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Title: Seeing and Hearing
Author: Russell, George W. E.
Language: English
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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 "Seeing and Hearing" ***

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                          SEEING AND HEARING



                                SEEING
                              AND HEARING

                                  BY

                         GEORGE W. E. RUSSELL

            AUTHOR OF "COLLECTIONS AND RECOLLECTIONS," ETC.

                                LONDON
                           E. GRANT RICHARDS

                                 1907



                                  TO
                         WALTER SYDNEY SICHEL

                               1868-1907

  "_Ay, there are some good things in life, that fall not away with
     the rest,_
  _And of all best things upon earth, I hold that a faithful friend is
     the best._"

                                              --OWEN MEREDITH.



                      CONTENTS


     CHAP.                                 PAGE

        I. THE CORONATION                     1

       II. SECRET SOCIETIES                  10

      III. THE IRISH PEERAGE                 17

       IV. OMITTED SILHOUETTES               25

        V. DOCTORS AND DOCTORING             31

       VI. MOURNING                          39

      VII. WILLS                             46

     VIII. PENSIONS                          54

       IX. THE SEASON AS IT WAS              62

        X. THE SEASON AS IT IS               69

       XI. THE SINS OF SOCIETY               76

      XII. OXFORD                            83

     XIII. SCHOOLS FOR SHEPHERDS             90

      XIV. PILGRIMAGES                       97

       XV. THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS               105

      XVI. SCHOOLS AND BOARDING-HOUSES      113

     XVII. SQUARES                          121

    XVIII. SUNDAY IN LONDON                 128

      XIX. A SUBURBAN SUNDAY                135

       XX. WINE AND WATER                   143

      XXI. DINNER                           151

     XXII. DINNERS                          158

    XXIII. LUNCHEON                         166

     XXIV. TEA                              174

      XXV. SUPPER                           182

     XXVI. INNS AND HOTELS                  190

    XXVII. TRAVEL                           198

   XXVIII. ACCOMPLISHMENTS                  207

     XXIX. CIDER                            214

      XXX. THE GARTER                       221

     XXXI. SHERIFFS                         229

    XXXII. PUBLISHERS                       237

   XXXIII. HANDWRITING                      245

    XXXIV. AUTOGRAPHS                       252

     XXXV. MORE AUTOGRAPHS                  259

    XXXVI. CHRISTMAS                        266

   XXXVII. NEW YEAR'S DAY                   274

  XXXVIII. PETS                             283

    XXXIX. PURPLE AND FINE LINEN            289

       XL. PRELACY AND PALACES              297

      XLI. HORRORS                          304

     XLII. SOCIAL CHANGES                   312

    XLIII. SOCIAL GRACES                    319

     XLIV. PUBLICITY _v._ RETICENCE         326

      XLV. TOWN _v._ COUNTRY                333

     XLVI. HOME                             341

    XLVII. HOSPITALITY                      348

   XLVIII. OSTENTATION                      354

     XLIX. PRINCIPLE AND PREJUDICE          360

        L. CULTURE                          367

       LI. RELIGION                         374

      LII. SUPERSTITION                     381

     LIII. THE REMNANT                      388



I

THE CORONATION


And so the great Act draws near--the "high midsummer pomp" of
Patriotism and Regality and Religion--the "one far-off divine event" to
which the whole social creation has moved since the day was appointed
and the preparations began. A thousand pens will picture the Coronation
as it actually occurs. Writing in advance, I can only contemplate it as
a magnificent ideal, and describe it as it strikes not the eye and ear
but the heart, the imagination, and the historic sense.

First and foremost and above all else, the Coronation is a religious
act. It is imbedded in the very heart of the great Christian service of
the Holy Eucharist. Litany and Introit and Gospel and Creed lead up to
it, and it in turn leads on to _Te Deum_ and Offertory and Consecration
and Communion. But though (or perhaps because) it is thus supremely
and conspicuously religious, the Coronation is national and secular
and historical as well. Other nations do not crown their Sovereigns.
Some have no crowns to give, and others are in doubt about the
rightful recipients; in some, revolutions have shattered the immemorial
landmarks, or the sharp sword of civil war has severed the sacred
thread of succession, or the State itself is a mushroom growth of
yesterday, with no roots and fibres striking deep down to the bedrock
of the national life.

But here in England we crown our kings as we have crowned them for
a thousand years, and our act of crowning is the august symbol of a
nation's story and a people's will. For before ever the ministers of
God approach the altar, before the sacred emblems of sovereignty are
hallowed, before the Christian's Mysteries begin, before the Eternal
Spirit is invoked and the consecrating unction bestowed, the English
people plays its part, and, through the mouth of its chief citizen
asserts its fundamental place in the system of the Kingly Commonwealth.

"Sirs, I here present unto you King Edward, the undoubted King of this
realm; wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage, are
you willing to do the same?" And, as the King stands up and turns and
shows himself four times to the assembled freemen, they "signify their
willingness and joy by loud and repeated acclamations, all with one
voice crying out, 'God Save King Edward.'"

And here I borrow from one[1] who touches as no other living man can
touch these dramatic solemnities of our national life (for I know he
will consent to the borrowing), and I say that this is as noble as it
is intelligible. "It embodies the splendid liberty with which a free
people asserts its claim to have nothing imposed upon it in the dark,
no tyrannous rule set over it which it has not measured and considered
and acknowledged in the open light of Heaven." And then the whole great
company falls to prayer, and the Archbishop, who has hitherto played
his part as the first citizen of England and the greatest subject of
the Crown, takes up a still higher function, and goes up, vested to
the altar and begins the Service of the Eucharist, and, as a priest,
invokes the supreme sanction of the Eternal. And then the majestic
course of the rite is broken off in the very centre, and, with every
act and feature and ceremony which can most forcibly express the
solemnity of the transaction, the Archbishop demands of the King, in
the face of God and the Church and the people, whether he will promise
to rule England in due obedience to law and with sacred regard to
Justice, Mercy, and Religion. And the King gives his promise, and,
kneeling at the altar, confirms it with an oath upon the Holy Gospel.

[1] H. S. Holland, D.D.

"This free intercourse that passes between Ruler and Ruled is no
child's play, no mere pretty ceremonial; it is the act of men in solemn
earnest pledging their troth the one to the other. The act is broad
and deep and strong as the national life. It embodies the experience of
centuries. It has in it the stern breath of conflict and the anxious
determinations of secured peace. The Great Charter is behind it, and
the memories of Runnymede and Whitehall. It seals a concentrated
purpose. King and people look each other in the face, and speak their
minds out and give their word." And then, and not till then, the
Archbishop will go forward with his hallowing office and perform the
symbolic acts, and pronounce the benediction of the Highest upon the
covenant between King and Commonwealth. He anoints with the sacred
unction and girds with the kingly sword. He delivers the sceptre of
empire and the emblematic orb which, "set under the Cross," reminds the
King "that the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ
our Redeemer." And then the crown, of pure gold enriched with gems each
one of which is a history, is set upon the Sovereign's head, and the
Archbishop blesses and the onlookers acclaim.

 "Blow, trumpets; all your exultations blow!"

as King Edward VII. takes his seat on the throne of the Confessor and
the Conqueror, of the Plantagenets and the Tudors, and receives by the
mouth of all that is greatest in Church and State the proud homage of a
self-governing people.

And then, once again, the splendid trappings of sovereignty are laid
aside, and the King, uncrowned, kneels down like the lowliest son of
Adam before the Mercy-seat of the Christian covenant, and the great
action of the Eucharist is resumed, and the memories of the Upper
Chamber at Jerusalem are renewed at the altar of Westminster. The Word
is spoken and the Deed is done. A great cloud of prayer and aspiration
and intercession floats up from the vast concourse of assembled
worshippers; and, in the midst of them, the crowned and anointed King,
kneeling by her who must aid him to bear his burden, seeks through the
Divinely-appointed Medium supernatural strength for a more than human
task. From a full heart and with the solemnest intent a united nation
says, "God save King Edward."

       *       *       *       *       *

The scene is changed from Westminster Abbey to a dining-room in
Belgravia, and the date from Saturday, 9th August, to Sunday, 3rd.
Thirty guests, male and female, are gathered round a too-bountiful
board; and, amidst the rich fumes of mayonnaise and quails and
whitebait and champagne-cup, there rise the mingled voices of the great
"Coronation Chorus."

_Enthusiastic Young Lady._ "I can think of nothing but the Coronation.
Where are you going to see it from?"

_Facetious Young Man._ "Oh! from Hurlingham. That's quite near enough.
The whole thing is such a frightful bore. You know what they say London
is just now. All Board and no Lodging."

_New Peeress._ "I really envy the duchesses. They have such good places
in the front row. I shall be poked away under the gallery quite at the
back. I don't believe I shall see a thing. But, after all, one will be
able to say one has been there."

_Facetious Young Man._ "Oh! you could say that anyhow. It's not good
enough to get up at four in the morning for the sake of saying that.
Charley FitzBattleaxe thinks just the same as I do about it, but of
course, as he's a peer, he's bound to go. He's a bad hand at getting up
early, so he's going to sit up playing bridge all night, and then have
his bath and go straight to the show."

_Stout Peeress._ "Our creation is rather old, so I have got a very good
place, but the chairs are too dreadful. Such stiff backs, and only nine
inches to sit on, and horrid wicker seats which will make marks on our
velvet."

_Thrifty Peeress._ "Well, I really don't know where I shall have my
luncheon. It seems monstrous to have to pay two guineas at the House
of Lords for a sandwich and a glass of claret. The Watermans in Dean's
Yard have most kindly asked me to go to luncheon with them, and it
would be an immense saving. But they are strict teetotallers, and I
feel that, after all those hours in the Abbey, I shall want something
more supporting than lemonade. So I am rather divided. I dread the idea
of a teetotal luncheon, but two guineas for a glass of claret and a
sandwich is rather much."

_Nervous Peeress._ "I am so terrified of being faint in the Abbey. I
am going to take chocolate and meat lozenges in my coronet, and some
brandy and water in my smelling-bottle."

_Chorus_ (confusedly). "Oh no, port wine is the thing. No--rum and
milk. My doctor says whisky. Whisky? Oh no; sal volatile is much the
best, and Plasmon biscuits. Not sandwiches--I hate sandwiches. Cold
chicken. But can we eat in church? Isn't it rather odd? Oh, the Abbey
isn't exactly a church, you know. Isn't it? I should have thought it
was. Well--no--our Vicar tells me that it was never consecrated. How
very curious! At least it was only consecrated by the Angels, not by
the Bishop. Well, of course that makes a difference. Still, I don't
like the idea of eating and drinking in it. So I shall have some pâté
de foie gras and champagne in the carriage, and eat till the very
moment I get to the Abbey, and begin again the very moment I get out."

_Lively Young Lady._ "I'm not afraid of being faint--only of being
bored in that long wait. I shall take something to read while mamma is
stuffing herself with her sandwiches."

_Facetious Young Man._ "What a good idea! Shall you take _Modern
Society_ or the _Pink 'Un_?"

_Grave Young Lady_ (intervening). "Neither, I hope. People seem to
forget that after all it is a religious service. If one must read,
I think 'John Inglesant' or one of Miss Yonge's books would be more
suitable than a newspaper."

_Lively Young Lady._ "Well, really, it is so difficult to think of it
as a religious service. It seems to me more like a play. I saw one
of the rehearsals, and certainly it was as funny as a pantomime. But
still, of course, one wouldn't wish to do anything that was unsuitable;
so I think I shall take a 'Guide-book to the Abbey' and learn all the
history while we are waiting. One hears so much about it just now, and
it seems stupid not to know. I never can remember whether St. Edward
was Edward the Confessor or Edward the Sixth. Do you know?"

_Facetious Young Man._ "Oh, ask me an easier one. Those old jossers
were all pretty much of a muchness. I tell you I'm not taking any. The
whole thing is utterly out of date. Why couldn't he write his name in a
book, or send a crier round with a bell to say he's come to the throne?"

_The Host._ "My dear Freddy Du Cane, I don't agree with you the least.
I am bound to say quite honestly that all my life I have hoped that
I might live to see a Coronation, and I am honestly thankful that I
have got a place. It is all the things that interest me most rolled
into one--Pageant and History and Patriotism and a great Religious
Ceremony. I am a Liberal; therefore I like the Recognition and the
Oath. I am a Ritualist; therefore I like the vestments and the Unction
and the oblation of the Golden Pall. Above all I am an Englishman,
and I like to see my Sovereign take up the duties of sovereignty at
the altar of 'that Royal and National sanctuary which has for so many
centuries enshrined the varied memories of his august ancestors and the
manifold glories of his free and famous kingdom.' Those words are Dean
Stanley's. Do you know his account of the Coronation in his 'Memorials
of Westminster Abbey'? If you will let me, I will show it to you after
luncheon. People ought at least to know what the service is before they
presume to make stupid jokes about it."

CURTAIN.



II

SECRET SOCIETIES


When Lord Scamperdale was angry with Mr. Sponge for riding over his
hounds he called him "a perpendicular Puseyite pig-jobber"; and the
alliteration was felt to emphasize the rebuke. If any Home Ruler is
irritated by Sir Robert Anderson he may relieve his feelings by calling
him a "preaching political policeman," and each word in the title
will be true to life. Sir Robert combines in his single person the
characters of barrister, detective, and theologian. He began life at
the Irish Bar, was for many years head of the Criminal Investigation
Department in London, then became Assistant Commissioner of Police, and
all the while gave what leisure he could spare from tracking dynamiters
and intercepting burglars to the composition of such works as "The
Gospel and its Ministry," "A Handbook of Evangelical Truth," and
"Daniel in the Critic's Den."

A career so diversified was sure to produce some interesting
reminiscences, and the book[2] which Sir Robert has just published
is as full of mystery and adventure, violence and strategy, plot and
counterplot, as the romances which thrilled our youth. In those days
some boys thought soldiering the one life worth living; some, in fancy,
ran away to sea. Some loved tales of Piracy, and were peculiarly at
home in a Smugglers' Cave. Others snatched a fearful joy from ghosts
and bogies. Others enjoyed Brazilian forests and African jungles,
hand-to-hand encounters with gorillas and hair-breadth 'scapes from
watchful tigers. The present writer thought nothing so delightful
as Secret Societies, and would have given his little all to know a
password, a sign, or a secret code. Perhaps this idiosyncrasy was
due to the fact that in the mid 'sixties every paper teemed with
allusions to Fenianism, just then a very active force in the political
world; and to Smith Minus, in the Fourth Form at Harrow, there was
something unspeakably attractive in the thought of being a "Head
Centre," a "Director," or an "Executive Officer of the Irish Republican
Brotherhood," or even in the paler glory of writing the mystic letters
"F.B." or "C.O." after his undistinguished name. It is in his account
of the earlier days of Fenianism that Sir Robert Anderson is so
intensely interesting. He traces it, from its origin in the abortive
rebellion of 1848 and that "Battle of Limerick" which Thackeray sang,
to its formal inauguration in 1860, and its subsequent activities at
home and abroad; and the narrative begins, quite thrillingly, with the
biography of the famous spy Henri le Caron, who played so striking a
part before the Commission on Parnellism and Crime. Those who wish to
learn these incidents in our recent history, or as much of them as at
present can properly be disclosed, must read Sir Robert's book for
themselves. I will not attempt even to epitomize it; and, indeed, I
only mention it because of the "sidelights" which it throws, not on
Home Rule, but on the part which Secret Societies have played in the
fortunes of Modern Europe.

[2] "Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement." By Sir Robert Anderson,
K.C.B., LL.D.

As far as I know, the only Englishman--if Englishman he could properly
be called--who regarded the Secret Societies as formidable realities
was Lord Beaconsfield. As long ago as 1844--long before he had official
experience to guide him--he wrote, with regard to his favourite Sidonia
(in drawing whom he drew himself):--

"The catalogue of his acquaintance in the shape of Greeks, Armenians,
Moors, Secret Jews, Tartars, Gipsies, wandering Poles, and Carbonari
would throw a curious light on those subterranean agencies of which
the world in general knows so little, but which exercise so great an
influence on public events."

Those were the days when Disraeli, a genius whom no one treated
seriously, was uttering his inmost thoughts through the medium of
romances to which fancy contributed at least as much as fact. Then
came twenty years of constant activity in politics--that pursuit which,
as Bacon says, is of all pursuits "the most immersed in matter,"--and,
when next he took up the novelist's pen, he was a much older and more
experienced, though he would scarcely be a wiser, man. In 1870 he
startled the world with "Lothair"; and those who had the hardihood
to fight their way through all the fashionable flummery with which
the book begins found in the second and third volumes a profoundly
interesting contribution to the history of Europe between 1848 and
1868. One of the characters says that "the only strong things in Europe
are the Church and the Secret Societies"; and the book is a vivid
narrative of the struggle for life and death between the Temporal Power
of the Papacy and the insurrectionary movements inspired by Garibaldi.
Every chapter of the book contains a portrait, and every incident is
drawn from something which had come under the author's notice between
1866 and 1869, when he was the leading personage in the Tory Government
and the Fenians were making open and secret war on English rule. He
was describing the men whom he knew and the things which he had seen,
and this fact makes the book so extraordinarily vivid, and won for
it Froude's enthusiastic praise. Every one could recognize Capel and
Manning and Antonelli and Lord Bute, and all their diplomatic and
fashionable allies; it required some knowledge of the insurrectionary
movements to see in "Captain Bruges" a portrait of General Cluseret,
commander-in-chief of every insurgent army in Europe or America, or in
Theodora the noble character of Jessie White-Mario, whose career of
romantic devotion to the cause of Freedom closed only in this year.[3]

[3] 1906.

"Madre Natura" in Italy, Fenianism in America and England, the "Mary
Anne" Societies of France, and the mysterious alliance between all
these subterranean forces, are the themes of "Lothair," and the
State trials of the time throw a good deal of light upon them all.
Even more mysterious, much harder to trace, and infinitely more
enduring were the operations of the Carbonari--- beginning with a
handful of charcoal-burners in the forests of Northern Italy, and
spreading thence, always by woodland ways, to the centre and north of
Europe. They promoted the French revolutions of 1830 and 1848. Even
Louis Napoleon allied himself with them in his earlier machinations
against Louis Philippe and the Republic; and in the Franco-German
War of 1870 they rendered incalculable service to the German troops
by guiding them through the fastnesses of the Ardennes. It is one
of the characteristics of the Secret Societies that they attack the
established order, without, apparently, caring much what that order
represents. Their generals fought against England in Canada and in
Ireland; against the Northern States in America; against Russia in the
Danubian Principalities. It is not to be supposed that in 1870 the
Carbonari had much sympathy with the military absolutism of Prussia;
but Prussia was attacking the French Empire, and that was enough for
the Carbonari.

Of course, as a general rule, the Secret Societies of the Continent
were anti-monarchical and anti-Christian; but he who loves these
mysterious combinations can find plenty to interest him in the history
of organizations which were neither Republican nor Atheistic. Nothing
could be more devotedly monarchical and orthodox than the "Cycle
of the White Rose." This Society, profoundly "secret," was founded
about the year 1727. It had for its object to unite all the Cavalier
and Nonjuring families of North Wales and Cheshire, with a view to
concerted action when next the exiled Stuarts should claim their own.
The headquarters were always at Wynnstay, and the Lady of Wynnstay was
always Patroness. The badge was a White Rose in enamel, and the list
of members was printed in a circle, so that if it should fall into
the hands of Government no one should appear as ringleader or chief.
The Cycle was for some fifty years a real and definite organization
for political ends; but, as years went on and the hopes of the
Jacobites perished, the Cycle degenerated into a mere dining-club,
and it expired in 1850. Its last member was, I believe, the Rev. Sir
Theophilus Puleston, who lived to see the second Jubilee of Queen
Victoria; and the last Lady Patroness died in 1905.

Another Secret Society which once meant practical mischief of no
common kind was that of the Orangemen. Though Orangemen are nowadays
vociferously loyal, their forerunners are grossly misrepresented if it
is not true that, under the Grand-mastership of the Duke of Cumberland,
afterwards King Ernest of Hanover, they organized a treasonable
conspiracy to prevent Queen Victoria from succeeding to the Throne of
her ancestors and to put her uncle in her place. For sidelights on this
rather dark passage of modern history the curious reader is referred to
"Tales of my Father," by "A. M. F.," and to a sensational rendering of
the same story, called "God Save the Queen."

My space is failing, and I must forbear to enlarge on the most familiar
and least terrifying of all "Secret Societies." I hold no brief for the
"Grand Orient of France," even though Pius IX. may once have belonged
to this or a similar organization; but I must profess that English
Freemasons are the most respectable, most jovial, and most benevolent
of mankind; and I trust that they will accept in its true intention
Cardinal Manning's ambiguously worded defence of their craft, "English
Freemasonry is a Goose Club."



III

THE IRISH PEERAGE


Dryasdust is proverbially a bore, and his forms are Protean. Thus there
are the Jacobite Dryasdusts, who affirm that Queen Victoria had no
higher dignity than that of Dowager Princess Albert of Saxe-Coburg,
and deny that any act of sovereignty transacted in this country
has been valid since that dark morning when James II., making the
best of his way to the Old Kent Road, dropped the Great Seal into
the Thames. Then there are the Constitutional Dryasdusts, who deny
the existence of a Cabinet or a Prime Minister, and insist that the
Privy Council is the only Ministerial body known to the law; and the
Ecclesiastical Dryasdusts, who affirm that the Church of England is
really free because the bishops are freely elected by the Chapters of
their respective Cathedrals, acting under licence from a Sovereign
who, having been anointed, is a _Persona Mixta_--part layman, part
ecclesiastic. At the height of the South African War I chanced to meet
an Heraldic Dryasdust, who moaned like a mandrake over the announcement
that the Duke of Norfolk had just set out, with his Yeomanry, for
the scene of action. "You mean," I said, "that a valuable life is
needlessly imperilled?" "Not at all," replied Dryasdust, with a face
as long as a fiddle-case. "A far more important consideration than the
Duke's life is involved. As Earl-Marshal he is supreme commander of
the forces of the Crown when engaged in actual warfare, and the moment
he sets his foot on African soil Lord Roberts becomes subject to his
command. There is no way out of that constitutional necessity, and I
regard the outlook as very serious." And so indeed it would have been,
had Dryasdust been right.

I am led to this train of reflections by the fact that an eminent
genealogist has lately tried to frighten the readers of a Sunday
paper by broaching the theory that all the Acts of Parliament passed
within the last twenty years may have been invalid. He does not commit
himself to the statement that they are invalid, but he insists that
they may be, and he grounds his contention on a clause of the Act of
Union. Concerning this clause he says, following Sir William Anson,
that it requires that "the number of Irish peers, not entitled by
the possession of other peerages to an hereditary seat in the House
of Lords of the United Kingdom, shall never fall below one hundred."
Now it seems that during the last twenty years the number has fallen
below a hundred; therefore the House of Lords has not been properly
constituted, and therefore its part in legislation has been null and
void. It is a startling theory, and like most startling theories, will
probably turn out to be nonsense; but the history of the Irish Peerage,
apart from any consequences which may be deduced from it, is full of
interest, and not wholly free from scandal. The Irish peerage, as it
stands to-day, comprises 175 members; of these, 28 sit in the House of
Lords as Representative Peers, elected for life by their brethren; 82
sit there because they hold English as well as Irish peerages; and the
remainder, being merely Irish peers and not Representatives, do not
sit in the House of Lords, but are eligible for the House of Commons.
In this respect their state is more gracious than that of the Scotch
peers, who cannot be elected to the House of Commons, and therefore,
unless they can get themselves chosen to be Representative Peers of
Scotland, are excluded from Parliament for ever. Still, though a seat
in the House of Lords is a desirable possession, a mere title has its
charms.

It used to be said that when Mr. Smith the banker, who lived in
Whitehall, asked George III. for the _entrée_ of the Horse Guards, the
King replied, "I can't do that; but I wish to make you an Irish Peer."
However, the true version of the story seems to be that which is given
in the "Life of the Marquis of Granby."

"In 1787 the owner of Rutland House desired to increase the private
_entrée_ into Hyde Park to the dimensions of a carriage entrance,
and asked Charles, fourth Duke of Rutland, to support the necessary
application to the King. The Duke, who was then Viceroy of Ireland,
replied, 'You will let me know whether ye application is to be made to
Lord Orford, who is ye Ranger of ye Park, or to ye King himself: in ye
latter case I would write to Lord Sydney att ye same time; if it be
to the King a greater object might be easier accomplished than this
trifle, as I know he is very particular about his Parks; at least he is
so about St. James Park, for he made a man an Irish Peer to keep him
in Good Humour for having refused him permission to drive his carriage
through ye Horse Guards.'"

Lord Palmerston, himself an Irish peer, used to say that an Irish
peerage was the most convenient of all dignities, as it secured
its owner social precedence while it left him free to pursue a
Parliamentary career. At the same time, greatly as he enjoyed his
position, Palmerston never would take the oaths or comply with
the legal formalities necessary to entitle him to vote for the
Irish Representative Peers; and the reason for this refusal was
characteristic alike of an adroit politician and of the unscrupulous
age in which he lived. An Irish peer who has proved his right to
vote for the Representative Peers, is eligible for election as a
Representative, and Palmerston feared that his political opponents,
wishing to get him out of the House of Commons into the comparative
obscurity and impotence of the House of Lords, would elect him a
Representative Peer in spite of himself, and so effectually terminate
his political activities. In the days immediately succeeding Palmerston
a conspicuous ornament of the Irish Peerage was the second Marquis
of Abercorn. He had no need to trouble himself about Representative
arrangements, for he sat in the House of Lords as a peer of Great
Britain, but his hereditary connexion with the North of Ireland,
his great estates there, and the political influence which they
gave him, made him, in a very real sense, an Irish peer. He was
Lord-Lieutenant from 1866 to 1868, and during his viceroyalty Disraeli
(who subsequently drew his portrait in "Lothair") conferred upon him
the rare honour of an Irish dukedom. It was rumoured that he wished, in
consideration of his 80,000 acres in Tyrone and Donegal, to become the
Duke of Ulster, but was reminded that Ulster was a Royal title, borne
already by the Duke of Edinburgh. Be that as it may, he stuck to his
Scotch title, and became Duke of Abercorn. Down to that time the Duke
of Leinster had been the sole Irish duke, and went by the nickname of
"Ireland's Only." To him, as an old friend, the newly created Duke of
Abercorn wrote a mock apology for having invaded his monopoly; but the
Duke of Leinster was equal to the occasion, and wrote back that he was
quite content to be henceforward the Premier Duke of Ireland. When,
six months later, Disraeli was driven out of office, he conferred an
Irish barony on a faithful supporter, Colonel M'Clintock, who was made
Lord Rathdonnell; and it was generally understood that, by arrangement
between the leaders on both sides, no more Irish peerages were to
be created. This understanding held good till Mr. George Curzon,
proceeding to India as Viceroy and contemplating a possible return to
Parliament when his term of office expired, persuaded Lord Salisbury to
make him Lord Curzon of Kedleston in the Peerage of Ireland.

But, after all, the Irish Peerage of to-day is to a great extent the
product of the Irish Union. "There is no crime recorded in history--I
do not except the Massacre of St. Bartholomew--which will compare for a
moment with the means by which the Union was carried." The student of
men and moods, having no clue to guide him, would probably attribute
this outburst to Mr. Gladstone at some period between his first and
second Home Rule Bills; and he would be right. For my own part, I can
scarcely follow the allusion to St. Bartholomew, but beyond doubt the
measures employed by the English Government in order to secure the
Union were both cruel and base. It is the baseness with which we are
just now concerned. In order to carry the Union it was necessary to
persuade the Irish Houses of Lords and Commons, and to capture the
whole machinery of bribery and terrorism which directed the Irish
Parliament. As that blameless publicist Sir T. Erskine May tranquilly
observes, "corrupt interests could only be overcome by corruption." The
policy of out-corrupting the corruptest was pursued with energy and
resolution. Each patron of Irish boroughs who was ready to part with
them received £7500 for each seat. Lord Downshire got £52,000 for seven
seats; Lord Ely £45,000 for six. The total amount paid in compensation
for the surrender of electoral powers was £1,260,000. In addition to
these pecuniary inducements, honours were lavishly distributed as
bribes. Five Irish peers were called to the House of Lords, twenty were
advanced a step in the peerage, and twenty-two new peers were created.
It would be invidious, and perhaps actionable, to attach proper names
to the amazing histories of Corruption by Title which are narrated in
the Private Correspondence of the Viceroy, Lord Cornwallis, and the
published Memoirs of Sir Jonah Barrington. Even that sound loyalist
Mr. Lecky was constrained to admit that "the majority of Irish titles
are historically connected with memories not of honour but of shame."
On the 22nd January 1799 one member of the Irish House of Commons took
his bribe in the brief interval between his speech for, and his vote
against a resolution affirming the right of the Irish nation to an
independent Legislature. Another aspirant to the peerage "made and sang
songs against the Union in 1799, and made and sang songs for it in
1800." He got his deserts. A third secured £30,000 for his surrendered
boroughs, a peerage for himself, and for his brother in Holy Orders an
archbishopric so wealthy that its fortunate owner became a peer, and
subsequently an earl, on his own account. The scandalous tale might
be indefinitely prolonged; but enough has been said to show why it is
difficult to shed tears when these strangely-engendered peerages sink
below the prescribed number of a hundred.



IV

OMITTED SILHOUETTES


Last year[4] I ventured to submit for public inspection a small
collection of Social Silhouettes. From time to time during the last few
months I have received several kind enquiries about Omitted Portraits.
For instance, there is the Undertaker. Perhaps a friend will write:
"Dickens made capital fun out of Mr. Mould and the 'Hollow _Elm_ Tree.'
Couldn't you try your hand at something of the same kind?" Another
writes, perhaps a little bluntly: "Why don't you give us the Barrister?
He must be an awfully easy type to do." A third says, with subtler
tact: "I feel that, since Thackeray left us, yours is the only pen
which can properly handle the Actor"--or the Painter, or the Singer,
or the Bellringer, or the Beadle, as the case may be. Now, to these
enquiries, conceived, as I know them all to be, in the friendliest
spirit, my answer varies a little, according to the type suggested.
With regard to the Barrister, I stated quite early in my series that I
did not propose to deal with him, because he had been drawn repeatedly
by the master-hands of fiction, and because the lapse of years had
wrought so little change in the type that Serjeant Snubbin, and
Fitz-Roy Timmins, and Sir Thomas Underwood, and Mr. Furnival, and Mr.
Chaffanbrass were portraits which needed no retouching. I must, indeed,
admit that the growth of hair upon the chin and upper lip is a marked
departure from type, and that a moustached K.C. is as abnormal a being
as a bearded woman or a three-headed nightingale; but the variation is
purely external, and the true inwardness of the Barrister remains what
it was when Dickens and Thackeray and Trollope drew him. So, again,
with regard to the Family Solicitor; as long as men can study the
methods of Mr. Tulkinghorn (of Lincoln's Inn Fields) and Mr. Putney
Giles (of the same learned quarter) they may leave Mr. Jerome K. Jerome
in undisturbed possession of his stage-lawyer, who "dresses in the
costume of the last generation but seven, never has any office of his
own, and (with the aid of a crimson bag) transacts all his business at
his clients' houses."

[4] 1906.

When I am asked why I do not describe the Painter, my reply is partly
the same. We have got Gaston Phoebus, and Clive Newcome, and Claude
Mellot, and the goodly company of Trilby, and we shall not easily
improve upon those portraits, whether highly finished or merely
sketched. But in this case I have another reason for reticence. I
know a good many painters, who about this time of year bid me to their
studios. I have experienced before now the delicate irritability of the
artistic genius, and I know that a reverential reticence is my safest
course. Conversely, my reason for not describing the Actor is that I
really do not know him well enough. An actor off the stage is about as
exhilarating an object as a theatre by daylight. The brilliancy and the
glamour have departed; the savour of sawdust and orange-peel remains.
Let us render all honour to the histrion when his foot is on his native
boards; but if we are wise we shall eschew in private life the society
of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Crummles, nor open our door too widely to the
tribe of Costigan and Fotheringay.

The mention of that great actress's name (for did not Emily Costigan,
afterwards Lady Mirabel, figure as "Miss Fotheringay" on the provincial
stage?) reminds me that, according to some of my critics, women
played too rare and too secluded a part in my series of "Typical
Developments." It is only too true, and no one knows as well as the
author the amount of brilliancy and interest which has been forfeited
thereby. But really it is a sacred awe that has made me mute. Even
to-day, as I write, I am smarting under a rebuke recently administered
to me, at a public gathering, by an outraged matron. This lady belongs
to the political section of her tribe; holds man, poor man! in proper
contempt; and clamours on Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's doorstep for
that suffrage which is to make her truly free. At present she esteems
herself little better than a Squaw, and has been heard to declare, in
moments of expansive eloquence, that she was not created to be the Toy
of Man--a declaration in which her hearers most heartily concurred.
Well, this stern guardian of her sex's rights recently took me to
task in a public place for the levity with which I had criticized a
gathering of political ladies, and my nerve has scarcely rallied from
the sudden onslaught. Had I been more myself I might even yet have
tried my unskilled hand at female portraiture. Perhaps, in the spirit
of that Cambridge professor who calls William II. "quite the nicest
Emperor I know," I might have begun in the most illustrious circles,
and have sketched the stone-laying and bazaar-opening activities of
Royal Princesses. Or, yielding precedence to the Church, I might
have discoursed of Episcopal ladies and have traced the influence
of a tradition received from the beatified Mrs. Proudie. "_We_ had
a very nice Ordination this Trinity," says one lady of this class.
"The Bishop and I were much disappointed by the poor response of the
laity to our appeal," wrote another. When in May 1899 the Archbishops
were playing at a Court for the trial of Ritualism, Episcopal ladies
sat knitting by the judgment-seat, and stared at the incriminated
clergymen, as the _tricoteuses_ of the French Revolution may have
stared at the victims of the guillotine, or as Miss Squeers peered
through the keyhole at the flagellation of Smike. Or again, on a
lowlier rung of the Ecclesiastical ladder, I might have drawn the
Parochial Worker--the woman of waterproof and gingham, the distributor
of tracts, the disciplinarian of the Sunday School, the presiding
spirit of Mothers' Meetings. At a General Election this type of lady
varies her activities--canvasses for the Conservative candidate, and
tells the gaping washerwomen that Mr. Lloyd-George wishes to convert
the Welsh cathedrals into music-halls for the Eisteddfod. Of all
Parochial Workers the highest type is the Deaconess; and not long ago,
in a parish with which I am conversant, the Deaconess and the Curate
used to do their parochial rounds on a double bicycle, to the infinite
amusement of the gutter-children and the serious perturbation of the
severely orthodox. There was a picture worthy of the pen and pencil of
Thackeray, but it faded all too soon into the blurred commonplace of
matrimony.

The Deaconess may be called the Marine of the Church's army, with one
foot on sea and one on shore--only half a Worldling, yet not quite
a Nun. With ladies of the last-named type, my acquaintance has been
prolonged and intimate. Of their excellence and devotion it would be
impertinent to speak; but I may say without offence that some of the
ablest, most agreeable, and most amusing women I have known I have
encountered in the Cloister. But, alas! even into the Cloister the
serpent of political guile will wend his sinuous way; nor could I,
though her friend, commend the action of Sister G---- M---- when, in
order to prevent a patient in a Convalescent Home from voting for a
Radical candidate, she kept his trousers under lock and key till the
poll was over.

"Old age," it has been bitterly said, "when it can no longer set a bad
example, gives good advice;" and when, as sometimes happens, I am asked
to hortate my younger fellow-citizens, one of my most emphatic lessons
is a Reverence for Womanhood, even in its least ideal aspects. This, I
declare to be an essential attribute of the ideal character--of that
manhood, at once beautiful and good, to which the philosophers have
taught us to aspire; and, lest I should seem to be violating my own
oft-repeated precept, I tear myself from a fascinating theme.


V

DOCTORS AND DOCTORING


Sydney Smith, who was fond of quacking his parishioners, and had a poor
opinion of "professional and graduated homicides," observes that "the
Sixth Commandment is suspended by one medical diploma from the North of
England to the South." Personally, I have experienced the attentions
of the Faculty north, south, east, and west, and I began in London.
In my first appearance on this planet I was personally conducted by
a smart gentleman, who came straight from a dinner-party, in a large
white cravat and turquoise studs. Those studs still exist, and have
descended, with the practice, to his grandson. May they beam on births
more propitious than my own.

My knowledge of the first act of life's drama is necessarily
traditional. But, as I approach the second, memory begins to operate. I
seem to remember a black silhouette of a gentleman in an elbow-chair,
with a pigtail and knee-breeches; and this icon was revered as
the likeness of "old Doctor P----." This "old Dr. P.'s" son, "Tom
P----," was a sturdy stripling of seventy odd, who had never used
a stethoscope, and dismissed a rival practitioner who talked about
heart-sounds as "an alarmist." To these succeeded a third generation
of the same drug-stained dynasty, represented to me by a gentleman
in shiny black, who produced a large gold watch when he felt one's
pulse, and said "Hah!" when he looked at one's tongue. These three
generations, for something more than a century, monopolized all the
best practice of Loamshire, were immensely respected, and accumulated a
great deal of money. Echoes of the dialogue between doctor and patient
still haunt the ear of memory:--

_Nervous and Dyspeptic Lady._ "Do you know, Dr. P., I felt so very
uncomfortable after luncheon--quite a sensation of sinking through the
floor. Of course I had some brandy and water--about half and half--at
once, but I feel that I ought to have a little champagne at dinner.
Nothing helps me so much."

DR. P. "Your ladyship is no inconsiderable physician. I was about to
make the same suggestion. But pray be careful that it is a dry wine."

All this was very comfortable and friendly, and tended to promote the
best relations between doctor and patient. I do not recollect that the
doctor was supposed to effect cures; but his presence at a deathbed
created the pleasant sense that all had been done which could be done,
and that the patient was dying with the dignity proper to his station.
It may be remarked, in passing, that the two elder generations did all
their rounds, early and late, summer and winter, on horseback; while
the third subsided into a brougham drawn by a pair of horses afflicted
with stringhalt, and presumably bought cheap on account of that
infirmity.

So much for the men. What was their method? To my infant palate the
oils of castor and cod were as familiar as mother's milk. I dwelt
in a land flowing with rhubarb and magnesia. The lively leech was a
household pet. "Two nocturnes in blue and an arrangement in black," as
the Æsthete said, were of frequent occurrence. But other parts of the
system were more palatable. I seem to have drunk beer from my earliest
infancy. A glass of port wine at eleven, with a teaspoonful of bark in
it, was the recognized tonic, and brandy (which the doctor, who loved
periphrasis, always called "the domestic stimulant") was administered
whenever one looked squeamish, while mulled claret was "exhibited" as a
soporific. The notion of pouring all this stuff down a child's throat
sounds odd to a generation reared on Apollinaris and barley-water, but
it had this one advantage--that when one grew up it was impossible to
make one drunk.

From childhood we pass on to schooldays. Wild horses should not drag
from me the name of the seminary where I was educated, for its medical
arrangements left a good deal to be desired. There were three doctors
in this place, and they shared the care of some six hundred boys. Dr.
A. was certainly very old, and was reputed to be very good, insomuch
that his admirers said that, if they were dying, they should wish
to have Dr. A. with them, as he was better than any clergyman. If,
however, they were so carnally-minded as to wish to recover, they sent
for Dr. B., a bluff gentleman, who told his patients that they were
not half as ill as they thought, and must pull themselves together--a
prescription which, if there was nothing the matter, answered
admirably. The third was a grievous gentleman, who took a dark view of
life, and, sitting by my sick-bed, would inform me of the precarious
condition of a schoolfellow, who, to use his own phrase, was "slipping
through his fingers," and "had no more constitution than a fly."
Regarding this triumvirate in the light of my subsequent experience, I
cannot affect surprise that there were fifteen deaths among the boys
during the five years that I was in the school.

From the anonymous school I proceeded to an anonymous university, where
the medical world was dominated by the bland majesty of Sir Omicron Pie
(the name is Trollope's, but it will serve). Who that ever saw them can
forget that stately bearing, that Jove-like brow, that sublime air of
omniscience and omnipotence? Who that ever heard it, that even flow of
mellifluous eloquence and copious narrative? Who that ever experienced
it, the underlying kindness of heart?

A nervous undergraduate is ushered into the consulting-room, and the
great man advances with a paternal smile.

"Mr. Bumpstead? Ah! I think I was at school with your good father. No?
Then it must have been your uncle. You are very like him. We ran a
neck-and-neck race at the University. I won the Gold Medal, and he was
_proximè_. In those days I little thought of settling down in Oxbridge.
I had destined myself for a London practice; but Sir Thomas Watson--you
have heard of 'Watson's style'? He was the Cicero of Medicine--well,
Watson said, 'No, my dear Pie, it won't do. In ten years you will be at
the head of the profession, and will have made £100,000. But, mark my
words, _the blade will wear out the scabbard_. You are not justified in
risking your life.' I was disappointed, of course. All young men like
the idea of fame. But I saw that Watson was right, and I came here, and
found my life's work. The Medical School was then in a very decayed
condition, and I have made it what it is. Why am I telling you all
this----?"

(_Enter the butler._) "Please, Sir Omicron, you've an appointment at
Battle-axe Castle at four o'clock, and the carriage is at the door."

_Sir O. P._ "Ah! well. I must tell you the rest another day. Let me
see, what was the matter? Palpitation? Let me listen for a moment. It
is as I thought--only a little functional irritability. Lead a sensible
life; avoid excess; cultivate the philosophic temper. Take this
prescription, and come again next week. Thank you, thank you."

Fortified by four years of Sir Omicron's care, I came up to London
somewhere between 1870 and 1880. The practice of the West End was then
divided between three men--Sir A. B., Sir C. D., and Sir E. F.

Sir A. B. was bluff and brutal, fashioned himself on the traditions of
Abernethy, and ruled his patients by sheer terrorism. He had an immense
influence over hysterical women and weak-minded men, and people who
might otherwise have resented his ursine manner were reconciled to it
by the knowledge that he officially inspected the most illustrious
Tongue in the kingdom.

His principal rival was Sir C. D., who ruled by love. "Well, my dear
sir, there is not much the matter. A day or two's hunting will set you
right. You don't ride? Ah! well, it doesn't much matter. A fortnight at
Monte Carlo will do just as well. All you want is change of scene and
plenty of amusement."

"As to your ladyship's diet, it should be light and nutritious. I
should recommend you to avoid beefsteaks and boiled mutton. A little
turtle soup, some devilled whitebait, and a slice of a turkey _truffe_
would be the sort of dinner to suit you. If the insomnia is at all
urgent, I have found a light supper of pâté de foie gras work wonders."

Sir E. F. operated on a theological system. His discourse on the
Relations between Natural and Revealed Religion profoundly impressed
those who heard it for the first time, and his tractate on Medical
Missions in India ran into a third edition. In his waiting-room one
found, instead of last month's _Punch_ or the Christmas number of
_Madame_, devotional works inscribed "From his grateful patient,
the author." In his consulting-room a sacred picture of large
dimensions crowned the mantelpiece, and signed portraits of bishops
whom he had delivered from dyspepsia adorned the walls. Ritualistic
clergy frequented him in great numbers, and--what was better
still--recommended their congregations to the "beloved physician."
Ecclesiastically-minded laymen delighted in him, and came away with a
comfortable conviction, syllogistically arranged, that (1) one's first
duty is to maintain one's health; (2) whatever one likes is healthy;
therefore (3) one's first duty is to like exactly as one likes.

A water-drinking adherent of Mr. Gladstone once saw that eminent man
crowning a banquet of champagne with a glass of undeniable port. "Oh!
Mr. Gladstone," he exclaimed in the bitterness of his soul, "what would
Sir E. F. say if he could see you mixing your liquors?" The great
man's defence was ready to his hand: "Sir E. F. assures me that, if
I let fifteen minutes elapse between two kinds of wine, there is no
mixture."

Somehow these lively oracles of Sir E. F.'s, with which I was always
coming in contact, left on my mind a dim impression that he must have
been related to the doctor who attended Little Nell and prescribed the
remedies which the landlady had already applied: "Everybody said he
was a very shrewd doctor indeed, and knew perfectly well what people's
constitutions were, which there appears some reason to suppose he did."



VI

MOURNING


My infant mind was "suckled in a creed outworn," in the form of a
book called, by a strange misnomer, a "Book of Useful Knowledge." It
was there stated, if my memory serves me, that "the Chinese mourn in
yellow, but Kings and Cardinals mourn in purple." In what do modern
English people mourn? That is the subject of to-day's enquiry.

Lord Acton, in one of his most impressive passages, speaks of England
as living under "institutions which incorporate tradition and prolong
the reign of the dead." But the very notion of "prolonging the reign
of the dead" is an anachronism in an age which forgets its friends the
moment it has buried them. "Out of sight, out of mind" is an adage
which nowadays verifies itself with startling rapidity. Mourning is as
much out of date as Suttee; and, as to the Widow's Cap, the admirable
Signora Vesey Neroni in "Barchester Towers" was only a little in
advance of her age when she exclaimed, "The death of twenty husbands
should not make me undergo such a penance. It is as much a relic of
paganism as the sacrifice of a Hindoo woman at the burning of her
husband's body. If not so bloody, it is quite as barbarous and quite as
useless."

In days gone by, a death in a family extinguished all festivity.
Engagements were cancelled, social plans were laid aside, and the
mourners went into retreat for a twelvemonth. Men wore black trousers;
women swathed themselves in black crape. "Mourning Jewellery"--hideous
combinations of jet and bogwood--twinkled and jingled round the necks
of the bereaved, and widows wrote on letter-paper which was virtually
black, with a small white space in the middle of the sheet. Harry
Foker, we know, honoured his father's memory by having his brougham
painted black; and I have known a lady who, when she lost her husband,
had her boudoir lined with black velvet, after the fashion of Lord
Glenallan in "The Antiquary."

But nowadays people shrink (with amiable considerateness) from thus
inflicting their griefs on their friends; and if (as we must in charity
assume) they feel emotion, they studiously conceal it in their own
bosoms. The ball follows the funeral with a celerity and a frank
joyousness which suggest a Wake; and the keen pursuers of pleasure
protest, with quite a religious air, that for their own part they would
think it absolutely wicked to sorrow as those without hope. Weedless
widows, becomingly "gowned," as Ladies' Papers say, in pale grey or
black and white, sacrifice to propriety by forswearing the Opera or the
Racecourse for twelve months or so, but find a little fresh air on the
River or at Hurlingham absolutely necessary for health; and, if they
dine out quietly or even give a little dance at home, are careful to
protest that they have lost all pleasure in life, but must struggle
to keep up for the sake of the dear children. Surely, as Master
Shallow says, "good phrases are, and ever were, very commendable."
The old-fashioned manifestations of mourning were no doubt overdone,
but the modern disregard of the dead seems to me both heartless and
indecent.

The supreme exemplar of Mourning was, of course, Queen Victoria. During
her reign, and in her personal practice, the custom of Mourning reached
its highest point of persistence and solemnity. In 1844 Lady Lyttelton,
who was governess to the present King and his sister the Princess
Royal, wrote from Court, "We are such a 'boundless contiguity of shade'
just now." The immediate cause of that shade was the death of Prince
Albert's father; and although in Queen Victoria's life there was a fair
allowance of sunshine, still, as Ecclesiastes said, "the clouds return
after the rain"; and, in a family where cousinship is recognized to the
third and fourth generation, the "shade" of mourning must constantly
recur. The late Duke of Beaufort, head of the most numerous family in
the Peerage, always wore a black band round his white hat, because,
as he said, one of his cousins was always dead and he would not be
wanting in respect for the deceased; and, similarly, a Maid of Honour
once said to me, "I never see the Queen's jewels, because she is almost
always in mourning for some German prince or princess, and then she
only wears black ornaments." Of course, in a case where there was this
natural predisposition to mournful observance, the supreme loss of a
husband meant a final renunciation of the world and its gaieties. I
suppose it is no exaggeration to say that from her bereavement in 1861
to her death in 1901 Queen Victoria lived in unbroken communion with
the unseen but unforgotten. The necessary business of the State was
not, even for a week, laid aside; but pomps and ceremonies and public
appearances are profoundly distasteful to shattered nerves and broken
hearts. Yielding to the urgent advice of her Ministers, Queen Victoria
emerged from four years' seclusion to open the new Parliament in 1866;
and her reward was reaped in the following December, when a peculiarly
rancorous politician rebuked her at a great meeting of reformers in St.
James's Hall for a lack of popular sympathies. It was then that, on the
spur of the moment, John Bright, who himself had known so well what
bereavement meant, uttered his chivalrous defence of the absent and
lonely Sovereign:--

"I am not accustomed to stand up in defence of those who are
possessors of crowns. But I could not sit and hear that observation
without a sensation of wonder and of pain. I think there has been,
by many persons, a great injustice done to the Queen in reference to
her desolate and widowed position. And I venture to say this--that a
woman, be she the Queen of a great realm or be she the wife of one of
your labouring men, who can keep alive in her heart a great sorrow for
the lost object of her life and affection, is not at all likely to be
wanting in a great and generous sympathy with you."

Admirable and reverend as was this abiding sorrow, contemporary
observers felt that its outward manifestations were not always
harmonious. The Mausoleum at Frogmore is not a "poem in stone," and the
Monument of Gilt opposite the Albert Hall has supplied the frivolous
with an appropriate pun. Landseer, who, when once he forsook his stags
and deerhounds, was surely the most debased painter of a hideous age,
attained his worst in a picture of the Slopes at Windsor _circa_ 1862.
Under an inky sky, in the forefront of a sunless landscape, stands a
black pony, and on its back is a lady dressed in the deepest weeds,
with a black riding-skirt and a black bonnet. A retainer in subfusc
kilt holds the pony's head, a dingy terrier looks on with melancholy
eyes, and, in the distant background, two darkly-clad princesses shiver
on a garden-seat. The only spot of colour in the scene is a red
despatch-box, and the whole forms the highest tribute of English art to
a national disaster and a Queenly sorrow.

Black, and intensely black, were all the trappings of courtly
woe--black crape, black gloves, black feathers, black jewellery. The
State-robes were worn no longer; the State-coach stood unused in the
coach-house. The footmen wore black bands round their arms. It was
only by slow degrees, and on occasions of high and rare solemnity,
that white lace and modest plumes and diamonds and decorations were
permitted to enliven the firmament of courtly woe. But we of the
twentieth century live in an age of æsthetic revival, and, though
perhaps we do not mourn so heartily, we certainly mourn more prettily.
One lady at least there is who knows how to combine the sincerity of
sorrow with its becoming manifestation; and Queen Alexandra in mourning
garb is as delightful a vision as was Queen Alexandra in her clothing
of wrought gold, when she knelt before the altar of Westminster Abbey
and bowed her head to receive her diamond crown.

Queen Victoria's devotion to the memory of those whom she had lost
had one definite consequence which probably she little contemplated.
The annual service, conducted in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore on
the anniversary of the Prince Consort's death, accustomed English
people to the idea, which since the Reformation had become strangely
unfamiliar, of devotional commemoration of the Departed. To the
Queen's religious instincts, deeply tinged as they had been by Prince
Albert's Lutheranism, such commemorations were entirely natural; for
German Protestantism has always cherished a much livelier sense of
the relation between the living and the departed than was realized by
English Puritanism. The example set in high quarters quickly spread.
Memorial Services became an established form of English mourning.
Beginning with simple prayers and hymns, they gradually developed into
Memorial Eucharists. The splendid, wailing music of the _Dies Iræ_
was felt to be the Christian echo of the _Domine, Refugium_; and the
common instinct of mourning humanity found its appropriate expression
when, over the coffin of Prince Henry of Battenberg, the choir of St.
George's Chapel sang the Russian hymn of supplication, "Give rest, O
Christ, to Thy servant with Thy Saints."



VII

WILLS


If there is any one still left who knows his "Christian Year," he
will remember that Keble extolled "a sober standard of feeling" as a
special virtue of the English Prayer-book. I have always thought that
this "sober standard" is peculiarly well exemplified by the rubric
about Will-making in the Order for the Visitation of the Sick: "If the
sick person hath not before disposed of his goods, let him then be
admonished to make his Will and to declare his Debts, what he oweth and
what is owing unto him, for the better discharging of his conscience
and the quietness of his Executors. But men should often be put in
remembrance to take order for the settling of their temporal estates
whilst they are in health." There is something in these directions
which is curiously English and commonplace and unrhapsodical, and
therefore exactly congruous with the temper of a people who have never
set a high value on unpractical religions. To this general duty of
Will-making there may, of course, be exceptions. Thus Dr. Pusey in his
old age, when his family was reduced to one and he had no possessions
left except his books, said: "In a case like mine, the Law is the best
willmaker." A pietistic admirer, who had caught the words imperfectly,
in relating them substituted "Lord" for "Law"; but the substitution
did not really affect the sense. In cases where no great interests are
involved and the requirements of justice are not altogether clear, we
can wisely leave the eventual fate of our possessions to "God's scheme
for governing the Universe, by men miscalled Chance."

There is, I believe, a certain school of economic reformers who would
wholly abolish the prerogative of Will-making, and would decree that
whatever a man leaves behind him should pass automatically to his
children, or, failing them, to the State. On the social and fiscal
results of such a system I forbear to speculate; but, as a sincere
friend to Literature in all its branches, I would ask, if that were
law, what would become of the Novelists and the Playwrights? The law
of Stageland has been codified for us by the laborious care of Mr.
Jerome K. Jerome, and among its best-established principles seem to
be these: If a man dies without leaving a will, then all his property
goes to the nearest villain; but, if a man dies and leaves a will,
then all his property goes to whoever can get possession of that will.
Here are the raw materials of dramatic litigation enough to hold the
Stage for a century; and ill would it fare with the embarrassed
playwright if a mechanical process of law were substituted for the
strange possibilities of Will-making, with its startling caprices,
its incalculable miscarriages, and its eventual triumph of injured
innocence. Then again, as to Fiction. Foul fall the day when our
fiction-writers shall be unable to traffic any longer in testamentary
mystification. How would their predecessors have fared if they had
laboured under such a disability? I am by nature too cautious to
"intromit with" the mysteries of Scotch law, and in the romances of
the beloved Sir Walter the complications of Entail and of Will-making
are curiously intertwined. Certainly it was under the provisions of an
entail that Harry Bertram recovered the estates of Ellangowan, and I am
inclined to think that it was an Entail which prompted the Countess of
Glenallan to her hideous crime; but it was by will that Miss Margaret
Bertram devised the lands of Singleside, and it was under old Sir
Hildebrand's will that Francis Osbaldistone succeeded to Osbaldistone
Hall.

Even greater are the obligations of our English novelists to the
testamentary law. Miss Edgeworth made admirable use of it in "Almeria."
Had Englishmen no power of making wills, the "wicked Lord Hertford"
could not have executed the notorious instrument which gave such
unbounded delight to the scandalmongers of 1842-1843, and then Lord
Beaconsfield could not have drawn his Hogarth-like picture of the
reading of Lord Monmouth's will in "Coningsby." Thackeray did not
traffic very much in wills, though, to be sure, Jos Sedley left £1000
to Becky Sharp, and the opportune discovery of Lord Ringwood's will in
the pocket of his travelling-carriage simplified Philip's career. The
insolvent swindler Dr. Firmin, who had robbed his son and absconded
to America, left his will "in the tortoiseshell secretaire in the
consulting-room, under the picture of Abraham offering up Isaac."
Dickens was a great Will-maker. We know that if Dick Swiveller had
been a steadier youth he would have inherited more than £150 a year
from his aunt Rebecca. That loyal-hearted lover Mr. Barkis, in spite
of all rebuffs, made the obdurate Peggotty his residuary legatee. Mr.
Finching left "a beautiful will," and Madeline Bray was the subject
of a very complicated one. Mr. Dorrit's unexpected fortune accrued
to him, I think, as Heir-at-law; but the litigation in Jarndyce _v._
Jarndyce arose, as all the world knows, out of a disputed will; and the
Thellusson Will Case, on which Dickens relied, in later years supplied
Henry Kingsley with the plot of "Reginald Hetherege." Perhaps Dickens's
best piece of Will-making is given in the case of Mr. Spenlow, who,
being a practitioner in Doctors' Commons, spoke about his own will with
"a serenity, a tranquillity, a calm sunset air" which quite affected
David Copperfield; and then shattered all poor David's hopes by dying
intestate.

Anthony Trollope made good use of a Will and a Codicil in the plot of
"Orley Farm." George Eliot, whose disagreeable characters always seem a
good deal nearer life than her heroes and heroines, made Mr. Casaubon
behave very characteristically in the odious will by which he tried to
prevent Dorothea from marrying Will Ladislaw; and her picture of the
disappointment which fell upon the company when Peter Featherstone's
will was read is perhaps her best achievement in the way of humour.
"Nobody present had a farthing; but Mr. Trumbull had the gold-headed
cane," which, considered as an acknowledgment of his professional
services to the deceased, he was ungrateful enough to call "farcical."

The Law of Settlement and Entail is no part of our present study; but
it may be remarked in passing that the legal Opinion on the Base Fee
by which Harold Transome in "Felix Holt" held the Transome Estates was
written, at George Eliot's request, by a young Chancery Barrister, who
still survives, a brilliant figure in the world of Letters.

This is enough, and perhaps more than enough, about Wills in fiction;
but Wills in real life are fully as interesting. The late Sir Charles
Butt, who presided over the Divorce Court and the Probate Court, once
told me that, though the aspect of human nature which is exhibited in
Divorce is not ideally beautiful, it is far less repulsive than that
which is disclosed by Probate. None of the stories which one has read
about forged wills, forced wills, wills made under pressure, wills made
under misrepresentation, are too strange to be true. A century ago the
daughter of a great landowner in the North of England succeeded to his
wealth under circumstances which, to put it mildly, caused surprise. In
later life she had a public quarrel with a high-born but intemperate
dame, who concluded the colloquy by observing, with mordant emphasis,
"Well, at any rate I didn't hold my dying father's hand to make him
sign a will he never saw, and then murder the Butler to prevent his
telling." "Ouida," or Miss Braddon, or some other novelist of High Life
might, I think, make something of this scene.

Spiteful Wills--wills which, by rehearsing and revoking previous
bequests, mortify the survivors when the testator is no longer in
a position to do so _viva voce_--form a very curious branch of the
subject. Lord Kew was a very wealthy peer of strict principles and
peculiarly acrid temper, and, having no wife or children to annoy, he
"took it out," as the saying is, of his brothers, nephews, and other
expectant kinsfolk. One gem from his collection I recall, in some such
words as these: "By a previous will I had left £50,000 to my brother
John; but, as he has sent his son to Oxford instead of Cambridge,
contrary to my expressed wish, I reduce the legacy to £500." May the
earth lie light on that benevolent old despot! Eccentricities of
bequest, again, might make a pleasant chapter. The present writer,
though not yet in tottering age, can recall an annuitant whose claim to
£20 a year was founded (in part) on the skill with which he had tied
his master's pigtail, and that master died in 1830. The proverbial
longevity of annuitants was illustrated in the case of a grey parrot,
for whose maintenance his departed mistress left £10 a year. The bird
was not very young when the annuity began to accrue; and, as years went
on and friends dropped off, he began to feel the loneliness of his
lot. With a tenderness of heart which did them infinite credit, the
good couple to whose care the bird had been left imported a companion
exactly like himself to cheer his solitude. Before long one of the
parrots died, and the mourners remarked that these younger birds had
not half the constitution of the older generation. So, as long as they
lived, the parrot lived, and the pension lived also.

Let my closing word on Wills bear the authority of a great name. To a
retailer of news who informed him that Lord Omnium, recently deceased,
had left a large sum of money to charities, Mr. Gladstone replied with
characteristic emphasis: "Thank him for nothing! He was obliged to
leave it. He couldn't carry it with him."



VIII

PENSIONS


"There is no living in this country under twenty thousand a year--not
that that suffices, but it entitles one to ask a pension for two or
three lives." This was the verdict of Horace Walpole, who, as Sir
George Trevelyan antithetically says, "lived in the country and on
the country during more than half a century, doing for the country
less than half a day's work in half a year." Talleyrand said that no
one could conceive how enjoyable a thing existence was capable of
being who had not belonged to the _Ancienne Noblesse_ of France before
the Revolution; but really the younger son of an important Minister,
General, Courtier, or Prelate under our English Georges had a good
deal to be thankful for. It is pleasant to note the innocent candour
with which, in Walpole's manly declaration, one enormity is made to
justify another. A father who held great office in Church or State or
Law gave, as a matter of course, all his most desirable preferments to
his sons. These preferments enabled the sons to live in opulence at the
public charge, their duties being performed by deputy. The Clerk of
the Rolls and the Clerk of the Hanaper had no personal contact with the
mysterious articles to which they are attached. The Clerk of the Irons,
the Surveyor of the Meltings, and the Accountant of Slops lived far
remote from such "low-thoughtéd cares." The writer of this book deduces
his insignificant being from a gentleman who divided with a brother
the lucrative sinecure of Scavenger of Dublin, though neither ever
set foot in that fragrant city. A nephew of Lord-Chancellor Thurlow
(who survived till 1874) drew pensions for abolished offices to the
amount of £11,000 a year; and a son of Archbishop Moore was Principal
Registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury from his boyhood till
the abolition of his Court in 1858, when he was pensioned off with
£10,000 a year.

When the sands of life were running in the glass, it was customary
for a filial placeman to obtain further pensions for his sons and
daughters, on the obvious plea that it was cruel to cast young men
and women, who had been reared in comfort on the mercies of a rough
world. Thus the golden chain of Royal bounty held at least three lives
together. The grandfather was First Lord of the Treasury or Chancellor
of the Exchequer or Paymaster-General, and into his personal profits it
would be invidious, even indecent, to enquire. He might make his eldest
son, while still a boy at Eton, Clerk of the Estreats, and his second,
before he took his degree at Cambridge, Usher of the Exchequer. Thus
Lord-Chancellor Erskine made his son Secretary of Presentations when
he was eighteen, and Charles Greville was appointed Secretary of
Jamaica (where he never set his foot) before he was twenty. And then
when, after fifty or sixty years of blameless enjoyment, the amiable
sinecurist was nearing his last quarter-day, a benevolent Treasury
intervened to save his maiden daughters or orphan nieces from pecuniary
embarrassment. It was of such "near and dear relations" of a public man
that Sydney Smith affirmed that their "eating, drinking, washing, and
clothing cost every man in the United Kingdom twopence or threepence
a year"; and, to the critics who deprecated this commercial way of
regarding the situation, he replied, with characteristic vigour: "I
have no idea that the Sophias and Carolines of any man breathing are to
eat national veal, to drink public tea, to wear Treasury ribands, and
then that we are to be told that it is coarse to animadvert upon this
pitiful and eleemosynary splendour. If this is right, why not mention
it? If it is wrong, why should not he who enjoys the ease of supporting
his sisters in this manner bear the shame of it?" In thus writing of
the Pension List as it stood in 1807, the admirable Sydney was at once
the successor of Burke and the forerunner of Lord Grey. In 1780 Burke
had addressed all the resources of his genius to the task of restoring
the independence of Parliament by economical reform. It was, as Mr.
Morley says, the number of sinecure places and unpublished pensions
which "furnished the Minister with an irresistible lever." Burke found
that "in sweeping away those factitious places and secret pensions he
would be robbing the Court of its chief implements of corruption and
protecting the representative against his chief motive in selling his
country." His power of oratory was reinforced by a minute knowledge
of all the shady and shabby abuses, all the manifold and complicated
corruptions, which had accumulated under the protection of the Royal
name. The reformer's triumph was signal and complete. Vast numbers of
sinecures were swept away, but some remained. The Pension List was
closely curtailed, but pensions were still conferred. No public servant
ever more richly earned a provision for his old age and decrepitude
than Burke himself; but when, broken by years and sorrows, he accepted
a pension from the Crown, a Whig Duke of fabulous wealth, just thirty
years old, had the temerity to charge him with a discreditable
departure from his former principles of economic reform. The Duke was a
booby: but his foolhardiness enriched English literature with "A Letter
to a Noble Lord on the Attacks made on Mr. Burke and his Pension." To
read that Letter, even after the lapse of 110 years, is to realize
that, in spite of all corruption and all abuse, pecuniary rewards for
political service need not be dishonourable or unreasonable.

But corruption and abuse there were, and in sufficient quantities
to justify all the bitter fun which "Peter Plymley" poured upon the
Cannings, the Jenkinsons, and the Percevals. The reform of the Pension
List became a cardinal object of reforming Radicals; and politicians
like Joseph Hume, publicists like Albany Fonblanque, pursued it with
incessant perseverance,

  "Till Grey went forth in 'Thirty-two to storm Corruption's hold."

In 1834 the first Reformed Parliament overhauled the whole system and
brought some curious transactions into the light of day. Whereas up
to that time the Pension List amounted to £145,000 a year, it was now
reduced to £75,000; and its benefits were restricted to "servants of
the Crown and public, and to those who by their useful discoveries
in science or attainments in literature and the arts had merited the
gracious consideration of their Sovereign and the gratitude of their
country." Vested interests were, of course, respected; for had we
not even compensated the slaveholders? Two years ago one of these
beneficiaries survived in a serene old age, and, for all I know,
there may be others still spared to us, for, as Mr. G. A. Sala truly
remarked, it never is safe to say that any one is dead, for if you do
he is sure to write from the country and say he is only ninety-seven
and never was better.

A typical representative of the unreformed system was John Wilson
Croker (1780-1857), whose literary efforts Macaulay trounced, and whose
political utterances were thus described by Lord Beaconsfield:--

"There never was a fellow for giving a good hearty kick to the people
like Rigby. Himself sprung from the dregs of the populace, this was
disinterested. What could be more patriotic and magnanimous than his
jeremiads over the fall of the Montmorencis and the Crillions, or
the possible catastrophe of the Percys and the Seymours? The truth
of all this hullabaloo was that Rigby had a sly pension which, by
an inevitable association of ideas, he always connected with the
maintenance of an aristocracy. All his rigmarole dissertations on the
French Revolution were impelled by this secret influence; and, when he
moaned like a mandrake over Nottingham Castle in flames, the rogue had
an eye all the while to quarter-day."

It was an evil day for those who love to grow rich upon the public
money when Mr. Gladstone became the controller of the National Purse.
One of his first acts was to revise the system of political pensions,
which by an Act of 1869 was reconstituted as it stands to-day. There
are now three classes of persons entitled to pensions for services
rendered in political office; and the scale is arranged on that curious
principle which also regulates the "tips" to servants in a private
house--that the larger your wage is, the larger your gratuity shall
be. Thus a Minister who has drawn £5000 a year is entitled after four
years' service to a pension of £2000 a year; he who has drawn £3000
a year for six years is entitled to £1200 a year; while he who has
laboured for ten years for the modest remuneration of £1000 a year must
be content with a pittance of £800 a year. _Qui habet, dabitur ei_; but
with this restriction--that only four pensions of any one class can run
concurrently.

Politicians who had been brought up in the "spacious days" and generous
methods of the older dispensation were by no means enamoured of what
they used to call "Gladstone's cheeseparing economies." Sir William
Gregory used to relate how, when, as a child, he asked Lord Melbourne
for a fine red stick of official sealing-wax, that genial Minister
thrust it into his hand, together with a bundle of quill pens, saying,
"You can't begin too early. All these things belong to the public, and
your business in life must be to get out of the public all you can."
An eminent statesman, trained in these traditions, had drawn from very
early days a pension for an abolished office in Chancery. In due course
he became a Cabinet Minister, and, when he fell from that high estate,
he duly pocketed his £2000 a year. Later he came into a very large
income, but this he obligingly saved for his nephews and nieces, living
meanwhile on his twofold pension.

I will conclude with a pleasanter anecdote. Until half-way through the
last century it was customary to give a Speaker on retiring from the
House of Commons a pension of £2000 a year for two lives. It is related
that in 1857 Mr. Speaker Shaw-Lefevre, on his elevation to the peerage
as Lord Eversley, said that he could not endure the thought of imposing
a burden on posterity, and would therefore take £4000 a year for his
own life instead of £2000 a year for two. This public-spirited action
was highly commended, and, as he lived till 1888, virtue was, as it
ought always to be, its own reward.



IX

THE SEASON AS IT WAS


The subject is worthy to be celebrated both in verse and in prose.
Exactly sixty years ago Bulwer-Lytton, in his anonymous satire "The New
Timon," thus described the nocturnal aspect of the West End in that
choice period of the year which to us Londoners is pre-eminently "The
Season":--

  "O'er Royal London, in luxuriant May,
  While lamps yet twinkle, dawning creeps the day.
  Home from the hell the pale-eyed gamester steals;
  Home from the ball flash jaded Beauty's wheels;
  From fields suburban rolls the early cart;
  So rests the Revel--so awakes the Mart."

Twenty-four years later Lord Beaconsfield, in "Lothair," gave a vivid
sketch of the same scenes as beheld by daylight:--

"Town was beginning to blaze. Broughams whirled and bright barouches
glanced, troops of social cavalry cantered and caracolled in morning
rides, and the bells of prancing ponies, lashed by delicate hands,
gingled in the laughing air. There were stoppages in Bond Street--which
seems to cap the climax of civilization, after crowded clubs and
swarming parks."

It is curious that of the two descriptions the earlier needs much less
revision than the later. Lamps still "twinkle" (though, to be sure,
they are electric, whereas when Bulwer-Lytton wrote gas had barely
ousted oil from its last fastness in Grosvenor Square). "Hells,"
though more euphemistically named, still invite the domiciliary visits
of our much-aspersed police. "Beauty" dances even more vigorously
than in 1846, for Waltzes and Kitchen-Lancers and Washington Posts
have superseded the decorous quadrilles which our mothers loved. And
still the market-gardens of Acton and Ealing and Hounslow send their
"towering squadrons" of waggons laden heavens-high with the fruits and
vegetables for to-morrow's luncheon. In this merry month of May 1906
an observer, standing at Hyde Park Corner "when the night and morning
meet," sees London substantially as Bulwer-Lytton saw it.

But, when we turn to Lord Beaconsfield's description, the changes
wrought by six-and-thirty years are curiously marked. "Bright
barouches glanced." In the present day a Barouche, the handsomest and
gracefullest of all open carriages, is as rare as an Auk's Egg or an
original Folio of Shakespeare. Only two or three survive. One, richly
dight in royal crimson, bears the Queen, beautiful as Cleopatra in her
barge. In another, almost imperially purple, Lady Londonderry sits
enthroned; a third, palely blue as the forget-me-not, carries Lady
Carysfort; but soon the tale of barouches ends. Victorias and landaus
and "Clarences" and "Sociables" make the common throng of carriages,
and their serried ranks give way to the impetuous onrush of the noxious
Motor or the milder impact of the Electric Brougham.

"Troops of social cavalry" were, when Lord Beaconsfield wrote
"Lothair," the characteristic glories of Rotten Row; but horses and
horsemanship alike have waned. Men take their constitutional canter
in costumes anciently confined to rat-catching, and the general
aspect of Rotten Row suggests the idea of Mounted Infantry rather
than of "Cavalry." Alongside the ride forty years ago ladies drove
their pony-phaetons--a pretty practice and a pretty carriage; but
both have utterly disappeared, and the only bells that "gingle in the
laughing air" are the warning signals of the Petrol Fiend, as, bent
on destruction, he swoops down from Marble Arch to Piccadilly. Does a
captious critic gaze enquiringly on the unfamiliar verb to "gingle"?
It was thus that Lord Beaconsfield wrote it in "Lothair"; even as
in the same high romance he described a lady with a rich bunch of
"Stephanopolis" in her hand. It is not for the ephemeral scribbler to
correct the orthography of the immortal dead. As to "stoppages in Bond
Street," they were isolated and noteworthy incidents in 1870; in 1906,
thanks to the admission of omnibuses into the narrow thoroughfare, they
are occurrences as regular as the postman's knock or the policeman's
mailed tread.

We have seen the aspects in which the London Season presented itself
to two great men of yore. Let me now descend to a more personal level.
We will imagine ourselves transported back to the year 1880, and to
the month of May. A young gentleman--some five-and-twenty summers, as
Mr. G. P. R. James would have said, have passed over his fair head--is
standing near the steps of St. George's Hospital between the hours of
eleven and midnight. He is smartly dressed in evening clothes, with a
white waistcoat, a gardenia in his button-hole, and a silver-crutched
stick in his hand. He is smoking a cigarette and pondering the question
where he shall spend his evening, or, more strictly, the early hours of
next day. He is in a state of serene contentment with himself and the
world, for he has just eaten an excellent dinner, where plovers' eggs
and asparagus have reminded him that the Season has really begun. To
the pleasure-seeking Londoner these symptoms of returning summer mean
more, far more, than the dogrose in the hedgerow or the first note of
the nightingale in the copse. Since dinner he has just looked in at an
evening party, which bored him badly, and has "cut" two others where he
was not so likely to be missed. And now arises the vital question of
the Balls. I use the plural number, for there will certainly be two,
and probably three, to choose from. Here, at St. George's Hospital,
our youth is at the centre of the world's social concourse. A swift
and unbroken stream of carriages is pouring down from Grosvenor Square
and Mayfair to Belgrave Square and Eaton Square and Chesham Place, and
it meets as it goes the ascending procession which begins in Belgravia
and ends in Portman Square. To-night there is a Royal Ball at Grosvenor
House, certainly the most stately event of the season; a little dance,
exquisitely gay and bright, in Piccadilly; and a gorgeous entertainment
in Prince's Gate, where the aspiring Distiller is struggling, with
enormous outlay, into social fame. All these have solicited the honour
of our young friend's presence, and now is the moment of decision. It
does not take long to repudiate Prince's Gate; there will be the best
band in London, and ortolans for supper, but there will be no one there
that one ever saw before, and it is too sickening to be called "My boy"
by that bow-windowed bounder, the master of the house. There remain
Grosvenor House and Piccadilly, and happily these can be combined in
a harmonious perfection. Grosvenor House shall come first, for the
arrival of the Prince and Princess is a pageant worth seeing--the most
gracious host and the most beautiful hostess in London ushering the
Royal guests, with courtly pomp, into the great gallery, walled with
the canvases of Rubens, which serves as the dancing-room. Then the fun
begins, and the bright hours fly swiftly, till one o'clock suggests
the tender thought of supper, which is served on gold plate and Sèvres
china in a garden-tent of Gobelins tapestry. And now it is time for a
move; and our youth, extricating himself from the undesired attentions
of the linkmen, pops into a hansom and speeds to Piccadilly, where he
finds delights of a different kind--no Royalty, no pomp, no ceremony;
but a warm welcome, and all his intimate friends, and the nicest girls
in London eager for a valse.

As day begins to peep, he drinks his crowning tumbler of champagne-cup,
and strolls home under the opalescent dawn, sniffing the fragrance
from pyramids of strawberries as they roll towards Covent Garden, and
exchanging a friendly "Good night" with the policeman on the beat, who
seems to think that "Good morning" would be a more suitable greeting.
So to bed, with the cheerful consciousness of a day's work well done,
and the even more exhilarating prospect of an unbroken succession
of such days, full of feasting and dancing and riding and polo and
lawn-tennis, till August stifles the Season with its dust and drives
the revellers to Homburg or the moors.

But I awake, and lo! it is a dream, though a dream well founded on
reality. For I have been describing the London Season as it was when
the world was young.

  "When all the world is old, lad,
    And all the trees are brown;
  And all the sport is stale, lad,
    And all the wheels run down;
  Creep home, and take your place there,
    The spent and maimed among:
  God grant you find one face there,
    You loved when all was young."



X

THE SEASON AS IT IS


That delicate critic, the late Mr. William Cory, observes in one of his
letters that Virgil's

  "Sunt lacrymæ rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt"

has its modern equivalent in Wordsworth's

  "Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade
  Of that which once was great is passed away."

The full luxury of that grief is reserved for those who, a decade
hence, shall moralize on "the London Season," for the thing which now
we so describe will then have utterly perished, and its name will
only arouse a tender and regretful emotion. Even now we have seen its
glories fade, and soon it will have shared the fate of those Venetian
splendours which Wordsworth mourned. But in the meantime it still
exists, though in a vastly different form from that which it wore in
mid-Victorian years. Just now I was describing some of the changes
which have occurred since the distant days when Bulwer-Lytton and Lord
Beaconsfield described London in May; and, following humbly in their
wake, I endeavoured to depict it as it was when I had my part in it.
But change only yields place to change. Society, like the individuals
who compose it, passes onward in perpetual vicissitude. As Shelley
says, "Naught may endure but mutability." So the London Season of
1906 differs as notably from the Season of 1880 as the Season of 1880
from that of 1846. Let me catalogue some of the changes and try to
account for them. In the first place, the Season is much less exactly
circumscribed by dates. In days gone by, it began with the Opening of
Parliament, which was always about the 7th of February, and it lasted,
with its regular intermissions for Easter and Whitsuntide, till the
last week of July. Then Society transported itself in turn to Goodwood,
to Cowes, and to a German watering-place or a Scotch moor, according
to its physical condition, and it was darkly rumoured that, if people
found themselves compelled by domestic or financial reasons to remain
in London during August, they sought to escape detection by keeping
the windows fronting the street closely shuttered, and lived in their
back rooms in unbroken contemplation of the leads and the mews. If you
chanced to meet a man in Piccadilly in September, you might be sure
that he would be wearing country clothes and would assure you that he
was only "passing through" between Doncaster and Scotland. Nowadays
the Season has no particular limits. London is nearly as full in
December as it is in May. Dinners and plays and suppers at restaurants
are as frequent, and, barring the fogs, as bright, at Christmas as at
Midsummer. Even in September Clubland is not deserted; and there are
people bold enough to defy the world by returning from their summer
exodus as early as October. The reason for the change, as for many
others like it, is the reduction of territorial incomes. 1880 may be
taken as, roughly, the last of the good years for agriculture. The
incessant rains of 1879 had even then begun to tell their tale. Tenants
were asking for big reductions, and farms hitherto eagerly sought were
becoming unlettable. I know a landowner on a great scale who, a year or
two later, only pocketed 10 per cent. of his income from land, whereas
five years before he would have thought an abatement of 10 per cent.
disastrous. All this has told increasingly on social life, for people
found themselves unable to keep both a country house and a London house
going at the same time, and, being driven to choose between the two,
often decided to let the country house and its shooting and make London
their headquarters for the whole year. So, by degrees, autumn faded
imperceptibly into winter, winter into spring, and spring into summer.
Each season in its turn found people dwelling peaceably in their urban
habitations, entertaining and being entertained; and so "_the_ Season"
lost its sharp edges. The meeting of Parliament brought no perceptible
change in the aspect of the town. "High Midsummer Pomps" were no longer
so "high" as in former years, but, _per contra_, there was much more
gaiety in the autumn and winter and early spring.

Another cause which has contributed to the effacement of the ancient
time-marks is that the Court tends to disregard them. Under the present
reign, Windsor Castle has become as much a social centre as Buckingham
Palace. There are banquets in St. George's Hall in December, as well
as garden-parties on the the Slopes in June; and so, under the action
of Royal influence, the social seasons melt into one another, like the
hues of the prism. Then, again, the practice of the "Weekend," imported
from Lancashire and sanctioned by Westminster, helps to denude the
town in summer; for the "end" tends naturally to prolong itself till
it overlaps the beginning, and Friday-to-Tuesday parties, treading on
the heels of Whitsuntide and to be followed in quick succession by
Ascot, make mish-mash of what was aforetime "an entire and perfect
chrysolite"--a complete and continuous whole.

In describing my hero of 1880 as he surveyed his evening's amusements
and chose the most rewarding, I took for granted that he had at least
three balls to choose from. Nowadays he is lucky if he has one. Here
again, and conspicuously, agricultural depression has made its mark.
In the years between 1870 and 1880, during an unbroken spell of good
trade and good harvests, rich people struggled with one another for a
vacant night on which to entertain their friends. For example, Lady
A. had just brought out a daughter, and wished to give a ball for her
benefit. Say that she set her affections on Monday the 28th of May.
Before she issued her cards she took counsel with all her friends,
for in those days ball-giving mothers were a sort of Limited Company,
and all knew one another. She found that Mrs. B. had mentally fixed
on Tuesday, 29th, and, if Mrs. C. had thought of Monday, she would be
so kind as to take Wednesday, 30th. So all was amicably agreed; there
would be no clashing, which would be such a pity and would spoil both
balls; and the cards were duly issued. Directly afterwards, as if moved
by some occult and fiendish impulse, the Duchess of D---- pounced on
Monday, 28th, for a Royal Ball at D---- House, or, worse still because
more perilously tempting, for a "very small dance," to which all the
nicest young men would go, and where they would stay till three. In the
face of such mortifications as these, the emulous hospitalities of the
aspiring Distiller were of no account; for the "nice men" would either
disregard them, or, having looked in for half-an-hour, would come on to
spend the night at the houses where they felt themselves at home.

The hero of 1880, if only he was well connected, well mannered, and
sufficiently well known, might fairly reckon on dining six nights out
of the seven at a host's expense. Indeed, if he was at all popular, he
could safely afford to decline the invitation which old Mr. Wellbore
issued six weeks in advance and reserve himself for a livelier meal
at shorter notice. Not so to-day. Our young friend, if he has a
constitutional objection to paying for his own dinner, must take what
he can get in the way of invitations, and not be too particular about
the cook or the company. Here the cause of change is not decrease
of wealth. As long as there is a balance at the bank, and even when
there is none, people will dine; and dinner-giving is the last form of
hospitality which Society will let die. But nowadays dinners are made
ancillary to Bridge. If our friend cannot afford to lose £50 in an
evening he will not be asked to dine at a house which reckons itself
as belonging to "the Mode"; or if, for old acquaintance' sake, he is
allowed to find a place at the dinner-table, he is compelled to sit all
the evening by the least attractive daughter of the house, or to listen
to some fogey, too fossilized for Bridge, discoursing on the iniquities
of Mr. Birrell's Bill. "Tobacco," said Lord Beaconsfield, "is the Tomb
of Love." If he were with us now, he would pronounce that Bridge is the
Extinguisher of Hospitality.

Yet once again I note a startling discrepancy between the Season
as it was and the Season as it is. Then a young man who wanted air
and exercise in the afternoon played tennis at Lord's, or skated
at Prince's, or took a gallop in Richmond Park, or, if he was very
adventurous and up-to-date, sped out to Hampton Court or Windsor on a
bone-shaking bicycle six feet high. All these recreations are possible
to him to-day; but all have yielded to motoring. Dressed in the most
unbecoming of all known costumes, his expressive eyes concealed by
goggles, and his graceful proportions swathed in oilskin, he urges
his mad career to Brighton or Stratford or Salisbury Plain. No doubt
he has the most fascinating companions in the world, for girls are
enthusiastic motorists; but I fancy that Edwin and Angelina presented
a more attractive appearance when, neatly dressed and beautifully
mounted, they rode in the cool of the evening along the shady side of
Rotten Row.

However, I am a kind of social "Old Mortality" rummaging among the
tombs of what has been and can be no more, and I fancy that Old
Mortality's opinions on youth and beauty would have been justly
disregarded.



XI

THE SINS OF SOCIETY


In the year 1870 a flame of religious zeal was suddenly kindled in
the West End of London. In that year the Rev. George Howard Wilkinson
(now Bishop of St. Andrews) was appointed Vicar of St. Peter's, Eaton
Square. The church in the Belgravian district was as dry as tinder;
it caught fire from Mr. Wilkinson's fervour, and the fire soon became
a conflagration. This is Matthew Arnold's description of the great
preacher at the height of his power: "He was so evidently sincere, more
than sincere, burnt up with sorrow, that he carried every one with
him, and half the church was in tears. I do not much believe in good
being done by a man unless he can give _light_, and Wilkinson's fire is
very turbid; but his power of heating, penetrating, and agitating is
extraordinary." This description belongs to the year 1872, but it might
have been written with equal truth at any date between 1870 and 1883.
In all my experience of preaching (which is long, wide, and varied) I
have never seen a congregation dominated by its minister so absolutely
as the congregation of St. Peter's was dominated by Mr. Wilkinson. I
say "congregation" advisedly, for I should think that at least half
the seatholders belonged to other parishes. The smartest carriages in
London blocked the approach to the church. The great dames of Grosvenor
Square and Carlton House Terrace rubbed shoulders with the opulent
inhabitants of Tyburnia and South Kensington, Cabinet Ministers fought
for places in the gallery, and M.P.'s were no more accounted of than
silver in the days of Solomon.

And this was not a mere assemblage of hearers. The congregation of St.
Peter's were pre-eminently givers. £4000 a year was the regular product
of the alms-bags, let alone the innumerable sums sent privately to the
Vicar. "I want a thousand pounds." This simple but emphatic statement
from the pulpit one Sunday was succeeded on the following Sunday by
the quiet announcement, "I have got a thousand pounds." What was the
secret of this attraction? It was entirely personal. It did not in the
least depend on theological bias. Mr. Wilkinson belonged to no party.
He had begun life as an Evangelical, and he retained the unction and
fervour which were characteristic of that school at its best; but he
was feeling his way towards a higher churchmanship, and had discarded
most of his earlier shibboleths. The fabric was frankly hideous, and
the well-meant attempts to make it look less like a barn and more
like a church only resulted in something between a mosque and a
synagogue. There was no ritualism. The music was too elaborate for the
choir, and the curates were feeble beyond all description. The Vicar
was everything; and even he had none of the gifts which are commonly
supposed to make a Popular Preacher. He was not the least flummery or
flowery. He was reserved and dignified in manner, and his language was
quite unadorned. His voice was a monotonous moan, occasionally rising
into a howl. He was conspicuously free from the tendency to prophesy
smooth things, and he even seemed to take a delight in rubbing the
pungent lotion of his spiritual satire into the sore places of the
hearers' conscience. If Jeremiah had prophesied in a surplice, he would
have been like the Prophet of Belgravia; and as for Savonarola, his
sermon, as paraphrased in chapter xxiv. of "Romola," might have been
delivered, with scarcely a word altered, from the pulpit of St. Peter's.

And here we touch the pith and core of Mr. Wilkinson's preaching. He
rebuked the Sins of Society as no one had ventured to rebuke them since
the days of Whitefield and the Wesleys. The Tractarian Movement, so
heart-searching, so conscience-stirring at Oxford, had succumbed in
the fashionable parts of London to the influences which surrounded it,
and had degenerated into a sort of easy-going ceremonialism--partly
antiquarian, partly worldly, and wholly ineffective for spiritual
revival or moral reformation. Into this Dead Sea of lethargy and
formalism Mr. Wilkinson burst like a gunboat. He scattered his fire
left and right, aimed high and aimed low, blazed and bombarded without
fear or favour; sent some crafts to the bottom, set fire to others,
and covered the sea with wreckage. In less metaphorical language, he
rebuked the sins of all and sundry, from Duchesses to scullery-maids,
Premiers to pageboys, octogenarian rakes to damsels in their teens.
Then, as now, Society loved to be scolded, and the more Mr. Wilkinson
thundered the more it crowded to his feet. "Pay your bills." "Get up
when you are called." "Don't stay till three at a ball and then say
that you are too delicate for early services." "Eat one dinner a day
instead of three, and try to earn that one." "Give up champagne for
the season, and what you save on your wine-merchant's bill send to
the Mission Field." "You are sixty-five years old and have not been
confirmed. Never too late to mend. Join a Confirmation Class at once,
and try to remedy, by good example now, all the harm you have done your
servants or your neighbours by fifty years' indifference." "Sell that
diamond cross which you carry with you into the sin-polluted atmosphere
of the Opera, give the proceeds to feed the poor, and wear the only
real cross--the cross of self-discipline and self-denial."

These are echoes--faint, indeed, but not, I think, unfaithful--of
thirty years ago, and they have suddenly been awoke from their long
slumber by the sermons which Father Vaughan has just been preaching at
the Jesuits' Church in Farm Street, Mayfair. The good Father, exalting
his own church, perhaps a little unduly, at the expense of the Anglican
churches in the district, observed complacently that "Farm Street, in
spite of its extension, was all too small" for its congregation. For my
own part, I do not belong to that fold, and I never wander to strange
churches for the pleasure of having my ears tickled; so I only know
Father Vaughan's utterances as they reach me through the newspapers. A
report in the third person always tends to enfeeble rhetoric; but, in
spite of that hindrance, Father Vaughan's style seems to lack nothing
in the way of emphasis or directness. Here is a fragment of his sermon
preached on Sunday the 10th of June 1906:--

"It was no easy task for the votaries of pleasure when Sunday came
round to all of a sudden forget their class distinctions, their
privileged sets, their social successes, their worldly goods, and to
remember that they were going into the presence of Him before whom man
and woman were not what they happened to have, but what they happened
to be--that the debutante beauty might be before God less than her
maid who waited up half the night for her, nay, less than the meanest
scullery-maid below stairs; while the millionaire with means to buy up
whole countries might be in God's sight far less pleasing and very much
more guilty than the lowest groom in his stable yard."

Not less vigorous was the allocution of June 17.

"If Dives, who was buried in Hell, were to revisit the earth he would
most surely have the _entrée_ to London's smartest set to-day. He
would be literally pelted with invitations. And why not? Dives, so
well groomed and turned out, with such a well-lined larder and so
well-stocked a cellar, would be the very ideal host to cultivate. He
would 'do you so well,' you would meet the 'right people at his place,'
and you could always bring your 'latest friend.' Besides, what a good
time one would have at his house-parties, where there would be no fear
of being bored or dull!"[5]

[5] Here I seem to catch an echo of Dr. Pusey's sermon on "Why did
Dives lose his soul?"

And yet again:--

"It was well when the winning-card fell into their hands, for then
there was just a chance of some dressmaker or tradesman being paid
something on account before becoming bankrupt. With such examples of
the misuse of wealth before their eyes, it was a wonder there were not
more Socialists than there actually were."

All the memories of my youth have been revived by Father Vaughan.
Instead of 1906, 1876; instead of the Gothic gloom of Farm Street, the
tawdry glare of St. Peter's, Eaton Square; instead of a Jesuit Father
in the pulpit, a vigorous Protestant who renounces the Pope and all his
works and glories in the Anglicanism of the Church of England. Grant
those differences, which after all are more incidental than essential,
and the sermons exactly reproduce those stirring days when the present
Bishop of St. Andrews "shook the arsenal" of fashion, "thundered over"
London, and achieved, as his admirers said, the supreme distinction of
spoiling the London Season.

I am convinced that the Higher Critics of a later age, collating
the Wilkinsonian tradition with such fragments as remain of Father
Vaughan's discourses, will come to the conclusion that "Wilkinson"
never existed (except in Wordsworth's ode to the Spade), but was a
kind of heroic figure conceived by a much later generation, which
had quivered under the rhetoric of a real person or persons called
Vaughan; and the opinion of the learned will be sharply divided on such
questions as whether Vaughan was one or many; if one, whether he was
a Priest, a Cardinal, a Head Master, or an Independent Minister; or
whether he was all four at different stages of his career.



XII

OXFORD


  "Once, my dear--but the world was young then--
    Magdalen elms and Trinity limes,--
  Lissom the oars and backs that swung then,
    Eight good men in the good old times--
  Careless we and the chorus flung then.
                Under St. Mary's chimes!

  "Still on her spire the pigeons hover;
    Still by her gateway flits the gown;
  Ah, but her secret? You, young lover,
    Drumming her old ones forth from town,
  Know you the secret none discover?
                Tell it--when _you_ go down."

What Matthew Arnold did for the interpretation of Oxford through the
medium of prose, that Mr. Quiller-Couch has done through the medium
of verse. In the poem from which I have just quoted two stanzas he
conveys, as no one else has ever conveyed it in poetry, the tender and
elusive charm of that incomparable place.

  "Know you her secret none can utter--
  Hers of the Book, the tripled Crown?"

It is a hard question, and susceptible of some very prosaic and
therefore inappropriate answers. The true answer can, I think, only be
given by those for whom Oxford lies, half hid, in the enchanted past:
"Tell it--when _you_ go down."

Some parts of the spell which Oxford exercises on those who are
subjected to her influence are in no sense secret. We perceive them
from the day when we first set foot within her precincts, and the sense
of them abides with us for ever.

  "If less insensible than sodden clay
  In a sea-river's bed at ebb of tide,"

all sons of Oxford must realize her material beauty, her historical
pre-eminence, her contribution to thought and culture, her influence on
the religious life of England.

  "Ah, but her secret? You, young lover."

There is nothing secret about all this; it is palpable and manifest;
and yet it does not exhaust the spell. Something there is that remains
undiscovered, or at best half-discovered--felt and guessed at, but
not clearly apprehended--until we have passed away from the "dreaming
spires"--the cloisters and the gardens and the river--to that sterner
life for which these mysterious enchantments have been preparing us.

  "Know you the secret none discover?"

If you do, that is proof that time has done its work and has brought
to the test of practical result the influences which were shaping
your mind and, still more potently, your heart, between eighteen and
twenty-two. What that "secret" is, let an unworthy son of Oxford try to
tell.

To begin with a negative, it is not the secret of Nirvana. There are
misguided critics abroad in the land who seem to assume that life
lived easily in a beautiful place, amid a society which includes all
knowledge in its comprehensive survey, and far remote from the human
tragedy of poverty and toil and pain, must necessarily be calm. And
so, as regards the actual work and warfare of mankind, it may be. The
bitter cry of starving Poplar does not very readily penetrate to the
well-spread table of an Oxford common-room. In a laburnum-clad villa
in the Parks we can afford to reason very temperately about life in
cities where five families camp in one room. But when we leave the
actualities of life and come to the region of thought and opinion,
all the pent energy of Oxford seethes and stirs. The Hebrew word for
"Prophet" comes, I believe, from a root which signifies to bubble
like water on the flames; and in this fervency of thought and feeling
Oxford is characteristically prophetic. It is a tradition that in
some year of the passion-torn 'forties the subject for the Newdigate
Prize Poem was Cromwell, whereas the subject for the corresponding
poem at Cambridge was Plato. In that selection Oxford was true to
herself. For a century at least (even if we leave out of sight her
earlier convulsions) she has been the battle-field of contending
sects. Her air has resounded with party-cries, and the dead bodies
of the controversially slain have lain thick in her streets. All the
opposing forces of Church and State, of theology and politics, of
philosophy and science, of literary and social and economic theory,
have contended for mastery in the place which Matthew Arnold, with rare
irony, described as "so unruffled by the fierce intellectual life of
our century, so serene!" Every succeeding generation of Oxford men has
borne its part in these ever-recurring strifes. To hold aloof from them
would have been poltroonery. Passionately convinced (at twenty) that
we had sworn ourselves for life to each cause which we espoused, we
have pleaded and planned and denounced and persuaded; have struck the
shrewdest blows which our strength could compass, and devised the most
dangerous pitfalls which wit could suggest. Nothing came of it all, and
nothing could come, except the ruin of our appointed studies and the
resulting dislocation of all subsequent life. But we were obeying the
irresistible impulse of the time and the place in which our lot was
cast, and we were ready to risk our all upon the venture.

  "Never we wince, though none deplore us,
    We who go reaping that we sowed;
  Cities at cockcrow wake before us--
    Hey, for the lilt of the London road!
  One look back, and a rousing chorus!
              Never a palinode!"

It is when we have finally sung that chorus and have travelled a
few miles upon that road, that we learn the secret which we never
discovered while as yet Oxford held us in the thick of the fight. We
thought then that we were the most desperate partizans; we asked no
quarter, and gave none; pushed our argumentative victories to their
uttermost consequences, and made short work of a fallen foe. But,
when all the old battle-cries have died out of our ears, we begin to
perceive humaner voices. All at once we realize that a great part of
our old contentions was only sound and fury and self-deception, and
that, though the causes for which we strove may have been absolutely
right, our opponents were not necessarily villains. In a word, we have
learnt the Secret of Oxford. All the time that we were fighting and
fuming, the higher and subtler influences of the place were moulding
us, unconscious though we were, to a more gracious ideal. We had really
learnt to distinguish between intellectual error and moral obliquity.
We could differ from another on every point of the political and
theological compass, and yet in our hearts acknowledge him to be the
best of all good fellows. Without surrendering a single conviction, we
came to see the virtue of so stating our beliefs as to persuade and
propitiate, instead of offending and alienating. We had attained to
that temper which, in the sphere of thought and opinion, is analogous
to the crowning virtue of Christian charity.

  "Tell it--when _you_ go down."

Lately it has been my privilege to address a considerable gathering
of Oxford undergraduates, all keenly alive to the interests and
controversies of the present hour, all devotedly loyal to the tradition
of Oxford as each understood it, and all with their eyes eagerly fixed
on "the wistful limit of the world." With such an audience it was
inevitable to insist on the graces and benedictions which Oxford can
confer, and to dwell on Mr. Gladstone's dogma that to call a man a
"typically Oxford man" is to bestow the highest possible praise.

But this was not all. Something more remained to be said. It was for
a speaker who had travelled for thirty years on "the London road" to
state as plainly as he could his own deepest obligation to the place
which had decided the course and complexion of his life. And, when it
was difficult to express that obligation in the pedestrian prose of
an after-dinner speech, he turned for succour to the poet who sang of
"the secret none discover." Wherever philosophical insight is combined
with literary genius and personal charm, one says instinctively, "That
man is, or ought to be, an Oxford man." Chiefest among the great names
which Oxford ought to claim but cannot is the name of Edmund Burke;
and the "Secret" on which we have been discoursing seems to be conveyed
with luminous precision in his description of the ideal character:
"It is our business ... to bring the dispositions that are lovely in
private life into the service and conduct of the commonwealth; so to be
patriots as not to forget we are gentlemen; to cultivate friendships
and to incur enmities; to have both strong, but both selected--in the
one to be placable, in the other immovable." Whoso has attained to that
ideal has learnt the "Secret" of Oxford.



XIII

SCHOOLS FOR SHEPHERDS

  "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed."


Why not? Because the Shepherds are so imperfectly trained for their
business. This, at any rate, is the testimony of a Canon (sometime
Examining Chaplain to a Bishop) who at the Diocesan Conference at Ely
the other day declared that the clergy were "not qualified to provide
instruction in Church Doctrine for the laity because they were not
properly trained"; and further testified that "Nonconformist Ministers
were much better trained" than the English Clergy. This testimony from
a superior Shepherd is rather startling for the Sheep, and it suggests
some interesting comparisons. It is, I take it, unquestionable that
Nonconformist ministers and Roman Catholic priests alike have much
more of a technical education than is thought necessary for their
Anglican brothers. They are, so to say, caught early, and their studies
from seventeen or eighteen onwards are directed steadily towards
their appointed work in life. A Roman Seminarist learns his Latin
and Greek as subsidiary to higher studies; he spends, I believe,
two years in Philosophy and four in Theology, and is harassed by
incessant examinations. The training of the youth who aspires to the
Nonconformist ministry is of much the same kind. "Moral Theology," in
other words the Science of the Confessional, he naturally does not
learn; but, on the other hand, he is sedulously trained for the work of
public speaking and preaching. "If you can't preach," said Spurgeon to
his students at Stockwell, "it is a clear proof that God doesn't mean
you to be a preacher, and you must choose some other occupation."

Vastly different is the training of the English Curate. Private School,
Public School, and University: cricket, football, rowing: elementary
Greek and Latin, and a smattering of Law or History--these constitute
his "atmosphere," his moral and mental discipline, between the ages
of ten and twenty-three. Even more remarkable is his theological
equipment. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, he knows absolutely
nothing about the Church of which he is to be a minister, her
doctrines, history, or practical system. He has been enveloped from
his youth up by a hazy atmosphere of Undogmatic Religion. I well
remember that an Undergraduate friend of mine, who came to Oxford
from Dr. Temple's Sixth Form at Rugby, declined to believe that there
are two Sacraments. That there was a religious ceremony called "The
Sacrament," for which some people stayed after the ordinary service,
he was well aware, as also that infants were ceremonially sprinkled;
but that this latter ceremony was a Sacrament he could not be induced
to believe. During his last year at Oxford he informed himself better
on this and some similar topics, and a year afterwards was preaching,
with great acceptance, to a fashionable congregation. From what I knew
of my friend's theological attainments, I should imagine that the
Bishop's Examination could not have been a very terrifying process;
but forty years earlier it must have been even less formidable. The
Hon. and Rev. George Spencer (uncle of the present Lord Spencer) was
destined from an early age for the Family Living in Northamptonshire.
He hunted and shot, and danced, and travelled on the Continent, and
held a commission in the Yeomanry. After two years at Trinity College,
Cambridge, he took a "Nobleman's Degree," and, when he neared the
canonical age of twenty-three, he wrote to the Bishop of Peterborough's
Examining Chaplain offering himself for Ordination and asking advice as
to his preparation. The examiner--ah, would that there were more like
him!--wrote back:--

"It is impossible that I should ever entertain any idea of subjecting a
gentleman with whose talents and good qualities I am so well acquainted
as I am with yours to any examination except as a matter of form, for
which a verse in the Greek Testament and an Article of the Church of
England returned into Latin will be amply sufficient."

This reassuring letter was written on the 12th of October 1822, and on
the 22nd of December next ensuing George Spencer was ordained Deacon
and a year later Priest. "On the evening before the ordination, whilst
the Bishop and various clergymen and their ladies and the candidates
amused themselves with a rubber of whist, Mr. Spencer refused to play."
And the refusal was considered, as perhaps it was, noteworthy.

The Movement which issued from Oxford in 1833 introduced some
improvement into the method of conducting ordinations, as into other
departments of the Church's work. The examination became, though not
yet very serious, at least a little less farcical, and some attempt was
made in charges and sermons to urge upon the candidates the gravity of
what they were undertaking. But, according to the late Bishop Woodford,
"the evenings, during which they were left to themselves, became
evenings of social enjoyment, if not of boisterous merriment, in which
the features of an old college supper-party were reproduced, rather
than intervals of solemn thought and retirement."

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce raised the standard of what was expected
in the way of Scriptural and theological knowledge; he made the
examination a reality; he laid special stress on sermon-writing; and
he made the Ember Week a season of spiritual retirement in which men
about to take the most decisive step in life might be brought face to
face with the responsibilities involved in their decision. The example
set by Wilberforce was followed, sooner or later, by every bishop on
the bench; the requirements have been raised, and the system has been
developed and improved; but the credit of initiation belongs to that
epoch-making episcopate, which began in 1845 and ended, through a false
step made by a horse on the Surrey Downs, on the 19th of July 1873.

It soon became apparent to those who had the spiritual interests of
the Church at heart that something more than twelve months' book-work
and a week of religious retirement was required to wean the ordinary
B.A. from the puerilities--if nothing worse--of his Undergraduate
life, and to equip him for a life of Pastorship and Teachership. The
sense of this need gave rise to the creation of Theological Colleges,
where a man who looked forward to Holy Orders might, after taking his
ordinary degree at Oxford or Cambridge, apply himself to the studies
more specially necessary for his chosen work, and--even more important
still--might acquire the habits of methodical and self-disciplined
life. The idea took shape in such foundations as the Theological
Colleges of Wells, Cuddesdon, Sarum, and Ely, the _Scholæ Cancellarii_
at Lincoln, and the Clergy School at Leeds. Fighting their way through
all manner of strange misrepresentations about Monasticism and
Mediævalism, they have in the course of years attained to recognition,
popularity, and apparent stability. The bishops patronize them warmly,
and incumbents who desire curates not wholly ignorant of their craft
are increasingly unwilling to engage one who has not passed through a
Theological College. That the broad result of the training given in
these seminaries is a general increase in clerical efficiency I cannot
doubt, but perhaps a layman may be permitted to point out some curious
gaps and lapses in that training which go some way towards making
clergymen less esteemed, and therefore less influential, than they
ought to be.

1. The Clergy are not taught to be courteous. If they are courteous by
nature and habit, well and good; but a rough Undergraduate, destitute
of sympathy and tact and ignorant of social usage, passes through a
Theological College and comes out as rough as he entered it. A Bear in
Holy Orders is as destructive as a Bull in a China Shop.

2. The Clergy are not taught to manage money; they muddle their public
accounts; they beg money for one object and use it for another; they
seldom acknowledge what they receive by post; and they have absolutely
no notion of cutting their coat according to their cloth. "Spend and
beg, and the money will come from somewhere" is their simple and
sufficient creed.

3. The Clergy are not taught business. They have not the faintest
notion of conducting a public meeting. They lose their way in
the agenda-paper of the most insignificant committee. They break
appointments at their will and pleasure. They seldom answer letters,
and are frankly astonished when their correspondents are annoyed.

4. The Clergy are not taught the Science of Citizenship. Outside their
strictly professional studies (and, in some cases, the records of
athleticism) they are the most ignorant set of young men in the world.
They work hard and play hard, but they never read. They know nothing
of books, nothing of history, nothing of the Constitution under which
they live, of the principles and records of political parties, of the
need for social reform or the means of securing it. They have a vague
but clinging notion that Radicals are Infidels, and that Dissenters, if
they got their deserts, would have their heads punched.

Sixty years ago an Italian critic said that, in spite of all their
defects, the English clergy were "Un clero colto e civile." Could as
much be said to-day?



XIV

PILGRIMAGES


I use the word in something wider than Chaucer's sense, and yet in a
sense not wholly different from his. For, though we no longer make an
annual visit to the Shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, still we all
feel bound, at least once a year, to go somewhere and do something
quite out of our normal course. Perhaps, like Chaucer's friends, we
"long" to do this in April, but the claims of business are generally
too strong for us; so we have to content ourselves with admiring the
peeps of greenery which begin to invade the soot of our urban gardens,
and, if we are of a cultured habit, we can always quote Browning's
Thrush or strain the kalendar so as to admit Wordsworth's Daffodils.

This notion of a yearly Pilgrimage as a necessity of rightly-ordered
life seems to have fallen into a long abeyance. "Dan Chaucer" (for I
love to be on easy terms with great men) described the social customs
of the fourteenth century, and then the Pilgrimage seems to have been
an established institution: "Tom Hughes" described those of the
eighteenth, and this is what, writing in 1862, he says about the annual
Pilgrimages of his own time:--

"I have been credibly informed, and am inclined to believe, that the
various Boards of Directors of Railway Companies agreed together some
ten years back to buy up the learned profession of Medicine, body and
soul. To this end they set apart several millions of money, which they
continually distribute judiciously among the Doctors, stipulating
only this one thing--that they shall prescribe change of air to every
patient who can pay, or borrow money to pay, a railway fare, and see
their prescription carried out. If it be not for this, why is it that
none of us can be well at home for a year together? It wasn't so twenty
years ago--not a bit of it. The Browns did not go out of the county
once in five years."

The Browns, as we all know, stood in Mr. Hughes's vocabulary for the
Upper Middle Class of England--the class to which the clergy, the
smaller squires, and the professional men belong; the class which
in Chaucer's time contained the "Man of Lawe," the "Marchande," the
"Franklyne," and the "Doctore of Phisyke"; and, although Mr. Hughes,
who ought to know, says that in the earlier part of Queen Victoria's
reign they were a stay-at-home class, they are now the most regular and
the most zealous of Pilgrims. It was the majestic misfortune of the
Duke in "Lothair" to have so many houses that he had no home. People
so circumstanced do not need to go on Pilgrimages. After the autumn in
a Scotch Castle, the winter in a country house in the Midlands, the
spring in another in the Southern Counties, and the season in Grosvenor
Square, people are glad of a little rest, and seek it in some "proud
alcove" on the Thames or a sea-girt villa at Cowes. Unless their livers
drive them to Carlsbad or their hearts to Nauheim, they do not travel,
but display what Lord Beaconsfield called "the sustained splendour of
their stately lives" in the many mansions which, in the aggregate,
represent to them the idea of Home. I might perhaps on another occasion
sketch the Grand Tour of Europe, on which, for educational purposes,
the Earl of Fitzurse used to send his eldest son, young Lord Cubley;
compressed, with his tutor and doctor, into a travelling-carriage, with
a valet and a courier in the rumble. The Duke of Argyll's Autobiography
has just told us what this kind of Pilgrimage was like; but to-day I am
dealing with the present rather than the past.

It is the people with one house who go on Pilgrimages nowadays--the
impoverished squire, the smoke-dried clergyman, the exhausted merchant,
the harried editor. To these must be added all the inhabitants, male
and female, of Lodging-land and Flat-land,--all "the dim, common
populations" of Stuccovia and Suburbia. There are mysterious laws
of association which connect classes with localities. Tradesmen love
Margate; to clerks Scarborough is dear. The Semitic financier has long
claimed Brighton for his own. Costermongers go hop-picking in Kent;
artizans disport themselves on the nigger-haunted pier of Southend.
Governed by some mysterious law of their being, schoolmasters make
straight for the Alps. There they live the strenuous life and brave
the perilous ascent; climb and puff and pant all day; rush in, very
untidy and not very clean, to _table d'hôte_; and season their meal
with the "shop" of St. Winifred's or the gay banter of Rosslyn
Common-room. It is agreeable to watch the forced cordiality, the thin
tutorial humour, with which they greet some quite irresponsive pupil
who happens to have strayed into the same hotel; and I have often
had occasion to admire the precocious dexterity with which the pupil
extricates himself from this dreaded companionship. Of Mr. Gladstone it
was said by his detractors that he had something of the Schoolmaster
in his composition; and this trait was aptly illustrated when, during
the summer holidays some fifty years ago, he met the late Duchess of
Abercorn in a country house accompanied by her schoolboy son, Lord
George Hamilton. Not many mornings had elapsed before Mr. Gladstone
said to the boy's mother, "Duchess, don't you think it a pity that your
son should spend his holidays in entire idleness? I should be happy
to give him an hour's Homer every morning." The offer was accepted,
and the foundation of Lord George's lifelong hostility to the Liberal
leader was securely laid. It is the nervous dread of some such awful
possibility which supplies wings to the boy's feet and lies to his
tongue when he encounters Dr. Grimstone or Basil Warde in a Swiss hotel.

While the Schoolmaster limits his aspirations to the Alps, the Oxford
or Cambridge Don, having a longer vacation at his command, takes a
more extended view, and urges his adventurous Pilgrimage along roads
less trite. A few years ago an Oxford Don resolved to strike out what
was then a quite new line, and spend his Long Vacation in Portugal.
Conscious of insufficient acquaintance with the Portuguese language,
he repaired to Mr. Parker's excellent shop in the Turl and enquired
for a Portuguese Phrase-book. After some research, that never-failing
bookseller produced "The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese
and English." The book had an instant and a deserved success. The
preface sets forth that "a choice of familiar dialogues, clean of
gallicisms and despoiled phrases, it was missing yet to studious
Portuguese and Brazilian youth; and also to persons of other nations
that wish to know the Portuguese language." To supply this felt want
Pedro Carolino compiled his hand-book for "the acceptation of the
studious persons, and especially of the Youth, at which we dedicate
him particularly." Among those studious persons was our Pilgrim-Don,
who naturally turned in the first instance to a dialogue headed


"FOR TO TRAVEL

When do you start?

As soon as I shall have to finish a business at Cadiz.

Have you already arrested a coach?

Yes, sir, and very cheap.

Have you great deal of effects?

Two trunks and one portmanteau.

You may prepare all for to-morrow. We shall start at the coolness.

The way, is it good?

Very good.

At which inn shall stop us?

In that of the Sun, it is the best. The account mount is little. The
supper, the bed, and the breakfast shall get up at thirty franks.

That seems to me a little dear."

The next dialogue follows in the natural order:--


"FOR TO BREAKFAST

John, bring us some thing for to breakfast.

Yes, sir; there is some sausages and some meat pies. Will you that I
bring the ham?

Yes, bring him, we will cut a steak.

Put an nappe cloth upon this table.

Give us some plates, any knifes, and some forks, rinse the glasses.

I have eaten with satisfaction some pudding, sausages, and some ham. I
shall take some tea.

Still a not her cup?

I thank you it is enough."

Breakfast over, the traveller engages a guide and starts out


"FOR TO SEE THE TOWN

We won't to see all that is it remarquable here.

Come with me, if you please. I shall not folget nothing what can to
merit your attention. Here we are near to cathedraly. Will you come in
there?

We will first go to see him in oudside, after we shall go in there for
to look the interior."

A day of sight-seeing concludes happily with the ever-welcome dialogue--


"FOR TO DINE

Give us a rice soup.

What wine do you like best?

Bourgogne wine.

Give us some beef and potatoes, a beefsteak to the English.

What you shall take for dessert?

Give us some Hollande cheese and some prunes.

I will take a glass of brandy at the cherries.

Gentlemen, don't forget the waiter."

Parsimony is a bond which makes the whole world kin, and it is
interesting to find embedded in 182 closely-printed pages of "despoiled
phrases" two such characteristic specimens of sound English as "That
seems to me a little dear" and "Don't forget the waiter."



XV

THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS


"Gentlemen," said Dr. Blimber to his pupils on the eve of the holidays,
"we will resume our studies on the twenty-fifth of next month." But
that adjournment, I think, was for Christmas, and we are now in what
Matthew Arnold's delicious schoolboy called "the glad season of sun
and flowers." Very soon, in Dr. Farrar's romantic phrase, "the young
life which usually plays like the sunshine over St. Winifred's will be
pouring unwonted brightness into many happy English homes." Or, to take
Mr. Snawley's darker view of the same event, we shall be in the thick
of one of "those ill-judged comings home twice a year that unsettle
children's minds so."

The associations of the moment, so different in their effects on
different natures, have awoke the spirit of prophecy in the late Head
Master of Eton, Dr. Warre, who, projecting his soul into futurity,
sees dark days coming for the "Public Schools" as that phrase has been
hitherto understood. It was clear, said Dr. Warre, after distributing
the prizes at Shrewsbury, "that ere long the Public Schools would
have to justify not only their _curriculum_, but, it might be, their
very existence. The spirit of the age seemed to be inclined towards
Utilitarianism, and it was now tending to undervalue the humanities
and the culture that attended them, and to demand what it appreciated
as a useful and practical training--_i.e._ something capable of making
boys breadwinners as soon as they left school. He did not say that
view would ultimately prevail, but the trend of public opinion in that
direction would necessitate on the part of Public Schools a period of
self-criticism, and very probably a reorganization of _curricula_. But
there was another problem to be faced which would become more serious
as the century waxed older, and that was a new phase of competition. As
secondary education expanded, secondary day-schools would be provided
regardless of expense, and it was idle to think this would have no
effect upon great Public Schools. What would be weighed in the balance,
however, was the value of the corporate life and aggregate influence of
the Public Schools upon the formation of character."

When ex-Head Masters begin to see visions and Old Etonians to dream
dreams, the ordinary citizen, with his traditional belief in the virtue
and permanence of Public Schools, must rub his eyes in astonishment.
What is going to happen next? Is Eton to abandon "taste" and take to
"useful knowledge"? Is Harrow to close its Boarding Houses and become a
village Day School once more? Are Wykeham's "seventy faithful boys" (as
the late Lord Selborne called them in his first attempt at verse) no
longer to "tund" or be "tunded"? Is Westminster to forswear its Latin
Play, and replace the "Phormio" and the "Trinummus" with "Box and Cox"
and "Ici on Parle Français"?

These enquiries, and others like them, are forced on our attention
by such subversive discourse as Dr. Warre's; and that incursion of
rampant boyhood which begins with the beginning of August reinforces
the eloquence of the ex-Head Master. The Retreat of the Ten Thousand,
which used to worry us in our youth, was not half so formidable an
affair as the Advance of the Ten Thousand, schoolboys though they be,
who just now overrun the land. There they are, an army ever increasing
in numbers and maintained at an immense expense. Whatever commercial
and agricultural depression may have effected in other quarters, it
did not touch the schools of England. The greater schools are full to
overflowing; provincial schools have doubled and trebled their numbers;
and every Elizabethan and Edwardian foundation in the Kingdom has woke
from slumber and celebrated at least a Tercentenary. And all this is
not done for nothing. Private schoolmasters take shootings in Scotland;
the proprietors of Boarding-houses at the Public Schools buy villas
in the Riviera, and build pineries and vineries at home; meanwhile the
British Parent eyes his diminishing income and his increasing rates,
and asks himself, in the secrecy of his own heart, what Tommy is really
getting in return for the £200 a year expended on his education. The
answer takes various forms. Perhaps Tommy is following the "grand, old
fortifying classical curriculum" which sufficed for Lord Lumpington,
and enabled the Rev. Esau Hittall to compose his celebrated "Longs and
Shorts on the Calydonian Boar." In this case the parent says, with
Rawdon Crawley, "Stick to it, my boy; there's nothing like a good
classical education--nothing," but he generally is too diffident about
his own accomplishments to subject his sons to a very searching test.
Perhaps one boy in a hundred learns enough Latin and Greek at school to
fit him for a good place in the Classical Tripos or a "First in Mods."
This, if he is meant to be a schoolmaster, is a definite and tangible
result from his father's investment; if he is intended for any other
profession the advantage is not so clear. If he is to be a Soldier, no
doubt there is the "Army Class" or the "Modern School," where, indeed,
he is exempted from Greek, is taught some mathematics, and acquires
some very English French and German; but, in spite of these privileges,
he generally requires a year's residence at a crammer's before he has
a chance for Sandhurst. For the ordinary life of the Professions the
Public School makes no preparation whatever. Tommy may have acquired
"taste," but he is no more qualified to be, as Dr. Warre says, a
"bread-winner" than he was the day he began school-life.

Matthew Arnold, in his delightful essay on "An Eton Boy," says, with
regard to that boy's prowess as Master of the Beagles:--

"The aged Barbarian will, upon this, admiringly mumble to us his story
how the Battle of Waterloo was won in the Playing Fields of Eton.
Alas! disasters have been prepared in those Playing Fields as well as
victories--disasters due to an inadequate mental training, to want of
application, knowledge, intelligence, lucidity."

With "taste" we commonly hear "tone" combined in the eulogies of
Public Schools. The Parent, who knows (though he would not for the
world admit) that Tommy has learnt nothing at St. Winifred's or
Rosslyn which will ever enable him to earn a penny, falls back upon
the impalpable consolation that there is "a very nice tone about the
school." Certainly Eton imparts manners to those who have not acquired
them at home, and in this respect Radley is like unto it. But, taking
the Public Schools as a whole, it can scarcely be denied that, however
faithfully they cultivate the ingenuous arts, they suffer Youth to be
extremely brutal. If this be urged, the Parent will shift his ground
and say, "Well, I like boys to be natural. I don't wish my son to be
a Lord Chesterfield. Character is everything. It is the religious
and moral influence of a Public School that I think so valuable." As
to the Religion taught in Public Schools, it is, as Mr. T. E. Page
of Charterhouse recently said with artless candour, exactly the same
commodity as will probably be offered by the County Councils when the
Education Bill has become law; and it is worth noting that, though
Bishops shrink with horror at the prospect of this religion being
offered to the poor, they are perfectly content that it should be
crammed down the throats of their own sons. As to the morality acquired
at Public Schools, a clergyman who was successively an Eton boy and
an Eton master wrote twenty-five years ago: "The masters of many
schools are sitting on a volcano, which, when it explodes, will fill
with horror and alarm those who do not know what boys' schools are, or
knowing it, shut their eyes and stop their ears." It must be admitted
that the British Parent, dwelling on the slopes of that volcano,
regards its chronic menace and its periodical activities with the most
singular composure.

In years gone by Harrow, like most other places where there was a
Public School accessible to day boys, was a favourite resort of widowed
ladies whose husbands had served in the Indian Army or Civil Service.
These "Indian Widows," as he called them, so pestered Dr. Vaughan,
then Head Master, that he said in the bitterness of his soul: "Before
I came to Harrow I thought 'Suttee' an abomination; but now I see that
there is a great deal to be said for it." It is easy enough to see why
Head Masters dislike the Home Boarding system. It defeats the curious
policy by which assistant masters pay themselves out of their boarders'
stomachs, and it brings all the arrangements of teaching and discipline
under the survey, and perhaps criticism, of the parents; but, in spite
of magisterial objections, the Home Boarding system is probably the
only and certainly the most efficacious method of coping with those
moral evils which all schoolmasters not wilfully blind acknowledge, and
which the best of them strenuously combat. In that extension of Day
Schools which Dr. Warre foresees lies the best hope of a higher tone in
public education.

The British Parent knows the weaknesses of the Public School system. He
knows that he gets a very doubtful return for his money--that his son
learns nothing useful and very little that is ornamental; is unsuitably
fed, and, when ill, insufficiently attended; exposed to moral risks
of a very grave type; and withdrawn at the most impressible season of
life from the sanctifying influences of Motherhood and Home. He knows
all this, and, knowing it, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he
sends all his boys to a Public School. Why? Partly because every one
goes to a Public School and he has no wish to be eccentric or faddish;
partly because the boys are tiresome at home and he wants peace; partly
because, in existing conditions, he does not know how to get them
educated while they are under his roof. But the strongest reason is
none of these. He sends his sons to Eton or Harrow because he was there
himself, has felt the glamour and learnt the spell; because some of his
happiest memories hover round the Playing Fields or the Hill; because
there he first knew what Friendship meant and first tasted the Romance
of Life.

  "I may have failed, my School may fail;
    I tremble, but thus much I dare:
  I love her. Let the critics rail,
    My brethren and my home are there."



XVI

SCHOOLS AND BOARDING-HOUSES


"Any two meals at a Boarding-House are together less than one square
meal." This pleasing postulate was, I believe, in the first instance
evolved from the bitter experience of a hungry mathematician who, at
this season of the year, sought change of air and scene at Margate or
Herne Bay. But to-day I use the word "Boarding-House" in that more
restricted sense which signifies a Master's house for the accommodation
of boys at a Public School. My reason for discussing the subject is
that a stray sentence in my last chapter, about the profits derived
from such Boarding-Houses, caused dire offence. I am the most docile
creature alive, and the rebukes which I have incurred caused me, as the
French say, to make a return upon myself. I subjected my conscience
to severe cross-examination. I asked whether what I had written was
wholly or even approximately true, or entirely false; and whether, if
true, it was offensive or indelicate. Here is the sentence in all its
unglossed brutality: "The proprietors of Boarding-Houses at the Public
Schools buy villas in the Riviera and build pineries and vineries at
home." Now, of course, a Schoolmaster is nothing if not critical, and,
in superintending the studies of his young friends, he rightly insists
on the most scrupulous accuracy of phrase and figure. Not for the
construing boy is the plea, dear to Biblical critics, that "the wider
divergence is the higher unity." The calculating boy must not, if he
values his peace, mistake inference for demonstration. Woe betide the
excuse-making boy if he protests that he has spent an hour over his
lesson when his tutor can show that he could only have spent fifty-five
minutes. This Chinese exactness is all very well in the schoolroom, but
tends to become a bore in the intercourse of social life. An Assistant
Master, stung into activity by my recent strictures on Public Schools,
has swooped down upon me with all the fierce alacrity which he would
display in detecting a false quantity or an erroneous deduction.
"Villas in the Riviera! Who buys Villas in the Riviera? Give, name,
date, and place by return of post, or--write out five hundred lines."
"What do you mean by Pineries and Vineries? I and my colleagues at St.
Winifred's only grow cucumbers; and the Composition-Master, though he
has large private means, gets his grapes from the Stores. Retract and
apologize, or be for ever fallen."

Now really, when I read all this virtuous indignation, I am
irresistibly reminded of the Bishop in "Little Dorrit," who, when all
the guests were extolling Mr. Merdle's wealth, spoke pensively about
"the goods of this world," and "tried to look as if he were rather poor
himself." In vain I protested that I meant no injurious allusion to
Monte Carlo, and proposed to substitute "Mansions in the Isle of Wight"
for "Villas in the Riviera." The substitution availed me nothing.
"You say 'Mansions.' Do you really know more than one? And how do you
know that the schoolmaster who bought it did not marry a wife with
a fortune? You cannot investigate his marriage settlements, so your
illustration counts for nothing." In the same conciliatory spirit, I
urged that "Pineries and Vineries" was a picturesque phrase invented
by Lord Randolph Churchill to describe the amenities of a comfortable
country house, not of the largest order; but my pedagogue was not to be
pacified. "If you didn't mean Pineries and Vineries, you shouldn't have
said so. It creates a bad impression in the parents' minds. Of course
no reasonable person could object to one's having gardens, or stabling,
or a moderate shooting, or a share of a salmon river; but parents don't
like the notion that we are living in luxury. They have a nasty way of
contrasting it with the nonsense which their boys tell them about tough
meat and rancid butter."

At this point I began to see some resemblance between my correspondent
and Matthew Arnold's critic in the _Quarterly_ of October 1868--"one
of the Eton Under-Masters, who, like Demetrius the Silversmith,
seems alarmed for the gains of his occupation." For, in spite of
all corrections and deductions, I cannot help regarding Public
Schoolmasters as a well-paid race. Of course, it is true that their
incomes are not comparable to those of successful barristers or
surgeons, or even Ministers of State; but, on the other side, their
work is infinitely easier; their earnings begin from the day on which
they embark on their profession; and no revolution of the wheel of
State can shake them from their well-cushioned seats. I am quite
willing to admit that, on the figures supplied by my correspondent,
he and his colleagues at St. Winifred's are not making so much money
as their predecessors made twenty or thirty years ago. But, as far
as I can understand, this diminution of incomes does not arise from
diminution of charges, but only from the fact that the force of public
opinion has driven schoolmasters to recognize, rather more fully than
in days gone by, some primary needs of boy-nature. When the Royal
Commission of 1862 was enquiring into the boarding arrangements of a
famous school, one of the Commissioners was astonished to find that,
in spite of the liberal charge for board, the boys got nothing but
tea and bread and butter for breakfast. Apparently wishing to let the
masters down easy, he suggested that perhaps eggs also were provided.
To this suggestion the witness's answer was monumental: "Eggs, indeed,
are not provided, but in some houses a large machine for boiling eggs
is brought in every day; so that, if the boys bring their eggs, they
are boiled for them." Surely the Master who first conceived this
substitution of hardware for food deserved a permanent place among
Social Economists; but "the bigots of this iron time," though they may
not actually "have called his harmless art a crime," have resolved
that, when a father pays £200 a year for his boy's schooling, the
boy shall have something more substantial than bread and butter for
breakfast. This reform alone, according to my correspondent, knocked
some hundreds a year off each House-Master's income.

Then, again, as regards Sanitation. Here, certainly not before it was
wanted, reform has made its appearance, and the injured House-Master
has had to put his hand in his pocket. When I was at a Public School,
in that Golden Age of Profits to which my correspondent looked back so
wistfully, the sanitary arrangements were such as to defy description
and stagger belief. In one Pupil-Room there was only the thickness of
the boarded floor between the cesspool and the feet of the boys as
they sat at lessons. In my own house, containing forty boarders, there
were only two baths. In another, three and even four boys were cooped
together, by day as well as by night, in what would, in an ordinary
house, be regarded as a smallish bedroom. Now all this is changed.
Drainage is reconstructed; baths are multiplied; to each boy is secured
a sufficient air-space at lessons and in sleep. The Sanitary Engineer
is let loose every term--

 "What pipes and air-shafts! What wild ecstasy!"

But the "ecstasy" is confined to the bosom of the Engineer as he draws
up his little account, and the House-Master moans, like Mr. Mantalini,
over the "Demnition Total."

Yet another such deduction must be borne in mind. Volumes of nonsense
have been written about the Fagging System. Sentimental writers have
gushed over the beautiful relation which it establishes between
Fag-Master and Fag. Some, greatly daring, have likened it to the
relation of elder and younger brothers. Others, more historically
minded, have tried to connect it with the usages of Chivalry and the
services rendered by the Page to the Knight. As a matter of fact, it
was, as "Jacob Omnium," himself an Old Etonian, pointed out fifty years
ago, "an affair of the breeches pocket." As long as younger boys could
be compelled (by whatever methods) to clean lamps and brush clothes and
toast sausages and fill tubs for elder boys it was obvious that fewer
servants were required. One of the most brilliant Etonians now living
has said that "to see a little boy performing, with infinite pains and
hopeless inadequacy, the functions of a domestic servant, might have
moved Democritus to tears and Heraclitus to laughter." That Fagging
has its uses, more especially in the case of spoilt boys brought up
in purse-proud homes, few Public Schoolmen will deny; but the British
Parent tends increasingly to draw a distinction between the duties of a
fag and those of a footman; and the wages-bill becomes an increasingly
important item in the House-Master's expenditure.

What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter? It is, as I have
repeatedly said, that a Boarding-School, whether public or private,
is not the ideal method of educating boys; but, pending that great
increase of Day-Schools for the sons of the upper classes which Dr.
Warre foresees, it is the only method practically available for the
great majority of English parents. Whether the instruction imparted
in the Public Schools is or is not worth the amount which it costs is
a matter of opinion; and, indeed, as long as the parent (who, after
all, has to pay) is satisfied, no one else need trouble himself about
the question. As to domestic arrangements and provision for health and
comfort, it may be frankly conceded that the Schoolboy of to-day is
much better off than his father or even his elder brother was; and that
the improvements in his lot have tended to diminish the profits on
which the House-Master used to grow rich.

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._--Having the terrors of the ferule before my eyes, let me hasten
to say, with all possible explicitness, that in my account of my
correspondence with the outraged Schoolmaster, I have aimed at giving a
general impression rather than a verbal transcript.



XVII

SQUARES


All true lovers of Lewis Carroll will remember that Hiawatha, when he
went a-photographing, "pulled and pushed the joints and hinges" of his
Camera,

  "Till it looked all squares and oblongs,
  Like a complicated figure
  In the Second Book of Euclid."

But it is not of squares in the mathematical sense that I speak to-day,
but rather of those enclosed spaces, most irregularly shaped and
proportioned, which go by the name of "Squares" in London.

It is in sultry August that the value of these spaces is most clearly
perceived; for now the better-disposed owners fling open the gates of
their squares and suffer them to become, at least temporarily, the
resting-places of the aged and decrepit, and the playgrounds of the
children. To extend these benefits more widely and to secure them in
perpetuity are objects for which civic reformers have long striven; and
during the present session of Parliament[6] (for, as Dryasdust would
remind us, Parliament is not prorogued but only adjourned) two Acts
have been passed which may do something at least towards attaining the
desired ends. One of these Acts provides that, in cases where "Open
Spaces and Burial Grounds" are vested in Trustees, the Trustees may
transfer them to the Local Authorities, to be maintained for the use
and service of the public. The other forbids for all time the erection
of buildings on certain squares and gardens which belong to private
owners, those owners having consented to this curtailment of their
powers. The conjunction of "Burial Grounds" with "Open Spaces" in the
purview of the former Act has a rather lugubrious sound; but in reality
it points to one of the happiest changes which recent years have
brought to London.

[6] August 1906.

"A hemmed-in churchyard, pestiferous and obscene, whence malignant
diseases are communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers and
sisters who have not departed--here, in a beastly scrap of ground
which a Turk would reject as a savage abomination and a Caffre would
shudder at, they bring 'our dear brother here departed' to receive
Christian burial. With houses looking on, on every side, save where a
reeking little tunnel of a court gives access to the iron gate--with
every villainy of life in action close on death and every poisonous
element of death in action close on life,--here they lower our dear
brother down a foot or two; here sow him in corruption, to be raised
in corruption; an avenging ghost at many a sick-bedside; a shameful
testimony to future ages that civilization and barbarism walked this
boastful island together."

When Dickens wrote that hideous description, worthy to be illustrated
by Hogarth in his most realistic mood, he did not exaggerate--he could
not exaggerate--the obscenity of burial-grounds in crowded cities.
To-day they are green with turf and bright with flowers, and brighter
still with the unconquerable merriment of childhood at play among the
dim memorials of the forgotten dead. What is true of the particular
spot which Dickens described is true all over London; and the
resting-places of the departed have been made oases of life and health
in this arid wilderness of struggling and stifled humanity.

Though so much has been done in the way of making the Churchyards
available for public uses, comparatively little has been done with the
Squares; and philosophers of the school erroneously called Cynical
might account for this difference by the fact that, whereas the
churchyards were generally in the hands of official trustees, such as
Rectors, Churchwardens, Overseers, or Vestries, the principal squares
of London are the private property of individual owners. Even the
London Squares and Enclosures Act, just passed, illustrates the same
principle. The preamble of the Act sets forth that in respect of every
Square or Enclosure with which it deals the consent of the owner has
been obtained. In each case, therefore, the owner has consented to
legislation which will prevent himself or his successors from building
on what are now open spaces, and, so far, each owner concerned has
shown himself a patriotic citizen and a well-wisher to posterity. But,
when we come to examine the schedule of properties to which the Act
applies, it is interesting to compare the number belonging to private
persons with the number belonging to public bodies. The Act applies
to sixty-four properties; of these fifty-five belong to public bodies
such as District Councils, Governors of Hospitals, and Ecclesiastical
Commissioners, and nine to private persons, among whom it is pleasant
to reckon one Liberal M.P., Sir John Dickson-Poynder, and, by way of
balance, one Conservative peer, Lord Camden.

A further study of the Schedule reveals the instructive fact that,
with two exceptions in the City of Westminster and one in the Borough
of Kensington, none of the scheduled properties lie within areas
which could by any stretch of terms be called wealthy, fashionable,
or aristocratic. Public authorities in such districts as Camberwell
and Lewisham--private owners in Islington and Woolwich--have willingly
surrendered their rights for the benefit of the community; but none of
the great ground landlords have followed suit. The owners of Belgrave
Square and Grosvenor Square and Portman Square and Cavendish Square
and Berkeley Square--_the_ Squares, _par excellence_, of fashionable
London--have kept their seigniorial rights untouched. Pascal told us
of some very human but very unregenerate children who said "This dog
belongs to _me_," and "That place in the sun is _Mine_," and Pascal's
comment was, "Behold, the beginning and the image of all usurpation
upon earth!" Similarly, the human but unregenerate landowners of
fashionable London say, as they survey their possessions, "This Square
belongs to _me_," "That place in the shade is _Mine_," while the
August sun beats down on the malodorous street, and tottering paupers
peer wistfully at the benches under the plane trees, and street-boys
flatten their noses against the iron railings and madly yearn for
cricket-pitches so smooth and green.

Although these fashionable Squares are so sedulously guarded against
the intrusion of outsiders, they are very little used by those who have
the right of entrance. "Livery Servants and Dogs not admitted" is a
legendary inscription which, in its substance, still operates. Here and
there a nurse with a baby in her arms haunts the shade, or a parcel of
older children play lawn-tennis or croquet to an accompaniment of chaff
from envious street-boys. But, as a general rule, for twenty hours out
of the twenty-four and for ten months out of the twelve the Squares
are absolutely vacant; and one of the most reasonable reforms which I
could conceive would be to convert them from private pleasure-grounds
to public gardens, and to throw the cost of maintaining them in order
and beauty on the London County Council.

As I said before, some Square-owners have, without waiting for legal
compulsion, taken tentative steps towards this reform. The Trustees
of Lincoln's Inn Fields, the largest and the shadiest of all London
Squares, have made them over to the County Council, and, in the hot
months of declining summer, the juvenile populations of Holborn and
St. Giles play their breathless games where Babington was hanged and
Russell beheaded. It was there that, on the 20th of July 1683, Sir
Ralph Verney, riding out from London to his home in Buckinghamshire,
"saw the scaffold making ready against Lord Russell's execution
to-morrow--God help him, and save the country."

But if once we leave the utilities and amenities of the London Squares
and begin to meddle with their antiquities, we shall soon overflow all
reasonable limits. Bloomsbury Square still reeks (at least for those
who know their "Barnaby Rudge") with the blood which was shed in the
Gordon Riots. Grosvenor Square--the last district of London which clung
to oil-lamps in hopeless resistance to the innovation of gas--embodies
the more recent memory of the Cato Street Conspiracy. In Berkeley
Square (from what is now Lord Rosebery's house) Sarah Child eloped,
and annexed the name and the banking-house of Child to the Earldom
of Jersey. In Portman Square Mrs. Montagu presided over her court of
Bluestockings and feasted the chimney-sweeps on May-day. In Manchester
Square, under the roof which now houses the Wallace Collection, the
dazzling beauty of Isabella Lady Hertford stirred the fatuous passion
of George IV. In Cavendish Square, under the portico of Harcourt House,
lately demolished, Disraeli said good-bye for ever to his confederate
Lord George Bentinck. In Hanover Square, Chantrey's stately statue of
William Pitt has looked down on a century of aristocratic weddings,
ascending and descending the steps of St. George's Church. Sir George
Trevelyan, commenting on a Valentine written by Macaulay for Lady Mary
Stanhope, a great-niece of Pitt's, declares that "the allusion to the
statue in Hanover Square is one of the happiest touches that can be
found in Macaulay's writings," and that is a sufficient justification
for quoting it:--

  "Prophetic rage my bosom swells;
  I taste the cake, I hear the bells!
  From Conduit Street the close array
  Of chariots barricades the way
  To where I see, with outstretched hand,
  Majestic, thy great kinsman stand,
  And half unbend his brow of pride,
  As welcoming so fair a bride."



XVIII

SUNDAY IN LONDON


It is the middle of August, and there is nobody in London--except, of
course, some four millions of people who do not count. There is nobody
in London; and, most specially and noticeably, there is nobody in
Church. Be it far from me to suggest that the Country Cousin and the
Transatlantic Brother, who flood London in August and September, are
persons of indevout habits. But they have their own methods and places
of devotion (of which I may speak anon), and do not affect the Parish
Churches, with which I am now concerned. I have excellent opportunities
of judging; for, year in year out, in tropical heat or Arctic cold,
my due feet never fail to walk the round of our Stuccovian churches,
and I can testify that in August and September Vacancy and Depression
reign unchallenged. Seats are empty. Galleries are locked. Collections
sink to vanishing-point. The Vicar of St. Ursula's, Stucco Gardens,
accompanied by his second wife, is sitting under a white umbrella
at Dieppe, watching the aquatic gambols of his twofold family. The
Senior Curate is climbing in the Alps. The Junior Curate, who stroked
his College Boat last year and was ordained at Trinity, officiates in
agonies of self-conscious shyness which would draw tears from a stone.
A temporary organist elicits undreamt-of harmonies. The organ-blower is
getting his health in the hopfields. The choirboys are let loose--

  "On Brighton's shingly beach, on Margate's sand,
  Their voice out-pipes the roaring of the sea."

The congregation represents the mere dregs and remnants of Stuccovia's
social prime. Poor we have none, and our rich are fled to Scotland
or Norway, Homburg or Marienbad. The seats are sparsely tenanted by
"stern-faced men" (like those who arrested Eugene Aram), whom business
keeps in London when their hearts are on the moors; over-burdened
mothers, with herds of restless schoolboys at home for the holidays and
craving for more ardent delights than Stucco Gardens yield; decayed
spinsters of the type of Volumnia Dedlock, who, having exhausted the
hospitable patience of their ever-diminishing band of friends, are
forced to the horrid necessity of spending the autumn in London. The
only cheerful face in the church belongs to the Pewopener, who, being
impeded in the discharge of her function by arthritic rheumatism, is
happiest when congregations are smallest and there are no week-day
services to "molest her ancient solitary reign."

       *       *       *       *       *

Evensong is over. The organist is struggling with an inconceivable tune
from "The English Hymnal" (for at St. Ursula's we are nothing if not
up to date). The Curate, sicklied o'er with that indescribable horror
which in his boating days he would have described as "The Needle,"
is furtively reperusing his manuscript before mounting the pulpit,
and does not detect my craven flight as I slip through the baize door
and disappear. It is characteristic of St. Ursula's that, even when
empty, it is fusty; but this need surprise no one, for the architect
was strong on a "scientific system of ventilation," and that, as we
all know, means very little ventilation and an overwhelming amount of
system.

However, my courageous flight has delivered me from asphyxiation, and,
before returning to my modest Sunday supper of Paysandu Ox-tongue and
sardines, I think that I will reinflate my lungs by a stroll round Hyde
Park. There is a lovely redness in the western sky over the Serpentine
Bridge, but it is still broad daylight. The sere and yellow turf of the
Park is covered by some of those four millions who do not count and
do not go to church, but who, apparently, are fond of sermons. At the
end of each hundred yards I come upon a preacher of some religious,
social, or political gospel, and round each is gathered a crowd of
listeners who follow his utterances with interested attention. When I
think of St. Ursula's and the pavid Curate and my graceless flight, I
protest that I am covered with shame as with a garment. But the wrong
done in the church can be repaired in the Park. I have missed one
sermon, but I will hear another. Unluckily, when these compunctious
visitings seized me I was standing by a rostrum of heterodoxy. For
all I know the preacher may have followers among my readers; so, as I
would not for the world wound even the least orthodox susceptibilities,
I forbear to indicate the theory which he enounced. As he spoke, I
seemed to live a former life over again; for I had once before been
present at an exactly similar preaching, in company, either bodily
or spiritual, with my friend Mr. James Payn, and his comments on the
scene revived themselves in my memory, even as the remote associations
of Ellangowan reawoke in the consciousness of Harry Bertram when he
returned from his wanderings, and gazed, bewildered, on his forgotten
home. (Henceforward it is Payn that speaks.) The preacher of Heterodoxy
was entirely without enthusiasm, nor did his oratory borrow any
meretricious attractions from the Muse. It was a curious farrago of
logic without reason and premisses without facts, and was certainly
the least popular, though not the least numerously attended, of
all the competing sermons in the Park. Suddenly the preacher gave
expression to a statement more monstrous than common, on which an
old lady in the crowd, who had heretofore been listening with great
complacency, exclaimed in horror, "I'm sure _this_ ain't true Gospel,"
and immediately decamped. Up to that point, she had apparently been
listening under the impression that the preacher belonged to her own
blameless persuasion, and was in the blankest ignorance of all that he
had been driving at.

But Sunday in London has religious attractions to offer besides those
purveyed by St. Ursula's and Hyde Park. I said at the outset that the
Country Cousin and the Transatlantic Brother have their own methods
and places of devotion--their Mecca is St. Paul's Cathedral. One of
the pleasantest ways of spending a Sunday evening in London is to join
the pilgrim-throng. The great west doors of the Cathedral are flung
wide open, as if to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Lord
Mayor, and all at once we find ourselves, hushed and awestruck, in
the illimitable perspective. Even the staunchest believer in Gothic
as the only religious architecture may admit, with disloyalty to
his faith, that every year St. Paul's becomes more like a place of
Christian worship and less like a glorified Council-hall or an Imperial
Senate-house. And it is seen at its best in twilight. The shadows
temper the garish splendour of mosaic and gold and electricity, and
enhance the dominant sense of vastness and grandeur. And prayer ascends
on the wings of music and sweet boy-voices ring, and the distant
altar, with its gleaming lights, focuses the meaning and purpose of
the whole. And then the great "Communion of Hymns" unites us all,
American and English, Londoner and countryman, as citizens of a city
not built with hands, patriots of a country which is not marked on the
terrestrial globe. Bernard of Cluny and William Cowper and John Keble
all contribute of their best. "Brief life is here our portion" seems to
utter the real heart's desire of a tired-looking mechanic who stands by
my side. "Hark, my soul!" seems to communicate its own intensity to the
very tone and look of the people who are singing it. "Sun of my soul"
is an evening prayer which sounds just as natural and as fitting in the
inmost heart of London's crowd and grind and pressure as in the sweet
solitude of the Hursley fields. In the pulpit a pale preacher, himself
half worn-out before his prime by ten years' battle in a slum, is
extolling the Cross as the test and strength and glory of human life--

  "While at his feet the human ocean lay,
  And wave on wave rolled into space away."

A human stream indeed, of all sorts and conditions--old men and
maidens, young men and children, rich and poor, English and foreigners,
sightseers and citizens, dapper clerks and toil-stained citizens
and red-coated soldiers--all interested, and all at ease, and all
at home at what Bishop Lightfoot called "the centre of the world's
concourse"--under the cross-crowned Dome of St. Paul's.



XIX

A SUBURBAN SUNDAY


"It seems to the writer of this history that the inhabitants of London
are scarcely sufficiently sensible of the beauty of its environs....
With the exception of Constantinople, there is no city in the world
that can for a moment enter into competition with it. For himself,
though in his time something of a rambler, he is not ashamed in this
respect to confess to a legitimate Cockney taste; and for his part he
does not know where life can flow on more pleasantly than in sight of
Kensington Gardens, viewing the silver Thames winding by the bowers of
Rosebank, or inhaling from its terraces the refined air of graceful
Richmond. In exactly ten minutes it is in the power of every man to
free himself from all the tumult of the world and find himself in a
sublime sylvan solitude superior to the Cedars of Lebanon and inferior
only in extent to the chestnut forests of Anatolia."

The judicious critic will have little difficulty in assigning this
vivid passage to the too-graphic pen of Lord Beaconsfield; but he
will also recognize the fact that a description written in 1837
needs some modification when applied to 1906. The central solitude of
London--Kensington Gardens--is still very much as it was. Just now, its
dark foliage and dusky glades suggest all the romantic associations
of Gustave Doré's forests, with a tall trooper of the Life Guards
and a bashful nursery-maid, for a Red Cross Knight and an Enchanted
Princess. If we go further afield and climb the uplands of Highgate
and Hampstead, we look down upon a boundless and beautiful city dimly
visible through a golden haze. But the difference between the environs
of London now and the same environs when Lord Beaconsfield described
them is that they are now united to the centre by an unbroken network
of gaslit streets. The enormous increase in the population of London,
which every year brings with it, fills up the gaps and spaces, and
the metropolis is now a solid whole, with its circumference extending
further and further every day into what a year ago was country. In
other words, the suburbs are getting further off, and what are suburbs
to-day will be town to-morrow; but still there are suburbs, and a
Sunday spent in them is an interesting experience.

Yesterday the well-known stuffiness of St. Ursula's, combined with the
kind hospitality of some suburban friends, drove me to spend my Sunday
about ten miles from Stucco Square. It is a characteristic of people
who live in suburbs to believe that their lot is cast in a primæval
solitude, and that, though the Dome of St. Paul's is plainly visible
from their back gardens, the traveller who ventures to approach them
needs explicit and intricate directions about routes and trains and
changes and stations. The station for my friend's place was called by
a name intensely suggestive of rurality--not exactly "Rosebank," but
Rosebank will serve. Readers of Archbishop Temple's Life will remember
that a clergyman, excusing himself for living a long way from his
church, urged that it was only three miles as the crow flies, thereby
drawing down on himself the implacable reply, "But you ain't a crow."
In the same way I found that, though Rosebank is only ten miles from
Stucco Square "as the crow flies," a human being seeking to approach it
must first make a considerable journey to a central terminus, must then
embark in a train which a tortoise might outstrip, must change twice,
and must burrow through a sulphurous tunnel; and must even then run a
considerable risk of being carried through Rosebank Station, which all
self-respecting trains seem to ignore.

Faced by these difficulties, I again took counsel with Lord
Beaconsfield. "''Tis the gondola of London,' exclaimed Lothair,
as he leapt into a hansom, which he had previously observed to be
well-horsed." My Gondolier was ready with his terms--a very liberal
payment, several hours' rest, his dinner and tea, and something extra
for putting up his horse. Granted these preliminaries, he would "do
the job on 'is 'ead." It would "be a little 'oliday to 'im." I in vain
suggested that the opportunity of attending Divine Service twice at
Rosebank Church might be regarded as part payment of his charge; he
replied, with startling emphasis, that he didn't go into the country
to go to church--not if he knew it; that, if I wanted him, I must take
him on the terms proposed; and, further, that I mustn't mind starting
early, for he wanted to get his horse down cool.

The Gondolier had his own way; and, while the sparrows were still
twittering and the housemaids were taking in the milk and the Sunday
paper, I was well on my road to Rosebank. This much I will concede
to the curiosity of readers--that my road led me out of London in a
south-easterly direction, by the Horseferry, where James II. dropped
the Great Seal into the Thames, along the Old Kent Road, of which a
modern minstrel sang; past Kennington Common, now a "Park," where the
gallant Jacobites of '45 underwent the hideous doom of Treason, where
the iron-shuttered windows still commemorate the Chartist rising of
'48, and where Sackville Maine took his Sunday walk with Mrs. Sackville
and old Mrs. Chuff. On past the "Hamlet of Dulwich," where Mr. Pickwick
spent the last years of his honoured life, to Chislehurst, where
Napoleon III. hid his exiled head, and North Cray, where the tragedy
of Lord Londonderry's death is not yet forgotten, and Shooters' Hill,
where Jerry Cruncher stopped the coach with the terrifying message
of "Recalled to Life." Now, as readers are sometimes unduly literal,
and as I would not willingly involve any one in an hour's fruitless
puzzling over a map, let me say that this itinerary is rather general
than particular, and that, although the Gondolier pursued an extremely
devious course and murmured when I suggested straighter paths, we
did not touch all the above-mentioned places in our morning's drive.
But evermore we tended south-eastwards, and evermore the houses grew
imperceptibly less dignified. Stone and stucco we had left behind us on
the northern side of the river, and now it was a boundless contiguity
of brick--yellow brick, rather grimy,--small houses with porticos,
slips of dusty garden between the front door and the road, and here
and there a row of wayside trees. But everywhere gas, and everywhere
_omnibi_ (as the classical lady said,) and everywhere electric trams.
Churches of every confession and every architecture lined the way,
varied with Public-houses of many signs, Municipal Buildings of
startling splendour (for Borough Councils have a flamboyant taste),
and Swimming Baths and Public Libraries, and here and there a private
Lunatic Asylum frowning behind suggestively solemn gates.

Now we are in a long and featureless street, with semi-detached houses
on either hand, and a malodorous cab-stand and a four-faced clock.
"Which way for Rosebank?" shouts the Gondolier. "The first to your left
and then turn sharp to the right," bellows a responsive policeman. We
follow the direction given, and suddenly we are there--not at Rosebank,
but quite out of even Greater London. The street ends abruptly. Trams
and trains and gas and shops are left behind, and all at once we are in
the country. The road is lined with hedgerows, dusty indeed, but still
alive. Elms of respectable dimensions look down upon big fields, with
here and there an oak, and cows resting under it. At one turn of the
road there is a recognizable odour of late-cut hay, and in the middle
distance I distinctly perceive a turnip-field, out of which a covey of
partridges might rise without surprising any one. We pull up and gaze
around. Look where I will, I cannot see a house, nor even a cottage.
Surely my friends have not played a practical joke on me and asked me
to spend a day in an imaginary Paradise. The Gondolier looks at his
perspiring horse, and mops his own brow, and gazes contemptuously on
the landscape. "I should call this the world's end if I was arst," he
says. "Blow'd if they've even got a Public 'Ouse." Suddenly the sound
of a shrill bell bursts on the ear. The Gondolier, who is a humorist,
says "Muffins."

I jump out of the gondola, and pursue the welcome tinkle round a sharp
angle in the road. There I see, perched on the brow of a sandy knoll,
a small tin building, which a belfry and a cross proclaim to be a
church. Inside I discover the Oldest Inhabitant pulling the muffin-bell
with cheerful assiduity. He is more than ready to talk, and his whole
discourse is as countrified as if he lived a hundred miles from Charing
Cross. "Yes, this is a main lonely place. There ain't many people lives
about 'ere. Why, ten years ago it was all fields. Now there are some
houses--not many. He lives in one himself. How far off? Well, a matter
of a mile or so. He was born on the Squire's land; his father worked
on the farm. Yes, he's lived here all his life. Remembers it before
there was a Crystal Palace, and when there was no railways or nothing.
He hasn't often been in the train, and has only been up to London two
or three times. Who goes to the church? Well--not many, except the
Squire's family and the school-children. Why was it built? Oh, the
Squire wants to get some rich folks to live round about. He's ready
to part with his land for building; and there's going to be a row of
houses built just in front of the church. He reckons the people will be
more likely to come now that there's a church for them to go to." And
now the "ten-minutes" bell begins with livelier measure; the Oldest
Inhabitant shows me to a seat; and, on the stroke of eleven, a shrill
"Amen" is heard in the vestry, and there enters a modest procession of
surpliced schoolboys and a clergyman in a green stole. His sons and
daughters, the wife of the Oldest Inhabitant, and the sisters of the
choristers, from the congregation, eked out by myself and my friends
from Rosebank, who arrive a little flushed and complain that they have
been waiting for me. The "service is fully choral," as they say in
accounts of fashionable weddings; the clergyman preaches against the
Education Bill, and a collection (of copper) is made to defray the
expenses of a meeting at the Albert Hall. It is pleasant to see that,
even in these secluded districts, the watch-dogs of the Church are on
the alert.



XX

WINE AND WATER


The second and third words are added to the title in deference to the
weather. One must be a hardened toper if, with the thermometer at 93
in the shade, one can find comfort in the thought of undiluted wine.
Rather I would take pattern from Thackeray's friend the Bishop, with
his "rounded episcopal apron." "He put water into his wine. Let us
respect the moderation of the Established Church." But water is an
after-thought, incidental and ephemeral. It was on wine that I was
meditating when the mercury rushed up and put more temperate thoughts
into my head, and it was Sir Victor Horsley who set me on thinking
about wine. Sir Victor has been discoursing at Ontario about the
mischiefs of Alcohol, and the perennial controversy has revived in all
its accustomed vigour. Once every five years some leading light of
the medical profession declares with much solemnity that Alcohol is
a poison, that Wine is the foundation of death, and that Gingerbeer
or Toast-and-Water or Zoedone or Kopps or some kindred potion is the
true and the sole elixir of life. Sir Oracle always chooses August or
September for the delivery of his dogma, and immediately there ensues
a correspondence which suitably replaces "Ought Women to Propose?" "Do
We Believe?" and "What is Wrong?" Enthusiastic teetotallers fill the
columns of the press with letters which in their dimensions rival the
Enormous Gooseberry and in their demands on our credulity exceed the
Sea Serpent. To these reply the advocates of Alcohol, with statistical
accounts of patriarchs who always breakfasted on half-and-half, and
near and dear relations who were rescued from the jaws of death by a
timely exhibition of gin and bitters. And so the game goes merrily on
till October recalls us to common sense.

Thus far, the gem of this autumn's correspondence is, I think, the
following instance contributed by an opponent of Sir Victor Horsley:--

"A British officer lay on his camp-bed in India suffering from cholera.
His medical attendants had concluded that nothing more could be done
for him, and that his seizure must end fatally. His friends visited him
to shake his hand and to offer their sympathetic good-byes, including
his dearest regimental chum, who, deciding to keep his emotion down by
assuming a cheerful demeanour, remarked, 'Well, old chap, we all must
go sometime and somehow. Is there anything you would like me to get
you?' Hardly able to speak, the sufferer indicated, 'I'll take a drop
of champagne with you, as a last friendly act, if I can get it down.'
With difficulty he took a little, and still lives to tell the story."

Since the "affecting instance of Colonel Snobley" we have had nothing
quite so rich as that--unless, indeed, it was the thrill of loyal
rejoicing which ran round the nation when, just before Christmas 1871,
it was announced that our present Sovereign, then in the throes of
typhoid, had called for a glass of beer. Then, like true Britons,
reared on malt and hops, we felt that all was well, and addressed
ourselves to our Christmas turkey with the comfortable assurance that
the Prince of Wales had turned the corner. Reared on malt and hops,
I said; but many other ingredients went to the system on which some
of us were reared. "That poor creature, small beer" at meal-time, was
reinforced by a glass of port wine at eleven, by brandy and water
if ever one looked squeamish, by mulled claret at bedtime in cold
weather, by champagne on all occasions of domestic festivity, and by
hot elderberry wine if one had a cold in the head. Poison? quotha. It
was like Fontenelle's coffee, and, even though some of us have not yet
turned eighty, at any rate we were not cut off untimely nor hurried
into a drunkard's grave. And then think of the men whom the system
produced! Thackeray (who knew what he was talking about) said that
"our intellect ripens with good cheer and throws off surprising crops
under the influence of that admirable liquid, claret." But all claret,
according to Dr. Johnson, would be port if it could; and a catena of
port wine-drinkers could contain some of the most famous names of the
last century. Mr. Gladstone, to whom the other pleasures of the table
meant nothing, was a stickler for port, a believer in it, a judge of
it. The only feeble speech which, in my hearing, he ever made was
made after dining at an otherwise hospitable house where wine was not
suffered to appear. Lord Tennyson, until vanquished by Sir Andrew
Clark, drank his bottle of port every day, and drank it undecanted,
for, as he justly observed, a decanter holds only eight glasses, but a
black bottle nine. Mr. Browning, if he could have his own way, drank
port all through dinner as well as after it. Sir Moses Montefiore, who,
as his kinsfolk said, got up to par--or, in other words, completed
his hundred years,--had drunk a bottle of port every day since he
came to man's estate. Dr. Charles Sumner, the last Prince-Bishop of
Winchester, so comely and benign that he was called "The Beauty of
Holiness," lent ecclesiastical sanction to the same tradition by not
only drinking port himself but distributing it with gracious generosity
to impoverished clergy. But, if I were to sing all the praises of port,
I should have no room for other wines.

Sherry--but no. Just now it is a point of literary honour not to
talk about sherry;[7] so, Dante-like, I do not reason about that
particular wine, but gaze and pass on--only remarking, as I pass,
that Mr. Ruskin's handsome patrimony was made out of sherry, and that
this circumstance lent a peculiar zest to his utterances from the
professorial chair at Oxford about the immorality of Capital and "the
sweet poison of misusèd wine." An enthusiastic clergyman who wore
the Blue Ribbon had been urging on Archbishop Benson his own strong
convictions about the wickedness of wine-drinking. That courtly prelate
listened with tranquil sympathy till the orator stopped for breath,
and then observed, in suavest accents, "And yet I always think that
good claret tastes very like a good creature of God." There are many
who, in the depths of their conscience, agree with his Grace; and they
would drink claret and nothing but claret if they could get it at
dinner. Far distant are the days when Lord Alvanley said, "The little
wine I drink I drink at dinner,--but the great deal of wine I drink I
drink after dinner." Nowadays no one drinks any after dinner. The King
killed after-dinner drinking when he introduced cigarettes. But, for
some inexplicable reason, men who have good claret will not produce it
at dinner. They wait till the air is poisoned and the palate deadened
with tobacco, and then complain that nobody drinks claret. The late
Lord Granville (who had spent so many years of his life in taking the
chair at public dinners that his friends called him Pére La Chaise)
once told me that, where you are not sure of your beverages, it was
always safest to drink hock. So little was drunk in England that it
was not worth while to adulterate it. Since those days the still wines
of Mosel have flooded the country, and it is difficult to repress the
conviction that the principal vineyards must belong to the Medical
Faculty, so persistently and so universally do they prescribe those
rather dispiriting vintages.

[7] A correspondence on Sherry had just been running in the daily press.

But, after all said and done, when we in the twentieth century say
Wine, we mean champagne, even as our fathers meant port. And in
champagne we have seen a silent but epoch-making revolution. I well
remember the champagne of my youth; a liquid esteemed more precious
than gold, and dribbled out into saucer-shaped glasses half-way through
dinner on occasions of high ceremony. It was thick and sticky; in
colour a sort of brick-dust red, and it scarcely bubbled, let alone
foaming or sparkling.

  "How sad, and bad, and mad it was,--
  And oh! how it was sweet!"

Nowadays, we are told, more champagne is drunk in Russia than is grown
in France. And the "foaming grape," which Tennyson glorified, is so
copiously diluted that it ranks only immediately above small beer in
the scale of alcoholic strength. Mr. Finching, the wine-merchant in
"Little Dorrit," thought it "weak but palatable," and Lord St. Jerome
in "Lothair" was esteemed by the young men a "patriot," "because he
always gave his best champagne at his ball suppers." Such patriotism as
that, at any rate, is not the refuge of a scoundrel.

_Wine and Water._ I return to my beginnings, and, as I ponder the
innocuous theme, all sorts of apt citations come crowding on the Ear of
Memory. Bards of every age and clime have sung the praises of wine, but
songs in praise of water are more difficult to find. Once on a time,
when a Maid of Honour had performed a rather mild air on the piano,
Queen Victoria asked her what it was called. "A German Drinking-Song,
ma'am." "Drinking-Song! One couldn't drink a cup of tea to it." A
kindred feebleness seems to have beset all the poets who have tried to
hymn the praises of water; nor was it overcome till some quite recent
singer, who had not forgotten his Pindar, thus improved on the immortal
_Ariston men hudor_:--

  "Pure water is the best of gifts
    That man to man can bring;
  But what am I, that I should have
    The best of anything?

  "Let Princes revel at the Pump,
    Let Peers enjoy their tea;[8]
  But whisky, beer, or even wine
    Is good enough for me."

[8] Some commentators read--"Peers with the pond make free."



XXI

DINNER

  "We may live without poetry, music, and art;
  We may live without conscience and live without heart;
  We may live without friends; we may live without books;
  But civilized man cannot live without Cooks.

  "He may live without lore--what is knowledge but grieving?
  He may live without hope--what is hope but deceiving?
  He may live without love--what is passion but pining?
  But where is the man that can live without dining?"


The poet who wrote those feeling lines acted up to what he professed,
and would, I think, have been interested in our present subject; for he
it was who, in the mellow glory of his literary and social fame, said:
"It is many years since I felt hungry; but, thank goodness, I am still
greedy." In my youth there used to be a story of a High Sheriff who,
having sworn to keep the jury in a trial for felony locked up without
food or drink till they had agreed upon their verdict, was told that
one of them was faint and had asked for a glass of water. The High
Sheriff went to the Judge and requested his directions. The Judge,
after due reflection, ruled as follows: "You have sworn not to give the
jury food or drink till they have agreed upon their verdict. A glass of
water certainly is not food; and, for my own part, I shouldn't call it
drink. Yes; you can give the man a glass of water."

In a like spirit, I suppose that most of us would regard wine as being,
if not of the essence, at least an inseparable accident, of Dinner; but
the subject of wine has been so freely handled in a previous chapter
that, though it is by no means exhausted, we will to-day treat it only
incidentally, and as it presents itself in connexion with the majestic
theme of Dinner.

The great Lord Holland, famed in Memoirs, was greater in nothing than
in his quality of host; and, like all the truly great, he manifested
all his noblest attributes on the humblest occasions. Thus, he was once
entertaining a schoolboy, who had come to spend a whole holiday at
Holland House, and, in the openness of his heart, he told the urchin
that he might have what he liked for dinner. "Young in years, but in
sage counsels old," as the divine Milton says, the Westminster boy
demanded, not sausages and strawberry cream, but a roast duck with
green peas, and an apricot tart. The delighted host brushed away a tear
of sensibility, and said, "My boy, if in all the important questions
of your life you decide as wisely as you have decided now, you will be
a great and a good man." The prophecy was verified, and surely the
incident deserved to be embalmed in verse; but, somehow, the poets
always seem to have fought shy of Dinner. Byron, as might be expected,
comes nearest to the proper inspiration when he writes of

                      "A roast and a ragout,
  And fish, and soup, by some side dishes back'd."

But even this is tepid. Owen Meredith, in the poem from which I have
already quoted, gives some portion of a menu in metre. Sydney Smith, as
we all know, wrote a recipe for a salad in heroic couplets. Prior, I
think, describes a City Feast, bringing in "swan and bustard" to rhyme
with "tart and custard." The late Mr. Mortimer Collins is believed to
have been the only writer who ever put "cutlet" into a verse. When
Rogers wrote "the rich relics of a well-spent hour" he was not--though
he ought to have been--thinking of dinner. Shakespeare and Spenser,
and Milton and Wordsworth, and Shelley and Tennyson deal only with
fragments and fringes of the great subject. They mention a joint or a
dish, a vintage or a draught, but do not harmonize and co-ordinate even
such slight knowledge of gastronomy as they may be supposed to have
possessed. In fact, the subject was too great for them, and they wisely
left it to the more adequate medium of prose. Among the prose-poets who
have had the true feeling for Dinner, Thackeray stands supreme. When
he describes it facetiously, as in "The Little Dinner at Timmins's" or
"A Dinner in the City," he is good; but he is far, far better when he
treats a serious theme seriously, as in "Memorials of Gormandizing" and
"Greenwich Whitebait."

I assign the first place to Thackeray because his eulogy is more
finished, more careful, more delicate; but Sir Walter had a fine, free
style, a certain broadness of effect, in describing a dinner which
places him high in the list. Those venison pasties and spatchcocked
eels and butts of Rhenish wine and stoups of old Canary which figure
so largely in the historical novels still make my mouth water. The
dinner which Rob Roy gave Bailie Nicol Jarvie, though of necessity
cold, was well conceived; and, barring the solan goose, I should have
deeply enjoyed the banquet at which the Antiquary entertained Sir
Arthur Wardour. The imaginary feast which Caleb Balderstone prepared
for the Lord Keeper was so good that it deserved to be real. Dickens,
the supreme exponent of High Tea, knew very little about Dinner, though
I remember a good meal of the _bourgeois_ type at the house of the
Patriarch in "Little Dorrit." Lord Lytton dismissed even a bad dinner
all too curtly when he said that "the soup was cold, the ice was hot,
and everything in the house was sour except the vinegar." James Payn
left in his one unsuccessful book, "Meliboeus in London," the best
account, because the simplest, of a Fish-dinner at Greenwich; in that
special department he is run close by Lord Beaconsfield in "Tancred";
but it is no disgrace to be equalled or even surpassed by the greatest
man who ever described a dinner. With Lord Beaconsfield gastronomy was
an instinct; it breathes in every page of his Letters to his Sister. He
found a roast swan "very white and good." He dined out "to meet some
truffles--very agreeable company." At Sir Robert Peel's he reported
"the second course really remarkable," and noted the startling fact
that Sir Robert "boldly attacked his turbot with his knife." It was
he, I believe, who said of a rival Chancellor of the Exchequer that
his soup was made from "deferred stock." 'Twere long to trace the
same generous enthusiasm for Dinner through all Lord Beaconsfield's
Novels. He knew the Kitchen of the Past as well as of the Present.
Lady Annabel's Bill of Fare in "Venetia" is a monument of culinary
scholarship. Is there anything in fiction more moving than the agony of
the _chef_ at Lord Montacute's coming of age? "It was only by the most
desperate personal exertions that I rescued the _soufflés_. It was an
affair of the Bridge of Arcola." And, if it be objected that all these
scenes belong to a rather remote past, let us take this vignette of
the fashionable solicitor in "Lothair," Mr. Putney Giles, as he sits
down to dinner after a day of exciting work: "It is a pleasent thing
to see an opulent and prosperous man of business, sanguine and full
of health and a little overworked, at that royal meal, Dinner. How
he enjoys his soup! And how curious in his fish! How critical in his
_entrée_, and how nice in his Welsh mutton! His exhausted brain rallies
under the glass of dry sherry, and he realizes all his dreams with the
aid of claret that has the true flavour of the violet." "Doctors,"
said Thackeray, who knew and loved them, "notoriously dine well.
When my excellent friend Sangrado takes a bumper, and saying, with a
shrug and a twinkle of his eye, _Video meliora proboque, Deteriora
sequor_, tosses off the wine, I always ask the butler for a glass of
that bottle." That tradition of medical gastronomy dates from a remote
period of our history. "Culina," by far the richest Cookery-book ever
composed, was edited and given to the world in 1810 by a doctor--"A.
Hunter, M.D., F.R.S." Dr. William Kitchener died in 1827, but not
before his "Cook's Oracle" and "Peptic Precepts" had secured him an
undying fame. In our own days, Sir Henry Thompson's "Octaves" were the
most famous dinners in London, both as regards food and wine; and his
"Food and Feeding" is the best guide-book to greediness I know. But
here I feel that I am descending into details. "Dear Bob, I have seen
the mahoganies of many men." But to-day I am treating of Dinner rather
than of dinners--of the abstract Idea which has its real existence in
a higher sphere,--not of the concrete forms in which it is embodied
on this earth. Perhaps further on I may have a word to say about
"Dinners."



XXII

DINNERS


_Sero sed serio._ It is the motto of the House of Cecil; and the late
Lord Salisbury, long detained by business at the Foreign Office and
at length sitting down to his well-earned dinner, used to translate
it--"Unpunctual, but hungry." Such a formula may suitably introduce
the subject of our present meditations; and, although that subject is
not temporary or ephemeral, but rather belongs to all time, still at
this moment it is specially opportune. Sir James Crichton-Browne has
been frightening us to death with dark tales of physical degeneration,
and he has been heartless enough to do so just when we are reeling
under the effects of Sir Victor Horsley's attack on Alcohol. Burke, in
opposing a tax on gin, pleaded that "mankind have in every age called
in some material assistance to their moral consolation." These modern
men of science tell us that we must by no means call in gin or any of
its more genteel kinsfolk in the great family of Alcohol. Water hardly
seems to meet the case--besides, it has typhoid germs in it. Tea and
coffee are "nerve-stimulants," and must therefore be avoided by a
neurotic generation. Physical degeneracy, then, must be staved off with
food; food, in a sound philosophy of life, means Dinner; and Dinner,
the ideal or abstraction, reveals itself to man in the concrete form of
Dinners.

Having thus formulated my theme, I part company, here and now, with
poets and romancists and all that dreamy crew, and betake myself, like
Mr. Gradgrind, to facts. In loftier phrase, I pursue the historic
method, and narrate, with the accuracy of Freeman, though, alas!
without the brilliancy of Froude, some of the actual dinners on which
mankind has lived. Creasy wrote of the "Fifteen Decisive Battles of
the World"--the Fifteen Decisive Dinners of the World would be a far
more interesting theme; but the generous catalogue unrolls its scroll,
and "fifteen" would have to be multiplied by ten or a hundred before
the tale was told. A friend of mine had a pious habit of pasting into
an album the _Menu_ of every dinner at which he had enjoyed himself.
Studying the album retrospectively, he used to put an asterisk against
the most memorable of these records. There were three asterisks against
the _Menu_ of a dinner given by Lord Lyons at the British Embassy at
Paris. "_Quails and Roman Punch_," said my friend with tears in his
voice. "You can't get beyond that." This evidently had been one of the
Fifteen Decisive Dinners of his gastronomic world. Did not the poet
Young exclaim, in one of his most pietistic "Night Thoughts,"

  "The undevout Gastronomer is mad"?

Or, has an unintended "G" crept into the line?

I treasure among my relics the "Bill of Fare" (for in those days we
talked English) of a Tavern Dinner for seven persons, triumphantly
eaten in 1751. Including vegetables and dessert, and excluding
beverages, it comprises thirty-eight items; and the total cost was
£81, 11s. 6d. (without counting the Waiter). Twenty years later than
the date of this heroic feast Dr. Johnson, who certainly could do most
things which required the use of a pen, vaunted in his overweening
pride that he could write a cookery-book, and not only this, but "a
better book of cookery than has ever yet been written; it should be a
book on philosophical principles." The philosophical principles must
have been those of the Stoic school if they could induce his readers or
his guests to endure patiently such a dinner as he gave poor Bozzy on
Easter-day, 1773--"a very good soup, a boiled leg of lamb and spinach,
a veal pie, and a rice pudding." One is glad to know that the soup
was good; for, as Sir Henry Thompson said in "Food and Feeding," "the
_rationale_ of the initial soup has been often discussed," and the best
opinion is that the function of the soup is to fortify the digestion
against what is to come. A man who is to dine on boiled lamb, veal
pie, and rice pudding needs all the fortifying he can get. With some
of us it would indeed be a "decisive" dinner--the last which we should
consume on this planet.

True enjoyment, as well as true virtue, lies in the Golden Mean;
and, as we round the corner where the eighteenth century meets the
nineteenth, we begin to encounter a system of dining less profligately
elaborate than the Tavern Dinner of 1751, and yet less poisonously
crude than Dr. Johnson's Easter Dinner of 1773. The first Earl of
Dudley (who died in 1833) disdained kickshaws, and, with manly
simplicity, demanded only "a good soup, a small turbot, a neck of
venison, ducklings with green peas (or chicken with asparagus), and an
apricot tart." Even more meagre was the repast which Macaulay deemed
sufficient for his own wants and those of a friend: "Ellis came to
dinner at seven. I gave him a lobster curry, woodcock, and maccaroni."
From such frugality, bordering on asceticism, it is a relief to turn to
the more bounteous hospitality of Sir Robert Peel, of whose dinner the
youthful Disraeli wrote: "It was curiously sumptuous; every delicacy of
the season, and the second course, of dried salmon, olives, caviare,
woodcock pie, _foiegras_, and every combination of cured herring, &c.,
was really remarkable." Yes, indeed! "on dine remarquablement chez
vous."

After all, the social life of the capital naturally takes its tone
and manner from the august centre round which it moves. If the Court
dines well, so do those who frequent it. The legs of mutton and apple
dumplings which satisfied the simple taste of George III. read now
like a horrid dream. Perhaps, as the digestion and the brain are so
closely connected, they helped to drive him mad. His sons ate more
reasonably; and, in a later generation, gastronomic science in high
places was quickened by the thoughtful intelligence of Prince Albert
directing the practical skill of Francatelli and Moret. Here is a
brief abstract or epitome of Queen Victoria's dinner on the 21st of
September 1841. It begins modestly with two soups; it goes on, more
daringly, to four kinds of fish; four also are the joints, followed
(not, as now, preceded) by eight _entrées_. Then come chickens and
partridges; vegetables, savouries, and sweets to the number of fifteen:
and, lest any one should still suffer from the pangs of unsatiated
desire, there were thoughtfully placed on the sideboard Roast Beef,
Roast Mutton, Haunch of Venison, Hashed Venison, and _Riz au consommé_.
But those were famous days. Fifty-four years had sped their course,
and Her Majesty's Christmas Dinner in the year 1895 shows a lamentable
shrinkage. Three soups indeed there were, but only one fish, and that
a Fried Sole, which can be produced by kitchens less than Royal. To
this succeeded a beggarly array of four _entrées_, three joints, and
two sorts of game; but the _Menu_ recovers itself a little in seven
sweet dishes; while the sideboard displayed the "Boar's Head, Baron of
Beef, and Woodcock Pie," which supplied the thrifty Journalist with
appropriate copy at every Christmas of Her Majesty's long reign.

When Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli had succeeded in "dishing the
Whigs" by establishing Household Suffrage, they and their colleagues
went with a light heart and a good conscience to dine at the Ship
Hotel, Greenwich, on the 14th of August 1867. That was, in some
senses, a "decisive" dinner, for it sealed the destruction of the
old Conservatism and inaugurated the reign of Tory Democracy. The
triumphant Ministers had turtle soup, eleven kinds of fish, two
_entrées_, a haunch of venison, poultry, ham, grouse, leverets, five
sweet dishes, and two kinds of ice. Eliminating the meat, this is very
much the same sort of dinner as that at which Cardinal Wiseman was
entertained by his co-religionists when he assumed the Archbishopric
of Westminster, and I remember that his Life, by Mr. Wilfred Ward,
records the dismay with which his "maigre" fare inspired more ascetic
temperaments. "He kept the table of a Roman Cardinal, and surprised
some Puseyite guests by four courses of fish in Lent." There is
something very touching in the exculpatory language of his friend and
disciple Father Faber--"The dear Cardinal had a Lobster-salad side to
his character."

Ever since the days of Burns, the "chiel amang ye takin' notes" has
been an unpopular character, and not without reason, as the following
extract shows. Mr. John Evelyn Denison (afterwards Lord Eversley) was
Speaker of the House of Commons in 1865, and on the eve of the opening
of the Session he dined, according to custom, with Lord Palmerston,
then Prime Minister and Leader of the House. Lord Palmerston was in his
eighty-first year and gouty. Political issues of the gravest importance
hung on his life. The Speaker, like a _rusé_ old politician as he was,
kept a cold grey eye on Palmerston's performance at dinner, regarding
it, rightly, as an index to his state of health; and this was what he
reported about his host's capacities: "His dinner consisted of turtle
soup, fish, patties, fricandeau, a third _entrée_, a slice of roast
mutton, a second slice, a slice of hard-looking ham. In the second
course, pheasant, pudding, jelly. At dessert, dressed oranges and half
a large pear. He drank seltzer water only, but late in the dinner one
glass of sweet champagne, and, I think, a glass of sherry at dessert."
This was one of the "decisive" dinners, for Palmerston died in the
following October. The only wonder is that he lived so long. The dinner
which killed the Duke of Wellington was a cold pie and a salad.

"I am not one who much or oft delight" to mingle the serious work of
Dinner with the frivolities of Literature; but other people, more prone
to levity, are fond of constructing Bills of Fare out of Shakespeare;
and our National Bard is so copious in good eating and drinking that a
dozen _Menus_ might be bodied forth from his immortal page. The most
elaborate of these attempts took place in New York on the 23rd of
April 1860. The Bill of Fare lies before me as I write. It contains
twenty-four items, and an appropriate quotation is annexed to each. The
principal joint was Roast Lamb, and to this is attached the tag--

                "Innocent
  As is the sucking lamb."

When the late Professor Thorold Rogers, an excellent Shakespearean,
saw this citation, he exclaimed, "That was an opportunity missed. They
should have put--

  'So young, and so untender!'"



XXIII

LUNCHEON

  "Munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
  Breakfast, dinner, supper, luncheon!"


So sings, or says, Robert Browning in his ditty of the Pied Piper,
and it is to be remarked that he was not driven to invent the word
"nuncheon" by the necessity of finding a rhyme for "luncheon," for
"puncheon" was ready to his hand, and "nuncheon" was not a creation,
but an archaism, defined by Johnson as "food eaten between meals."
Let no one who perpends the amazing dinners eaten by our forefathers
accuse those good men of gluttony. Let us rather bethink ourselves
of their early and unsatisfying breakfasts, their lives of strenuous
labour, their ignorance of five o'clock tea; and then thank the
goodness and the grace which on our birth have smiled, and have given
us more frequent meals and less ponderous dinners. Lord John Russell
(1792-1878) published anonymously in 1820 a book of Essays and Sketches
"by a Gentleman who has left his Lodgings." On the usages of polite
society at the time no one was better qualified to speak, for Woburn
Abbey was his home, and at Bowood and Holland House he was an habitual
guest; and this is his testimony to the dining habits of society: "The
great inconvenience of a London life is the late hour of dinner. To
pass the day _impransus_ and then to sit down to a great dinner at
eight o'clock is entirely against the first dictates of common sense
and common stomachs. Women, however, are not so irrational as men, and
generally sit down to a substantial luncheon at three or four; if men
would do the same, the meal at night might be lightened of many of its
weighty dishes and conversation would be no loser." So far, Luncheon
(or Nuncheon) would seem to be exclusively a ladies' meal; and yet
Dr. Kitchener could not have been prescribing for ladies only when he
gave his surprising directions for a luncheon "about twelve," which
might "consist of a bit of roasted Poultry, a basin of Beef Tea or Eggs
poached or boiled in the shell, Fish plainly dressed, or a Sandwich;
stale Bread, and half a pint of good Home-brewed Beer, or Toast and
Water, with about one fourth or one-third part of its measure of Wine,
of which Port is preferred, or one-seventh of Brandy."

In Miss Austen's books, Luncheon is dismissed under the cursory
appellation of "Cold Meat," and Madeira and water seems to have been
its accompaniment; but more prodigal methods soon began to creep in.
The repast which Sam Weller pronounced "a wery good notion of a lunch"
consisted of veal pie, bread, knuckle of ham, cold beef, beer, and cold
punch; and let it be observed in passing that, had he used the word
"lunch" in polite society, the omission of the second syllable would
have been severely reprehended by a generation which still spoke of
the "omnibus" and had only just discontinued "cabriolet." The verb "to
lunch" was even more offensive than the substantive from which it was
derived; and Lord Beaconsfield, describing the Season of 1832, says
that "ladies were luncheoning on Perigord pie, or coursing in whirling
britskas." To Perigord pies as a luncheon dish for the luxurious and
eupeptic may be added venison pasties--

  "Now broach me a cask of Malvoisie,
  Bring pasty from the doe,"

said the Duchess in "Coningsby." "That has been my luncheon--a poetic
repast." And Lady St. Jerome, when she took Lothair to a picnic, fed
him with lobster sandwiches and Chablis. Fiction is ever the mirror of
fact; and a lady still living, who published her Memoirs only a year or
two ago, remembers the Lady Holland who patronized Macaulay "sitting at
a beautiful luncheon of cold turkey and summer salad."

But, in spite of all these instances, Luncheon was down to 1840 or
thereabouts a kind of clandestine and unofficial meal. The ladies
wanted something to keep them up. It was nicer for the children than
having their dinner in the nursery. Papa would be kept at the House
by an impending division, and must get a snack when he could--and so
on and so forth. If a man habitually sate down to luncheon, and ate
it through, he was contemned as unversed in the science of feeding.
"Luncheon is a reflection on Breakfast and an insult to Dinner;" and
moreover it stamped the eater as an idler. No one who had anything to
do could find time for a square meal in the middle of the day. When Mr.
Gladstone was at the Board of Trade, his only luncheon consisted of an
Abernethy biscuit which Mrs. Gladstone brought down to the office and
forced on the reluctant Vice-President.

But after 1840 a change set in. Prince Albert was notoriously fond of
luncheon, and Queen Victoria humoured him. They dined late, and the
Luncheon at the Palace became a very real and fully recognized meal.
At it the Queen sometimes received her friends, as witness the Royal
Journal--"Mamma came to luncheon with her lady and gentleman." It could
not have been pleasant for the "lady and gentleman," but it established
the practice.

"Sunday luncheon" was always a thing apart. For some reason not
altogether clear, but either because devotion long sustained makes
a strong demand on the nervous system or because a digestive nap
was the best way of employing Sunday afternoon, men who ate no
luncheon on week-days devoured Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding on
Sundays and had their appropriate reward. Bishop Wilberforce, whose
frank self-communings are always such delightful reading, wrote in
his diary for Sunday, October 27, 1861: "Preached in York Minster.
Very large congregation. Back to Bishopthorpe. Sleepy, _eheu_, at
afternoon service; _must_ eat no luncheon on Sunday." When Luncheon
had once firmly established itself, not merely as a meal but as an
institution, Sunday luncheons in London became recognized centres of
social life. Where there was even a moderate degree of intimacy a
guest might drop in and be sure of mayonnaise, chicken, and welcome. I
well remember an occasion of this kind when I saw social Presence of
Mind exemplified, as I thought and think, on an heroic scale. Luncheon
was over. It had not been a particularly bounteous meal; the guests
had been many; the chicken had been eaten to the drumstick and the
cutlets to the bone. Nothing remained but a huge Trifle, of chromatic
and threatening aspect, on which no one had ventured to embark. Coffee
was just coming, when the servant entered with an anxious expression,
and murmured to the hostess that Monsieur Petitpois--a newly arrived
French attaché--had come and seemed to expect luncheon. The hostess
grasped the situation in an instant, and issued her commands with a
promptitude and a directness which the Duke of Wellington could not
have surpassed. "Clear everything away, but leave the Trifle. Then show
M. Petitpois in." Enter Petitpois. "Delighted to see you. Quite right.
Always at home at Sunday luncheon. Pray come and sit here and have some
Trifle. It is our national Sunday dish." Poor young Petitpois, actuated
by the same principle which made the Prodigal desire the husks, filled
himself with sponge-cake, jam, and whipped cream; and went away looking
rather pale. If he kept a journal, he no doubt noted the English Sunday
as one of our most curious institutions, and the Trifle as its crowning
horror.

Cardinal Manning, as all the world knows, never dined. "I never eat and
I never drink," said the Cardinal. "I am sorry to say I cannot. I like
dinner society very much. You see the world, and you hear things which
you do not hear otherwise." Certainly that Cardinal was a fictitious
personage, but he was drawn with fidelity from Cardinal Manning, who
ate a very comfortable dinner at two o'clock, called it luncheon, and
maintained his principle. There have always been some houses where
the luncheons were much more famous than the dinners. Dinner, after
all, is something of a ceremony: it requires forethought, care, and
organization. Luncheon is more of a scramble, and, in the case of a
numerous and scattered family, it is the pleasantest of reunions.
"When all the daughters are married nobody eats luncheon," said Lothair
to his solicitor, Mr. Putney Giles: but Mr. Putney Giles, "who always
affected to know everything, and generally did," replied that, even
though the daughters were married, "the famous luncheons at Crecy House
would always go on and be a popular mode of their all meeting." When
Lord Beaconsfield wrote that passage he was thinking of Chesterfield
House, May Fair, some twenty years before Lord Burton bought it.
Mr. Gladstone, who thought modern luxury rather disgusting, used to
complain that nowadays life in a country house meant three dinners a
day, and if you reckoned sandwiches and poached eggs at five o'clock
tea, nearly four. Indeed, the only difference that I can perceive
between a modern luncheon and a modern dinner is that at the former
meal you don't have soup or a printed _menu_. But at a luncheon at the
Mansion House you have both; so it is well for Lord Mayors that their
reigns are brief.

One touch of personal reminiscence may close this study. While yet the
Old Bailey stood erect and firm, as grim in aspect as in association,
I used often, through the courtesy of a civic official, to share the
luncheon of the judge and the aldermen, eaten during an interval in
the trial, in a gloomy chamber behind the Bench. I still see, in my
mind's eye, a learned judge, long since gone to his account, stuffing
cold beef and pigeon pie, and quaffing London stout, black as Erebus
and heavy as lead. After this repast he went back into Court (where
he never allowed a window to be opened) and administered what he
called justice through the long and lethargic afternoon. No one who
had witnessed the performance could doubt the necessity for a Court of
Criminal Appeal.



XXIV

TEA


Few, I fear, are the readers of Mrs. Sherwood. Yet in "The Fairchild
Family" she gave us some pictures of English country life at the end
of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century which
neither Jane Austen nor Mrs. Gaskell ever beat, and at least one scene
of horror which is still unsurpassed. I cannot say as much for "Henry
Milner, or the Story of a Little Boy who was not brought up according
to the Fashions of this World." No, indeed--very far from it. And Henry
now recurs to my mind only because, in narrating his history, Mrs.
Sherwood archly introduces a sentence which may serve as a motto for
this meditation. Like Bismarck (though unlike him in other respects),
she was fond of parading scraps of a rather bald Latinity; and, in this
particular instance, she combines simple scholarship with staid humour,
making her hero exclaim to a tea-making lady, "Non possum vivere sine
Te." The play on _Te_ and _Tea_ will be remarked as very ingenious.
Barring the Latinity and the jest, I am at one with Mrs. Sherwood
in the sentiment, "My heart leaps up when I behold" a teapot, like
Wordsworth's when he beheld a rainbow; and the mere mention of tea in
literature stirs in me thoughts which lie too deep for words. Thus I
look forward with the keenest interest to

  THE BOOK OF TEA

  BY OKAKURA-KAKUZO

which the publishers promise at an early date. Solemn indeed, as befits
the subject, is the preliminary announcement:--

"This book in praise of tea, written by a Japanese, will surely find
sympathetic readers in England, where the custom of tea-drinking has
become so important a part of the national daily life. Mr. Kakuzo shows
that the English are still behind the Japanese in their devotion to
tea. In England afternoon tea is variously regarded as a fashionable
and luxurious aid to conversation, a convenient way of passing the
time, or a restful and refreshing pause in the day's occupation, but in
Japan tea-drinking is ennobled into Teaism, and the English cup of tea
seems trivial by comparison."

This is the right view of Tea. The wrong view was lately forced into
sad prominence in the Coroner's Court:--

DANGERS OF TEA-DRINKING

"In summing up at a Hackney inquest on Saturday, Dr. Wynn Westcott, the
coroner, commented on the fact that deceased, a woman of twenty-nine,
had died suddenly after a meal of steak, tomatoes, and tea. One of
the most injudicious habits, he said, was to drink tea with a meat
meal. Tea checked the flow of the gastric juice which was necessary to
digestion. He was sorry if that went against teetotal doctrines, but if
people must be teetotallers they had best drink water and not tea with
their meals."

My present purpose is to enquire whether the right or the wrong view
has more largely predominated in English history and literature.
If, after the manner of a German commentator, I were to indulge in
"prolegomena" about the history, statistics, and chemical analysis
of Tea, I should soon overflow my limits; and I regard a painfully
well-known couplet in which "tea" rhymes with "obey" as belonging to
that class of quotations which no self-respecting writer can again
resuscitate. Perhaps a shade, though only a shade, less hackneyed is
Cowper's tribute to the divine herb:--

  "Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
  Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
  And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
  Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
  That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
  So let us welcome peaceful evening in."

But this really leaves the problem unsolved. Cowper drank tea, and
drank it in the evening; but whether he "had anything with it," as the
phrase is, remains uncertain. Bread and butter, I think, he must have
had, or toast, or what Thackeray scoffs at as the "blameless muffin";
but I doubt about eggs, and feel quite sure that he did not mingle meat
and tea. So much for 1795, and I fancy that the practice of 1816 (when
"Emma" was published) was not very different. When Mrs. Bates went to
spend the evening with Mr. Woodhouse there was "vast deal of chat, and
backgammon, and tea was made downstairs"; but, though the passage is
a little obscure, I am convinced that the "biscuits and baked apples"
were not served with the tea, but came in later with the ill-fated
"fricassee of sweetbread and asparagus." Lord Beaconsfield, who was
born in 1804, thus describes the evening meal at "Hurstley"--a place
drawn in detail from his early home in Buckinghamshire: "Then they
were summoned to tea.... The curtains were drawn and the room lighted;
an urn hissed; there were piles of bread and butter, and a pyramid of
buttered toast." And, when the family from the Hall went to tea at
the Rectory, they found "the tea-equipage a picture of abundance and
refinement. Such pretty china, and such various and delicious cakes!
White bread, and brown bread, and plum cakes, and seed cakes, and
no end of cracknels, and toasts, dry or buttered." Still here is no
mention of animal foods, and even Dr. Wynn Westcott would have found
nothing to condemn. The same refined tradition meets us in "Cranford,"
which, as we all know from its reference to "Pickwick," describes the
social customs of 1836-7. Mrs. Jameson was the Queen of Society in
Cranford, and, when she gave a tea-party, the herb was reinforced only
by "very thin bread and butter," and Miss Barker was thought rather
vulgar--"a tremendous word in Cranford"--because she gave seed cake as
well. Even in "Pickwick" itself, though that immortal book does not
pretend to depict the manners of polite society, the tea served in the
sanctum of the "Marquis of Granby" at Dorking was flanked by nothing
more substantial than a plate of hot buttered toast.

Impressive, therefore, almost startling, is the abrupt transition
from these ill-supported teas (which, according to Dr. Wynn Westcott,
were hygienically sound) to the feast, defiant of all gastronomic
law, which Mrs. Snagsby spread for Mr. and Mrs. Chadband--"Dainty new
bread, crusty twists, cool fresh butter, thin slices of ham, tongue,
and German sausage, delicate little rows of anchovies nestling in
parsley, new-laid eggs brought up warm in a napkin, and hot buttered
toast." German sausage washed down with tea! What, oh what, would
the Coroner say? And what must be the emotions of the waiters at the
House of Commons, with their traditions of Bellamy's veal pies and
Mr. Disraeli's port, when they see the Labour Members sit down to a
refection of Tea and Brawn? But, it may be urged, Medical Science is
always shifting its ground, and what is the elixir of life to-day may
be labelled Poison to-morrow. Thus Thackeray, using his keenest art to
stigmatize the unwholesome greediness of a City Dinner, describes the
surfeited guests adjourning after dinner to the Tea Room, and there
"drinking slops and eating buttered muffins until the grease trickled
down their faces." This was written in 1847; but in 1823 the great Dr.
Kitchener, both physician and gastronomer, pronounces thus--"Tea after
Dinner assists Digestion, quenches Thirst, and thereby exhilarates the
Spirits," and he suggests as an acceptable alternative "a little warmed
Milk, with a teaspoonful of Rum, a bit of Sugar, and a little Nutmeg."
Truly our forefathers must have had remarkable digestions.

"These be black Vespers' pageants." I have spoken so far of Tea in the
evening. When did people begin to drink Tea in the morning? I seem to
remember that, in our earlier romancists and dramatists, Coffee is the
beverage for breakfast. Certainly it is so--and inimitably described
as well--in Lord Beaconsfield's account of a Yorkshire breakfast in
"Sybil." At Holland House, which was the very ark and sanctuary of
luxury, Macaulay in 1831 breakfasted on "very good coffee and very
good tea, and very good eggs, butter kept in the midst of ice, and
hot rolls." Here the two liquids are proffered, but meat is rigidly
excluded, and Dr. Wynn Westcott's law of life observed. But nine
years later the character of breakfast had altered, and altered in an
unwholesome direction. The increasing practice of going to Scotland
for the shooting season had familiarized Englishmen with the more
substantial fare of the Scotch breakfast, and since that time the
unhallowed combination of meat and tea has been the law of our English
breakfast-table. Sir Thomas in the "Ingoldsby Legends," on the morning
of his mysterious disappearance, had eaten for breakfast some bacon, an
egg, a little broiled haddock, and a slice of cold beef.

  "And then--let me see!--he had two, perhaps three,
  Cups (with sugar and cream) of strong gunpowder tea,
  With a spoonful in each of some choice _eau de vie_,
  Which with nine out of ten would perhaps disagree."

The same trait may be remembered in the case of Mrs. Finching, who,
though she had cold fowl and broiled ham for breakfast, "measured out
a spoonful or two of some brown liquid that smelt like brandy and put
it into her tea, saying that she was obliged to be careful to follow
the directions of her medical man, though the flavour was anything but
agreeable."

Time passes, and the subject expands. We have spoken of Tea in the
morning and Tea in the evening. To these must be added, if the topic
were to be treated with scientific completeness, that early cup which
opens our eyes, as each new day dawns, on this world of opportunity
and wonder, and that last dread draught with which the iron nerves
of Mr. Gladstone were composed to sleep after a late night in the
House of Commons. But I have no space for these divagations, and must
crown this imperfect study of Tea with the true, though surprising,
statement that I myself--_moi qui vous parle_--have known the inventor
of Five o'Clock Tea. This was Anna Maria Stanhope, daughter of the
third Earl of Harrington and wife of the seventh Duke of Bedford. She
died at an advanced age--rouged and curled and trim to the last--in
1857; but not before her life's work was accomplished and Five o'Clock
Tea established among the permanent institutions of our free and
happy country. Surely she is worthier of a place in the Positivist
Kalendar of those who have benefited Humanity than Hippocrates, Harvey,
or Arkwright; and yet Sir Algernon West writes thus in his book of
"Recollections": "Late in the 'forties and in the 'fifties, Five
o'Clock Teas were just coming into vogue, the old Duchess of Bedford's
being, as I considered, very dreary festivities." Such is gratitude,
and such is fame.



XXV

SUPPER

  "S is the Supper, where all went in pairs;
  T is the Twaddle they talked on the stairs."


Though the merry muse of dear "C. S. C." may thus serve to introduce
our subject, the repast which he has in view is only a very special
and peculiar--one had almost said an unnatural--form of Supper. The
Ball Supper, eaten anywhere between 12 o'clock and 2 A.M., is clearly
a thing apart from the Supper which, in days of Early Dinner, made
England great. Yet the Ball Supper had its charms, and they have been
celebrated both in prose and in verse. Byron knew all about them:--

  "I've seen some balls and revels in my time,
  And stay'd them over for some silly reason."

One of those reasons was the prospect of supping with Bessie Rawdon,[9]
the only girl he ever saw

  "Whose bloom could after dancing dare the dawn."

In her society a fresh zest was added to "the lobster salad, and
champagne, and chat" which the poet loved so well.

[9] Afterwards Lady William Russell.

Fifty years had passed, and a Ball Supper was (and for all I know may
still be) much the same. "The bright moments flew on. Suddenly there
was a mysterious silence in the hall, followed by a kind of suppressed
stir. Every one seemed to be speaking with bated breath, or, if moving,
walking on tiptoe. It was the supper-hour--

  'Soft hour which wakes the wish and melts the heart.'

'What a perfect family!' exclaimed Hugo Bohun as he extracted a couple
of fat little birds from their bed of aspic jelly. 'Everything they
do in such perfect taste! How safe you were here to have ortolans for
supper!'" But, after all, Ball Suppers are frivolities, and College
Suppers scarcely more serious; although a modern bard has endeavoured
to give them a classical sanction by making young Horace at the
University of Athens thus address himself to his new acquaintance
Balbus:--

  "A friend has sent me half-a-dozen brace
  Of thrush and blackbird from a moor in Thrace.
  These we will have for supper, with a dish
  Of lobster-patties and a cuttle-fish."

And we may be sure that a meal where Horace was host was not
unaccompanied by wine and song.

But the Supper which I have in mind is the substantial meal which,
during the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth,
formed the nightly complement to the comparatively early dinner. "High
Tea" such as Dickens loved and described--"Bagman's Tea," as I was
taught to call it,--became popular as tea became cheaper. You dined,
say, at one, and drank tea (and ate accompaniments) at seven. But
Supper, eaten at nine or ten o'clock, was a more substantial affair,
and the poison of Tea, so much deprecated by our modern Coroners, was
never suffered to pollute it. In the account of a supper in 1770 I
have read this exhilarating item: "A turtle was sent as a Present to
the Company and dress'd in a very high _Gout_, after the West Indian
manner;" and such a dish, eaten at bedtime, of course required vinous
assistance. A forefather of my own noted in his diary for 1788, "The
man who superintends Mrs. Cazalan's of New Cavendish Street suppers
has a salary of £100 a year for his trouble;" and one may rest assured
that Mrs. Cazalan's guests drank something more exhilarating than tea
at her famous supper-table. "Guy Mannering" depicts the habits of
Scotch Society at the close of the eighteenth century; and Counsellor
Pleydell, coming hungry from a journey, suggests that a brace of wild
ducks should be added to the "light family supper." These he ate
"without prejudice to a subsequent tart," and with these viands he
drank ale and Burgundy, moralizing thus: "I love the _Coena_, the
supper of the ancients, the pleasant meal and social glass that washes
out of one's mind the cobwebs that business or gloom have been spinning
in our brains all day." On the point of precedent, the Counsellor, or
rather Sir Walter Scott, is at issue with Lord John Russell, who said,
in protesting against dinner at eight o'clock: "Some learned persons,
indeed, endeavour to support this practice by precedent, and quote the
Roman Supper; but those suppers were at three o'clock in the afternoon,
and ought to be a subject of contempt instead of imitation in Grosvenor
Square." Supper at three in the afternoon! I must leave this startling
statement to the investigations of Dryasdust. At the same period as
that at which the Whig Essayist, not yet statesman, was protesting
against late dinners, Sydney Smith was bewailing the effects of supper
on the mind and temper:--

"My friend sups late; he eats some strong soup, then a lobster, then
some tart, and he dilutes these esculent varieties with wine. The next
day I call upon him. He is going to sell his house in London and retire
into the country. He is alarmed for his eldest daughter's health. His
expenses are hourly increasing, and nothing but a timely retreat can
save him from ruin. All this is lobster; and, when over-excited nature
has had time to manage this testaceous incumbrance, the daughter
recovers, the finances are in good order, and every rural idea is
effectually excluded from the mind."

I take due note of the word _wine_, but I believe it was usually mixed
with water. Of Mr. Pitt, not a model of abstemiousness, it is recorded
that he drank "a good deal of port wine and water at supper"; and Mr.
Woodhouse, whom his worst enemy never accused of excess, recommended
Mrs. Goddard to have "_half_ a glass of wine, a _small_ half-glass,
in a tumbler of water," as an accompaniment to the minced chicken and
scalloped oysters. Dr. Kitchener, who was a practising physician as
well as a writer on Gastronomy, recommended for Supper "a Biscuit, or
a Sandwich, or a bit of Cold Fowl, and a Glass of Beer, or Wine, and
Toast and Water"; or for "such as dine very late, Gruel or a little
Bread and Cheese, or Powdered Cheese, and a glass of Beer." They vaunt
that medicine is a progressive science, but where is the practitioner
to-day who would venture on these heroic prescriptions of 1825?

I am accused of quoting too often from Lord Beaconsfield; and, though
I demur to the word "too," I admit that I quote from him very often,
because no writer whom I know scanned so carefully and noted so exactly
the social phenomena of the time in which he lived. Here is his
description of Supper in the year 1835:--

"When there were cards there was always a little supper--a lobster,
and a roasted potato, and that sort of easy thing, with curious drinks;
and, on fitting occasions, a bottle of champagne appeared."

The Suppers cooked by the illustrious Ude at Crockford's Gaming House
(now the Devonshire Club) were famous for their luxurious splendour;
and, being free to all comers, were used as baits to inveigle ingenuous
Youth into the Gambling-room; for you could scarcely eat a man's supper
night after night and never give him his chance of revenge. But Suppers
to be eaten amid the frantic excitements of a Gaming House were, of
necessity, rather stimulating than substantial. For substantial Suppers
we must turn to the life of a class rather less exalted than that
which lost its fortune at "Crocky's". Dickens's Suppers, which may be
taken to represent the supping habits of the Middle Class in 1837, are
substantial enough, but rather unappetizing. Old Mr. Wardle, though the
most hospitable of men, only gave Mr. Pickwick "a plentiful portion
of a gigantic round of cold beef"--which most people would think an
indigestible supper. Mrs. Bardell's system was even more culpable,
according to Dr. Wynn Westcott, for she gave her friends a little warm
supper of "Petitoes and Toasted Cheese," with "a quiet cup of tea." I
do not exactly know what petitoes are, but I am sure that when stewed
in tea they must be poisonous. When Mr. and Mrs. Kenwigs, in honour of
their wedding-day, made a supper for their uncle, the Collector, they
arranged the feast more hygienically, for their "pair of boiled fowls,
large piece of pork, apple-pie, potatoes, and greens" were reinforced
by a bowl of punch; and there is a quite delicious supper in the "Old
Curiosity Shop," where a stew, worthy to rank with that which Meg
Merrilies forced on the reluctant Dominie, is washed down with a pint
of mulled ale.

Thackeray, though he excelled at a Dinner, knew also, at least in his
earlier and Bohemian days, what was meant by a Supper. Mr. Archer, the
journalist in "Pendennis," who was so fond of vaunting his imaginary
acquaintance with great people, thus described his evening repast at
Apsley House:--

"The Duke knows what I like, and says to the Groom of the Chambers:
'Martin, you will have some cold beef, not too much done, and a pint
bottle of Pale Ale, and some brown Sherry ready in my study as usual.'
The Duke doesn't eat supper himself, but he likes to see a man enjoy a
hearty meal, and he knows that I dine early."

But all this is fifty years ago and more. Do people eat supper
nowadays? Of course the young and frivolous eat ball-suppers, and
supper after the Theatre is a recognized feature of London life. But
does any one eat supper in his own house? To be sure, a tray of wine
and water still appears in some houses just as the party is breaking
up, and it is called a "Supper Tray," but is only the thin and pallid
ghost of what was once a jolly meal.

One more form of Supper remains to be recorded. In the circles in which
I was reared it was customary to observe one day in the year as a kind
of Festival of the Church Missionary Society or the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel, according as the principles of the Incumbent
were Low or High. The arrangements comprised a special service in
church, with a sermon by that mysterious stranger "the Deputation from
the Parent Society"; an evening meeting in the Town Hall; and a supper
at the Rectory or the Squire's house. Bidden to such a festival, a
friend of the Missionary cause wrote thus to the lady who had invited
him: "I greatly regret that I cannot attend the service, and I very
much fear that I shall not be in time for the meeting. But, D.V., I
will be with you at Supper."



XXVI

INNS AND HOTELS


"Anchovies and Sack after Supper" was honest Falstaff's notion of an
apt sequence. But Anchovies, even in their modern extension of "Hors
d'OEuvres," will not make a chapter; and Sack, in the form of Sherry,
has been exhaustively discussed. I must therefore betake myself from
Falstaff to Touchstone, whose enumeration of "Dinners and Suppers and
Sleeping-hours" may serve my present need.

Where to dine? Where to sup? Where to sleep? Momentous questions
these; and at this instant they are in the thoughts and on the lips
of thousands of my fellow-creatures as they journey through or
towards London. October in London is a season with marked and special
characteristics. Restaurants are crowded; Bond Street is blocked by
shopping ladies; seats at the theatre must be booked ten days in
advance.

This October "Season" is the product of many forces. The genuine
Londoners, who have been away, for health or sport or travel, in August
and September now come back with a rush, and hasten to make up for
their long exile by feverish activity in the pursuit of pleasure. But
the Londoners by no means have the town to themselves. The Country
Cousins are present in great force. They live laborious but delightful
days in examining the winter fashions; they get all their meals at
Prince's or the Carlton; and they go to the play every night. To these
must be added the Americans, who, having shot our grouse and stalked
our deer and drunk of our medicated springs, are now passing through
London on their way to Liverpool. As a rule, they buy their clothes
in Paris, and leave the products of Bond Street and Grafton Street
to the British consumer. But their propensity to Theatre-parties and
Suppers endears them to managers and restaurant-keepers; and on Sunday
they can be detected at St. Paul's or the Abbey, rendering the hymns
with that peculiar intonation for which Chaucer's "Prioresse" was so
justly admired. Even a few belated French and German tourists are still
wandering disconsolately among "the sheddings of the pining umbrage" in
the parks, or gazing with awe at the grim front of Buckingham Palace.
Where do all these pilgrims stay? We know where they dine and sup; but
where do they spend what Touchstone called their "sleeping-hours"? I
only know that they do not spend them in Inns, for Inns as I understand
the word have ceased to exist. They went out with "The Road."

It has been remarked by not unfriendly critics that the author of these
quiet meditations seems to live a good deal in the past, and people in
whom the chronological sense is missing are apt to think me a great
deal older than I am. Thus when I have recalled among my earliest
recollections the fire which destroyed Covent Garden Theatre (in 1856),
I have been thought to be babbling of Drury Lane, which was burnt down
in 1812; and so, when I say that in early life I travelled a great deal
upon the Road, I shall probably be accused of having been born before
railways were invented. What is true enough is that a prejudice against
railways lingered long after they were in general use; some people
thought them dangerous, some undignified, and I believe that there
were some who even thought them wicked because they are not mentioned
in the Bible. "I suppose you have heard of Lady Vanilla's trip from
Birmingham?" says Lady Marney in "Sybil." "Have you not, indeed?
She came up with Lady Laura, and two of the most gentlemanlike men
sitting opposite her; never met, she says, two more intelligent men.
She begged one of them at Wolverhampton to change seats with her, and
he was most politely willing to comply with her wishes, only it was
necessary that his companion should move at the same time, for they
were chained together--two gentlemen sent to town for picking pockets
at Shrewsbury races." "A Countess and a felon!" said Lord Mowbray.
"So much for public conveyances." To these social perils were added
terrors of tunnels, terrors of viaducts, terrors of fires which would
burn you to an ash in your locked carriage, terrors of robbers who were
supposed to travel first-class for the express purpose of chloroforming
well-dressed passengers and then stealing their watches. Haunted by
these and similar fears, some old-fashioned people travelled by road
till well into the 'sixties. From my home in the South Midlands we took
a whole day in getting to London, forty miles off; two to Leamington,
three to Winchester; and those who still travelled in this leisurely
mode were the last patrons of the Inn.

It was generally a broad-browed, solid, comfortable-looking house in
the most central part of a country town. Not seldom the sign was taken
from the armorial bearings of the local magnate. There were a Landlord
and a Landlady, who came out bowing when the carriage drove up, and
conducted the travellers to their rooms, while the "Imperials" were
taken down from the roof of the carriage. (Could one buy an "Imperial"
nowadays if one wanted it? The most recent reference to it which I
can recall occurs in the first chapter of "Tom Brown's School Days.")
Very often the rooms of the Inn were distinguished not by numbers,
but by names or tokens derived from the situation, or the furniture,
or from some famous traveller who had slept in them--the Bow Room,
the Peacock Room, or the Wellington Room. The Landlord had generally
been a butler, but sometimes a coachman. Anyhow, he and his wife had
"lived in the best families" and "knew how things ought to be done."
The furniture was solid, dark, and handsome--mahogany predominating,
here and there relieved with rosewood. There was old silver on the
table, and the walls were covered with sporting or coaching prints,
views of neighbouring castles, and portraits of the Nobility whom
the Landlord had served. The bedrooms were dark and stuffy beyond
belief, with bedsteads like classic temples and deep feather-beds into
which you sank as into a quicksand. The food was like the furniture,
heavy and handsome. There was "gunpowder tea"--green if you asked for
it,--luscious cream, and really new-laid eggs. The best bottle of
claret which I ever encountered emerged, quite accidentally, from the
cellar of a village Inn close to the confluence of the Greta and the
Tees, in a district hallowed by the associations of Rokeby and Mr.
Squeers. When, next morning, you had paid your bill--not, as a rule, a
light one--the Landlord and Lady escorted you to the door, and politely
expressed a hope that you would honour them on your return journey.
Then "Hey, for the lilt of the London road!" and the Montfort Arms, or
the Roebuck, or the Marquis of Granby, is only a pleasant memory of an
unreturning day.

What in the country was called an Inn was called in London a "Family
Hotel." It was commonly found in Dover Street, or Albemarle Street, or
Bolton Street, or some such byway of Piccadilly; and in its aspect,
character, and general arrangement it was exactly like the country Inn,
only of necessity darker, dingier, and more airless. Respectability,
mahogany, and horse-hair held it in their iron grip. Here county
families, coming up from the Drawing Room, or the Academy, or the
Exhibition, or the Derby, spent cheerful weeks in summer. Here in the
autumn they halted on their return from Doncaster or Aix. Here the boys
slept on their way back to Eton or Cambridge; hither the subaltern
returned, like a homing pigeon, from India or the Cape.

But the Family Hotel, like the Country Inn, has seen its day. When
the _Times_ was inciting the inhabitants of Rome to modernize their
city, Matthew Arnold, writing in Miss Story's album, made airy fun of
the suggestion. He represented "the _Times_, that bright Apollo,"
proclaiming salvation to the "armless Cupid" imprisoned in the
Vatican:--

  "'And what,' cries Cupid, 'will save us?'
    Says Apollo: '_Modernize Rome!_
  What inns! Your streets too, how narrow!
    Too much of palace and dome!'

  "'O learn of London, whose paupers
    Are not pushed out by the swells!
  Wide streets, with fine double trottoirs;
    And then--the London hotels!'"

Between the "Inns" of my youth and these "Hotels" of to-day the
difference is so great that they can scarcely be recognized as
belonging to the same family. Under the old dispensation all was solid
comfort, ponderous respectability, and the staid courtesy of the
antique world; under the new it is all glare and glitter, show and
sham; the morals of the Tuileries and the manners of Greenwich Fair.
The building is something between a palace and a barrack, with a hall
of marble, a staircase of alabaster, a winter garden full of birds and
fountains, and a band which deafens you while you eat your refined but
exiguous dinner. Among these sumptuosities the visitor is no longer
a person but a number. As a number he is received by the gigantic
"Suisse" who, resplendent in green and gold, watches the approach to
the palace; as a number he is registered by a dictatorial "Secretary,"
enshrined in a Bureau; as a number he is shot up, like a parcel, to
his airy lodgings on the seventh floor; as a number he orders his
meals; as a number he pays his bill. The whole business is a microcosm
of State Socialism: Bureaucracy is supreme, and the Individual is
lost in the Machine. But, though the courtesies and the humanities
and even the decencies of the old order have vanished so completely,
the exactions remain much the same as they were. There is, indeed, no
courtly landlord to bow, like a plumper Sir Charles Grandison, over
the silver salver on which you have laid your gold; but there are
gilt-edged porters, and moustached lift-men, and a regiment of buttony
boys who float round the departing guest with well-timed assiduity; and
the Suisse at the door, as he eyes our modest luggage with contemptuous
glare, looks quite prepared, if need be, to extort his guerdon by
physical force.

The British Inn, whatever were its shortcomings in practice, has been
glorified in some of the best verse and best prose in the English
language. It will, methinks, be a long time before even the most
impressionable genius of the "Bodley Head" pens a panegyric of the
London Hotel.



XXVII

TRAVEL


The October Season, of which I lately spoke, is practically over.
"The misty autumn sunlight and the sweeping autumn wind" are yielding
place to cloud and storm. In a week's time London will have assumed
its winter habit, and already people are settling down to their winter
way of living. The last foreigner has fled. The Country Cousins have
finished their shopping and have returned to the pursuit of the
Pheasant and the Fox. The true Londoners--the people who come back to
town for the "first note of the Muffin-bell and retreat to the country
for the first note of the Nightingale"--have resumed the placidity of
their normal life. Dinner-parties have hardly begun, but there are
plenty of little luncheons; the curtains are drawn about four, and
there are three good hours for Bridge before one need think of going
to dress for dinner. And now, just when London is beginning to wear
once again its most attractive aspect, at once sociable and calm, some
perverse people, disturbers of the public peace, must needs throw
everything into confusion by going abroad.

Their motives are many and various. With some it is health: "I feel
that I _must_ have a little sunshine, I have been so rheumatic all this
autumn," or "My doctor tells me that, with my tendency to bronchitis,
the fogs are really dangerous." With some it is sheer restlessness:
"Well, you see, we were here _all_ the summer, except just Whitsuntide
and Ascot and Goodwood; so we have had about enough of London. And our
home in Loamshire is so fearfully lonely in winter that it quite gets
on my nerves. So I think a little run will do us all good; and we shall
be back by the New Year, or February at latest." With some, again,
economy is the motive power; "What with two sons to allowance, and two
still at school; and one girl to be married at Easter, and one just
coming out, as well as a most expensive governess for the young ones, I
assure you it is quite difficult to make two ends meet. We have got an
excellent offer for Eaton Place from November to May, and some friends
on the Riviera have repeatedly asked us to pay them a long visit; and,
when that's done, one can live _en pension_ at Montreux for next to
nothing." Others are lured abroad by the love of gambling, though this
is not avowed: "I do so love Monte Carlo--not the gambling, but the
air, and, even if one does lose a franc or two at the tables, I always
say that we should lose much more at home, with Christmas presents,
and Workhouse Treats, and all those tiresome things one has to do."

It is not a joke--for I never joke about religion--it is a literal
fact that in my youth the prophecy in the Book of Daniel that "Many
shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" was interpreted
as pointing to an enlargement of the human mind through increased
facilities of travel. I do not guarantee the exegesis, but I note the
fact. A hundred years ago, if parents wished to enlarge their son's
understanding by sending him on the "Grand Tour" of Europe, they set
aside twelve months for the fulfilment of their purpose. Young Hopeful
set out in a travelling-carriage with a tutor (or Bear-Leader), a
Doctor, and a Valet. The Bear-Leader's was a recognized and lucrative
profession. In a diary for 1788, which lies before me as I write,
I read: "Mr. Coxe, the traveller, has been particularly lucky as a
Pupil-Leader about Europe. After Lord Herbert, he had Mr. Whitbred at
£800 per ann., and now has Mr. Portman, with £1000 per ann." Patrick
Brydone, scholar, antiquary, and _virtuoso_, whose daughter married the
second Earl of Minto, was "Pupil-Leader" (or Bear-Leader) to William
Beckford. Sydney Smith was dug out of his curacy on Salisbury Plain in
order to act as Bear-Leader to the grandfather of the present Lord St.
Aldwyn. Charles Richard Sumner, who, as last of the Prince-Bishops
of Winchester, drew £40,000 a year for forty years, began life as
Bear-Leader to Lord Mount-Charles, eldest son of that Lady Conyngham
whom George IV. admired; and he owed his first preferment in the Church
to the amiable complaisance with which he rescued his young charge from
a matrimonial entanglement. That was early in the nineteenth century;
but forty years later the Bear-Leader was still an indispensable
adjunct to the Grand Tour of Illustrious Youth. The late Duke of
Argyll has told us how he made his travels sandwiched inside his
father's chariot between his preceptor and his physician. When the
Marquis of Montacute made his pilgrimage to the Holy Land he was even
more liberally attended; for, in addition to his Bear-Leader, Colonel
Grouse, he took his father's doctor, Mr Groby, to avert or cure the
fevers, and his father's chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Bernard, to guide his
researches into the theology of Syria. Perhaps Lord Montacute existed
only in Lord Beaconsfield's rich imagination; but Thackeray, who never
invented but always described what he saw, drew a delightful portrait
of "the Rev. Baring Leader," who, "having a great natural turn and
liking towards the aristocracy," consented to escort Viscount Talboys
when that beer-loving young nobleman made his celebrated journey down
the Rhine.

But, though a special divinity always hedged, as it still hedges,
the travels of an Eldest Son, the more modest journeyings of his
parents were not accomplished without considerable form and fuss.
Lord and Lady Proudflesh or Mr. and Mrs. Goldmore travelled all over
Europe in their own carriage. It was planted bodily on the deck of the
steamer, so that its privileged occupants could endure the torments
of the crossing in dignified seclusion; and, when once the solid
shore of the Continent was safely reached, it was drawn by an endless
succession of post-horses, ridden by postillions, with the valet and
maid (like those who pertained to Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock)
"affectionate in the rumble." The inside of the carriage was a miracle
of ingenuity. Space was economized with the most careful art, and all
the appliances of travel--looking-glasses and luncheon-baskets, lamps
and maps, newspapers and books--were bestowed in their peculiar and
appropriate corners. I possess a "dining equipage" which made the
tour of Europe not once but often in the service of a Diplomatist.
It is shaped something like a large egg, and covered with shagreen.
It contains a tumbler, a sandwich-box, and a silver-handled knife,
fork, and spoon; the handle of each of these tools unscrews, and in
their hollow interiors the Diplomatist carried his salt, sugar, and
pepper. On the roof of the carriage was the more substantial luggage. A
travelling-bath, though not unknown, was rather an exceptional luxury,
and, according to our modern notions, it was painfully small. A silver
tub which sufficed for the ablutions of the great Duke of Marlborough
through the campaigns which changed the face of Europe now serves as a
rose-bowl at the banquets of Spencer House.

The trunks, which were strapped to the roof of the travelling-carriage,
were of a peculiar form--very shallow, and so shaped as to fit into one
another and occupy every inch of space. These were called Imperials,
and just now I referred to Tom Hughes's undeserved strictures on them.
The passage fits neatly into our present subject: "I love vagabonds,
only I prefer poor to rich ones. Couriers and ladies' maids, imperials
and travelling-carriages, are an abomination unto me--I cannot away
with them." To me, on the contrary, the very word "Imperial" (when
divested of political associations) is pleasant. It appeals to the
historic sense. It carries us back to Napoleon's campaigns, and to
that wonderful house on wheels--his travelling-carriage--now enshrined
at Madame Tussaud's. It even titillates the gastronomic instinct by
recalling that masterly method of cooking a fowl which bears the name
of Marengo. The great Napoleon had no notion of fighting his battles
on an empty stomach, so, wherever he was, a portable kitchen, in
the shape of a travelling-carriage, was close at hand. The cook and
his _marmitons_ travelled inside, with the appliances for making a
charcoal fire at a moment's notice, while the Imperials on the roof
contained the due supply of chickens, eggs, bread, and Bordeaux. In
the preparation of a meal under such conditions time was money--nay,
rather, it was Empire. The highest honours were bestowed on the most
expeditious method, and the method called after Marengo took exactly
twenty minutes.

Here is testimony much more recent. Lady Dorothy Nevill, in the
volume of "Reminiscences" which she has lately given to the world,
thus describes her youthful journeys between her London and her
Norfolk homes: "It took us two long days to get to Wolterton, and
the cost must have been considerable. We went in the family coach
with four post-horses, whilst two 'fourgons' conveyed the luggage."
But travelling abroad was a still more majestic ceremonial: "We were
a large party--six of ourselves, as well as two maids, a footman,
and French cook; nor must I forget a wonderful courier, covered with
gold and braid. He preceded our cavalcade and announced the imminent
arrival of a great English Milord and his suite. We had two fourgons
to hold the _batterie de cuisine_ and our six beds, which had to be
unpacked and made up every night. We had, besides the family coach and
a barouche, six saddle horses, and two attendant grooms."

Travel in those brave days of old was a dignified, a leisurely, and
a comfortable process. How different is Travel in these degenerate
times! For the young man rejoicing in his strength it means, as Tom
Hughes said forty years ago, "getting over a couple of thousand miles
for three-pound-ten; going round Ireland, with a return ticket, in
a fortnight; dropping your copy of Tennyson on the top of a Swiss
mountain, or pulling down the Danube in an Oxford racing-boat." For
those who have reached maturer years it may mean a couple of nights
in Paris, just to see the first performance of a new play and to
test the merits of the latest restaurant, or it may mean a week in
New York to study the bearings of the Presidential election and to
gather fresh views of the Silver Question. Dr. Lunn kindly invites the
more seriously minded to a Conference at Grindelwald, where we can
combine the delights of Alpine scenery and undenominational religion;
and "the son of a well-known member of the House of Lords" offers to
conduct us personally through "A Lion and Rhinoceros Hunting Party in
Somaliland," or "A Scientific Expedition to Central Africa, to visit
the supposed cradle of the human race and the site of the Garden of
Eden." Nothing of Travelling-carriages and Imperials here! No "maid and
valet affectionate in the rumble." All the pomp and circumstance, all
the ease and calm, of Travel have vanished, and with them all sense
of independence and responsibility. The modern traveller is shot
like a bullet through a tunnel, or hauled like a parcel up a hill. He
certainly sees the world at very little cost, but he sees it under
wonderfully uncomfortable conditions.



XXVIII

ACCOMPLISHMENTS


A pictorial critic, commending the water-colour painting of Mr. Arthur
Rich, says that, after examining his firm and serious work, "it is
impossible to think that there is anything trivial in the art of
Aquarelle--that it is, as has been said, 'a thing Aunts do.'"

_A thing Aunts do._ I linger on the words, for they suggest deep
thoughts. Many and mysterious are the tricks of language--not least
so the subtle law by which certain relationships inevitably suggest
peculiar traits. Thus the Grandmother stands to all time as the type
of benevolent feebleness; the Stepmother was branded by classical
antiquity as Unjust; and Thackeray's Mrs. Gashleigh and Mrs. Chuff are
the typical Mothers-in-Law. The Father is commonly the "Heavy Father"
of fiction and the drama. The Mother is always quoted with affection,
as in "Mother-wit," our Mother-country, and our Mother-tongue. "A
Brother," ever since the days of Solomon, "is born for adversity,"
and a Brother-officer implies a loyal friend. A Sister is the type of
Innocence, with just a faint tinge or _nuance_ of pitying contempt,
as when the Vainglorious Briton speaks of the "Sister Country" across
St. George's Channel, or the hubristic Oxonian sniggers at the "Sister
University" of Cambridge. Eldest and Younger Sons again, as I have
before now had occasion to point out, convey two quite different sets
of ideas, and this discrepancy has not escaped the notice of the social
Poet, who observes that--

  "Acres and kine and tenements and sheep
  Enrich the Eldest, while the Younger Sons
  Monopolize the talents and the duns."

"My Uncle," in colloquial phrase, signifies the merchant who transacts
his business under the sign of the Three Golden Balls; and to these
expressive relationships must be added Auntship. "A thing Aunts do,"
says the pictorial critic; and the contumelious phrase is not of
yesterday, for in 1829 a secularly-minded friend complained that young
Mr. William Gladstone, then an Undergraduate at Christ Church, had
"mixed himself up so much with the St. Mary Hall and Oriel set, who
are really, for the most part, only fit to live with maiden aunts and
keep tame rabbits." To paint in water-colour and to keep tame rabbits
are pursuits which to the superficial gaze have little in common,
though both are, or were, characteristic of Aunts, and both are, in
some sense, accomplishments, demanding natural taste, acquired skill,
patience, care, a delicate touch, and a watchful eye. Perhaps these
were the particular accomplishments in which the traditional Aunt
"specialized," though she had never heard that bad word; but, if she
chose to diffuse her energies more widely, the world was all before her
where to choose; and, by a singular reversal of the law of progress,
there were more "accomplishments" to solicit her attention a hundred
years ago than there are to-day.

When the most fascinating of all heroines, Di Vernon, anticipated
posterity by devoting her attention to politics, field sports,
and classical literature, she enumerated, among the more feminine
accomplishments which she had discarded, "sewing a tucker, working
cross-stitch, and making a pudding"; and she instanced, among the
symbols of orthodox femininity "a shepherdess wrought in worsted, a
broken-backed spinet, a lute with three strings, rock-work, shell-work,
and needle-work." We clear the century with a flying leap, and
find ourselves in the company of a model matron, with surroundings
substantially unchanged: "Mrs. Bayham-Badger was surrounded in the
drawing-room by various objects indicative of her painting a little,
playing the piano a little, playing the guitar a little, playing the
harp a little, singing a little, working a little, reading a little,
writing poetry a little, and botanizing a little. If I add to the
little list of her accomplishments that she rouged a little, I do
not mean that there was any harm in it." Miss Volumnia Dedlock's
accomplishments, though belonging to the same period, were slightly
different: "Displaying in early life a pretty talent for cutting
ornaments out of coloured paper, and also singing to the guitar in the
Spanish tongue and propounding French conundrums in country houses,
she passed the twenty years of her existence between twenty and forty
in a sufficiently agreeable manner. Lapsing then out of date, and
being considered to bore mankind by her vocal performances in the
Spanish language, she retired to Bath." Perhaps she had been educated
by Miss Monflathers, "who was at the head of the head Boarding and Day
Establishment in the town," and whose gloss on the didactic ditty of
the Busy Bee so confounded the emissary from the Waxworks.

  "In books, or work, or healthful play

is quite right as far as genteel children are concerned, and in
their case 'work' means painting on velvet, fancy needle-work, or
embroidery." Do even Aunts paint on velvet, or cut ornaments out of
coloured paper, in this "so-called Twentieth Century"? I know no
more pathetic passage in the Literature of Art than that in which
Mrs. Gaskell enumerated Miss Matty's qualifications for the work of
teaching:--

"I ran over her accomplishments. Once upon a time I had heard her say
she could play 'Ah! vous dirai-je maman?' on the piano; but that was
long, long ago; that faint shadow of musical acquirement had died
out years before. She had also once been able to trace patterns very
nicely for muslin embroidery, but that was her nearest approach to the
accomplishment of drawing, and I did not think it would go very far.
Miss Matty's eyes were failing her, and I doubted if she could discover
the number of threads in a worsted-work pattern, or rightly appreciate
the different shades required for Queen Adelaide's face, in the loyal
wool-work now fashionable in Cranford."

The allusion to Queen Adelaide's face fixes the narrative between 1820
and 1830, and George Eliot was depicting the same unenlightened period
when she described the accomplishments provided by Ladies' Schools as
"certain small tinklings and smearings." Probably all of us can recall
an Aunt who tinkled on the piano, or a First Cousin once Removed who
smeared on Bristol Board. Lady Dorothy Nevill, whose invincible force
and evergreen memory carry down into the reign of King Edward VII. the
traditions of Queen Charlotte's Court, is a singularly accomplished
Aunt, and she has just made this remarkable confession: "At different
times I have attempted many kinds of amateur work, including book
illumination, leather-working, wood-carving, and, of late years, a kind
of old-fashioned paper-work, which consists in arranging little slips
of coloured paper into decorative designs, as was done at the end of
the eighteenth century. When completed, this work is made up into
boxes, trays, or mounts for pictures." Surely in this accomplishment
Miss Volumnia Dedlock lives again. And then Lady Dorothy, lapsing
into reminiscent vein, makes this rather half-hearted apology for the
domestic artistry of bygone days: "Years ago ladies used to spend much
more of their time in artistic work of some kind or other, for there
were not then the many distractions which exist to-day. Indeed, in
the country some sort of work was a positive necessity; and though,
no doubt, by far the greater portion of what was done was absolutely
hideous, useless, and horrible, yet it served the purpose of passing
away many an hour which otherwise would have been given up to
insufferable boredom."

Yes, the fashions of the world succeed one another in perpetual change;
but Boredom is eternally the enemy, and the paramount necessity of
escaping from it begets each year some new and strange activity. The
Aunt no longer paints in water-colours or keeps tame rabbits, flattens
ferns in an album, or traces crude designs with a hot poker on a deal
board. To-day she urges the impetuous bicycle, or, in more extreme
cases, directs the murderous motor; lectures on politics or platonics,
Icelandic art, or Kamschatkan literature. Perhaps she has a Cause or
a Mission pleads for the legal enforcement of Vegetarian Boots, or
tears down the knocker of a Statesman who refuses her the suffrage.
Perhaps her enthusiasms are less altruistic, and then she may pillage
her friends at Bridge, or supply the _New York Sewer_ with a weekly
column of Classy Cuttings. "Are you the _Daily Mail_?" incautiously
chirped a literary lady to an unknown friend who had rung her up on the
telephone. "No, I'm not, but I always thought you were," was the reply;
and so, in truth, she was.



XXIX

CIDER


An ingenious correspondent of mine has lately been visiting the
Brewers' Exhibition, and has come away from it full of Cider. I mean
"full" in the intellectual rather than the physical sense--full of
the subject, though unversed in the beverage. He reminds me that
Charles Lamb had his catalogue of "Books which are no books--_biblia
a-biblia_," among which he reckoned Court Calendars, Directories,
Pocket-books, Draughtboards bound and lettered on the back, Scientific
Treatises, Almanacs, Statutes at Large, and Paley's Moral Philosophy.
My correspondent suggests that, in a like spirit, a Brewer must have
his catalogue of Drinks which are no drinks--_pota a-pota_--and that
among them, if only the secret thoughts of his heart were known,
he must reckon Cider. Yet at the Brewers' Exhibition there was a
Literature of Cider, and that innocent-sounding beverage was quoted at
a price per bottle at which Claret is not ashamed to be sold. That the
men of Malt and Hops should thus officially recognize the existence
of fermented apple-juice strikes my friend as an Economy of Truth; a
suppression, or at least an evasion, of a deep-seated and absolute
belief. They cannot really regard Cider as a drink, and yet they give
it a place alongside that manly draught which has made old England what
she is. I, on the other hand, who always like to regard the actions
of my fellow-men in the most favourable light, prefer to think that
the Brewers have been employing some portion of that enforced leisure,
which the decay of their industry must have brought, in studying
English literature, and that they have thus been made acquainted with
the name and fame of Cider.

_Biblia a-biblia_ set me thinking of Lamb, and when once one begins
recalling "Elia" one drifts along, in a kind of waking reverie, from
one pleasant fantasy to another. _Biblia a-biblia_ led me on to "Dream
Children," and Dream Children to Dream Riddles--a reverie of my own
childhood, when we used to ask one another a pleasing conundrum which
played prettily on _In Cider_ and _Inside her_. But it made light of an
illustrious name and had better be forgotten.

Few, I fear, are the readers of John Philips, but, if such there be,
they will no doubt recall the only poem which, as far as I know, has
ever been devoted to the praise of Apple-wine. Philips was a patriotic
son of Herefordshire, and in Hereford Cathedral he lies buried under
bunches of marble apples which commemorate his poetical achievement:--

  "What soil the apple loves, what care is due
  To Orchats, timeliest when to press the fruits,
  Thy gift, Pomona! in Miltonian verse,
  Adventurous, I presume to sing; of verse
  Nor skill'd nor studious; but my native soil
  Invites me, and the theme as yet unsung."

"Orchats" is good; but how far these lines can be justly called
Miltonian is a question which my readers can decide for themselves. At
any rate, the poem contains more than four thousand lines exactly like
them, and they had the remarkable fortune to be translated into Italian
under the title of "Il Sidro." Philips was a Cavalier in all his tastes
and sympathies: but even the Puritans, whom he so cordially detested,
admitted the merits of Cider. Macaulay, with his characteristic love
of irrelevant particularity, insists on the fact that, through all
the commotions of the Great Rebellion and the Civil War, "the cream
overflowed the pails of Cheshire and the apple-juice foamed in the
presses of Herefordshire." Nor was it only in his purple prose that the
great rhetorician glorified the juice of the apple. Many a reader who
has forgotten all about John Philips will recall Macaulay's rhymes on
the garrulous country squire who had a habit of detaining people by the
button, and who was especially addicted to the society of Bishops:--

  "His Grace Archbishop Manners-Sutton
  Could not keep on a single button.
  As for Right Reverend John of Chester,
  His waistcoats open at the breasts are.
  Our friend has filled a mighty trunk
  With trophies torn from Bishop Monk,
  And he has really tattered foully
  The vestments of good Bishop Howley.
  No buttons could I late discern on
  The garments of Archbishop Vernon,
  And never had his fingers mercy
  Upon the garb of Bishop Percy;
  While buttons fly from Bishop Ryder
  Like corks that spring from bottled cyder."

From Macaulay and bottled Cyder (or Cider) the transition is easy to
that admirable delineator of life and manners, Mrs. Sherwood; she
was pretty much a contemporary of Macaulay's, and was a native of
Worcestershire, which in its Cider-bearing qualities is not far removed
from Herefordshire, beloved of Philips. Few but fit is the audience to
which Mrs. Sherwood still appeals; yet they who were nurtured on "The
Fairchild Family" still renew their youth as they peruse the adventures
of Lucy, Emily, and little Henry: "The farmer and his wife, whose name
was Freeman, were not people who lived in the fear of God, neither did
they bring up their children well; on which account Mr. Fairchild had
often forbidden Lucy, Emily, and Henry to go to their house." However,
go they did, as soon as their parents' backs were turned; and Mrs.
Freeman "gave them each a large piece of cake and something sweet to
drink, which, she said, would do them good." But it turned out to be
Cider, and did not do them good, for, "as they were never used to drink
anything but water, it made them quite drunk for a little while."

The mention of Worcestershire as a cider-growing county aptly
introduces my unfailing friend Lord Beaconsfield, for, though he is
less precise than I could wish in praise of Cider, he compliments it
indirectly in his pretty description of "a fair child, long-haired,
and blushing like a Worcestershire orchard before harvest-time." Once,
indeed, the lover of Disraelitish romance seems to find himself on
the track of Cider. Harry Coningsby is overtaken by a thunderstorm in
a forest, and, taking refuge in a sylvan inn, makes friends with a
mysterious stranger. The two travellers agree to dine together, when
this eminently natural dialogue ensues. "'But Ceres without Bacchus,'
said Coningsby, 'how does that do? Think you, under this roof, we could
invoke the god?'

"'Let us swear by his body that we will try,' said the stranger.

"Alas! the landlord was not a priest of Bacchus. But then these
enquiries led to the finest Perry in the world." If only the Perry had
been Cider, this quotation had been more apposite; but the themes,
though not identical, are cognate.

We have traced the praise of Cider in poetry and in romance, but it
also has its place in biography, and even in religious biography. One
of the most delightful portraits of a saint which was ever drawn is
Mrs. Oliphant's "Life of Edward Irving." In the autumn of 1834--the
last autumn of his life--that Prophet and man of God made a kind of
apostolic journey through Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Wales. From
Kington, in Herefordshire, he wrote to his wife: "My dinner was ham and
eggs, a cold fowl, an apple tart, and cheese; a tumbler of Cider, and
a glass of Sicilian Tokay." And he adds a tender reference to "Ginger
Wine in a long-necked decanter." It is always satisfactory to find the
good things of this life not reserved exclusively for bad people.

Sydney Smith, though a Canon of St. Paul's, was scarcely a Saint
and not at all a Prophet; and through the study-windows of his
beautiful parsonage in Somersetshire, he gazed on the glories of the
Cider-vintage with an eye more mundane than that of Edward Irving. In
1829 he wrote from Combe Florey--"the sacred valley of flowers," as he
loved to call it: "I continue to be delighted with the country. The
harvest is got in without any rain. The Cider is such an enormous crop
that it is sold at ten shillings a hogshead; so a human creature may
lose his reason for a penny."

Cider is, I believe, still drunk at Oxford; and memory retains grateful
recollections of Cider-cup beautiful as a liquid topaz, with a cluster
of blue flowers floating on its breast. But the Cider-Cellars of
London--places of, I fear, ill-regulated conviviality--have, as far as
I know, long since closed their doors. Yet they, too, have their secure
place in literature. The "Young Lion" of the _Daily Telegraph_, who
looked forward to succeeding Dr. W. H. Russell as War Correspondent of
the _Times_, thrilled with excitement at the prospect of inoculating
the Leading Journal with "the divine madness of our new style--the
style we have formed upon Sala. It blends the airy epicureanism of
the _salons_ of Augustus with the full-bodied gaiety of our English
Cider Cellar." But that was written in 1870, and the style and the
Cellars alike are things of the past. The official historian of Cider
excels in that "dry light" which is the grace of history, and gravely
tells us that "Cider (_Zider_, German) when first made in England was
called wine." With a proper reluctance to commit himself to what is
antecedently incredible, he adds that "the Earl of Manchester, when
Ambassador in France (1699), _is said_ to have passed off Cider for
Wine." It is more plausibly stated that in later days the innocuous
apple has been artfully mingled with the "foaming grape of Eastern
France," and has been drunk in England as Champagne. The Hock-cup at
Buckingham Palace is justly vaunted as one of the chief glories of
our ancient polity. It is certainly the most delectable drink that
ever refreshed a thirsty soul; and the art of concocting it is a
State-Secret of the most awful solemnity. But there never was a secret
which did not sooner or later elude its guardians; and I have heard
that a Royal cellarer, in an expansive moment, once revealed the spell.
German Wine and English Cider together constitute the Kingly Cup,

  "And, blended, form, with artful strife,
  The strength and harmony of life."



XXX

THE GARTER

  "Breathes there a man, with soul so dead,
  Who never to himself hath said----


I should uncommonly like to be a Knight of the Garter?" If such
there be, let him forswear this column and pass on to the Cotton
Market or the Education Bill. Here we cater for those in whom the
historic instinct is combined with picturesque sensibility, and who
love to trace the stream of the national life as it flows through
long-descended rites. Lord Acton wrote finely of "Institutions
which incorporate tradition and prolong the reign of the dead." No
institution fulfils this ideal more absolutely than the Order of the
Garter. One need not always "commence with the Deluge"; and there is no
occasion to consult the lively oracles of Mrs. Markham for the story of
the dropped garter and the chivalrous motto. It is enough to remember
that the Order links the last enchantments of the Middle Age with the
Twentieth Century, and that for at least four hundred years it has
played a real, though hidden, part in the secret strategy of English
Statecraft.

We are told by travellers that the Emperor of Lilliput rewarded his
courtiers with three fine silken threads of about six inches long, one
of which was blue, one red, and one green. The method by which these
rewards were obtained is thus described by an eye-witness: "The Emperor
holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while
the candidates, advancing one by one, sometimes leap over it, sometimes
creep under it, backwards and forwards, several times, according as
the stick is elevated or depressed. Whoever shows the most agility and
performs his part best of leaping and creeping is rewarded with the
blue coloured silk, the next with the red, and so on."

To-day we are not concerned with the red silk, wisely invented by
Sir Robert Walpole for the benefit of those who could not aspire to
the blue; nor with the green, which illustrates the continuous and
separate polity of the Northern Kingdom. The blue silk supplies us
with all the material we shall need. In its wider aspect of the Blue
Ribbon, it has its secure place in the art, the history, and the
literature of England; though perhaps the Dryasdusts of future ages
will be perplexed by the Manichæan associations which will then have
gathered round it. "When," they will ask, "and by what process, did
the ensign of a high chivalric Order which originated at a banquet
become the symbol of total abstinence from fermented drinks?" Even so,
a high-toned damsel from the State of Maine, regarding the Blue Ribbon
which girt Lord Granville's white waistcoat, congratulated him on the
boldness with which he displayed his colours, and then shrank back in
astonished horror as he raised his claret-glass to his lips. In one
of the prettiest of historical novels Amy Robsart is represented as
examining with childish wonder the various badges and decorations which
her husband wears, while Leicester, amused by her simplicity, explains
the significance of each. "The embroidered strap, as thou callest it,
around my knee," he said, "is the English Garter, an ornament which
Kings are proud to wear. See, here is the star which belongs to it, and
here is the diamond George, the jewel of the Order. You have heard how
King Edward and the Countess of Salisbury----" "Oh, I know all that
tale," said the Countess, slightly blushing, "and how a lady's garter
became the proudest badge of English chivalry."

There are certain families which may be styled "Garter Families," so
constant--almost unbroken--has been the tradition that the head of
the family should be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order. Such
is the House of Beaufort; is there not a great saloon at Badminton
walled entirely with portraits of Dukes of Beaufort in their flowing
mantles of Garter-Blue? Such is the House of Bedford, which has worn
the Garter from the reign of Henry VIII. till now; such the House
of Norfolk, which contrived to retain its Garters, though it often
lost its head, in times of civil commotion. The Dukes of Devonshire,
again, have been habitual Garter-wearers; and the fourteenth Earl of
Derby, though he refused a dukedom, was proud to accept an extra Garter
(raising the number of Knights above the statutory twenty-five), which
Queen Victoria gave him as a consolation for his eviction from the
Premiership in 1859. _Punch_, then, as now, no respecter of persons,
had an excellent cartoon of a blubbering child, to whom a gracious lady
soothingly remarks, "Did he have a nasty tumble, then? Here's something
pretty for him to play with." The Percys, again, were pre-eminently
a Garter Family; sixteen heads of the house have worn Blue silk. So
far as the male line was concerned, they came to an end in 1670. The
eventual heiress of the house married Sir Hugh Smithson, who acquired
the estates and assumed the name of the historic Percys. Having, in
virtue of this great alliance, been created Earl of Northumberland, Sir
Hugh begged George III. to give him the Garter. When the King demurred,
the aspirant exclaimed, in the bitterness of his heart, "I am the first
Northumberland who ever was refused the Garter." To which the King
replied, not unreasonably, "And you are the first Smithson who ever
asked for it." However, there are forms of political pressure to which
even Kings must yield, and people who had "borough influence" could
generally get their way when George III. wanted some trustworthy votes
in the House of Commons. So Sir Hugh Smithson died a Duke and a K.G.,
and since his day the Percys have been continuously Gartered.

But it is in the sphere of rank just below that of the "Garter
Families" that the Blue silk of Swift's imagination exercises its
most potent influence. Men who are placed by the circumstances of
their birth far beyond the temptations of mere cupidity, men who are
justly satisfied with their social position and have no special wish
to be transmogrified into marquises or dukes, are found to desire the
Garter with an almost passionate fondness. Many a curious vote in a
stand-or-fall division, many an unexpected declaration at a political
crisis, many a transfer of local influence at an important election has
been dictated by calculations about a possible Garter. It was this view
of the decoration which inspired Lord Melbourne when, to the suggestion
that he should take a vacant Garter for himself, he replied, "But
why should I? I don't want to bribe myself." This same light-hearted
statesman disputes with Lord Palmerston the credit of having said, "The
great beauty of the Garter is that there's no d---- d nonsense of merit
about it;" but it was undoubtedly Palmerston who declined to pay the
customary fees to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor, and on being gravely
told that, unless he paid, his banner could not be erected in St.
George's Chapel, replied that, as he never went to church at Windsor or
anywhere else, the omission would not much affect him.

What made the recent Chapter of the Garter peculiarly exciting to
such as have æsthetic as well as historic minds was the fact that,
for once, the Knights might be seen in the full splendour of their
magnificent costume. No other Order has so elaborate a paraphernalia,
and every detail smacks deliciously of the antique world. The long,
sweeping mantle of Garter-blue is worn over a surcoat and hood of
crimson velvet. The hat is trimmed with ostrich feathers and heron's
plumes. The enamelled collar swings majestically from shoulder to
shoulder; from it depends the image of St. George trampling down
the dragon; and round the left knee runs the Garter itself, setting
forth the motto of the Order in letters of gold. It is a truly regal
costume; and those who saw Lord Spencer so arrayed at the Coronation
of King Edward might have fancied that they were gazing on an animated
Vandyke. These full splendours of the Order are seldom seen, but some
modifications of them appear on stated occasions. The King was married
in the mantle of the Garter, worn over a Field-Marshal's uniform; and a
similar practice is observed at ceremonies in St. George's Chapel. The
Statutes of the Order bind every Knight, on his chivalric obedience,
to wear the badge--the "George," as it is technically called--at all
times and places. In obedience to this rule the Marquis of Abercorn,
who died in 1818, always went out shooting in the Blue Ribbon from
which, in ordinary dress, the badge depends. But those were the
days when people played cricket in tall hats and attended the House
of Commons in knee-breeches and silk stockings. Prince Albert, whose
conscience in ceremonial matters was even painfully acute, always
wore his Blue Ribbon over his shirt and below his waistcoat; and in
his ancient photographs it can be dimly traced crossing his chest in
the neighbourhood of his shirt studs. But to-day one chiefly sees it
at dinners. A tradition of the Order requires a Knight dining with
a brother-Knight to wear it, and after dinner one may meet it at an
evening party. The disuse of knee-breeches, except in Royal company,
makes it practically impossible to display the actual Garter; unless
one chooses to follow the example of the seventh Duke of Bedford, who,
being of a skinny habit and feeling the cold intensely, yet desiring to
display his Garter, used to wear it buckled round the trouser of his
left leg. Lord Beaconsfield, in his later years, used to appear in the
evening with a most magnificent Star of the Garter which had belonged
to the wicked Lord Hertford, Thackeray's Steyne and his own Monmouth.
It was a constellation of picked diamonds, surrounding St. George's
Cross in rubies. After Lord Beaconsfield's death it was exposed for
sale in a jeweller's window, and eventually was broken up and sold
piecemeal. There was an opportunity missed. Lord Rosebery ought to have
bought it, and kept it by him until he was entitled to wear it.

In picture-galleries one can trace the evolution of the Blue Ribbon
through several shades and shapes. In pictures of the Tudor and Stuart
periods it is a light blue ribbon, worn round the neck, with the George
hanging, like a locket, in front. In Georgian pictures the ribbon is
much darker, and is worn over the left shoulder, reaching down to the
right thigh, where the George is displayed. I have heard that the
alteration of position was due to the Duke of Monmouth, who, when a
little boy, accidentally thrust his right arm through the ribbon, with
a childish grace which fascinated his father. The change of colour was
due to the fact that the exiled King at St. Germain's affected still
to bestow the Order, and the English ribbon was made darker, so as to
obviate all possible confusion between the reality and the counterfeit.
Of late years, this reason having ceased to operate, the King has
returned to the lighter shade.

The last Commoner who wore the Garter was Sir Robert Walpole. Sir
Robert Peel refused it. It is the only honour which, I think, Mr.
Gladstone could have accepted without loss of dignity. For he truly was
a Knight _sans peur et sans reproche_, worthy to rank with those to
whom, in the purer days of chivalry, the Cross of St. George was not
the reward of an intrigue but the symbol of a faith.



XXXI

SHERIFFS


The late Mr. Evelyn Philip Shirley, of Ettington, the most enthusiastic
and cultured of English antiquaries, was once describing the procedure
observed on the rare occasion of a "Free Conference" between the Houses
of Parliament. "The Lords," he said, "sit with their hats on their
heads. The Commons stand, uncovered, at the Bar; and the carpet is
spread not on the floor but on the table, illustrating the phrase 'on
the _tapis_.' Those are the things which make life really worth living."

I cannot profess to equal Mr. Shirley in culture, but I yield to no man
in enthusiasm for antiquarian rites. Like Burke, I "piously believe
in the mysterious virtue of wax and parchment." With Mr. Gladstone, I
say that "the principle which gives us ritual in Religion gives us the
ceremonial of Courts, the costume of judges, the uniform of regiments,
all the language of heraldry and symbol, all the hierarchy of rank and
title."

My antiquarian enthusiasm for the Garter must not be allowed to brush
aside the more obvious topic of the Sheriffs. That just now[10] is a
topic which, as the French say, palpitates with actuality. November
is the Sheriffs' month; in it they bloom like chrysanthemums--doomed,
alas! to as brief a splendour. The Sheriffs of London and
Middlesex--those glorious satellites who revolve round the Lord Mayor
of London as the Cardinals round the Pope--are already installed. Their
state carriages of dazzling hue, and their liveries stiff with gold
bullion, have flung their radiance (as the late Mr. J. R. Green would
have said) over the fog and filth of our autumnal climate.

  "Who asketh why the Beautiful was made?
    A wan cloud drifting o'er the waste of blue,
  The thistledown that floats along the glade,
    The lilac blooms of April--fair to view,
    And naught but fair are these; and such I ween are you.
  Yes, ye are beautiful. The young street boys
    Joy in your beauty----"

But I am becoming rhapsodical, and with less excuse than "C. S. C.,"
whose poetic fire was kindled by the sight of the Beadles in the
Burlington Arcade.

[10] November 1896.

On Monday the 12th of November, being the morrow of St. Martin, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, in clothing of wrought gold and figured
silk, attending the ghost of what was once the Court of Exchequer,
nominates three gentlemen of good estate to serve the office of High
Sheriff for each of the counties of England. Be it remarked in passing
that the robe of black and gold which the Chancellor wears on this
occasion is that which Mr. Gladstone's statue in the Strand represents,
and which, as a matter of fact, he wore at the opening of the Law
Courts in December 1882, when, to the astonishment of the unlearned, he
walked in procession among the Judges.

Early in the new year--on "the morrow of the Purification" to wit--the
Lord President of the Council submits the names of the nominated
Sheriffs, duly engrossed on parchment, to the King, who then, with a
silver bodkin, "pricks" the name of the gentleman who in each county
seems the fittest of the three for the august and perilous office of
High Sheriff.

I love to handle great things greatly; so I have refreshed my memory
with the constitutional lore of this high theme. The etymology of
"Sheriff" I find to be (on the indisputable authority of Dr. Dryasdust)
"Scirgeréfa--the 'Reeve' or Fiscal Officer of a Shire." In the Saxon
twilight of our national history this Reeve, not yet developed into
Sheriff, ranked next in his county to the Bishop and the Ealdorman,
or Earl. In those days of rudimentary self-government, the Reeve was
elected by popular vote, but Edward II., who seems to have been a
bureaucrat before his time, abolished the form of election except as
regards the cities, and from his time onwards the High Sheriff of a
county has been a nominated officer. Until the days of the Tudors,
the High Sheriff wielded great and miscellaneous powers. He was the
military head of the county. He commanded the "Posse Comitatus," in
which at his bidding every male over fifteen was forced to serve;
and he was, in all matters of civil and criminal jurisdiction, the
executant and minister of the law.

_Quomodo ceciderunt fortes!_ Henry VIII. at one fell swoop terminated
the Sheriff's military power and made the new-fangled Lord-Lieutenant
commander of the local forces; and successive Acts of Parliament have,
by increasing the powers of courts and magistracies, reduced the civil
power of the Sheriff to a dismal shadow of its former greatness. Still,
in the person of his unromantic representative, the "Bound Bailiff,"
he watches the execution of civil process in the case of those who, to
use a picturesque phrase, have "outrun the constable"; still, with all
the pantomimic pomp of coach and footmen, trumpeters and javelin-men,
he conducts the Judges of Assize to and from the court; and still he
must be present in court when the capital sentence is pronounced. I
believe I am right in stating that there is no such document as a
"Death-warrant" known to English jurisprudence. The only warrant for
the execution of a felon is the verbal sentence of the Judge pronounced
in open court; and, as the High Sheriff is responsible for the due
execution of that sentence, he must be present when it is pronounced,
in order that he may know, by the evidence of his own eyes, that the
person brought out for execution is the person on whom the sentence was
pronounced. It is probable that many of my readers recollect the first
Lord Tollemache, a man who combined singular gifts of physical strength
with a delicate humanitarianism. He had been High Sheriff of Cheshire
in very early life, and, till he was elevated to the Peerage, it was
possible that his turn might come round again. Contemplating this
contingency, he said that if he were again charged with the execution
of a capital sentence, he should, on his own authority, offer the
condemned man a dose of chloroform, so that, if he chose, he might go
unconscious to his doom.

The duties connected with the capital sentence are, of course,
infinitely the most trying of those which befall a High Sheriff; but
even in other respects his lot is not an unmixed pleasure. If he is a
poor man, the expense of conducting the Assizes with proper dignity
is considerable. A sensitive man does not like to hear invidious
comparisons between his carriages, horses, and liveries, and those
of his predecessor in office. He winces under the imputation of an
unworthy economy; and, if his equipage was conspicuously unequal to
the occasion, the Judges have been known to express their displeasure
by sarcasms, protests, and even fines. The fining power of a Judge
on circuit is a mysterious prerogative. I have no notion whether it
is restrained by statutory limitations, by what process the fine is
enforced, or into whose pocket it finds its way. Some years ago the
High Sheriff of Surrey published a placard at the Guildford Assizes
setting forth that the public were excluded from the court by the
Judge's order and in defiance of law, and warning his subordinate
officers against giving effect to the order for exclusion. The Judge
pronounced the placard "a painfully contumacious contempt of the
Court," and fined the High Sheriff £500. My memory does not recall,
and the records do not state, whether the mulcted officer paid up or
climbed down.

If the High Sheriff has a friend or kinsman in Holy Orders, the Assizes
afford an excellent opportunity of bringing him to public notice in the
capacity of Sheriff's Chaplain; for the Chaplain preaches before the
Judges at the opening of the Assize, and, if he is ambitious of fame,
he can generally contrive to make something of the occasion. But few
Chaplains, I should think, have emulated the courage of Sydney Smith,
who at the York Assizes in 1824 rebuked the besetting sins of Bench and
Bar in two remarkably vigorous sermons on these suggestive themes--"The
Judge that smites contrary to the Law" and "The Lawyer that tempted
Christ."

Broadly, I suppose it may be said that the people who really enjoy
being High Sheriffs are not those who, by virtue of long hereditary
connexion with the soil, are to the manner born; but rather those who
by commercial industry have accumulated capital, and have invested it
in land with a view to founding a family. To such, the hospitalities
paid and the deference received, the quaint splendour of the Assize,
and the undisputed precedence over the gentlemen of the County, are
joys not lightly to be esteemed. When Lothair was arranging the
splendid ceremonial for his famous Coming of Age, he said to the
Duchess, "There is no doubt that, in the County, the High Sheriff takes
precedence of every one, even of the Lord-Lieutenant; but how about
his wife? I believe there is some tremendous question about the lady's
precedence. We ought to have written to the Heralds' College." The
Duchess graciously gave Mrs. High Sheriff the benefit of the doubt,
and the ceremonies went forward without a hitch. On the night of the
great banquet Lothair looked round, and then, "in an audible voice,
and with a stateliness becoming such an incident, called upon the High
Sheriff to lead the Duchess to the table. Although that eminent man had
been thinking of nothing else for days, and during the last half-hour
had felt as a man feels, and can only feel, who knows that some public
function is momentarily about to fall to his perilous discharge, he was
taken quite aback, changed colour, and lost his head. But Lothair's
band, who were waiting at the door of the apartment to precede the
procession to the hall, striking up at this moment "The Roast Beef
of Old England," reanimated his heart, and, following Lothair and
preceding all the other guests down the gallery and through many
chambers, he experienced the proudest moment in a life of struggle,
ingenuity, vicissitude, and success."



XXXII

PUBLISHERS


There is a passage in Selden's "Table-Talk" which, if I recollect it
aright, may be paraphrased in some such form as this: The Lion, reeking
of slaughter, met his neighbour the Sheep, and, after exchanging
the time of day with her, asked her if his breath smelt of blood.
She replied "Yes," whereupon he snapped off her head for a fool.
Immediately afterwards he met the Jackal, to whom he addressed the same
question. The Jackal answered "No," and the Lion tore him in pieces for
a flatterer. Last of all he met the Fox, and asked the question a third
time. The Fox replied that he had a cold in his head, and could smell
nothing. _Moral_: "Wise men say little in dangerous times." The bearing
of this aphorism on my present subject is sufficiently obvious; the
"times"--not _Times_--are "dangerous" alike for authors and publishers,
and "wise men" will "say little" about current controversies, lest they
should have their heads snapped off by Mr. Lucas and Mr. Graves, or be
torn in pieces by Mr. Moberley Bell.

Thus warned, I turn my thoughts to Publishers as they have existed in
the past, and more particularly to their relations with the authors
whose works they have given to the world. How happy those relations
may be, when maintained with tact and temper on both sides, is well
illustrated by an anecdote of that indefatigable penwoman, "the
gorgeous Lady Blessington." Thinking herself injured by some delay
on the part of her publishers, Messrs. Sanders & Otley, she sent her
son-in-law, the irrepressible Count D'Orsay, to remonstrate. The Count
was received by a dignified gentleman in a stiff white cravat, whom
he proceeded to assail with the most vigorous invective, until the
cravated gentleman could stand it no longer and roundly declared that
he would sacrifice Lady Blessington's patronage sooner than subject
himself to personal insult. "Personal?" exclaimed the lively Count.
"There's nothing personal in my remarks. If you're Sanders, then d----
Otley; if you're Otley, then d---- Sanders."

It is to be feared that a similar imprecation has often formed itself
in the heart, though it may not have issued from the lips, of a baulked
and disillusioned author. Though notoriously the most long-suffering
of a patient race, the present writer has before now felt inclined to
borrow the vigorous invective of Count D'Orsay. Some six months before
American copyright was, after long negotiation, secured for English
authors, Messrs. Popgood and Groolly (I borrow the names from Sir Frank
Burnand) arranged with me for the publication of a modest work. It was
quite ready for publication, but the experienced publishers pointed
out the desirability of keeping it back till the new law of copyright
came into force, for there was a rich harvest to be reaped in America;
and all the American profits, after, say, five thousand copies were
sold, were to be mine alone. A year later I received a cheque, 18s.
6d., which, I imagine, bore the same relation to the American profits
as Mrs. Crupp's "one cold kidney on a cheese-plate" bore to the remains
of David Copperfield's feast. On enquiry I was soothingly informed by
Popgood and Groolly that the exact number of copies sold in America was
5005, and that the cheque represented (as per agreement) the royalty
on the copies sold, over and above the first five thousand. That the
publishers should have so accurately estimated the American sale seemed
to me a remarkable instance of commercial foresight.

Not much more amiable are the feelings of the author towards the
publisher who declines his wares; and I have always felt that
Washington Irving must have had a keen and legitimate satisfaction in
prefixing to his immensely popular "Sketch-Book" the flummery in which
old John Murray wrapped up his refusal of the manuscript:--

"I entreat you to believe that I feel truly obliged by your kind
intentions towards me, and that I entertain the most unfeigned respect
for your most tasteful talents. If it would not suit me to engage in
the publication of your present work, it is only because I do not see
that scope in the nature of it which would enable me to make those
satisfactory accounts between us which I really feel no satisfaction in
engaging."

Now, surely, as Justice Shallow says, good phrases are, and ever were,
very commendable. While Murray dealt in good phrases, his rival Longman
expressed himself through the more tangible medium of good cheques.
He was the London publisher, and apparently the financier, of the
_Edinburgh Review_, and, according to Sydney Smith's testimony, his
fiscal system was simplicity itself. "I used to send in a bill in these
words, 'Messrs. Longman & Co. to the Rev. Sydney Smith. To a very wise
and witty article on such a subject; so many sheets, at forty-five
guineas a sheet,' and the money always came." Here is another passage
from the financial dealings of the same great house, which during the
last fifty years has caused many a penman's mouth to water. On the
7th of March 1856 Macaulay wrote in his diary: "Longman came, with a
very pleasant announcement. He and his partners find that they are
overflowing with money, and think that they cannot invest it better
than by advancing to me, on the usual terms of course, part of what
will be due to me in December. We agreed that they shall pay twenty
thousand pounds into Williams's Bank next week. What a sum to be gained
by one edition of a book! I may say, gained in one day. But that was
harvest-day. The work had been near seven years in hand."

After that glorious instance, all tales of profit from books seem flat
and insignificant. As a rule, we have to reckon our makings on a far
more modest scale. "Sir," said an enthusiastic lady to Mr. Zangwill,
"I admire 'The Children of the Ghetto' so much that I have read it
eight times." "Madam," replied Mr. Zangwill, "I would rather you had
bought eight copies." Even so, with our exiguous profit on eight copies
duly sold, our state is more gracious than that of more deserving men.
Here is a touching vignette from a book of travels, which was popular
in my youth: "At _table d'hôte_ there is a charming old gentleman who
has translated Æschylus and Euripides into English verse; he has been
complimented by the greatest scholars of the day, and his publishers
have just sent him in his bill for printing, and a letter to know what
the deuce they shall do with the first thousand."

Such are the joys of publishing at one's own risk. Hardly more
exhilarating is the experience of knocking at all the doors in
Paternoster Row, or Albemarle Street, or Waterloo Place, and imploring
the stony-hearted publisher to purchase one's modest wares. Old John
Murray's soothing formula about "most tasteful talents" has been
reproduced, with suitable variations, from that time to this. No one
experienced it oftener than the late Mr. Shorthouse, whose one good
book--"John Inglesant"--made the rounds of the Trade, until at length
Messrs. Macmillan recognized its strange power. In their hands, as
every one knows, the book prospered exceedingly, and the publishers
who had rejected it were consumed by remorse. In this connexion my
friend Mr. James Payn used to tell a story which outweighs a great
many acrid witticisms about "Barabbas was a Publisher" and Napoleon's
one meritorious action in hanging a Bookseller. Payn was "reader"
to Smith and Elder, and in that capacity declined the manuscript of
"John Inglesant." Some years afterwards this fact was stated in print,
together with an estimate of what his error had cost his firm. Payn,
who was the last man to sit down patiently under a calumny, told the
late Mr. George Smith that he felt bound in self-respect to contradict
a story so derogatory to his literary judgment. "If I were you,"
replied Mr. Smith, "I wouldn't do that, for, as a matter of fact,
you did reject the manuscript, and we have lost what Macmillans have
gained. I never told you, because I knew it would annoy you; and I only
tell you now to prevent you from contradicting 'an ower true tale.'"
Payn used to say that, in all the annals of business, considerate
forbearance had never been better exemplified. Against this story
of his failure to perceive merit Payn was wont to set his discovery
of Mr. Anstey Guthrie. The manuscript of "Vice Versa," bearing the
unknown name of "F. Anstey," came in ordinary course into his hands. He
glanced at the first page, turned over, read to the end, and then ran
into Mr. Smith's room saying, "We've got the funniest thing that has
been written since Dickens's 'Christmas Carol.'" And the public gave
unequivocal evidence that it concurred in the verdict.

Let a "smooth tale of love" close these reminiscences of Publishers.
Some forty years ago, when all young and ardent spirits had caught the
sacred fire of Italian freedom from Garibaldi and Swinburne and Mrs.
Browning, a young lady, nurtured in the straitest of Tory homes, was
inspired--it is hardly too strong a word--to write a book of ballads
in which the heroes and the deeds of the Italian Revolution were
glorified. She knew full well that, if she were detected, her father
would have a stroke and her mother would lock her up in the spare
bedroom. So, in sending her manuscript to a publisher, she passed
herself off as a man. Her vigorous and vehement style, her strong grasp
of the political situation, and her enjoyment of battle and bloodshed,
contributed to the illusion; her poems were published anonymously;
other volumes followed; and for several years the publisher addressed
his contributor as "Esquire." At length it chanced that both publisher
and poetess were staying, unknown to each other, at the same seaside
place. Her letter, written from--let us say--Brighton, reached him
at Brighton; so, instead of answering by post, he went to the hotel
and asked for Mr. Talbot, or whatever great Tory name you prefer. The
porter said, "There is no Mr. Talbot staying here. There is a Miss
Talbot, and she may be able to give you some information." So Miss
Talbot was produced; the secret of the authorship was disclosed; and
the negotiations took an entirely new turn, which ended in making the
poetess the publisher's wife.



XXXIII

HANDWRITING


When "The Book of Snobs" was appearing week by week in _Punch_,
Thackeray derived constant aid from suggestive correspondents. "'Why
only attack the aristocratic Snobs?' says one estimable gentleman. 'Are
not the snobbish Snobs to have their turn?' 'Pitch into the University
Snobs!' writes an indignant correspondent (who spells _elegant_ with
two _l_'s)."

Similarly, if I may compare small things with great, I am happy in the
possession of an unknown friend who, from time to time, supplies me
with references to current topics which he thinks suitable to my gentle
methods of criticism. My friend (unlike Thackeray's correspondent) can
spell _elegant_, and much longer words too, with faultless accuracy,
and is altogether, as I judge, a person of much culture. It is this
circumstance, I suppose (for he has no earthly connexion with the
Army), which makes him feel so keenly about a cutting from a newspaper
which he has just sent us:--

"In a report just issued by the War Office on the result of
examinations for promotion many officers are said to be handicapped
by their bad handwriting. Some show of 'want of intelligence, small
power of expression, poor penmanship--in fact, appear to suffer from
defective education.'

"On the other hand, the work of non-commissioned officers shows
intelligence and power of concise expression, while penmanship is good.

"But the percentage of failures among the officers shows a large
decrease--from 22 per cent. in November 1904 to 13 per cent. in May
last. The improvement is particularly noticeable among lieutenants. It
is apparent, says the report, that a serious effort is being made by
the commissioned ranks to master all the text-books and other aids to
efficiency."

"This," says my correspondent, "is a shameful disclosure. Cannot you
say something about it in print?" Inclining naturally to the more
favourable view of my fellow-creatures, I prefer to reflect, not on the
"poor penmanship" and "defective education" of my military friends,
but on their manly efforts after self-improvement. There is something
at once pathetic and edifying in the picture of these worthy men, each
of whom has probably cost his father £200 a year for education ever
since he was ten years old, making their "serious effort to master the
text-books and other aids to efficiency," in the humble hope that their
writing may some day rival that of the non-commissioned officers.

It was not ever thus. These laudable, though lowly, endeavours after
Culture are of recent growth in the British Army. Fifty years ago, if
we may trust contemporary evidence, the Uneducated Subaltern developed,
by a natural process, into the Uneducated General.

"I have always," said Thackeray in 1846, "admired that dispensation
of rank in our country which sets up a budding Cornet, who is shaving
for a beard (and who was flogged only last week because he could
not spell), to command great whiskered warriors who have faced all
dangers of climate and battle." _Because he could not spell._ The
same infirmity accompanied the Cornet into the higher grades of
his profession--witness Captain Rawdon Crawley's memorandum of his
available effects: "My double-barril by Manton, say 40 guineas; my
duelling pistols in rosewood case (same which I shot Captain Marker)
£20." And, even when the Cornet had blossomed into a General, his
education was still far from complete: "A man can't help being a fool,
be he ever so old, and Sir George Tufto is a greater ass at sixty-eight
than he was when he entered the army at fifteen. He never read a book
in his life, and, with his purple, old, gouty fingers, still writes a
schoolboy hand."

But do Soldiers write a worse hand than other people? I rather doubt
it, and certain I am that several of my friends, highly placed in
Church and politics and law, would do very well to apply themselves for
a season to those "text-books and other aids to efficiency" by which
the zealous Subaltern seeks to complete his "defective education."

Mr. Gladstone was accustomed to say that in public life he had known
only two perfect things--Sir Robert Peel's voice and Lord Palmerston's
writing. The former we can know only by tradition; the latter survives,
for the instruction of mankind, in folios of voluminous despatches,
all written in a hand at once graceful in form and absolutely clear
to read. "The wayfaring men" of Diplomacy, though sometimes "fools,"
could not "err" in the interpretation of Palmerston's despatches. The
same excellence of caligraphy which Palmerston himself practised he
rightly required from his subordinates. If a badly written despatch
came into his hands, he would embellish it with scathing rebukes, and
return it, through the Office, to the offending writer. The recipient
of one of these admonitions thus recalls its terms, "Tell the gentleman
who copied this despatch to write a larger, rounder hand, to join the
letters in the words, and to use blacker ink."

If Lord Palmerston stood easily first among the penmen of his time,
the credit of writing the worst hand in England was divided among at
least three claimants. First there was Lord Houghton, whose strange,
tall, upright strokes, all exactly like each other except in so far
as they leaned in different directions, Lord Tennyson likened to
"walking-sticks gone mad." Then there was my dear friend Mr. James
Payn, who described his own hand only too faithfully when he wrote
about "the wandering of a centipede which had just escaped from the
inkpot and had scrawled and sprawled over the paper," and whose closest
friends always implored him to correspond by telegraph. And, finally,
there was the "bad eminence" of Dean Stanley, whose lifelong indulgence
in hieroglyphics inflicted a permanent loss on literature. The Dean,
as all readers of his biography will remember, had a marked turn for
light and graceful versification. The albums and letter-caskets of
his innumerable friends were full of these "occasional" verses, in
which domestic, political, and ecclesiastical events were prettily
perpetuated. After his death his sister, Mrs. Vaughan, tried to
collect these fugitive pieces in a Memorial Volume, but an unforeseen
difficulty occurred. In many cases the recipients of the poems were
dead and gone, and no living creature could decipher the Dean's
writing. So what might have been a pretty and instructive volume
perished untimely.

Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, the brilliant dame who raised the
Gordon Highlanders and who played on the Tory side the part which the
Duchess of Devonshire played among the Whigs, had, like our English
Subalterns, a very imperfect education; but with great adroitness she
covered her deficiences with a cloak of seeming humour. "Whenever," she
wrote to Sir Walter Scott, "I come to a word which I cannot spell, I
write it as near as I can, and put a note of exclamation after it; so
that, if it's wrong, my friend will think that I was making a joke."
A respected member of the present Cabinet who shares Duchess Jane's
orthographical weakness covers his retreat by drawing a long, involuted
line after the initial letter of each word. Let the reader write, say,
the word "aluminium" on this principle; and he will see how very easily
imperfect spelling in high places may be concealed.

With soldiers this chapter began, and with a soldier it shall
end--the most illustrious of them all, Arthur, Duke of Wellington.
Let it be recorded for the encouragement of our modern Subalterns
that the Duke, though he spelled much better than Captain Crawley,
wrote quite as badly as Sir George Tufto; but that circumstance did
not--as is sometimes the case--enable him to interpret by sympathy the
hieroglyphics of other people. Is there any one left, "In a Lancashire
Garden" or elsewhere, who recalls the honoured name of Jane Loudon,
authoress of "The Lady's Companion to her Flower Garden"? Mrs. Loudon
was an accomplished lady, who wrote not only on Floriculture, but on
Arboriculture and Landscape Gardening, and illustrated what she wrote.
In one of her works she desired to insert a sketch of the "Waterloo
Beeches" at Strathfieldsaye--a picturesque clump planted to commemorate
our deliverance from the Corsican Tyrant. Accordingly she wrote to the
Duke of Wellington, requesting leave to sketch the beeches, and signed
herself, in her usual form, "J. Loudon." The Duke, who, in spite of
extreme age and perceptions not quite so clear as they had once been,
insisted on conducting all his own correspondence, replied as follows:--

"F.M. the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to the Bishop of
London. The Bishop is quite at liberty to make a sketch of the breeches
which the Duke wore at Waterloo, if they can be found. But the Duke
is not aware that they differed in any way from the breeches which he
generally wears."



XXXIV

AUTOGRAPHS


From handwriting in general to autographs in particular the transition
is natural, almost inevitable. My recent reflections on the imperfect
penmanship of the British officer sent me to my collection of letters,
and the sight of these autographs--old friends long since hidden
away--set me on an interesting enquiry. Was there any affinity between
the writing and the character? Could one, in any case, have guessed who
the writer was, or what he did, merely by scrutinizing his manuscript?
I make no pretension to any skill in the art or science of Caligraphy;
and, regarding my letters merely as an amateur or non-expert, I must
confess that I arrive at a mixed and dubious result. Some of the
autographs are characteristic enough; some seem to imply qualities for
which the writer was not famed and to suppress others for which he was
notorious.

Let us look carefully at the first letter which I produce from my
hoard. The lines are level, and the words are clearly divided, although
here and there an abbreviation tells that the hand which wrote this
letter had many letters to write; the capitals, of which there are
plenty, are long and twirling, though the intermediate letters are
rather small, and the signature is followed by an emphatic dash which
seems to say more explicitly than words that the writer is one who
cannot be ignored. This is the autograph of Queen Victoria in those
distant days when she said, "They seem to think that I am a schoolgirl,
but I will teach them that I am Queen of England."

Surrounding and succeeding Queen Victoria I find a cluster of minor
royalties, but a study of their autographs does not enable me to
generalize about royal writing. Some are scrawling and some are
cramped; some are infantine and some foreign. Here is a level, firm,
and rapid hand, in which the exigencies of a copious correspondence
seem to have softened the stiffness of a military gait. The letter is
dated from "The Horse Guards," and the signature is

  "Yours very truly,
  GEORGE."

But here again we cannot generalize, for nothing can be more dissimilar
than the Duke's hurried, high-shouldered characters and the exquisite
piece of penmanship which lies alongside of them. This is written in
a leisurely and cultivated hand, with due spaces between words and
paragraphs, like the writing of a scholar and man of letters; it is
dated May 29, 1888, and bears the signature of

  "Your affectionate Cousin,
  ALBEMARLE,"

the last survivor but one of Waterloo.

But soldiers are not much in my way, and my military signatures are
few. My collection is rich in politicians. Here comes, first in date
though in nothing else, that Duke of Bedford who negotiated the
Treaty of Fontainebleau and got trounced by Junius for his pains. It
is written in 1767, just as the writer is "setting out from Woburn
Abbey to consult his Shropshire oculist" (why Shropshire?), and has
the small, cramped character which is common to so many conditions
of shortened sight. (I find exactly the same in a letter of Lord
Chancellor Hatherley, 1881.) Thirty-nine years pass, and William Pitt
writes his last letter from "Putney Hill, the 1st of January, 1806, 2
P.M.," the writing as clear, as steady, and as beautifully formed as if
the "Sun of Austerlitz" had never dawned. And now the Statesmen pass
me in rapid succession and in fine disregard of chronological order.
Lord Russell writes a graceful, fluent, rather feminine hand; Charles
Villiers's writing is of the same family; and the great Lord Derby's
a perfect specimen of the "Italian hand," delicate as if drawn with a
crow-quill, and slanted into alluring tails and loops. Lord Brougham's
was a vile scrawl, with half the letters tumbling backwards. John
Bright's is small, neat, and absolutely clear; nor is it fanciful to
surmise that Mr. Chamberlain copied Mr. Bright, and were they not both
short-sighted men? And Lord Goschen's writing, from the same cause, is
smaller still. The Duke of Argyll wrote a startling and imperious hand,
worthy of a Highland chief whose ancestors not so long ago exercised
the power of life and death; Lord Iddesleigh a neat and orderly hand,
becoming a Private Secretary or Permanent Official. Lord Granville's
and Mr. Forster's writings had this in common, that they looked
most surprisingly candid and straightforward. The present Duke of
Devonshire's writing suggests nothing but vanity, self-consciousness,
and ostentation. We all can judge, even without being caligraphists,
how far these suggestions conform to the facts. By far the most
pleasing autograph of all the Statesmen is Lord Beaconsfield's,
artistically formed and highly finished--in his own phrase, "that form
of scripture which attracts." With the utmost possible loyalty to a
lost leader, I would submit that Mr. Gladstone wrote an uncommonly bad
hand--not bad in point of appearance, for it was neat and comely even
when it was hurried; but bad morally--a kind of caligraphic imposture,
for it looks quite remarkably legible, and it is only when you come to
close quarters with it and try to decipher an important passage that
you find that all the letters are practically the same, and that the
interpretation of a word must depend on the context.

From my pile of Statesmen's autographs I extract yet another, and I
lay it side by side with the autographs of a great author and a great
ecclesiastic. All three are very small, exquisitely neat, very little
slanted, absolutely legible. Well as I knew the three writers, I doubt
if I could tell which wrote which letter. They were Cardinal Manning,
Mr. Froude, and Lord Rosebery. Will the experts in caligraphy tell
me if, in this case, similarity of writing bodied forth similarity
of gifts or qualities? Another very close similarity may be observed
between the writing of Lord Halsbury and that of Lord Brampton (better
known as Sir Henry Hawkins), which, but for the fact that Lord Brampton
uses the long "s" and Lord Halsbury does not, are pretty nearly
identical.

If there is one truth which can be deduced more confidently than
another from my collection of autographs, it is that there is no
such thing as "the literary hand." Every variety of writing which a
"Reader's" fevered brain could conceive is illustrated in my bundle
of literary autographs. _Seniores priores._ Samuel Rogers was born in
1763, and died in 1855. A note of his, written in 1849, and beginning,
"Pray, pray, come on Tuesday," is by far the most surprising piece of
caligraphy in my collection. It is so small that, except under the
eyes of early youth, it requires a magnifying-glass; yet the symmetry
of every letter is perfect, and, when sufficiently enlarged, it might
stand as a model of beautiful and readable writing. I take a bound of
sixty years, and find some of the same characteristics reproduced by
my friend Mr. Quiller-Couch; but between the "Pleasures of Memory" and
"Green Bays" there rolls a sea of literature, and it has been navigated
by some strange crafts in the way of handwriting. I have spoken on
another occasion of Dean Stanley, Lord Houghton, and James Payn;
specimens of their enormities surround me as I write, and I can adduce,
I think, an equally heinous instance. Here is Sydney Smith, writing in
1837 to "Dear John," the hero of the Reform Act, "No body wishes better
for you and yours than the inhabitants of Combe Florey." Perhaps so;
but they conveyed their benedictions through a very irritating medium,
for Sydney Smith's writing is of the immoral type, pleasing to the
eye and superficially legible, but, when once you have lost the clue,
a labyrinth. Perhaps it is due to this circumstance that his books
abound, beyond all others, in uncorrected misprints.

But there are other faults in writing besides ugliness and
illegibility. A great man ought not to write a poor hand. Yet nothing
can be poorer than Ruskin's--mean, ugly, insignificant--only redeemed
by perfect legibility. Goldwin Smith's, though clear and shapely, is
characterless and disappointing. Some great scholars, again, write
disappointing hands. Jowett's is a spiteful-looking angular, little
scratch, perfectly easy to read; Westcott's comely but not clear;
Lightfoot's an open, scrambling scrawl, something like the late Lord
Derby's. These great men cannot excuse their deficiencies in penmanship
by pleading that they have had to write a great deal in their lives.
Others before them have had to do that, and have emerged from the trial
without a stain on their caligraphy. For example--"Albany, December
3, 1854," is the heading of an ideally beautiful sheet, every letter
perfectly formed, all spaces duly observed, and the whole evidently
maintaining its beauty in spite of breakneck speed. The signature is

  "Ever yours truly,
  T. B. MACAULAY."

Here is a letter addressed to me only last year by a man who was
born in 1816. In my whole collection there is no clearer or prettier
writing. As a devotee of fine penmanship, I make my salutations to Sir
Theodore Martin.



XXXV

MORE AUTOGRAPHS


My suggestive friend has suddenly been multiplied a hundredfold.
Handwriting is a subject which apparently makes a wide appeal.
Each post brings me corrections or corroborations of what I wrote
last Saturday. Fresh instances of enormity in the way of illegible
writing are adduced from all quarters; nor are there wanting acrid
critics who suggest that reform should begin at home, and that "the
Author of Collections and Recollections" would do well to consult
a writing-master, or to have his copy typed before it goes to the
printers. Waiving these personalities, I turn again to my letter-case,
and here let me say in passing that I committed a fearful indiscretion
when I spoke of my "Collection" of autographs. That fatal word brought
down an avalanche of "Collectors," who, hailing me as a man and a
brother, propose all sorts of convenient exchanges. A gentleman who
cherishes a postcard from Mr. Rudyard Kipling would exchange it for an
unpublished letter of Shelley; and a maiden-lady at Weston-super-Mare,
whose great-aunt corresponded with Eliza Cook, will refuse no
reasonable offer.

But all these handsome propositions must be brushed aside, for I have
no collection of autographs, if "collection" implies any art or system
in the way in which they have been brought together, or any store of
saleable duplicates. Mine are simply letters addressed to myself or
to my kinsfolk, plus just a very few which have come into my hands in
connexion with public business; but, such as they are, they are full of
memories and morals.

Why did very old people write so well? I have already described the
writing of Samuel Rogers, of the Waterloo Lord Albemarle, and of Sir
Theodore Martin. Pretty well for octogenarian penmanship; but I can
enlarge the gallery. A bundle of octogenarian letters lies before me
as I write. Oliver Wendell Holmes sends a tribute to Matthew Arnold.
Charles Villiers accepts an invitation to dinner. Lord Norton invites
me to stay at Hams. Archdeacon Denison complains of "his first attack
of gout at eighty-five." Mr. Leveson-Gower at eighty-six thanks
me for a review of his first book. I protest that there is not an
ungraceful line--scarcely a misshaped letter--in any of these five
manuscripts. Here is a small, elegant, and "taily" hand, rather like an
old-fashioned lady's. The signature is

  "Yours sincerely,
  EVERSLEY,"

better known as Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, the most authoritative Speaker
the House of Commons ever had. Note that this was written in his
eighty-eighth year, and he lived to buy a new pair of guns after he was
ninety. Here is a strong, clear, well-defined writing, setting forth
with precision and emphasis the reasons why the last Duke of Cleveland,
then in his eighty-fifth year, will not give more than £5 for an
object which he has been asked to help. The writing of the beloved
and honoured Duke of Rutland, always graceful and regular, becomes
markedly smaller, though not the least less legible, till he dies at
eighty-seven. There is no more vigorous, even dashing, signature in
my store than "G. J. Holyoake," written in July 1905. Close to the
imperial purple of the Agitator's ink nestles, in piquant contrast,
a small half-sheet of rose-pink paper bearing a Duchess's coronet
and cypher. The writing is distinct and ornamental; the letter was
written in 1880, and the writer was born in 1792. But the mere fact
of attaining to eighty or ninety years will not absolutely guarantee,
though it seems to promote, legibility of writing. My venerable
friend Dean Randall, who was born in 1824, ends a letter, which
certainly needs some such apology, with a disarming allusion to the
"dreadful scrawl" of his "ancient MS."; and four sides of tantalizing
hieroglyphics, drawn apparently with a blunt stick, are shown by
external evidence to be a letter from Canon Carter of Clewer when he
had touched his ninetieth birthday.

On similarity, approaching to identity, between the writings of very
dissimilar persons I have already remarked, and a further illustration
comes to light as I turn over my papers. Here are two letters in the
graceful and legible script of the early nineteenth century, with long
S's, and capitals for all the substantives. Both are evidently the
handiwork of cultivated gentlemen; and both the writers, as a matter
of fact, were clergymen. But there the resemblance stops. The one was
"Jack" Russell, the well-known Sporting Parson of Exmoor; the other
was Andrew Jukes, the deepest and most influential Mystic whom the
latter-day Church has seen.

When I praise gracefulness in writing I mean natural and effortless
grace, such as was displayed in the writing of the late Duke of
Westminster. But, if we admire writing artificially fashioned and
coerced into gracefulness like a clipped yew, it would be difficult
to excel the penmanship of the late George Augustus Sala, who was an
engraver before he was an author; or that of Sir A. Conan Doyle, who
handles a pen as dexterously as in his surgical days he wielded the
lancet. I praised just now the late Duke of Westminster's writing,
and of him one might say what Scott said, in a different sense, of
Byron--that he "managed his pen with the careless and negligent ease of
a man of quality"; but there is another kind of grace than that--the
grace which is partly the result of mental clearness and partly of a
cultured eye. Here are two specimens of such writing, the letters so
alluringly fashioned that they look, as some one said, like something
good to eat; and spaced with a care which at once makes reading easy,
and testifies to clear thinking in the writer. Both are the writings of
Scholars, and both of men who wrote a vast deal in their lives--Bishop
Creighton and Dean Vaughan. It must have been a joy to read their
Proofs. The late Dean Farrar was the only Public-School Master I ever
knew who took pains with his pupils' writing and encouraged them to add
grace to legibility. His own writing, small, upright, and characterful,
was very pretty when he took time and pains; but the specimen which
lies before me shows sad signs of the havoc wrought by incessant
writing against time.

Grace and legibility are the two chief glories of penmanship, but other
attributes are not without their effect. A dashing scrawl, if only
it is easy to read, suggests a soaring superiority to conventional
restraints, and rather bespeaks a hero. Here are two scrawls, and each
is the work of a remarkable person. One is signed "Yours truly, Jos.
Cowen," and I dare say that some of my readers would see in it the
index to a nature at once impetuous and imperious. But Mr. Cowen's
scrawl was crowquill-work and copperplate compared with its next-door
neighbour. "Accept the enclosed, dear Mr. Russell," covers the whole
of one side of a sheet of letter-paper; the ink is blue; the paper
is ribbed; the signature, all wreathed in gigantic flourishes and
curling tails, is "Laura Thistlethwaite," and the enclosed is one of
the Evangelistic Addresses of that gifted preacher who once was Laura
Bell. Odd incongruities keep turning up. As I pass from the Evangelical
lady-orator, I come to Father Ignatius, an Evangelical orator with a
difference, but with a like tendency to scrawl. Lord Leighton's writing
is also a scrawl, and, it must be confessed, an egotistical scrawl, and
a very bad scrawl to read. An illegible scrawl, too, is the writing
of Richard Holt Hutton, but his is not a vainglorious or commanding
scrawl, but rather humble and untidy. "Henry Irving" is a signature
quite culpably illegible, but "Squire Bancroft" is just irregular
enough to be interesting though not unreadable.

_Per contra_, I turn to one of the most legible signatures in my
possession. The writing is ugly and the letters are ill-formed, looking
rather like the work of a hand which has only lately learned to write
and finds the act a difficulty. But it is as clear as print, and it
shows no adventitious ornamentation or self-assertive twirls. The
signature is

  "Yours most sincerely,
  RANDOLPH S. CHURCHILL."

In this case, if in no other, the oracles of Caligraphy are set at
naught. Here is a fine, twisty, twirling hand, all tails and loops,
but not at all unsightly. The signature reads like "Lincoln," and only
a careful study would detect that the "L" of "Lincoln" is preceded
by a circular flourish which looks like part of the L but is really
a capital C. It is the signature of that great scholar, Christopher
Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln; and I remember that, in days of
ecclesiastical strife, it was once imputed to that apostolic man for
vanity that he signed his name "Lincoln" like a Temporal Peer. From
that day he defined the "C" more carefully.

To the last letter which I bring to light to-day a different kind of
interest attaches. It is dated

  "DINGLE BANK, LIVERPOOL,
  _April 13, 1888_."

The writing is small and clear, with the upstrokes and downstrokes
rather long in comparison with the level letters; but some small blurs
and blots show that the letter was written in unusual haste. It ends
with these words: "Smalley has written a letter full of shriekings and
cursings about my innocent article; the Americans will get their notion
of it from that, and I shall never be able to enter America again.

  "Ever yours,
  M. A."

This was the last letter which Matthew Arnold ever wrote, and it closed
a friendship which had been one of the joys and glories of my life.



XXXVI

CHRISTMAS


"Christmas, now," as Mr. Brooke in "Middlemarch" might have said--"I
went a good deal into that kind of thing at one time; but I found it
would carry me too far--over the hedge, in fact." That, I imagine,
pretty well represents the attitude of the adult world towards the
feast which closes the year. We all loved it when we were young. Now,
it is all very well for once in a way; it might pall if frequently
repeated; even recurring only annually, it must be observed temperately
and enjoyed moderately. Anything resembling excess would carry one
too far--"over the hedge, in fact." But, within these recognized
and salutary limits, Christmas is an institution which I would not
willingly let die. In the days of my youth a Jewish lady caused me
not a little consternation by remarking that it seemed very odd for
Christians to celebrate the Feast of Redemption with gluttony and
drunkenness. She lived, I am bound to say, in a very unregenerate
village in a remarkably savage part of the country, and as, of course,
she did not go to church, I dare say that Gluttony and Drunkenness
were the forms of Christmas observance which most obtruded themselves
on her notice. Even Cardinal Newman seems to have remarked the same
phenomenon in his youth, though he satirized it more delicately.
"Beneficed clergymen used to go to rest as usual on Christmas-eve,
and leave to ringers, or sometimes to carollers, the observance which
was paid, _not without creature comforts_, to the sacred night."
Now all that is changed. Churches of all confessions vie with one
another in the frequency and heartiness and picturesque equipment
of their religious services. Even the _Daily Telegraph_ preaches
Christmas sermons; and I very much question whether the populace
gets more drunk at Christmas than at Easter. But, though we may have
learnt to celebrate the festival with rites more devout and less
bibulous, we have not yet escaped my Jewish friend's reproach of
gluttony. The Christmas Dinner of the British Home is still a thing
imagination boggles at. The dreadful pleasantries of the aged--their
sorry gibes about the doctor and the draught; hoary chestnuts about
little boys who stood up to eat more--remain among the most terrible
memories of the Christmas dinner. And they were quite in keeping
with the dinner itself. I say nothing against the Turkey, which (as
my medical friends well know) was found, by practical experiment in
the case of Alexis St. Martin, to be the most easily digested of all
animal foods, except venison; but surely, as a nation, we eat quite
beef enough in the course of the year without making Christmas an
annual orgy of carnivorous excess. I protest that the very sight of
the butchers' shops at this season of the year is enough to upset
a delicately balanced organization. Rightly said the Shah, in that
immortal Diary which he kept during his visit to England in 1873--"Meat
is good, but it should not be hung up in windows." Macaulay used to
say that Thackeray, in his famous description of the Clapham sect in
"The Newcomes," made one blunder--he represented them as Dissenters,
whereas, in fact, they were rather dogged Church-people. The only
exception to the rule was a Baptist lady, who, living on Clapham
Common, testified against the superstitions of the Established Church
by eating roast veal and apple-pie on Christmas-day instead of more
orthodox dainties. Churchman though I am, I protest that I think the
Baptist lady was right: and I believe that the Puritans were wiser than
they knew when they denounced Plum-Pudding and Mince Pies as inventions
of the Evil One. Yet the love of these vindictive viands is one of the
root-instincts of our English nature. Forty-eight years ago the British
Army was keeping its Christmas in the Crimea, amid all the horrors and
hardships of a peculiarly grim campaign. An English Sister of Mercy,
who was nursing under Miss Nightingale in the Hospital at Scutari,
thus described the melancholy festivity: "The 'Roast Beef of Old
England' was out of the question, but with the aid of a good deal of
imagination, it seemed possible at least to secure the Plum Pudding.
I think I might with safety affirm that as the doctor left the ward
every man drew from under his pillow a small portion of flour and fat,
with an egg and some plums, and began to concoct a Christmas pudding.
I assisted many to make the pudding, whom nothing short of a miracle
would enable to eat it; still they must have the thing. For some
days previously I had been asked for pieces of linen, which, without
dreaming of the use to which they were to be applied, I supplied. Thus
were the pudding cloths provided."

It can scarcely be conceived that these unhappy soldiers, maddened by
wounds and fever or perishing by frost-bite and gangrene, can have had
much physical enjoyment in Christmas puddings made of materials which
had been concealed under their sick pillows; in such circumstances
the value of the pudding is spiritual and symbolic. A few Christmases
ago I was assisting (in the literal sense) at a dinner for starving
"Dockers." A more broken, jaded, and dejected crew it would be
difficult to picture. They had scarcely enough energy to eat and drink,
but lumbered slowly through their meal of meat-pies and coffee without
a smile and almost without a word. All at once an unrehearsed feature
was introduced into the rather cheerless programme, and a huge Plum
Pudding, wreathed with holly and flaming blue with burnt brandy, was
borne into the hall. A deep gasp of joy burst from the assembled
guests, and the whole company rose as one man and greeted the joyous
vision with "Auld Lang Syne." The eating was yet to come, so the
exhilaration was purely moral. The Pudding spoke at once to Memory and
to Hope.

There are other adjuncts of Christmas which must by no means be
overlooked--Christmas presents, for instance, and Christmas amusements.
As to Christmas presents, I regard them as definite means of grace.
For weeks--sometimes months--before Christmas returns we concentrate
our thought on our friends instead of ourselves. We reflect on
people's likes and dislikes, habits, tastes, and occupations. We tax
our ingenuity to find gifts suitable for the recipients, and buy
objects which we think frankly hideous in the hope of gratifying our
unsophisticated friends. Happily the age of ormolu and malachite has
passed. We no longer buy blotting-books made unusable by little knobs
of enamel on the cover; nor gilt-paper weights which cost a hundred
times more than the overweighted letters of a lifetime could amount
to. Christmas gifts of this type belong to an unreturning past, and,
as Walter Pater said of the wedding-present which he was expected to
admire, "Very rich, very handsome, very expensive, I'm sure--but they
mustn't make any more of them." Nor will they. The standard of popular
taste in the matter of nick-nacks has improved as conspicuously as in
that of furniture; and the fancy shops, when spread for the Christmas
market, display a really large choice of presents which one can buy
without sacrificing self-respect, and give without the appearance of
insult.

But Christmas presents, even at a moderate rate of charge, may, if one
has a large circle of acquaintance, carry one over the hedge, as Mr.
Brooke said; and here is the scope and function of the Christmas Card.
Few people have bought more Christmas cards in a lifetime than the
present writer; and, out of a vast experience, he would offer one word
of friendly counsel to the card-sender. Do not accumulate the cards
which you receive this Christmas and distribute them among your friends
next Christmas, for, if you do, as sure as fate you will one day return
a card to the sender; and old friendships and profitable connexions
have been severed by such miscarriages.

Of Christmas amusements I can say little. My notion of them is chiefly
derived from "Happy Thoughts," where Byng suggests some "Christmassy
sort of thing" to amuse his guests, and fails to gratify even his
Half-Aunt. My infancy was spent in the country, remote from Dances and
Theatres, Pantomimes and Panoramas. "The Classic Walls of Old Drury"
never welcomed me on Boxing Night. Certainly a Christmas Tree and a
stocking full of presents appealed to that acquisitive instinct which
is fully as strong in infancy as in old age; but, though exceedingly
young in my time, I never was young enough to be amused by a Snow-Man
or dangerously excited by Blind Man's Buff. Looking back, like
Tennyson's "many-wintered crow," on these Christmases of infancy, I
have sometimes asked myself whether I lost much by my aloofness from
the normal merriment of youth. Mr. Anstey Guthrie knows the secret
heart of English boyhood more accurately than most of us, and when I
read his description of a Christmas party I am inclined to be thankful
that my lot was cast a good many miles beyond the cab-radius.

"Why couldn't you come to our party on Twelfth-night? We had great
larks. I wish you'd been there."

"I had to go to young Skidmore's instead," said a pale,
spiteful-looking boy with fair hair, carefully parted in the middle.
"It was like his cheek to ask me, but I thought I'd go, you know, just
to see what it was like."

"What was it like?" asked one or two near him, languidly.

"Oh, awfully slow! They've a poky little house in Brompton somewhere,
and there was no dancing, only boshy games and a conjuror, without any
presents. And, oh! I say, at supper there was a big cake on the table,
and no one was allowed to cut it, because it was hired. They're so
poor, you know. Skidmore's pater is only a clerk, and you should see
his sisters!"

All my sympathies are with Skidmore, and I think that the fair-haired
boy was an unmitigated beast, and cad, and snob. But there is an awful
verisimilitude about "Boshy Games and a Conjuror," and I bless the fate
which allowed me to grow up in ignorance of Christmas Parties.



XXXVII

NEW YEAR'S DAY


On the 1st of January 1882, Matthew Arnold wrote to his sister: "I
think the beginning of a New Year very animating--it is so visible an
occasion for breaking off bad habits and carrying into effect good
resolutions." This was splendid in a man who had just entered his
sixtieth year, and we all should like to share the sentiment; but it
is not always easy to feel "animated," even by the most significant
anniversaries. Sometimes they only depress; and the effect which they
produce depends so very largely on the physical condition in which
they find us. Suppose, for instance, that one is a fox-hunter, in the
prime of life and the pride of health, with a good string of horses
which have been eating their heads off during a prolonged frost. As
one wakes on New Year's morning, one hears a delicious dripping from
the roof, and one's servant, coming in with tea and letters, announces
a rapid thaw. Then "the beginning of a New Year" is "animating"
enough; and, while we wash and shave, we pledge ourselves, like
Matthew Arnold, to "break off bad habits and carry into effect good
resolutions." We remember with shame that we missed three capital days'
hunting last November because we let our friends seduce us to their
shooting-parties; and we resolve this year to make up for lost time, to
redeem wasted opportunities, and not willingly to lose a day between
this and Christmas. Such resolutions are truly "animating"; but we
cannot all be young or healthy or fox-hunters, and then the anniversary
takes a different colour. Perhaps one is cowering over one's
study-fire, with "an air of romance struggling through the commonplace
effect of a swelled face" (like Miss Hucklebuckle in "The Owlet"),
or mumbling the minced remains of our Christmas turkey as painfully
as Father Diggory in "Ivanhoe," who was "so severely afflicted by
toothache that he could only eat on one side of his face." Not for us,
in such circumstances, are "animating" visions of wide pastures, and
negotiable fences, and too-fresh hunters pulling one's arms off, and
the chime of the "dappled darlings down the roaring blast." Rather
does our New Year's fancy lightly turn to thoughts of dentistry and
doctoring. We ask ourselves whether the time has not come when art must
replace what nature has withdrawn; and, if we form a resolution, it is
nothing more heroic than that we will henceforward wear goloshes in
damp weather and a quilted overcoat in frost.

But, it may be urged, Matthew Arnold was not a fox-hunter (at least not
after his Oxford days), and yet he contrived to feel "animated" by New
Year's Day. In his case animation was connected with books.

"I am glad," he wrote, "to find that in the past year I have at least
accomplished more than usual in the way of reading the books which at
the beginning of the year I put down to be read. I always do this, and
I do not expect to read all I put down, but sometimes I fall much too
short of what I proposed, and this year things have been a good deal
better. The importance of reading, not slight stuff to get through the
time but the best that has been written, forces itself upon me more
and more every year I live. It is living in good company, the best
company, and people are generally quite keen enough, or too keen, about
doing that; yet they will not do it in the simplest and most innocent
manner by reading. If I live to be eighty, I shall probably be the only
person left in England who reads anything but newspapers and scientific
publications."

We have not quite come to that yet, but we are not far off it, and I
should fear that the number of even educated people who occupy New
Year's Day in laying down a course of serious study for the next twelve
months is lamentably small. But Hunting and Health and Books are not
the only topics for New Year's meditation. There is also Money, which
not seldom obtrudes itself with a disagreeable urgency. We cast our eye
over that little parchment-bound volume which only "Fortune's favoured
sons, not we" can regard with any complacency; and we observe, not for
the first time, that we have been spending a good deal more than we
ought to spend, and are not far from the perilous edge of an overdrawn
account. This is "animating" indeed, but only as a sudden stab of
neuralgia is animating; and we immediately begin to consider methods of
relief. But where are our retrenchments to begin? That is always the
difficulty. I remember that after the Cattle Plague of 1865, by which
he had been a principal sufferer, the first Lord Tollemache was very
full of fiscal reforms. "I ought to get rid of half my servants; but
they are excellent people, and it would be very wrong to cause them
inconvenience. Horses, too--I really have no right to keep a stud.
But nothing would ever induce me to sell a horse, and it seems rather
heartless to kill old friends. Then, again, about houses--I ought
to leave St. James's Square, and take a house in Brompton. But the
Brompton houses are so small that they really would not accommodate
my family, and it would not be right to turn the boys into lodgings."
And so on and so forth, with a magnificent list of contemplated
reforms, which went unfulfilled till things had righted themselves
and retrenchment was no longer necessary. In the same spirit, though
on a very different scale, the inhabitants of Stuccovia contemplate
the financial future which lies ahead of New Year's Day. We must
economize--that is plain enough. But how are we to begin?

I must have a new frock-coat very soon, and shall want at least three
tweed suits before the autumn. Economy bids me desert Savile Row and
try Aaronson in New Oxford Street. "Budge," says the Fiend. "Budge
not," replies Self-Respect. Aaronson is remarkable for a fit "that
never was on sea or land," and, though his garments are undeniably
cheap, they are also nasty, and are worn out before they are paid
for. Or perhaps our conscience pricks us most severely in the matter
of wine. We will buy no more Pommery and Greno at 98s. a dozen, but
will slake our modest thirst with a dry Sillery at 31s. But, after
all, health is the first consideration in life, and, unfortunately,
these cheap wines never agree with us. The doctor holds them directly
responsible for our last attack of eczema or neuritis, and says
impressively, "Drink good wine, or none at all--bad wine is poison
to you." _Drink none at all._ That is very "animating," but somehow
our enfeebled will is unequal to the required resolve; we hold
spirit-drinking in detestation; and so, after all, we are driven back
to our Pommery. "Surely," as Lamb said, "there must be some other world
in which our unconquerable purpose" of retrenchment shall be realized.

Travel, again. Many people spend too much in travel. Can we curtail
in that direction? For my own part, I am a Londoner, and am content
with life as it is afforded by this wonderful world miscalled a city.
But the Family has claims. Some of them suffer from "Liver," and whoso
knows what it is to dwell with liverish patients will not lightly run
the risk of keeping them from Carlsbad. Others can only breathe on
high Alps, and others, again, require the sunshine of the Riviera or
the warmth of the Italian Lakes. So all the ways of retrenchment seem
barred. Clothes and wine and travel must cost as much as they cost
last year, and the only way of escape seems to lie in the steps of
the Prince Consort, who, when Parliament reduced his income from the
proposed fifty thousand a year to thirty, patiently observed that he
should have to give less in subscriptions.

To the Spendthrift, or even to the more modest practitioner who
merely lives up to his income, the New Year, as we have seen, offers
few opportunities for resolutions of reform; but I fancy that the
Skinflint, and his cousin the Screw, find it full of suggestive
possibilities. I remember a gentleman of "griping and penurious
tendencies" (the phrase is Mr. Gladstone's) telling me when I was a
schoolboy that he had resolved to spend nothing with his tailor in
the year then dawning. He announced it with the air befitting a great
self-surrender, but I thought, as I looked at his clothes, that he was
really only continuing the well-established practice of a lifetime. The
Screw, of course, is of no one place or age; and here is an excellent
citation from the Diary of a Screw--Mr. Thomas Turner--who flourished
in Sussex in the eighteenth century: "This being New Year's Day, myself
and wife at church in the morning. Collection. My wife gave 6d. But,
they not asking me, I gave nothing. Oh! may we increase in faith and
good works, and maintain the good intentions we have this day taken
up." Those who have tried it say that hoarding is the purest of human
pleasures; and I dare say that by the end of the year good Mr. Turner's
banking-book was a phantom of delight.

All these reflections, and others like unto them, came whirling on
my mind this New Year's Eve; and, just as I was beginning to reduce
them to form and figure, the shrill ting-ting of the church-bell
pierced the silence of the night. _Watch-Night._ Those who are not the
friends of the English Church denounce her as hidebound, immovable,
and unreceptive. Here is the--or an--answer to the charge. She has
borrowed, originally, from the Swedenborgians and more immediately
from the Wesleyans, a religious observance which, though unrecognized
in Prayer-book or Kalendar, now divides with the Harvest Festival the
honour of being the most popular service in the Church of England.

"Among the promptings of what may be called, in the truest sense of
the term, Natural Religion, none surely is more instructive than that
which leads men to observe with peculiar solemnity the entrance upon
a new year of life. It is, if nothing else, the making a step in the
dark. It is the entrance upon a new epoch in existence, of which the
manifold "changes and chances" prevent our forecasting the issue. True,
the line of demarcation is purely arbitrary; yet there are few, even of
the most thoughtless, who can set foot across the line which separates
one year from another without feeling in some degree the significance
of the act. It would seem that this passing season of thoughtfulness
was one of those opportunities which no form of religion could afford
to miss. And yet, for a long time, that which may perhaps without
offence be termed Ecclesiasticism sternly refused to recognize this
occasion. The line was rigidly drawn between the Civil New Year and the
Church's New Year. We were told that Advent was the beginning of our
Sacred Year, and that the evening before the First Sunday in Advent was
the time for those serious thoughts and good resolutions which rightly
accompany a New Year."

Yes-so we were taught; and there was a great deal to be said,
ecclesiastically, for the teaching. Only, unfortunately, no one
believed it. We went to bed quite unmoved on Saturday evening, December
1, 1906. No era seemed to have closed for us, no era to have opened:
there was nothing to remember, nothing to anticipate; nothing to
repent and nothing to resolve. It is otherwise to-night.[11] The
"church-going bell" does not tingle in vain. Old men and maidens, young
men and children are crowding in. I involve myself in an ulster and a
comforter, and join the pilgrim-throng.

[11] December 31, 1906.



XXXVIII

PETS


My suggestive friend has taken to postcards, and his style, never
diffuse, has become as curt as that of Mr. Alfred Jingle. "Why not
Pets?" he writes; and the suggestion gives pause.

When Mrs. Topham-Sawyer accepted the invitation to the Little Dinner at
Timmins's, she concluded her letter to Rosa Timmins: "With a hundred
kisses to your dear little _pet_." She said _pet_, we are told,
"because she did not know whether Rosa's child was a girl or a boy; and
Mrs. Timmins was very much pleased with the kind and gracious nature of
the reply to her invitation." My mind misgave me that my friend might
be using the word _pet_ in the same sense as Mrs. Topham-Sawyer, and
inviting me to a discussion of the Crêche or the Nursery. As my views
of childhood are formed on those of Herod and Solomon, I hastened to
decline so unsuitable a task, whereupon my friend, for all reply, sent
me the following excerpt from an evening paper:--

"The Westminster Cat Exhibition, which will be held in the Royal
Horticultural Society's Hall, Vincent Square, Westminster, on January
10 and 11, will afford an opportunity to all who love the domestic cat
to aid in improving its lot through the agency of Our Dumb Friends'
League, which it is desired to benefit, not only by their presence
on the occasion, but by contributing suitable specimens to the 'Gift
Class' which will form part of the show, and be offered for sale in aid
of the League during the time the exhibition is open. Children will
be invited, for the first time, to enter into the competition with
their pets for suitable prizes, and thus, it is hoped, increase their
interest in and affection for domestic pets."

Here I felt myself on more familiar ground. For I, too, have been
young. I have trafficked in squirrels and guinea-pigs, have invested
my all in an Angora rabbit, and have undergone discipline for bringing
a dormouse into school. These are, indeed, among the childish things
which I put away when I became a Fifth Form boy; but their memory
is sweet--sweeter, indeed, than was their actual presence. For the
Cat, with which my friend seems chiefly to concern himself, I have
never felt, or even professed, any warm regard. I leave her to Dick
Whittington and Shakespeare, who did so much to popularize her; to Gray
and Matthew Arnold and "C. S. C.," who have drawn her more sinister
traits. Gray remarks, with reference to "the pensive Selima" and her
hopeless struggles in the tub of goldfish, that "a favourite has no
friend." Archbishop Benson rendered the line

  "Delicias dominæ cetera turba fugit."

I join the unfriendly throng, and pass to other themes.

The pet-keeping instinct, strong in infancy but suppressed by the iron
traditions of the Public School, not seldom reasserts itself in the
freedom of later life. "The Pets of History" would be a worthy theme
for a Romanes Lecture at Oxford; and, if the purview were expanded
so as to include the Pets of Literature, it would be a fit subject
for the brilliant pen of Mr. Frederic Harrison. We might conveniently
adopt a Wordsworthian classification, such as "Pets belonging to the
period of Childhood," "Juvenile Pets," "Pets and the Affections,"
"Pets of the Fancy," and "Pets of the Imagination." In the last-named
class a prominent place would be assigned to Heavenly Una's milk-white
lamb and to Mary's snowy-fleeced follower. "Pets of the Fancy" has, I
must confess, something of a pugilistic sound, but it might fairly be
held to include the tame eagle which Louis Napoleon, when resident in
Carlton Gardens, used to practise in the basement for the part which it
was to play in his descent on Boulogne. Under "Pets and the Affections"
we should recall Chaucer's "Prioresse"--

  "Of smale houndes hadde sche, that sche fedde
  With rostud fleissh, and mylk, and wastel bredde."

The Pets of Tradition would begin with St. John's tame partridge, and
would include an account of St. Francis preaching to the birds. The
Pets of History would no doubt involve some reference to the Bruce's
spider and Sir Isaac Newton's Diamond and the Duc D'Enghien's spaniel;
and, if so belittling a title as "pet" may be applied to so majestic an
animal as the horse, we should trace a long line of equine celebrities
from Bucephalus and Sorrel to Marengo and Copenhagen. The Pets of
Literature are, of course, a boundless host--chargers like White
Surrey, and coursers like Roland; hounds like Keeldar and falcons like
Cheviot--to say nothing of Mrs. Merdle's parrot, or Miss Tox's canary,
or Mr. Kipling's appalling monkey, who murdered his owner's wife.

Wordsworth alone is responsible for a whole menagerie of pets--for a
White Doe, for a greyhound called Dart, for "Prince," "Swallow," and
"Little Music," let alone the anonymous dog who was lost with his
master on Helvellyn. The gentle Cowper had his disgusting hares and
his murderous spaniel Beau. Byron's only friend was a Newfoundland dog
called Boatswain. The horses of fiction are a splendid stud. Ruksh
leads the procession in poetry, and Rosinante in prose. A true lover
of Scott can enumerate twenty different horses, of strongly marked
individuality and appropriate names. Whoso knows not Widderin and his
gallop from the bushrangers has yet to read one of the most thrilling
scenes in fiction; and I think that to this imaginary stud may be
fairly added the Arabian mare which Lord Beaconsfield thought he
had ridden for thirty miles across country in the strongly-enclosed
neighbourhood of Southend.

Among the Pets of Real Life an honourable place belongs to Sir Walter
Scott's deerhounds--were not their names Bran and Maida?--and to Lord
Shaftesbury's donkey Coster. Loved in life and honoured in death were
Matthew Arnold's dachshunds Geist and Max, his retriever Rover, his
cat Atossa, and, above all, his canary Matthias, commemorated in one
of the most beautiful of elegiac poems. With Bismarck--not, one would
have thought, a natural lover of pets--is historically associated a
Boarhound, or "Great Dane." Lord Beaconsfield characteristically loved
a peacock. The evening of Mr. Gladstone's days was cheered by the
companionship of a small black Pomeranian. Sir Henry Hawkins was not
better known to the criminal classes than his fox-terrier Jack; and all
who passed Lady Burdett-Coutts's house saw hanging in the dining-room
window a china cockatoo-the image or simulacrum of a departed bird
which lived to a prodigious age and used to ask the most inconvenient
questions.

The greatest patroness of Pets in Real Life was Queen Victoria, and her
books have secured for these favourites a permanent place. Noble, the
collie, will be remembered as long as "Leaves from the Journal of our
Life in the Highlands" is read; and I can myself recall the excitement
which fluttered the highest circles when a black terrier, called, I
think, Sharp, killed a rat which had climbed up the ivy into the window
of the Queen's sitting-room at Windsor.

There are certain pets, or families of pets, which stand on their own
traditional dignity rather than on associations with individuals. All
Cheshire knows the Mastiffs of Lyme, tall as donkeys and peaceable as
sheep. The Clumber Spaniels and the Gordon Setters are at least as
famous as the dukes who own them. Perhaps the most fascinating pet in
the canine world is associated with the great victory of Blenheim; and
the Willoughby Pug preserves from oblivion a name which has been merged
in the Earldom of Ancaster.

In the days of my youth one was constantly hearing--and especially in
the Whiggish circles where I was reared--two names which may easily
puzzle posterior critics. These were "Bear Ellis" and "Poodle Byng."
They were pre-eminently unsentimental persons. "Bear" Ellis (1781-1863)
was so called because he was Chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company, and
"Poodle" Byng (1784-1871) because his hair, while yet he boasted such
an appendage, had been crisply curled. But the Dryasdust of the future,
pondering over the social and political records of Queen Victoria's
earlier reign, will undoubtedly connect these prefixes with pet-keeping
tendencies, and will praise the humane influence of an animal-loving
Court which induced hardened men of the world to join the ranks of "Our
Dumb Friends' League."



XXXIX

PURPLE AND FINE LINEN


Dean _versus_ Bishop--it is an antinomy as old as the history of
Cathedral institutions. The Dean, with a good house and a thousand
a year, has always murmured against the Bishop, with a better house
and five times that income; and, as he is generally master of his
Cathedral, he has before now contrived to make his murmurs sensible
as well as audible. Of late years these spiritual strifes (which
beautifully link the post-Reformation to the pre-Reformation Church)
have been voted disedifying, and, if they continue to exist, they
operate surreptitiously and out of public view. But, though Deans have
ceased from clamouring, they retain their right to criticize, and the
Dean of Norwich has just been exercising that right with a good deal of
vivacity. I cull the following extract from a secular newspaper:--

SIMPLE LIFE FOR BISHOPS

"Dean Lefroy at a meeting of the General Diocesan Committee to make
arrangements for the Church Congress at Great Yarmouth in October ...
commented on the inordinate expense of founding bishoprics, and said
that episcopacy in Canterbury Province cost £142,000 per annum, and
in York £44,000. He believed that £2000 a year and a residence would
be welcome to most bishops. The upkeep of large palaces swallowed
up the bishops' incomes. Preserve the palaces, but give bishops the
opportunity of living more simply. The surplus might go to poor and
starving clergy."

One can picture the tempered gratitude with which the Bishops, and the
ladies of the Episcopal household, and the Domestic Chaplains--those
"amiable young gentlemen who make themselves agreeable in the
drawing-rooms of the Mitre"--must regard this obliging invitation
to "live more simply." There is a good deal of human nature even in
apostolic bosoms, and a man who has enjoyed an official income of
£5000 a year does not as a rule regard with enthusiasm a reduction to
£2000. The Bishop in "Little Dorrit," when the guests at Mr. Merdle's
banquet were extolling their host's opulence, "tried to look as if
he was rather poor himself"; and his successors at the present day
take great pains to assure the public that they are not overpaid.
The _locus classicus_ on the subject of episcopal incomes is to be
found in the Rev. Hubert Handley's book called "The Fatal Opulence
of Bishops," and was originally supplied by the artless candour of
the present Bishop of London, who in the year 1893 published in the
_Oxford House Chronicle_ a statistical statement by an unnamed Bishop.
This prelate had only a beggarly income of £4200, and must therefore
be the occupant of one of those comparatively cheap and humble Sees
which the exigencies of the Church have lately called into being. Out
of this pittance he had to pay £1950 for a removal, furniture, and
repairs to the episcopal residence. This, to the lay mind, seems a good
deal. Hospitality he sets down as costing £2000 a year; but somehow one
feels as if one could give luncheon to the country clergy, and satisfy
even the craving appetites of ordinands, at a less cost. "Stables,"
says the good Bishop, "are almost a necessity, and in some respects
a saving;" but here the haughty disregard of details makes criticism
difficult. "Robes, £100." This item is plain enough and absurd enough.
The perverted ingenuity of fallen man has never devised a costume
more hideous or less expressive than the episcopal "magpie"; and I am
confident that Mrs. Bishop's maid could have stitched together the
necessary amounts of lawn and black satin at a less cost than £100. But
this exactly illustrates the plan on which these episcopal incomes are
always defended by their apologists. We are told precisely what the
Bishop expends on each item of charge. But we are not told, and are
quite unable to divine, why each of those items should cost so much,
or why some of them should ever be incurred. The Bishop of London (then
Mr. Winnington-Ingram) thus summed up the statement of his episcopal
friend in the background: "It amounts to this--a bishop's income is
a trust-fund for the diocese which head ministers. It would make no
difference to him personally if three-quarters of it were taken away,
so long as three-quarters of his liabilities were taken away too; and
it is quite arguable that this would be a better arrangement."

Certainly it is "quite arguable"; but is it equally certain that the
change "would make no difference to the Bishop personally"? I doubt it.
Married men, men with large families and plenty of servants, naturally
prefer large houses to small, provided that there is an income to
maintain them. Men who enjoy the comforts and prettinesses of life
prefer an income which enables them to repair and furnish and beautify
their houses to an income which involves faded wallpaper and battered
paint. Men of hospitable instincts are happier in a system which
enables them to spend £2000 a year on entertaining than they would be
if they were compelled to think twice of the butcher's bill and thrice
of the wine-merchant's. Men who like horses--and few Englishmen do
not--naturally incline to regard "stables as a necessity," and even
as "in some respects"--what respects?--"a saving." If their income
were reduced to the figure suggested by Dean Lefroy, they would find
themselves under the bitter constraint (as Milton calls it) of doing
without a "necessity," and must even forgo an outlay which is "in some
respects a saving."

Again, the anonymous Bishop returned his outlay in subscriptions at a
fraction over £400 a year. I do not presume to say whether this is much
or little out of an income of £4000. At any rate it is a Tithe, and
that is a respectable proportion. But, supposing that our Bishop is a
man of generous disposition, who loves to relieve distress and feels
impelled to give a lift to every good cause which asks his aid, he is
of necessity a happier man while he draws £4000 a year than he would be
if cut down by reforming Deans to £2000.

I venture, then, with immense deference to that admirable divine who
is now Bishop of London, to dissent emphatically from his judgment,
recorded in 1895, that the diminution of episcopal incomes, if
accompanied by a corresponding diminution of episcopal charges, would
"make no difference to the Bishop personally." I conceive that it would
make a great deal of difference, and that, though spiritually salutary,
it would be, as regards temporal concerns, one of those experiments
which one would rather try on one's neighbour than on oneself.

An ingenious clergyman who shared Dean Lefroy's and Mr. Handley's views
on episcopal incomes, and had an inconvenient love of statistics,
made a study at the Probate Office of the personalty left by English
Bishops who died between 1855 and 1885. The average was £54,000, and
the total personalty something more than two millions sterling. "This
was exclusive of any real estate they may have possessed, and exclusive
of any sums invested in policies of life-assurance or otherwise settled
for the benefit of their families." Myself no lover of statistics or
of the extraordinarily ill-ventilated Will-room at Somerset House,
I am unable to say how far the episcopal accumulations of the last
twenty years may have affected the total and the average. It is only
fair to remember that several of the Bishops who died between 1855 and
1885 dated from the happy days before the Ecclesiastical Commission
curtailed episcopal incomes, and may have had ten, or fifteen, or
twenty thousand a year. On the other hand, it is to be borne in mind
that, since Sir William Harcourt's Budget, the habit of "dodging the
death-duties" has enormously increased, and has made it difficult to
know what a testator, episcopal or other, really possessed. But it
is scarcely possible to doubt that, if the public were permitted to
examine all the episcopal pass-books, we should find that, in spite
of the exactions of upholsterers and furniture-removers, butchers and
bakers, robe-makers and horse-dealers, the pecuniary lot of an English
Bishop is, to borrow a phrase of Miss Edgeworth's, "vastly put-up-able
with."

Just after Mr. Bright had been admitted to the Cabinet, and when the
more timid and more plausible members of his party hoped that he
would begin to curb his adventurous tongue, he attended a banquet
of the Fishmongers' Company at which the Archbishops and Bishops
were entertained. The Archbishop of York (Dr. Thomson) said in an
after-dinner speech that the Bishops were the most liberal element
in the House of Lords, seeing that they were the only peers created
for life. This statement Mr. Bright, speaking later in the evening,
characterized as an excess of hilarity; "though," he added, "it is
possible that, with a Bishop's income, I might have been as merry
as any of them, with an inexhaustible source of rejoicing in the
generosity, if not in the credulity, of my countrymen." To this
outrageous sally the assembled prelates could, of course, only reply
by looking as dignified (and as poor) as they could; and no doubt the
general opinion of the Episcopal Bench is that they are an overworked
and ill-remunerated set of men.

Yet there have been Apostles, and successors of the Apostles, who
worked quite as hard and were paid considerably less, and yet succeeded
in winning and retaining the affectionate reverence of their own and of
succeeding generations. Bishop Wilson of Sodor and Man lived, we are
told, on an income which "did not exceed £300 a year." By far the most
dignified ecclesiastic with whom I was ever brought in contact--a true
"Prince of the Church" if ever there was one--was Cardinal Manning, and
his official income was bounded by a figure which even the reforming
spirit of Dean Lefroy would reject as miserably insufficient. "It is
pleasant," wrote Sydney Smith, "to loll and roll and accumulate--to
be a purple-and-fine-linen man, and to be called by some of those
nicknames which frail and ephemeral beings are so fond of heaping upon
each other,--but the best thing of all is to live like honest men, and
to add something to the cause of liberality, justice, and truth." It
is no longer easy for a Bishop to "loll and roll"--the bicycle and the
motor-car are enemies to tranquil ease--and, if Dean Lefroy's precept
and Bishop Gore's example are heeded, he will find it equally difficult
to "accumulate."



XL

PRELACY AND PALACES


That delicious prelate whom I have already quoted, but whose name
and See are unkindly withheld from us by the Bishop of London, thus
justified his expenditure on hospitality: "_Palace_, I am told, is from
_Palatium_, 'the open house,' and there is almost daily entertainment
of clergy and laity from a distance." I will not presume to question
the episcopal etymology; for, whether it be sound or unsound, the
practical result is equally good. We have apostolic authority for
holding that Bishops should be given to hospitality, and it is
satisfactory to know that the travel-worn clergy and laity of the
anonymous diocese are not sent empty away. But would not the boiled
beef and rice pudding be equally acceptable and equally sustaining
if eaten in some apartment less majestic than the banqueting-hall of
a Palace? Would not the Ecclesiastical Commissioners be doing a good
stroke of business for the Church if they sold every Episcopal Palace
in England and provided the evicted Bishops with moderate-sized and
commodious houses?

These are questions which often present themselves to the lay mind,
and the answer usually returned to them involves some very circuitous
reasoning. The Bishops, say their henchmen, must have large incomes
because they have to live in Palaces; and they must live in Palaces--I
hardly know why, but apparently because they have large incomes. Such
reasoning does not always convince the reformer's mind, though it is
repeated in each succeeding generation with apparent confidence in
its validity. After all, there is nothing very revolutionary in the
suggestion that Episcopal palaces should be, in the strictest sense
of the word, confiscated. Sixty-four years ago Dr. Hook, who was not
exactly an iconoclast, wrote thus to his friend Samuel Wilberforce:
"I really do not see how the Church can fairly ask the State to give
it money for the purpose of giving a Church education, when the money
is to be supplied by Dissenters and infidels and all classes of the
people, who, according to the principles of the Constitution, have a
right to control the expenditure. The State can only, if consistent,
give an infidel education; it cannot employ public money to give
a Church education, because of the Dissenters; nor a Protestant
education, because of the Papists; and have not Jews, Turks, and
infidels as much a right as heretics to demand that the education
should not be Christian?" This strikes me as very wholesome doctrine,
and, though enounced in 1843, necessary for these times. And, when he
turns to ways and means, Dr. Hook is equally explicit: "If we are to
educate the people in Church principles, the education must be out of
Church funds. We want not proud Lords, haughty Spiritual Peers, to be
our Bishops. Offer four thousand out of their five thousand a year for
the education of the people. Let Farnham Castle and Winchester House
and Ripon Palace be sold, and we shall have funds to establish other
Bishoprics.... You see I am almost a Radical, for I do not see why our
Bishops should not become as poor as Ambrose or Augustine, that they
may make the people really rich." It is not surprising that Samuel
Wilberforce, who had already climbed up several rungs of the ladder of
promotion, and as he himself tells us, "had often talked" of further
elevation, met Dr. Hook's suggestions with solemn repudiation. "I _do_
think that we want Spiritual Peers." "I see no reason why the Bishops'
Palaces should be sold, which would not apply equally to the halls of
our squires and the palaces of our princes." "To impoverish our Bishops
and sell their Palaces would only be the hopeless career of revolution."

The real reason for selling the Episcopal Palaces is that, in plain
terms, they are too big and too costly for their present uses. They
afford a plausible excuse for paying the Bishops more highly than they
ought to be paid; and yet the Bishops turn round and say that even the
comfortable incomes which the Ecclesiastical Commission has assigned
them are unequal to the burden of maintaining the Palaces. The late
Bishop Thorold, who was both a wealthy and a liberal man, thus bemoaned
his hard fate in having to live at Farnham Castle: "It will give some
idea of what the furnishing of this house from top to bottom meant if
I mention that the stairs, with the felt beneath, took just a mile and
100 yards of carpet, with 260 brass stair-rods; and that, independently
of the carpet in the great hall, the carpets used elsewhere absorbed
1414 yards--a good deal over three-quarters of a mile. As to the entire
amount of roof, which in an old house requires constant watching,
independently of other parts of the building, it is found to be, on
measurement, 32,000 superficial feet, or one acre and one-fifth." What
is true of Farnham is true, _mutatis mutandis_, of Bishopthorpe with
its hundred rooms, and Auckland Castle with its park, and Rose Castle
with its woodlands, and Lambeth with its tower and guard-room and
galleries and gardens. Even the smaller Palaces, such as the "Moated
Grange" of Wells, are not maintained for nothing. "My income goes in
pelargoniums," growled Bishop Stubbs, as he surveyed the conservatories
of Cuddesdon. "It takes ten chaps to keep this place in order,"
ejaculated a younger prelate as he skipped across his tennis-ground.

Of course the root of the mischief is that these Palaces were built
and enlarged in the days when each See had its own income, and when
the incomes of such Sees as Durham and Winchester ran to twenty or
thirty thousand a year. The poor Sees--and some were very poor--had
Palaces proportioned to their incomes, and very unpalatial they were.
"But now," as Bertie Stanhope said to the Bishop of Barchester at Mrs.
Proudie's evening party, "they've cut them all down to pretty nearly
the same figure," and such buildings as suitably accommodated the
princely retinues of Archbishop Harcourt (who kept one valet on purpose
to dress his wigs) and Bishop Sumner (who never went from Farnham
Castle to the Parish Church except in a coach-and-four) are "a world
too wide for the shrunk shanks" of their present occupants.

In the Palace of Ely there is a magnificent gallery, which once was
the scene of a memorable entertainment. When Bishop Sparke secured
a Residentiary Canonry of Ely for his eldest son, the event was so
completely in the ordinary course of things that it passed without
special notice. But, when he planted his second son in a second
Canonry, he was, and rightly, so elated by the achievement that he
entertained the whole county of Cambridge at a ball in his gallery. But
in those days Ely was worth £11,000 a year, and we are not likely to
see a similar festival. Until recent years the Archbishop of Canterbury
had a suburban retreat from the cares of Lambeth, at Addington, near
Croydon, where one of the ugliest mansions in Christendom stood in one
of the prettiest parks. Archbishop Temple, who was a genuine reformer,
determined to get rid of this second Palace and take a modest house
near his Cathedral. When he asked the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to
sanction this arrangement, they demurred. "Do you think," they asked,
"that your successors will wish to live at Canterbury?" "No, _I don't_"
replied the Archbishop, with indescribable emphasis, "_and so I'm
determined they shall_."

If every Bishop who is saddled with an inconveniently large house were
in earnest about getting rid of it, the Ecclesiastical Commission could
soon help him out of his difficulty. Palaces of no architectural or
historical interest could be thrown into the market, and follow the
fate of Riseholme, once the abode of the Bishops of Lincoln. Those
Palaces which are interesting or beautiful, or in any special sense
heirlooms of the Church, could be converted into Diocesan Colleges,
Training Colleges, Homes for Invalid Clergymen, or Houses of Rest for
such as are overworked and broken down. By this arrangement the Church
would be no loser, and the Bishops, according to their own showing,
would be greatly the gainers. £5000 a year, or even a beggarly four,
will go a long way in a villa at Edgbaston or a red-brick house in
Kennington Park; and, as the Bishops will no longer have Palaces to
maintain, they will no doubt gladly accept still further reductions at
the hands of reformers like Dean Lefroy.

It would be a sad pity if these contemplated reductions closed the
_Palatium_ or "open house" against the hungry flock; but, if they only
check the more mundane proclivities of Prelacy, no harm will be done.
One of the most spendidly hospitable prelates who ever adorned the
Bench was Archbishop Thomson of York, and this is Bishop Wilberforce's
comment on what he saw and heard under the Archiepiscopal roof: "Dinner
at Archbishop of York's. A good many Bishops, both of England and
Ireland, and not one word said which _implied_ we were apostles."
Perhaps it will be easier to keep that fact in remembrance, when to
apostolic succession is added the grace of apostolic poverty.



XLI

HORRORS


The subject is suggested to me by the notice-board outside the Court
Theatre. There I learn that "The Campden Wonder" has run its course. A
"horror" of the highest excellence has been on view for four weeks; and
I, who might have revelled in it, have made, _per viltate_, the Great
Refusal. I leave the italicized quality untranslated, because I am not
quite sure of the English equivalent which would exactly suit my case.
"Vileness" is a little crude. "Cowardice" is ignominious. "Poorness of
Spirit "is an Evangelical virtue. "Deficiency of Enterprise" and "an
impaired nervous system" would, at the best, be paraphrases rather than
translations. On the whole, I think the nearest approximation to the
facts of my case is to say that my refusal to profit by Mr. Masefield's
Horror was due to Decadence. _Fuimus._ There has been a period when
such a tale as the "Campden Wonder" would have attracted me with an
irresistible fascination and gripped me with a grasp of iron. But I am
not the man I was; and I am beginning to share the apprehensions of the
aged lady who told her doctor that she feared she was breaking up, for
she could no longer relish her Murders.

Youth, and early youth, is indeed the Golden Age of Horrors. To a
well-constituted child battle and murder and sudden death appeal far
more powerfully than any smooth tale of love. We snatch a fearful joy
from the lurid conversation of servants and neighbours. We gaze, with
a kind of panic-stricken rapture, at the stain on the floor which
marks the place where old Mr. Yellowboy was murdered for his money;
and run very fast, though with a backward gaze, past the tree on which
young Rantipole hanged himself on being cut off with a shilling by his
uncle Mr. Wormwood Scrubbs. In some privileged families the children
are not left to depend on circumjacent gossip, but are dogmatically
instructed in hereditary horrors. This happy lot was mine. My father's
uncle had been murdered by his valet; and from a very tender age I
could have pointed out the house where the murder took place--it went
cheap for a good many years afterwards,--and could have described the
murderer stripping himself naked before he performed the horrid act,
and the bath of blood in which the victim was found, and the devices
employed to create an impression of suicide instead of murder. I could
have repeated the magnificent peroration in which the murderer's
advocate exhorted the jury to spare his client's life (and which,
forty years later, was boldly plagiarized by Mr. Montagu Williams in
defending Dr. Lamson). The murderer, Benjamin Francis Courvoisier by
name, long occupied a conspicuous place in Madame Tussaud's admirable
collection. I can distinctly recall a kind of social eminence among
my schoolfellows which was conferred by the fact that I had this
relationship with the Chamber of Horrors; and I was conscious of a
painful descent when Courvoisier lapsed out of date and was boiled
down into Mr. Cobden or Cardinal Wiseman or some other more recent
celebrity. Then, again, all literature was full of Horrors; and, though
we should have been deprived of jam at tea if we had been caught
reading a Murder Trial in the _Daily Telegraph_, we were encouraged to
drink our fill of Shakespeare and Scott and Dickens and other great
masters of the Horrible. From De Quincey we learned that Murder may
be regarded as a Fine Art, and from an anonymous poet we acquired the
immortal verse which narrates the latter end of Mr. William Weare.
Shakespeare, as his French critics often remind us, reeks of blood and
slaughter; the word "Murder" and its derivatives occupy two columns of
Mrs. Cowden Clarke's closely-printed pages. Scott's absolute mastery
over his art is nowhere more strikingly exemplified than in his use of
murderous mechanisms. "The Heart of Midlothian" begins, continues, and
ends with murder. "Rob Roy" contains a murder-scene of lurid beauty.
The murderous attack on the bridegroom in "The Bride of Lammermoor"
is a haunting horror. Not all the Dryasdusts in England and Germany
combined will ever displace the tradition of Amy Robsart and the
concealed trap-door. Front-de-Boeuf's dying agony is to this hour
a glimpse of hell. Greatest of the great in humour, Dickens fell not
far behind the greatest when he turned his hand to Horrors. One sheds
few tears for Mr. Tulkinghorn, and we consign Jonas Chuzzlewit to the
gallows without a pang. But is there in fiction a more thrilling scene
than the arrest of the murderer on the moonlit tower-stair in "Barnaby
Rudge," or the grim escape of Sikes from the vengeance of the mob in
"Oliver Twist"? For deliberate, minute, and elaborated horror commend
me to the scene at the limekiln on the marshes where Pip awaits his
horrible fate at the hands of the crazy savage Dolge Orlick.

But it was not only the great masters of fiction who supplied us with
our luxuries of horror. The picture of the young man who had murdered
his brother, hanging on a gibbet in Blackgrove Wood, is painted with
a gruesome fidelity of detail which places Mrs. Sherwood high among
literary artists; and the incidents connected with the death of Old
Prue would entitle Mrs. Beecher Stowe to claim kinship with Zola.

It is curious to reflect that Miss Braddon, the most cheerful and
wholesome-minded of all living novelists, first won her fame by
imagining the murderous possibilities of a well, and established it
by that unrivalled mystification which confounds the murderer and
the murdered in "Henry Dunbar." Nor will the younger generation of
authoresses consent to be left behind in the race of Horrors. In old
days we were well satisfied if we duly worked up to our predestined
murder just before the end of the third volume. To-day Lady Ridley
gives us, in the first chapter of "A Daughter of Jael," one of the most
delicate and suggestive pieces of murder-writing which I, a confirmed
lover of the horrible, can call to mind.

To a soul early saturated with literary horrors the experience of life
is a curious translation of fancy into fact. Incidents which have
hitherto appeared visionary and imaginative now take the character
of substantial reality. We discover that horrors are not confined
to books or to a picturesque past, but are going on all round us;
and the discovery is fraught with an uneasy joy. When I recall the
illusions of my infancy and the facts which displaced them, I feel
that I fall miserably below the ideal of childhood presented in the
famous "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality." My "daily travel
further from the East" is marked by memories of dreadful deeds, and
the "vision splendid" which attends me on my way is a vivid succession
of peculiarly startling murders. In the dawn of consciousness these
visions have "something of celestial light" about them--they are
spiritual, impalpable, ideal. At length the youth perceives them die
away, "and melt into the light of common day"--very common day indeed,
the day of the Old Bailey and the _Police News_. By a curious chain
of coincidences, I was early made acquainted with the history of
that unfriendly Friend John Tawell, who murdered his sweetheart with
prussic acid, and was the first criminal to be arrested by means of
the electric telegraph. Heroic was the defence set up by Sir Fitzroy
Kelly, who tried to prove that an inordinate love of eating apples,
pips and all, accounted for the amount of prussic acid found in the
victim's body. Kelly lived to be Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, but
the professional nickname of "Apple-pip Kelly" stuck to him to the end.
I know the house where Tawell lived; I have sat under the apple-tree
of which his victim ate; and I have stood, the centre of a roaring
election crowd, on the exact spot outside the Court-house at Aylesbury
where he expiated his crime.

Tawell belongs, if I may so say, to a pre-natal impression. But,
as the 'sixties of the last century unroll their record, each page
displays its peculiar Horror. In 1860 Constance Kent cut her little
brother's throat, and buried him in the back-yard. Many a night have
I lain quaking in my bed, haunted by visions of sisters armed with
razors, and hurried graves in secret spots. Not much more cheering was
the nocturnal vision of Thomas Hopley, schoolmaster, of Eastbourne,
convicted in 1860 of flogging a half-witted pupil to death with a
skipping-rope, and afterwards covering the lacerated hands with white
kid gloves. I confess to a lasting distaste for private schools,
founded on this reminiscence. "The Flowery Land" is a title so prettily
fanciful, so suffused with the glamour of the East, that one would
scarcely expect to connect it with piracy, murder, and a five-fold
execution. Yet that is what it meant for youthful horror-mongers in
1864. In 1865 the plan which pleased my childish thought was that
pursued by Dr. Pritchard of Glasgow, who, while he was slowly poisoning
his wife and his mother-in-law, kept a diary of their sufferings and
recorded their deliverance from the burden of the flesh with pious
unction. Two years later a young ruffian, whose crime inspired Mr.
James Rhoades to write a passionate poem, cut a child into segments,
and recorded in his journal--"Saturday, August 24, 1867: Killed a young
girl; it was fine and hot."

One might linger long in these paths of dalliance, but space forbids;
and memory clears nine years at a bound. Most vivid, most fascinating,
most human, if such an epithet be permitted in such a context, was the
"Balham Mystery" of 1876. Still I can feel the cob bolting with me
across Tooting Common; still I lave my stiffness in a hot bath, and
tell the butler that it will do for a cold bath to-morrow; still I
plunge my carving-knife into the loin of lamb, and fill up the chinks
with that spinach and those eggs; still I quench my thirst with that
Burgundy, of _which no drop remained in the decanter_; and still I
wake up in the middle of the night to find myself dying in torture by
antimonial poisoning.

But we have supped full on horrors. Good night, and pleasant dreams.



XLII

SOCIAL CHANGES


I have been invited to make some comments on recent changes in society,
and I obey the call, though not without misgiving. "Society" in its
modern extension is so wide a subject that probably no one can survey
more than a limited portion of its area; and, if one generalizes
too freely from one's own experience, one is likely to provoke the
contradictions of critics who, surveying other portions, have been
impressed by different, and perhaps contrary, phenomena. All such
contradictions I discount in advance. After all, one can only describe
what one has seen, and my equipment for the task entrusted to me
consists of nothing more than a habit of observation and a retentive
memory.

I was brought up in that "sacred circle of the Great-Grandmotherhood"
of which Mr. Beresford-Hope made such excellent fun in "Strictly Tied
Up." As Mr. Squeers considered himself the "right shop for morals," so
the Whigs considered themselves the right shop for manners. What they
said and did every one ought to say and do, and from their judgment
there was no appeal. A social education of this kind leaves traces
which time is powerless to efface--"_Vieille école, bonne école,
begad!_" as Major Pendennis said. In twenty-five years' contact with a
more enlarged society, one has found a perpetual interest in watching
the departure, gradual but nearly universal, from the social traditions
of one's youth. The contrast between Now and Then is constantly
reasserting itself; and, if I note some instances of it just as they
occur to my mind, I shall be doing, at any rate in part, what has been
required of me.

I will take the most insignificant instances first--instances of
phrase and diction and pronunciation. I am just old enough to remember
a greatgrandmother who said that she "lay" at a place when she meant
that she had slept there, and spoke of "using the potticary" when we
should speak of sending for the doctor. Some relations of a later
generation said "ooman" for woman, and, when they were much obliged,
said they were much "obleeged." "Brarcelet" for bracelet and "di'monds"
for diamonds were common pronunciations. Tuesday was "Toosday," and
first was "fust." Chariot was "charr'ot," and Harriet "Harr'yet," and
I have even heard "Jeames" for James. "Goold" for gold and "yaller"
for yellow were common enough. Stirrups were always called "sturrups,"
and squirrels "squrrels," and wrapped was pronounced "wropped," and
tassels "tossels," and Gertrude "Jertrude." A lilac was always called
a "laylock," and a cucumber a "cowcumber." The stress was laid on the
second syllable of balcony, even as it is written in the "Diverting
History of John Gilpin":--

  "At Edmonton his loving wife
    From the balcony spied
  Her tender husband, wondering much
    To see how he did ride."

_N.B._--Cowper was a Whig.

Of course, these archaisms were already passing away when I began
to notice them, but some of them survive until this hour, and only
last winter, after an evening service in St. Paul's Cathedral, I was
delighted to hear a lady, admiring the illuminated dome, exclaim, "How
well the doom looks!"

Then, again, as regards the names of places. I cannot profess to
have heard "Lunnon," but I have heard the headquarters of my family
called "'Ooburn," and Rome "Roome," and Sèvres "Saver," and Falmouth
"Farmouth," and Penrith "Peerith," and Cirencester "Ciciter."

Nowadays it is as much as one can do to get a cabman to take one to
Berwick Street or Berkeley Square, unless one calls them Berwick or
Burkley. Gower Street and Pall Mall are pronounced as they are spelt;
and, if one wants a ticket for Derby, the booking-clerk obligingly
corrects one's request to "Durby."

And, as with pronunciation, so also with phrase and diction--

  "Change and decay in all around I see."

When I was young the word "lunch," whether substantive or verb, was
regarded with a peculiar horror, and ranked with "'bus" in the lowest
depths of vulgarity. To "take" in the sense of eat or drink was another
abomination which lay too deep for words. "You take exercise or take
physic; nothing else," said Brummel to the lady who asked him to
take tea. "I beg your pardon, you also take a liberty," was the just
rejoinder.

I well remember that, when the journals of an Illustrious Person were
published and it appeared that a royal party had "taken luncheon" on a
hill, it was stoutly contended in Whig circles that the servants had
taken the luncheon to the hill where their masters ate it; and, when
a close examination of the text proved this gloss to be impossible,
it was decided that the original must have been written in German,
and that it had been translated by some one who did not know the
English idiom. To "ride," meaning to travel in a carriage, was, and
I hope still is, regarded as the peculiar property of my friend
Pennialinus;[12] and I remember the mild sensation caused in a Whig
house when a neighbour who had driven over to luncheon declined to wash
her hands on the ground that she had "ridden in gloves." The vehicle
which was invented by a Lord Chancellor and called after his name
was scrupulously pronounced so as to rhyme with groom, and any one
indiscreet enough to say that he had ridden in "the Row" would probably
have been asked if he had gone round by "the Zoo."

[12] A character invented by Mr. William Cory.

"Cherry pie and apple pie; all the rest are tarts," was an axiom
carefully instilled into the young gastronomer; while "to pass" the
mustard was bound in the same bundle of abominations as "I'll trouble
you," "May I assist you?" "Not any, thank you," and "A very small
piece."

Then, again, as to what may be called the Manners of Eating. A man
who put his elbows on the table would have been considered a Yahoo,
and he who should eat his asparagus with a knife and fork would have
been classed with the traditional collier who boiled his pineapple.
Fish-knives (like oxidized silver biscuit-boxes) were unknown and
undreamt-of horrors. To eat one's fish with two forks was the _cachet_
of a certain circle, and the manner of manipulating the stones of
a cherry pie was the _articulus stantis vel cadentis_. The little
daughter of a great Whig house, whose eating habits had been contracted
in the nursery, once asked her mother with wistful longing, "Mamma,
when shall I be old enough to eat bread and cheese with a knife, and
put the knife in my mouth?" and she was promptly informed that not
if she lived to attain the age of Methuselah would she be able to
acquire that "unchartered freedom." On the other hand, old gentlemen
of the very highest breeding used after dinner to rinse their mouths
in their finger-glasses, and thereby caused unspeakable qualms in
unaccustomed guests. In that respect at any rate, if in no other, the
most inveterate praiser of times past must admit that alteration has
not been deterioration.

Another marked change in society is the diminution of stateliness.
A really well-turned-out carriage, with a coachman in a wig and two
powdered footmen behind, is as rare an object in the Mall as a hansom
in Bermondsey or a tandem in Bethnal Green. Men go to the levée in
cabs or on motor-cars, and send their wives to the Palace Ball in
the products of the Coupé Company. The Dowager Duchess of Cleveland
(1792-1883) once told me that Lord Salisbury had no carriage. On my
expressing innocent surprise, she said, "I have been told that Lord
Salisbury goes about London in a brougham;" and her tone could not
have expressed a more lively horror if the vehicle had been a coster's
barrow. People of a less remote date than the Duchess's had become
inured to barouches for ladies and broughams for men, but a landau
was contemned under the derogatory nickname of a "demi-fortune," and
the spectacle of a great man scaling the dizzy heights of the 'bus or
plunging into the depths of the Twopenny Tube would have given rise to
lively comment.

A pillar of the Tory party, who died not twenty years ago, finding his
newly-married wife poking the fire, took the poker from her hands and
said with majestic pain, "My dear, will you kindly remember that you
are now a countess?" A Liberal statesman, still living, when he went to
Harrow for the first time, sailed up the Hill in the family coach, and
tradition does not report that his schoolfellows kicked him with any
special virulence.

I have known people who in travelling would take the whole of a
first-class carriage sooner than risk the intrusion of an unknown
fellow-passenger: their descendants would as likely as not reach their
destination on motor-cars, having pulled up at some wayside inn for
mutton chops and whisky-and-soda.



XLIII

SOCIAL GRACES


Though stateliness has palpably diminished, the beauty of life has as
palpably increased. In old days people loved, or professed to love,
fine pictures, and those who had them made much of them. But with
that one exception no one made any attempt to surround himself with
beautiful objects. People who happened to have fine furniture used
it because they had it; unless, indeed, the desire to keep pace with
the fashion induced them to part with Louis Seize or Chippendale and
replace it by the austere productions of Tottenham Court Road. The
idea of buying a chimneypiece or a cabinet or a bureau because it was
beautiful never crossed the ordinary mind. The finest old English china
was habitually used, and not seldom smashed, in the housekeeper's
room. It was the age of horse-hair and mahogany, and crimson flock
papers and green rep curtains. Whatever ornaments the house happened to
possess were clustered together on a round table in the middle of the
drawing-room. The style has been immortalized by the hand of a master:
"There were no skilfully contrasted shades of grey or green, no dado,
no distemper. The woodwork was grained and varnished after the manner
of the Philistines, the walls papered in dark crimson, with heavy
curtains of the same colour, and the sideboard, dinner-waggon, and row
of stiff chairs were all carved in the same massive and expensive style
of ugliness. The pictures were those familiar presentments of dirty
rabbits, fat white horses, bloated goddesses, and misshapen boors by
masters, who if younger than they assumed to be, must have been quite
old enough to know better." A man who hung a blue-and-white plate on a
wall, or put peacocks' feathers in a vase, would have been regarded as
insane; and I well remember the outcry of indignation and scorn when
a well-known collector of bric-a-brac had himself painted with a pet
teapot in his hands.

In this respect the change is complete. The owners of fine
picture-galleries no longer monopolize "art in the home." People who
cannot afford old masters invoke the genius of Mr. Mortimer Menpes.
If they have not inherited French furniture they buy it, or at least
imitations of the real, which are quite as beautiful. A sage-green
wash on the wall, and a white dado to the height of a man's shoulder,
cover a multitude of paper-hanger's sins. The commonest china is
pretty in form and colour. A couple of rugs from Liberty's replace the
hideous and costly carpets which lasted their unfortunate possessors
a lifetime; and, whereas in those distant days one never saw a
flower on a dinner-table, now "it is roses, roses all the way," or,
when it cannot be roses, it is daffodils and tulips and poppies and
chrysanthemums.

All this is the work of the despised æsthetes; but this generation
will probably see no meaning in the great drama of "Patience," and has
no conception of the tyrannous ugliness from which Bunthorne and his
friends delivered us. Their double achievement was to make ugliness
culpable, and to prove that beauty need not be expensive.

The same change may be observed in everything connected with Dinner. No
longer is the mind oppressed by those monstrous hecatombs under which,
as Bret Harte said, "the table groaned and even the sideboard sighed."
Frascatelli's monstrous bills of fare, with six "side dishes" and four
sweets, survive only as monuments of what our fathers could do. Racing
plate and "epergnes," with silver goddesses and sphinxes and rams'
horns, if not discreetly exchanged for prettier substitutes, hide their
diminished heads in pantries and safes. Instead of these horrors, we
have bright flowers and shaded lights; and a very few, perhaps too few,
dishes, which both look pretty and taste good. Here, again, expensive
ugliness has been routed, and inexpensive beauty enthroned in its place.

The same law, I believe, holds good about dress. With the mysteries
of woman's clothes I do not presume to meddle. I do not attempt to
estimate the relative cost of the satins and ermine and scarves which
Lawrence painted, and the "duck's-egg bolero" and "mauve hopsack"
which I have lately seen advertized in the list of a winter sale. But
about men's dress I feel more confident. The "rich cut Genoa velvet
waistcoat," the solemn frock coat, the satin stock, and the trousers
strapped under the wellingtons, were certainly hideous, and I shrewdly
suspect that they were vastly more expensive than the blue serge suits,
straw hats, brown boots, and sailor-knot ties in which the men of the
present day contrive to look smart without being stiff.

When Mr. Gladstone in old age revisited Oxford and lectured on Homer
to a great gathering of undergraduates, he was asked if he saw any
difference between his hearers and the men of his own time. He
responded briskly, "Yes, in their dress, an enormous difference. I am
told that I had among my audience some of the most highly-connected and
richest men in the university, and there wasn't one whom I couldn't
have dressed from top to toe for £5."

I have spoken so far of material beauty, and here the change in society
has been an inexpressible improvement; but, when I turn to beauty of
another kind, I cannot speak with equal certainty. Have our manners
improved? Beyond all question they have changed, but have they changed
for the better?

It may seem incongruous to cite Dr. Pusey as an authority on anything
more mundane than a hair-shirt, yet he was really a close observer
of social phenomena, as his famous sermon on Dives and Lazarus,
with its strictures on the modern Dives's dinner and Mrs. Dives's
ball-gown, sufficiently testifies. He was born a Bouverie in 1800,
when the Bouveries still were Whigs, and he testified in old age
to "the beauty of the refined worldly manners of the old school,"
which, as he insisted, were really Christian in their regard for the
feelings of others. "If in any case they became soulless as apart from
Christianity, the beautiful form was there into which real life might
re-enter."

We do not, I think, see much of the "beautiful form" nowadays. Men
when talking to women lounge, and sprawl, and cross their legs, and
keep one hand in a pocket while they shake hands with the other, and
shove their partners about in the "Washington Post," and wallow in the
Kitchen-Lancers. All this is as little beautiful as can be conceived.
Grace and dignity have perished side by side. And yet, oddly enough,
the people who are most thoroughly bereft of manners seem bent on
displaying their deficiencies in the most conspicuous places. In the
old days it would have been thought the very height of vulgarity to
run after royalty. The Duke of Wellington said to Charles Greville,
"When we meet the Royal Family in society they are our superiors, and
we owe them all respect." That was just all. If a Royal Personage knew
you sufficiently well to pay you a visit, it was an honour, and all
suitable preparations were made. "My father walked backwards with a
silver candlestick, and red baize awaited the royal feet." If you
encountered a prince or princess in society, you made your bow and
thought no more about it. An old-fashioned father, who had taken a
schoolboy son to call on a great lady, said, "Your bow was too low.
That is the sort of bow we keep for the Royal Family." There was
neither drop-down-dead-ativeness, nor pushfulness, nor familiarity.
Well-bred people knew how to behave themselves, and there was an end
of the matter. But to force one's self on the notice of royalty, to
intrigue for visits from Illustrious Personages, to go out of one's way
to meet princes or princesses, to parade before the gaping world the
amount of intimacy with which one had been honoured, would have been
regarded as the very madness of vulgarity.

Another respect in which modern manners compare unfavourably with
ancient is the growing love of titles. In old days people thought a
great deal, perhaps too much, of Family. They had a strong sense of
territorial position, and I have heard people say of others, "Oh, they
are cousins of ours," as if that fact put them within a sacred and
inviolable enclosure. But titles were contemned. If you were a peer,
you sate in the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons; and
that was all. No one dreamed of babbling about "peers" as a separate
order of creation, still less of enumerating the peers to whom they
were related.

A member of the Tory Government was once at pains to explain to an
entirely unsympathetic audience that the only reason why he and Lord
Curzon had not taken as good a degree as Mr. Asquith was that, being
the eldest sons of peers, they were more freely invited into the County
society of Oxfordshire. I can safely say that, in the sacred circle of
the Great-Grandmotherhood, that theory of academical shortcoming would
not have been advanced.

The idea of buying a baronetcy would have been thought simply droll,
and knighthood was regarded as the guerdon of the successful grocer. I
believe that in their inmost hearts the Whigs enjoyed the Garters which
were so freely bestowed on them; but they compounded for that human
weakness by unmeasured contempt for the Bath, and I doubt if they had
ever heard of the Star of India. To state this case is sufficiently to
illustrate a conspicuous change in the sentiment of society.



XLIV

PUBLICITY _V._ RETICENCE


The great people of old time followed (quite unconsciously) the
philosopher who bade man "hide his life." Of course, the stage of
politics was always a pillory, and he who ventured to stand on it made
up his mind to encounter a vast variety of popular missiles. "In my
situation as Chancellor of the University of Oxford," said the Duke
of Wellington, "I have been much exposed to authors;" and men whom
choice or circumstances forced into politics were exposed to worse
annoyances than "authors." But the line was rigidly drawn between
public and private life. What went on in the home was sacredly secreted
from the public gaze. People lived among their relations and friends
and political associates, and kept the gaping world at a distance. Now
we worship Publicity as the chief enjoyment of human life. We send
lists of our shooting-parties to "Society Journals." We welcome the
Interviewer. We contribute personal paragraphs to _Classy Cuttings_.
We admit the photographer to our bedrooms, and give our portraits to
illustrated papers. We take our exercise when we have the best chance
of being seen and noticed, and we never eat our dinner with such keen
appetites as amid the half-world of a Piccadilly restaurant. In brief,
"Expose thy life" is the motto of the new philosophy, and I maintain
that in this respect, at any rate, the old was better.

With an increasing love of publicity has come an increasing contempt
for reticence. In old days there were certain subjects which no one
mentioned; among them were Health and Money. I presume that people had
pretty much the same complaints as now, but no one talked about them.
We used to be told of a lady who died in agony because she insisted on
telling the doctor that the pain was in her chest whereas it really was
in the unmentionable organ of digestion. That martyr to propriety has
no imitators in the present day. Every one has a disease and a doctor;
and young people of both sexes are ready on the slightest acquaintance
to describe symptoms and compare experiences. "Ice!" exclaimed a
pretty girl at dessert, "good gracious, no! so bad for indy"--and her
companion, who had not travelled with the times, learned with amazement
that "indy" was the pet name for indigestion. "How bitterly cold!" said
a plump matron at an open-air luncheon; "just the thing to give one
appendicitis." "Oh!" said her neighbour, surveying the company, "we are
quite safe there. I shouldn't think we had an appendix between us."

Then, again, as to money. In the "Sacred Circle of the
Great-Grandmotherhood" I never heard the slightest reference to income.
Not that the Whigs despised money. They were at least as fond of it
as other people, and, even when it took the shape of slum-rents, its
odour was not displeasing. But it was not a subject for conversation.
People did not chatter about their neighbours' incomes; and, if they
made their own money in trades or professions, they did not regale
us with statistics of profit and loss. To-day every one seems to be,
if I may use the favourite colloquialism, "on the make"; and the
sincerity of the devotion with which people worship money pervades
their whole conversation and colours their whole view of life. "Scions
of aristocracy," to use the good old phrase of Pennialinus, will
produce samples of tea or floor-cloth from their pockets, and sue quite
winningly for custom. A speculative bottle of extraordinarily cheap
peach-brandy will arrive with the compliments of Lord Tom Noddy, who
has just gone into the wine trade, and Lord Magnus Charters will tell
you that, if you are going to put in the electric light, his firm has
got some really good fittings which he can let you have on specially
easy terms.

But, if in old days Health and Money were subjects eschewed in polite
conversation, even more rigid was the avoidance of "risky" topics.
To-day no scandal is too gross, no gossip too prurient. Respectable
mothers chatter quite freely about that "nest of spicery" over
which Sir Gorell Barnes presides, and canvass abominations with a
self-possession worthy of Gibbon or Zola. In fact, as regards our
topics of conversation, we seem to have reached the condition in which
the Paris correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ found himself when Mr.
Matthew Arnold (in "Friendship's Garland") spoke to him of Delicacy.
"He seemed inexplicably struck by this word _delicacy_, which he kept
repeating to himself. 'Delicacy,' said he; 'delicacy, surely I have
heard that word before! Yes, in other days,' he went on dreamily, 'in
my fresh enthusiastic youth, before I knew Sala, before I wrote for
that infernal paper----.' 'Collect yourself, my friend,' said I, laying
my hand on his shoulder, 'you are unmanned.'" A similar emotion would
probably be caused by any one so old-fashioned as to protest that any
conceivable topic was ill-adapted for discussion in general society.

An extreme decorum of phrase accompanied this salutary restriction
of topics. To a boisterous youth who, just setting out for a choral
festival in a country church, said that he always thought a musical
service very jolly, an old Whig lady said in a tone of dignified
amendment, "I trust, dear Mr. F----, that we shall derive not only
pleasure but profit from the solemnity of this afternoon."

Closely related to the love of Publicity and the decay of Reticence is
the change in the position of women. This is really a revolution, and
it has so impartially pervaded all departments of life that one may
plunge anywhere into the subject and find the same phenomenon.

Fifty years ago the view that "comparisons don't become a young
woman" still held the field, and, indeed, might have been much more
widely extended. Nothing "became a young woman," which involved clear
thinking or plain speaking or independent acting. Mrs. General and
Mrs. Grundy were still powers in the land. "Prunes and Prism" were
fair burlesques of actual shibboleths. "Fanny," said Mrs. General, "at
present forms too many opinions. Perfect breeding forms none, and is
never demonstrative." This was hardly a parody of the prevailing and
accepted doctrine. To-day it would be difficult to find a subject on
which contemporary Fannies do not form opinions, and express them with
intense vigour, and translate them into corresponding action.

Fifty years ago a hunting woman was a rarity, even though Englishwomen
had been horsewomen from time immemorial. Lady Arabella Vane's
performances were still remembered in the neighbourhood of Darlington,
and Lady William Powlett's "scyarlet" habit was a tradition at
Cottesmore. Mrs. Jack Villiers is the only horsewoman in the famous
picture of the Quorn, and she suitably gave her name to the best covert
in the Vale of Aylesbury. But now the hunting woman and the hunting
girl pervade the land, cross their male friends at their fences, and
ride over them when they lie submerged in ditches, with an airy
cheerfulness which wins all hearts. In brief, it may be said that, in
respect of outdoor exercises, whatever men and boys do women and girls
do. They drive four-in-hand and tandem, they manipulate Motors, they
skate and cycle, and fence and swim. A young lady lately showed me
a snapshot of herself learning to take a header. A male instructor,
classically draped, stood on the bank, and she kindly explained that
"the head in the water was the man we were staying with." Lawn-tennis
and croquet are regarded as the amusements of the mild and the
middle-aged; the ardour of girlhood requires hockey and golf. I am not
sure whether girls have taken to Rugby football, but only last summer I
saw a girl's cricket eleven dispose most satisfactorily of a boy's team.

I can well remember the time when a man, if perchance he met a lady
while he was smoking in some rather unfrequented street, flung his
cigar away and rather tried to look as if he had not been doing it.
Yet so far have we travelled that not long ago, at a hospitable house
not a hundred miles from Berkeley Square, the hostess and her daughter
were the only smokers in a large luncheon-party, and prefaced their
cigarettes by the courteous condition, "If you gentlemen don't mind."

Then, again, the political woman is a product of these latter days.
In old times a woman served her husband's political party by keeping
a _salon_, giving dinners to the bigwigs, and "routs" to the rank
and file. I do not forget the heroic electioneering of Georgiana,
Duchess of Devonshire, but her example was not widely followed. On
great occasions ladies sate in secluded galleries at public meetings,
and encouraged the halting rhetoric of sons or husbands by waving
pocket-handkerchiefs. If a triumphant return was to be celebrated, the
ladies of the hero's family might gaze from above on the congratulatory
banquet, like the house-party at Lothair's coming of age, to whom the
"three times three and one cheer more" seemed like a "great naval
battle, or the end of the world, or anything else of unimaginable
excitement, tumult, and confusion."

When it was reported that a celebrated lady of the present day
complained of the stuffiness and gloom of the Ladies' Gallery
in the House of Commons, Mr. Gladstone--that stiffest of social
conservatives--exclaimed, "Mrs. W----, forsooth! I have known much
greater ladies than Mrs. W---- quite content to look down through the
ventilator."



XLV

TOWN _V._ COUNTRY


I said at the outset that I am a Whig _pur sang_; and the historic
Whigs were very worthy people. A first-rate specimen of the race
was that Duke of Bedford whom Junius lampooned, and whom his
great-grandson, Lord John Russell, championed in an interesting
contrast. "The want of practical religion and morals which Lord
Chesterfield held up to imitation, conducted the French nobility to the
guillotine and emigration: the honesty, the attachment to religion,
the country habits, the love of home, the activity in rural business
and rural sports, in which the Duke of Bedford and others of his class
delighted, preserved the English aristocracy from a flood which swept
over half of Europe, laying prostrate the highest of her palaces, and
scattering the ashes of the most sacred of her monuments."

This quotation forms a suitable introduction to the social change
which is the subject of the present chapter. In old days, people who
had country houses lived in them. It was the magnificent misfortune
of the Duke in "Lothair" to have so many castles that he had no home.
In those days the tradition of Duty required people who had several
country houses to spend some time in each of them; and those who had
only one passed nine months out of twelve under its sacred roof--sacred
because it was inseparably connected with memories of ancestry and
parentage and early association, with marriage and children, and pure
enjoyments and active benevolence and neighbourly goodwill. In a word,
the country house was Home.

People who had no country house were honestly pitied; perhaps they were
also a little despised. The most gorgeous mansion in Cromwell Road or
Tyburnia could never for a moment be quoted as supplying the place of
the Hall or the Manor.

For people who had a country house the interests of life were very
much bound up in the park and the covers, the croquet-ground and the
cricket-ground, the kennel, the stable, and the garden. I remember,
when I was an undergraduate, lionizing some Yorkshire damsels on their
first visit to Oxford, then in the "high midsummer pomp" of its beauty.
But all they said was, in the pensive tone of an unwilling exile, "How
beautifully the sun must be shining on the South Walk at home!"

The village church was a great centre of domestic affection. All the
family had been christened in it. The eldest sister had been married
in it. Generations of ancestry mouldered under the chancel floor.
Christmas decorations were an occasion of much innocent merriment, and
a little ditty high in favour in Tractarian homes warned the decorators
to be--

  "Unselfish--looking not to see
  Proofs of their own dexterity;
  But quite contented that 'I' should
  Forgotten be in brotherhood."

Of course, whether Tractarian or Evangelical, religious people regarded
church-going as a spiritual privilege; but every one recognized it
as a civil duty. "When a gentleman is _sur ses terres_," said Major
Pendennis, "he must give an example to the country people; and, if I
could turn a tune, I even think I should sing. The Duke of St. David's,
whom I have the honour of knowing, always sings in the country, and let
me tell you it has a doosed fine effect from the family pew." Before
the passion for "restoration" had set in, and ere yet Sir Gilbert Scott
had transmogrified the parish churches of England, the family pew was
indeed the ark and sanctuary of the territorial system--and a very
comfortable ark too. It had a private entrance, a round table, a good
assortment of arm-chairs, a fireplace, and a wood-basket. And I well
remember a washleather glove of unusual size which was kept in the
wood-basket for the greater convenience of making up the fire during
divine service. "You may restore the church as much as you like,"
said an old friend of my youth, who was lay-rector, to an innovating
incumbent, "but I must insist on my family pew not being touched. If I
had to sit in an open seat, I should never get a wink of sleep again."

A country home left its mark for all time on those who were brought up
in it. The sons played cricket and went bat-fowling with the village
boys, and not seldom joined with them in a poaching enterprise in
the paternal preserves. However popular or successful or happy a
Public-School boy might be at Eton or Harrow, he counted the days till
he could return to his pony and his gun, his ferrets and rat-trap and
fishing-rod. Amid all the toil and worry of active life, he looked back
lovingly to the corner of the cover where he shot his first pheasant,
or the precise spot in the middle of the Vale where he first saw a fox
killed, and underwent the disgusting baptism of blood.

Girls, living more continuously at home, entered even more intimately
into the daily life of the place. Their morning rides led them across
the village green; their afternoon drives were often steered by the
claims of this or that cottage to a visit. They were taught as soon as
they could toddle never to enter a door without knocking, never to sit
down without being asked, and never to call at meal-time.

They knew every one in the village--old and young; played with the
babies, taught the boys in Sunday School, carried savoury messes to the
old and impotent, read by the sick-beds, and brought flowers for the
coffin. Mamma knitted comforters and dispensed warm clothing, organized
relief in hard winters and times of epidemic, and found places for
the hobbledehoys of both sexes. The pony-boy and the scullery-maid
were pretty sure to be products of the village. Very likely the
young-ladies-maid was a village girl whom the doctor had pronounced
too delicate for factory or farm. I have seen an excited young groom
staring his eyes out of his head at the Eton and Harrow match, and
exclaiming with rapture at a good catch, "It was my young governor as
'scouted' that. 'E's nimble, ain't 'e?" And I well remember an ancient
stable-helper at a country house in Buckinghamshire who was called "Old
Bucks," because he had never slept out of his native county, and very
rarely out of his native village, and had spent his whole life in the
service of one family.

Of course, when so much of the impressionable part of life was lived
amid the "sweet, sincere surroundings of country life," there grew
up, between the family at the Hall and the families in the village,
a feeling which, in spite of our national unsentimentality, had a
chivalrous and almost feudal tone. The interest of the poor in the
life and doings of "The Family" was keen and genuine. The English
peasant is too much a gentleman to be a flatterer, and compliments
were often bestowed in very unexpected forms. "They do tell me as 'is
understanding's no worse than it always were," was a ploughman's way
of saying that the old squire was in full possession of his faculties.
"We call 'im ''Is Lordship,' because 'e's so old and so cunning," was
another's description of a famous pony. "Ah, I know you're but a poor
creature at the best!" was the recognized way of complimenting a lady
on what she considered her bewitching and romantic delicacy.

But these eccentricities were merely verbal, and under them lay a deep
vein of genuine and lasting regard. "I've lived under four dukes and
four 'ousekeepers, and I'm not going to be put upon in my old age!" was
the exclamation of an ancient poultry-woman, whose dignity had been
offended by some irregularity touching her Christmas dinner. When the
daughter of the house married and went into a far country, she was sure
to find some emigrant from her old home who welcomed her with effusion,
and was full of enquiries about his lordship and her ladyship, and
Miss Pinkerton the governess, and whether Mr. Wheeler was still
coachman, and who lived now at the entrance-lodge. Whether the sons got
commissions, or took ranches, or become curates in slums, or contested
remote constituencies, some grinning face was sure to emerge from the
crowd with, "You know me, sir? Bill Juffs, as used to go bird's-nesting
with you;" or, "You remember my old dad, my lord? He used to shoe your
black pony."

When the eldest son came of age, his condescension in taking this step
was hailed with genuine enthusiasm. When he came into his kingdom,
there might be some grumbling if he went in for small economies, or
altered old practices, or was a "hard man" on the Bench or at the Board
of Guardians; but, if he went on in the good-natured old ways, the
traditional loyalty was unabated.

Lord Shaftesbury wrote thus about the birth of his eldest son's eldest
son: "My little village is all agog with the birth of a son and heir
in the very midst of them, the first, it is believed, since 1600, when
the first Lord Shaftesbury was born. The christening yesterday was an
ovation. Every cottage had flags and flowers. We had three triumphal
arches; and all the people were exulting. 'He is one of us.' 'He is a
fellow-villager.' 'We have now got a lord of our own.' This is really
gratifying. I did not think that there remained so much of the old
respect and affection between peasant and proprietor, landlord and
tenant."

Whether the kind of relation thus described has utterly perished I do
not know; but certainly it has very greatly diminished, and the cause
of the diminution is that people live less and less in their country
houses, and more and more in London. For those who are compelled by
odious necessity to sell or let their hereditary homes one has nothing
but compassion; in itself a severe trial, it is made still sharper to
well-conditioned people by the sense that the change is at least as
painful to the poor as to themselves. But for those who, having both a
country and a London house, deliberately concentrate themselves on the
town, forsake the country, and abjure the duties which are inseparable
from their birthright, one can only feel Charles Lamb's "imperfect
sympathy." The causes which induce this dereliction and its results on
society and on the country may be discussed in another chapter.



XLVI

HOME


I was speaking just now of the growing tendency to desert the country
in favour of London. I said that it was difficult to feel sympathy with
people who voluntarily abandon Home, and all the duties and pleasures
which Home implies, in favour of Lennox Gardens or Portman Square; but
that one felt a lively compassion for those who make the exchange under
the pressure of--

  "Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear."

Here, again, is another social change. In old days, when people wished
to economize, it was London that they deserted. They sold the "family
mansion" in Portland Place or Eaton Square; and, if they revisited the
glimpses of the social moon, they took a furnished house for six weeks
in the summer: the rest of the year they spent in the country. This
plan was a manifold saving. There was no rent to pay, and only very
small rates, for every one knows that country houses were shamefully
under-assessed. Carriages did not require repainting every season, and
no new clothes were wanted. "What can it matter what we wear here,
where every one knows who we are?" The products of the park, the home
farm, the hothouses, and the kitchen-garden kept the family supplied
with food. A brother magnate staying at Beaudesert with the famous
Lord Anglesey waxed enthusiastic over the mutton, and said, "Excuse
my asking you a plain question, but how much does this excellent
mutton cost you?" "Cost me?" screamed the hero. "Good Gad, it costs me
nothing! It's my own," and he was beyond measure astonished when his
statistical guest proved that "his own" cost him about a guinea per
pound. In another great house, conducted on strictly economical lines,
it was said that the very numerous family were reared exclusively on
rabbits and garden-stuff, and that their enfeebled constitutions and
dismal appearance in later life were due to this ascetic regimen.

People were always hospitable in the country, but rural entertaining
was not a very costly business. The "three square meals and a snack,"
which represent the minimum requirement of the present day, are a
huge development of the system which prevailed in my youth. Breakfast
had already grown from the tea and coffee, and rolls and eggs, which
Macaulay tells us were deemed sufficient at Holland House, to an affair
of covered dishes. Luncheon-parties were sometimes given--terrible
ceremonies which lasted from two to four; but the ordinary luncheon
of the family was really a snack from the servants' joint or
the children's rice-pudding; and five o'clock tea was actually
not invented. To remember, as I do, the foundress of that divine
refreshment seems like having known Stephenson or Jenner.

Dinner was substantial enough in all conscience, and the wine nearly as
heavy as the food. Imagine quenching one's thirst with sherry in the
dog days! Yet so we did, till about half-way through dinner, and then,
on great occasions, a dark-coloured rill of champagne began to trickle
into the saucer-shaped glasses. At the epoch of cheese, port made its
appearance in company with home-brewed beer; and, as soon as the ladies
and the schoolboys departed, the men applied themselves, with much
seriousness of purpose, to the consumption of claret which was really
vinous.

In this kind of hospitality there was no great expense. People made
very little difference between their way of living when they were alone
and their way of living when they had company. A visitor who wished to
make himself agreeable sometimes brought down a basket of fish or a
barrel of oysters from London; and, if one had no deer of one's own,
the arrival of a haunch from a neighbour's or kinsman's park was the
signal for a gathering of local gastronomers.

And in matters other than meals life went on very much the same
whether you had friends staying with you or whether you were alone.
Your guests drove and rode, and walked and shot, according to their
tastes and the season of the year. They were carried off, more or less
willingly, to see the sights of the neighbourhood--ruined castles,
restored cathedrals, famous views. In summer there might be a picnic
or a croquet-party; in winter a lawn-meet or a ball. But all these
entertainments were of the most homely and inexpensive character. There
was very little outlay, no fuss, and no display. People, who were
compelled by stress of financial weather to put into their country
houses and remain there till the storm was over, contrived to economize
and yet be comfortable. They simply lived their ordinary lives until
things righted themselves, and very likely did not attempt London again
until they were bringing out another daughter, or had to make a home
for a son in the Guards.

But now an entirely different spirit prevails. People seem to have
lost the power of living quietly and happily in their country homes.
They all have imbibed the urban philosophy of George Warrington, who,
when Pen gushed about the country with its "long calm days, and long
calm evenings," brutally replied, "Devilish long, and a great deal too
calm. I've tried 'em." People of that type desert the country simply
because they are bored by it. They feel with Mr. Luke in "The New
Republic," who, after talking about "liberal air," "sedged brooks,"
and "meadow grass," admitted that it would be a horrid bore to have
no other society than the clergyman of the parish, and no other topics
of conversation than Justification by Faith and the measles. They do
not care for the country in itself; they have no eye for its beauty, no
sense of its atmosphere, no memory for its traditions. It is only made
endurable to them by sport and gambling and boisterous house-parties;
and, when from one cause or another these resources fail, they are
frankly bored and long for London. They are no longer content, as our
fathers were, to entertain their friends with hospitable simplicity.
So profoundly has all society been vulgarized by the worship of the
Golden Calf that, unless people can vie with alien millionaires in the
sumptuousness with which they "do you"--delightful phrase,--they prefer
not to entertain at all. An emulous ostentation has killed hospitality.

So now, when a season of financial pressure sets in, people shut up
their country houses, let their shooting, cut themselves off with a
sigh of relief from all the unexciting duties and simple pleasures
of the Home, and take refuge from boredom in the delights of London.
In London life has no duties. Little is expected of one, and nothing
required. One can live on a larger or a smaller scale according to
one's taste or one's purse; cramp oneself in a doll's house in Mayfair,
or expand one's wings in a Kensingtonian mansion; or even contract
oneself into a flat, or hide one's diminished head in the upper storey
of a shop. One can entertain or not entertain, spend much or spend
little, live on one's friends or be lived on by them, exactly as one
finds most convenient: and unquestionably social freedom is a great
element in human happiness.

For many natures London has an attractiveness which is all its own, and
yet to indulge one's taste for it may be a grave dereliction of duty.
The State is built upon the Home; and, as a training-place for social
virtue, there can surely be no comparison between a home in the country
and a home in London.

"Home! Sweet Home!" Yes. (I am quoting now from my friend, Henry Scott
Holland.) That is the song that goes straight to the heart of every
English man and woman. For forty years we have never asked Madame
Adelina Patti to sing anything else. The unhappy, decadent, Latin races
have not even a word in their languages by which to express it, poor
things! Home is the secret of our honest British Protestant virtues.
It is the only nursery of our Anglo-Saxon citizenship. Back to it our
far-flung children turn with all their memories aflame. They may lapse
into rough ways, but they keep something sound at the core so long as
they are faithful to the old Home. There is still a tenderness in the
voice, and tears are in their eyes, as they speak together of the days
that can never die out of their lives, when they were at home in the
old familiar places, with father and mother in the healthy gladness of
their childhood. Ah!

  "Home! Sweet Home!
  There's no place like Home."

That is what we all repeat, and all believe, and cheer to the echo.
And, behind all our British complacency about it, nobody would deny
the vital truth that there is in this belief of ours. Whatever tends
to make the Home beautiful, attractive, romantic--to associate it
with the ideas of pure pleasure and high duty--to connect it not only
with all that was happiest but also with all that was best in early
years--whatever fulfils these purposes purifies the fountains of
national life. A home, to be perfectly a home, should "incorporate
tradition, and prolong the reign of the dead." It should animate those
who dwell in it to virtue and beneficence by reminding them of what
others did, who went before them in the same place and lived amid the
same surroundings.



XLVII

HOSPITALITY


In my last chapter I was deploring the modern tendency of society to
desert the country and cultivate London. And the reason why I deplore
it is that all the educating influences of the Home are so infinitely
weaker in the town than in the country. In a London home there is
nothing to fascinate the eye. The contemplation of the mews and the
chimney-pots through the back windows of the nursery will not elevate
even the most impressible child. There is no mystery, no dreamland, no
Enchanted Palace, no Bluebeard's Chamber, in a stucco mansion built by
Cubitt or a palace of terracotta on the Cadogan estate. There can be
no traditions of the past, no inspiring memories of virtuous ancestry,
in a house which your father bought five years ago and of which the
previous owners are not known to you even by name. "The Square" or "the
Gardens" are sorry substitutes for the Park and the Pleasure-grounds,
the Common and the Downs. Crossing-sweepers are a deserving folk, but
you cannot cultivate those intimate relations with them which bind you
to the lodge-keeper at home, or to the old women in the almshouses,
or the octogenarian waggoner who has driven your father's team ever
since he was ten years old. St. Peter's, Eaton Square, or All Saints,
Margaret Street, may be beautifully ornate, and the congregation what
Lord Beaconsfield called "brisk and modish"; but they can never have
the romantic charm of the country church where you were confirmed side
by side with the keeper's son, or proposed to the vicar's daughter when
you were wreathing holly round the lectern.

Then, again, as regards social relations with friends and neighbours.
"An emulous ostentation has destroyed hospitality." This I believe is
absolutely true, and it is one of the worst changes which I have seen.
I have already spoken of hospitality as practised in the country. Now I
will say a word about hospitality in London.

Of course rich people always gave banquets from time to time, and these
were occasions when, in Lord Beaconsfield's drolly vulgar phrase, "the
dinner was stately, as befits the high nobility." They were ceremonious
observances, conducted on the constitutional principle of "cutlet
for cutlet," and must always have been regarded by all concerned in
them, whether as hosts or guests, in the light of duty rather than of
pleasure. Twenty people woke that morning with the impression that
something was to be gone through before bedtime, which they would be
glad enough to escape. Each of the twenty went to bed that night more
or less weary and ruffled, but sustained by the sense that a social
duty had been performed. Banquets, however, at the worst were only
periodical events. Real hospitality was constant and informal.

"Come and dine to-night. Eight o'clock. Pot luck. Don't dress."

"My dear, I am going to bring back two or three men from the House.
Don't put off dinner in case we are kept by a division."

"I am afraid I must be going back. I am only paired till eleven.
Good-night, and so many thanks."

"Good-night; you will always find some dinner here on Government
nights. Do look in again!"

These are the cheerful echoes of parliamentary homes in the older
and better days of unostentatious entertaining, and those "pot luck"
dinners often played an important part in political manoeuvre.
Sir George Trevelyan, whose early manhood was passed in the thick
of parliamentary society, tells us, in a footnote to "The Ladies in
Parliament," that in the season of 1866 there was much gossip over the
fact of Lord Russell having entertained Mr. Bright at dinner, and that
people were constantly--

  "Discussing whether Bright can scan and understand the lines
  About the Wooden Horse of Troy; and when and where he dines.
  Though gentlemen should blush to talk as if they cared a button
  Because one night in Chesham Place he ate his slice of mutton."

Quite apart from parliamentary strategy, impromptu entertaining in
what was called "a friendly way" had its special uses in the social
system. There is a delicious passage in "Lothair" describing that
hero's initiation into an easier and more graceful society than that
in which he had been reared: "He had been a guest at the occasional
banquets of his uncle, but these were festivals of the Picts and Scots;
rude plenty and coarse splendour, with noise instead of conversation,
and a tumult of obstructive dependants, who impeded by their want of
skill the very convenience which they were purposed to facilitate." An
amazing sentence indeed, but like all Lord Beaconsfield's writings,
picturesquely descriptive, and happily contrasted with the succeeding
scene: "A table covered with flowers, bright with fanciful crystal,
and porcelain that had belonged to Sovereigns who had given a name to
its colour or its form. As for those present, all seemed grace and
gentleness, from the radiant daughters of the house to the noiseless
attendants who anticipated all his wants, and sometimes seemed to
suggest his wishes."

The mention of "Lothair" reminds people of my date that thirty years
ago we knew a house justly famed for the excellent marriages which
the daughters made. There banquets were unknown, and even dinners
by invitation very rare. The father used to collect young men from
Lord's, or the Lobby, or the Club, or wherever he had been spending
the afternoon. Servants were soon dismissed--"It is such a bore to have
them staring at one"--and the daughters of the house waited on the
guests. Here obviously were matrimonial openings not to be despised;
and, even in families where there were no ulterior objects to be
served, these free-and-easy entertainings went on from February to
July. Short invitations, pleasant company, and genuine friendliness
were the characteristics of these gatherings. Very often the dinner was
carved on the table. One could ask for a second slice or another wing
without feeling greedy, and the claret and amontillado were within the
reach of every guest. This, I consider, was genuine hospitality, for it
was natural, easy, and unostentatious.

But now, according to all accounts, the spirit of entertaining is
utterly changed. A dinner is not so much an opportunity of pleasing
your friends as of airing your own magnificence; and ostentation,
despicable in itself, is doubly odious because it is emulous. If A
has a good cook, B must have a better. If C gave you ortolans stuffed
with truffles, D must have truffles stuffed with ortolans. If the E's
table is piled with strawberries in April, the F's must retaliate with
orchids at a guinea a blossom. G is a little inclined to swagger about
his wife's pearl necklace, and H is bound in honour to decorate Mrs. H
with a _rivière_ which belonged to the crown jewels of France.

And, as with the food and the decorations, so also with the company.
Here, again, Emulous Ostentation carries all before it. Mr. Goldbug is
a Yahoo, but he made his millions in South Africa and spends them in
Park Lane. Lord Heath is the most abandoned bore in Christendom, but
he is an authority at Newmarket. Lady Bellair has had a notoriously
chequered career, but she plays bridge in exalted circles. As Lord
Crewe sings of a similar enchantress--

  "From reflections we shrink;
    And of comment are chary;
  But her face is _so_ pink,
    And it don't seem to vary."

However, she is unquestionably smart; and Goldbug is a useful man to
know; and we are not going to be outdone by the Cashingtons, who got
Heath to dine with them twice last year. So we invite our guests,
not because we like them or admire them, for that in these cases is
impossible; not--heaven knows--because they are beautiful or famous or
witty; but because they are the right people to have in one's house,
and we will have the right people or perish in the attempt.



XLVIII

OSTENTATION


It is many a long year since I saw the inside of a ballroom, but by
all accounts very much the same change has come over the spirit of
ball-giving as of dinner-giving. Here again the "Emulous Ostentation"
which I have described is the enemy. When I first grew up, there were
infinitely more balls than now. From Easter till August there were
at least two every night, and a hostess counted herself lucky if
she had only one rival to contend with. Between 11 P.M. and 2 A.M.
Grosvenor Place was blocked by the opposing streams of carriages going
from Mayfair to Belgravia, and from Belgravia to Mayfair. There were
three or four really great Houses--"Houses" with a capital H--such as
Grosvenor House, Stafford House, Dudley House, and Montagu House--where
a ball could scarcely help being an event--or, as Pennialinus would
say, "a function." But, putting these on one side, the great mass of
hostesses contrived to give excellent balls, where every one went and
every one enjoyed themselves, with very little fuss and no ostentation.
The drawing-room of an ordinary house in Belgravia or Grosvenor Square
made a perfectly sufficient ballroom. A good floor, a good band, and
plenty of light, were the only essentials of success. Decoration was
represented by such quaint devices as pink muslin on the banisters,
or green festoons dependent from the chandelier. A good supper was
an additional merit; and, if the host produced his best champagne,
he was held in just esteem by dancing men. But yet I well remember a
cold supper at a ball which the present King and Queen attended, in
1881, and no one grumbled, though perhaps the young bloods thought it
a little old-fashioned. The essence of a good ball was not expense or
display or overwhelming preparation, but the certainty that you would
meet your friends. Boys and girls danced, and married women looked on,
or only stole a waltz when their juniors were at supper. In those days
a ball was really a merry-making.

Nowadays I gather from the _Morning Post_ that balls are comparatively
rare events, but what they lack in frequency they make up in
ostentation. As to the sums which the Heits and the Heims, the Le
Beers and the De Porters, lavish on one night's entertainment I hear
statistical accounts which not only outrage economy but stagger
credibility. Here again the rushing flood of ill-gotten gold has
overflowed its banks, and polluted the "crystal river of unreproved
enjoyment."

There is yet another form of entertainment which Emulous Ostentation
has destroyed. A few years ago there still were women in London who
could hold a "salon." Of these gatherings the principal attraction
was the hostess, and, in a secondary degree, the agreeableness of the
people whom she could gather round her. Of fuss and finery, decoration
and display, there was absolutely nothing. A typical instance of what
I mean will perhaps recur to the memory of some who read this chapter.
Picture to yourself two not very large and rather dingy rooms. The
furniture is dark and old-fashioned--mahogany and rosewood, with here
and there a good cabinet or a French armchair. No prettiness of lace
and china; no flowers; and not very much light. Books everywhere, some
good engravings, a comfortable sofa, and a tray of tea and coffee.
That was all. It is difficult to conceive a less ostentatious or a
more economical mode of entertaining; yet the lady who presided over
that "salon" had been for fifty years one of the most celebrated women
in Europe; had been embraced by Napoleon; had flirted with the Allied
Sovereigns; had been described by Byron; had discussed scholarship
with Grote, and statecraft with Metternich; had sate to Lawrence,
and caballed with Antonelli. Even in old age and decrepitude she
opened her rooms to her friends every evening in the year, and never,
even in the depths of September, found her court deserted. Certainly
it was a social triumph, and one has only to compare it with the
scene in the stockbroker's saloon--the blaze of electric light,
the jungle of flowers, the furniture from Sinclair's, the pictures
from Christie's--and to contrast the assembled guests. Instead of
celebrities, notorieties--woman at once under-dressed and over-dressed;
men with cent. per cent. written deep in every line of their expressive
countenances; and, at the centre of the throng, a hostess in a diamond
crown, who conducts her correspondence by telegraph, because her
spelling is a little shaky and mistakes in telegrams are charitably
attributed to the clerks.

One of the worst properties of Emulous Ostentation is that it naturally
affects its victims with an insatiable thirst for money. If Mrs.
Tymmyns in Onslow Gardens is to have as good a dinner, and as smart
a victoria, and as large a tiara, as her friend Mrs. Goldbug in Park
Lane, it is obvious that Mr. Tymmyns must find the money somehow. Who
wills the end wills the means; and, if social exigencies demand a
larger outlay, the Tymmynses cannot afford to be too scrupulous about
their method of providing for it. I suppose it is this consideration
which makes us just now a nation of gamblers, whereas our more
respectable but less adventurous fathers were well content to be a
nation of shopkeepers.

Of course, in all ages there has been a gambling clique in society;
but in old days it kept itself, as the saying is, to itself. Of
necessity it always was on the look-out for neophytes to initiate
and to pillage, but the non-gambling majority of society regarded
the gambling minority with horror; and a man who palpably meant to
make money out of a visit to a country house would probably have been
requested to withdraw. "Order a fly for Mr. L. at eleven o'clock,"
said old Lord Crewe to the butler when a guest had committed a social
atrocity under his roof. "Thank you, Lord Crewe," said Mr. L., "but not
for me. I am not going to-day." "Oh yes, you are," responded the host,
and secreted himself in his private apartments till the offender had
been duly extruded. Similar justice would, I think, have been dealt
out to a gambler who rooked the young and the inexperienced. Not so
to-day; the pigeon, however unfledged and tender, is the appointed
prey of the rook, and the venerable bird who does the plucking is
entirely undeterred by any considerations of pity, shame, or fear. "Is
he any good?" is a question which circulates round the Board of Green
Cloth whenever a new face fresh from Oxford or Sandhurst is noted in
the social throng. "Oh yes, he's all right; I know his people," may
be the cheerful response; or else, in a very different note, "No, he
hasn't got a feather to fly with." Fortunate is the youth on whom this
disparaging verdict is pronounced, for in that case he may escape the
benevolent attentions of the

                      "Many-wintered crow
  That leads the gambling rookery home."

But even impecuniosity does not always protect the inexperienced. A
lady who had lived for some years in the country returned to London not
long ago, and, enumerating the social changes which she had observed,
she said, "People seem to marry on £500 a year and yet have diamond
tiaras." It was, perhaps, a too hasty generalization, but an instance
in point immediately recurred to my recollection. A young couple had
married with no other means of subsistence than smartness, good looks,
and pleasant manners. After a prolonged tour round the country houses
of their innumerable friends, they settled down at Woolwich. "Why
Woolwich?" was the natural enquiry; and the reason, when at length
it came to light, was highly characteristic of the age. It appeared
that these kind young people used to give nice little evening parties,
invite the "Gentlemen Cadets" from Woolwich Academy, and make them
play cards for money. The device of setting up housekeeping on the
pocket-money of babes and sucklings is thoroughly symptomatic of our
decadence. Emulous Ostentation makes every one want more money than he
has, and at the same time drugs all scruples of conscience as to the
method of obtaining it.



XLIX

PRINCIPLE AND PREJUDICE


Mr. J. A. Froude once told me that he did not in the least mind the
accusation which was brought against him (certainly not without reason)
of being prejudiced. "A good stiff prejudice," he said, "is a very
useful thing. It is like a rusty weathercock. It will yield to a strong
and long-continued blast of conviction, but it does not veer round and
round in compliance with every shifting current of opinion."

What Mr. Froude expressed other people felt, though perhaps they would
not have cared to avow it so honestly.

One of the most notable changes which I have seen is the decay of
prejudice. In old days people felt strongly and spoke strongly, and
acted as they spoke. In every controversy they were absolutely certain
that they were right and that the other side was wrong, and they did
not mince their words when they expressed their opinions.

The first Lord Leicester of the present creation (1775-1844) told my
father (1807-1894) that, when he was a boy, his grandfather had taken
him on his knee and said, "Now, my dear Tom, whatever else you do
in life, mind you never trust a Tory;" and Lord Leicester added, "I
never have, and, by George, I never will." On the other hand, when
Dr. Longley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, did homage on his
appointment to the see of Ripon, King William IV. said, "Bishop of
Ripon, I charge you, as you shall answer before Almighty God, that you
never by word or deed give encouragement to those d---- d Whigs, who
would upset the Church of England."

John Keble, the gentle saint of the Tractarian movement, when he saw
the Whigs preparing to attack the property of the Church, proclaimed
that the time had come when "scoundrels should be called scoundrels."
And the Tractarians had no monopoly of vigorous invective, for, when
their famous "Tract XC." incurred the censure of an Evangelical dean,
he urbanely remarked that "he would be sorry to trust the author of
that tract with his purse."

Macaulay, on the morning after a vital division, in which the Whigs had
saved their places by seventy-nine votes, wrote triumphantly to his
sister--

  "So hang the dirty Tories, and let them starve and pine,
  And hurrah! for the majority of glorious seventy-nine."

The same cordial partisan wrote of a political opponent that he was "a
bad, a very bad, man; a disgrace to politics and to literature;" and,
of an acquaintance who had offended him socially, "his powers gone;
his spite immortal--a dead nettle."

The great and good Lord Shaftesbury, repudiating the theology of "Ecce
Homo," pronounced it "the most pestilential book ever vomited from
the jaws of Hell;" and, dividing his political favours with admirable
impartiality, he denounced "the brazen faces, low insults, and accursed
effrontery" of the Radicals; declared that Mr. Gladstone's "public
life had long been an effort to retain his principles and yet not lose
his position;" and dismissed Lord Beaconsfield as "a leper, without
principle, without feeling, without regard to anything, human or
divine, beyond his personal ambition." In the same spirit of hearty
prejudice, Bishop Wilberforce deplored the political exigencies which
had driven his friend Gladstone into "the foul arms of the Whigs."
In the opposite camp was ranged a lady, well remembered in the inner
circles of Whiggery, who never would enter a four-wheeled cab until she
had elicited from the driver that he _was not_ a Puseyite and _was_ a
Whig.

"Mamma," asked a little girl of Whig parentage, who from her cradle had
heard nothing but denunciation of her father's political opponents,
"are Tories born wicked, or do they grow wicked afterwards?" And her
mother judiciously replied, "My dear, they are born wicked and grow
worse."

But alas! they are "gone down to Hades, even many stalwart sons of
heroes,"--with King William at their head, and Lord Shaftesbury and
Lord Leicester, and Keble and Macaulay and Froude in his wake--men who
knew what they believed, and, knowing it, were not ashamed to avow it,
and saw little to praise or like in the adherents of a contrary opinion.

They are gone, and we are left--an unprejudiced, but an invertebrate
and a flaccid, generation. No one seems to believe anything very
firmly. No one has the slightest notion of putting himself to any
inconvenience for his belief. No one dreams of disliking or distrusting
a political or religious opponent, or of treating difference of opinion
as a line of social cleavage.

In old days, King Leopold of Belgium told Bishop Wilberforce that
"the only position for a Church was to say, 'Believe this or you are
damned.'" To-day nothing in religion is regarded as unquestionably
true. When the late Archbishop Benson first became acquainted with
society in London, he asked, in shocked amazement, "What do these
people believe?"--and no very satisfactory answer was forthcoming. If
society has any religious beliefs (and this is more than questionable),
it holds them with the loosest grasp, and is on the easiest terms of
intercourse with every other belief and unbelief. The most fashionable
teachers of religion have one eye nervously fixed on the ever-shifting
currents of negation, talk plausibly about putting the Faith in its
proper relation with modern thought, and toil panting in the wake of
science; only to find each fresh theory exploded just at the moment
when they have managed to apprehend it.

We used to be taught in our nurseries that, when "Old Daddy Longlegs
wouldn't say his prayers," it was our duty to "Take him by the left
leg and throw him downstairs;" and the student of folklore will be
pleased to observe in this ditty the immemorial inclination of mankind
to punish people who will not square their religion with ours. The
spirit of religious persecution dies hard, but the decay of prejudice
has sapped its strength. It does not thrive in the atmosphere of modern
indifferentism, and admirable ladies who believe that Ritualists ride
donkeys on Palm Sunday and sacrifice lambs on Good Friday find it
difficult to revive the cry of "No Popery" with any practical effect.

The decay of prejudice in the sphere of politics is even more
remarkable than in that of religion. In old days, political agreement
was a strong and a constraining bond. When people saw a clear right and
wrong in politics, they governed their private as well as their public
life accordingly. People who held the same political beliefs lived and
died together. In society and hospitality, in work and recreation, in
journalism and literature--even in such seemingly indifferent matters
as art and the drama--they were closely and permanently associated.

Eton was supposed to cherish a romantic affection for the Stuarts,
and therefore to be a fit training place for sucking Tories; Harrow
had always been Hanoverian, and therefore attracted little Whigs to
its Hill. Oxford, with its Caroline theology and Jacobite tradition,
was the Tory university; Cambridge was the nursing-mother of Whigs,
until Edinburgh, under the influence of Jeffrey and Brougham, tore her
babes from her breast. In society you must choose between the Duchess
of Devonshire and the Duchess of Gordon, or, in a later generation,
between Lady Holland and Lady Jersey. In clubland the width of St.
James's Street marked a dividing line of abysmal depth; and to this day
"Grillon's" remains the memorial of an attempt, then unique, to bring
politicians of opposite sides together in social intercourse. On the
one side stood Scott--where Burke had stood before him--the Guardian
Angel of Monarchy and Aristocracy: on the other were Shelley and Byron,
and (till they turned their coats) the emancipated singers of Freedom
and Humanity. The two political parties had even their favourite
actors, and the Tories swore by Kemble while the Whigs roared for Kean.

Then, as now, the Tories were a wealthy, powerful, and highly-organized
confederacy. The Whigs were notoriously a family party. From John, Lord
Gower, who died in 1754, and was the great-great-great-grandfather of
the present Duke of Sutherland, descend all the Gowers, Levesons,
Howards, Cavendishes, Grosvenors, Harcourts, and Russells who walk on
the face of the earth. It is a goodly company. Well might Thackeray
exclaim, "I'm not a Whig; but oh, how I should like to be one!"

Lord Beaconsfield described in "Coningsby" how the Radical
manufacturer, sending his boy to Eton, charged him to form no
intimacies with his father's hereditary foes. This may have been a
flight of fancy; but certainly, when a lad was going to Oxford or
Cambridge, his parents and family friends would warn him against
entering into friendships with the other side. The University Clubs
which he joined and the votes which he gave at the Union were watched
with anxious care. He was early initiated into the political society
to which his father belonged. Extraneous intimacies were regarded
with the most suspicious anxiety. Mothers did all they knew to make
their darlings acquainted with daughters of families whose political
faith was pure, and I have myself learned, by not remote tradition,
the indignant horror which pervaded a great Whig family when the
heir-presumptive to its honours married the daughter of a Tory Lord
Chamberlain. "That girl will ruin the politics of the family and undo
the work of two hundred years" was the prophecy; and I have seen it
fulfilled.



L

CULTURE


One of the social changes which most impresses me is the decay of
intellectual cultivation. This may sound paradoxical in an age which
habitually talks so much about Education and Culture; but I am
persuaded that it is true. Dilettantism is universal, and a smattering
of erudition, infinitely more offensive than honest and manly
ignorance, has usurped the place which was formerly occupied by genuine
and liberal learning. My own view of the subject is probably tinged by
the fact that I was born a Whig and brought up in a Whiggish society;
for the Whigs were rather specially the allies of learning, and made it
a point of honour to know, though never to parade, the best that has
been thought and written. Very likely they had no monopoly of culture,
and the Tories were just as well-informed. But a man "belongs to his
belongings," and one can only describe what one has seen; and here the
contrast between Past and Present is palpable enough. I am not now
thinking of professed scholars and students, such as Lord Stanhope and
Sir Charles Bunbury, or of professed blue-stockings, such as Barbarina
Lady Dacre and Georgiana Lady Chatterton; but of ordinary men and women
of good family and good position, who had received the usual education
of their class and had profited by it.

Mr. Gladstone used to say that, in his schooldays at Eton, it was
possible to learn much or to learn nothing, but it was not possible to
learn superficially. And one saw the same in afterlife. What people
professed to know they knew. The affectation of culture was despised;
and ignorance, where it existed, was honestly confessed. For example,
every one knew Italian, but no one pretended to know German. I remember
men who had never been to a University but had passed straight from
a Public School to a Cavalry Regiment or the House of Commons, and
who yet could quote Horace as easily as the present generation quotes
Kipling. These people inherited the traditions of Mrs. Montagu,
who "vindicated the genius of Shakespeare against the calumnies of
Voltaire," and they knew the greatest poet of all time with an absolute
ease and familiarity. They did not trouble themselves about various
readings and corrupt texts and difficult passages. They had nothing in
common with that true father of all Shakespearean criticism, Mr. Curdle
in "Nicholas Nickleby," who had written a treatise on the question
whether Juliet's nurse's husband was really "a merry man" or whether
it was merely his widow's affectionate partiality that induced her so
to report him. But they knew the whole mass of the plays with a wide
and generous intimacy; their speech was saturated with the immortal
diction, and Hamlet's speculations were their nearest approach to
metaphysics.

Broadly speaking, all educated people knew the English poets down to
the end of the eighteenth century. Byron and Moore were enjoyed with
a sort of furtive and fearful pleasure; and Wordsworth was tolerated.
Every one knew Scott's novels by heart, and had his or her favourite
heroine and hero.

Then, again, all educated people knew history in a broad and
comprehensive way. They did not concern themselves about ethnological
theories, influences of race and climate and geography, streams of
tendency, and the operation of unseen laws; but they knew all about the
great people and the great events of time. They were conversant with
all that was concrete and ascertainable; and they took sides as eagerly
and as definitely in the strifes of Yorkist and Lancastrian, Protestant
and Papist, Roundhead and Cavalier, as in the controversies over the
Reform Bill or the Repeal of the Corn Laws.

Then, again, all educated people knew the laws of architecture and of
painting; and, though it must be confessed that in these respects their
views were not very original, still they were founded on first-hand
knowledge of famous models, and, though conventional, were never
ignorant.

But it will be said that all this represents no very overwhelming mass
of culture, and that, if these were all the accomplishments which the
last generation had to boast of, their successors have no reason to
dread comparison.

Well, I expressly said that I was not describing learned or even
exceptionally well-read people, but merely the general level of
educated society; and that level is, I am persuaded, infinitely lower
than it was in former generations. Of course there are instances to the
contrary which perplex and disturb the public judgment, and give rise
to the delusion that this is a learned age. Thus we have in society and
politics such scholars as Lord Milner and Mr. Asquith and Mr. Herbert
Paul; but then there have always been some scholars in public life, so
there is nothing remarkable in the persistence of the type; whereas,
on the other hand, the system of smattering and top-dressing which
pervades Universities and Public Schools produces an ever-increasing
crop of gentlemen who, like Mr. Riley in "The Mill on the Floss," have
brought away with them from Oxford or Cambridge a general sense of
knowing Latin, though their comprehension of any particular Latin is
not ready.

It is, I believe, generally admitted that we speak French less fluently
and less idiomatically than our fathers. The "barbarous neglect" of
Italian, which used to rouse Mr. Gladstone's indignation, is now
complete; and an even superstitious respect for the German language is
accompanied by a curious ignorance of German literature. I remember an
excellent picture in _Punch_ which depicted that ideal representative
of skin-deep culture--the Rev. Robert Elsmere--on his knees before
the sceptical squire, saying, "Pray, pray, don't mention the name of
another German writer, or I shall have to resign my living."

Then, again, as regards women; of whom, quite as much as of men, I was
thinking when I described the culture of bygone society. Here and there
we see startling instances of erudition which throw a reflected and
undeserved glory upon the undistinguished average. Thus we have seen a
lady Senior Wrangler and a lady Senior Classic, and I myself have the
honour of knowing a sweet girl-graduate with golden hair, who got two
Firsts at Oxford.

The face of the earth is covered with Girls' High Schools, and Women's
Colleges standing where they ought not. I am told, but do not know,
that girl-undergraduates are permitted to witness physiological
experiments in the torture-dens of science; and a complete emancipation
in the matter of reading has introduced women to regions of thought and
feeling which in old days were the peculiar domain of men. The results
are not far to seek.

One lady boldly takes the field with an assault on Christianity, and
her apparatus of belated criticism and second-hand learning sets all
society agape. Another fills a novel with morbid pathology, slays
the villain by heart-disease, or makes the heroine interesting with
phthisis; and people, forgetting Mr. Casaubon and Clifford Gray,
exclaim, "How marvellous! This is, indeed, original research." A third,
a fourth, and a fifth devote themselves to the task of readjusting
the relation of the sexes, and fill their passionate volumes with
seduction and lubricity. And here, again, just because our mothers did
not traffic in these wares, the undiscerning public thinks that it has
discovered a new vein of real though unsavoury learning, and ladies
say, "It is not exactly a pleasant book, but one cannot help admiring
the power."

Now I submit that these abnormalities are no substitute for decent
and reasonable culture. Pedantry is not learning; and a vast deal of
specialism, "mugged-up," as boys say, at the British Museum and the
London Library, may co-exist with a profound ignorance of all that is
really worth knowing. It sounds very intellectual to theorize about the
authorship of the Fourth Gospel, and to scoff at St. John's "senile
iterations and contorted metaphysics"; but, when a clergyman read
St. Paul's eulogy on Charity instead of the address at the end of a
wedding, one of his hearers said, "How very appropriate that was! Where
did you get it from?"

We can all patter about the traces of Bacon's influence in "The Merry
Wives of Windsor," and ransack our family histories for the original
of "Mr. W. H." But, when "Cymbeline" was put on the stage, society
was startled to find that the title-rôle was not a woman's. A year or
two ago some excellent scenes from Jane Austen's novels were given
in a Belgravian drawing-room, and a lady of the highest notoriety,
enthusiastically praising the performance, enquired who was the author
of the dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood, and whether he had
written anything else.

I have known in these later years a judge who had never seen the view
from Richmond Hill; a publicist who had never heard of Lord Althorp;
and an authoress who did not know the name of Izaak Walton. But
probably the most typical illustration of modern culture was the reply
of a lady who had been enthusing over the Wagnerian Cycle, and, when
I asked her to tell me quite honestly, as between old friends, if she
really enjoyed it, replied, "Oh yes! I think one likes Wagner--_doesn't
one_?"



LI

RELIGION


There once was an Evangelical lady who had a Latitudinarian daughter
and a Ritualistic son. On Sunday morning, when they were forsaking the
family pew and setting out for their respective places of objectionable
worship, these graceless young people used to join hands and exclaim,
"Look at us, dear mamma! Do we not exemplify what you are so fond of
saying, 'Infidelity and superstition, those kindred evils, go hand in
hand'?"

The combination thus flippantly stated is a conspicuous sign of the
present times. The decay of religion and the increase of superstition
are among the most noteworthy of the social changes which I have seen.

When I speak of the decay of religion, of course I must be understood
to refer only to external observances. As to interior convictions, I
have neither the will nor the power to investigate them. I deal only
with the habits of religious practice, and in this respect the contrast
between Then and Now is marked indeed.

In the first place, grace was then said before and after dinner. I do
not know that the ceremony was very edifying, but it was traditional
and respectable. Bishop Wilberforce, in his diary, tells of a greedy
clergyman who, when asked to say grace at a dinner-party, used to
vary the form according to the character of the wine-glasses which he
saw before him on the table. If they were champagne-glasses, he used
to begin the benediction with "Bountiful Jehovah"; but, if they were
only claret-glasses, he said, "We are not worthy of the least of Thy
mercies."

Charles Kingsley, who generally drew his social portraits from actual
life, described the impressive eloquence of the Rev. Mr. O'Blareaway,
who inaugurated an exceptionally good dinner by praying "that the daily
bread of our less-favoured brethren might be mercifully vouchsafed to
them."

There was a well-remembered squire in Hertfordshire whose love of his
dinner was constantly at war with his pietistic traditions. He always
had his glass of sherry poured out before he sat down to dinner, so
that he might get it without a moment's delay. One night, in his
generous eagerness, he upset the glass just as he dropped into his
seat at the end of grace, and the formula ran on to an unexpected
conclusion, thus: "For what we are going to receive the Lord make us
truly thankful--D---- n!"

But, if the incongruities which attended grace before dinner were
disturbing, still more so were the solemnities of the close. Grace
after dinner always happened at the moment of loudest and most general
conversation. For an hour and a half people had been stuffing as if
their lives depended on it--"one feeding like forty." After a good deal
of sherry, the champagne had made its tardy appearance, had performed
its welcome rounds, and had in turn been succeeded by port and
home-brewed beer. Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaketh,
and every one was talking at once, and very loud. Perhaps the venue
was laid in a fox-hunting country, and then the air was full of such
voices as these: "Were you out with the squire to-day?" "Any sport?"
"Yes, we'd rather a nice gallop." "Plenty of the animal about, I hope?"
"Well, I don't know. I believe that new keeper at Boreham Wood is a
vulpicide. I don't half like his looks." "What an infernal villain! A
man who would shoot a fox would poison his own grandmother." "Sh! Sh!"
"What's the matter?" "_For what we have received_," &c.

Or perhaps we are dining in London in the height of the season.
Fox-hunting is not the theme, but the conversation is loud, animated,
and discursive. A lyrical echo from the summer of 1866 is borne back
upon my memory--

_Agreeable Rattle._

  This news from abroad is alarming;
    You've seen the _Pall Mall_ of to-day!
  Oh! Ilma di Murska was charming
    To-night in the _Flauto_, they say.

  Not a ghost of a chance for the Tories,
    In spite of Adullam and Lowe;
  By the bye, have you heard the queer stories
    Of Overend, Gurney and Co.?

_Lively Young Lady._ Do you know you've been talking at the top of your
voice all the time grace was going on?

_Agreeable Rattle._ Not really? I'm awfully sorry. But our host mumbles
so, I never can make out what he's saying.

_Lively Young Lady._ I can't imagine why people don't have grace after
dessert. I know I'm much more thankful for strawberry ice than for
saddle of mutton.

And so on and so forth. On the whole, I am not sure that the abolition
of grace is a sign of moral degeneracy, but I note it as a social
change which I have seen.

Another such change is the disuse of Family Players. In the days of
my youth, morning prayers at least formed part of the ritual of every
well-ordered household. The scene recurs vividly to the mental eye--the
dining-room arranged for breakfast, and the master of the house in
top-boots and breeches with the family Bible in close proximity to the
urn on the table. Mamma very often breakfasted upstairs; but the sons
and daughters of the house, perhaps with their toilettes not quite
complete, came in with a rush just as the proceedings began, and a
long row of maid-servants, headed by the housekeeper and supported by
the footmen, were ranged with military precision against the opposite
wall. In families of a more pronouncedly religious tone, evening
prayers were frequently superadded; and at ten o'clock the assembled
guests were aroused from "Squails" or "Consequences" by the entrance
of the butler with "Thornton's Family Prayers" on a silver salver. In
one very Evangelical house which I knew in my youth, printed prayers
were superseded by extempore devotions, and, as the experiment seemed
successful, the servants were invited to make their contributions in
their own words. As long as only the butler and the housekeeper voiced
the aspirations of their fellows, all was well; but, in an evil moment,
a recalcitrant kitchenmaid uttered an unlooked-for petition for her
master and mistress--"And we pray for Sir Thomas and her Ladyship. Oh!
may they have now hearts given them." And the bare suggestion that
there was room for such an improvement caused a prompt return to the
lively oracles of Henry Thornton.

I note the disappearance of the domestic liturgy; and here again, as in
the matter of grace, I submit that, unless the rite can be decently,
reasonably, and reverently performed, it is more honoured in the breach
than in the observance.

Much more significant is the secularization of Sunday. This is not
merely a change, but a change conspicuously for the worse. The amount
of church-going always differed in different circles; religious people
went often and careless people went seldom, but almost every one went
sometimes, if merely from a sense of duty and decorum. Mr. Gladstone,
whose traditions were Evangelical, thought very poorly of what he
called a "once-er," _i.e._ a person who attended divine service only
once on a Sunday. He himself was always a "twice-er," and often a
"thrice-er"; but to-day it would puzzle the social critic to discover a
"twice-er," and even a "once-er" is sufficiently rare to be noticeable.

But far more serious than the decay of mere attendance at church is
the complete abolition of the Day of Rest. People, who have nothing
to do but to amuse themselves, work at that entrancing occupation
with redoubled energy on Sundays. If they are in London, they whirl
off to spend the "week-end" amid the meretricious splendours of the
stockbroker's suburban paradise; and, if they are entertaining friends
at their country houses, they play bridge or tennis or croquet; they
row, ride, cycle, and drive, spend the afternoon in a punt, and wind up
the evening with "The Washington Post."

All this is an enormous change since the days when the only decorous
amusement for Sunday was a visit after church to the stables, or a
walk in the afternoon to the home farm or the kitchen garden; and, of
course, it entails a corresponding amount of labour for the servants.
Maids and valets spend the "week-end" in a whirl of packing and
unpacking, and the whole staff of the kitchen is continuously employed.

In old days people used to reduce the meals on Sunday to the narrowest
dimensions, in order to give the servants their weekly due of rest and
recreation, and in a family with which I am connected the traditional
bill of fare for Sunday's dinner, drawn by a cook who lived before the
School Board, is still affectionately remembered--

  Soup.

  Cold Beef.

  Salad.

  _Cold Sweats._

In brief, respectable people used to eat and drink sparingly on Sunday,
caused no unnecessary work, went a good deal to church, and filled up
their leisure time by visiting sick people in the cottages or teaching
in the Sunday School. No doubt there was a trace of Puritan strictness
about the former practice, and people too generally forgot that the
First Day of the week is by Christian tradition a feast. Society
has rediscovered that great truth. It observes the weekly feast by
over-eating itself, and honours the day of rest by over-working its
dependants.



LII

SUPERSTITION


"Superstition and infidelity usually go together. Professed atheists
have trafficked in augury, and men who do not believe in God
will believe in ghosts." To-day I take up my parable concerning
superstition, to which, time out of mind, the human spirit has betaken
itself as soon as it parted company with faith.

I once asked a lady who, in her earlier life, had lived in the very
heart of society, and who returned to it after a long absence, what was
the change which struck her most forcibly. She promptly replied, "The
growth of superstition. I hear people seriously discussing ghosts. In
my day people who talked in that way would have been put in Bedlam;
their relations would have required no other proof that they were mad."

My own experience entirely confirms this testimony as to the
development of superstition, and I have had some peculiarly favourable
opportunities of observing its moral effect upon its votaries. The
only superstition tolerated in my youth was table-turning, and that
was always treated as more than half a joke. To sit in a darkened
room round a tea-table, secretly join hands under the mahogany, and
"communicate a revolving motion" to it (as Mr. Pickwick to his fists)
was not bad fun when the company was mainly young and larky, but
contained one or two serious people who desired to probe the mystery to
its depths. Or, perhaps, our psychic force would cause the respectable
piece of furniture to rear itself upon one leg, and deal out with a
ponderous foot mysterious raps, which the serious people interpreted
with their own admirable solemnity. I well remember a massive gentleman
with an appalling stammer who proclaimed that some lost document which
we had asked the table to discover would be found in the Vatican
Library, "wrapped in a ragged palimpsest of Tertullian;" and the
quaintness of the utterance dissolved the tables, or at least the
table-turners, in laughter. This particular form of superstition became
discredited among respectable people when sharpers got hold of it and
used it as an engine for robbing the weak-minded. It died, poor thing,
of exposure, and its epitaph was written by Browning in "Mr. Sludge,
the Medium."

It was the same with ghost-stories. People told them--partly to fill
gaps when reasonable conversation failed, and partly for the fun of
making credulous hearers stare and gasp. But no one, except ladies as
weak-minded as Byng's Half-Aunt in "Happy Thoughts," ever thought of
taking them seriously. Bishop Wilberforce invented a splendid story
about a priest and a sliding panel and a concealed confession; and I
believe that he habitually used it as a foolometer, to test the mental
capacity of new acquaintances. But the Bishop belonged to that older
generation which despised superstition, and during the last few years,
twaddle of this kind has risen to the dignity of a pseudo-science.

Necromancy is a favourite substitute for religion. It supplies the
element of mystery without which the human spirit cannot long subsist;
and, as it does not require its adherents to practise self-denial,
or get up early on Sunday, or subscribe to charities, or spend their
leisure in evil-smelling slums, it is a cult particularly well adapted
to a self-indulgent age. I vividly remember a scene which occurred
just before the Coronation. A luxurious luncheon had been prolonged by
the aid of coffee, kümmel, and cigarettes till four o'clock; and the
necromancers--surfeited, flushed, and a little maudlin--were lolling
round the drawing-room fire. A whispered colloquy in a corner was heard
through the surrounding chatter, and the hostess saw her opportunity.
"Dear Lady De Spook, do let us hear. I know you are such a wonderful
medium."

_Lady De Spook._ Really, it was nothing at all out of the common. I had
come home dead tired from the opera, and just as I was going to bed I
heard that rap--you know what I mean?

_Mr. Sludge_ (enthusiastically). Oh yes, indeed I do! No one who has
ever heard it can ever forget it.

_Lady De Spook_ (resuming). Well, and do you know it turned out to be
poor dear Lord De Spook. It was wonderful how energetically he rapped,
for you know he was quite paralysed years before he died; and the
curious thing was that I couldn't make out what he said. It seemed
to be, "Don't buy. Sarah. Search." I was too tired to go on talking
to him, so I went to bed; but next day, do you know, my maid found
the coronet which his first wife, whose name was Sarah, had worn at
the last Coronation. I was just going to order a new one. Wasn't it a
wonderful interposition!--Such a saving!

_Chorus_ (sentimentally). Ah, wonderful indeed! Our dear ones are never
really lost to us.

Closely connected with necromancy is clairvoyance. A man whom I knew
well was taken suddenly and seriously ill, and his relations, who were
enthusiastic spookists, telegraphed for the celebrated clairvoyante
Mrs. Endor. She duly arrived, threw herself into a trance, declared
that the patient would die, came to, and declared that there was
nothing much the matter, and that he would be about again in two or
three days. Then, having pocketed her cheque, she returned to London.
The patient grew rapidly worse, and died; and his relations, though I
am sure they sincerely mourned him, were much sustained in the hour
of bereavement by the thought that the opinion which Mrs. Endor had
given in her trance had proved to be the right one, and that spiritual
science was justified by the result.

But, after all, necromancy and clairvoyance are a little old-fashioned.
Crystal-gazing is more modish. 'Tis as easy as lying. You gather
open-mouthed round a glass ball, and the gifted gazer reports that
which he or she can see, but which is invisible to grosser eyes. There
are no bounds to the fascinating range of a crystal-gazer's fancy, nor
to the awestruck credulity with which his revelations are received.

But crystal is not the only medium through which a purged eye can
discern the mysterious future. Coffee-grounds, though less romantic,
are very serviceable. Our hostess is an expert in this form of science,
and, being a thoroughly amiable woman, she makes the coffee say pretty
much what we should like to hear. "Dear Mr. Taper, this is delightful.
You will be Prime Minister before you die. It is true that your party
will not be in office again just yet; but 'hope on, hope ever,' and
trust your star."

"Oh! Mr. Garbage, I have such good news for you. Your next book will be
an immense success, and, after that, Messrs. Skin & Flint will be more
liberal, and, what with the American copyright and the acting rights,
you will make quite a fortune."

Closely akin to the science of coffee-grounds is that of palmistry.
A wretched gipsy who "tells fortunes" at a race-meeting is sent to
prison; but, when St. Berengaria's gets up a bazaar for its new vestry,
a bejewelled lady sits in a secret chamber (for admission to which an
extra half-crown is charged), and, after scrutinizing your line of
life, tells you that you have had the influenza; and, projecting her
soul into futurity, predicts that the next time you have it you will
get pneumonia unless you are very careful.

Of course, these minor superstitions are mainly ridiculous, and to
get up moral indignation over them would be a waste of force. But
one cannot speak so lightly of the degrading cults which are grouped
together under the name of Spiritualism. I have known a "Spiritual
Wife" who was highly commended in spookish circles because she left her
husband, family, and home in one continent and crossed the world to
find her "affinity" in another. I have known a most promising boy whose
health was destroyed and his career ruined by a hypnotic experiment
performed on him without his parents' knowledge. I have known a
mesmeric clergyman who cozened the women of his congregation out of
money, character, and in some cases reason. Where occultism is pursued,
all veracity and self-respect disappear; pruriency finds a congenial
lodgment, and the issue is--well--what we sometimes see exhibited in
all its uncomeliness at the Central Criminal Court.

The wisest lawgiver who ever lived said, "Thou shalt not suffer a
witch to live." And a great judge acted on the rule. But that was a
long time ago. We have improved upon the jurisprudence of Moses and the
methods of Sir Matthew Hale. Stoning and hanging are a little out of
date, but boycotting is a remedy still within our reach. Whoso is wise
will ponder these things, and will give occultists, male and female, an
uncommonly wide berth.



LIII

THE REMNANT


Some recent observations of mine on the deterioration of society have
drawn this interesting response from an eminent clergyman in the north
of London:--

"Is it possible that in 'Society' itself there is a point of resistance
which may be touched by an effective appeal coming from the wholesomer
elements in English life? Belonging as I do to that section of English
life which is a stranger to Society in the technical sense, I am deeply
impressed with the taint which comes to all circles of society from
the contamination of the circle at the top. To elicit a strong opinion
and a resolute determination from what I may call the Puritan side of
English life, may be perhaps the first step towards the correction
of the evil which Mr. Russell describes. Are there not in Society
itself some men and women who retain the high ideals and the strenuous
purposes of their ancestry? Can they be induced to raise their protest,
to assert their principles, and open the way to a better--because a
purer--future? I venture to make this appeal because it is my fixed
conviction that even in the worst and most degraded society there are
men who sigh for better things, just as in the worst and most degraded
men there remains a desire, however overlaid, for regeneration."

Well, frankly I think that an amiable insanity deludes my reverend
friend if he expects a moral reformation in the sort of society which
I have been describing. It would tax the combined energies of St. John
the Baptist, Savonarola, the two Wesleys, and George Whitefield, all
rolled into one, to convince the people whom I have in my mind of their
ethical shortcomings. They have made their own beds, in every sense of
that expressive phrase, and must lie on them till the cataclysm comes
which will bring us all to our senses.

But I am reminded that I promised to write not exclusively about
deteriorations in society, but about changes of all kinds. That there
has been some change for the better I readily admit, as well as an
enormous number of changes for the worse. "All things are double," says
the Son of Sirach, "one against the other," and in this closing chapter
I will try to balance our gains and our losses.

That there has always been a mixture of good and bad in society is
only another way of saying that society is part of mankind; but, if I
am right in my survey, the bad just now is flagrant and ostentatious
to a degree which we have not known in England since 1837. There was
once a moralist who spoke of the narrow path which lay between right
and wrong, and similarly there used to be a Debatable Land which lay
between the good and evil districts of society. It was inhabited by the
people who, having no ethical convictions of their own, go very much as
they are led. It was written of them long ago that--

  "They eat, they drink, they sleep, they plod,
    They go to church on Sunday;
  And many are afraid of God,
    And more of Mrs. Grundy."

As long as Mrs. Grundy was a real, though comical, guardian of social
propriety--as long as the highest influences in the social system
tended towards virtue and decorum--the inhabitants of the Debatable
Land were even painfully respectable. But now that the "trend" (as
Pennialinus calls it) is all the other way, and Mrs. Grundy has been
deposed as a bore and an anachronism, they willingly follow the "smart"
multitude to do evil; and so the area covered by social wickedness is
much larger than in former times. In other words, the evil of society
is both worse in quality and larger in quantity than it was fifty--or
even twenty--years ago.

Now if this be true--and I hold it to be unquestionable--what have we
to set against it? I reply, the greatly increased activity of those
who are really good. In old days the good were good in a quiescent
and lethargic way. They were punctual in religious observances, public
and private; exemplary in the home and the family, and generous to the
poor. But their religion could scarcely be called active, except in
so far as pottering about among the cottages, or teaching a class of
well-washed children in the Sunday School, can be reckoned as active
employments; and even such activities as these were as a rule confined
to women.

Sir Walter Scott believed that "there were few young men, and those
very sturdy moralists, who would not rather be taxed with some moral
peccadillo than with want of horsemanship." And, in days much more
recent than the beloved Sir Walter's, men, if they were religious,
studiously kept their light under a bushel, and took the utmost pains
to avoid being detected in acts of charity or devotion.

Nowadays all this is changed, and changed, in my opinion, much for the
better. Religious people are ready to let the world know what they
believe, and are active in the pursuit of the things which are pure
and lovely and of good report. Well-dressed young men combine dancing
with slumming. Untidiness and dulness are no longer the necessary
concomitants of virtue. Officers of the Guards sing in the choir and
serve the altar. Men whose names are written in the book of the peerage
as well as the Book of Life conduct Bible-classes and hand round the
hymn-books at mission-services. The group of young M.P.'s who were
nicknamed "Hughligans" showed the astonished House of Commons that
Religion is as practical a thing as Politics, and (as one of them
lately said) they cheerfully encountered that hot water which is the
modern substitute for boiling oil. The Universities send their best
athletes and social favourites to curacies in the slums or martyrdom
in the mission-field. The example set by Mr. James Adderley, when he
left Christ Church and founded the Oxford House at Bethnal Green, has
been followed in every direction. Both the Universities, and most of
the colleges, run "Settlements," where laymen, in the intervals of
professional work and social enjoyment, spread religion, culture, and
physical education amid the "dim, common populations" of Camberwell and
Stratford and Poplar.

The Public Schools, formerly denounced as "the seats and nurseries
of vice," make their full contribution to active religion. Eton and
Winchester and Harrow have their Missions in crowded quarters of great
towns. At one school, the boys have a guild of devotion; at another, a
voluntary Bible-class with which no master inter-meddles. And so the
young citizens of the privileged order gain their first lessons in
religious and social service, and carry the idea with them to the Army
or the Bar or the Stock Exchange or the House of Commons. All this is,
in my eyes, a social change which is also a clear and enormous gain.

But, if what I say is true of men, it is even more conspicuously true
of women. They are no longer content with the moderate church-going
at comfortable hours, and the periodical visits to particularly clean
cottages, which at one time were the sum-total of their activities.
Every well-organized parish has its staff of woman-workers, who
combine method with enthusiasm and piety with common sense. Belgravia
and Mayfair send armies of district-visitors to Hoxton and Poplar.
Girls from fashionable homes, pretty and well dressed, sacrifice
their evenings to clubs and social gatherings for factory-hands and
maids-of-all-work. Beneath the glittering surface of social life, there
is a deep current of wise and devoted effort for those unhappy beings
who are least able to help themselves. And all this philanthropic
energy is distinctively and avowedly Christian. It is the work of
men and women, young and old, widely differentiated from one another
in outward circumstances of wealth and accomplishments and social
influence, but all agreed about "the one thing needful," and all keen
to confess their faith before a hostile world.

What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter? Society, during
the years in which I have known it, has changed enormously, alike in
its exterior characteristics and, as far as I can judge, in its inner
spirit. While some of the changes have been simply innocuous, and a
few even beneficial, the great majority have been gross and palpable
deteriorations. An onlooker who knew society well thus described its
present condition: "We are living in an age of decadence, and we
pretend not to know it. There is not a feature wanting, though we
cannot mention the worst of them. We are Romans of the worst period,
given up to luxury and effeminacy, and caring for nothing but money. We
care no more for beauty in art, but only for a brutal realism. Sport
has lost its manliness, and is a matter of pigeons from a trap, or a
mountain of crushed pheasants to sell to your own tradesmen. Religion
is coming down to jugglers and table-turnings and philanderings with
cults brought, like the rites of Isis, from the East; and as for
patriotism, it is turned on like beer at election times, or worked like
a mechanical doll by wire-pullers. We belong to one of the most corrupt
generations of the human race. To find its equal one must go back to
the worst times of the Roman Empire, and look devilish close then.
But it's uncommonly amusing to live in an age of decadence; you see
the funniest sights and you get every conceivable luxury, and you die
before the irruption of the barbarians."

This is, I believe, a true indictment against the age in which our lot
is cast, although the utterance has just that touch of exaggeration
which secures a hearing for unpalatable truth. But the man who wrote
it left out of account that redeeming element in our national life
which I have discussed in this closing chapter. After all, there is a
world-wide difference between the "Majority" and the "Remnant,"--and
the ten righteous men may yet save the guilty city.



                              POSTSCRIPT


_The bulk of this book appeared in the "Manchester Guardian," and my
thanks are due to Mr. C. P. Scott for permission to reproduce it. The
last twelve chapters were originally published under the title, "For
Better? For Worse?" and they reappear by the kind consent of Mr. Fisher
Unwin._

  _G. W. E. R._

  _Twelfth Night, 1907._


        Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. Edinburgh & London



                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

--Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.





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