * * * * *

The certainty which comes of intelligent conviction is a tempered
certainty.  Its possessor knows the difficulty of the path by which he
has reached it, and the reasons which on his way have appeared so potent
against it.  Fanaticism is the accompaniment of conclusions which are not
the result of reason.

                                * * * * *

To understand a thing is to understand all its laws.  The thing is then
nothing but law, and mere matter seems to disappear.

                                * * * * *

What is it which governs the selection of truths which make up religions?
Why are this and that chosen?  Has not the selection a damaging effect
upon the great body of truth?

                                * * * * *

Every action should be an end in itself as well as a means.  The end of
getting up in the morning, as Goethe says, is getting up.

                                * * * * *

We are always searching for something extraordinary which shall give life
its pleasure and value.  The extraordinary must be contributed by our own
minds and feelings.

                                * * * * *

The real object in any human being of my love and worship is that which
is not in any table of virtues, nor can I in any way describe it: it is
something which perpetually escapes, which is not to be found in anything
said or done.

                                * * * * *

It is a common mistake to demand a definition of that which can have
none.  We loosely cover a mass of phenomena which are diverse with a
single word.  For example, we puzzle over a definition of life, but there
is no such thing as life in the sense of a single, distinct entity.

                                * * * * *

Religion has done harm by assigning an artificial urgency to insoluble
problems.  We are all told that we must be certain on matters concerning
which the wisest man is ignorant.  When we begin to reflect and to doubt,
the urgency unhappily remains and we are distressed.

                                * * * * *

I know a man who had to encounter three successive trials of all the
courage and inventive faculty in him.  If he had failed in one he would
have been ruined.  The odds were desperate against him in each, and
against ultimate victory were overwhelming.  Nevertheless he made the
attempt and was triumphant almost by a miracle in each struggle.  How
often calculation is folly and cowardice!

                                * * * * *

Before we can hear the Divine Voice we must shut out all other voices, so
that we may be able to listen, to discern its faintest whisper.  The most
precious messages are those which are whispered.

                                * * * * *

A negative may be really positive.  It depends on the extent of that
which the negative excludes.  If I say of hydrogen that it is not oxygen,
nothing is gained.  If I say it is not a fluid nor a solid, more is
gained.  So in the determinations of Spirit, God, etc., although we use
negatives, the results may be of value.

                                * * * * *

True mental training is a discipline compelling us to _dwell_ on that
which is presented to us, to discover what unites it to other objects and
what differentiates it from them.  To the untrained mind creation is a
blur.  The moral effect on a child of teaching it to express distinction
by significant words is great.

                                * * * * *

‘Ought’ is a singular instance of the confusion wrought by words and of
their inefficiency.  There is no single ‘ought’ and therefore no science
of the obligation it implies.  ‘Ought’ in the phrase ‘you ought to speak
the truth’ refers to an instinct in us to report veraciously what we see.
‘Ought’ of self-sacrifice refers to love, and ‘ought’ of sobriety to the
subordination of desires, to a difference in their authority of which we
can give no account, excepting that we are creatures fashioned in a
certain way.

                                * * * * *

In the presence of some people we inevitably depart from ourselves: we
are inaccurate, say things we do not feel, and talk nonsense.  When we
get home we are conscious that we have made fools of ourselves.  Never go
near these people.

                                * * * * *

What cardboard puppets are the creations of fiction compared with a
common man or woman intimately known!

                                * * * * *

How much of what I say is an echo; how little is myself!  Sometimes it
seems as if my real self were nothing and that what stands for it were a
mere miscellany of odds and ends picked up here and there.  What a Self
is the Jesus of the Gospels!

                                * * * * *

A cousin of mine had an evening class of poor girls.  She was trying to
explain to them the words ‘liquid’ and ‘solid.’

‘You walked over the bridge; it was a hard road.’

‘Yes, teacher.’

‘If you had gone down by the side of the bridge you could not have walked
across there?’

‘No, teacher.’

‘If you were to try and were to put your feet on the water, where would
you go?’

‘To hell, teacher.’

The association of the question, ‘Where would you go?’ was too strong.

                                * * * * *

This sunset, which is common to the whole county, is more to me than
anything exclusively mine.

                                * * * * *

If emotion be profound, symbolism, as a means of expression, is

                                * * * * *

There would be no objection to ‘telling the truth’ about Burns, Byron,
and Shelley if it could be told.  But it cannot be told.  We are informed
that they did this or that, and the thing they did is to us what it would
be if done by ourselves.

                                * * * * *

We are most vain of that which is least ourselves, of that which is
acquired, put on, stuck in.  It is not correct to say that a woman is
vain of her beauty.

                                * * * * *

Controversy is demoralising.  Never suffer yourself to become an
advocate.  Never rely on controversy to convince.  Say what you have to
say and leave it.  _Do_ it if you wish to persuade.

                                * * * * *

People are often unkind, not from malignity, but from ineptitude.

                                * * * * *

It is of the greatest importance continually to bear in mind that the
violation of a law personal to myself is as immoral as the violation of a
general law, and may be more mischievous.

                                * * * * *

To die is easy when we are in perfect health.  On a fine spring morning,
out of doors, on the downs, mind and body sound and exhilarated, it would
be nothing to lie down on the turf and pass away.

                                * * * * *

What we want is wise counsel on particular occasions.  Principles we can
get by the bushel anywhere.  The reason why our friends are so useless is
that they will not take trouble.  The selection and the application of
the principle are difficult.

                                * * * * *

It is terrible to live with a person who has a strong, narrow sense of
duty without further-reaching thought or love by which the rigidity of
duty may be softened.

                                * * * * *

By the third, which is neither ourselves nor the object, do we recognise
it.  The third is the celestial light.

                                * * * * *

It is appalling to reflect that there are enormous masses of human energy
which can find no proper outlet.  The consequence is mischief either
through expression in any direction and at any cost, or through
suppression.  We want an organisation of energy, one of the noblest
offices of a true church.

                                * * * * *

The tyranny of the imagination is perhaps that which is most to be
dreaded.  By strength of will we can prevent an act, but no strength of
will is able to prevent the invasion of self-created pictures.  The only
remedies are health and indifference to them when they present
themselves.  If we worry ourselves about them they become worse.  If we
let them alone they fade and we forget them.

                                * * * * *

Thinking much upon insoluble problems is apt to breed superstition even
in the strongest minds.  The failure of the reason weakens our reliance
on it, and the difference between the incomprehensible and the absurd is
very fine.

                                * * * * *

In this howling Bedlam of voices, it is of no use to talk or write—no
man, if he has anything to say, can be heard.  He is reviewed to-day and
forgotten to-morrow.  To soothe the pangs of a single sufferer, to drain
a poor man’s cottage and give him wholesome drinking water, are good
things done of which we can be sure.

                                * * * * *

Life is a matter of small virtues, but we have to bring them to
perfection.  This may be done by great principles.  The humblest act may
proceed from that which is beyond the stars.

                                * * * * *

What a vile antithesis is that between a man and his faults!  If I love a
man, I do not love his faults, for they are abstractions, but I love the
man _in_ his faults.  Are they not truly himself?  He is often more
himself in his faults than in his virtues.

                                * * * * *

We should not talk as if we were responsible for the effect of what we
say.  We are responsible for saying it, and for nothing more.  A higher
power is responsible for the effect which is to follow from each cause.

                                * * * * *

_Wisdom for old age_.—Check the propensity to dwell on what you have
thought before.  Try to get new ideas into your head.  Beware of giving
trouble or asking for sympathy.  Do everything yourself, which you have
been in the habit of doing, so long as you can move a muscle, and when
you cannot, secure, if possible, paid help: watch what the most devoted
of friends or relatives say of continued attendance on the sick: note the
relief when the sick man dies.  Let not the thought sadden you that six
weeks after you are in your grave those to whom you are now dear will be
laughing and living just as if you had never existed.  Why should they
not?  Are you of such consequence that they should for ever wear mourning
for you?  A slow march as you are carried to the churchyard, but when a
handful of earth has been thrown on your coffin, let everybody go home to
draw up the blinds and open the windows.  So much dead already, all
passion, so many capacities for enjoyment, why care for this miserable
residuum, this poor empty _I_?

                                * * * * *

Clear vision is not often the cause of distress.  It is rather the cloud
of imagination distorting what is before us and preventing distinct view.
Science, removing the heavens to an infinite distance, destroying
traditions, abolishing our little theologies, does not disturb our peace
so seriously as that vague dreaming in which there is no thinking.

                                * * * * *

Ah, it is not a quarrel which is so deadly!  It is the strange
transformation of what were once thought to be charms and virtues.  The
soft blue eyes are now simply silly; innocence is stupidity; docility is
incapacity of resolution; the sweet, even temper is absence of passion.

                                * * * * *

Is it true that less evidence is necessary to prove an event which is
probable than one that is improbable?  The probability of an event is no
evidence that it actually happened.  Its probability may be the reason
why we should examine the evidence more closely, because witnesses are
more likely, in the case of a probable event, to refrain from scrutiny
than in the case of one not probable.  I sit at my window and see a
whitish object with four legs in a field.  I am short-sighted, but I at
once say ‘a cow,’ and take no pains to ascertain whether it is a cow or
not.  If I had seen a white object apparently with three legs only, I
should have gone out, inspected it closely, and should have called other
people to look at it.

                                * * * * *

I pray for a gift which perhaps would be miraculous: simply to be able to
see that field of waving grass as I should see it if association and the
‘film of custom’ did not obscure it.

                                * * * * *

Why do we admire intellect when it is united with even diabolic disregard
of moral laws?  Partly because it stands out more prominently; partly
because it triumphs over obstacles; but mainly because we are all more or
less in sympathy with insurrection and the assertion of individuality.

                                * * * * *

As we move higher, personality becomes of less consequence.  We do not
live in the ‘I,’ but in truths.  Something of a metaphysical hint here.

                                * * * * *

Principles are dangerous tools for a fool.  What awful mischief they have

                                * * * * *

Never was there a time in which men were less governed by ideas.  The
Church and the sects are neither Calvinist nor Arminian, orthodox nor
rational, and in politics an idea damns a measure at once.

                                * * * * *

We have no capitalised happiness, nothing on which to draw when temporary
sources fail.

                                * * * * *

A decided bent or twist, is not unsuitable in a man, but I do not care
for it in a woman.  I love that equipoise in the faces of the Greek women
in the old statues and sculptures.  It appears also in some pictures of
the Virgin.

                                * * * * *

The duty of the State as to toleration cannot be decided by an appeal to
rights.  Everybody admits that government is sometimes justified in
suppressing what is honestly believed.  But if government had not been
resisted we should have had no Christianity.  The vindication of the
authority of the State is a vindication of persecution, and if we dispute
this authority we cannot logically disallow dangerous licence.  There is
no way out of the difficulty so long as we generalise.  Toleration is an
abstraction, nothing but a word.  What we have to decide is, whether it
is wise or unwise to send to prison the people now before us who preach
bigamy, assassination of kings, or theological heresy.

                                * * * * *

When we struggle to see more than we possibly can see we undervalue what
we indubitably see.

                                * * * * *

There is but little thinking, or perhaps it is more correct to say but
little reflection, in the Bible.  There is profound sympathy with a few
truths, but ideas are not sought for their own sake.  Carlyle is
Biblical.  It has been said scoffingly that he is no thinker.  It is his
glory that he is not.

                                * * * * *

What we have toiled after painfully often lies unused.  No opportunity
occurs for saying or doing a tithe of it.  The hour demands its own
special wisdom.

                                * * * * *

When we really love we cannot believe that our love is mortal.  We feel,
not only that it is immortal, but that it is eternal, in the sense in
which Spinoza uses the word.  It is not the attraction of something
entirely limited and personal to that which is also limited and personal.

                                * * * * *

We think of rest as natural to bodies, and motion as something added.
But the new doctrine is that motion is primary.  Nothing is at rest, and,
so far as we know, rest has never been.  It is an astounding conception.

                                * * * * *

There is a certain distance at which each person whom we know is
naturally placed from us.  It varies with each, and we must not attempt
to alter it.  We may clasp him who is close, and we are not to pull
closer him who is more remote.

                                * * * * *

Many people would be much better if they would let themselves be as good
as they really are.  They seem to take delight in making themselves less.

                                * * * * *

We are much misled by characters in fiction or on the stage, for they are
always more consistent than men and women in real life.  Real men and
women are seldom controlled for twenty-four hours by the same motives or
principles.  If my friend is mean to-day, let me not doubt his generosity
to-morrow.  Let me joyously believe in it when the morrow comes.

                                * * * * *

What a pest is the re-appearance in us of discarded conclusions!  It
would be of service if we could keep a register of those things which,
after careful examination, we have determined to be false.

                                * * * * *

Acting from the strongest motives, even if they are bad, is perhaps not
so dangerous as acting from none.  The evils which arise through deeds
done from conspicuous motives attract attention, but the vast sum of
misery caused by mere idle, irresolute swaying hither and thither passes

                                * * * * *

Pig-headedness is often a sign of weakness of will.  The pig-headed
person knows he is weak, and to convince himself and others of his
resolution holds to any chance purpose with tenacity.  The less
reasonable the purpose is, the more obstinately he clings to it, because,
by so doing, he shows as he thinks his strength of volition.

                                * * * * *

If we desire peace we must get beyond the notion of personality.  Nothing
of any value is bound up with it: it is an illusion.

                                * * * * *

Intense feeling gives intellectual precision.  The man who feels
profoundly the beauty of a cloud is the man who can describe it.  But the
first effect of intense feeling is often to break up false precision.
The ideas of God, life, personality, right and wrong, are examples.

                                * * * * *

The blue sky is more beautiful because we know it is not painted opacity,
but transparent.

                                * * * * *

The slowness of the change in the sky is exquisite, the dying out of the
light in the clouds after sunset.  The quiet abiding of the grey cloud as
darkness thickens is wonderful.

                                * * * * *

_June_—Sky and sea pure blue.  The blue tint suffuses the distant
vessels.  One large sailing ship with sails all set is so blue that it
differs only by a shade from sky and sea.

                                * * * * *

It is not true that guileless people are the most easily deceived.  S. G.
is not sharp-witted, but she is transparent as a pool of rain on meadow
grass, and consequently it is impossible to deceive her, and ridiculous
to attempt it: her eyes forbid it.  She does not infer insincerity: it is
automatically rejected.

                                * * * * *

_July_.—North-easterly wind, strong: hateful in the streets and even in
the house: dust everywhere.  Inclined to shut the windows and stay
indoors, but went out for a long walk up to the flag-staff.  A perfect
day for that view.  The bay all shades of blue; here and there deep, and,
inshore, the blue is broken with pure white from the tops of the waves:
the yellow beach to the farthest point clasping the sea like an arm.  So
beautiful that it gives pain: it is not possible to extend oneself to it.

                                * * * * *

Whether truth does or does not lie in the mean depends on the selection
of the extremes.  A mechanical choice of the mean is stupidity.

                                * * * * *

The Athanasian Creed is not objectionable because of its damnatory
clauses.  Neglect to observe the finest distinctions continually involves
damnation.  The difference between a vice and a virtue may be a
hair-line.  The true reason for rejecting the Creed is that it is
manufactured, that it is not a statement of what is seen and felt to be
true.  There is nevertheless a certain dogmatic pride in it, a desire to
affirm as offensively as possible.

                                * * * * *

The peace which orthodox religion is said to bring is obtained by
clipping the Infinite and reducing it to a finite.  The joy of
_inclusion_ is great but false.

                                * * * * *

‘And thy fats shall overflow with new wine’—Proverbs iii. 10, Revised
Version.  Called on A. in London.  I forget how it came about, but in
course of conversation he asked me if ‘fats’ were not a mistake for
‘vats.’  I told him it was not, turning up the word in the dictionary as
an equivalent to ‘vats.’  Called on his sister, who was staying three or
four miles away and had come up to town that afternoon from the country
where she lived.  That very evening she asked me the same question her
brother had asked.  She had not seen him, nor held any communication with
him on the subject, nor had it been suggested to them by any person or
book.  Moreover, neither of them is a frequent reader of the Bible.
Yesterday I told the story to A. in his sister’s presence.  She confirmed
it, and A., who is accustomed to scientific investigation, was quite
unable to account for it.  If a jury were trying a prisoner charged with
murder, and an equally singular concurrence of circumstances were in
evidence against him, they would not hesitate to hang him.

                                * * * * *

If you are very short-sighted or half blind, it is safer in the twilight
to shut the eyes and depend entirely on the touch in moving about.

                                * * * * *

The books on the adjustment of astronomical instruments say that if there
is a slight error, it is better always to make allowance for it than to
attempt to correct it.

                                * * * * *

The sun, we say, is the cause of heat, but the heat _is_ the sun, here on
this window-ledge.

                                * * * * *

The contact of a _system_ of philosophy or religion with reality is that
of a tangent with a circle.  It touches the circle at one point, but
instantly the circle edges away.

                                * * * * *

In every man there is something of the Universal Spirit, strangely
limited by that which is finite and personal, but still there.
Occasionally it makes itself known in a word, look, or gesture, and then
he becomes one with the stars and sea.

                                * * * * *

We cannot really understand a religion unless we have believed it.

                                * * * * *

We ought to cultivate strength of will by doing what we have once decided
to do.  Subsequent reasons for not doing it may appear plausible, but it
will generally be better to adhere to our first resolution.  The
advantage gained by change will not be equal to that derived from

                                * * * * *

Never be afraid of being commonplace.  Never turn aside from the truth
because it is commonplace.

                                * * * * *

A nightmare is not scattered while we are asleep.  It disappears simply

                                * * * * *

_Cursed temperament_.—A long drought broke up.  The grass had been burnt,
and the cattle were dying for want of water.  In one week two inches of
rain fell.

_A._  ‘What a blessing this rain is!’

_B._  ‘Yes, but a reaction is sure to follow.  I’ve noticed that after
weather like this we always have a spell of dry, northerly winds.’

                                * * * * *

The prompter which urges us on from one point to another, never
discouraged by failure to see in the present moment what it seemed to
possess when we pursued it, or rather, not permitting us to stop to find
out if there be any failure—this it is by which we live.  When it departs
it is time to die.

                                * * * * *

_January_.—The wind is north-west after yesterday’s fog and rain from the
south.  Suddenly and silently, just after sunset, the whole south-western
sky has blazed up, passing from glowing flame-colour on the horizon to
carmine on the zenith.  Between the promontories of cloud are lakes and
gulfs of the tenderest green and blue.  What magnificent pomp, fit to
celebrate the death of a god for the world’s salvation!  But there is
nothing below to explain it.  It must be a spectacle displayed for
celestial reasons altogether hidden.

                                * * * * *

Much misunderstanding would be prevented if we were to say exactly what
we believe and not modify it to suit, as we suppose, the person to whom
we speak.

                                * * * * *

Humour people sometimes in what you do, but not in the expression of your
convictions.  Go a mile out of your way to please an obstinate friend,
but utter with precision what you believe.  It is in the sharpness and
finish that its value lies.

                                * * * * *

Everybody in these civilised, intercommunicative days seems arrested:
everybody is a compromise.  It is rare that we meet with a person who has
been let alone, whose own particular self has been developed free from

                                * * * * *

People believe the truth more readily if something difficult of belief or
incredible is mixed with it.

                                * * * * *

I want no more beliefs.  What I want is active strength in those I have.
I know there is no ghost round the corner, but I dare not go.

                                * * * * *

There is always a point in our insistence or persuasion when it is most
effective, and generally it is much lower than we suppose.  One degree
above it is waste and impediment.

                                * * * * *

Keep a watch upon your tongue when you are in particularly good health.

                                * * * * *

Early morning before sunrise: the valley was filled with mist; red clouds
in the sky.  For a minute or two the mist took the colour, but fainter,
of the clouds.  What patience is required in order to see!  The sun had
not risen, the grass in the field was obviously green, but not without
intent fixture of the eyes upon it was the dark, twilight shade of green
recognised which was its peculiar meaning and beauty.  To most of us,
perhaps not to artists, it is more difficult to look than to think.

                                * * * * *

The just judgment is not that of the judge who has no interest in it.
The most unjust judgments are due to indifference.

                                * * * * *

The sun is setting in crimson, delicate blue and green.  I think of the
earth as a revolving ball.  ‘This was the Creator’s design, or, if we
prefer so to speak, this was the law, that there should be a ball and
that it should turn on its axis.  But just as surely was it the design or
law that there should be these colours, crimson, blue, and green, and
that I should be affected by them.  This affection was rolled up in the
primal impulse which started the planet and is as necessary as its

                                * * * * *

Zeal in proselytising is often due to an uneasy suspicion that we only

                                * * * * *

We should take pains to be polite to those whom we love.  Politeness
preserves love, is a kind of sheath to it.

                                * * * * *

The hornbeam hedge is coming into leaf in patches although all parts of
each side face the same point of the compass.  The leaves of some patches
are fully expanded, while in others they are only in bud.  The dry,
brown, dead leaves of last year have remained through the winter and
early spring, but they are dropping off now that the new leaves begin to

                                * * * * *

We ought not to expect every child to be religious.  The religious temper
is an endowment like that for painting or poetry.

                                * * * * *

A. and B. meet on the road.  B. is a retired official and has nothing to

_B._  ‘Meant to have come to see you several times’ (has not called for
nine months), ‘but I have so many engagements.’  (Shows a basket.)  ‘Look
here, just had to take some eggs to C. for my wife.’

                                * * * * *

‘If a man turns to Christ, nothing in him is to be left behind.  Every
passion must be brought to Him to be transformed by Him.  Otherwise the
man does not come, but only a part of him.’  [Said to me years ago by a
pious friend now dead.]

                                * * * * *

The real proportion between vice and virtue in a man is often misjudged
because the vice is before us continually, while the virtue does not

                                * * * * *

If you are to live in happiness and peace with the woman you love, you
must not permit the daily course of life to have its way unchecked.
There must be hours of removal to a distance when in silence you create
anew her ideal and proper form, when you think of her as sculptured in
white marble.

                                * * * * *

Blacksmiths forging one on this side of the anvil and the other on the
opposite side.  Each keeps his own time, not regulating his stroke by
watching his mate.

                                * * * * *

There is in man an upwelling spring of life, energy, love, whatever you
like to call it.  If a course is not cut for it, it turns the ground
round it into a swamp.

                                * * * * *

Went into the cathedral and heard morning service.  Miracle of miracles!
Into the soul of a carpenter’s son more than eighteen centuries ago came
a thought, and it is returned to us to-day in majestic architecture,
music of voice and organ.

                                * * * * *

Disbelief in Christianity is not so much to be dreaded as its acceptance
with a complete denial of it in society and politics.

                                * * * * *

The love that has lasted for years; which has resisted all weakness and
defect; has been constant in all moods and circumstances better and
worse; has exacted nothing; has been content with silence; always soft
and easy as the circumambient air, a love with no reserve; what is there
in any relationship to person or thing worth a straw compared with it!

                                * * * * *

We ought to endeavour to give our dreams reality, but in Reality we
should preserve the dream.

                                * * * * *

If her unhappiness does not destroy my happiness, and if her happiness
does not make me happy, I do not love her.

                                * * * * *

There are problems which cannot be solved, for directly we have stated
them, as we suppose, they elude the statement and are outside.  Who can
say what is the meaning of the question, ‘Does God exist?’

                                * * * * *

There is always a multitude of reasons both in favour of doing a thing
and against doing it.  The art of debate lies in presenting them; the art
of life in neglecting ninety-nine hundredths of them.

                                * * * * *

How beautiful is a rapid rivulet trying to clear itself from stirred-up

                                * * * * *

The most foolish things we say are said from another person’s point of
view and not from our own.

                                * * * * *

On a siding at one of the stations on the Great Western Railway were a
number of old engines waiting to be broken up.  There they stood,
uncleaned, their bright parts rusted and indistinguishable from the
others.  Some were back to back and some front to front.  There they
stood and saw the expresses rush past them with their new engines.

                                * * * * *

Went out this afternoon to call on C. and his wife.  They are certainly
the most cultivated people I know.  They travel a good deal, and each of
them can speak two or three languages besides English.  They read the
best books, and do not read those which are bad.  Some friends were
there, and I was entertained with intelligent criticism of literature,
music, and pictures, and learned much that was worth knowing.  But I came
away unsatisfied, and rather dazed.  On my way back—it was a singularly
warm, clear evening in February—I turned in to see an old lady who lives
near me.  She was sitting wrapped up at her wide-open window, looking at
the light that was still left in the south-west.  I said, of course, that
I hoped she would not take cold.  ‘Oh no,’ she replied, ‘I often sit
here, and so long as I keep myself warm I come to no harm.  I cannot read
by candlelight, and I am thankful that this room faces the south.  I know
the stars much better than when I was young.’  I took the chair beside
her, and for ten minutes neither of us spoke, but I was not conscious for
an instant of the disagreeable feeling that silence must be broken, and
search be made for something with which to break it.  If two persons are
friends in the best sense of the word, they are not uncomfortable if they
do not talk when they are together.  Presently she told me that she had
received news that morning of the birth of a granddaughter.  She was much
pleased.  The mother already had two sons and desired a girl.  I stayed
for about half an hour, and went home in debt to her for peace.

                                * * * * *

Bacon observes that whatever the mind seizes and dwells upon with
peculiar satisfaction is to be held in suspicion.  Naturally so, because
it is nearly certain to be something merely personal to ourselves.

                                * * * * *

Excepting in one word, the betrayal of Jesus, the defection of Peter, the
examination before Pilate and Herod, and the crucifixion, are recorded,
as Spedding notices, without any vituperation.  The excepted word, not
named by Spedding, is ‘blasphemously’ (Luke xxii. 65). {250}

                                * * * * *

Coleridge says that great minds are never wrong but in consequence of
being right, which is perfectly true; but it may be added that they are
also right through being wrong.

                                * * * * *

‘When he is moderate and regular in any of these things, out of a sense
of Christian sobriety and self-denial, that he may offer unto God a more
reasonable and holy life, then it is, that the smallest rule of this kind
is naturally the beginning of great piety.  For the smallest rule in
these matters is of great benefit, as it teaches us some part of the
government of ourselves, as it keeps up a tenderness of mind, as it
presents God often to our thoughts, and brings a sense of religion into
the ordinary actions of our common life.’—(Law’s _Serious Call_.)  Men
are restrained by fear of consequences, but it is Law’s rule which gives
strength and dignity.  Living in a certain way because Perfection demands
it produces a result different from that obtained by living in the same
way through fear of injury to health.

                                * * * * *

Man is the revelation of the Infinite, and it does not become finite in
him.  It remains the Infinite.

                                * * * * *

Luther says somewhere, ‘Do not anxiously search for the pillars which are
to keep the sky from falling.’  Many of us have been afraid all our lives
that the sky would fall, and have anxiously searched for the pillars.
There are none, and yet the sky will not fall.

                                * * * * *

Idolatry is the worship of that which is non-significant.  The worship of
one God, as Coleridge says, may be idolatry.

                                * * * * *

What a man is conscious of, is not himself, but that which is not
himself.  Without a belief in the existence of an external world, I could
not believe in my own existence.

                                * * * * *

The dialectic of Socrates is positive in so far as it shows the futility
of reasoning as a means of reaching the truth.  If we wish to know
whether courage is knowledge, we must face imminent danger.

                                * * * * *

The omnipotence of God—that is to say, absolute omnipotence, a power
which knows no resistance—is an utterly inconceivable abstraction.  Yet
much speculation is based on it.

                                * * * * *

There is a great reserve of incomprehensibility in all the few friends
for whom I really care.  It is better that it should be so.  What would a
comprehensible friend be worth?  The impenetrable background gives the
beauty to that which is in front of it.  The most unfathomable also of my
friends are those who are most sincere and luminous.

                                * * * * *

_Note on a picture_.—The sea-shore; low cliffs topped with grass; a small
cove; the open sea, calm, intensely blue; sky also deep blue, but towards
the horizon there are soft, white clouds.  On a little sandy ridge sit a
brown fisher-boy and fisher-girl, immortal as the sea, cliffs, and clouds
which are a setting or frame for them.

                                * * * * *

The strength of the argument in favour of a philosophy or religion is
proportionate to the applicability of the philosophy or religion to life.
If in all situations we find it ready, it is true.

                                * * * * *

Bacon observes that ‘interpretations’ of Nature, that is to say real
generalisations elicited from facts by a just and methodical process,
‘cannot suddenly strike the understanding’ like ‘anticipations’ collected
from a few instances.  I have often noticed that ‘striking’ is seldom a
sign of truth, and that those things which are most true, the Sermon on
the Mount and the Parables for example, do not ‘strike.’

                                * * * * *

We foolishly exaggerate ingratitude to us.  Ought we to require of those
whom we have served, that they should be always confessing their
obligations to us?  Why should we care about neglect?  ‘Seek Him that
maketh the Pleiades and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into
morning, and maketh the day dark with night; that calleth for the waters
of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is
His name.’

                                * * * * *

The worship of the idol is often more passionate than that of God.
People prostrate themselves in ecstasy before the idol, and remain
unmoved in the presence of a starry night.  A starry night does not
provoke hysterics.  The adoration of the veritably divine is calm.

                                * * * * *

‘It is a sad thing,’ said she, ‘that so kind and good a man should be an
infidel.’  ‘It is a sad thing to me,’ said her terrible sister, ‘that an
infidel should be what you call kind and good.’

                                * * * * *

_Plus sapit vulgus_, _quia tantum_, _quantum opus est_, _sapit_. {254}
Quoted by Montaigne (_Of Presumption_) from Lactantius.  Characteristic
of Montaigne and true, so far that a man can know nothing thoroughly
unless the knowledge be a necessity.

                                * * * * *

‘Certainty of knowledge,’ says Dr. Johnson in the _Idler_ (No. 84), ‘not
only excludes mistake, but fortifies veracity. . . .  That which is fully
known cannot be falsified but with reluctance of understanding, and alarm
of conscience: of understanding, the lover of truth; of conscience, the
sentinel of virtue.’

At the present day we are chiefly taken up with that which is beyond our
grasp.  Our literature is the newspapers, and nine-tenths of what we read
in them morning and evening we do not understand.  Everybody is expected
to take sides in politics, but not one person in a thousand can give an
intelligible account of political questions.  The difficulty of so doing
is much increased by the absence of systematic information.  We get
leading articles and columns of telegrams, but seldom concise exposition
or carefully edited and connected history.

An object is of importance to us in inverse proportion to the square of
the distance, but men worry themselves about the news from China and will
not give five minutes’ thought in a week to their own souls or to those
of wife or child.  It is pathetic to see how excited they become about
remote events which cannot affect their happiness one iota.  Why should
we not occupy ourselves with that which is definite when there is so much
of it?  Political problems confront us, but if they are too big for us,
let us avoid them by every means in our power.  If we are in doubt we
ought not to vote.  The question which we are incapable of settling will
be settled better by Time than by the intermeddling of ignorance.

In religion, and science also, we dare not say _I do not know_.  We must
always be dabbling in matters on which we can come to no conclusion worth
a rotten nut.  We busy ourselves with essays on the dates and composition
of the books of the Old Testament and cannot tell the story of Joshua or
Saul; we listen to lectures on radium, or the probable exhaustion of the
sun’s energy, and have never learned the laws of motion.  Few people
estimate properly the evil of habitual intercourse with that which is
vague and indeterminate.  The issues before us not being clearly cut and
comprehensible, the highest faculties of our minds are not exercised.  We
lazily wander over the surface without coming to a definite conclusion.
Perhaps we pick up by chance some irrational notion, which we defend with
obstinacy, for we are more dogmatic concerning that which we cannot prove
than we are concerning a truth which is incontrovertible.  The former is
our own personal property, the latter is common.  One step further, and
by constantly affirming and denying when we have no demonstration, lying
becomes easy.

There is much which is called criticism that is poisonous, not because it
is mistaken, but because it invites people to assert beyond their
knowledge or capacity.  A popular lecturer discusses the errors of Sir
Walter Scott, Charlotte Bronte, or George Eliot before an audience but
superficially acquainted with the works of these great authors and not
qualified to pass judgment upon them.  He is considered ‘cheap’ if he
does not balance

    ‘His wit all see-saw between that and this,
    Now high, now low, now master up, now miss.’

If we will be content with admiring, we are on much surer ground.  It is
by admiration and not by criticism that we live, and the main purpose of
criticism should be to point out something to admire, which we should not
have noticed.  One great advantage of studying Nature is that we are not
tempted to criticise her.  We go to the Academy, and for a whole morning
contrast faults with merits.  If the time so spent had been passed in the
fields with the clouds we should have gone home less conceited.

                                * * * * *

It is an awful thought that behind human speech, incapable by its very
nature of anything but approximate expression, and distorted by weakness
and wilfulness, lies the TRUTH as it is, exact without qualification.

                                * * * * *

The long apprenticeship has ended in little or nothing.  What I was fifty
years ago I am now; certainly no better, with no greater self-control,
with no greater magnanimity.  How much I might have gained had I taken
life as an art I cannot say.

                                * * * * *

I have been looking at a cabinet of flies.  Hundreds of them, each
different, were arranged in order and named.  Some I had to examine
through a microscope.  Their beauty was marvellous, but more marvellous
was their variety.  The differences, although the type was preserved,
seemed inexhaustible, and all reasons for them broke down.  If a
particular modification is an advantage, why is it confined to one
species?  Why this range of colour?  Why these purely fantastic forms?
The only word we can say with certainty is that Nature is infinite and
tends to infinite expression.  _Verum ego me satis clare ostendisse
puto_, _a summa Dei potentia sive infinita natura infinita infinitis
modis_, _hoc est_, _omnia necessario effluxisse_, _vel semper eadem
necessitate sequi_; _eodem modo_, _ac ex natura trianguli ab æterno et in
æternum sequitur ejus tres angulos æquari duobus rectis_.  _Quare Dei
omnipotentia actu ab æterno fuit et in æternum in eadem actualitate

                                * * * * *

Johnson is religious through and through, but there are passages in the
_Rambler_ and _Idler_ dark as starless, moonless midnight.  ‘None would
have recourse to an invisible power, but that all other subjects have
eluded their hopes . . .  That misery does not make all virtuous,
experience too certainly informs us; but it is no less certain that of
what virtue there is, misery produces far the greatest part.’

                                * * * * *

There is seldom in life any occasion for great virtues, and we must not
be disappointed if it passes without great passion.  We must expect to be
related to one another by nothing more than ordinary bonds and satisfied
if human beings give us pleasure without excitement.

                                * * * * *

I have good reason to believe that I am passing on life’s journey through
what almost all wayfarers therein have had to pass through, but nobody
has told me of it.

                                * * * * *

How wonderful is the withdrawal of heat!  It silently departs, the iron
grows cold, but the heat spreads and lives!

    ‘Who knows, though he sees the snow-cold blossom shed,
    If haply the heart that burned within the rose,
    The spirit in sense, the life of life be dead?
    If haply the wind that slays with storming snows
    Be one with the wind that quickens?’

                                              SWINBURNE, _A Reminiscence_.

                                * * * * *

With increase of reading we have fallen into a fireside, dilettante
culture of ideas as an intellectual pleasure.  Amos and Isaiah do not
deal in ideas.  Their strength lies in love and hatred, in the keenness
and depth of their division between right and wrong.  They repeat the
work of God the Creator: chaotic sameness becomes diverse; the heavenly
firmament mounts on high; there is Light and there is Darkness.


    ‘Glory to thee in the highest, thou confidant of our Creator!’
    (Landor, _Imaginary Conversations_, Delille and Landor).

                                * * * * *

2 _Henry VI._ iii. 3.—The lines beginning with the one which follows are
not in the old play and are Shakespeare’s own:

    ‘O thou eternal Mover of the heavens,’ etc.

Johnson’s note is: ‘This is one of the scenes which have been applauded
by the criticks, and which will continue to be admired when prejudices
shall cease, and bigotry give way to impartial examination.  These are
beauties that rise out of nature and of truth; the superficial reader
cannot miss them, the profound can image nothing beyond them.’  We talk
idly of Johnson’s pompous redundance.  His sentences are balanced, and it
is therefore supposed that the second part repeats the first, but the
truth is that each part contains a new thought.  It was his manner to
throw successive ideas into this form.  Those who are acquainted with his
history and his awful mental struggles will find infinite pathos in this
restrained comment.

                                * * * * *

_Midsummer Night’s Dream_.—Shakespeare’s overlooking quality, as that of
a god surveying human affairs, is shown in this play:

    ‘When they next wake, all this derision
    Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision.’
    . . .
    ‘Her dotage now I do begin to pity.’
    . . .
    ‘And think no more of this night’s accidents
    But as the fierce vexation of a dream.’
    . . .

All this night’s storm from a drop of magic juice!  Oberon has been
watching Titania’s courtship of Bottom.  She sleeps, and he touches her
eyes with Dian’s bud:

    ‘Now, my Titania, wake you, my sweet queen’

                                * * * * *

_Romeo and Juliet_.—The love of Juliet is a thing altogether by itself,
not to be classed, never anticipated by any other author, and not
imitable.  It is sensuous.  Look at her soliloquy, ‘Gallop apace, you
fiery-footed steeds,’ etc., and yet it is woven through and through with
immortal threads of fidelity and contempt of death:

    ‘O! bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
    From off the battlements of yonder tower.
    . . .
    Or bid me go into a new-made grave.’

How great this girl is!  If I were to meet her, how I should be awed!
The Juliets I have seen on the stage fail here.  They do not bend my
knees in that adoration which is inspired by the sea and stars.  The love
of Romeo for Juliet and of Juliet for Romeo does not stimulate passion,
but rather controls it.  I never become hot in reading the play.  What a
solemnity there is in its movement!  The lovers are not merely two human
beings with no other meaning.  The Eternal Powers are at work throughout.
Romeo’s love for Rosaline is taken over from Brooke’s poem.  Shakespeare
adds the touch that it was not genuine.  He makes Friar Laurence say:

       ‘O she knew well!
    Thy love did read by rote, and could not spell.’

The love for Rosaline is different altogether from the love for Juliet.

       ‘O heavy lightness! serious vanity!’

is artificial.

Shakespeare also follows Brooke in Juliet’s momentary outburst against
Romeo when she hears of Tybalt’s death, but the contradiction of the echo
by the nurse is Shakespeare’s own:

       ‘Blister’d be thy tongue
    For such a wish! he was not born to shame.’

Apart from the quarrel between the Montagus and Capulets, we feel that
the love between Romeo and Juliet could have no other than a tragic end.
This world of ours conspires against such passion.

                                * * * * *

I _Henry IV._ v. 4—

    ‘O Harry, thou hast robb’d me of my youth!
    I better brook the loss of brittle life
    Than those proud titles thou hast won of me;
    They wound my thoughts worse than thy sword my flesh:
    But thought’s the slave of life, and life time’s fool;
    And time, that takes survey of all the world,
    Must have a stop.’

The last three lines are not melancholy philosophising.  As such they
would be out of place coming from Hotspur.  They are consolation and joy.
Death will extinguish for us the memory of certain things suffered and
done.  That is a gain which is not outweighed by the loss of any pleasure
life can give.

Luders’ essay three parts of a century ago showed conclusively that
Holinshed’s and Shakespeare’s Prince of Wales, as we see him in the play
of _Henry IV._, wild and dissolute with ignoble companions, is a legend
which is disproved by documentary history, but Shakespeare’s Prince is
nevertheless dramatically true.  Johnson says, ‘He is great without
effort, and brave without tumult.  The trifler is roused into a hero, and
the hero again reposes in the trifler.  The character is great, original,
and just.’  Johnson’s criticism is true.  There is no interruption or
strain in the passage from one self to the other self: they are both in
fact the same self.  It is something of a shock that the King should cast
off Falstaff, but if a man is appointed to command it is necessary that
he should at once take up his proper position.  I remember the promotion
of a subordinate to a responsible post.  His manner changed the next day.
He had the courage to ring his bell and give orders to his senior under
whom he had been serving.

He became one of the most efficient administrators I ever knew.  On the
other hand, nearly at the same time another subordinate was promoted who
was timid and continued his habits of familiarity with his colleagues.
His department fell into disorder and he was dismissed.

                                * * * * *

_As You Like It_.—Lady Anne Blunt in her admirable books, _A Pilgrimage
to Nejd_ and _The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates_, notices that the true
Arab sheykh of the desert, when a traveller seeks his hospitality, asks
no questions until food and drink have been offered, and even then is in
no hurry.  So also the Duke:

    ‘Welcome, fall to: I will not trouble you
    As yet, to question you about your fortunes.’

Curiosity about personal matters is ignoble.

Rosalind’s love for Orlando is born of pity.  ‘If I be foiled, there is
but one shamed that was never gracious; if killed, but one dead that is
willing to be so: I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to
lament me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only in the
world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it

It is a proof of Orlando’s gentle breeding that he instantly yields to

    ‘Speak you so gently?  Pardon me, I pray you.’

Orlando says to Jaques: ‘I will chide no breather in the world, but
myself, against whom I know most faults.’  This is characteristic of
Shakespeare, and is in the spirit of the Gospels.

The difficulty in this play is not Oliver’s sudden love for Celia,
although Shakespeare seems to have felt that it was a little too rapid,
for Orlando asks Oliver, ‘Is’t possible that on so little acquaintance
you should like her?’  It is rather Celia’s prompt response which takes
us aback.  It looks too much like ‘any woman to any man.’  It may be said
in excuse that Celia had heard the piteous story of his conversion, how
he had become ‘a wretched ragged man o’ergrown with hair,’ and what is
more to the point, she had heard of Orlando’s noble kindness to him.  It
is odd that Shakespeare does not adopt from Lodge’s novel Oliver’s rescue
of Celia from a band of ruffians.  Johnson says, ‘To Celia much may be
forgiven for the heroism of her friendship.’  She forsook not only her
father—she had reason not to care much about him—but she forsook the
_court_ for Rosalind.

                                * * * * *

_Much Ado about Nothing_.—Why should Don Pedro offer to take Claudio’s
place in the wooing of Hero and why should Claudio consent?

Borachio says, ‘Hear me call Margaret, Hero; hear Margaret call me

When Borachio recounts to Conrad what he had done, he makes no mention of
his personation of Claudio—‘Know, that I have to-night wooed Margaret,
the lady Hero’s gentlewoman, by the name of Hero; she leans me out at her
mistress’s chamber-window, bids me a thousand times good night.’

Theobald remarks that if Claudio saw another man with the woman supposed
to be Hero and heard her call him Claudio, Claudio would merely suppose
that Hero was deceived.  Theobald proposes to substitute ‘Borachio’ for
‘Claudio’ in the line just quoted.  Borachio had just asked Don John to
tell Don Pedro and Claudio that Hero loved him, Borachio.  But if
Theobald’s emendation be received, difficulties still remain.  Margaret
must have been persuaded to answer to the name of Hero.  After Borachio’s
arrest he tells us that Margaret wore Hero’s garments.  But Shakespeare,
deserting Spenser, from whom this mystification appears to be borrowed,
gives no reason which induced Margaret to play this part.

Where was Hero on that night?  Borachio promises Don John that ‘he will
so fashion the matter, that Hero shall be absent.’  Claudio asks Hero

    ‘What man was he talk’d with you yesternight
    Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?’

She does not reply, as we should think she would, that she was not
sleeping in that room, although Benedick asks Beatrice,

    ‘Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?’

and Beatrice replies,

    ‘No, truly not; although until last night,
    I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.’

Claudio is despicable, and his marriage with Hero is a foul, black spot
in the play.  Observe that in the first scene he asks Don Pedro,

    ‘Hath Leonato any son, my lord?’

and Don Pedro, understanding the drift of the question, replies:

    ‘No child but Hero, she’s his only heir.’

What a mean, damnable excuse he makes.

       ‘Yet sinn’d I not,
    But in mistaking.’

Beatrice with sure eye discerns the scoundrel.  ‘Kill Claudio.’  Not Don
Pedro, not even Don John, although she had heard Benedick denounce him as
the author of the villainy.

Beatrice and the Friar never doubt Hero’s innocence.  The Friar declares

    ‘In her eye there hath appear’d a fire
    To burn the errors that these princes hold
    Against her maiden truth.’

What an amplitude there is in Beatrice!  What a sweep it is to bring into
what we already know of her such divine faith in her friend!  This
light-hearted girl suddenly becomes sublime.

                                * * * * *

_Hamlet_.—Coleridge’s remark that the two former appearances of the Ghost
increase its objectivity when it appears to Hamlet is subtle and true.
Observe that the Ghost is visible to Hamlet, Marcellus, Bernardo and
Horatio, but not to the Queen.

There is in Coleridge an activity of intellect which is so fascinating
that we do not stay to inquire whether the result is in accordance with
the facts.  He says that _tædium vitæ_ as in the case of Hamlet is due to
‘unchecked appetency of the ideal.’  Was the appetency of the ideal
strong in Hamlet?  The ideal exalts our interest in earthly things.

‘Now might I do it pat, now he is praying.’  Johnson says that this
speech, in which Hamlet contrives damnation for the man he would punish,
is too horrible to be read or to be uttered; whereupon Coleridge remarks
that Hamlet’s postponement of revenge till it should bring damnation to
soul as well as body ‘was merely the excuse Hamlet made to himself for
not taking advantage of this particular and favourable moment for doing
justice upon his guilty uncle, at the urgent instance of the spirit of
his father.’  I doubt if this is a complete explanation.  Would it strike
the audience as the motive?  Men of Hamlet’s mould not only speak but
feel extravagantly.  Incapacity for prompt action is accompanied with
more intense emotion than that which is felt by him who acts at once.
Hamlet meditates on revenge instead of executing it, and his desire, by
brooding, becomes diabolic.

Generalisations like those of Polonius are obtained from observation
during youth and middle age.  In old age the creation of generalisations
ceases and we fall back on our acquired stock.  They remain true, but the
application fails.  We must be increasingly careful in the use of these
ancient abstractions, and more intent on the consideration of the
instance before us.  The temptation to drag it under what we already know
is great and must be resisted.  Proverbs and wise saws are more suitable
to common life than to intricate relationships.  They are inapplicable to
deep passion and spiritual matters.

Johnson notes that the Ghost’s visits are a failure so far as Hamlet’s
resolution is concerned.

Hamlet says,

       ‘O! from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!’

but they remained thoughts.  The play is to be the thing to decide him,
but when it is over and he has the clearest proofs, he does not act, but
consents to leave Denmark and returns by accident.  Had he obeyed the
Ghost’s promptings and killed the King at the end of the play in the
third act, Polonius, Ophelia, the Queen, Laertes, and Hamlet himself
might have been saved.

                                * * * * *

_Troilus and Cressida_ is an inexplicable play.  It is a justification of
those critics who obstinately, but without external evidence, refuse to
believe that much which is attributed to Shakespeare really belongs to
him.  It is absolutely impossible that the man who put these words into
the mouth of Achilles:

       ‘I have a woman’s longing,
    An appetite that I am sick withal,
    To see great Hector in his weeds of peace;
    To talk with him, and to behold his visage,
    Even to my full of view.’

could have adapted from the _Recuyell_ the shocking ignominy of the ninth
scene in the fifth act in which Achilles calls on his myrmidons to slay
Hector unarmed, and then triumphs in these lines:

    ‘My half-supp’d sword, that frankly would have fed,
    Pleas’d with this dainty bit, thus goes to bed.
       [_Sheathes his sword_.
    Come, tie his body to my horse’s tail;
    Along the field I will the Trojan trail.’

                                * * * * *

_Measure for Measure_ as a play is hateful to me, although there are
passages in it as truly Shakespeare as anything to be found in all his
works.  The chief objection to it is that justice, to use Coleridge’s
word, is ‘baffled.’  There are other objections almost as great.  From
beginning to end almost everybody is base, foolish, or uninteresting.
The Duke’s temporary withdrawal is stupid and contemptible, considering
that he is the governor of the state; the condemnation of Claudio is
wildly unnatural; the substitution of Mariana loathsome; the treachery of
Angelo in not reprieving Claudio inconceivable, notwithstanding what we
already know of the deputy’s hypocrisy and villainy.  The lowest depth of
scoundrelism is reached when, face to face with Mariana and publicly at
the city gate before the Duke and all the company assembled, he excuses
himself from marrying her because

       ‘her reputation was disvalued
    In levity.’

And yet he is let off scot-free, and Mariana marries him!  Isabella’s

       ‘I partly think,
    A due sincerity govern’d his deeds,
    Till he did look on me,’

might be sufficient for an outbreak of his lust but not for his lying,
and Mariana’s is still worse:

    ‘Best men are moulded out of faults.’

Not out of such faults as Angelo’s are the best men moulded.

The punishment inflicted on the poor wretch Lucio is horrible.

    _Lucio_.  ‘I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore! . . .
    Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping and hanging.

    _Duke_.  Slandering a prince deserves it.’

This is a foul line.  I should like to discover documentary proof that it
is not Shakespeare’s, but the gag of some actor desirous of pleasing
court folk!

The _Promos and Cassandra_ from which _Measure for Measure_ is taken is
certainly worse, for Promos (Angelo) is made to marry Cassandra
(Isabella) and after the marriage is to die, but Cassandra, ‘tyed in the
greatest bondes of affection to her husband, becomes an earnest suter for
his life.’

                                * * * * *

_Henry VIII._—The scene in which Katherine appears before the court is
perhaps the finest in the play.  To what noble use is her Spanish pride
turned!  The last line of the following quotation from Katherine’s reply
to Wolsey is infinite:

       ‘For it is you
    Have blown this coal betwixt my lord and me,
    Which God’s dew quench.’

                                * * * * *

_Othello_ is pure tragedy, for the judgment which falls on Othello and
Desdemona, although it is disproportionate to the character or life of
either, is necessary from the beginning.  Brabantio was not wholly
without justification in thinking the marriage unnatural, and Desdemona’s
desertion of him without a word was unfeeling.  The depth of the tragedy
is increased by his death.

    ‘Poor Desdemon I am glad thy father’s dead.
    Thy match was mortal to him.’

Iago feels the necessity of obtaining motives for his conduct.  He tries
to find them in the supposed infidelity of his wife with Othello and in
his supersession by Cassio.  Neither is sufficient, but he partly
believes in them, and they partly serve their purpose.

Coleridge says Othello was not jealous: he lacked the suspicion that is
essential to jealousy.  Perhaps so, but in that case we want a name for
the passion which rushes to belief of that which it prays may be false.
The very intensity of love, so far from inducing careful examination of
slander against the divinity I worship, prevents reflection by anxiety;
by terror lest the love should be disturbed.  Iago’s evidence, thinks
Coleridge, was so strong that Othello could not have done otherwise; but
would he have acted in war on evidence equally weak?

How mad Iago is with all his cunning!  What a fool!  Had he been anything
but the maddest fool, he would have seen that in the end his plans must
break down.  Intellect?  Yes, of a kind he had it pre-eminently, but
intellect becomes folly when it is inhuman.

    ‘Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars.’

Shakespeare might have made Othello the more eager to plunge into the big
wars, but Desdemona is so inwoven with him that the whole fabric goes to
ruin when she is torn out.

Othello ‘falls in a trance’ after his outburst at the beginning of the
fourth act.  He is a Moor.  In the background also lies Brabantio’s
prophecy.  Venice cannot do without him, but he cannot hold a Venetian

                                * * * * *

_King Lear_.—There are passages in _King Lear_ which are enough to make
us wish we had never been born.  They are almost an impeachment of the
Ruler of the Universe, and yet—there is Cordelia.  Whence did she come?
She is as much His handiwork as Regan, and in all our conclusions about
Him we must take her into account.

Lear does not go mad.  He is mad from the beginning, but his madness is
in abeyance.  Look at the style of his curses on Goneril.

Coleridge’s criticism is exact: ‘Lear’s self-supportless leaning for all
pleasure on another’s breast.’  If a man desires not to go mad or not to
be soured into oil of vitriol, let him watch the doors of his heart; let
him never solicit any expression of love.

Cordelia’s ‘nothing, my lord,’ as Coleridge says, is partly irrepressible
disgust at her sisters’ hypocrisy.  There was also, as France admits, ‘a
tardiness in nature’ in Cordelia.  She was her father’s favourite, but
what sort of a life must she have lived with such a father before the
time at which the play opens?  We ought not to be surprised that she
refuses to be demonstrative.  She reacts against his exaggeration.

I cannot read the blinding of Gloucester.  The only excuse that can be
offered, not good for much, is that Shakespeare found the story in the
_Arcadia_, and that in his day horrors on the stage were not so repulsive
as they are to us.  Cordelia’s death taken from Holinshed is almost as
bad.  It is not involved in the tragedy like the death of Ophelia or of

                                * * * * *

_All’s Well that Ends Well_.—Johnson comments, ‘I cannot reconcile my
heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without
truth; who married Helena as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate:
when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is
accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and
is dismissed to happiness.’  This is just.  Bertram is atrocious.  With
Helena before him he says,

    ‘If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,
    I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.’

Did he require a deposition on oath in presence of a magistrate?  He
deserved a scourging in the market place.

Coleridge calls Helena one of Shakespeare’s loveliest women.  I cannot
agree.  She secures her husband’s embraces under a false pretence.  How a
woman could consent to lie in the arms of a man who had cast her off, and
who believed when he was enjoying her that she was a mistress whom he
preferred is beyond my comprehension.  It is so in Boccaccio, but that is
no excuse.  Devotion to a man who is indifferent or who hates, is
tragically possible, but in its greatest intensity would hardly permit
such humiliation.

The play is bad altogether.  What was the necessity for suggesting
Bertram’s second marriage?  There is nowhere any trace of Shakespeare’s
depth.  The difficulties of the text are singular, and seem to mark this
drama as one different from the rest.

                                * * * * *

_Macbeth_.—Johnson’s remark that the events are so great that they
overpower the persons and prevent nice discrimination of character is
partly true.

Coleridge notices that Lady Macbeth was a person of high rank, living
much alone.  A darkly meditative mind left in solitude can conceive
without being startled the most awful designs.  The same imagination in
Lady Macbeth which brooded over the plot against Duncan’s life drove her
to delirium and suicide.

Shakespeare transfers the most perilous stuff in him to Macbeth.  The
function smothered in surmise; the reflection on the emptiness of
life—tale told by an idiot—Shakespeare empties it into this murderous
traitor.  He makes him the _prey_ of that which is mixed in the
composition of the best.

The witches do not strike us as miraculous.  They are not supernatural,
but extensions of the natural.

It is an apology for emendation that one of the most celebrated passages
in the play is based on conjecture (confirmed by what follows) and on

    ‘I dare do all that may become a man;
    Who dares _no_ [Folio] more is none.’

‘No’—corrected by Rowe to ‘do.’

In _Measure for Measure_ we have

       ‘Be that you are,
    That is, a woman; if you be more, you’re none.’

Note the terrible, gasping brevity of the dialogue between Lady Macbeth
and her husband after the murder:

    _Lady M._  ‘Did not you speak?

    _M._  When?

    _Lady M._  Now.

    _M._  As I descended?

    _Lady M._  Ay.’

Macbeth’s speech beginning just before he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death,
and ending after he hears of it, should be interpreted and spoken as
follows.  He had just said he ‘will laugh a siege to scorn.’  Then a cry
of women within.

       ‘What is that noise?

    _Seyton_.  It is the cry of women, my good lord.


    _Macbeth_ (musing).  I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
    The time has been, my senses would have cool’d
    To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
    Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
    As life were in ’t: I have supp’d full with horrors;
    Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
    Cannot once start me.

                              _Re-enter Seyton_.

       Wherefore was that cry?

    _Seyton_.  The queen, my lord, is dead.

    _Macbeth_ (with a touch of impatience).  She should have died
    There would have been a time for such a word.’

He makes no inquiry about his wife, but goes on with his reverie, which
does not specially refer to her.

    ‘To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.’

The ‘_petty_ pace,’ coming from Macbeth!  The ‘out, out, brief candle,’
should be spoken in the same musing tone.

Johnson says of a learned apology by Heath for a line in _Macbeth_ which
is defective in metre: ‘This is one of the effects of literature in minds
not naturally perspicacious’—a criticism which might be extended to much
Shakespearean comment.

                                * * * * *

_Cymbeline_.—The wager is loathsome.  If any man with whom we were
acquainted had laid it, should we not scorn and brand him?  It was a
crime to mention Imogen’s name in such society as that which met at
Philario’s house.  The only excuse is Boccaccio, but what shall we say of
Iachimo’s interview with Imogen, invented by Shakespeare!  After his
beastly experiment upon her, he excuses himself:

    ‘I have spoke this, to know if your affiance
    Were deeply rooted.’

She begs him to prolong his visit!  The apology is worse than the
original insult.

The royal behaviour, or what Shakespeare means us to take for royal
behaviour, in the two youths is overdone and sometimes repulsive.

Arviragus goes out of his way to put his love for Imogen higher than that
for his supposed father, Belarius, who is present.

       ‘The bier at door,
    And a demand who is’t shall die, I’d say
    My father, not this youth.’

Yet the point of the scene is the nobility of blood in these youths!

Lucius, who had protected Imogen, hopes she will plead for his life, and
she turns on him:

       ‘No, no; alack!
    There’s other work in hand: I see a thing
    Bitter to me as death: your life, good master,
    Must shuffle for itself.’

In the fifth act Posthumus believes his wife to be guilty, and yet breaks
out into strains like these:

       ‘So I’ll die,
    For thee, O Imogen! even for whom my life
    Is every breath a death.
    . . .
    For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though
    ’Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life; you coin’d it.’

Shakespeare surely ought to have made Posthumus revert to perfect faith.
He ought to have borrowed something from his own Beatrice.  Posthumus
wishes Imogen saved, because, if her life had been spared, she might have

Iachimo is impossible, simple blackness, worse than Iago.  He is
unactable, for some motivation is necessary.

Shakespeare’s genius is so immense that it overpowers us, and we must be
on our guard lest it should twist our instinct for what is true and
right.  The errors of a fool are not dangerous, but those of a
Shakespeare, Goethe, or Byron it is almost impossible to resist.

                                * * * * *

_Twelfth Night_.—The play is two plays in one without much connection.
The Viola play is improbable.  Why did Shakespeare omit that part of the
story which tells us that Silla (Viola) had seen the Duke when he was
shipwrecked on Cyprus where she lived, and had fallen in love with him?
In the play, hearing of the Duke, she discloses a design to make her ‘own
occasion mellow.’

Malvolio shut up as mad—

    _Clown_.  ‘What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild-fowl?

    _Malvolio_.  That the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a bird.

    _Clown_.  What thinkest thou of his opinion?

    _Malvolio_.  I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve his

Malvolio was a gentleman, but he was more.  Shakespeare may go a little
too far with the yellow stockings and cross-gartering, but the liability
to deception by a supposed profession of love is a divine weakness, not
inconsistent with true nobility of intellect and with sagacity.  There is
no reason to suppose he was often deceived in worldly matters.  Maria is
a bad sort of clever barmaid, and was not unwilling to marry the drunken
Sir Toby.  When I last saw _Twelfth Night_ acted, the whole of the latter
part of the fifth act was omitted, for the purpose, apparently, of
strengthening the representation of Malvolio as a comic fool whose silly
brain is turned by conceit.  It was shocking, but the manager knew his

                                * * * * *

_Julius Cæsar_.—Casca is indignant that Cæsar should be offered the
crown, but he despises the applause of the mob when Cæsar rejected it.
‘The rabblement hooted and clapped their chopped hands and threw up their
sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because
Cæsar refused the crown that it had almost choked Cæsar; for he swounded
and fell down at it; and for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear
of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.’

    _Brutus_.  ‘Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:
    The Genius and the mortal instruments
    Are then in council; and the state of man,
    Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
    The nature of an insurrection.’

I cannot think Dr. Johnson, Mason, and Delius are right in supposing the
Genius to be the power which watches over us for our protection, and that
the mortal instruments are the passions which rebel against it, and, as
Johnson says, ‘excite him to a deed of honour and danger.’  The Genius
and the mortal instruments are in council.  The Genius is the president
and the mortal instruments are subordinates.  The insurrection is their
resistance because they cannot at once be brought to do what the Genius
directs.  There is no hint in what goes before of ‘safety.’  The mortal
instruments suggest

    ‘I know no personal cause to spurn at him.’

Blakeway agrees with this interpretation.

In both Plutarch and Shakespeare, Brutus refuses to kill Antony.  Brutus
will go no further than justice demands.  But this is not enough for
success.  Hence the ruin of the republican cause.

Steevens says that the apparition at Sardis ‘could not be at once the
shade of Cæsar and the evil genius of Brutus.’  But Shakespeare intended
that it should be both.  Brutus in the fifth scene of the fifth act thus
replies to Volumnius:

    ‘The ghost of Cæsar hath appear’d to me
    Two several times by night: at Sardis, once;
    And, this last night, here in Philippi’s fields.’

It is an instance of Steevens’ prosaic temper that he could not see the
fitness of the combination.

    _Brutus_.  And whether we shall meet again I know not.
    Therefore our everlasting farewell take;
    For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
    If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
    If not, why then, this parting was well made.
    _Cassius_.  For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus!
    If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed;
    If not, ’tis true, this parting was well made.

These verses are perhaps the noblest in our language.  Nothing ever has
gone or could go beyond them.  Shakespeare here justifies the claim on
his behalf to be placed alone and unreachable.  Observe the repetition by
Cassius almost word for word.  Swift must have had this passage in his
mind when in a letter to Pope, which I quote from memory, as I cannot lay
my hand on it, he tells Pope that he will come over to England and see
him if possible, but, if not, ‘we must part, as all human creatures have

    ‘Why, then, lead on.  O! that a man might know
    The end of this day’s business ere it come!
    But it sufficeth that the day will end,
    And then the end is known.  Come, ho! away!’

These lines might easily be turned into commonplace, but what could be
more pathetic or solemn?

The true drama of Julius Cæsar is indicated by Plutarch.  It is Cæsar’s
triumph over innumerable difficulties, any one of which might have been
fatal, the protection by his genius, the limitation of its power, the
Dictatorship—‘Semideus,’ his death.  Shakespeare gives no reason, nor
does Plutarch, why Brutus should have plotted to kill Cæsar, excepting
the fear of what might happen if he were to become absolute.  Brutus is

    ‘Such one he was (of him we boldly say),
    In whose rich soule all sovereigne powres did sute,
    In whom in peace the elements all lay
    So mixt, as none could soveraigntie impute;
    As all did govern, yet all did obey;
    His lively temper was so absolute,
    That ’t seem’d, when heaven his modell first began,
    In him it show’d perfection in a man.’

This is Drayton’s imitation of what Antony says of Brutus, and it is one
which not only does not spoil the original, but is itself original.

                                * * * * *

_Antony and Cleopatra_.—It is not Antony’s passion for Cleopatra which
ruins him.  He has not the cohesion which obtains success.  He is
loose-bonded.  Cæsar is his complete foil and contrast.  Cæsar exists
dramatically to explain Antony.  Antony’s challenge to single combat and
the speeches he makes to his servants are characteristic.  The marriage
to Octavia, more than his Egyptian slavery, shows his weakness.  There is
a line in Plutarch which I wish Shakespeare had used.  ‘But it was in the
nature of Antonius to show his best qualities in difficulties, and in his
misfortune he was as like as may be to a good man.’

Scenes 6 and 7, Act ii., the interview with Pompey, are in Plutarch, but
it is not evident why they are in the drama.  They do not advance the
action.  Shakespeare preserves also Antony’s message to Octavius that if
he was dissatisfied with the treatment of Thyreus he might hang or
torture Antony’s freedman Hipparchus—a detestable piece of brutality
which might well have been omitted.

Cleopatra is quite apart from Shakespeare’s other women.  She is a most
complicated and difficult study.  Shakespeare takes over from Plutarch
her wandering disguised through the streets at night with Antony; the
voyage down the Cydnus; the hanging of the salt fish on Antony’s hook;
the flight at Actium; the fact that she was mistress of Julius Cæsar and
Cnæus Pompey; the second betrayal of the fleet; her petition to Octavius
for her son; and her attempt to cheat Octavius in the account of her
treasures.  In addition Shakespeare makes her ‘hop forty paces through
the public street.’  What could have induced him to invent this story?
She threatens Charmian with bloody teeth; lets Thyreus kiss her hand,
arousing thereby Antony’s rage.  Thyreus tells her that Cæsar knows she
did not embrace Antony from love but from fear, and she replies:

       ‘He is a god, and knows
    What is most right: mine honour was not yielded,
    But conquer’d merely.’

This may be mockery, but after she has let Thyreus kiss her she goes on:

       ‘Your Cæsar’s father oft,
    When he hath mus’d of taking kingdoms in,
    Bestow’d his lips on that unworthy place,
    As it rain’d kisses.’

She reminds herself of this, fresh from Antony, who had just told her of
Octavius’s offer to protect her if she would give up the ‘grizled head’
of her lover.

After Antony’s death she finds

       ‘nothing left remarkable
    Beneath the visiting moon.’

She tells Proculeius before he surprises her that she would gladly look
Cæsar in the face, but she tries to stab herself, for,

       ‘Know, sir, that I
    Will not wait pinion’d at your master’s court;
    Nor once be chastis’d with the sober eye
    Of dull Octavia.  Shall they hoist me up
    And show me to the shouting varletry
    Of censuring Rome?  Rather a ditch in Egypt
    Be gentle grave unto me! rather on Nilus’ mud
    Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies
    Blow me into abhorring! rather make
    My country’s high pyramides my gibbet,
    And hang me up in chains!’

She asks Dolabella what Cæsar means to do with her, and when she learns
that she is to be taken to Rome she recurs to the horror of the triumph.

       ‘Now, Iras, what think’st thou?
    Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown
    In Rome, as well as I: mechanick slaves
    With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
    Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths,
    Rank of gross diet, shall we be enclouded,
    And forced to drink their vapour.

    _Iras_.  The gods forbid!

    _Cleopatra_.  Nay, ’tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
    Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
    Ballad us out o’ tune; the quick comedians,
    Extemporally will stage us, and present
    Our Alexandrian revels; Antony
    Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
    Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
    I’ the posture of a whore.’

This was a motive for death, but it was not all.  She reproves herself
because she let Iras die first, because Antony will

       ‘make demand of her, and spend that kiss
    Which is my heaven to have’;

and Antony is her last word.

Charmian declares her to be ‘a lass unparallel’d,’ of ‘royal eyes.’

It is impossible to shut this woman up within the limits of what we call
a character, but why should we attempt it?  Why cannot we be content with
what we have before us?  Shakespeare never defined his people to himself.
In Cleopatra we have a new combination of the simple, eternal elements, a
combination subtle, and beyond analysis.  What celestial lights begin to
play over this passion as the drama goes on!

                                * * * * *

_Coriolanus_.—We cannot help being sorry that Shakespeare should have
gone out of his way to select such a subject.  It leaves a disagreeable
taste in the mouth.  The aristocrat is overdone.  No true aristocrat
would talk such rant as Coriolanus talks in Act i. Sc. I.  Shakespeare
omits Plutarch’s account of the oppression of the plebeians, or only
slightly alludes to it.  Volumnia’s contempt for the people is worse than
that of Coriolanus.  To her they are not human, and she does not consider
that common truthfulness is binding in her intercourse with them.

       ‘It lies you on to speak
    To the people, not by your own instruction,
    Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
    But with such words that are but rooted in
    Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
    Of no allowance to your bosom’s truth.’

Reading such passages as these we understand Whitman when he says that
although Shakespeare is ‘of astral genius,’ he is ‘entirely fit for
feudalism . . . is incarnated, uncompromising feudalism,’ and contains
much which is ‘ever offensive to democracy.’

                                * * * * *

_Winter’s Tale_.—Coleridge is perhaps super-subtle in his discrimination
between the jealousy of Leontes and that of Othello, which Coleridge will
not call jealousy.  But the difference is not greater than that between
the two men.  The passion of Leontes is roused simply by Hermione’s
giving her hand to Polixenes.  This common courtesy is ‘paddling palms.’
There is something contemptible in his transports: not so in the case of
Othello.  Leontes cursing Hermione in the presence of his lords is

Leontes in his passion disbelieves the oracle.

       ‘There is no truth at all i’ the oracle:
    The sessions shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.’

But he is reversed, suddenly, completely, when he is told his son is

    ‘Apollo’s angry; and the heavens themselves
    Do strike at my injustice.’

Perdita is brought up by a shepherd and talks like a well-educated
patrician’s daughter.  ‘O Proserpina,’ etc.  Polixenes says to Camillo:

    ‘This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
    Ran on the green-sward: nothing she does or seems
    But smacks of something greater than herself,
    Too noble for this place.’

Here again the emphasis on descent is exaggerated and we resent it.

Leontes after the statue is unveiled—

       ‘But yet, Paulina,
    Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
    So aged as this seems.’

Who can read this without choking?  Like Exeter in _Henry V._:

       ‘I had not so much of man in me,
    And all my mother came into mine eyes,
    And gave me up to tears.’

Could I have continued to live when that music sounded and she descended?
I think not.  I should have sought pardon and death.

       ‘Now, in age,
    Is she become the suitor?’

Who can—I will not say express, but dream a tenderness deeper than that?
Sixteen years she had waited, and then she embraces him!  It is difficult
to divine Shakespeare, the man, in his plays and poems, but in this
passage and one or two others resembling it he seems to be revealed.

                                * * * * *

_Pericles_.—The last act of Pericles, and especially the first scene, is
Shakespeare at his highest.

    ‘O Helicanus, strike me, honour’d sir;
    Give me a gash, put me to present pain;
    Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me,
    O’erbear the shores of my mortality,
    And drown me with their sweetness.’

What can equal in purifying, regenerative power the fact that one human
being can be so much to another?  No theology, morality, or philosophy
can bring a man so near to God.

                                * * * * *

_Tempest_.—Prospero’s pardon for those who had conspired against him
proceeds from ‘our little life is rounded with a sleep.’

The _Tempest_ is called a comedy, but it suggests a tragedy in Prospero’s
return to Milan and the months or years he spent there till he died.  For
twelve years he had been on the island with Miranda, ‘a thrid of his own
life,’ ‘that for which he lived,’ ‘the cherubin that did preserve him’
during his voyage, who raised in him

    ‘An undergoing stomach, to bear up
    Against what should ensue.’

He hears her, smitten with Ferdinand almost in a moment, declare to him:

       ‘I would not wish
    Any companion in the world but you,
    Nor can imagination form a shape,
    Besides yourself, to like of’;

and she leaves her father and goes far away to Naples with her husband.

Ariel, whom Prospero had freed from his miserable enchantment, had never
ceased to thirst for liberty and returns to the winds.  Dearly had
Prospero loved his delicate Ariel.

    ‘Why, that’s my dainty Ariel!  I shall miss thee;
    But yet thou shalt have freedom: so, so, so.’

Caliban he had tried to reclaim, had taught him speech and to name the
big and lesser light, but all his pains were ‘lost, quite lost,’ and the
‘born devil’ rewarded them by an attempt on Miranda’s chastity.  He is
left behind, master of the island again, to take up his abode in the cell
which Prospero and Miranda had inhabited, and with the added experience
of Stephano’s drink, which he probably soon learned to imitate.

Antonio, the usurping brother, is said to have been penitent, but his
penitence was not profound.  He offered no apology, and the first words
he is recorded to have uttered after his guilt was discovered were a joke
upon ‘the plain fish,’ Caliban.  He was forgiven, and most likely once
more became malignant.

There is nothing to show us that the citizens of Milan were in much
trouble when Prospero was deposed, or that they rejoiced when he was
restored.  They, doubtless, regretted Antonio, who

       ‘Set all hearts i’ the state
    To what tune pleased his ear.’

The lord of the spirits, of the elves who chased the ebbing Neptune, he
who had given fire to the dread rattling thunder, broke his staff and
drowned his book and went back to his lonely palace.  Did he never long
for his island, for Ariel’s music, for his daughter’s daily presence,
replaced by infrequent letters with news of the Court, her children, and
Ferdinand?  He may have reflected that she was happy, but nevertheless
every third thought was his grave.

                                * * * * *

_Merchant of Venice_.—Jessica is hateful from the beginning; the disguise
in boy’s clothes, the robbery of her father, and the exchange for a
monkey of the jewel which belonged to her mother.  I am afraid
Shakespeare intended we should like her.  But she is only a part of the
perplexity of the play.  That Shakespeare should have used the casket
story is inexplicable.  Not only is it, as Johnson says, ‘wildly
improbable,’ it confuses Portia’s character: it is an irritating

    ‘But more, for that in low simplicity
    He lends out money gratis.’

We have no proof that Antonio did this.  He may have done it.  He was the
kind of person who might like popularity.  If he was really guilty of
‘low simplicity,’ I sympathise with Shylock’s hatred of him.  But if he
was not, I understand it.  Shylock was not bound to be generous.  It
would have been ridiculous in him, an alien in blood and religion,
persecuted, spat upon.

The interest of the play departs with Shylock.

                                * * * * *

Shakespeare’s plays are organic, one character cannot be understood
without the other; Hamlet without Ophelia; Romeo without Juliet.  Each is
in, by, and of the other; particularised by the other.  I do not find
this quality, at least in anything like the same degree, in Beaumont and

Note the way in which Shakespeare’s characters—Macbeth, for
example—unfold themselves by new circumstances, what unconjecturable
development takes place.

                                * * * * *

When a serious defect presents itself in a living friend it seems to
obtrude itself, press upon us, and affect our judgment more than if we
see it in a play of Shakespeare’s.  In the play the background of
counterbalancing virtue is not obscured and forgotten.  In actual life we
lose sight of it.

                                * * * * *


    ‘He that considers how little he dwells upon the condition of others
    will learn how little the attention of others is attracted by
    himself.  While we see multitudes passing before us, of whom perhaps
    not one appears to deserve our notice, or excite our sympathy, we
    should remember that we likewise are lost in the same throng; that
    the eye which happens to glance upon us is turned in a moment on him
    that follows us, and that the utmost which we can reasonably hope or
    fear, is to fill a vacant hour with prattle, and be forgotten.’—The
    _Rambler_, No 159.


{148}  On the 24th April 1885 a fire broke out in an oil-monger’s house
in the Borough.  The inmates were the oil-monger, his wife, four
children, and Alice, the servant-of-all-work.  She came to the window as
soon as the alarm was raised and shouted for help.  Before the fire
brigade arrived the whole building was in flames.  The people in the
street called to her to jump and held out clothes to break her fall, but
she went back and presently reappeared dragging a feather bed with her,
which she pushed out.  It was instantly extended below, and Alice fetched
one of the children and threw it most carefully down.  It was saved, and
two other children also were saved by her in the same way.  By this time
it was evident that the suffocating fumes were beginning to affect her,
for her aim with the last two was not steady.  The crowd implored her to
leap, but it was too late.  She could not make a proper spring and fell
on the ground.  Five minutes afterwards the engines and fire-escape
appeared.  She was picked up and died in Guy’s Hospital.  I begged her
portrait from her brother.  It is not remarkable.  That, perhaps, is the
best thing that can be said about it.  It is a pleasant, brave face—a
face that you might see a dozen times on a Sunday afternoon.—M. R.

{205}  The references are to the first edition, that of 1793.

{250}  Even this word disappears in the Revised Version, where the Greek
is translated ‘reviling Him.’

{254}  The vulgar is the wiser, because it is but as wise as it must
needes.—(Florio’s translation.)

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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.