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Full text of "The brotherhood of letters"

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THE BROTHERHOOD 

OF 

LETTERS. 



THE BROTHERHOOD 



LETTERS. 



BY 

J. ROGERS REES, 

AUTHOR OF 

' THE DIVERSIONS OF A BOOKWORM," " THE PLEASURES OF A 

BOOKWORM," ETC. 



^^ Ak, did you once see Shelley plain. 
And did he stop and speak to you ? 
And did you speak to hijn again ? 
Ho7v strange it seems ^ ami new /" 

Robert Browning. 



NEW YORK • 
LOCKWOOD & COOMBES, 275, FIFTH AVENUE. 



/ 



im^ 



MY DEAR AND VALUED FRIEND, 

HOBART CLARK, 

I SEND THIS LITTLE VOLUME ACROSS THE 
ATLANTIC. 



The unspoken lies neare?- the heart than any uttered 
word. 



292839 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/brotherhoodofletOOreesrich 



CONTENTS. 



I. IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF THE 

READER I 

II. TOWARDS THE INFINITE . . 26 

III. MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES 47 

IV. SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

THE DEBATABLE LAND BE- 
TWEEN 96 

V. SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY . . 158 

VI. WITH AN OLD LION . . .179 

VII. BEHIND THE SCENES . . . 189 

VIII. NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE 222 

IX. CAMPING OUT . . . . 231 

X. A PASSING GLIMPSE . . .235 

XI. A GIANT IN THE PATH . . 239 

XII. "found again IN THE HEART 

OF A FRIEND". . . .244 

XIII. SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME 25 1 

XIV. BY THK RIVER-SIDE . . . 261 






I. 



IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 
THE READER. 

" It is the nature of the soul to appropriate all 
things. . . , J conquer and incorporate them in 
my ozun conscious domain. His virtue^ — is not 
that mine ? His wit, — if it canjiot be made mine, 
it is not wity — Emerson : *' Compensation." 

" My respiration rose ; I felt a rapid fire colour- 
ing my face. . . . I zuas Eticharisfor Telemachus, 
and Erminia for Tancred ; however, during this 
perfect transfor7nation, I did not yet think that I 
myself was anything, for anyone. The ivhole had 
no connection with myself ; I sought for nothi^tg 
aroiuid me ; I luas them, I saw only the objects 
which existed for them ; it was a drea7n, without 
being awakened'"' — Madame Roland's descrip- 
tion of her first reading of Telemachus and 
Tasso. 

The gods need never trouble them- 
selves to bestow a greater gift upon 
a favourite child than a powerful 
and healthy imagination. I use 

I 



'u/; ^iMAGlIs(ATlbN DEMANDED OF 

the word ** healthy " as a quaHfier, 
knowing right well, with every stu- 
dent of literary biography, that an 
untamed imagination, running riot 
and causing its possessor to in- 
dulge in all kinds of freaks, mental 
and otherwise, is often a curse. Let 
there, however, but be mixed with it 
in its original bestowment a spice of 
pure and honest reasonableness — a 
wee grain of the power to look at 
everyday facts as they are — and the 
future of the chosen child of the 
gods is assured.* Without this ** wee 
grain" on board ship the unmanaged 
sails will prove but playthings for 
wildest winds, and the craft be 
thrown on all kinds of perilous 
rocks ; but with it its course will be 
pursued with ease and harmony ; 
still rapid, but safe. 

* One is tempted to parody the axiom of the 
elder Shandy, and to say: "An ounce of judg- 
ment, in its proper place, is worth a ton of 
fancy, running wild." 



THE READER. 3 

To read literary biography rightly 
and with fullest enjoyment, a man 
should certainly possess this healthy 
imagination. Were I a phrase-coiner, 
I would say that in his case it should 
attain its fullest development as an 
inquisitive-realistic-imagination ; and 
for fear of being thought a heaper-up 
of unnecessary words, I will go a 
little further with these words of 
mine, which threaten to hang about in 
plenty j ust here. A writer of biography 
occasionally works as an artist ; he has 
carefully gone through the materials 
at hand and formed for himself the 
picture he desires his readers to see. 
This he generally gives, and no one 
can blame him ; for his natural bias 
has been (we will suppose) honestly 
followed, and his best is the result. 
Not so, however, always. Another 
writer of biography or autobiography 
will run in the cart-rut he finds in 
front of him ; he has no theory, no 

I — 2 



4 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

ideal ; he goes along with the simple 
intent to get to the end, spreading 
out as he goes all his available 
facts ; and when he has finished 
he mentally says to his readers : 
** There, you have all that can 
be known of the subject." Well 
and good ; we find no fault with 
such a recorder. Every fact is valu- 
able in the life of a great man, as 
Boswell no doubt thought, and as 
Rousseau certainly did think. But 
as the feast-giver does not consider 
his own tastes only, so the writer is 
not the only interested party ; his 
readers come in for consideration. 
One says as he cons the production : 
*' This incident I like. It is just 
what should have been related of 
such a man ; it throws floods of 
light in upon his personality. Ad- 
mirable work !" But another turns 
up his nose, and exclaims : '* What 
humbug to be sure ! The subject of 



THE READER. 5 

this book was a hero ; why should 
I have thrust upon my notice par- 
ticulars of where he walked with his 
wife, and what he said to his gar- 
dener ?" Here, then, hes the trouble; 
we as writers go wrong with some 
classes of readers, and we as readers 
run afoul of certain biographers. And 
painters and art -critics with their 
*' schools " tread the same thorny 
path. Yet, after all, what a miser- 
able world this would be but for 
these differences, and these wise 
veilings by Providence of the pure 
and central truth ! for 

" Absolute truth revealed, would serve to blind 
The soul's bright eye, and sear with tongues of 

flame 
The sinews of the mind." 

Each individual's predilections 
make his light the light, his truth 
the truth. 

Bearing in mind, then, these varia- 
tions of human taste and judgment, 



6 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

we see how valuable a gift to a reader, 
especially of biography, is the inquisi- 
tive-realistic-imagination to which we 
have referred. Inquisitive the reader 
must be, otherwise he will be satisfied 
with any writer's estimate of a great 
man. But he rather wishes to know 
all the kinds of opinions shared by 
the hero of his mood ; no incident is 
too trifling for him to feel an interest 
in it; no conversation too vapid if but 
the man took a part therein. Realistic 
he must needs also be ; for after he 
has discovered all about his hero he 
involuntarily commences the sifting 
process, and fastens on to certain 
occurrences or words to be dwelt 
upon at length with a more fervent 
interest than others : his reahsm 
pounces upon what his subject 
said or did on matters which have 
an especial interest for him, and 
which are peculiarly suited to his 
considerations ; and, like the bee 



THE READER. 7 

upon the flower, having settled upon 
it, he occupies his position till all the 
honey he cares for has been extracted. 
I should, perhaps, rather say that his 
realism focusses his powers of atten- 
tion upon the attractive spot ; and 
then, like the tiny portion of rock 
covered by the limpet, it is for the 
nonce his world to the entire ex- 
clusion of all else. His fast-sticking 
realization of the matter, narrowing 
though it prove for the time, is power- 
ful and effective ; and above all things 
it serves his purpose. But it is his 
imagination which breathes the breath 
of life upon what of the fruits of his 
inquisitiveness his realism has settled 
upon and made its own ; and then, 
lo ! the thing lives, and is (to him at 
all events) supremely satisfying. 

This threefold gift, then — inquisi- 
tive-realistic-imagination — has in it 
the elements of happiness ; breadth 
certainly should be its concomitant. 



8 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

It enables a reader to pick definitely 
and decidedly for himself out of varied 
stores ; and it seals the choice by 
clothing what has been selected in 
garments which for him have sym- 
metry, and in colours which to his 
eyes are beautiful. 

" You say you're fair, you know ; 
'Tis our fancy makes you so." 

The following pages are written for 
those who find enjoyment in musing 
and brooding, and repeating their 
lives through memory.* Imagination 
is certainly necessary to any enjoy- 
ment of them. *' Truth is one and 
poor, like the cruse of Elijah's widow. 
Imagination is the bold face that 
multiplies its oil." 

And it is possible for a man of 
imagination to make a very heaven 

* *' Come, I will tell you a way how you may 
live your time over again. Do but recollect, and 
review what you have seen already, and the work 
is done." — Marcus Aurelius, 



THE READER, 9 

for himself out of very trifling ele- 
ments. His fancy, warmed by a 
sensitive and passionate heart, can 
clothe the most everyday occurrences 
with a golden garb.* Realities may 
be coarse, and in some cases ugly 
and heavy and oppressive, and there 
may be Httle that is truly sweet and 
beautiful in many lives. But we 
have our dreams ! '* We are ill at 
ease whilst we remain glued to earth, 
hobbling along on our two feet which 
drag us wretchedly here and there in 
the place which impounds us. We 

* In a recent after-dinner speech, Mr. George 
Augustus Sstla, in replying for Literature, said he 
once knew a very worthy old citizen of Edinburgh 
who settled his quarterly accounts with unfailing 
punctuality, but always deducted 15 per cent., on 
the ground that he had been intimate with Sir 
Walter Scott. Continuing, Mr. Sala confessed 
that his own claim to return thanks for Literature 
was that he had been on intimate terms with, in- 
deed the disciple and, after a manner, the pupil 
of two great men of letters of the last genera- 
tion — Charles Dickens and William Makepeace 
Thackeray. It was simply through his connection 
with those giants of literature that he had the 
honour to respond to the toast. 



lO IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

need to live in another world, to 
hover in the wide-air kingdom, to 
build palaces in the clouds, to see 
them rise and crumble, to follow in 
a hazy distance the whims of their 
moving architecture and the turns of 
their golden volutes. In this fantas- 
tic world, again, all must be pleasant 
and beautiful, the heart and senses 
must enjoy it, objects must be smiling 
or picturesque, sentiments delicate or 
lofty ; no crudity, incongruity, bru- 
tality, savageness, must come to sully 
with its excess the modulated har- 
mony of this ideal perfection."* In 
a life of dreams spent among the 
notable literary men of the past, we 
claim that it is possible to know an 
enjoyment neither coarse nor vulgar, 
but eminently restful, and conducive 
to mental health. 

It appears to us that Alfred Austin 
succeeded in laying his hand on the 

* Taine. 



THE READER. n 

hem of Truth's garment when he de- 
clared that *' whatever the beloved 
Children of the Muse may fondly 
think, the world cares very little for 
poetry, however much interest it may 
show in certain poets.* It is, never- 
theless, interested in poets the inci- 
dents of whose lives resemble those 
of a first-rate novel, or whose bio- 
graphy can be made to resemble a 
prose romance."t 

And what poetry can equal that of 
a possible life ? ** If, invisible our- 
selves, we could follow a single human 
being through a single day of his life, 
and know all his secret thoughts and 

* A pretentious lady once said, at a notable 
gathering, that she had " never read Shakespeare's 
works herself, but had always entertained the 
highest opinion of him as a man.'''' 

t The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table in one 
of his many moods says : " I know the man I 
would have — a quick-witted, out-spoken, incisive 
fellow . . . who cares for nobody, except for the 
virtue there is in what he says ; delights in taking 
off big wigs and professional gowns, and in the 
disembalming and unbandaging of all literary 
mummies." 



12 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

hopes and anxieties, his prayers and 
tears and good resolves, his pas- 
sionate dehghts and struggles against 
temptation — all that excites and all 
that soothes the heart of man — we 
should have poetry enough to fill a 
volume. Nay, set the imagination 
free, like another bottle-imp, and bid 
it lift for you the roofs of the city, 
street by street, and after a single 
night's observation you may sit down 
and write poetry and romance for the 
rest of your life."* The merest in- 
cident tinged with unusual colour, or 
exhibiting other than ordinary fulfil- 
ment, is sufficient to furnish an ex- 
cellent foundation ; and the castle 
built thereon towers into the clouds 
which hide exalted regions from the 
gaze of the multitude. And what a 
life we live in it ! All that is prosaic 
and commonplace is lost in the 
shadowy distance. Ours is the life 

'^ Longfellow. 



THE READER. 13 

on the hill, and we see not the valley 
below, where the patient bondman 
toils like a beast of burden : we asso- 
ciate with heroes, nay, with gods — 
and of our own making. We see the 
tree-tops waving in the wind, and 
hear the merry birds singing under 
their green roofs ; and we choose to 
forget for the time that at their 
roots there are swine feeding upon 
acorns. 

Given, for instance — and to cease 
with figures of speech — the fact that 
two notable men, with refined tastes 
in common, spent a certain evening 
together, discoursing on subjects 
of mutual interest, and what scope 
we have for conjecture as to how 
their hidden souls leaped out to 
meet each other!* The freed ima- 
gination lingers over such a meeting 

* "I have seen Emerson," writes George Eliot 
to a friend with all the jubilant recollection of a 
genuine red-letter day — '* 1 have seen Emerson — 
the first man I have ever seen." 



14 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

for days and seasons. We live again, 
for ourselves, the hours they thus 
lived, or should have lived, during 
that interview ; we hear again the 
words they spoke, or should have 
spoken ; and these help to make for 
us a life, nay, a world, sacred and 
personal and secluded. And what if 
such interviews, of which we write, 
were not all our fond fancy would 
have them be ! They are enough for 
us as we make them, and we are content. 
One other point, not wholly insig- 
nificant : to enjoy with anything like 
thoroughness the " Interviews " be- 
tween the notable personages whose 
names will be found scattered along 
the following pages, our readers must 
bring with them something of the 
hero-worship felt by Thackeray when 
he said : ** I should like to have been 
Shakespeare's shoe-black, just to have 
lived in his house, just to have wor- 
shipped him, to have run on his 



THE READER, 15 

errands, and seen that sweet, serene 
face."* Surely such a love as this 
was, in itself, a liberal education. 

It does not matter how much 
superior to the worshipper the hero 
may be : the man who worships can- 
not fail to feel himself, in a certain 
sense, of kin to the object of his 
adoration. The mere act of worship 
has in itself an uplifting and refining 
influence of no mean extent-i* In 
this higher life we repeat, in however 
crooked a fashion, the lives of the 
great whose sayings and doings we 
ponder over. The glimpses left to us 

* Thackeray also liked to find indications of 
this spirit of hero-worship in others. " One day 
he was walking along Wych Street, a kind of 
slum-thoroughfare leading to Drury Lane, when 
he passed a group of dirty little street-arabs. One 
little female tatterdemalion looked up at him as he 
passed, and then called out to her younger brother, 
* Hi, Archie! d'you know who him is? He's 
Becky Sharp.'" 

+ We draw the line, however, at conduct similar 
to that of the Duchess of Marlborough, who, alter 
Congreve's death, is said to have preserved his 
memory by inviting to her table, as a constant 
guest, an automaton model of him in ivory. 



i6 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

in the recordings of their friends 
are as so many gaps in the hedge 
through which we peer in upon the 
paths they trod.* Through imagi- 
native sympathy we become imme- 
diate participators in the dramas 
in which they acted. Our interest 
in the matter is thus as highly 
strung and intense as that of any 
artist in his creations — as intense, 
for instance, as that once shown 
by Thackeray, the story of which 
will bear repetition as illustrative of 
our meaning. It is related that one 
day while The Newcomes was in course 
of publication, Lowell, who was then 
in London, met Thackeray on the 
street. *' The novelist was serious in 
manner, and his looks and voice told 

* " The authors truly remembered and loved are 
men in the best sense of the term ; the human, 
the individual, informs and stamps their books with 
an image or an effluence not born of will or mere 
ingenuity, but emanating from the soul ; and this 
is the quality that endears and perpetuates their 
fame." — Tuckerman. 



THE READER. 17 

of weariness and affliction. He saw 
the kindly inquiry in the poet's eyes, 
and said : * Come into Evans's, and 
I'll tell you all about it. I have killed 
the Colonel P"^ So they walked in and 
took a table in a remote corner ; and 
then Thackeray, drawing the fresh 
manuscript from his breast-pocket, 

* Walter Herries Pollock tells us an anecdote of 
Anthony Trollope which is curious and character- 
istic. "He was by no means," says Pollock, 
"given to talking of his own accord about his own 
works, past and present ; indeed, I do not re- 
member to have ever heard him do so except on 
this occasion, when he was writing The Last 
Chronicle of Barset, and he took an opportunity 
of observing that there was an end of Mrs. Proudie. 
Being asked why, he replied that he had been 
writing in the Club, and that round the fire- 
place in the room there was gathered a group of 
young clergymen. They were talking about The 
Last Chronicle, and it was impossible for him to 
avoid hearing what they said. They spoke of the 
work in high praise, but they all agreed as to one 
point — that Mrs. Proudie was becoming an in- 
tolerable nuisance. * What did you do ?' we asked. 
* Well,' he replied, * I hesitated a good deal what 
to do. But I finally made up my mind, and went 
up to them and explained that I couldn't help 
hearing what they were saying, and I added : " I'm 
very much obliged to you. I am Anthony Trol- 
lope, and I'll go home at once and kill Mrs. 
Proudie." * And he did. 



i8 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

read through that exquisitely touch- 
ing chapter which records the death 
of Colonel Newcome. When he came 
to the final Adsum, the tears which 
had been swelling his lids for some 
time trickled down his face, and the 
last word was almost an inarticu- 
late sob."* 

* In some recently-published reminiscences of 
Thackeray, Mr. C. P. Cranch relates his having 
met him in London in 1855. *' At an adjourn- 
ment after dinner to the ' Cider Cellar ' — a very 
plainly-furnished but comfortable parlour on the 
first-floor — Thackeray said to the company : ' By 
the way, have you seen the last number of 77ie 
Newcomes T 

** The company said they had not. 

" 'Then,' said Thackeray, ' I should very much 
like to read you some of it. It is just out.' We 
all, of course, says Mr. Cranch, expressed an 
eager pleasure in this opportunity of hearing him 
read anything from his own books. Whereupon 
he summoned a waiter, and said : 

" ' Here, waiter — here's a shilling — I want you 
to go out and buy for me the last number of J he 
Newcomes.^ 

*' It was soon brought ; and Thackeray began to 
read, and read for an hour, I should think, in his 
quiet, half-plaintive voice, some of the closing 
scenes in his novel. We were all deeply interested. 
I think the last page he read described the death- 
bed of Colonel Newcome. ... I have recorded 
this meeting exactly as it occurred, as there has 
been another version published, not quite correct." 



THE READER. 19 

And yet another instance, perhaps 
not so well known, of this finer sym- 
pathy, this absolute surrender of self 
to what is unseen, but none the less 
thoroughly realized. '* One day Mrs. 
Henry Siddons, a neighbour and in- 
timate of Lord Jeffrey, who often 
entered his library unannounced, 
opened the door very gently to see if 
he were there, and saw enough at a 
glance to convince her that the visit 
was ill-timed. The hard critic of the 
Edinburgh Review was sitting in his 
chair with his head on the table in 
deep grief. As Mrs. Siddons was 
retiring, in the hope that her entrance 
had been unnoticed, Jeffrey raised 
his head and kindly beckoned her 
back. Perceiving that his cheek was 
flushed, and his eyes suffused with 
tears, she begged permission to with- 
draw. When he found that she was 
intending to leave him, he rose from 

2 — 2 



20 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

his chair, took her by both hands, 
and led her to a seat. 

'' ' Don't go, my dear friend ; I 
shall be right again in another 
minute.' 

" * I had no idea you had had any 
bad news, or cause for grief, or I 
would not have come. Is anyone 
dead ?' 

*' ' Yes, indeed. I'm a great goose 
to have given way so, but I could 
not help it. You'll be sorry to hear 
that little Nelly— Boz's Httle Nelly- 
is dead.' " 

Trifles like these often possess a 
distinct value of their own ; and, 
after all, " it is only by the light of 
the tittle-tattle of tradition that we 
can stroll along Fleet Street with 
Dr. Johnson to the Mitre Tavern, or 
to the Kit-Cat to meet Burke, and 
Gibbon, and Goldsmith ; spend half 
an hour with Cowper in his work- 
shop ; or walk down the High 



THE READER, 21 

Street of Edinburgh with Professor 
Wilson to his class-room, * with a 
book under his arm and a week's 
beard on his chin.' " 

Surely the gist of the whole matter 
of which we write is admirably ex- 
pressed in the words of Victor 
Cousin : " If beauty, absent and 
dreamed of, does not affect you as 
much as, and more than, present 
beauty, you may have a thousand 
other gifts — that of imagination has 
been refused you." 

Landor once said that most things 
were real to him except realities ; 
and this we can well understand from 
several incidents in his life — all not- 
able interviews, by the way, and with 
literary men too. One such will 
suffice for the present. When 
troubles hung thickly around him on 
account of his foolish conduct in the 
matter of the Bath scandal ; when 
his personal property had been all 



22 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

sold and his real estate transferred to 
his eldest son, and he was being 
hurried off to the Continent by his 
friends, he '' arrived suddenly at Mr. 
Forster's house, where Dickens and 
some others were at dinner. Dickens 
left the table to see him, expecting 
naturally to find him broken and 
cast down. But the old man's 
thoughts were far away ; he seemed 
as though no ugly or infuriating 
realities had any existence for him, 
and sat talking in his most genial 
vein, principally about Latin Poetry .''"^ 
** I would not blot him out, in his 
tender gallantry, as he sat upon his 
bed at Forster's that night," said one 
of his friends, *' for a million wild 
mistakes at eighty- four years of age.'* 
If there really is but a thin par- 
tition between great wit and madness, 
then is one to be often pardoned for 
an unjust estimate of a great man. 

* Colvin's Landor. 



THE READER. 23 

Take, for instance, the first appear- 
ance of Jonathan Swift on the 
scene where afterwards he was to 
be the moving spirit. We are in- 
troduced to him at the famous 
coffee-house in Covent Garden kept 
by Button, and frequented by the 
gentlemen who were termed ** the 
wits." These wits, one of them 
tells us, had for several successive 
days observed in the coffee-house a 
strange clergyman, who seemed 
utterly unacquainted with any of 
them, and whose custom it was to 
lay his hat down on a table, and 
*' walk backward and forward at a 
good pace for half an hour, or an 
hour, without speaking to any mortal, 
or seeming in the least to attend to 
anything that was going forward 
there. He then used to take up his 
hat, pay his money at the bar, and 
walk away without opening his lips." 
The onlookers, as may be supposed, 



24 IMAGINATION DEMANDED OF 

were greatly fluttered by the ap- 
parition ; for, '* having observed his 
singular behaviour for some time, 
they concluded him to be out of 
his senses, and the name that he 
went by among them was that of 
* The Mad Parson.' " One evening, 
as Mr. Addison and the rest of 
the wits were observing this strange 
character, they saw him cast his 
eyes several times on *'a gentleman 
in boots, who seemed to be just 
come out of the country ;" and at 
last, *' in a very abrupt manner, with- 
out any previous salute " — for Swift 
even then did not fashion himself to 
the formalities — '^ asked him if he re- 
membered any good weather in the 
world." The gentleman in boots, 
after staring a little at the oddity of 
the question, answered that he "re- 
membered a great deal." ** That is 
more than I can say," rejoined the 
questioner. '* I never remember any 



THE READER. 25 

that was not too hot or too cold, too 
wet or too dry. But, however God 
Almighty contrives it, at the end of 
the year it is all very well."* The 
spectators of this scene, who had 
quitted their seats to get nearer the 
interlocutors, were, we are told, more 
than ever confirmed in their opinion 
of the strange parson's madness. 

* Literature and its Professors^ by Thomas 
Puriiell. 






II. 

TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

" The ancient Aryans felt from the beginning, 
ay, it may be, more in the beginfiing than after- 
wards, the presence of a Beyond, of an Infinite^ of 
a Divine^ or whatever else we may call it now ; and 
they tried to grasp and comprehe^id it, as we all do, 
by giving to it name after name. . . . They for- 
sook the bright Devas, not because they believed or 
desired less, but because they believed and desired 
more than the bright Devas. There was a new 
conception working in their mind ; and the cries 
of despair were but the harbingers of a new 
birth.'' — Max Muller : "On the Origin and 
Growth of Religion as illustrated by the Religions 
of India." 

^^ Mystical, more than magical, is that Com- 
muning of Soul with Soul, both looking heaven- 
ward: here properly Soul first speaks with Soul." — 
Carlyle : " Sartor Resartus." 

This age of ours is certainly one 
of mental unrest. Everyone has 
views and aspirations of his own 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 27 

on all subjects, from the earth- 
worm to the over-soul. Doubt of 
some kind or other generally runs 
in harness with these views and 
aspirations, or rather, usually pre- 
cedes them. It is sometimes of 
a low and frivolous character, pre- 
tentious and boasting, blowing a 
trumpet to indicate its existence. 
The doubter says to himself in 
foolish pride : *' The greatest men of 
the age are unbelievers, and I will 
be one, for I, too, am superior 
to the common herd." Alas, poor 
fool ! Why not drive a thoroughly 
logical conclusion, and say : ** The 
greatest singers of the day, Tenny- 
son, Browning, and two or three 
others, fasten their boots with tagged 
laces, and so do I ; therefore I, too, 
am a great singer." 

But to the man of tender, yet 
strong, nature, whose desire to get 
nearer his God is the hunger and 



28 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

thirst of his life, and who, in his 
struggle to that end, has to cast 
aside some of the accumulated ideas 
of centuries on minor points ; who, 
whilst floundering in mental uncer- 
tainty, still keeps his heart pure and 
turned to the white light of God's 
presence in the soul ; who, whilst 
surrounded by slighting looks and 
pitying shoulder-shrugs, can sit tran- 
quilly by his own hearthstone and 
croon to himself such an intense 
throb as Newman's '' Lead, Kindly 
Light " — to such an one God's smile 
goes out, and the strong heart-grip of 
the noblest men now living on this 
dear earth of ours. 

I wish to write no deification of 
doubt : rather would I sing of the 
quiet lanes where restful trust wan- 
ders content — where heaven's sun- 
shine falls through the green leaves 
overhead, and the song of the soaring 
lark is heard. But the manly utter- 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE, 29 

ances of Max Miiller, in his Hibbert 
Lectures, ring again and again in our 
ears, teaching us not only lessons of 
sympathy and brotherliness, but also 
of reliance on some of the ways of 
the soul. " Now I know perfectly 
well," he said in one of those notable 
discourses, delivered in the Chapter 
House of Westminster Abbey, ''that 
what I have said just now will be 
misunderstood, will possibly be mis- 
interpreted. I know I shall be ac- 
cused of having defended and glorified 
atheism, and of having represented it 
as the last and highest point which 
man can reach in an evolution of 
religious thought. Let it be so ! If 
there are but a few here present who 
understand what I mean by honest 
atheism, and who know how it differs 
from vulgar atheism — ay, from dis- 
honest theism, I shall feel satisfied ; 
for I know that to understand that 
distinction will often help us in the 



30 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

hour of our sorest need. It will 
teach us that, while the old leaves — 
the leaves of a bright and happy 
spring — are falling, and all seems 
wintry, frozen, and dead, within and 
around us there is, and there must 
be, a new spring in store for every 
warm and honest heart. It will 
teach us that honest doubt is the 
deepest spring of honest faith ; and 
that he only who has lost can find." 

In this connection we cannot, of 
course, fail to remember the memor- 
able occasion of Emerson's visit to 
Carlyle at Craigenputtock, when they 
went out together on the brown hills, 
and sat down and talked of the im- 
mortality of the soul. '* I came," 
wrote Emerson some time after- 
wards, ''from Glasgow to Dumfries, 
and being intent on delivering a 
letter which I had brought from 
Rome, inquired for Craigenputtock. 
It was a farm in Nithsdale, in the 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE, 31 

parish of Dunscore, sixteen miles 
distant. No public coach passed 
near it, so I took a private carriage 
from the inn. I found the house 
amid desolate heathery hills, where 
the lonely scholar nourished his 
mighty heart. Carlyle was a man 
from his youth, an author who did 
not need to hide from his readers, 
and as absolute a man of the world, 
unknown and exiled on that hill- 
farm, as if holding in his own terms 
what is best in London. He was 
tall and gaunt, with a cliff-like brow, 
self-possessed, and holding his extra- 
ordinary powers of conversation in 
easy command ; clinging to his 
northern accent with evident relish ; 
full of lively anecdote, and with a 
streaming humour which floated 
everything he looked upon. . . . Few 
were the objects, and lonely the man 
— ' not a person to speak to within 
sixteen miles except the minister of 



52 TOWARDS THE INFINITE, 

Dunscore ' — so that books inevitably 
made his topics. . . . We went out 
to walk over the long hills, and 
looked at Criffel, then without his 
cap, and down into Wordsworth's 
country. There we sat down and 
talked of the immortality of the soul.'' 

This *'talk" must be to us solely of 
our own liking and formation, based 
upon what we can glean of the views 
of these two friends ; for what else on 
this point is given us by Emerson is 
vague and suggestive only. '* It was 
not Carlyle's fault," he continues, 
** that we talked on that topic, for 
he had the natural disinclination of 
every nimble spirit to bruise itself 
against walls, and did not like to 
place himself where no steps can be 
taken. But he was honest and true, 
and cognisant of the subtle links that 
bind ages together, and saw how 
every event affects all the future. 
* Christ died on the tree : that built 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 33 

Dunscore kirk yonder : that brought 
you and me together. Time has only 
a relative existence. ' " 

What a subject is thus opened up 
for speculation ! I remember as a 
youth reading and re-reading the 
account of this meeting, and piecing 
together in my mind the lines which 
possibly might have been taken by 
the talkers. All the charm of that 
early endeavour '* to force by con- 
jecture a passage into other people's 
thoughts " recurs to me as I w^rite 
the simple words which still have 
the old-time, mystical music about 
them : " There we sat down and talked 
of the immortaliiy of the soulJ"^ 

* Carlyle referred with enthusiasm to this meet- 
ing, and of their "quiet night of clear, fine talk." 
He spoke lovingly of the day " when that supernal 
vision, Waldo Emerson, dawned on him." 

It is currently reported that Carlyle liked to re- 
member that other evening, in London, on which 
Tennyson and he sat in solemn silence smoking 
for hours. "Man Alfred," said Carlyle, as he 
bade his visitor good-night, "we have ha'en a 
graund nicht ; come back again soon !" 

3 



34 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

Years afterwards, when Emerson 
again visited Carlyle, it is said that 
they sat by themselves a goodly por- 
tion of the evening, in the dark, talk- 
ing only of God and immortality, as 
if anxious to discover whether their 
philosophy had thrown any clearer 
light on the all-absorbing topics dis- 
cussed by them on the Scotch 
hills.* 

At Kirkcaldy, long before this, 
Carlyle had made, or strengthened, 
an acquaintance with Edward Irving, 
like himself an Annandale man, 
like himself a student of divinity, 
and, once more, like himself, a teacher 
in a Kirkcaldy school. '' By resi- 
dents in Kirkcaldy," says Dix, *'I 

* ' * I must tell you a story Miss Bremer got 
from Emerson. Carlyle was very angry with him 
for not believing in a devil, and to convert him 
took him amongst all the horrors of London — the 
gin-shops, etc. — and finally to the House of Com- 
mons, plying him at every turn with the question, 
* Do you believe in a devil noo ?' " — George Eliot 
to Sara Hennell^ 3rd Nov., 1 851. 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 35 

have heard the two described as 
often seen walking on the sea-beach 
in earnest conversation, and no 
doubt the doctrines of the Church, 
which both were preparing to enter, 
formed frequently a main portion of 
their talk, to which it would not be 
surprising if Carlyle contributed the 
sceptical, and Irving the believing, 
portion. It is curious that both 
these men should afterwards have 
made so very peculiar a figure in 
London, as stormy denouncers (each 
in his own fashion) of the estab- 
lished present, and prophets of a 
better future."* 

* What Carlyle wrote as an epitaph on Irving 
came forth hot and earnest, and direct from his 
heart. " He referred to his short life (forty-two 
years only) — of his thorough truth, of his youth 
maturing in the Scotch solitudes — and, after abiding 
for a time in the cold northern city, of his being 
cast into this blazing Babylon, where he was at 
first smothered with caresses, and then denounced 
by the fickle, veering idolaters who crawled at his 
feet. Yet not a fact could be urged against him, 
except that his opinions differed from theirs. So 
they cast him down into the satanic pit, amongst 

3—2 



36 TOWARDS THE INFINITE, 

As I look out just now from my 
study window upon the stars, steel- 
blue above the downs, my thoughts 
are carried away to another meet- 
ing (or, rather, break-up of a meet- 
ing), at which Carlyle took his part. 
I know right well that these stories 
of the Chelsea Sage are common pro- 
perty with all readers ; but they suit 
my mood and purpose, and I use 
them accordingly, though not to fill 
the pages of this little volume v^ith 
padding.* Soon after the publica- 

the refuse of their kind, and went on worshipping 
another image — some coarse Belial whom they 
had themselves manufactured, and transfigured 
into a god." 

* There seems to me nothing in our literature 
more full of genuine human feeling, unparaded as 
it is, than the following, extracted from Carlyle's 
Life of John Sterling. The man Carlyle^ at his 
best, is in it. *' But now," he says, *' autumn ap- 
proaching, Sterling had to quit clubs for matters 
of sadder consideration. A new removal, what 
we call • his third peregrinity,' had to be decided 
on ; and it was resolved that Rome should be the 
goal of it, the journey to be done in company with 
Calvert, whom, also, the Italian climate might be 
made to serve instead of Madeira. One of the 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 37 

tion of Heroes and Hero-Worship, 
Carlyle and Leigh Hunt were to- 
gether at a small party, and a con- 
versation was started between these 
two concerning the heroism of man. 
** Leigh Hunt had said something 
about the islands of the blest, or El 
Dorado, or the Millennium, and was 
flowing on his bright and hopeful 

liveliest recollections I have, connected with the 
A7ionymous Club [a little club, established by John 
Sterling, where monthly, over a frugal dinner, a 
small select company of persons, to whom it was 
pleasant to talk, used to meet, having Tennyson as 
one of the number, and James Spedding for secre- 
tary], is that of once escorting Sterling, after a 
certain meeting there, which I had seen only to- 
wards the end, and now remember nothing of, 
except that, on breaking up, he proved to be en- 
cumbered with a carpet-bag, and could not at 
once find a cab for Knightsbridge. Some little 
bantering hereupon, during the instants of embargo. 
But we carried his carpet-bag, slinging it on my 
stick, two or three of us alternately, through dusty 
vacant streets, under the gaslight and the stars, 
towards the surest cab-stand, still jesting, or pre- 
tending to jest, he and we, not in the mirthfulest 
manner, and had (I suppose) our own feelings 
about the poor pilgrim, who was to go on the 
morrow, and had hurried to meet us in this way, 
as the last thing before leaving England." 



38 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

way, when Carlyle dropped some 
heavy tree-trunk across Hunt's plea- 
sant stream, and banked it up with 
philosophical doubts and objections 
at every interval of the speaker's 
joyous progress. But the unmiti- 
gated Hunt never ceased his over- 
flowing anticipations, nor the satur- 
nine Carlyle his infinite demurs to 
these finite flourishings. The lis- 
teners laughed and applauded by 
turns, and had now fairly pitted 
them against each other as the 
philosopher of hopefulness and of 
the unhopeful. The contest con- 
tinued with all that ready wit and 
philosophy, that mixture of plea- 
santry and profundity, that exten- 
sive knowledge of books and char- 
acter, with their ready application in 
argument or illustration, and that 
perfect ease and good-nature which 
distinguished both of these men. 
The opponents were so well matched 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 39 

that it was quite clear the contest 
would never come to an end. But 
the night was far advanced, and the 
party broke up. They all sallied 
forth, and, leaving the close room, 
the candles and the arguments be- 
hind them, suddenly found them- 
selves in presence of a most brilliant 
star-lit night. They all looked up. 
* Now,' thought Hunt, * Carlyle's 
done for ! He can have no answer 
to that !' 

'* * There !' shouted Hunt; 'look up 
there — look at that glorious harmony, 
that sings with infinite voices an 
eternal song of hope in the soul of 
man.' 

** Carlyle looked up. They all re- 
mained silent to hear what he would 
say. They began to think he was 
silenced at last ; he was a mortal 
man. But out of that silence came 
a few low-toned words, in a broad 
Scotch accent. And who on earth 



40 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

could have anticipated what the voice 
said ? 

"'Eh, it's a sad sight!' 

** Hunt sat down on a stone step. 
They all laughed, then looked very 
thoughtful. Had the finite measured 
itself with infinity, instead of surren- 
dering itself up to the influence ? 
Again they laughed, then bade each 
other good-night, and betook them- 
selves homewards with slow and 
serious pace/'* 

How different to all this were the 
conversations on the same all-absorb- 
ing topics which took place between 
Baxter and Sir Matthew Hale, of 



* Home's A/'e7i/ Spirit of the Age. 

What a right lovable and kindly spirit had 
Leigh Hunt I After a dinner at the house of 
Barry Cornwall, at which Kinglake and Haw- 
thorne, amongst others, were present, when the 
gentlemen rose to join the ladies in the drawing- 
room, *' the two dear old poets, Leigh Hunt and 
Barry Cornwall, mounted the stairs with their 
arms round each other in a very tender and loving 
way. Hawthorne often referred to this scene as 
one he would not have missed for a great deal." 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 41 

which the former tells us : '* The 
conference which I had frequently 
with him, mostly about the immor- 
tahty of the soul and other philo- 
sophical and foundation points, was 
so edifying that his very questions 
and objections did help me to more 
light than other men's solutions." 

Mr. F.W. H. Myers, in an extremely 
interesting article on George Eliot, 
tells of how he once walked with her 
at Cambridge, in the Fellows' garden 
of Trinity, on an evening of rainy 
May, when '' she, stirred somewhat 
beyond her wont, and taking as her 
text the three words which have 
been used so often as the inspiring 
trumpet-calls of men — the words 
God, Immortality, Duty — pronounced 
with terrible earnestness how incon- 
ceivable was the first, how unbeliev- 
able the second, and yet how peremp- 
tory and absolute the third. Never, 
perhaps," he continues, **have sterner 



42 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

accents affirmed the sovereignty of 
impersonal and unrecompensing law. 
I listened, and night fell ; her grave, 
majestic countenance turned toward 
me like a sibyl's in the gloom ; it 
was as though she withdrew from 
my grasp one by one the two scrolls 
of promise, and left me the third 
scroll only, awful with inevitable 
fates. And when we stood at length 
and parted, amid that columnar 
circuit of the forest trees, beneath 
the last twilight of starless skies, I 
seemed to be gazing, like Titus at 
Jerusalem, on vacant seats and 
empty halls — on a sanctuary with 
no presence to hallow it, and heaven 
left lonely of a God." 

To many noble-hearted men and 
women, even nowadays, nothing is 
left but their duty. Through some 
defect in their soul's sight they 
fail to see the ultimate of the busy 
speculation with which this nine- 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 43 

teenth century is rife — nay, they 
scarce see even its true tendency. 
Its way is so devious ; and the maze 
through which it subtly gUdes is so 
overgrown and difficult of penetra- 
tion, that it is a matter of no wonder 
that a shrewd conjecture is often 
made to take the place of definite 
knowledge. But work is definite 
and always near at hand — something 
upon which energy can be legiti- 
mately expended, and from which 
results can be calculated with pre- 
cision. And the truth remains ever 
fresh, that '* to forget yourself in some 
worthy purpose outside of yourself 
is the secret of a rich and happy 
life." Many a man, wrapped round 
with the coils of black doubt, can, 
equally with him who lives in the 
sunshine of faith, set his seal to the 
truth of what has been written of 
the glory of true work earnestly per- 
formed. I say true work earnestly per- 



44 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

formed, having in my mind the saying 
of Emerson : '' God will not have 
His work made manifest by cowards. 
A man is relieved and gay when he 
has put his heart into his work and 
done his best ; but what he has said 
or done otherwise shall give him no 
peace. It is a deliverance which 
does not deliver. In the attempt 
his genius deserts him ; no muse 
befriends ; no invention, no hope." 

I should like to have seen the 
grim visage of Carlyle, and the play 
upon the features of William Black 
the novelist, at that interview when 
the Chelsea Sage put the posing 
question to his younger brother of 
the pen who, by the way, has given us 
such charming stories : *' But when 
are ye going to do some wark ?'** 

* Mr. Carlyle's severest critic, and a critic of his 
own school, was an old parish roadman at Eccle- 
fechan. 

"Been a long time in this neighbourhood?" 
once asked an American traveller on the outlook 
for a sight of the sage. 



TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 45 

In these days of raving about 
genius and its prescriptive rights of 
vagabondage and irresponsibility, it 
is refreshing to read the definite 
statements made about work, even 
though the sentiment be common- 
place and has found a home in every 



" Been here a' ma days, sir." 

*' Then you'll know the Carlyles ?" 

*' Weel that ! A ken the whole o' them. There 
was, let me see," he said, leaning on his shovel 
and pondering, " there was Jock ; he was a kind o' 
throughither sort o' chap, a doctor, but no a bad 
fellow, Jock — he's deid, mon." 

**And there was Thomas," said the inquirer 
eagerly. 

" Oh, ay, of coorse, there's Tam — a useless, 
munestruck chap that writes in London. There's 
naething in Tam ; but, mon, there's Jamie, owre 
in the Newlands — there's a chap for ye ; he's the 
mon o' the family. Jamie tak's maire swine into 
Ecclefechan market than any ither farmer in the 
parish." 

This is all very much like the story of the 
Scottish driver of pigs, who, hearing it declared that 
he was a greater man than the Duke of Wellington, 
scratched his thick head, and with a satisfied ex- 
pression said : " Aweel, Wellington was a great 
mon, and verra smart in his own way ; but I doot 
— I doot, if /le could ha' driven seven hundred 
pigs frae Edinboro to Lonnon — and not lose one 
— as /ha' done." 



46 TOWARDS THE INFINITE. 

teacher's exhortation. There is a 
genuine ring about such as the fol- 
lowing: ''Work every hour, paid or 
unpaid ; see only that you work, and 
you cannot escape your reward. 
Whether your work be fine or coarse, 
planting corn or writing epics, so 
only it be honest work, done to your 
own approbation, it shall earn a re- 
ward to the senses as well as to the 
thought. No matter how often de- 
feated, you are born to victory. The 
reward of a thing well done is to 
have done it." 



:v^x^:iEk ^ V>kfl8ry^ 



III. 

MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

" We had experience of a blissful state. 
In which our powers of thought stood sepa^-ate^ 
Each in its oivn high freedom held apart. 
Yet both close folded in one loving heart ; 
So that we seemed, without conceit, to be 
Both one, and two, in our identity ^ 

MiLNES. 

" Genius without sympathetic recognition is like 
a ki^idledflre without flue or draught ; it smoulders 
miserably away instead of leaping, sparkling, and 
giving cheer r — Bayard Taylor. 

" Gaze thou in the face of thy brother, in those 
eyes where plays the lambent fire of kindness . . . 
feel how thy own so quiet soul is straightway in- 
voluntarily kindled with the like, and ye blaze and 
reverberate on each other, till it is all one limitless 
confluent flame . . . and then say what miraculous 
virtue goes out of man into man.'' — Carlyle. 

Nothing tends more to lay a man's 
soul bare than to have a sympathetic 
listener or two. The world's cold 



48 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

criticism is all forgotten in the pre- 
sence of friendly hearts and answer- 
ing eyes. These conditions are 
often found by the world's workers 
in select clubs,* where man meets 
man without formality or restraint 
of any kind ; where he expects to 
find, and generally does find, in his 
brother something admirable and 
charming.t And " if they are men 

* To attempt to exhaust the subject of clubs in 
a little book like the present would, it need hardly 
be said, prove something akin to gathering the 
hills together to stow in a barn. Volumes might 
be written in this direction, and yet much would 
be left unrecorded. To start even with the picture 
of an evening at the Globe with Kit Marlowe 
(alas, poor Kit ! — " Christopher Marlowe, slain 
by a serving-man in a drunken brawl, aged twenty- 
nine ") and Shakespeare, Cowley and Green, Ned 
Alleyn, George Peele, Nash, and the rest of the 
merry crew, all in a storm of inspiration and drink, 
would open up untold chapters in the literary 
history of England. 

t And this, notwithstanding Charlotte Bronte's 
opinion on the matter. " All coteries," she 
says in one of her letters, " whether they be 
literary, scientific, political, or religious, must, it 
seems to me, have a tendency to change truth into 
affectation. When people belong to a clique, they 
must, I suppose, in some measure, write, talk, 
think, and live for that clique — a harassing and 
narrowing necessity." 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 49 

with noble powers and qualities, let 
me tell you that, next to youthful 
love and family affections, there is 
no human sentiment better than that 
which unites the societies of mutual 
admiration. And what would litera- 
ture or art be without such associa- 
tions ? Who can tell what we owe 
to the Mutual Admiration Society 
of which Shakespeare and Ben Jon- 
son, and Beaumont and Fletcher 
were members ? Or to that of which 
Addison and Steele formed the centre, 
and which gave us the Spectator ? Or 
to that where Johnson and Goldsmith, 
and Burke and Reynolds, and Beau- 
clerk and Boswell, most admiring 
among all admirers, met together?* 

* "W^ho has not heard of the famous lobster 
suppers of Pope, and the witty re-unions at Tom's 
Coffee House, where ruffled and rapiered gallants 
met to discuss liquor and literature, chat and 
claret? or, who has not longed to make one of 
such a party as that described, or rather referred 
to, by the sprightly Lady Mary Wortley Montague, 
who, with chosen associates, 

** 'When the cares of the day are all pass'd 

Sit down with champagne and a chicken at last ;* 

4 



50 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

Was there any great harm in the 
fact that the Irvings and Pauld- 

and to what was far better, — * the feast of reason 
and the flow of soul.' These * long-ago' affairs 
have had their Boswells to chronicle them ; and 
so graphic are some of the reports of these 
symposia, that we seem, whilst perusing them, to 
* live over each scene.' In imagination we jostle 
against flower-brocaded coats and embroidered 
vests ; our modern legs get entangled in the 
voluminous folds of the ample fardingales and 
hoops, and high heels startle us with their grotesque 
proportions. 

' * The times have changed ; the days of the 
blue-stocking clique are remembered as among the 
things that were. Hannah More, Mrs. Delaney, 
Mrs. Thrale, Mrs. Piozzi, and Madame D'Arblay 
no longer sit sipping their souchong, and listening 
to the oracular and ponderous sentences of Doctor 
Johnson, or indulging in sprightly sentimentalisms, 
or flippant nothings. Will's coftee-house is no 
longer open to the Steeles, the Addisons, and the rest 
of the town wits. Tom's exists, but is a lawyer's 
dining-house. Ranelagh, with its variegated 
leafy arcades, and brilliantly-lighted bowers, is no 
more ; and all who gossiped so delightfully, or 
talked so learnedly, a few years ago, have passed 
away, leaving legacies of wit, wisdom and folly to 
their descendants, who, in the cockney haunts of 
Rosherville and Cremorne, make up for the almost 
forsaken glories of Vauxhall — that latest remnant 
of old-fashioned gaiety. 

"The times have greatly changed. Club-houses 
have knocked the old coffee-houses into nothing- 
ness ; and literary coteries are broken up — such 
literary coteries, we mean, as the days to which 
reference has been made could boast of." — Dix's 
Lions Living and Dead, 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 51 

ing wrote in company? or any un- 
pardonable cabal in the literary 
union of Verplanck and Bryant and 
Sands, and as many more as they 
chose to associate with them ? 

** The poor creature does not 
know what he is talking about when 
he abuses this noblest of institutions. 
Let him inspect its mysteries through 
the knot-hole he has secured, but 
not use that orifice as a medium for 
his popgun. Such a society is the 
crown of a literary metropolis ; if a 
town has not material for it, and 
spirit and good feeling enough to 
organize it, it is a mere caravansary, 
fit for a man of genius to lodge in, 
but not to live in. Foolish people 
hate and dread and envy such an 
association of men of varied powers 
and influence, because it is lofty, 
serene, impregnable, and, by the 
necessity of the case, exclusive. 
Wise ones are prouder of the title 

4—2 



52 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

M.S.M.A., than of all their other 
honours put together."* 

And no small portion of the record 
of what is best in literature is also a 
history of cliques, in which the workers 
helped each other by mutual criticism 
as well as by mutual admiration. In 
the very nature of events, one strong 
or beautiful soul must needs, by 
virtue of its magnetism, draw to it- 
self others of similar character. 

What notable gatherings and con- 
ferences it is possible to construct 
imaginatively when we have as a 
basis for our operations the names 
of the contributors to the first 
number of the Edinburgh Review, 
together with some odd particulars, 
now tolerably well known, of how 
the famous quarterly was started 
and pushed out on its early way 
among men ! And what a chant of 

* Oliver Wendell Holmes.— 77^^ Autocrat of the 
Breakfast Table, 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 53 

the wealth of intellect these names 
sing for themselves ! Here they are : 
Francis (afterwards Lord) Jeffrey; 
Henry Brougham, subsequently Lord 
Brougham ; Alexander Hamilton, 
sometime Professor of Sanscrit in 
the East India College at Haileybury ; 
Francis Horner, known to the read- 
ing public through his memoirs 
edited by his brother ; Sydney Smith, 
'* the witty parson," with his untied 
tongue ; John Macfarlan, the serious, 
studious, and retired lover of German 
and metaphysics; Dr. John Thomson, 
who occupied some years afterwards 
the chair of pathology in the College 
of Edinburgh ; Dr. Thomas Brown ; 
and John Murray, afterwards Lord 
Murray, a judge. 

Of these in 1802 (the date of the 
publication of the first number of 
the Edinburgh), Smith was thirty- 
one years of age ; Jeffrey, thirty ; 



54 MUTUAL.ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

Brown, twenty- four ; Horner, twenty- 
four ; and Brougham, twenty-three. 

These are the men with whom we 
live again the Hfe they spent during 
the few months surrounding the 
issue of the first number of their 
Review, concerning which it has been 
said : " The effect was electrical. 
... It is impossible for those who 
did not live at the time, and in the 
heart of the scene, to feel, or almost 
to understand, the impression made 
by the new luminary, or the anxieties 
with which its motions were ob- 
served. It was an entire and instant 
change of everything that the public 
had been accustomed to in that sort 
of composition. The old periodical 
opiates were extinguished at once.'* 

WilHs once said, in the course of 
conversation with G. W. Curtis, that 
people always read with avidity two 
things — stories of themselves and 
of other people. The story of the 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 55 

inception and early existence of the 
Edinburgh Review, however often re- 
peated, is certainly one to be read 
with interest by all students of 
literary history. The plain facts are 
to be stated in few words. One 
stormy night in March, 1802, a group 
of friends met together in Jeffrey's 
study (a room on the third story of a 
house in Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, 
and called by courtesy his " study,'* 
the furnishing of which had been 
completed at a cost of £y i8s.) to 
consider their positions in life and 
the means of bettering them. What 
a goodly company gathered there 
around their host ! and what a storm 
of laughter must have drowned the 
storm without as one suggestion 
after another fell from the lips of 
Jeffrey, or Brougham, or Sydney 
Smith, or Horner with the ten com- 
mandments, as Smith used to say, 
all written in the lines of his face 



56 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

as legibly as they were on the 
tables of stone ! Smith's story is 
(and it has been told also by Jeffrey 
and Brougham) : '* I proposed that 
we should set up a Review, and this 
was acceded to with acclamation. I 
was appointed editor, and remained 
long enough in Edinburgh to edit the 
first number of the Edinburgh Re- 
view.** The question arose as to a 
motto for the new publication. 
Smith suggested (and what else could 
be expected from such a man ?) that 
they should take ** Tenui Musam 
meditamur avend '' ('* We cultivate 
literature on a little oatmeal"), but 
this was immediately ruled out of 
court, and for one of the best pos- 
sible reasons ; it was by far too 
near the truth to be blazed abroad 
from the house-tops. There was a 
copy of Publius Syrus lying on the 
table, and Horner, taking it up and 
turning over the leaves, accidentally 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. S7 

hit on the words which still occupy 
their position on the old buff and 
blue : *' Judex damnatur cum nocens 
absolvttur /" Subsequently Constable 
was chosen as publisher, and the 
papers in the first three numbers 
were supplied him without remunera- 
tion. But the projectors of the Re- 
view knew right well the man with 
whom they had to deal. Lord 
Cockburn's estimate of him, in his 
Memorials of his Time, is certainly a 
pleasant picture. '' Constable," he 
writes, '* had hardly set up for him- 
self when he reached the summit of 
his business. He rushed out and 
took, possession of the open field, as 
if he had been aware from the first of 
the existence of the latent spirits 
which a skilful conjuror might call 
from the depths of the population to 
the service of hterature. Abandoning 
the old timid and grudging system, 
he stood out as the general patron 



58 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

and payer of all promising publi- 
cations, and confounded, not merely 
his rivals in trade, but his very 
authors, by his unheard-of prices. 
Ten, even twenty, guineas a sheet 
for a review, ^2,000 or 3^3,000 for a 
single poem, and 3^1,000 each for two 
philosophical dissertations,* drew 
authors from dens where they would 
otherwise have starved, and made 
Edinburgh a literary mart, famous 
with strangers and the pride of its 
own citizens." 

Another picture, however, presents 
itself as companion to the meeting 
in Jeffrey's study, when the idea of 
such a publication was started. It 
is that of the writers skulking round 
back lanes to throw possible watchers 
off the scent before slipping quietly 
into **the dingy room off Wilkinson's 
printing-office, in Craig's Close," 

* By Stewart and Playfair — prefixed to a sup- 
plement of the Encyclopcedia Britannica. 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 59 

where they read over the proofs of 
their own articles, and sat in judg- 
ment on the few manuscripts offered 
by strangers. Sydney Smith gives 
us a peep at one of these meetings, 
where he and Brougham sat together 
over a glass of whisky to take the 
conceit out of some sapient author. 
" Once I remember," he says, ** how 
we got hold of a Httle vegetarian, 
who had put out a silly little book ; 
and how Brougham and I sat one 
night over our review of that book, 
looking whether there was a chink or 
crevice through which we could filter 
one more drop of verjuice." Such a 
confession is really magnificent in its 
artlessness. 

Although many incidents are on 
record having to do, in some measure, 
with the Review and its writers, 
much remains unwritten. But over 
what we actually have, as reliable 
information, our imagination broods, 



6o MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

creating for us interviews and con- 
versations which ought to have 
taken place, thus enabling us, each 
for himself, to grasp the romance 
which surrounds such an epoch in 
English literature. 

Then there was that notable group 
which at one time gathered at the 
English lakes, and of which Words- 
worth was the centre. *' Here that 
strange being, Thomas de Quincey, 
came and lived, purposely to be near 
the poet. Coleridge* was always at 
call ; and loving and gentle Charles 
Lamb came at times, sadly missing 
the town, and almost afraid of the 
mountains. Here Dr. Arnold, of 



* Landor was displeased with Coleridge alto- 
gether when he met him in London in 1832, 
although the philosopher donned a new suit of 
clothes for the occasion, and made many pretty 
speeches to his visitor. Landor's dislike was 
based upon two especial points : Coleridge would 
talk about no one and nothing but himself, and 
he would not pay the slightest attention to Landor's 
enthusiastic mention of Southey. 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 6i 

Rugby, came often from Fox How, 
his own house in the neighbourhood ; 
hither Harriet Maftineau walked over 
from Ambleside, with some new theory 
of the universe to expound ; and here 
poor Hartley Coleridge passed the 
happiest hours of his unfortunate 
life." And not far distant lived 
Southey in his magnificent library 
looking out on the everlasting hills."^ 
But we must by no means forget 
John Wilson, genial " Christopher 
North," certainly one of the most 
remarkable of the Lakists — ** stu- 
dent, Bohemian, bookworm, sports- 
man, professor ; the kindliest, merriest, 
and most entertaining of com- 
panions;" author of the Nodes Am^ 
brosiancB. 



* It was into this room that Southey one day- 
enticed Shelley under the delusion that he had a 
treat for him ; and after locking the door dosed 
hiin with his verses until the would-be listener fell 
asleep under the table. He assured Shelley that 
his Madoc was equal to the Odyssey, 



62 MUTUAL'ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

** In these same Nodes we have 
descriptions of some of those nights 
when, as Carlyle would have said, 
* there was much good talk.' And 
Wilson was mainly the talker. The 
chief characteristics of his discourse 
were prodigality of humour and 
infinite variety. His imagination, too, 
ran riot, and his wit sparkled ever 
and anon with a radiance all its own. 

" His memory was prodigious, and 
in his conversation he taxed it for 
anecdotes and illustrations drawn 
from the four quarters of the globe, 
and from the most remote and un- 
usual stores of literary hoarding. 
His mind was many-sided as well 
as keen, and he kept all his faculties 
in full play, not excepting his sym- 
pathies, which were as broad as the 
world of men. 

" Can we wonder that those who 
crowded the table where he sat 
lingered on till the daylight drove 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 63 

them from the board ? or that no 
man who had had him for a boon 
companion could ever be satisfied 
with another ? Can we wonder that 
the students who crowded his lecture- 
room after he became a professor 
thought every other lecturer common- 
place and dull ? Not that he gave 
them more information than others 
— perhaps he did not give them as 
much ; but he excited and inspired 
them. He quickened their minds, 
and wakened their dormant faculties. 
Some of the white-heat of his own 
enthusiasm he communicated to their 
colder natures, and they enjoyed the 
unusual warmth."* 

* It was this power of inspiring and quickening 
that was so noticeable in Emerson's public utter- 
ances. James Russell Lowell says : *' Emerson 
awakened us, saved us from the body of this 
death. It is the sound of the trumpet that the 
young soul longs for, careless what breath may fill 
it. Sidney heard it in the ballad of Chevy Chase^ 
and we in Emerson. Nor did it blow retreat, but 
called to us with assurance of victory. Did they 
say he was disconnected ? So were the stars, that 
seemed larger to our eyes, still keen with that ex- 



64 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

''Wilson and De Quincey had been 
at Oxford together without acquaint- 
ance at the time. Wilson left college 
and settled at Elleray, by Lake Win- 
dermere, happy in a vigorous health 
and a fortune of thirty thousand 
pounds ; but happier some years 
later in the loss of the fortune ; for 
it was that loss which brought his 

citement, as we walked homeward with prouder 
stride over the creaking snow. And were t/iey not 
knit together by a higher logic than our mere senses 
could master ? Were we enthusiasts ? I hope and 
believe we were, and am thankful to the man who 
made us worth something for once in our lives. 
If asked what was left ? what we carried home ? 
we should not have been careful for an answer. 
It would have been enough if we had said that 
something beautiful had passed that way. Or we 
might have asked in return what one brought 
away from a symphony of Beethoven ? Enough 
that he had set that ferment of wholesome dis- 
content at work in us. There is one, at least, of 
those old hearers — so many of whom are now in 
the fruition of that intellectual beauty of which 
Emerson gave them both the desire and the fore- 
taste — who will always love to repeat : 

" * C/ie in la mente w' i fitta^ ed or tn^ accuora 
La cara e biiona iffwiagine paterna 
Di voiy quando nel viondo ad ora ad ora 
M' insegnavaste co7?ie V uo7ji s'eterna* " 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 65 

energies into full play. From 1809 
Wilson, the tall, vigorous athlete, 
with health in every movement of 
his body and his mind, a man who 
could jump twelve yards in three 
jumps with a heavy stone in each 
hand, became companion in rambles 
with De Quincey, who was of under 
height and slender of frame, with a 
mind morbidly sensitive, not made 
the healthier by use of opium. 
The friendship between Thomas de 
Quincey and John Wilson was life- 
long. Each loved the poets, each 
had his own touch of the sacred fire, 
and the likeness in essentials was 
accompanied with the complete un- 
likeness in accidents of character that 
fills one friend's life with ever-fresh 
matter of study and enjoyment for 
the other, and so doubles the ex- 
perience of each."* 

In the winter of 1814-15 De 

* Henry Morley. 

5 



66 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

Quincey was with his friend Wilson 
in Edinburgh, where his silver stream 
of talk charmed all who heard it. 
*' His voice," said one who met him 
then, "was extraordinary; it came 
as if from dreamland ; but it was 
the most musical and impressive of 
voices. Seeing he was always good- 
natured and social, he could take 
part in any sort of tattle ; but his 
musical cadences were not in keep- 
ing with such work, and in a few 
minutes (not without some strictly 
logical sequence) he could escape at 
will from beeves to butterflies, and 
thence to the soul's immortality, to 
Plato and Kant and Schelling and 
Fichte ; would recount profound 
mysteries from his own experiences 
— visions that had come over him in 
his loneliest walks among the moun- 
tains. And whatever the subject 
might be, every one of his sentences 
was woven into the most logical 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 67 

texture, and uttered in a tone of 
sustained melody." 

In his Personal Recollections of 
Thomas de Quincey, John Ritchie 
Findlay refers in an interesting man- 
ner to a certain particular, in which 
the subject of his little volume un- 
deniably resembled Coleridge. ** He 
(De Quincey) had dined with me," 
writes Mr. Findlay, *' at George 
Square ; he preferred an early hour, 
and our small party had sat down to 
dinner at five or six o'clock. The 
two or three guests, all equally fasci- 
nated and delighted with his talk — 
only my uncle (Mr. John Ritchie, 
proprietor of the Scotsman; Mr. 
Russel being its editor), Russel and 
Burton probably — had left us one by 
one; my uncle for the country, where 
he was staying, I inhabiting alone 
his house in town ; Burton uncere- 
moniously enough when he thought 
fit to go ; and at last Russel, about 

5—2 



68 MUTUAL- ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

eleven o'clock, he having his w^ork at 
the Scotsman office for next morning's 
paper, as I had also. After fully an 
hour more had slipped aw^ay, I was 
obliged to tell De Quincey that I 
too must go. Then came elegant 
apologies, undoubtedly sincere, and 
we left together, my desire being to 
see him safe home to his lodgings in 
Lothian Street. No ; he would ac- 
company me through the silent mid- 
night streets that fine summer even- 
ing. So we walked backwards and 
forwards for probably another hour 
between the High Street (where the 
office of the Scotsman then was) and 
Lothian Street, till at last the inevit- 
able * good-night ' was spoken. I got 
to my post to find my work for the 
night all but finished by Mr. Russel, 
who immensely enjoyed the * fix ' in 
which he had left me, and was much 
surprised at my having, by any device 
or exercise of moral courage, got out 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 69 

of it. As De Quincey said of Cole- 
ridge, that the first difficulty was to 
get him to begin to talk, and the 
second to get him to stop, so of De 
Quincey, the first difficult}^ was to 
induce him to visit you, and the 
second to reconcile him to leaving." 

Here to the region of the lake-poets 
came the young Emerson, on his first 
visit to England. " On the 28th 
August, 1833," he says, '* I went to 
Rydal Mount to pay my respects to 
Mr. Wordsworth.* His daughters 

* When Wordsworth first went to reside in the 
district, it was a matter of necessity with him that 
the rule of his household should be " plain living 
and high thinking." What friends came to see 
him were always welcome to the bread and cheese 
of his table ; if they needed more or better — well, 
there was the village inn not far distant. Even 
when his finances improved, the honest plainness 
of his mode of living was apparent to all. We 
are indebted to a communication by Mr. Jonathan 
Bouchier to Notes and Queries for the following 
story, which, in addition to being extremely 
amusing in itself, illustrates the point to which we 
have just referred : 

**When Scott was staying with his friend and 
brother-poet Wordsworth, the frugal fare — at least 
in the article of liquor — at the bard of Rydal's 



70 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

called in their father, a plain, elderly, 
white-haired man, not prepossessing, 
and disfigured by green goggles. He 
sat down, and talked with great 
simplicity. ... I inquired if he had 
read Carlyle's critical articles and 
translations. He said he thought 
him sometimes insane. He pro- 
ceeded to abuse Goethe's Wilhelm 
Meister heartily. He had never 
gone farther than the first part ; 
so disgusted was he that he threw 
the book across the room. I de- 
precated his wrath, and said what 
I could for the better parts of the 
book, and he courteously promised 



table did not quite suit Scott's less simple palate. 
He used, accordingly, to pay a visit to a neigh- 
bouring * public,' and have a quiet glass, ' unbe- 
known,' as Mrs. Gamp would say, to Wordsworth. 
One day the two poets were walking out together, 
and they happened to pass the house, when 
the landlady was standing at the door. Directly 
she caught sight of Scott she exclaimed, to his 
horror, * Weel, Mr. Scott, have ye come for your 
morning dram ?' thereby letting the cat out of the 
bag, and covering Scott with confusion." 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 71 

to look at it again. Carlyle, he 
said, wrote most obscurely. He was 
clever and deep, but he defied the 
sympathies of everybody. Even Mr. 
Coleridge wrote more clearly, though 
he had always wished Coleridge 
would write more to be understood. 
He led me out into his garden, and 
showed me the gravel walk in which 
thousands of his lines were com- 
posed. His eyes are very much in- 
flamed. This is no loss except for 
reading, because he never wTites 
prose, and of poetry he carries even 
hundreds of lines in his head before 
writing them. He had just returned 
from a visit to Staffa, and within 
three days he had made three 
sonnets on Fingal's Cave, and was 
composing a fourth when he was 
called in to see me. He said : * If 
you are interested in my verses, 
perhaps you will like to hear these 
lines.' I gladly assented, and he re- 



72 MUTUAL.ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

collected himself for a few moments, 
and then stood forth and repeated 
one after the other the three entire 
sonnets with great animation. I 
fancied the second and third more 
beautiful than his poems are wont to 
be. The third is addressed to the 
flowers, which, he said, especially 
the ox-eye daisy, are very abundant 
on the top of the rock ; the second 
alludes to the name of the cave, 
which is * Cave of Music ;' the first 
to the circumstance of its being 
visited by the promiscuous company 
of the steam-boat. 

** This recitation was so unlocked 
for and surprising — he, the old 
Wordsworth, standing apart, and 
reciting to me in a garden-walk, like 
a school-boy declaiming — that I at 
first was near to laugh ; but recol- 
lecting myself that I had come thus 
far to see a poet, and he was chant- 
ing poems to me, I saw that he was 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 73 

right and I was wrong, and gladly 
gave myself up to hear. I told him 
how much the few printed extracts 
had quickened the desire to possess 
his unpublished poems. He replied 
he never was in haste to publish, 
partly because he corrected a good 
deal, and every alteration is ungra- 
ciously received after printing; but 
what he had written would be printed 
whether he lived or died. I said 
Tintern Abbey appeared to be the 
favourite poem with the public, but 
more contemplative readers preferred 
the first books of the Excursion and 
the Sonnets. He said, * Yes, they 
are better.' He preferred such of 
his poems as touched the affections 
to any others; for whatever is di- 
dactic — what theories of society, and 
so on — might perish quickly, but 
whatever combined a truth with an 
affection was KTrj/jua e? aec — good to- 
day and good for ever. He cited 



74 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

the sonnet, On the feelings of a high- 
minded Spaniard, which he preferred 
to any other (I so understood him), 
and the Two Voices; and quoted, 
with evident pleasure, the verses 
addressed To the Skylark,'' 

It is remarkable in how many 
recorded interviews with the Rydal 
bard we find mention of his starting 
off with the recitation of his own 
verses ; and it is curious to observe 
how differently the fact impresses 
his various hearers — some receiving 
the utterance reverently, others, and 
these mostly brother poets, turning 
restive under it as an infliction. 

However one may admire Words- 
worth, his egotism occasionally rubs 
up very roughly against our sensi- 
bilities. He told Lamb one day in 
the course of conversation that he 
considered Shakespeare greatly over- 
rated. 

" There is," said he, '* an immen- 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 75 

sity of trick in all Shakespeare wrote, 
and people are taken by it. Now, if 
/ had a mind I could write exactly 
like Shakespeare." 

** Yes," stuttered Lamb in reply, 
*' it is only the mind that is want- 
ing." 

He once asked Mrs. Alaric Watts 
what she thought the finest elegiac 
composition in the English language, 
and when she timidly suggested 
Lycidas, he replied : 

** You are not far wrong. It may, 
I think, be affirmed that Milton's 
Lycidas and my Laodamia are twin 
immortals." 

How very different was Lamb's 
expressed estimate of himself! Call- 
ing on Wordsworth one day he 
said: 

** Mr. Wordsworth, allow me to 
introduce to you my only admirer." 

It was also a great pity that 
Wordsworth was so very full of 



76 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

'* shop " on all occasions. If he had 
been a little more niggardly in pour- 
ing out his productions before his 
visitors, it would have been better 
for his reputation. ** Enough is as 
good as a feast." Dumas knew the 
happy mean, and although such a 
charming story-teller saw when to 
draw the rein. One evening at a 
party his hostess so wearied him with 
requests to exhibit his powers in this 
direction that at last, unable to en- 
dure it longer, he quietly said : 

*' Everyone to his trade, madam. 
The gentleman who entered your 
drawing-room just before me is a 
distinguished artillery officer. Let 
him bring a cannon here and fire 
it, then I will tell one of my little 
stories." 

I wonder what Byron really did 
think of Coleridge when, on the very 
first occasion of their meeting, he 
treated the noble bard to one of his 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 77 

interminable monologues wherein he 
ascended into the seventh heaven 
upon the wings of theology and 
metaphysics ! * 

During his visit to England, 
Emerson called on Coleridge at 
Highgate, and they touched on 
theological amongst other subjects. 
I have no doubt his experience during 
the interview was very similar to 
Lamb's. One day Coleridge was 
regretting that Lamb had never 
heard him preach, whereupon Lamb 
retorted by saying that he had never 
heard him do anything else. 

To Hazlitt, however, Coleridge's 
words were a revelation. In his 
essay on My first Acquaintance with 
Poets, speaking of his early meeting 
with Coleridge, he says : 

* When Leigh Hunt, who was rather disgusted 
with Coleridge for his conduct on this occasion, 
related the story to Lamb, Lamb excused his 
friend by saying : ** Oh, it was only his fun : 
there's an immense deal of quiet humour about 
Coleridge !" 



78 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

" As we passed along between Wem 
and Shrewsbury ... a sound was 
in my ears as of a siren's song; I 
was stunned, startled with it as from 
deep sleep, but I had no notion 
that I should ever be able to express 
my admiration to others in motley 
imagery or quaint allusion till the 
light of his genius shone into my 
soul like the sun's ray glittering in 
the puddles of the road. I was at 
that time dumb, inarticulate, help- 
less, like a worm by the wayside, 
crushed, bleeding, lifeless ; but now, 
bursting the deadly bands that bound 
them, 

*' * With Styx nine times round them/ 

my ideas float on winged words, and 
as they expand their plumes, catch 
the golden hght of other years. My 
soul has indeed remained in its 
original bondage, dark, obscure, with 
longings infinite and unsatisfied; my 
heart, shut up in the prison-house 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 79 

of this rude clay, has never found, 
nor will it ever find, a heart to speak 
to ;* but that my understanding also • 
did not remain dumb and brutish, or 
at length found a language to express 
itself, I owe to Coleridge. 

** It was in January of 1798 that I 
rose one morning before daylight to 
walk ten miles in the mud to hear 
this celebrated person preach. Never, 

* A rather comical commentary on these ex- 
pressions is afforded by Hazlitt's conduct, later in 
life, in the matter of the heroine of the Lider 
Ainoris (Sarah W^alker, the daughter of a lodging- 
house keeper), for whom he conceived an extra- 
vagant and altogether unreasonable passion which 
completely subdued his intellect. " He was, for a 
time," says Barry Cornwall, " unable to think or 
talk of anything else. He abandoned criticism 
and books as idle matters ; and fatigued every 
person whom he met by expressions of his love, 
of her deceit, and of his own vehement disap- 
pointment. This was when he lived in Southamp- 
ton Buildings, Holborn. Upon one occasion I 
know that he told the story of his attachment to 
five different persons in the same day, and at each 
time entered into minute details. ' I am a 

cursed fool,' said he to me. * I saw J going 

into Weill's Coffee-house yesterday morning ; he 
spoke to me. I followed him into the house ; 
and whilst he lunched, I told him the whole story. 



So MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

the longest day I have to Hve, shall I 
have such another w^alk as this cold, 
raw, comfortless one in the winter. 
. . . When I got there, the organ 
was playing the looth Psalm, and 
when it was done, Mr. Coleridge rose 
and gave out his text, * And He went 
up into the mountain to pray. Him- 
self, ALONE.' .... And for myself," 
I could not have been more delighted 
if I had heard the music of the 
spheres. Poetry and philosophy 



Then,' (said he) *I wandered into Regent's 

Park, where I met one of M 's sons. I walked 

with him some time, and on his using some civil 
expression, by God ! sir, I told him the whole 
story.' [Here he mentioned another instance, 
which I forget.] *Well, sir' (he went on), *I 
then went and called on Haydon ; but he was 
out. There was only his man, Salmon, there ; 
but, by God ! I could not help myself. It all 
came out — the whole cursed story ! Afterwards 
I went to look at some lodgings at Pimlico. The 
landlady at one place, after some explanations as 
to rent, etc., said to me very kindly, " I am afraid 
you are not well, sir?" *' No, ma'am," said I, 
*• I am not well ;" and on inquiring further, the 
devil take me if I did not let out the whole story, 
from beginning to end !' " 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 8i 

had met together. Truth and 
genius had embraced under the 
eye and with the sanction of re- 
ligion. This was even beyond my 
hopes. I returned home well satis- 
fied. The sun that was still labour- 
ing pale and wan through the sky, 
obscured by thick mists, seemed an 
emblem of the good cause ; and the 
cold dank drops of dew, that hung 
half melted on the beard of the 
thistle, had something genial and 
refreshing in them ; for there was 
a spirit of hope and youth in all 
nature, that turned everything into 
good. The face of nature had not 
then the brand of Jus Divinum 
on it : 

" *Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe.' 

" On the Tuesday following, the 
half-inspired speaker came. I was 
called down into the room where 
he was, and went — half hoping, 

6 



82 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

half afraid. He received me very 
graciously, and I listened for a long 
time without uttering a word. I 
did not suffer in his opinion by my 
silence. * For those two hours,' he 
afterwards was pleased to say, *he 
was conversing with William Hazlitt's 
forehead/ "* 

Then there was that notable group 
which once gathered around the 
Atlantic Monthly! Longfellowf and 

* Madame de Stael, when once asked for her 
estimate of Coleridge, said : *' He is great in 
monologue, but he has no idea of dialogue." 

f On the publication of Longfellow's Hiawatha^ 
the Boston Daily Traveller issued an adverse 
criticism of it, in which appeared the following : 
** His poem does not awaken one sympathetic 
throb ; it does not teach a single truth ; and 
rendered into prose, Hiawatha would be a mass 
of the most childish nonsense that ever dropped 
from human pen. In verse it contains nothing so 
precious as the golden time which would be lost 
in the reading of it." 

Hereupon Messrs. Ticknor and Fields (Long- 
fellow's publishers) wrote to the Traveller, with- 
drawing their advertisements, and asking to have 
the paper stopped ; which had for a response the 
publication, in its completeness, of the missive, 
together with a sweet little commentary directly 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. S^ 

Emerson ; Whittier and Whipple ; 
Holmes and Lowell, and Agassiz — 
" all the beaux esprits of the Atlantic 
Monthly, in a word ; with an appro- 
priate Corypheus in the person of 
Mr. James T. Fields, himself a ripe 
scholar, a poet of no mean order, 
and a ' funny fellow ' to boot ; for 

charging the publishers with endeavouring to use 
all sorts of undue influence, etc. 

" This," says F. H. Underwood, in his Bio- 
graphical Sketch of Longfellow, " created no small 
stir ; and as the poem at the same time was at- 
tacked on other grounds, the newspapers, from the 
Atlantic to the Mississippi, were soon engaged in 
a general controversy. Through all this storm 
Longfellow remained calm, paying no attention to 
assailants or defenders. It is said that Fields one 
day hurried off to Cambridge in a state of great 
excitement, that morning's mail having brought 
an unusually large batch of attacks and parodies, 
some of the charges being, he considered, of a 
seriously damaging character. * My dear Mr. 
Longfellow,' he exclaimed, bursting into the poet^s 
study, * these atrocious libels must be stopped.' 
Longfellow glanced over the papers without com- 
ment. Handing them back, he quietly asked, 

* By the way, Fields, how is Hiawatha selling ?* 

* Wonderfully !' replied the excited publisher ; 

* none of your books has ever had such a sale.' 
*Then,' said the poet calmly, '^ I think we had 
better let these people go on advertising it.""^ 

6-2 



84 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

he possessed a rich collection of 
New England witticisms and Yankee 
drolleries."* ** Lowell and Holmes 
were the wits par excellence, though 
Judge Hoar did not fall far behind. 
Emerson sat always with a seraphic 
smile upon his face, and Longfellow 
thoroughly enjoyed every good sally, 
though not adding to the mirth- 
making himself."t 

"Emerson was a member of the 
Saturday Club from the first — in 
reality before it existed as an em- 
pirical fact, and when it was only a 
platonic idea. The Club seems to 
have shaped itself around him as a 
nucleus of crystallization, two or 
three friends of his having first 
formed the habit of meeting him at 
dinner at ' Parker's,' the * Will's 
Coffee-house ' of Boston. This little 
group gathered others to itself and 
grew into a club, as Rome grew 

* G. A. Sala. f H. T. Griswold. 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 85 

into a city, almost without knowing 
how. During its first decade the 
Saturday Club brought together, as 
members or as visitors, many distin- 
guished persons. At one end of the 
table sat Longfellow, florid, quiet, 
benignant, soft-voiced — a most agree- 
able rather than a brilliant talker, 
but a man upon whom it was always 
pleasant to look — whose silence was 
better than many another man's con- 
versation. At the other end of the 
table sat Agassiz, robust, sanguine, 
animated, full of talk, boy-like in his 
laughter. The stranger who should 
have asked who were the men ranged 
along the sides of the table would 
have heard in answer the names of 
Hawthorne,"^ Motley, Dana, Lowell, 

* " It was only in the company of intimate per- 
sonal friends, from whom all restraint was removed, 
that Hawthorne ever indulged in his natural buoy- 
ancy of spirits. Among them he occasionally 
condescended to uproarious fun. But he was like 
Dr. Johnson, who, when indulging in a scene of 
wild hilarity, suddenly exclaimed to his friends, 



86 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

Whipple ; Peirce, the distinguished 
mathematician; Judge Hoar, eminent 
at the Bar and in the Cabinet ; Dwight, 
the leading musical critic of Boston 
for a whole generation ; Sumner, the 
academic champion of freedom ; 
Andrew, ' the great War Governor ' 
of Massachusetts ; Dr. Howe, the 
philanthropist ; William Hunt, the 
painter, with others not unworthy 
of such company. And with these, 
generally near the Longfellow end of 
the table, sat Emerson, talking in 
low tones and carefully measured 
utterances to his neighbour, or Hsten- 
ing, and recording any stray word 
worth remembering on his mental 
phonograph. Emerson was a very 
regular attendant at the meeting of 
the Saturday Club, and continued to 

as Beau Brummel approached, * Let us be 
grave ; here comes a fool !' If there was the 
slightest suspicion of the presence of a fool in the 
company, Hawthorne always wore his armour." 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 87 

dine at its table until within a year 
or two of his death." 

This is Oliver Wendell Holmes' 
account, which he concludes by 
saying : " Unfortunately the Club 
had no Boswell, and its golden hours 
passed unrecorded."* And so we 
are driven back upon our old habit 
of availing ourselves of (to use the 
Autocrat's own words) ''that blessed 
clairvoyance which sees into things 
without opening them — that glorious 
license, which, having shut the door 
and driven the reporter from its 
keyhole, calls upon Truth, majestic 

* Once the Club dinner was given at Porter's 
hotel, " about a mile due north of the college in 
Cambridge ;" and it was on this occasion that 
Longfellow, having just read Holmes' new truth 
that authors were like cats, sure to purr when 
stroked the right way of the fur, replied to some 
particular attention on the part of the Autocrat by- 
saying, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, ** I purr, 
I purr 1" And then when the company broke up, 
and went out into the darkness, they found that 
during the evening a foot or more of snow had 
fallen ; so with arms linked, and the younger 
members singing Dr. Palmer's chorus Puttyruitiy 
they tramped back to Cambridge. 



88 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

virgin ! to get off from her pedestal 
and drop her academic poses, and 
take a festive garland, and the vacant 
place on the medius lectus — that 
carnival-shower of questions and 
repHes and comments, large axioms 
bowled over the mahogany like 
bomb-shells from professional mor- 
tars, and explosive wit dropping its 
trains of many-coloured fire, and the 
mischief rain of bon-bons pelting 
everybody that shows himself." 

But when a man undertakes to paint 
his friends* portraits, he, too, must 
be content to sit for his own ; so 
the Holmes omitted by Holmes is 
thus drawn by Dr. Appleton, who 
met him at the same brilliant gather- 
ing : ** Dr. Holmes was highly talka- 
tive and agreeable ; he converses 
very much like the Autocrat of the 
Breakfast Table — wittily, and in a 
literary way, but perhaps with too 
great an infusion of physiological and 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 89 

medical metaphor. He is a little 
deaf, and has a mouth like the beak 
of a bird ; indeed, he is, with his 
small body and quick movements, 
very like a bird in his general 
aspect." 

Occasionally, especially when in 
the presence of brilliant talkers and 
around the festive board, one is apt 
to over-shoot the mark, and to utter 
things which are afterwards severely 
reckoned up as " better unsaid." 
Mark Twain seems to have made a 
mistake of this kind at the banquet 
given to the contributors to the 
Atlantic Monthly, in celebration of 
Whittier's seventieth birthday. The 
irrepressible author of The Jumping 
Frog, was introduced by W. D. 
Howells as one ** who has, perhaps, 
done more kindness to our race, 
lifted from it more crushing care, 
rescued it from more gloom, and 
banished from it more wretchedness. 



90 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES, 

than all the professional philan- 
thropists that have lived ; a humourist 
who never makes you blush to have 
enjoyed his joke ; whose generous 
wit has no bad meaning in it ; whose 
fun is never at the cost of anything 
honestly high or good, but comes from 
the soundest of hearts and the clearest 
of heads." 

Imagine the astonishment of the 
refined and cultivated assembly when, 
immediately following this, Mark 
Twain arose, and, as CM. Barrows* 
relates, gave an account of the 
unseemly behaviour of the three 
honoured poets — Longfellow, Emer- 
son, and Holmes — in the log-cabin of 
a California miner, about fifteen 
years before the date of his speech. 
As Clemens represented the case, he 
himself, having reached this cabin at 
nightfall, sought its hospitality, and 
was very reluctantly admitted by the 

* Acts and Attecdotes of Authors, 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 91 

occupant, who informed him that 
the three New England gentlemen 
just named had spent the previous 
night with him, that they were much 
the worse for liquor, passed many 
hours in card-playing and drinking 
and quoting poetry, drew revolvers 
and bowie-knives upon each other, 
and, on departing, carried off the 
miner's only pair of boots. 

The joke was not very well received, 
and Mr. Clemens wrote a note of 
apology, in which he intimated, in 
palliation of the case, that God made 
him a fool, and he was simply acting 
out his nature. 

In this connection might be men- 
tioned a dinner which took place at 
the Parker House, Boston, during 
Dickens' 1868 tour in the United 
States, at which, amongst others, 
'' David Copperfield," '' Hyperion," 
'*Hosea Biglow," the *' Autocrat," 
and the '* Bad Boy " were present. 



92 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

One who lived through it to tell the 
tale says : " We had no set speeches 
at the table, for we had voted elo- 
quence a bore before we sat down 
. . . We had a great good time . . . 
Dickens was in his best mood . . . 
And we all declared, when we bade 
him good night, that none of us had 
ever enjoyed a festival more." 

There are extremes, after all — the 
ridiculous and the sublime — which do 
not meet, as extremes sometimes do, 
in this mutual - admiration matter. 
Thoreau once said : " The stars and 
I belong to a mutual-admiration 
society;" and he undoubtedly felt 
there was some hidden and supreme 
wisdom in what he was saying. The 
ridiculous was of a certainty present 
when Madame de Stael and another 
famous author met by special invita- 
tion at a French country house, and 
each brought a handsomely bound 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 93 

book of her own to present to the 
other. Both were profuse in their 
flattery, both declared the other's 
work would have a priceless value, to 
be preserved by them with infinite 
care. When they had made their 
gushing adieus and departed, the 
amused hostess found the respective 
volumes carelessly left on table and 
sofa. What a subject for the scathing 
satire of some contemporary wit ! 
At the time (long ago now, thank 
Heaven !) of the '* You scratch my 
back, and Til scratch yours " (was it 
log-roUing ?), which was carried on 
in an extremely ridiculous manner 
between Hayley and Anna Seward, 
some rhymester penned this sweet 
dialogue between the interesting 
parties : 

** * Tuneful poet ! Britain's glory, 

Mr. Hayley, that is you ' 

* Ma'am, you carry all before you, 

Trust me, Lichfield Swan, you do ' 



94 MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 

** * Ode, didactick, epick, sonnet, 

Mr. Hayley, you're divine ' 

* Ma'am, I'll take my oath upon it. 
You alone are all the Nine !' " 



The cure of such flattery and hum- 
bug is sometimes brought about in a 
rather decided, if harsh, manner. 
Occasionally a man is found gifted 
with an unenviable desire to tell 
the truth at all times, in season 
and out ; and the awakening is gene- 
rally brought about by his means. I 
wonder what degree of positive hatred 
Sterne felt towards Garrick after the 
following delightful little conversa- 
tion between them ! Sterne used his 
wife very ill. One day he was talking 
to Garrick in a fine sentimental 
manner in praise of conjugal love and 
fidelity. 

" The husband," said Sterne, '' who 
behaves unkindly to his wife deserves 
to have his house burned over his 
head." 



MUTUAL-ADMIRATION SOCIETIES. 95 

Garrick's rejoinder was simply: 
" If you think so, I hope jo^r house 

is insured." 

** For it must needs be that offences 

come ; but woe to that man by whom 

the offence cometh !" 




IV. 

SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY; 

AND THE DEBATABLE LAND 

BETWEEN. 

** But when an eager listener^ stealing behind 
Irving and Halleck at an evening party ^ found 

them talking of shoe-leather ! and a by-eathless 

devotee of Thackeray, sitting opposite to hi??i at the 
di7iner-table^ saw those Delphian lips unclosed only 
to utter the words, * Another potato, if you please /* 
— they had revelations which might cast a dreadful 
suspicion over the nature of the whole tribe of 
authors. 

^^ I would not have the reader imagine that the 
members of the Echo Club are represented by either of 
these extremes. They are authors^ of different ages 
and very unequal places in public estimation. It 
would never occur to them to seat thei7iselves on self- 
constructed pyraf?tids, and speak as if The Ages were 
listeniftg ; yet, like their brethren of all lands and 
all times, the staple of their talk is literature.^^ — 
Bayard Taylor. 

The hunger of a great and self- 
sufficing mind for the charms of re- 



SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY. 97 

tirement is sometimes pathetic in the 
extreme. We do not refer here to 
that romantic longing of poetic boy- 
hood, such as we find expressed 
by Kirke White in one of his 
sonnets : 

" Give me a cottage on some Cambrian wild, 

Where, far from cities, I may spend my days : 
And by the beauties of the scene beguiled, 

May pity man's pursuits, and shun his ways. 
While on the rock I mark the browsing goat, 

List to the mountain torrent's distant noise. 
Or the hoarse bittern's solitary note, 

I shall not want the world's delusive joys ; 
But, with my little scrip, my book, my lyre, 

Shall think my lot complete, nor covet more ; 
And when with time shall wane the vital fire, 

I'll raise my pillow on the desert shore, 
And lay me down to rest where the wild wave 
Shall make sweet music o'er my lonely grave." 

This is all, without doubt, very 
pretty and extremely touching ; but 
is it healthy ? Although Keats was 
mawkish after a manner, his criticism 
of life was sometimes remarkably 
true, if not very severe. ** The imagi- 
nation of a boy," he writes in his 
preface to Endymion, ** is healthy, 

7 



98 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY; AND 

and the mature imagination of a man 
is healthy ; but there is a space of life 
between in which the soul is in a 
ferment, the character undecided, 
the way of life uncertain, the ambi- 
tion thick-sighted : thence proceeds 
mawkishness and all the thousand 
bitters/' 

The reaHty which dogs the foot- 
steps of excessive and too far-reach- 
ing fancy is sometimes as utterly 
cruel and ridiculous as that we 
find pictured in a certain Sequel 
to Rogers' little poem, The Wish, 
which, in a frolicsome moment, some 
sportive brain caused to dance into 
existence,* and which is so complete 
in its way that we are constrained to 
give it here : 

THE WISH. {By /Rogers.) 
" Mine be a cot beside a hill, 

A beehive's hum shall soothe my ear ; 
A willowy brook that turns the mill 
With many a fall shall linger there. 

* See Athenmim^ April 14, 1888. 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN, 99 

" The swallow oft beneath the thatch 
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest ; 
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch 

And share my meals, a welcome guest. 

** Around the ivied porch shall stray 

Each fragrant flower that sips the dew, 
And Lucy at her wheel shall sing 
In russet gown and apron blue. 

" The village church among the trees, 

Where first our marriage vows were given. 
With merry peals shall swell the breeze, 
And point with taper spire to heaven." 

THE WISH ENJOYED. {The Seguel.) 

" So damp my cot beside the hill 

The bees have ceased to soothe my ear ; 
The willowy brook that turns the mill 
Is turned to please the miller near. 

* * The swallow housed beneath the thatch 
Bedaubs my window from her nest ; 
Instead of pilgrims at my latch, 

Beggars and thieves disturb my rest. 

** From out the ivy at my door 

Earwigs and snails are always crawling ; 
Lucy now spins and sings no more. 

Because the hungry brats are squalling. 

** To village church with priestly pride 
In vain the pointing spire is given ; 
Lucy with Wesley for her guide 
Has found a shorter road to heaven." 

The shallow sentiment of seclusion 
is very different to the knowledge on 
the part of great thinkers of the ab- 

7—2 



100 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

solute worth of solitude and rest as 
aids to their life-work. There is 
nothing, for instance, of " life's 
young dream " about the utterances 
of Carlyle on this subject, which we 
find in his correspondence with 
Emerson. " Pain and poverty," he 
writes, *'are not wholesome; but 
praise and flattery along with them 
are poison. God deliver us from 
that ; it carries madness in the very 
breath of it ! On the whole, I say 
to myself, what thing is there so good 
as rest ?" And again : *' The velo- 
city of all things, of the very word 
you hear on the streets, is at railway 
rate ; joy itself is unenjoyable, to be 
avoided like pain ; there is no wish 
one has so pressing as for quiet. Ah 
me ! I often swear I will be buried 
at least in free breezy Scotland, out 
of this insane hubbub, where Fate 
tethers me in life." " Solitude," he 
continues in another letter, ** is what 



THE DEBATABLE LAND Bi:TWE'E-N,. idi " 

I long and pray for. In the babble 
of men my own soul goes all to 
babble. . . . My trust in Heaven 
is, I shall yet get away ' to some 
cottage by the seashore;' far enough 
from all the mad and mad-making 
things that dance round me here, 
which I shall then look on only as 
a theatrical phantasmagory, with an 
eye only to the meaning that lies 
hidden in it." *' A thinker, I take it, 
in the long-run " (Carlyle again to 
Emerson) '* finds that essentially he 
must ever be and continue alone — 
alone : 'silent, rest over him the stars, 
and under him the graves !' The 
clatter of the world, be it a friendly, 
be it a hostile world, shall not inter- 
meddle with him much." 

And yet a man of genius, with 
sensitive and passionate heart and 
powerful imagination (and the pos- 
session of these gifts is one of the 
hall-marks of genius), cannot find 



ifii .SatslTU^E AND SOCIETY ; AND 

rest in solitude if he be divorced 
thereby from his work. The value of 
solitude to him is that of conditions : 
unfavourable interruptions are pre- 
vented, and his brain-throb goes on 
healthily and with immediate satis- 
faction to himself and ultimate satis- 
faction to the world — if he have it for 
an audience as a man of superior 
parts should. 

I know of no more charming pic- 
ture than that of the quiet life of 
Hawthorne at the Old Manse in 
Concord, where restful days hemmed 
him round, and where solitude gave 
him ample opportunities for literary 
work. And when a chance friend 
came to break in upon his seclusion, 
what a friend that would be ! Emer- 
son* or Thoreau, or, to use Haw- 

* **Mr. Emerson delights in him," said Mrs. 
Hawthorne ; "he talks to him all the time, and 
Mr. Hawthorne looks answers. He seems to 
fascinate Emerson. Whenever he comes to see him 
he takes him away, so that no one may interrupt 
him in his close and dead -set attack upon his ear." 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN, 103 

thorne's own words, ''it might be 
that Ellery Channing came up the 
avenue to join me in a fishing excur- 
sion on the river. Strange and happy 
times were those, when we cast aside 
all irksome forms and strait-laced 
habitudes, and delivered ourselves up 
to the free air, to live like the Indians 
or any less conventional race during 
one bright semicircle of the sun."* 

* A true disciple of Emerson, or rather, perhaps, 
a sharer of some of his thoughts, Hawthorne 
saw with him that many a so-called calamity 
** commonly operates revolutions in our way of 
life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth 
which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted 
occupation, or a household, or style of living, and 
allows the formation of new ones more friendly to 
the growth of character . . . permits or constrains 
the formation of new acquaintances, and the re- 
ception of new influences that prove of the first 
importance to the next years ; and the man or 
woman who would have remained a sunny garden 
flower, with no room for its roots and too much 
sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls 
and the neglect of the gardener, is made the 
banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to 
wide neighbourhoods of men." And seeing this, 
he thus wrote with reference to his appointment as 
Surveyor of the Port of Salem ; *' I took it in 
good part, at the hands of Providence, that I was 



I04 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

J. T. Fields, in his Yesterdays with 
Authors, gives a very interesting 
account of a conversation with Haw- 
thorne, which certainly cannot fail 



thrown into a position so little akin to my past 
habits, and set myself seriously to gather whatever 
profit was at hand. After my fellowship of toil 
and impracticable schemes with the dreamy 
brethren at Brook Farm; after living for three 
years within the subtle influence of an intellect 
like Emerson's ; after those wild, free days on the 
Assabeth, indulging fantastic speculations, beside 
our fire of fallen boughs, with Ellery Channing ; 
after talking with Thoreau about pine-trees and 
Indian relics, in his hermitage at Walden ; after 
growing fastidious by sympathy with the classic 
refinement of Hillard's culture ; after becoming 
imbued with poetic sentiment at Longfellow's 
hearth-stone, it was time, at length, that I should 
exercise other functions of my nature, and nourish 
myself with food for which I had hitherto had 
little appetite. Even the old inspector was de- 
sirable, as a change of diet, to a man who had 
known Alcott. I looked upon it as an evidence, 
in some measure, of a system naturally well 
balanced, and lacking no essential part of a 
thorough organization, that with such associates 
to remember, I could mingle at once with men of 
altogether different qualities, and never murmur 
at the change." 

And it was Mrs. Hawthorne's perception of the 
truth underlying the statement that *' the changes 
which break up at short intervals the prosperity of 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 105 

to interest all who delight to know 
of the personality of the author of 
The Scarlet Letter. '* As the sunset 
deepened and we sat together," 
writes Fields, *' Hawthorne began to 
talk in an autobiographical vein, and 
gave us the story of his early life. 
... He said at an early age he 
accompanied his mother and sister 
to the township in Maine which his 
grandfather had purchased. That, 
he continued, was the happiest period 
of his life, and it lasted through 
several years, when he was sent to 
school in Salem. * I lived in Maine,' 
he said, ' like a bird of the air, so per- 
fect was the freedom I enjoyed. But 



men are advertisements of a nature whose law is 
growth," which prompted her, when her husband 
brought her the news of his discharge from the 
Custom House, to exclaim : " Oh, then you can now 
write your book." Hawthorne had been bemoan- 
ing himself, for some time back, at not having 
leisure to write down a story that had long been 
weighing on his mind — the story which ultimately 
took shape as The Scarlet Letter, 



io6 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

it was there I first got my cursed 
habits of solitude.'* During the 
moonlight nights of winter he would 
skate until midnight all alone upon 
Sebago Lake, with the deep shadows 
of the icy hills on either hand. When 
he found himself far away from his 
home, and weary with the exertion 
of skating, he would sometimes take 

* " The self-contained purpose of Hawthorne, " 
writes Higginson in one of his Short Studies of 
American Authors, *' the large resources, the 
waiting power — these seem to the imagination to 
imply an ample basis of physical life ; and certainly 
his stately and noble port is inseparable, in my 
memory, from these characteristics. Vivid as this 
impression is, I yet saw him but twice, and never 
spoke to him. I first met him on a summer morn- 
ing, in Concord, as he was walking along the road 
near the Old Manse, with his wife by his side, and 
a noble-looking baby-boy in a little waggon which 
the father was pushing. I remember him as tall, 
firm, and strong in bearing ; . . . when I passed, 
Hawthorne lifted upon me his great gray eyes, 
with a look too keen to seem indifferent, too shy 
to be sympathetic — and that was all. . . . Again, 
I met Hawthorne at one of the sessions of a short- 
lived literary club ; and I recall the imperturbable 
dignity and patience with which he sat through a 
vexatious discussion, whose details seemed as much 
dwarfed by his presence as if he had been a statue 
of Olympian Zeus." 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN, 107 

refuge in a log-cabin, where half a 
tree would be burning on the broad 
hearth. He would sit in the ample 
chimney, and look at the stars 
through the great aperture up 
which the flames went roaring. 
*Ah,' he said, 'how well I recall the 
summer-days also, when, with my 
gun, I roamed at will through the 
woods of Maine. How sad middle- 
life looks to people of erratic tem- 
peraments ! Everything is beautiful 
in youth, for all things are allowed to 
it then.' " 

Francis Jeffrey's love of the seclu- 
sion of his home was intense, especi- 
ally in his later years. Whatever 
successes attended him in public life, 
immediately the excitement was at 
an end his heart turned to his *' old 
familiar friends," his quiet house and 
his literary occupations. And so in 
like manner with Washington Irving. 
In one of his letters he writes : 



io8 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

** Amidst all the splendours of 
London and Paris, I find my imagi- 
nation refuses to take fire, and my 
heart still yearns after dear little 
Sunnyside." 

And in another : 

** I long to be back once more at 
dear little Sunnyside, while I have 
yet strength and good spirits to 
enjoy the simple pleasures of the 
country, and to rally a happy family 
group once more around me. I 
grudge every year of absence that 
rolls by. To-morrow I shall be 
sixty-two years old. The evening 
of life is fast drawing over me ; still 
I hope to get back among my friends 
while there is a little sunshine left." 

Sometimes congenial friends in- 
vade the solitude, and the heart 
grows light. And what conversa- 
tions, forsooth, take place ! Think 
of the right joyous times when Ben 
Jonson and Drayton used to visit 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 109 

a certain William Shakespeare at 
Stratford-on-Avon, and were hospit- 
ably entertained by the writer of 
plays. And if it be true that Shake- 
speare's death was the result of a too 
convivial reception given by him to 
these two friends — well, we regret 
heartily that no record of the bright 
sayings that must have leaped from 
lip to ear on that occasion has been 
preserved. We refuse to think that 
their talk even in their cups was as 
the talk of other men.* 

The anonymous author of a seven- 
teenth century poem, A Preparative 



* Shakespeare and Ben Jonson seem to have 
been well matched in controversy. In his Worthies 
of Engla7id^ Fuller says : * ' Many were the wit- 
combats between him (Shakespeare) and Ben 
Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great 
galleon and an English man-of-war ; Master 
Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in 
learning ; solid, but slow, in his performances. 
Shakespeare, like the English man-of-war, lesser 
in bulk, but higher in sailing, could turn with all 
tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds 
by the quickness of his wit and invention." 



no SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

to Studie; or the Virtue of Sack, begins 
it thus : 

** Fetch me Ben Jonson's Scull and fil't with sack 
Rich as the same he drank, when the whole 

I packe i,.H„ ^-•'•^ 

Of jolly Sisters pleg'd and did agree 
It was no sinne to be as druk as hee ;" 

and Herrick writes : 

"Ah, Ben! 
Say how or when 

Shall we thy guests 
Meet at those lyric feasts 

Made at the Sun, 
The Dog, the Triple Tun ? 

Where we such clusters had] 
As made us nobly wild, not mad ; 

And yet each verse of thine 
Outdid the meal, outdid the frolic wine." 

But 'tis to the Mermaid Tavern, where 
Shakespeare and Raleigh and the re- 
markable men of their day met to 
" exercise their wit," that all who 
love the poets delight to turn. Keats 
queried in song : 

*• Souls of Poets'dead and gone, 
What Elysium^have ye known, 
Happy field or mossy cavern. 
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern ?" 



THE DEB A TABLE LAND BET WEEN. 1 1 1 

But long before Keats no other than 
Master Francis Beaumont had writ- 
ten to Jonson : 

** What things have we seen 
Done at the Mermaid ! heard words that have been 
So nimble, and so full of subtle flame, 
As if that everyone from whence they came 
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest, 
And had resolved to live a fool the rest 
Of hisdulllife." 

It has been said that Jonson wrote 
best when " in his cups ;"* and we 
are half inclined to fancy that some 
trifle of truth lurks in the statement. 
Here are his own confessions : ** Upon 
the 20th of May, the king (Heaven 
reward him !) sent me £iiOO. At that 
time I often went to the Devil Tavern ; 
and before I had spent £^o of it, 
wrote my A Ichymist. I laid the plot 
of my Volpone, and wrote most of it 
after a present of ten dozen of Palm- 
sack from my good Lord T ." 

And again : **The first speech in my 

* He was so immoderately fond of canary that 
his friends used to call him the Canary-Bird. 



112 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Cattilina, spoken by Scylla's ghost, 
was writ after I had parted with my 
friend at the Devil Tavern : I had 
drunk well that night, and had brave 
notions. There is one scene in that 
play which I think flat. I resolve to 
drink no more water in my wine." 
Was the wine the only source of his 
inspiration ? or was it not rather 
aided by the brilliant companionship 
of the frequenters of the tavern who, 
coming thither, considered them- 
selves *' sealed of the tribe of Ben"? 
And who would not if he could 
have listened to the notable conver- 
sations which took place at Haw- 
thornden in January, 1619, betwixt 
Ben Jonson and William Drum- 
mond ?* What has been written 
concerning the revelation of cha- 
racter which must have been dis- 

* *'Then will I dress once more thy faded bower, 
W^here Jonson sat in Drummond's classic 
shad e. " — Colliits. 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN, 1 1 3 

played at this time by both of the 
talkers is interesting in its way, and 
on no account whatever to be cast 
Hghtly aside. Drummond was un- 
doubtedly eager to hear, and full of 
talk about poets, who, like himself, 
were writers of sonnets, madrigals, 
and courtly compliments : Jonson, 
arrogant and boasting, yet withal of 
a warm heart and a kindly disposi- 
tion, leaned more towards gay and 
high-born personages, for whom his 
Court Masques were written. And 
what entertainment fit for the gods 
there must have been in their allusions 
to, and estimates of, such men as 
Raleigh, Sidney, Bacon, Selden, 
Fletcher, Beaumont, Spenser, and, 
above all, Shakespeare, concerning 
whom Jonson wrote : " I loved the 
man, and do honour his memory (on 
this side idolatry) as much as any !" 

The learning, judgment, love of 
anecdote, extensive acquaintance 

8 



114 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

with poets, statesmen, and eminent 
characters brought into display in 
these talks must have rendered them 
enjoyable beyond compare. And 
before the blazing fire at Hawthorn- 
den, no doubt Jonson related to his 
host all the particulars of the convi- 
vial reception afforded to Drayton 
and himself by Shakespeare at his 
Stratford home just three years be- 
fore. 

It is ever to be lamented that 
Jonson's account of his journey to 
Scotland should have been destroyed 
in the fire which consumed a great 
quantity of his papers (probably in 
1629), and that from Drummond 
we have to take all that we can know 
about their quiet evenings. Not that 
we believe Drummond to have been 
insincere ; but what a " labour of 
love " it would be to compare the 
records of the same conversations 
from the pens of the two talkers ! 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 115 

Gifford says that at these times 
Jonson " wore his heart upon his 
sleeve for daws to peck at it." Per- 
haps we should find, were Jonson's 
account get-at-able, that Drummond 
also did the same ; and no interview 
between literary friends is worth a 
spider's egg unless it be accompanied 
by this wearing of the exposed heart. 
The evil all comes out in the sub- 
sequent injudicious tittle-tattle by 
either of the parties.* 

Pope, in one of his conversations 
with Spence, told him that Cowley's 
death was brought about in the fol- 
lowing manner : His friend, Dean 
Sprat, was with him on a visit, and 
" they had been together to see a 
neighbour of Cowley's, who, accord- 
ing to the fashion of those times, 
made them too welcome. They did 
not set out for their walk home till it 

* See JVoUs of Be^i Jonson^ s Conversations with 
Williafn Drummond of Ilawthornden, issued by 
the Shakespeare Society, 1842. 

8—2 



Ii6 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

was late ; and they had drunk so deep 
that they lay in the fields all night, 
which proceeding gave Cowley the 
fever that carried him off." And this 
was the Cowley who revelled in his re- 
tirement from the busy scenes of the 
world ; who had foregone all public 
employments to follow the inclina- 
tions of his own mind, ''which in 
the greatest throng of his former 
business had still called upon him 
and represented to him the true de- 
lights of solitary studies, of tem- 
perate pleasures, and of a moderate 
revenue, below the malice and 
flatteries of fortune." All students 
of literature know his poem. The 
Wish : 

*' Well, then, I now do plainly see 

This busy world and I shall ne'er agree ; 
The very honey of all earthly joy 
Does of all meats the soonest cloy. 

And they methinks deserve my pity, 
Who for it can endure the stings. 
The crowd and buzz and murmurings 

Of this great hive, the city. 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 117 

" Ah ! yet ere I descend to th' grave, 
May I a small house and large garden have, 
And a few friends, and many books." 

Well, he had his wish so far ; and 
his death came about, not through 
his *' many books," but through his 
" few friends." 

Alas! Burns' ''few friends" had 
to do with his end too. The tale is 
thus recorded by Chambers : ''Early 
in the month of January, when his 
health was in the course of improve- 
ment, Burns tarried to a late hour at 
a jovial party in the Globe Tavern. 
Before returning home, he unluckily 
remained for some time in the open 
air, and, overpowered by the effects 
of the liquor he had drunk, fell 
asleep." A fatal chill resulted, and 
when he reached his house the seeds 
of rheumatic fever had already taken 
possession of him. 

Perhaps one of the best stories 
about Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, 



Ii8 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

is that related by Lockhart. The 
Shepherd was invited by Walter 
Scott to dinner, and he accordingly 
came dressed precisely as an ordi- 
nary herdsman attending cattle to 
the market. Mrs. Scott, at that 
time being in a delicate state of 
health, was reclining on a sofa. The 
Shepherd, after being presented and 
making his best bow, forthwith took 
possession of another sofa placed 
opposite hers, and immediately 
stretched himself thereupon at all 
his length, giving afterwards as his 
reason, whilst relating the occur- 
rence, that he thought he could not 
do wrong in copying the lady of the 
house. His dirty shoes and greasy 
hands smeared the chintz ; but his 
ignorance was the hedge which 
fenced in his bliss, and he saw 
nothing wrong in it. He dined 
heartily and drank freely. He jested, 
sang, and told stories. Soon the 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 119 

wine operated, and threw back the 
flood-gates of his vulgarity. From 
'' Mr. Scott " he got to '' Sherra," 
from "Sherra" to *' Scott," from 
'' Scott '' to '' Walter," from '' Walter" 
to *' Wattie," and finished by calhng 
Mrs. Scott '' Charlotte," which "fairly 
convulsed the whole party." 

But with it all the Ettrick Shep- 
herd had a good heart at bottom, 
and his natural feelings found play 
and proper exercise in his inter- 
course with men of his own position 
in life.* His whole soul went out 
towards his brother in verse, the 
unfortunate Tannahill, who com- 
mitted suicide, by drowning, in his 

* " Hogg, talking of him as the man, not the 
poet, was out of his element in society. ... At 
home, within his family circle, the Ettrick Shep- 
herd was a different being ; he had the feelings of 
the husband, the father, and the Christian, and 
was, besides, without measure, benevolent and 
hospitable — full of those charities which commend 
themselves to the heart." — Angling Reminis- 
cences of the Rivers and Lochs of Scotland, by 
T. D. Stoddart. 



120 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

thirty-sixth year, having fallen into a 
state of mental derangement result- 
ing from habitual morbid despon- 
dency. *' Farewell," said Tannahill, 
as he grasped his hand a little while 
before his death; **we shall never 
meet again !" 

Many remarkable meetings must 
have taken place at one time at the 
Southampton Coffee-house in Chan- 
cery Lane ; for here Barry Cornwall, 
Martin Burney, Mudford (editor of 
the Courier), Hazlitt, Charles Wells 
(author of Joseph and his Brethren),^ 
and Mouncey, among others, used to 
congregate. There certainly must 

* The interest in Wells* work has lately been 
revived by Swinburne, who describes it as "per- 
fect in grace and power, tender and exquisite in 
choice of language, full of a noble and masculine 
delicacy in feeling and purpose." He attributes 
the neglect into which it had fallen " to the imbe- 
cile caprice of hazard and opinion." *' Notwith- 
standing," he adds, "the truth remains, that the 
author oi Joseph and his Brethren will some day 
have to be acknowledged among the memorable 
men of the second period in our poetry." 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 121 

have been a tolerably free-and-easy 
style about these gatherings ; for we 
find that the members of the circle 
were fond of making bets and laying 
wagers on any subject which arose 
for question, as, for instance, whether 
Dr. Johnson's Dictionary was ori- 
ginally published in quarto or folio. 
George Kirkpatrick once lost a bet 
he had entered into, that Congreve's 
play of The Mourning Bride was 
Shakespeare's. He paid in punch. 

" Wells, Mouncey, and myself," 
relates Hazlitt, *'were all that re- 
mained one evening. We had sat 
together several hours without being 
tired of one another's company. The 
conversation turned on the Beauties 
of Charles the Second's Court at 
Windsor, and from thence to Count 
Grammont, their gallant and gay 
historian. . . . Wells then spoke of 
Lucius Apuleius and his Golden Ass. 
. . . The night waned, but our glasses 



122 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

brightened, enriched with pearls of 
Grecian story. Our cup-bearer slept 
in a corner of the room, like another 
Endymion, in the pale ray of a half- 
extinguished lamp. . . . Mouncey sat 
with his hat on, and with a hectic 
flush on his face, while any hope re- 
mained ; but as soon as we rose to 
go, he darted out of the room as 
quick as lightning, determined not to 
be the last that went." 

'* It was at the Southampton that 
Hazlitt, Cruikshank, and Hone used 
to meet, and discuss the subjects for 
Hone's next squib. I believe that 
Hazlitt is answerable for some of the 
outlines of these, and for suggesting 
to Cruikshank what he thought was 
the salient point for illustration. The 
story goes that he was once trying 
to make himself understood to Cruik- 
shank, when the latter got up, and, 
dipping his finger in his ale-glass, 
traced something in beer on the 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 123 

table. * Is that what you mean, sir V 
he asked, and Hazlitt assented."^ 

Cruikshank's name is also found 
associated with those of the staff of 
Punch, who used to meet at the 
Crown, near Drury Lane Theatre, 
one of the London literary resorts. 
** These individuals," says the author 
of Lions : Living and Dead, describ- 
ing some of the frequenters, *' are 
Punch's crack men. The tall one 
rejoices in the sobriquet of Michael 
Angelo Titmarsh, and is the well- 
known author of J eames's Yellow -Plush 
Papers ; he is also a clever draughts- 
man, as witness his designs to his 
Vanity Fair, and the little * bits ' 
with his artistic mark to them (a 
pair of spectacles) in Punch — it is 
Mr. W. M. Thackeray. The other 
party is the still more celebrated (?) 
author of Mrs. Caudle's Curtain 

* Memoirs of Wm, Hazlitt^ by his grandson, 
W. Carew-Hazlitt. 



124 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Lectures — Mr. Douglas Jerrold. . . . 
That tall, stout personage, with the 
short curly hair, red round face, 
Jewish nose, and burly form, is Mark 
Lemon. He is the editor oi Punch, . . . 
The spare, dark gentleman talking 
to him is John Leech, who generally 
furnishes the large caricature in each 
number, and who is the main prop 
of Punch's pictorial portion."* 

•"The year 1864 came, and found our ad- 
mirable artist still at work as vigorously as ever ; 
not robust, not rugged, but in seeming good health 
and spirits, and fit to live and work for years. To 
Punchy for that year, he had contributed eighty 
pictures, when, on the 5th of November, appeared 
a very amusing cut : An Irishman, dreadfully mal- 
treated in a street fight, is taken charge of by his 
wife, while a capitally indicated group of the 
victor and his friends is seen in the distance, with 
two little Irish boys nearer. * Terence, ye great 
ummadawn,' says the wife of his bussum to 
the vanquished hero, * what do yer git into this 
Thrubble fur ?' Says the hero in response : ' D'ye 
call it Thrubble, now? Why, it's Enjyement.' 
It is as good a thing as ever Leech did — as good 
a cut as ever was in Punch, When he laid his 
pencil down beside this drawing, it was never to 
take it up again ; and six days before the appear- 
ance of the paper in which the cut was published, 
he had passed away." 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 125 

At the literary breakfasts of 
Samuel Rogers,* as also at those 
of Monckton Milnes, one was always 
certain of meeting people worth 
listening to. The diary of Thomas 
Moore is full of such entries as these : 
" May 20th, 1828. — Breakfasted with 
Rogers." *' 22nd. — Breakfasted at 
Rogers' ; Luttrell and Lady Sarah 
Lyttleton the party. . . . After break- 
fast Sydney Smith came in. . . . Smith 
spoke of Cooper, the American writer, 
whom he had been lately visiting." 
**23rd. — Rogers having told me he 
was to meet Scott this morning at 
breakfast with Chantrey, went there 
early. Found Scott sitting to Chan- 
trey, with Rogers, Coke of Norfolk, 
and Allan Cunningham assisting." 
''June ist. — Breakfasted with Rogers, 
the Wordsworths and Luttrell." 

* "To love literature and to excel in poetical 
composition were," says Dr. Mackay, referring 
to Rogers in his Memorials of a Literary Life, 
" unfailing passports to his regard." 



126 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Lady Morgan, who also frequented 
Rogers' breakfasts, is remembered 
for her hatred of Macaulay, whom 
she sometimes met there. The sole 
reason for her dislike was, one may 
suppose, that two of a trade never 
agree ; for both were brilliant talkers 
— Lady Morgan, in fact, has usually 
been considered a rare gossip. It 
was at one of these morning parties, 
when Hookham Frere was present, 
that Coleridge talked for three hours 
without intermission about poetry ; 
" and so admirably," says Rogers, 
** that I wish every word he uttered 
had been written down." 

It is said that Milnes' literary 
breakfasts, although not so sumpt- 
uous as those of Rogers, were per- 
fect in their way, and far more 
sociable and agreeable to those 
who preferred quiet conversation to 
crowds. Macaulay and Thackeray 
were frequent attendants ; and it 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 127 

need hardly be added that, with the 
marvellous powers of memory of the 
one, and the caustic wit of the other, 
these two in themselves were com- 
pany sufficient, and their conversa- 
tion more than ordinary mortals are 
usually favoured with. 

Years ago, when Tennyson spent 
a good deal of his time in London, a 
little knot of literary friends had a 
standing engagement to dine together 
once a month ; and the parties were 
almost the ideal of unconventional 
friendliness. Among the number 
were Carlyle, Cunningham, Mill, 
Thackeray, Forster, Sterling, Landor, 
and Macready. *' Here," says Hattie 
Tyng Griswold in her Home-Life of 
Great Authors, "the conversation was 
of the best, Carlyle always coming 
out strong, and all the rest content 
to Hsten. However, Carlyle, unlike 
many great conversers, never mo- 
nopolized the conversation. It was 



128 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

always dialogue and not monologue 
with him in any mixed company, 
though he would discourse at length 
to one or two visitors. 

** Tennyson, like many men of 
letters, loves to talk about his own 
work, and is very fond of reading his 
poems to his friends. This is, of 
course, very delightful to those friends, 
if the reading be not too pro- 
longed, although he is said to chant 
in rather a disagreeable manner. 
He is a great egotist, and does not 
like to listen to other people when 
they talk about themselves. We are 
told that Charles Sumner once paid 
him a visit, and bored him very 
much by a long talk upon American 
affairs, in which Tennyson took no 
interest. When Sumner finally made 
a sufficient pause, Tennyson changed 
the subject by inquiring if his visitor 
had ever read The Princess, Sumner 
replied that it was one of his favourite 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 1 29 

poems, whereupon Tennyson handed 
him the book, and asked him to 
read. Sumner began, but was soon 
stopped by Tennyson, who wished to 
show him how a passage should be 
read. He went on reading aloud in 
his high nasal voice, until Sumner 
grew very weary, but did not dare to 
move, for fear of being thought un- 
appreciative. On and on read the 
poet, page after page, never making 
a moment's pause, or giving Sumner 
any chance to escape, until he had 
read the whole poem. It is said that 
Sumner never dared pay him another 
visit. Being a decided egotist him- 
self, it was painfully hard for the dis- 
tinguished American to subordinate 
himself for so long a time, and his 
friends amused themselves very much 
at the idea." 

One of the most interesting pic- 
tures at the Dante Rossetti Exhibi- 
tion held in London after the poet- 

9 



I30 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

painters death, was a sketch of 
Tennyson reading Maud, which is 
now in the possession of Robert 
Browning. This Httle picture was 
reproduced in the issue for December, 
1883, of Harper's Magazine; and in 
a charming gossipy article accom- 
panying it, Mrs. Thackeray Ritchie 
says : 

'* Maud grew out of a remark of 
Sir John Simeon's, to whom Tenny- 
son had read the Hues, 



* O that 'twere possible 
After long grief and pain,' 



which Hues were, so to speak, the 
heart of Maud, Sir John said that it 
seemed to him as if something were 
wanting to explain the story of this 
poem, and so by degrees it all grew. 
One little story was told me on the 
authority of Mr. Henry Sidgwick, 
who was perhaps present on that 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 131 

occasion. Mr. Tennyson was read- 
ing the poem to a silent company 
assembled in the twilight, and when 
he got to the birds in the high hall 
garden calhng * Maud, Maud, Maud,' 
he stopped short, and asked an 
authoress, who happened to be 
present, what birds these were. The 
authoress, much alarmed, and feeling 
that she must speak, and that the 
eyes of the whole company were 
upon her, faltered out, ' Nightingales, 
sir.' * Pooh,' said Tennyson, *what 
a cockney you are ! Nightingales 
don't say '' Maud." Rooks do, or 
something like it. ** Caw, caw, caw, 
caw, caw."' Then he went on read- 
ing. 

** Reading, is it ? One can hardly 
describe it. It is a sort of mystical 
incantation, a chant in which every 
note rises and falls and reverberates 
again. As we sit around the twilight 
room at Farringford, with its great 

9—2 



132 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY; AND 

oriel-window looking to the garden, 
across fields of hyacinth and self- 
sowed daffodils toward the sea, 
where the waves wash against the 
rocks, we seem carried by a tide not 
unHke the ocean's sound ; it fills the 
room, it ebbs and flows away; and 
when we leave, it is with a strange 
music in our ears, feehng that we 
have for the first time, perhaps, 
heard what we may have read a 
hundred times before."* 

* " In addition to the Sundays * at home,'" says 
J. W. Cross in his Life of George Eliot, " the 
Priory doors were open to a small circle of very 
intimate friends on other days of the week. Of 
evening entertainments there were few, I think, 
after 1870. I remember some charming little 
dinners — never exceeding six persons ; and one 
notable evening when the Poet Laureate read 
aloud Maud, The Northern Farmer, and parts of 
other poems. It was very interesting on this occa- 
sion to see the two most widely known representa- 
tives of contemporary English literature sitting 
side by side." 

We find a genuine touch of hero-worship in the 
following short account, by Mrs. Gilchrist, of a 
visit from Tennyson. *' I was sitting," she says, 
" under the yew-tree yesterday, when Fanny [the 
maidservant] came to me and put a card into my 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 133 

*' The House of the Seven Gables was 
finished yesterday ! Mr. Hawthorne 
read me the close last evening !'* 
Who could be pitied for sharing the 
enthusiasm which prompted Mrs. 
Hawthorne to pen this announce- 
ment ? '* How you will enjoy the 
book !" she continues — *' its depth of 
wisdom, its high tone, the flowers of 
Paradise scattered over all the dark 
places, the sweet wallflower scent of 
Phoebe's character, the wonderful 
pathos and charm of old Uncle 



hand. And whose name do you think was on 
that card ? If I were talking instead of writing, 
I should make you guess and keep you in suspense 
a long while ; but that is no use in a letter, be- 
cause you can peep forward. It was ' Mr. Alfred 
Tennyson.' He looks older than I expected, be- 
cause, of course, the portraits one was early familiar 
with have stood still in one's mind as the image to 
be associated with that great name. But he is, to 
my thinking, far nobler-looking now — every inch 
a king ; features are massive, eyes very grave and 
penetrating, hair long, still very dark, and, though 
getting thin, falls in such a way as to give a pecu- 
liar beauty to the mystic head." — An7z^ Gilchrist, 
by H. H. Gilchrist. 



134 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Venner. I only wish you could have 
heard the poet sing his own song, as 
I did ; but yet the book needs no 
adventitious aid — it makes its own 
music, for I read it all over again to 
myself yesterday, except the three 
last chapters." 

Hannah More relates that when 
on a visit to the Garricks in 1776, 
David Garrick read aloud to Mrs. 
Garrick and herself her (Hannah's) 
last poem. '' After dinner," she says, 
'' Garrick read Sir Eldred with all 
his pathos and all his graces. I think 
I was never so ashamed in my life ; 
but he read it so superbly that I 
cried like a child. Only think what 
a ridiculous thing — to cry at the 
reading of one's own poetry." 

But sympathetic listeners are not 
always to be obtained, even for pro- 
ductions of undoubted genius. ** A 
touching incident connected with 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 1 35 

the manuscript of Paul and Virginia 
is recorded by L. Aime Martin. 
Madame Necker invited St. Pierre 
to bring his new story into her salon, 
and read it, before publication, to a 
company of distinguished and en- 
lightened auditors. She promised 
that the judges she would convene 
to hear him were among those she 
esteemed the most worthy. Monsieur 
Necker himself, as a distinguished 
favour, would be at home on the 
occasion. Buffon, the Abbd Galiani, 
Monsieur and Madame Germain, 
were among the tribunal when St. 
Pierre appeared and sat down, the 
manuscript of Paul and Virginia open 
before him. At first he was heard 
in profound silence ; he went on> 
and the attention grew languid, the 
august assembly began to whisper, 
to yawn, and then to listen no longer. 
Monsieur de Buffon pulled out his 
watch and called for his horses ; those 



136 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

sitting near the door noiselessly- 
slipped out ; one of the company 
was seen in profound slumber ; some 
of the ladies wept, but Monsieur 
Necker jeered at them, and they, 
ashamed of their tears, dared not 
confess how interested they had 
been. When the reading was finished, 
not one word of praise followed it. 
Madame Necker criticised the con- 
versations in the book, and spoke of 
the tedious and commonplace action 
in the story. A shower of iced 
water seemed to fall on poor St. 
Pierre, who retired from the room in 
a state of overwhelming depression. 
He felt as if a sentence of death had 
been pronounced on his story, and 
that Paul and Virginia was unworthy 
to appear before the public eye." 

The sequel, however, is more 
pleasing. ^' But a man of genius — 
the painter, Joseph Vernet, who had 
not been present at the reading at 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 1 37 

Madame Necker's — dropped in one 
morning on St. Pierre in his garret, 
and revived his almost sinking cour- 
age. * Perhaps monsieur will read 
his new story to his friend Vernet ?' 
So the author took up his manuscript, 
which since the fatal day had been 
cast aside, and began to read. As 
Vernet listened the charm fell 
upon him, and at every page he 
uttered an exclamation of dehght. 
Soon he ceased to praise ; he only 
wept. When St. Pierre reached that 
part of the book which Madame 
Necker had found so much fault 
with, the author proposed to omit 
that portion of the narrative ; but 
Vernet would not consent to omit 
anything. When the book was 
finished, Vernet threw his arms 
about St. Pierre, and told him he 
had produced a chef d'ceuvre. ' My 
friend,' exclaimed Vernet, * you are a 
great painter, and I dare to promise 



138 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

you a great reputation !' Fifty 
editions, the year Paul and Virginia 
was published, attested the wise 
judgment of Joseph Vernet/'* 

We all know Longfellow's transla- 
tion of The Blind Girl of Castel Cuille, 
with its musical refrain, 

"The roads should blossom, the roads should 
bloom, 
So fair a bride shall leave her home ;" 

and now, referring as we are to the 
reading of their own works by famous 
writers, we remember the charming 
account given by Louisa Stuart Cos- 
tello, in her Beam and the Pyrenees, 
of a visit to Jasmin, the author of 
the poem, '^ who is to the south of 
France what Burns is to the south 
of Scotland, the representative of the 
heart of the people — one of those 
happy bards who are born with their 
mouths full of birds." 

'' At the entrance of the Prome- 
nade du Gravier," says Miss Cos- 

* James T. Fields — Underbrush. 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 139 

tello, ** is a row of small houses — 
some cafes, others shops, the indica- 
tion of which is a painted cloth 
placed across the way, with the 
owner's name in bright gold letters, 
in the manner of the arcades in the 
streets, and their announcements. 
One of the most glaring of these was, 
we observed, a bright blue flag, bor- 
dered with gold, on which, in large 
gold letters, appeared the name of 
'Jasmin, Coiffeur.' We entered, and 
were welcomed by a smiling, dark- 
eyed woman, who informed us that 
her husband was busy at that mo- 
ment dressing a customer's hair, but 
he was desirous to receive us, and 
begged we would walk into his par- 
lour at the back of the shop. 

* * ^ ^ ^ 

'* She exhibited to us a laurel 
crown of gold, of delicate workman- 
ship, sent from the city of Clemence 
Isaure, Toulouse, to the poet, who 



I40 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

will probably one day take his place 
in the capitouL Next came a golden 
cup, with an inscription in his honour, 
given by the citizens of Auch ; a gold 
watch, chain and seals, sent by the 
King, Louis Philippe ; an emerald 
ring, worn and presented by the 
lamented Duke of Orleans ; a pearl 
pin, by the graceful Duchess, who, on 
the poet's visit to Paris, accompanied 
by his son, received him in the words 
he puts into the mouth of Henri 
Quatre : 

* ' * Brabes Gaseous I 
A moun a?nou per bous aoti dibes creyre ; 
Benes ! benes I ey plazl de bous beyre : 
Aproucha bous /' 

a fine service of linen, the offering of 
the town of Pau, after its citizens 
had given fetes in his honour and 
loaded him with caresses and praises; 
and nicknacks and jewels of all de- 
scriptions offered to him by lady- 
ambassadresses and great lords, 
Enghsh ' misses ' and * miladis,' and 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 141 

French and foreigners of all nations 
who did or who did not understand 
Gascon. 

'' All this, though startling, was 
not convincing. Jasmin, the barber, 
might only be a fashion, a furore, a 
caprice, after all ; and it was evident 
that he knew how to get up a scene 
well. When we had become nearly 
tired of looking over these tributes to 
his genius, the door opened, and the 
poet himself appeared. His manner 
was free and unembarrassed, well- 
bred and lively ; he received our 
compliments naturally, and like one 
accustomed to homage ; said he was 
ill, and unfortunately too hoarse to 
read anything to us, or should have 
been delighted to do so. He spoke 
with a broad Gascon accent, and 
very rapidly and eloquently; ran over 
the story of his successes, told us that 
his grandfather had been a beggar, 
and all his family very poor ; that he 



142 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

was now as rich as he wished to be ; 
his son placed in a good position at 
Nantes ; then showed us his son's 
picture, and spoke of his disposition, 
to which his brisk Httle wife added 
that, though no fool, he had not his 
father's genius, to which truth Jasmin 
assented as a matter of course. I 
told him of having seen mention 
made of him in an English review^ 
which he said had been sent him by 
Lord Durham, who had paid him a 
visit ; and I then spoke of Me cal 
mouri as known to me. This was 
enough to make him forget his 
hoarseness and every other evil ; it 
would never do for me to imagine 
that that little song was his best 
composition ; it was merely his first ; 
he must try to read to me a little of 
L'Abuglo — a few verses of Frongou- 
neto, * You will be charmed,' said 
he ; ' but if I were well, and you 
would give me the pleasure of your 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BETWEEN. 143 

company for some time, if you were 
not merely running through Agen, I 
would kill you with weeping — I 
would make you die with distress for 
my poor Margarido — my pretty 
Frongouneto !' 

'' He caught up two copies of his 
book from a pile lying on the table, 
and, making us sit close to him, he 
pointed out the French translation 
on one side, which he told us to 
follow while he read in Gascon. He 
began in a rich, soft voice, and as he 
advanced, the surprise of Hamlet on 
hearing the player-king recite the 
disasters of Hecuba was but a type 
of ours, to find ourselves carried 
away by the spell of his enthusiasm. 
His eyes swam in tears ; he became 
pale and red, he trembled, he re- 
covered himself; his face was now 
joyous, now exulting, gay, jocose ; in 
fact, he was twenty actors in one ; he 
rang the changes from Rachel to 



144 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY; AND 

Bouff6 ; and he finished by delighting 
us, besides beguiling us of our tears 
and overwhelming us with astonish- 
ment. 

*' He would have been a treasure 
on the stage, for he is still, though 
his first youth is passed, remarkably 
good-looking and striking ; with black 
sparkling eyes of intense expression ; 
a fine ruddy complexion ; a counten- 
ance of wondrous mobility ; a good 
figure, and action full of fire and 
grace; he has handsome hands, 
which he uses with infinite effect ; 
and, on the whole, he is the best 
actor of the kind I ever saw. I could 
now quite understand what a trouba- 
dour or jongleur might be, and I look 
upon Jasmin as a revived specimen 
of that extinct race. Such as he is 
might have been Gaucelm Faidit, of 
Avignon, the friend of Coeur de Lion, 
who lamented the death of the hero 
in such moving strains; such might 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 145 

have been Bernard de Ventadour, 
who sang the praises of Queen 
EHnore's beauty; such Geoffrey Rudel 
of Blaye, on his own Garonne ; 
such the wild Vidal ; certain it is, 
that none of these troubadours of old 
could more move, by their singing or 
reciting, than Jasmin, in whom all 
their long-smothered fire and tra- 
ditional magic seems re-illumined. 

^* We found we had stayed hours 
instead of minutes with the poet ; 
but he would not hear of any apology 
— only regretted that his voice was 
so out of tune in consequence of a 
violent cold, under which he was 
really labouring, and hoped to see us 
again. He told us our countrywomen 
of Pau had laden him with kindness 
and attention, and spoke with such 
enthusiasm of the beauty of certain 
' misses,' that I feared his little wife 
would feel somewhat piqued ; but, on 
the contrary, she stood by smiling 

10 



146 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

and happy, and enjoying the stories 
of his triumphs. I remarked that he 
had restored the poetry of the trou- 
badours ; asked him if he knew their 
songs ; and said he was worthy to 
stand at their head. * I am indeed a 
troubadour,' said he with energy; 
' but I am far beyond them all ; they 
were but beginners ; they never com- 
posed a poem like my Frongouneto ! 
there are no poets in France now — 
there cannot be ; the language does 
not admit of it ; where is the fire, 
the spirit, the expression, the tender- 
ness, the force of the Gascon? 
French is but the ladder to reach 
the first floor of Gascon — how can 
you get up to a height except by 
a ladder?" 

By a not unnatural transition 
our attention is carried from this 
poetic hair-dresser to the baker of 
Nismes. '' In Nismes,'' writes Hans 
Christian Andersen, in his Story of 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN, 1 47 

my Life, " lives the baker Reboul, 
who writes the most delightful poems; 
whoever knows him not for this, 
knows him probably from Lamar- 
tine's Travels to the East I found the 
house, went into the bakehouse, and 
addressed myself to a man in his shirt- 
sleeves, who was just putting bread 
into the oven ; it was Reboul himself ; 
a noble countenance, expressing a 
manly character, greeted me. When 
I mentioned my name, he was polite 
enough to say that he knew it from 
the Revue de Paris, and requested me 
to visit him in the afternoon, for he 
should then be able to receive me 
better. When I came again, I found 
him in an almost elegant little room, 
which was adorned with pictures, 
statues, and books, the latter not 
only of French literature, but also 
translations of the Greek classics. A 
picture on the wall represented his 
most celebrated poem, The Dying 

10 — 2 



148 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Child. From Marmier's Chansons dii 
Nord, he knew that I had treated the 
same subject, and I told him that it 
had its origin in my schooldays. If 
I had seen him in the morning as 
the industrious baker, now he was 
altogether the poet ; he spoke in an 
animated way of the literature of his 
country, and expressed his wish to 
see the North, the scenery and intel- 
lect of which seemed to interest him. 
With great esteem I took leave of a 
man to whom the Muses have granted 
no small share of endowment, but 
who, however, has common-sense 
enough, despite the homage which is 
paid him, to continue at his honest 
employment, and prefers to be the 
remarkable baker at Nismes, instead 
of losing himself in Paris, after a 
short homage, among hundreds of 
poets." 

We are wondering just here, 
whether it was indeed the essentially 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BETWEEN. 1 49 

critical attitude of Dr. Johnson's 
mind which caused him, on hearing 
one of his papers in the Rambler r^d^dy 
to shake his head and mumble '' Too 
wordy;" and at another time, when 
his tragedy of Irene was being read, 
to leave the company, giving as his 
reason for so doing : *' Sir, I thought 
it had been better." But who ever 
does complete anything according 
to his own elevated standard ? And 
how often when men praise most 
and speak loudest of the merits of 
this achievement and the other, the 
author is conscious of the defects of 
his work in a measure which will 
never be understood by any other ! 
The reason lies in the fact that there 

"Dwells within the soul of every artist 
More than all his efforts can express ; 
And he knows the best remains unuttered ; 
Sighing at what we call his success. 

" Vainly he may strive ; he may not tell us 
All the sacred mystery of the skies, 
Vainly he may strive ; the deepest beauty 
Cannot be unveiled to mortal eyes. 



150 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

" And the more devoutly that he listens, 
And the holier message that is sent, 
Still the more his soul must struggle vainly, 
Bowed beneath a noble discontent."* 

In his Autobiography f Gibbon gives 
us an interesting glimpse of Voltaire 
at Lausanne. The historian was, 
at the time of which he writes, a 
youth of twenty, and was busy com- 
pleting his education. 

'* Before I was recalled from 
Switzerland,'' he says, " I had the 
satisfaction of seeing the most extra- 
ordinary man of the age — a poet, an 
historian, a philosopher, who has 
filled thirty quartos of prose and 
verse with his various productions, 
often excellent, and always entertain- 
ing. Need I add the name of 
Voltaire ? After forfeiting, by his 
own misconduct, the friendship of 
the first of kings, he retired, at the 
?^ge of sixty, with a plentiful fortune, 

■* Miss Procter's Unexpressed. 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 1 5 1 

to a free and beautiful country, 
and resided two winters (1757 and 
1758) in the town and neighbour- 
hood of Lausanne. My desire of 
beholding Voltaire, whom I then 
rated above his real magnitude, was 
easily gratified. He received me 
with civility as an English youth, 
but I cannot boast of any peculiar 
notice or distinction — Virgilium vidi 
tantum, 

" The ode which he composed on 
his first arrival on the banks of the 
Leman Lake, O Maison d'Aristippe! 
O Jar din d' Epicure, etc., had been 
imparted as a secret to the gentle- 
man by whom I was introduced. He 
allowed me to read it twice ; I knew 
it by heart ; and as my discretion 
was not equal to my memory, the 
author was soon displeased by the 
circulation of a copy. In writing 
this trivial anecdote, I wished to 
observe whether my memory was 



152 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY; AND 

impaired, and I have the comfort of 
finding that every Hne of the poem 
is still engraved in fresh and indelible 
characters. The highest gratifica- 
tion which I derived from Voltaire's 
residence at Lausanne was the un- 
common circumstance of hearing a 
great poet declaim his own produc- 
tions on the stage. He had formed 
a company of ladies and gentlemen, 
some of whom were not destitute of 
talents. A decent theatre was framed 
at Monrepos, a country house at the 
end of a suburb ; dresses and scenes 
were provided at the expense of the 
actors ; and the author directed the 
rehearsals with the zeal and attention 
of paternal love. In two successive 
winters his tragedies of Zaire, A hire, 
Zulime, and his sentimental comedy 
of the Enfant Prodigue, were played 
at the theatre of Monrepos. Vol- 
taire represented the characters best 
adapted to his years — Lusignan, 



THE DEB A TA BLE LA ND BET WEEN. 153 

Alvarez, Benassar, Euphemon. His 
declamation was fashioned to the 
pomp and cadence of the old stage, 
and he expressed the enthusiasm of 
poetry rather than the feelings of 
nature. My ardour, which soon be- 
came conspicuous, seldom failed of 
procuring me a ticket. The habits of 
pleasure fortified my taste for the 
French theatre, and that taste has, 
perhaps, abated my idolatry for the 
gigantic genius of Shakespeare, which 
is inculcated from our infancy as the 
first duty of an EngHshman. The 
wit and philosophy of Voltaire, his 
table and theatre, refined, in a visible 
degree, the manners of Lausanne ; 
and, however addicted to study, I 
enjoyed my share of the amusements 
of society. After the representation 
of Monrepos, I sometimes supped 
with the actors." 

Referring to the composition of 
The Chimes, Dickens once said to 



154 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Lady Blessington : *'A11 my affections 
and passions got twined and knotted 
up in it, and I became as haggard as 
a murderer long before I wrote * the 
end.' " He had undergone, he said, 
** as much sorrow and agitation " in 
the writing **as if the thing were 
real," and when the last page was 
written had indulged ''in what women 
call a good cry." But when it was 
all finished, and lay before him in 
definite characters, nothing would do 
but that he should leave Italy to 
read it to the choice friends he 
loved, and whose approbation he so 
thoroughly enjoyed. Accordingly, 
Genoa was left behind, and London 
reached in little more than three 
weeks; and two days after his arrival 
he was *' reading his little book to 
the choice spirits aforesaid, all as- 
sembled for the purpose at Forster's 
house. There they are," says Frank 
T. Marzials, in his charming mono- 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN. 155 

graph on Dickens ; *' they Hve for us 
still in Maclise's drawing, though 
Time has plied his scythe among 
them so effectually during the forty- 
two years since flown, that each has 
passed into the silent land. There 
they sit — Carlyle,* not the shaggy 
Scotch terrier with the melancholy 
eyes that we were wont to see in his 
later days, but close-shaven and alert ; 
and swift -witted Douglas Jerrold ; 
and Laman Blanchard, whose name 
goes darkling in the literature of the 
last generation ; and Forster himself, 
journalist and author of many books; 
and the painters Dyce, Maclise, and 
Stanfield ; and Byron's friend and 
school companion, the clergyman 

* Carlyle said of Dickens' public reading : 
'* Dickens does it capitally, such as il is; acts 
better than any Macready in the world ; a whole 
tragic, comic, heroic, theatre visible, performing 
under one hat^ and keeping us laughing — in a 
sorry way, some of us thought — the whole night. 
He is a good creature, too, and makes fifty or 
sixty pounds by each of these readings." 



156 SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY ; AND 

Harness, who, like Dyce, pays to the 
story the tribute of his tears." 

We are tempted to indulge in yet 
another picture of a private reading 
at which Carlyle was present. " Leigh 
Hunt had invited a few friends with 
ourselves," says Mrs. Cowden Clarke 
in her interesting Recollections of 
Writers, '* to hear him read his 
newly- written play of A Legend of 
Florence; and Thomas Carlyle was 
among these friends. The hushed 
room, its genial low light — for a 
single well-shaded lamp close by the 
reader formed the sole point of 
illumination — the scarcely-seen faces 
around, all bent in fixed attention 
upon the perusing figure, the breath- 
less presence of so many eager lis- 
teners, all remains indelibly stationed 
in the memory, never to be effaced or 
weakened. It was not surpassed in 
interest — though strangely contrasted 
in dazzle and tumult — when the play 



THE DEBATABLE LAND BETWEEN 157 

was brought out at Covent Garden 
Theatre, and Leigh Hunt was called 
on to the stage at its conclusion to 
receive the homage of a public who 
had long known him through his de- 
lightful writings, and now caught at 
this opportunity to let him feel and 
see and hear their admiration of 
those past works, as well as of his 
present poetical play." 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

** Patchwork may be of two distinct kinds. We 
may have beautiful and artistic patchwork^ made 
up of brocades^ silksj satijts^ fine needlework^ a7td 
artistic tapestry; or we inay have coarse and 
tru?npery patchwork composed of tawdry and vulgar 
prints or bits of flaunting handkerchiefs, " 

* * Folk say, a wizard to a northern king 
At Christmas-tide such ivondrous things did show^ 
That through one window men beheld the springs 
And through another saw the stwtmer glozu, 
And through a third the fruited vines a- row, 
While stilly tinheard, but in its ivonted way. 
Piped the drear wi^id of that December day.'' 
William Morris : " The Earthly Paradise." 

What evenings in Arcadia those 
Wednesdays of Lamb's must have 
been when Wordsworth, Southey, 
Leigh Hunt, Barry Cornwall, Hazlitt, 
Coleridge, Talfourd, and such men 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 159 

of culture and imagination gathered 
round their host ! But the ''gentle 
Elia " has been so deservedly written 
about of late, and every incident in 
his blameless life has been so read 
and re-read and dwelt upon lovingly, 
that aught that could be related to 
serve our purpose would be but a re- 
cooking of some tender morsel. The 
writings of those who were on terms 
of friendship with him abound with 
such scraps as the following : 

*' December 5th, 1826. — Spent the 
evening at Lamb's. When I went in, 
they (Charles and his sister) were 
alone, playing at cards together ;" 
and *' Friday, July 13th. — Spent the 
evening at Leigh Hunt's, with the 
Lambs, Atherstone, Mrs. Shelley, and 
the Gliddons. Lamb talked admir- 
ably about Dryden and some of the 
older poets, in particular of Dave- 
nant's Gondibert,'' etc., etc.^ 

* P. G. Patmore. 



i6o SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

Of Lamb's '' At homes," Percy 
Fitzgerald writes : ''To these nights 
at his house — to the Httle rooms, 
hung round with engravings after 
Hogarth, and Poussin, Raphael, and 
Titian — every guest looked back with 
a fond longing. Milton hung on the 
wall, and from Milton he would read 
noble passages, actually weeping as 
he read." 

Hazlitt first made Lamb's ac- 
quaintance at Godwin's house, where 
he found Coleridge, Godwin, and 
Holcroft in a heated controversy as 
to whether it was better to have man 
as he was, or as he is to be. '' Give 
me man," suggested Lamb, ** as he is 
not to be." It is interesting to know 
that the last time Hazlitt (who at 
one time was ambitious to succeed 
as an artist) took his brush in hand, 
it was to paint the portrait of Lamb 
dressed as a Venetian Senator. '* The 
picture represents Lamb as he was 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. i6i 

about thirty, and it is by far the 
most pleasing and characteristic re- 
semblance we possess of him as a 
comparatively young man. The cos- 
tume was the painter's whim, and 
must be said to detract from the 
whole."* 

I don't think Lamb could have 
forgiven the painter this Venetian- 
Senator draping of his staid person, 
for he seems to have taken a sardonic 
pleasure in misbehaving himself in 
Hazlitt's company whenever the 
slightest opportunity offered itself. 
Even at Hazlitt's wedding he was en- 
gaged in some mischief; and it must 
have been mischief of a kind to please 
the maker mightily, for in a letter to 
Southey, nearly eight years after the 
event, he thus refers to it : ''I was at 
Hazlitt's marriage, and had like to 
have been turned out several times 

* Memoirs of William Hazlitt^ by W. Carew 
Hazlitt. 

II 



i62 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

during the ceremony. Anything awful 
makes me laugh." 

In his Letters, Conversations, and 
Recollections of Coleridge, Allsop says : 
" The first night I ever spent with 
Lamb was after a day with Coleridge, 
when we returned by the same stage ; 
and from something I had said or 
done of an unusual kind, I was asked 
to pass the night with him and his 
sister. Thus commenced an intimacy 
which never knew an hour's inter- 
ruption to the day of his death. 

*' Lamb asked me what I thought 
of Coleridge. I spoke as I thought. 
' You should have seen him twenty 
years ago,' said he with one of his 
sweet smiles ; * when he was with 
me at the Cat and Salutation in 
Newgate Market. Those were days 
(or nights), but they were marked 
with a white stone. Such were his 
extraordinary powers, that when it 
was time for him to go and be 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 163 

married, the landlord entreated his 
stay, and offered him free quarters if 
he would only talk.' " 

Lamb never ceased thinking and 
talking of these ''Old Salutation" 
nights with their ''egg-flip and Oro- 
nooko." There Coleridge and he used 
to sup occasionally, and remain long 
after they had " heard the chimes at 
midnight." "There they discoursed 
of Bowles, who was the god of Cole- 
ridge's poetical idolatry, and of Burns 
and Cowper, who, of recent poets, 
in that season of comparative barren- 
ness had made the deepest impression 
on Lamb. There Coleridge talked 
of ' Fate, free-will, fore-knowledge 
absolute,' to one who desired ' to 
find no end ' of the golden maze ; 
and there he recited his early poems 
with that deep sweetness of intona- 
tion which sunk into the heart of 
his hearer. To these meetings 
Lamb was accustomed at all periods 

II — 2 



i64 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

of his life to revert, as the season 
when his finer intellects were 
quickened into action. Shortly after 
they had terminated, with Coleridge's 
departure from London, he thus re- 
called them in one of his letters : 
' When I read in your little volume 
the effusion you call The Sigh, I 
think I hear you again. I imagine 
to myself the little smoky room at 
the Cat and Salutation, where we sat 
together through the winter nights 
beguiling the cares of life with poetry.' 
This was early in 1796 ; and in 1818, 
when dedicating his works, then first 
collected, to his earliest friend, he 
thus spoke of the same meetings : 
* Some of the sonnets, which shall be 
carelessly turned over by the general 
reader, may happily awaken in you 
remembrances which I should be 
sorry to doubt are totally extinct — 
the *' memory of summer days and of 
delightful years," even so far back as 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 165 

those old suppers at our old inn — 
when life was fresh, and topics ex- 
haustless, and you first kindled in 
me, if not the power, yet the love of 
poetry, and beauty, and kindliness.' 
And so he talked of these unforgotten 
hours in that short interval during 
which death divided them."* 

In his essay Of Persons one would 
wish to have seen, Hazlitt says that it 
was Lamb who suggested the subject 
at one of his pleasant evenings among 
friends. 

** On the question being started, 
Ayrton said, * I suppose the two 
first persons you would choose to see 
would be the two greatest names in 
English literature. Sir Isaac Newton 
and Mr. Locke ?' In this Ayrton, as 
usual, reckoned without his host. 
Everyone burst out laughing at the 
expression of Lamb's face, in which 
impatience was restrained by courtesy. 

* Talfourd's Letters of Charles Lamb. 



1 66 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 

' Yes, the greatest names,' he stam- 
mered out hastily, ' but they were not 
persons — not persons.' — ^ Not per- 
sons ?' said Ayrton, looking wise and 
foolish at the same time, afraid his 
triumph might be premature. 'That is,' 
rejoined Lamb, ' not characters, you 
know. By Mr. Locke and Sir Isaac 
Newton, you mean the Essay on the 
Human Understanding and the Prin- 
cipia, which we have to this day. 
Beyond their contents there is nothing 
personally interesting in the men. 
But what we want to see anyone 
bodily for, is when there is something 
pecuHar, striking in the individuals, 
more than we can learn from their 
writings, and yet are curious to know. 
I dare say Locke and Newton were 
very like Kneller's portraits of them. 
But who could paint Shakespeare ?' 
— ' Ay,' retorted Ayrton, ' there it is ; 
then, I suppose, you would prefer seeing 
him and Milton instead !' — * No,' said 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 167 

Lamb, 'neither. I have seen so much 
of Shakespeare on the stage and on 
bookstalls, in frontispieces and on 
mantelpieces, that I am quite tired 
of the everlasting repetition ; and as 
to Milton's face, the impressions that 
have come down to us of it I do not 
like; it is too starched and puri- 
tanical ; and I should be afraid of 
losing some of the manna of his 
poetry in the leaven of his coun- 
tenance and the precisian's band and 
gown.' — ' I shall guess no more,' 
said Ayrton. ' Who is it, then, you 
would like to see '* in his habit as he 
lived," if you had your choice of the 
whole range of English literature ?' 
Lamb then named Sir Thomas 
Browne and Fulke Greville, the 
friend of Sir Philip Sidney, as the 
two worthies whom he should feel 
the greatest pleasure to encounter on 
the floor of his apartment in their 
nightgowns and slippers, and to ex- 



i68 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

change friendly greeting with them. 
At this Ayrton laughed outright, and 
conceived Lamb was jesting with 
him ; but as no one followed his 
example, he thought there might be 
something in it, and waited for an 
explanation in a state of whimsical 
suspense. Lamb then went on as 
follows : ' The reason why I pitch 
upon these two authors is, that their 
writings are riddles, and they them- 
selves the most mysterious of person- 
ages. They resemble the soothsayers 
of old, who dealt in dark hints and 
doubtful oracles ; and I should like 
to ask them the meaning of what 
no mortal but themselves, I should 
suppose, can fathom. There is Dr. 
Johnson : I have no curiosity, no 
strange uncertainty about him ; he 
and Boswell together have pretty 
well let me into the secret of what 
passed through his mind. He and 
other writers like him are sufficiently 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 169 

explicit : my friends whose repose 
I should be tempted to disturb (were 
it in my power) are implicit, inex- 
tricable, inscrutable.' 

:fc sfc 5fc :ic H« 

** Some one then inquired of Lamb 
if we could not see from the window 
the Temple walk in which Chaucer 
used to take his exercise ; and on his 
name being put to the vote, I was 
pleased to find that there was a 
general sensation in his favour in 
all but Ayrton, who said something 
about the ruggedness of the metre, 
and even objected to the quaintness 
of the orthography. I was vexed at 
this superficial gloss, pertinaciously 
reducing everything to its own trite 
level, and asked * if he did not think 
it would be worth while to scan the 
eye that had first greeted the Muse 
in that dim twilight and early dawn 
of English literature ; to see the head 
round which the visions of fancy 



170 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 

must have played like gleams of 
inspiration or sudden glory ; to 
watch those lips that ' lisped in 
numbers, for the numbers came ' — as 
by a miracle, or as if the dumb should 
speak. . . . 

*' His interview with Petrarch is 
fraught with interest. Yet I would 
rather have seen Chaucer in company 
with the author of the Decameron, and 
have heard them exchange their best 
stories together — the Squire's Tale 
against The Story of the Falcon, the 
Wife of Bath's Prologue against the 
A dventures of Friar A Ibert, How fine 
to see the high mysterious brow 
which learning then wore, relieved 
by the gay, familiar tone of men of 
the world, and by the courtesies of 
genius ! Surely, the thoughts and 
feelings which passed through the 
minds of these great revivers of 
learning, these Cadmuses who sowed 
the teeth of letters, must have 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 171 

stamped an expression on their fea- 
tures as different from the moderns 
as their books, and well worth the 
perusal. . . . Lamb put it to me if I 
should like to see Spenser as well as 
Chaucer, and I answered, without 
hesitation, ' No ; for that his beau- 
ties were ideal, visionary, not palp- 
able or personal, and therefore con- 
nected with less curiosity about the 
man. His poetry was the essence 
of romance, a very halo round the 
bright orb of fancy, and the bringing 
in the individual might dissolve the 
charm. No tones of voice could 
come up to the meUifluous cadence 
of his verse ; no form but of a winged 
angel could vie with the airy shapes , 
he has described. He was (to my 
apprehension) rather a 'creature of 
the element, that lived in the rain- 
bow and played in the pHghted 
clouds,' than an ordinary mortal. 
Or if he did appear, I should wish it 



172 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

to be as a mere vision, like one of 
his own pageants, and that he should 
pass by unquestioned like a dream or 
sound — 

" * T^af was Arion crown'd ! 

So went he playing on the wat'ry plain.' 

** We were now at a stand for a 
short time, when Fielding was men- 
tioned as a candidate ; only one, 
however, seconded the proposition. 
* Richardson ?' — ' By all means, but 
only to look at him through the glass 
door of his back shop, hard at work 
upon one of his novels (the most ex- 
traordinary contrast that ever was 
presented between an author and his 
works) ; not to let him come behind 
his counter, lest he should want you 
to turn customer, or to go upstairs 
with him, lest he should offer to read 
the first manuscript of Sir Charles 
Grandison, which was originally 
written in eight-and-twenty volumes 
octavo, or get out the letters of his 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 173 

female correspondents, to prove that 

Joseph Andrews was low. 

*' Of all persons near our own time, 
Garrick's name was received with the 
greatest enthusiasm. . . . 

" We were interrupted in the hey- 
day and mid-career of this fanciful 
speculation by a grumbler in the 
corner, who declared it was a shame 
to make all this rout about a mere 
player and farce-writer, to the neglect 
and exclusion of the fine old drama- 
tists, the contemporaries and rivals 
of Shakespeare. Lamb said he had 
anticipated this objection when he 
had named the author of Mustapha 
and Alaham; and, out of caprice, 
insisted upon keeping him to repre- 
sent the set in preference to the wdld, 
hair-brained enthusiast, Kit Marlowe ; 
to the sexton of St. Ann's, Webster, 
with his melancholy yew-trees and 
death's-heads ; to Decker, who was 



174 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 

but a garrulous proser ; to the volu- 
minous Heywood ; and even to 
Beaumont and Fletcher, whom we 
might offend by complimenting the 
wrong author on their joint produc- 
tions. . . . Ben Jonson divided our 
suffrages pretty equally. Some were 
afraid he would begin to traduce 
Shakespeare, who was not present 
to defend himself. ... At length, 
his romantic visit to Drummond of 
Hawthornden* was mentioned, and 
turned the scale in his favour. 
•5f * ^ ^ -x- 

*' By this time it should seem that 
some rumour of our whimsical de- 
liberation had got wind, and had 
disturbed the irritabile genus in their 
shadowy abodes, for we received 
messages from several candidates 
that we had just been thinking of. 
Gray declined our invitation, though 
he had not yet been asked ; Gay 
offered to come and bring in his 

* See p. 112. 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 175 

hand the Duchess of Bolton, the 
original Polly; Steele and Addison 
left their cards as Captain Sentry* 
and Sir Roger de Coverley; Swift 
came in and sat down without speak- 
ing a word, and quitted the room as 
abruptly ;f Otway and Chatterton 
were seen lingering on the opposite 
side of the Styx, but could not muster 
enough between them to pay Charon 
his fare ; Thomson fell asleep in the 
boat, and was rowed back again ; 
and Burns sent a low fellow, one 
John Barleycorn, an old companion 
of his, who had conducted him to 
the other world, to say that he had 
during his lifetime been drawn out 
of his retirement as a show, only to 
be made an exciseman of, and that 
he would rather remain where he 
was. He desired, however, to shake 
hands by his representative — the 

* A member of the Spectator Club. 
t See p. 23. 



\ 



176 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 

hand, thus held out, was in a burning 
fever, and shook prodigiously. 



" The morning broke with that 
dim, dubious light by which Giotto, 
Cimabue, and Ghirlandaio must have 
seen to paint their earliest works ; 
and we parted to meet again and 
renew similar topics at night, the 
next night, and the night after that, 
till that night overspread Europe 
which saw no dawn. The same 
event, in truth, broke up our little 
congress that broke up the great one. 
But that was to meet again : our 
deliberations have never been re- 
sumed."* 

Leigh l:l\ini's An Earth upon Heaven 
seems to have been suggested by this 
charming essay of Hazlitt's. ** Some- 
body, a little while ago," Hunt begins, 

* This paper was written about 1820, but the 
event which it purports to describe occurred many 
years before. 



SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY. 177 

** wrote an excellent article in the New 
Monthly Magazine on Persons one would 
wish to have known (sic). He should 
write another on * Persons one could 
wish to have dined with.' There is 
Rabelais, and Horace, and the Mer- 
maid roisterers, and Charles Cotton, 
and Andrew Marvell, and Sir Richard 
Steele, cum multis aliis ; and for the 
colloquial, if not for the festive part, 
Swift, and Pope, and Dr. Johnson, 
and Burke, and Home Tooke. What 
a pity one cannot dine with them all 
round ! People are accused of having 
earthly notions of heaven. As it is 
difficult to have any other, we may 
be pardoned for thinking that we 
could spend a very pretty thousand 
years in dining and getting acquainted 
with all the good fellows on record ; 
and having got used to them, we 
think we could go very well on, and 
be content to wait some other thou- 
sands for a higher beatitude. Oh, to 

12 



178 SOCIAL AND IMAGINARY, 

wear out one of the celestial lives of 
a triple century's duration, and ex- 
quisitely to grow old, in reciprocating 
dinners and teas with the immortals 
of old books ! Will Fielding ' leave 
his card ' in the next world ? Will 
Berkeley (an angel in a wig and lawn 
sleeves) come to ask how Utopia gets 
on ? Will Shakespeare (for the greater 
the man, the more the good-nature 
might be expected) know by intuition 
that one of his readers (knocked up 
with bliss) is dying to see him at the 
Angel and Turk's Head, and come 
lounging with his hands in his 
doublet-pockets accordingly ?'* 



VI. 
WITH AN OLD LION. 

" And that deep-mouthed Beotian Savage Landor 
Has taken for a swan rogue Sout hey* s gander.*^ 

Byron. 

" It was a dream, ah ! what is not a dream i*" 

Landor. 

Whilst at Como, Landor received 
a visit from Southey ; and this visit 
must have been highly gratifying to 
both if what Landor put into 
Southey's mouth in the Imaginary 
Conversations was in any way near 
the truth. " Well do I remember," 
he makes Southey say, "our long 
conversation in the silent and soli- 
tary church of Sant' Aboudis (surely 
the coolest spot in Italy), and how 

12 — 2 



i8o WITH AN OLD LION. 

often I turned my head toward the 
open door, fearing lest some pious 
passer-by, or some more distant one 
in the wood above, pursuing the 
pathway that leads to the tower of 
Luitprand, should hear the roof echo 
with your laughter at the stories you 
had collected about the brotherhood 
and sisterhood of the place." 

The hastiness of Landor's temper 
was known to his friends as well 
as to himself. Crabb Robinson 
speaks of him as a '^ leonine " 
man, with a fierceness of tone well 
suited to his name, his decisions 
being confident, and on all subjects, 
whether of taste or Hfe, unqualified, 
each standing for itself, not caring 
whether it was in harmony with what 
had gone before or would follow from 
the same oracular lips.* Robinson 

* Landor's conduct in this direction was cer- 
ifiinly a brilliant commentary on the words of 
Emerson : "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin 
of little minds, adored by little statesmen and 



WITH AN OLD LION. i8i 

adds : '' He was conscious of his 
own infirmity of temper, and told 
me he saw few persons, because he 
could not bear contradictions." And 
yet between this 

** Deep-mouthed Beotian Savage Laiidor " 

and the *' Gentle Elia " sympathy of 
a kind existed. Whilst in London, 

philosophers and divines. With consistency a 
great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as 
well concern himself with his shadow on the 
wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, 
and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in 
hard words again, though it contradict everything 
you said to-day." 

On the 15th of May, 1833, Emerson dined with 
Landor, and thus records his experience : *' I 
found him noble and courteous, living in a cloud 
of pictures at his Villa Gherardesca, a fine house 
commanding a beautiful landscape. I had in- 
ferred from his books, or magnified from some 
anecdotes, an impression of Achillean wrath — an 
untamable petulance. I do not know whether the 
imputation were just or not, but certainly on this 
May day his courtesy veiled that haughty mind, 
and he was the most patient and gentle of hosis. 
He . . . talked of Wordsworth, Byron, Mas- 
singer, Beaumont and Fletcher. To be sure, he 
is decided in his opinions, likes to surprise, and is 
well content to impress, if possible, his English 
whim upon the immutable past." 



1 82 WITH AN OLD LION. 

Landor was taken by Robinson to 
see Charles Lamb, and was delighted 
with him and his sister. It is said 
that tipsy or sober, for a few years 
before his death, Lamb was continu- 
ally repeating Landor's Rose Aylmer ; 
and all admirers of these two famous 
men must remember the tenderness 
of the verses addressed by Landor 
to Mary Lamb on the death of her 
brother : 

*' Comfort thee, O thou mourner, yet awhile ! 
Again shall Elia's smile 
Refresh thy heart, where heart can ache no more. 
What is it we deplore ? 

"He leaves behind him, freed from griefs and 
years. 

Far worthier things than tears. 
The love of friends without a single foe : 
Unequalled lot below ! 

*' His gentle soul, his genius, these are thine ; 
For these dost thou repine ? 
He may have left the lowly walks of men ; 
Left them he has ; what then ? 

" Are not his footsteps followed by the eyes 
Of all the good and wise ? 
Tho' the warm day is over, yet they seek 
Upon the lofty peak 



WITH AN OLD LION. 183 

** Of his pure mind the roseate light that glows 
O'er death's perennial snows. 
Behold him ! from the region of the blest 
He speaks : he bids thee rest." 

The decidedness of Landor both in 
his Hkes and dislikes affords us excuse 
for referring to two or three other of 
his interviews. At Bonn one day he 
met Schlegel, and the next the poet 
Arndt. Of Schlegel he writes to 
Crabb Robinson : '* He resembles 
a little pot-bellied pony tricked out 
with stars, buckles, and ribbons, 
looking askance, from his ring and 
halter in the market, for an apple 
from one, a morsel of bread from 
another, a fig of ginger from a 
third, and a pat from everybody :" 
His interview with Arndt, however, 
*' settled the bile this coxcomb of the 
bazaar had excited." '' In one of 
the very last pieces of verse Landor 
wrote," says Sidney Colvin, *' I find 
him recalling with pleasure how he 
and Arndt had talked together in 



i84 WITH AN OLD LION. 

Latin thirty years before in the poet's 
orchard ; how they had chanced to 
hear a song of Arndt's own sung by 
the people in the town below ; and 
how nimbly the old poet had run and 
picked up an apple to give his guest, 
who had kept the pips and planted 
them in his garden at Fiesole." 

In a recent article in the New 
York Nation, we find some interest- 
ing particulars of Landor, and from 
these we extract the following : 

'* His wife lived in a villa at or near 
Fiesole for some time, and it was 
there that, after an absence of thirty 
years, Landor suddenly rejoined her 
without a word of notice. He had 
left her in a fit of caprice, and when 
he returned as capriciously, he was 
outraged and indignant to find that 
no niche in the family circle had been 
left vacant for him. He had taught 
his family to do without him, and 
had left them for thirty years to 



WITH AN OLD LION. 185 

practise their lesson, and then was 
bitterly disappointed when he found 
how well they had learnt that lesson. 
Late one night he appeared in 
Florence, at the lodgings of his 
faithful friends, the Robert Brown- 
ings, in a towering rage, and vitu- 
perating, no doubt, as only he could 
vituperate, against the whole female 
sex, and that arch-villain, his wife, in 
particular. He would never go back 
to her — never ! Indeed, it was the 
only possible decision to make. He 
was at no time an easy man to live 
with, and after that little absence 
of thirty years, Mrs. Landor may be 
forgiven if she did not receive him 
with open arms. But she cannot be 
forgiven for the long bill which she 
sent after him, in which every lemon 
that had been made into lemonade 
for him during his brief stay was 
entered and charged for; and it must 
be remembered that the villa itself, 



i86 WITH AN OLD LION. 

with its garden and all its lemon- 
trees, had been paid for out of 
Landor's money. Some of the 
Florentine courts of justice still, 
perhaps, possess records of the suits 
brought against Florentine citizens 
by this impracticable Englishman. 
The last time he appeared, whether 
as prosecutor or defendant, in the 
Syndic's court, he stooped to hoist 
up a heavy bag which he had brought 
with him, and which he placed on 
the table before him, coolly observ- 
ing that, as he knew every man in 
Florence had his price, here was 
money to secure judgment on his 
side. The court, feeling itself this 
time outraged beyond endurance, 
pronounced sentence of banishment 
against him, and he left Florence 
never to return. Before he was 
exiled, Landor had lived in rooms 
above those occupied by his friends 
the Brownings. They used to send 



WITH AN OLD LION. 187 

his dinner up to him every day, and, 
to a man of his vehement tempera- 
ment, dinner was a very important 
event. He would stand watch in 
hand when the hour was approach- 
ing, and if the dinner was a moment 
behind time, he would seize the dish 
and hurl its contents out of the 
window. Mr. Browning's son, who 
was then very young, well remembers 
seeing a leg of mutton pass the 
window of his father's room on one 
of these occasions. An expensive 
and troublesome inmate, no doubt ; 
but what good times the three poets must 
have had in those long evenings when 
dinner was forgotten, and there was 
nothing left to do but talk I How 
they must have enjoyed each other's 
scholarship !" 

I like to think of the pleasure 
afforded the old lion in his last years 
by two apparent trifles — the society 
of a young American lady. Miss 



i88 WITH AN OLD LION. 

Kate Field, to whom he taught 
Latin ; and the visit of Swinburne, 
one of his most ardent admirers, 
who made a pilgrimage to Florence 
on purpose to see the old man's face 
before he died. 




VII. 
BEHIND THE SCENES. 

" To say that this taste of ours is a petty taste^ 
the taste of valets, is simply to inveigh against one 
of the instincts of otir nature, the instinct which — 
to quote the words of Moore — ' leads us to contem- 
plate with pleasure a great mind in its undress f 
. . . and, perhaps, I may add, to inveigh against one 
of the strongest charms of history and biography, 
against the charm without which all history and 
all biography are little more than ' an old 
almanack' "—Charles Pebody. 

Occasionally a poem or work of 
prose has been the result of some 
stray hint dropped at a meeting of 
friends ; in other cases, again, the 
central idea has been the subject of 
great talk and much beating out 
before it assumed the importance 



190 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

necessary to prompt its extension 
into a work of art. 

"The account Wordsworth gives 
of the origin of the Ancient Mariner 
is that in the autumn of 1797 he, 
with his sister and Coleridge, started 
from Alfoxden to visit Linton and 
the Valley of Stones, and their 
united funds being very small, they 
agreed to defray the expenses of the 
tour by writing a poem, to be sent to 
the New Monthly Magazine, Accord- 
ingly, as they proceeded along the 
Quantock Hills, by Watchet, the 
poem of the Ancient Mariner was 
planned. It was founded, as Mr. 
Coleridge said, on a dream narrated 
by a friend of his. Much the 
greater part of the story was Cole- 
ridge's invention, but parts were sug- 
gested by Wordsworth ; for example, 
that some crime was to be committed 
which should bring upon the ' old 
navigator,' as Coleridge delighted to 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 191 

call him, the spectral persecution, as 
a consequence of that crime and his 
own wanderings." 

The origin of Longfellow's Evan- 
geline is thus described in the 
Atlantic Monthly : — '' Hawthorne, 
dining one day with Longfellow, 
brought with him a friend from 
Salem. After dinner this friend 
said, *I have been trying to per- 
suade Hawthorne to write a story 
based upon a legend of Acadie, 
and still current there ; the legend 
of a girl who, in the dispersion 
of the Acadians, was separated from 
her lover, and passed her life in 
waiting and seeking for him, and 
only found him dying in a hospital, 
when both were old.' Longfellow 
wondered that this legend did not 
strike the fancy of Hawthorne, and 
said to him, ' If you really have 
made up your mind not to use it for 
a story, will you give it to me for 



-192 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

a poem ?' To this he assented, and 
promised not to treat it in prose till 
Longfellow had seen what he could 
do with it in verse." What Long- 
fellow did *' do with it in verse '' 
is known tolerably well to the world 
now. In November, 1847, ^^^s. Haw- 
thorne wrote to a friend : " Have 
you seen the most exquisite of 
reviews upon Evangeline — very short, 
but containing all ? Evangeline is 
certainly the highest production of 
Mr. Longfellow." 

Burns had a companion whilst 
composing Scots wha hae wi Wallace 
hied; but he owed nothing to him 
of the kind of debt of either Long- 
fellow or Coleridge. He was in- 
debted to him, however, for his 
silence and non-interruption. No 
one can tell the story better than 
Carlyle ; and so we use what he 
relates of the matter : ** Why should 
we speak," he says, '' of Scots wha hae 



BEHIND THE SCENES, 193 

wV Wallace bled, since all know of it 
from the king to the meanest of his 
subjects ? This dithyrambic was 
composed on horseback ; in riding 
in the middle of tempests, over 
the wildest Galloway moor, in com- 
pany with a Mr. Syme, who, observ- 
ing the poet's looks, forbore to speak 
— judiciously enough ; for a man 
composing Bruce' s Address might be 
unsafe to trifle with. Doubtless this 
stern hymn was singing itself, as he 
formed it, through the soul of Burns; 
but to the external ear, it should be 
sung with the throat of the whirl- 
wind. So long as there is warm 
blood in the heart of Scotchman or 
man, it will move in fierce thrills 
under this war-ode ; the best, we 
believe, that was ever written by any 
pen." 

Mrs. Hemans relates a conversa- 
tion she had with Wordsworth in 
which reference was made to this 

13 



194 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

poem. '* How much was I amused 
yesterday," she says, ** by a sudden 
burst of indignation in Mr. Words- 
worth ! We were sitting on a bank 
overlooking Rydal Water, and speak- 
ing of Burns. I said, * Mr. Words- 
worth, do you not think his war-ode, 
Scots wha hue, has been a good 
deal overrated, especially by Mr. 
Carlyle, who calls it the noblest 
lyric in the language ?' * I am de- 
lighted to hear you ask that ques- 
tion,' was his reply. * Overrated ! — 
trash — stuff — miserable inanity ! 
without a thought !. without an 
image !' etc., etc. Then he recited 
the piece in a tone of unutterable 
scorn, and concluded with a da capo 
of 'Wretched stuff!'" 

We have a delightful peep into the 
inner life of a great writer in George 
EUot's own account of how she came 
to write fiction. '' One night," she 
says, '* G. " (Mr. Lewes) ** went to 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 195 

town on purpose to leave me a quiet 
evening for writing it " (the portion 
of Amos Barton in which Milly's 
death occurs). '* I wrote the chapter 
from the news brought by the shep- 
herd to Mrs. Hackit, to the moment 
when Amos is dragged from the bed- 
side, and I read it to G. when he 
came home. We both cried over it, 
and then he came up to me and 
kissed me, saying, ' I think your 
pathos is better than your fun.' " 

Hobbes and Bacon were, it ap- 
pears, excellent friends, and of great 
service to each other. Aubrey, in 
his Lives of Eminent Persons, referring 
to Hobbes, says that Bacon *' was 
wont to have him walk with him in 
his delicate groves, when he did 
meditate ; and when a notion darted 
into his lordship's mind, Mr. Hobbes 
was presently to write it down, and 
his lordship was wont to say that he 
did it better than anyone else about 

13—2 



196 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

him ; for that many times, when he 
read their notes, he scarce under- 
stood what they writ, because they 
understood it not clearly them- 
selves.'* 

This method of work was alto- 
gether out of Goldsmith's line. One 
day a literary friend was expatiating 
to him on the advantages of employ- 
ing an amanuensis, and thus saving 
time and the trouble of writing. 

** How do you manage it ?" in- 
quired Goldsmith. 

** Why, I walk about the room and 
dictate to a clever man, who puts 
down very correctly all that I tell 
him, so that I have nothing to do 
more than just to look over the 
manuscript and then send it to 
press." 

Goldsmith was delighted at the 
idea, and asked his friend to send 
his amanuensis the next morning. 
The scribe accordingly waited upon 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 197 

the doctor, and with pens, ink, and 
paper placed in order before him, 
waited to catch the oracle. Gold- 
smith paced the room with great 
solemnity several times ; but after 
racking his brain to no purpose, he 
put his hand into his pocket, and, 
presenting the amanuensis with a 
guinea, said : 

'* It won't do, my friend ; I find 
that my head and hand must go 
together." 

We have so very few genuine peeps 
behind the scenes upon authors at 
work, that what Hans Christian 
Andersen tells us of the elder Dumas 
cannot fail to prove of interest. He 
generally found him in bed, even long 
after mid-day ; for it was his custom 
to have pen, ink and paper in his 
bedroom, where he wrote his dramas. 
** On entering his apartment," says 
Andersen, '* I found him thus one 
day. He nodded kindly to me, and 



198 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

said, * Sit down a minute. I have 
just now a visit from my Muse ; she 
will be going directly.' He wrote on, 
and after a brief silence shouted 

* Vivat /' sprang out of bed, and said, 

* The third act is finished !' " 

Sir Joshua Reynolds one day en- 
tered Goldsmith's room unnoticed, 
and found him seated at his desk, 
with his pen in his hand and with 
his paper before him ; '' but he had 
turned away from The Traveller, and 
with uplifted hand was looking to- 
wards a corner of the room, where a 
little dog sat with difficulty on his 
haunches, with imploring eyes. Rey- 
nolds looked over the poet's shoulder 
and read a couplet whose ink was 
still wet : 

" * By sports like these are all their cares beguiled ; 
The sports of children satisfy the child. ' " 

'' Surely, my friend," says the genial 
Country Parson, *' you will never 
again read that couplet, so simply 



BEHIND THE SCENES] 199 

and felicitously expressed, without 
remembering the circumstances in 
which it was written. Who should 
know better than Goldsmith what 
simple pleasures ' satisfy the child ' ?" 
The letters of George Eliot to her 
friends, which have been given to the 
world in her Life by Mr. Cross, show 
us what a beautifully suitable home- 
life hers was. '* We are dehghting 
ourselves," she says in one of them, 
*' with Ruskin's third volume, which 
contains some of the finest writing 
I have read for a long time (among 
recent books). I read it aloud for an 
hour or so after dinner ; then we 
jump to the old dramatists, when 
Mr. Lewes reads to me as long as 
his voice will hold out, and after this 
we wind up the evening with Rymer 
Jones's Animal Kingdom, by which I 
get a confused knowledge of bran- 
chiae and such things — perhaps, on 
the whole, a little preferable to total 



200 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

ignorance. These are our nodes — 
without cence for the present — occa- 
sionally diversified by very dramatic 
singing of Figaro, etc.*' 

Sometimes a meeting of the kind 
of which we write is instructive, as 
indicating the interest taken by an 
old sage in a young, aspiring in- 
dividual. Although, in numerous 
cases, a man is able to trace the 
great and abiding influences which 
swoop down upon his life and 
overpower it for good, to the printed 
pages of some virile author, yet we 
often find in actual life that the 
influence of man on man, more 
especially of man on youth, is incal- 
culable. Now and then, even a stray 
thought, uttered in a nonchalant 
manner, has immense power over 
the future years of the listener.* 

* We need hardly say that, in spite of the truth 
contained in it, we do not altogether agree with 
Douglas Jerrold's saying that nothing is so bene- 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 201 

It is said that Whittier, the 
American poet, still dwells upon the 
singular pleasure he got out of the 
first sight of his poems printed in 
the ** Poet's Corner " of the county 
newspaper which belonged to Wil- 
liam Lloyd Garrison. That Garri- 
son also found pleasure in them is 
evident from the following, for which 
we are indebted to Whittier's bio- 
grapher, Francis H. Underwood : 

'' One day, when he was hoeing in 
the corn-field in the summer of 1826, 
word came that a carriage had driven 
up to the house, and that the visitor 
had inquired for one John Greenleaf 
Whittier. The youth hastened to- 
wards the house in great astonishment, 
and entered the back-door because 
he was not presentable, having on 
neither coat, waistcoat, nor shoes — 



ficial to a young author as the advice of a man 
whose judgment stands continually at freezing 
point. 



202 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

only a shirt, pantaloons, and straw- 
hat. Who could have driven out to 
see him ? After being shod and 
apparelled, his heart still in a flutter, 
he appeared before the stranger, who 
proved to be Garrison. The good 
sister Mary, it appeared, had re- 
vealed the secret of the authorship 
of the poems, and the generous 
young editor had come from New- 
buryport on a friendly visit. We 
can imagine how the praise affected 
the poet ; for the manner and tones 
of Garrison were always hearty, and 
often very tender, and conveyed 
an impression of absolute sincerity. 
His position as editor gave weight 
also to his words. To be sure, the 
Free Press was a local newspaper, 
and in one sense obscure ; but it 
was conducted with ability and 
conscience, and it reached the best 
readers in the county. For a young 
man who had never left his father's 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 203 

farm this was a recognition unex- 
pected and overwhelming. It was a 
ghmpse of fame. 

*' The father was called in, and the 
prospects of the son discussed — the 
father remonstrating against ' put- 
ting notions in his son's head.' With 
warm words Garrison set forth the 
capabilities which the early verses 
indicated, and urged that the youth 
be sent to some public institution for 
such a training as his talents de- 
manded. This clear and intelligent 
counsel made a deep impression, 
although at first the obstacles seemed 
insuperable. The father had not the 
money for the purpose ; the farm did 
not produce more than enough for 
the necessary expenses of the family. 
But the son pondered upon the 
matter, and determined to make 
every effort to secure a higher and 
more complete education. A way 
was opened for him that very year — 



204 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

not by charity or loan, but by the 
labour of his own hands. A young 
man, who worked for the elder 
Whittier on the farm in summer, 
used to make ladies' shoes and 
slippers during the winter. Seeing 
the desire of young Whittier to earn 
money for his schooling, he offered 
to instruct him in the * mystery.' 
The youth eagerly accepted the offer, 
and during the following season he 
earned enough to pay for a suit of 
clothes and for his board and tuition 
for six months.'' 

Whilst in Edinburgh Burns was 
invited to the house of Dr. Adam 
Ferguson to meet some celebrated 
men of letters and science. In one 
of the rooms he found a picture of a 
dead soldier in the snow, with his 
widow and child on one side, and his 
dog on the other. He was so touched 
by this picture that he wept. Beneath 
the print were some lines, and, turn- 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 205 

ing to the company, he asked whose 
they were. No one seemed to know ; 
but at last a lame boy of sixteen said 
they were by Langhorne, and men- 
tioned the poem from which they 
were taken. Burns, fixing a look of 
half-serious interest on the youth, 
said: ''You'll be a man yet, sir!" 
The boy was Walter Scott, and he 
always remembered the incident with 
pleasure. 

In the spring of 1787 Burns and 
Professor Stewart sometimes went 
out walking in the morning on the 
Braid Hills which overlook Edin- 
burgh. The Professor, speaking of 
the poet, says that on these occasions 
*' he charmed me still more by his 
private conversation than he had 
ever done in company." Once when 
they were admiring the distant pro- 
spect, Burns told his companion 
'* that the sight of so many smoking 
cottages gave a pleasure to his mind 



2o6 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

which none could understand who 
had not witnessed, like himself, the 
happiness and the worth they con- 
tained."* 

Of a surety, as Mr. Strachey says 
in his Introduction to the Mermaid 
edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, '* in 

* Ruskin writes of the Savoyard peasants, in an 
altogether different mood, inhis Alodern Painters. 
** Is it not," he queries, "strange to reflect, that 
hardly an evening passes in London or Paris, but 
one of those cottages is painted for the better 
amusement of the fair and idle, and shaded with 
pasteboard pines by the scene-shifter ; and that 
good and kind people — poetically minded — delight 
themselves in imagining the happy life led by 
peasants who dwell by Alpine fountains, and kneel 
to crosses upon peaks of rock ? that nightly we 
lay down our gold, to fashion forth simulacra of 
peasants, in gay ribands and white bodices, singing 
sweet songs, and bowing gracefully to the pictur- 
esque crosses? And all the while the veritable 
peasants are kneeling songlessly, to veritable 
crosses, in another temper than the kind and fair 
audiences deem of, and assuredly with another 
kind of answer than is got out of the opera 
catastrophe." 

" All testifies that (to the Savoyard peasant) the 
world is labour and vanity ; that for him neither 
flowers bloom, nor birds sing, nor fountains glisten ; 
and that his soul hardly differs from the gray cloud 
that coils and dies upon his hills, except in having 
no fold of it touched by the sunbeams. " 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 207 

the whole range of English literature, 
search it from Chaucer till to-day, 
there is no figure more fascinating or 
more worthy of attention than * the 
mysterious double personality ' of 
Beaumont and Fletcher." 

Of the life that Beaumont and 
Fletcher led in London while work- 
ing together we know nothing that is 
positive, and so our imagination has 
free scope to give them what meet- 
ings we may in the shape of confer- 
ences of friendly aid, by suggestion 
or by absolute work. Speculation, 
however rife, will never be able to 
say, whilst pointing its finger at their 
plays, that this thought or that ex- 
pression came from the one or the 
other ; and so we are content to 
leave it. 

Referring to their friendship with 
another notable writer of plays, 
Dryden, in his Essay of Dramatic 
Poetry y says : *' Beaumont especially 



2o8 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

being so accurate a judge of plays, 
Ben Jonson, while he lived, sub- 
mitted all his writings to his censure, 
and, 'tis thought, used his judgment 
in correcting, if not in contriving, all 
his plots. What value he had for 
him appears by the verses he wrote 
to him, and therefore I need speak 
no further of it." How deep the 
truth lies in this statement it is diffi- 
cult to determine nowadays ;* and 
we are all too busy just at present 
endeavouring to prove that Bacon 
was Shakespeare and Shakespeare 
nobody, to bother about such a 
minor matter as that of Beaumont 
instructing Ben Jonson what to put 
into his plays, and how to put it. 
We are not, however, too busy to 

* "Nor is it possible for me to go into the in- 
teresting facts which seem to show that it was 
through a common friendship with Ben Jonson, 
perhaps through a kindred admiration for the 
poet's masterpiece, Volpone, to which play both 
contributed commendatory verses, that the com- 
rade poets first became acquainted." — J. St. Loe 
Strachey, 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 209 

remember that *' rare Ben " once 
shouted '' Boo " to a goose ! 

There is less mystery about the 
literary partnership of Addison and 
Steele. The story of their work in 
the periodicals in which, as Mr. 
Morley says, the people of England 
learned to read, is now embedded in 
our literature. When Steele, on the 
completion of the last paper of the 
seventh volume of the Spectator, made 
mention of those who had assisted 
him in keeping up the spirit of his 
*' long and approved performance," he 
gave an especial place to Addison, 
" the gentleman of whose assistance 
I formerly boasted in the preface and 
concluding leaf of my Tatlers,'" '* I 
am, indeed," continued Steele, *' much 
more proud of his long -continued 
friendship than I should be of the 
fame of being thought the author of 
any writings which he himself is 
capable of producing. I remember 

14 



210 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

when I finished The Tender Husband 
I told him there was nothing I so 
ardently wished as that we might 
sometime or other publish a work 
written by us both, which should bear 
the name of The Monument, in memory 
of our friendship." 

What more enduring monument 
to their friendship could possibly 
have been erected than the seven 
volumes of the Spectator ? 

The tale of the literary partnership 
of Mr. Walter Besant and the late 
James Rice has been told by the 
former in his preface to the library 
edition of Ready-Money Mortihoy. It 
appears that Mr. Besant went to 
the office of Once-a-Week to secure 
remuneration for an article of his 
which had appeared in its pages, as 
well as to obtain some kind of an 
explanation of a number of exasperat- 
ing mistakes which had found their 
way into it as it stood in print. Mr. 



BEHIND THE SCENES, 211 

Besant says he found the editor 
** a friendly and pleasant creature, 
anxious to set himself right " with 
him. This *' friendly and pleasant 
creature " was James Rice, who 
ultimately joined energies with Mr. 
Besant ; and, as a result, we have 
that brilliant series of novels with 
which their names will be lovingly 
associated for many a year to come. 

The story of the authorship of The 
Gilded Age, the joint production of 
Charles Dudley Warner and '* Mark 
Twain," is thus related : The two 
men were one day strolling together 
in the garden of which Warner has 
written so pleasantly in My Summer 
in a Garden, when Clemens suggested 
that they should jointly write a bur- 
lesque of the popular American novel. 
It was agreed upon, and the work 
commenced at once; but after four 
chapters had been written, they de- 
cided that the subject would not 

14 — 2 



212 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

admit of such extended treatment, 
and proposed to make the work a 
regular story, each writing a chapter 
alternately, until it was finished. 

A hand that has promptly followed 
a teeming brain, and done good work 
in literature, can, it need hardly be 
said, do further good work in the 
same cause by helping to lift up a 
struggling brother of the pen to his 
proper standing-place in the republic 
of letters. And yet how many have 
had to bury their good-nature and 
smother their brotherly feeling at the 
recollection of the efforts of this kind 
which have been wasted in the past ! 
In literature, alas ! the old story of 
the ugly duckling is reversed ; instead 
of the much-abused duckling turning 
out to be the proverbial swan, the 
would-be swan generally proves to be 
a little fool of a duck, and a poor 
thing at that. Of course, there are 
exceptions, and now and then one 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 213 

actually does find that the writer who 
starts in a heavy, elephantine manner 
has, after all, genius of a kind at 
bottom, and ultimately does work of 
which the world is genuinely proud ; 
but far oftener our attention is drawn 
to a showy dashing character, spark- 
ling with affected Bohemianism, and 
of doubtful morals, loose collar, glib 
tongue, and self-assumed genius, who 
soon gets wiped off the literary record 
as a failure and a fraud. Too often, 
the fixed star proves to be but a 
'* farthing rush-light." 

If a successful literary man does 
seriously wish to turn from his course 
and live a life of self-sacrifice, let him 
be advertised as of a friendly dis- 
position and wiUing to teach others 
the secret of success in letters. Let 
him distribute broadcast scraps of 
his autobiography, bristling with tales 
(they needn't be too true !) of the 
monetary reward of literary produc- 



214 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

tions — novels, poems (poems especi- 
ally !), theological treatises (certainly!), 
heart-confessions, etc., etc. — and his 
life-work will make rapid descent 
upon him. He may build barns 
round about his great estate, window- 
blinded after the style of lawyers* 
offices and banks, one blind marked 
"Poems Religious," another ** Poems 
Sentimental," and so on ; and the 
manuscripts which shall flood in upon 
him for his ** considerate perusal," 
''confidential advice," ''friendly help 
in publishing," and " brotherly sym- 
pathy and tears," shall so fill his 
barns that, unless his years have 
promise of being unduly prolonged 
to seventy times three-score and ten, 
he had better insure the premises, set 
fire to the whole concern, and then, 
like the foolish man in the Scriptures, 
arise and build on a more ambitious 
scale. He should have estimates sent 
him from manufacturing stationers 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 215 

for the wholesale supply of all kinds 
of necessary material. Talk about a 
life of self-denial ! that of the veriest 
pillar-poser of ascetic ages would fade 
into foolishness and bye-wordism 
compared with his ! 

Beware, then, O sane reader, of 
ever encouraging a man in scribbling ! 
Flee rather for peace to the uncanny 
wilds of the land of She. Many a 
dabbler in unholy mysteries hath 
before now raised a throng of devils 
about him that would not be dis- 
pelled, but, hanging on to the last, 
have even danced upon the unfortu- 
nate meddler's corpse. 

Yet instances of timely assistance 
stand out now and then, clean-cut 
and definite, and laugh to scorn 
the theories which tend to make 
a man hesitate before giving his 
assistance to the multiplying of 
books, of which there is, verily, no 
end. 



21 6 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

" I received one morning," said 
Dr. Johnson, whilst speaking of the 
Vicar of Wakefield, '' a message from 
poor Goldsmith, that he was in great 
distress, and, as it was not in his 
power to come to me, begging that I 
would come to him as soon as possible. 
I sent him a guinea, and promised to 
come directly. I accordingly went 
as soon as I was drest, and found 
that his landlady had arrested him 
for his rent, at which he was in 
a violent passion. I perceived that 
he had already changed my guinea, 
and had got a bottle of Madeira and 
a glass before him. I put the cork 
into the bottle, desired he would be 
calm, and began to talk to him of the 
means by which he might be extri- 
cated. He then told me that he had 
a novel ready for the press, which he 
produced to me. I looked into it, 
and saw its merit ; told the landlady 
I should soon return, and, having 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 217 

gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty 
pounds." 

Later on, when in comparatively 
easy circumstances, Goldsmith used 
to give dinners to Johnson, Percy, 
Reynolds, Bickerstaff, and other 
friends of note, and supper-parties 
to young folks of both sexes. Black- 
stone, whose chambers were imme- 
diately below Goldsmith's, was at 
that time studiously occupied on his 
Commentaries, and used to complain 
of the racket made by his " revelling 
neighbour." 

We all know the story of the first 
meeting of Thackeray and ** Currer 
Bell," and the annoyance experienced 
by the lady at the premature an- 
nouncement that she wasn't a man 
after all. W. D. Howells has told to 
an interviewer the following story, 
which forms a curious parallel, but 
only inasmuch as it has to do with 



2l8 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

another discovery of female person- 
ality under manly disguise: ** My first 
meeting with Miss Murfree (author 
of The Prophet of the Great Smoky 
Mountains) was," he said, ** very droll. 
She had been writing for the A tlantic 
Monthly a couple of years. One day 
Osgood dropped in at my library. 
' Craddock's in town,' said he ; * he 
will dine with me to-night. Can't 
you join us at dinner?' I told Osgood 
I had an engagement for that night, 
but would surely put in an appear- 
ance, if only for a few minutes. You 
see, it had never occurred to any of 
us that * Craddock ' was not a man, 
and I had often given free rein to my 
fancy in imagining how he would look 
and act. After Osgood left me he 
hunted up Aldrich, and told him 
about it, and Aldrich said nothing 
but death would prevent him being 
present, for if there was one man in 
the world he wanted to see it was 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 219 

Craddock. Then Osgood told Law- 
rence Barrett about it, and Barrett 
promised to be there too. It so hap- 
pened that I was the first of the men 
to arrive, I saw two strange ladies 
in the drawing-room, but no Crad- 
dock. Osgood enjoyed my disap- 
pointment a moment, and then he 
said : ' Mr. Howells, let me present 
you to Miss M. N. Murfree, whom 
we all know as Charles Egbert Crad- 
dock.' The other lady was Miss 
Murfree's sister. Of course, I was 
greatly surprised, and they all laughed 
heartily at my confusion. There was 
more laughter when Aldrich came 
in, and then we waited to see how 
Barrett would take it. I think he 
was the most nonplussed man I ever 
saw ; he could do nothing for a few 
moments but grin — yes, actually grin ! 
Think of it ! that model of elegance 
and dignity grinning ! But he did it, 
and he stammered and hesitated so 



220 BEHIND THE SCENES. 

when he attempted to speak, that the 
entire party roared until their sides 
ached." 

Dickens, in the Memoir prefixed to 
Adelaide Procter's Legends and Lyrics ^ 
relates the following incident : 

*' Happening one day to dine with 
an old and dear friend, distinguished 
in literature as * Barry Cornwall,' I 
took with me an early proof of the 
Christmas number of Household 
Words, entitled The Seven Poor Tra- 
vellers, and remarked, as I laid it on 
the drawing-room table, that it con- 
tained a very pretty poem, written 
by a certain Miss Berwick. Next 
day brought me a disclosure that I 
had so spoken of the poem to the 
mother of the writer, in the writer's 
presence ; that I had no such corre- 
spondent in existence as Miss Ber- 
wick ; and that the name had been 
assumed by Barry Cornwall's daugh- 
ter. Miss Adelaide Anne Procter !" 



BEHIND THE SCENES. 221 

The secret of the authorship of the 
Waverley Novels was well kept by 
Scott for some time. Procter re- 
lates the following instance to show 
the power of self-command pos- 
sessed by Scott. It occurred at a 
breakfast in Haydon's studio. 
*' Charles Lamb and Hazlitt and 
various other people were there, and 
the conversation turned on the 
vraisemblance of certain dramatis per- 
soncB in a modern book. Sir Walter's 
opinion was asked. ' Well,' replied 
he, * they are as true as the per- 
sonages in Waverley and Guy Man- 
nering are, I think.' This was long 
before he had confessed that he was 
the author of the Scotch novels, and 
when much curiosity was alive on 
the subject. I looked very steadily 
into his face as he spoke, but it did 
not betray any consciousness or sup- 
pressed humour. His command of 
countenance was perfect." 



VIII. 

NOT THROUGH INTELLECT 
ALONE. 

** So let me sing of names remembered^ 

Because they^ living noty can ne'er be dead.'"' 
William Morris: " The Earthly Paradise. " 

Some remarkable interviews took 
place between Goethe and Schiller. 
When they first made each other's 
personal acquaintance, Schiller was 
not altogether favourably impressed 
by Goethe, whose flow of brilliant 
talk of Italy, travelling, art, and a 
thousand - and - one other subjects 
rather oppressed the younger poet. 
And besides, Schiller's views on 
some of these topics were out of 



NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE. 223 

sympathy with Goethe's, and yet he 
knew not how to contradict him. 
Of this interview Schiller writes to 
Korner in 1788 : *' At last I can tell 
you about Goethe, and satisfy your 
curiosity. . . . On the whole, I must 
say that my great idea of him is not 
lessened by this personal acquaint- 
ance ; but I doubt whether we shall 
ever become intimate. Much that to 
me is of great interest he has already 
lived through; he is, less in years 
than in experience and self-culture, 
so far beyond me, that we can never 
meet on the way ; his whole being is 
originally different from mine, his 
world is not my world, our concep- 
tions are radically different. Time 
will show." 

And time did show, and drew 
these two men together by great 
bonds of friendship — so great, that 
when news of Schiller's death came 
to the Goethe household, no one had 



224 NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE. 

heart stout enough to tell it to the 
master. He, however, suspected 
something, and said : 

*' Ah, I see ; Schiller must be very 
ill." 

After a night, in which he was 
heard weeping bitterly, he arose and 
said to a friend : 

" Is it not true that Schiller was 
very ill yesterday ?" 

For reply he had nothing but 
sobs. 

'' He is dead !" murmured Goethe. 

'* You have said it," was the sob- 
bing answer. 

'' Dead !" repeated Goethe. '' He 
is dead /" and he covered his face 
with his hands. 

Subsequently he confessed to a 
friend that he felt as if half his exist- 
ence had been ruthlessly torn from 
him. His diary at the time was left 
a blank, the white pages intimating 
the vacancy of his life. 



NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE. 225 

Years afterwards, whilst on a visit 
with Eckermann to the pleasant little 
arbour at Jena, where he and his 
dead friend used to sit and talk, he 
said : 

" Here it was that Schiller dwelt. 
In this arbour, upon these benches, 
which are now almost broken, we 
have often passed the hours ; at this 
old stone table we have often ex- 
changed many good and great words. 
He was then in the thirties, I in the 
forties ; both were full of high aspira- 
tions, and, indeed, it was something 
to speak about. Everything passes 
away ; I am no more what I was ; 
but the old earth remains, and air, 
water, and land are still the same." 

'' No two men," said Carlyle, 
speaking of Goethe and Schiller, 
**both of exalted genius, could be 
possessed of more different sorts of 
excellence. . . . The English reader 
may form some approximate esti- 

15 



226 NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE. 

mate of the contrast by figuring an 
interview between Shakespeare and 
Milton. How gifted ; how diverse 
in their gifts ! The mind of the one 
plays calmly, in its capricious and 
inimitable graces, over all the pro- 
vinces of human interest ; the other 
concentrates powers as vast, but far 
less various, on a few subjects. The 
one is catholic ; the other sectarian. 
Goethe is endowed with an all-com- 
prehending spirit ; skilled, as if by 
personal experience, in all the modes 
of human passion and opinion ; there- 
fore tolerant of all, peaceful, collected, 
fighting for no class of men or ideas. 
Schiller is earnest, devoted ; struggling 
with a thousand mighty projects of 
improvement ; feeling more intensely 
as he feels more narrowly ; rejecting 
vehemently, choosing vehemently ; 
at war with the one half of things, in 
love with the other half ; hence dis- 
satisfied, impetuous, without internal 



NOT THRO UGH INTELLECT A LONE. 227 

rest, and scarcely conceiving the pos- 
sibility of such a state." 

For lovers of books I can think 
of no more pleasing interview than 
that w^hich took place between 
Petrarch and Richard de Bury. 
Petrarch was not only a poet ; he 
was a lover of books, and in his way 
a great collector. De Bury's book- 
loving and book-collecting propen- 
sities were very pronounced, as we 
all know. What common ground, 
then, for conversation ! How De 
Bury's eyes must have glistened, and 
his heart warmed, as Petrarch ex- 
hibited his precious manuscripts one 
after the other ! Petrarch, by the 
way, was too good-natured by far; 
his books were always at the service 
of his friends, and, although some 
were returned in due course, others 
got astray in a mysterious fashion. 
A magnificent manuscript of Cicero's 
De Gloria was even pawned by 

15—2 



228 NOT THRO UGH INTELLECT A LONE. 

one who had borrowed it of the 
poet. 

But ^tis to the friendship which 
existed between Petrarch and Boc- 
caccio that we turn our broadest 
human sympathies. Francis Hueffer, 
in an article entitled A Literary 
Friendship of the Fourteenth Century^ 
gives us a pleasing account of how 
the inner life of the one was bound 
to that of the other. They seem 
both to have had an early experience 
of failure in things worldly, which 
really has not been phenomenal with 
men of genius through the ages. 
Petrarch was the son of a notary, 
and Boccaccio of a merchant ; and 
they were both brought up to the 
fathers' callings. But neither of 
them showed taste or talent for the 
practical pursuits of life. Boccaccio's 
master sent back his idle clerk in 
despair after six years' apprentice- 
ship, and an equal term spent by 



NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE, 229 

Petrarch in the study of the law was 
counted by him as an utter and irre- 
trievable loss of time. 

Their friendship, when it came 
about later in their lives, had nothing 
hollow and mocking about it. The 
power and purse of each were at the 
command of the other to use as he 
would. For our present purpose, 
however, we must pass the years by 
until they bring us to the messenger 
Boccaccio, visiting Petrarch with 
complimentary offers from Florence 
of a chair in the University. '' Boc- 
caccio remained with Petrarch," 
says Mr. Hueffer, ''for some time, 
and the account he has given of his 
visit conveys a pleasant idea of the 
genial, unceremonious intercourse of 
the two friends. Even for such a 
guest Petrarch would not interrupt 
his studies, and Boccaccio himself 
began at once to copy the most im- 
portant works of his friend, the pos- 



230 NOT THROUGH INTELLECT ALONE. 

session of which had been the goal 
of his wishes for a long time. But 
after their work, in the evenings, the 
two friends used to meet in a little 
orchard, beautiful with the blossoms 
of spring, and communicate to each 
other the ideas nearest and dearest 
to their hearts." 



jgae sft^eftg 



IX. 

CAMPING OUT. 

"... thi fires of vagabondage which smoulder 
beneath fp.e surface of most men^s conventionalisms — 
which mo'intain and river and winds had liberated 
and fanmd. . . . Deep in our hearts we hide 
the diminished fiame^ and brood above it with 
memories tf forest and mere,'^ — J. Chapman 
Woods. 

Whittie^i gives us an attractive 
picture in his poem, The Tent on thc 
Beach, of three Hterary friends, who 

*' When he£ts as of a tropic clime 

Burned ill our inland valleys through, 
* « * * « 

Pitched their white tents where sea-winds 
blew. 



' They rested there, escaped awhile 
From carei that wear the life away, 
To eat the lous of the Nile 

And drink he poppies of Cathay — 



232 CAMPING OUT. 

To fling their loads of custom down, 
Like diift-weed on the sand-slopes iDrown, 
And in the sea-waves drown the restless pack 
Of duties, claims, and needs that barked upon their 
track." 

These three friends, Whittier, Fields, 
and Bayard Taylor, have quite a 
Bohemian time of it, hearing 

" The bells of morn and night 
Swing, miles away, their silver speecli." 

Our readers — at least, the few of 
them who know not Whittier — must 
go to the poem for the stories; just 
here the Quaker-poet shall give us 
only the portraits of the *' com- 
panions three " : 

" One,* with his beard scarce sihered, bore 
A rea.Iy credence in his looks, 
A lettered magnate, lording o'er 

An ever-widening realm of >ooks. 
In him brain-currents, near aai far, 
Converged as in a Leyden jar; 
The old. dead authors thronged hm round about, 
And Elzevir's gray ghosts from leathern graves 
looked out. 

" Pleasant it was to roam about 

The lettered world as hertad done, 

* J. T. I 



CAMPING OUT. 233 

And see the lords of song without 

Their singing robes and garlands on : 
With Wordsworth paddle Rydal mere, 
Taste rugged Elliott's home-brewed beer, 
And with the ears of Rogers at fourscore, 
Hear Garrick's buskined tread and Walpole's wit 
once more." 

Whittier draws his own picture : 

" And one there was a dreamer born, 

Who, with a mission to fulfil. 

Had left the Muses' haunts to turn 

The crank of an opinion mill, 
Making his rustic reed of song 
A weapon in the war with wrong, 
Yoking his fancy to the breaking plough 
That beam-deep turned the soil for truth to spring 
and grow. 

" For while he wrought with strenuous will 
The work his hands had found to do. 
He heard the fitful music still 

Of winds that out of dreamland blew. 
The din about him could not drown 
What the strange voices whispered down ; 
Along his task-field weird processions swept, 
The visionary pomp of stately phantoms stepped. 

" The common air was thick with dreams — 
He told them to the toiling crowd ; 
Such music as the woods and streams 
Sang in his ear he sang aloud." 

Bayard Taylor was the 

" One whose Arab face was tanned 
By tropic sun and boreal frost. 
So travelled there was scarce a land 
Or people left him to exhaust, 



234 CAMPING OUT. 

In idling mood had from him hurled 
The poor squeezed orange of the world, 
And in the tent-shade, as beneath a palm, 
Smoked, cross-legged like a Turk, in Oriental 
calm. 

" The very waves that washed the sand 

Below him he had seen before 

Whitening the Scandinavian strand 

And sultry Mauritanian shore. 
From ice-rimmed isles, from summer seas, 
Palm -fringed, they bore him messages ; 
He heard the plaintive Nubian songs again. 
And mule-bells tinkling down the mountain-paths 
of Spain." 



'^imL^tm^^^^^mm^ 



im :s^ 






X. 

A PASSING GLIMPSE. 



** I yield the palm to no man's love I but others 
loved thee fir St. ^'' 

I WONDER what particular associa- 
tions were present in the mind of 
Hawthorne, as he strolled about 
London with his friend Bennock in 
search of Johnson's old haunts ! 
Were the worthy doctor's pompous 
phrases coursing through his mind ?* 
or did he recollect the fact that one 

* "A fine day," said Sir Joshua Reynolds to 
Dr.- Johnson. 

" Sir," he answered, ** it seems propitious, but 
the atmosphere is humid and the skies are nebu- 
lous." 

Any recorded conversations with Johnson always 
make me think of the interesting question of the 
languid young lady who wished to ring the tea- 



236 A PASSING GLIMPSE. 

night in particular Savage and 
Johnson walked round and about St. 
James's Square for want of a lodging, 
and were not at all depressed at 
their situation, but, in high spirits 
and brimful of patriotism, traversed 
the square for several hours ? Only 
a few years after this homeless night, 
and Johnson stood, a literary Colos- 
sus, on the enduring pedestal of fame, 
and Savage, a murderer and a pro- 
fligate, ended his miserable career in 
Bristol gaol. 

But Boswell, as leader of all writers 
on Johnson, has done his work so 

bell. " If I agitate the communicator," she asked, 
"will the domestic appear ?" 

The following is certainly an excellent imitation 
of the style of the worthy doctor : 

" What is a window ?" asked an earnest seeker 
after knowledge. 

" A window, sir," replied Johnson, ** is an orifice 
cut out of an edifice for the introduction of illu- 
mination." 

** Thank you; will you be good enough to snuff 
the candle?" 

" Sir, you ought rather to say, deprive that 
luminary of its superfluous eminence." 



A PASSING GLIMPSE. 237 

thoroughly that it were folly for us 
to repeat here any of the well-known 
stories of the great man which have 
become embedded in our literature. 
And, besides, an oak-tree is out of 
place in the tiny beds of a close-cut 
lawn. Dwarf plants should be there, 
with an occasional rose-bush, making 
bright bits of colour, and filling the 
air with sweet scents. Let the big 
tree flourish in some neighbouring 
field, where it has room to throw out 
its mighty roots and branches ! 

Shelley certainly is not one of our 
oak-trees of literature ; but, thanks 
to the present revival of interest in 
him, both as a man and a poet, 
his personality has become so pro- 
nounced that we all know him — 
some will perhaps have it, even 
better than he knew himself — and 
so we linger here but for a moment 
to bestow on him a passing look of 
sad farewell. In spirit we bend 



238 A PASSING GLIMPSE. 

our heads with Byron, Hunt, and 
Trelawny* over the body of the dead 
poet, lying on the Tuscan coast, 
about to be reduced to ashes. '* A 
furnace was provided, of iron bars 
and strong sheet-iron, with fuel, 
and frankincense, wine, salt and 
oil, the accompaniments of a Grecian 
cremation : the volume of Keats was 
burned along with the body. It was 
a glorious day, and a splendid pros- 
pect — the cruel and calm sea before, 
the Apennines behind. A curlew 
wheeled close to the pyre, screaming, 
and would not be driven away ; the 
flame arose golden and towering." 
And so we pass on, with chastened 
soul and sad heart, leaving Hunt 
and Byron behind. The world has 
been robbed of a dreamer ! 

* " To hear Trelawny speak of Shelley," said 
Swinburne, " is beautiful and touching ; at that 
name his voice (usually that of an old sea-king, as 
he is) always changes and softens unconsciously. 
•There,' he said to me, 'was the very best of 
men, and he was treated as the very worst.' " 



»:^i?i^^^;?|^€- 



XI. 
A GIANT IN THE PATH. 

* ' In the centre of all, a7id object of all, stands 
the Human Being, towards whose heroic and 
spiritual evolution poems a7id everything directly 
or indirectly tend,'''' — Walt Whitman. 

The grim persistency of Carlyle — 
the dogged determination which 
enabled him to overcome obstacles 
which would have taken the life out 
of most men, appears to have been 
in a measure characteristic of the 
Carlyle family. In his Reminiscences, 
of Carlyle^ Mr. A. J. Symington tells 
the following story, which w^ill speak 
for itself : 

*' While walking in Rotten Row, 
he (Carlyle) told me hov^ his brother 



240 A GIANT IN THE PATH. 

John, who had been twenty years in 
Italy, as physician to the Duke of 
Buccleuchjhad amassed an enormous 
amount of Dante material towards 
executing a prose translation. For 
long he had unsuccessfully urged his 
brother to set about it ; but, urge 
and progue as he would, he could 
not get him to begin. So he resolved 
on trying quite another plan, and 
bethought him of the man who was 
driving pigs to Killarney, and who 
told his friend to hush and speak low, 
for the pigs thought he wanted them 
to go the other way. This story he 
told with great animation, standing 
still the while, and acting it inimit- 
ably, saying, after he had finished : 
' That is how I got John to begin his 
translation, and thus it came about. 
One day said I : ** John, man, if I 
were in your shoes, I would get quit 
of that Dante business, which hangs 
about your neck like a dead albatross. 



A GIANT IN THE PATH. 241 

Cast it away from you, and give up 
all thought of ever translating Dante. 
If you had been a young man, you 
might have looked forward to over- 
taking it ; but now you are too old. 
Read and enjoy yourself, and bother 
your head no more about Dante." ' 

*' The steel struck fire," said 
Carlyle, ** as was intended. John 
exclaimed : ' Me too old I I'm nothing 
of the kind !' And, so, forthwith, he 
set to work, and produced one of 
the very best translations of Dante 
to be found anywhere." 

When Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen 
visited Turgenieff in Paris some 
years ago, they fell talking of Carlyle. 
Turgenieff related that once he visited 
the Chelsea sage, and found him 
loud in his denunciation of democ- 
racy, and very unreserved in his 
expression of sympathy with Russia 
and her Emperor. 

** This grand moving of great 

16 



242 A GIANT IN THE PATH. 

masses swayed by one powerful hand, 
brings/* he said, *' uniformity and 
purpose into history. In a country 
like Great Britain, it was wearisome 
to see how every petty individual 
could thrust forth his head, like a 
frog out of its swamp, and croak 
away at his contemptible sentiment 
as long as anybody had a mind to 
listen to him. Such a state of things 
could only result in confusion and 
disorder." 

Turgenieff told Carlyle in reply 
that he should only ask him to go to 
Russia and spend a month or two in 
one of the interior governments, just 
long enough to observe with his own 
eyes the effect of this much-admired 
despotism. Then, he thought, he 
would need no word of his to convince 
him. 

One day Carlyle met Browning, 
and wished to say something pleasant 
about The Ring and the Book; but 



A GIANT IN THE PATH. 243 

somehow he got sadly mixed, with 
the result that what he did say was 
not entirely a compHment. ** It is a 
wonderful book," he said ; *' one of 
the most wonderful poems ever 
written. I re-read it all through — 
all made out of an Old Bailey story, 
that might have been told in ten 
lines, and only wants forgetting." 



16 — 2 



XII. 

"FOUND AGAIN IN THE 
HEART OF A FRIEND." 

" Perhaps the best of a song heard ^ or of any and 
all true love^ or life's fai?'est episodes, or sailor s\ 
soldiers trying scenes on la?td or sea, is the floating 
resume of them, or any of thefn, long afterwards, 
looking at the actualities away back past, with all 
their practical excitations gone. How the soul 
loves to hover over such reminiscences /" — Walt 
Whitman. 

Most of us know that charming 
little poem of Longfellow's — The 
A rrow and the Song : 

" I shot an arrow into the air, 
It fell to earth I knew not where ; 
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight 
Could not follow it in its flight. 

" I breathed a song into the air, 
It fell to earth, I knew not where ; 
For who has sight so keen and strong, 
That it can follow the flight of song ? 



''IN THE HEART OF A FRIEND.'' 245 

*' Long, long afterwards, in an oak 
I found the arrow, still unbroke ; 
And the song from beginning to end, 
I found again in the heart of a friend." 

What pleasure a man like Words- 
worth must have reaped when he 
found any of his poetry embedded in 
the memory of a friend ! 

Perhaps one of the most interest- 
ing instances of finding one's words 
in an unlooked-for quarter is the 
following : 

*' John Howard Payne, the author 
of Home, Sweet Home, was a warm 
personal friend of John Ross, who 
will be remembered as the celebrated 
chief of the Cherokees. At the time 
the Cherokees were removed from 
their homes in Georgia to their 
present possessions west of the 
Mississippi River, Payne was spend- 
ing a few weeks in Georgia with 
Ross, who was occupying a miserable 
cabin, having been forcibly ejected 
from his former home. A number 



246 ''FOUND AGAIN IN 

of the prominent Cherokees were 
in prison, and that portion of Georgia 
in which the tribe was located was 
scoured by armed squads of the 
Georgia miHtia, who had orders to 
arrest all who refused to leave the 
country. While Ross and Payne 
were seated before the fire in the 
hut, the door was suddenly burst 
open and six or eight militiamen 
sprang into the room. The soldiers 
lost no time in taking their prisoners 
away. Ross was permitted to ride 
his own horse, while Payne was 
mounted on one led by a soldier. 
As the little party left the hovel, rain 
began falling, and continued until 
every man was drenched thoroughly. 
The journey lasted all night. Towards 
midnight, Payne's escort, in order to 
keep himself awake, began humming 
Home, Sweet Home, when Payne re- 
marked : 

" ' Little did I expect to hear that 



THE HEART OF A FRIEND r 247 

song under such circumstances, and 
at such a time. Do you know the 
author V 

'' ' No,' said the soldier. ' Do 
you ?" 

" ' Yes,' answered Payne ; ' I com- 
posed it.'* 

" ' The devil you did ! You can 
tell that to some fellows, but not 
to me. Look here; you made that 
song, you say. If you did — and I 
know you didn't — you can say it all 
without stopping. It has something 
in it about pleasures and palaces. 
Now, pitch in, and reel it off; and 
if you can't, I'll bounce you from 
your horse, and lead you instead of it.' 

" The threat was answered by 

* " Payne declared that he had heard the tune 
of Home^ Sweet Home from the lips of a Sicilian 
peasant girl, who sang it artlessly as she sold some 
sort of Italian wares, and touched his fine ear by 
the purity of her voice. It is pleasant to think he 
did not crib it from an old opera, but had a certain 
proprietorship in the air, as well as the words, of 
the most popular song extant." 



248 ' * FO UND A GA IN IN 

Payne, who repeated the song in 
a slow, subdued tone, and then sang 
it, making the old woods ring with 
the tender melody and pathos of the 
words. It touched the heart of the 
rough soldier, who was not only cap- 
tivated but convinced, and who said 
the composer of such a song should 
never go to prison if he could help it. 
And when the party reached Mil- 
ledgeville, they were, after a pre- 
liminary examination, discharged, 
much to their surprise. Payne in- 
sisted it was because the leader of 
the squad had been under the mag- 
netic influence of Ross's conversa- 
tion, and Ross insisted that they had 
been saved from insult and imprison- 
ment by the power of Home, Sweet 
Home, sung as only those who feel 
can sing it. The friendship existing 
between Ross and Payne endured 
until the grave closed over the mortal 
remains of the latter." 



THE HEART OF A FRIEND." 249 

" On my return home from Paris/' 
writes Hans Christian Andersen, in 
his Story of My Life, *' I went along 
the Rhine ; I knew that in one of the 
Rhine towns the poet FreiHgrath 
Hved. The picturesque in his poems 
pleased me very much, and I wished 
to become acquainted with him. I 
stopped in some towns on the Rhine, 
and inquired after him ; in St. Goars 
I was shown the house where he 
lived. He was sitting at his writing- 
table, and seemed annoyed at being 
disturbed by a stranger. I told not 
my name, but only that I could not 
pass by St. Goars without paying 
my respects to the poet FreiHgrath. 
' That is very kind of you,' said he, 
in a cold tone, and asked who I 
was. When I replied : ' We both 
have one and the same friend, 
Chamisso,' he sprang up in an 
ecstasy of joy. * Andersen !' he ex- 
claimed ; 'it is!' He flung himself 



250 ''IN THE HEART OF A FRIEND.'' 

on my neck, and his honest eyes 
beamed, ' Now stay for some days 
here,' said he. I told him that I 
could stay only two hours, as I was 
in company with countrymen who 
were waiting for me. ' You have 
many friends in little St. Goars,' said 
he. * I have, a short time since, read 
out to a great circle your novel of 
O. F. One of these friends, how- 
ever, I must fetch here, and you 
must also see my wife. Ay, know 
you not yet that you have had some 
share in our marriage ?' And now 
he told how my novel of Only a 
Fiddler had brought them into a 
correspondence by letter, and, eventu- 
ally, into an acquaintance, which 
ended in their becoming a married 
couple. He called her, told her my 
name, and I was considered as an 
old friend." 



XIII. 

SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER 
CAME. 

*'^ And it passed over our heads on to the hatv- 
thorn-bushes in the field across the brook.''' 

In a list of interviews which should 
have taken place I certainly would 
include one between Tennyson and 
Landor. The invitation of the latter, 
which we cannot find was ever ac- 
cepted, runs thus : 

" I entreat you, Alfred Tennyson, 
Come and share my haunch of venison. 
I have, too, a bin of claret, 
Good, but better when you share it. 
Tho' 'tis only a small bin, 
There's a stock of it within. 
And as sure as I'm a rhymer. 
Half a butt of Rudesheimer. 
Come ; among the sons of men is none 
Welcomer than Alfred Tennyson." 



252 SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME, 

Tennyson and Hawthorne should 
also have enjoyed each other's spoken 
word. It was a matter of regret 
afterwards to both that one oppor- 
tunity, at least, of so doing was 
permitted to slip by. Hawthorne 
thus mentions it : '* While I was 
among the Dutch painters (at the 
Manchester Exhibition of 1857), 

accosted me. He told me 

that the * Poet Laureate * (as he 
called him) was in the Exhibition 
rooms, and, as I expressed great 
interest, was kind enough to go in 
quest of him ; not for the purpose 
of introduction, however, for he was 
not acquainted with Tennyson. Soon 

Mr. returned, and said he had 

found the Poet Laureate, and going 
into the saloon of the Old Masters, 
we saw him there, in company with 
Mr. Woolner. . . . Gazing at him 
with all my eyes, I liked him well, 
and rejoiced more in him than in all 



SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 253 

the wonders of the Exhibition. . . . 
I would gladly have seen more of 
this one poet of our day, but forbore 
to follow him ; for I must own that it 
seemed mean to be dogging him 
through the saloons, or even to look 
at him, since it was to be done 
stealthily, if at all." 

In his Yesterdays with Authors, J. 
T. Fields refers to this same incident. 
*' It was," he says, '' during one of his 
rambles with Alexander Ireland 
through the Manchester Exhibition 
rooms that Hawthorne saw Tenny- 
son wandering about. I have always 
thought it unfortunate that these two 
men of genius could not have been 
introduced on that occasion. Haw- 
thorne was too shy to seek an intro- 
duction, and Tennyson was not aware 
that the American author was present. 
Hawthorne records in his journal that 
he gazed at Tennyson with all his 
eyes, * and rejoiced more in him than 



254 SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 

in all the other wonders of the Ex- 
hibition.' When I afterwards told 
Tennyson that the author whose 
Twice-told Tales he happened to be 
then reading at Farringford had met 
him at Manchester, but did not make 
himself known, the Laureate said in 
his frank and hearty manner : ' Why 
didn't he come up and let me shake 
hands with him? I am sure I should 
have been glad to meet a man like 
Hawthorne anywhere.' " 

When Samuel Rogers, the poet, 
was a young man in his father's 
bank, his spirit of hero-worship sug- 
gested a visit to Dr. Johnson ; but, 
on reaching his house in Bolt Court, 
his courage forsook him as he was 
about to lift the knocker. 

In still more modern times I would 
that Robert Buchanan had found 
his way to Chelsea, and lifted the 
knocker of a certain house wherein 
dwelt Dante Gabriel Rossetti. We 



SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 255 

all know of the literary quarrel be- 
tween these two authors, and the 
tender verses Buchanan subsequently 
penned to the poet-painter, followed 
by that other lament after death had 
closed his eyes. 

What a meeting Hawthorne, with 
the delicate kindliness of his nature, 
has conjured up for us at the close of 
his notice of Delia Bacon, whose 
enthusiastic mind got disarranged 
over her efforts to dethrone Shake- 
speare in favour of Bacon, and who 
ultimately became hopelessly insane ! 
'^ And when, not many months after 
the outward failure of her life-long 
object," he writes, '^she passed into 
the better world, I know not why we 
should hesitate to believe that the 
immortal poet may have met her on 
the threshold and led her in, re- 
assuring her with friendly and com- 
fortable words, and thanking her 
(yet with a smile of gentle humour 



256 SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 

in his eyes at the thought of certain 
mistaken speculations) for having 
interpreted him to mankind so 
well."* 

* In a letter to Mary Cowden Clarke, con- 
gratulating her on the completion of her Con- 
cordance to Shakespeare^ Douglas Jerrold writes : 
*' On your first arrival in Paradise you mu^t expect 
a kiss from Shakespeare — even though your hus- 
band should happen to be there." Some little 
time after, in a brilliant article in Punch, on " The 
Shakespeare Night " at Covent Garden Theatre, 
which took place the 7th December, 1847, the 
same delightful author, after describing the festive 
happiness of the affair, proceeds : "At a few 
minutes to seven, and quite unexpectedly, William 
Shakespeare, with his wife, the late Anne Hatha- 
way, drove up to the private box door, drawn by 
Pegasus, for that night only appearing in harness. 
. . . Shakespeare was received — and afterwards 
lighted to his box — by his editors, Charles Knight 
and Payne Collier, upon both of whom the poet 
smiled benignly ; and saying some pleasant, com- 
mendable words to each, received from their hands 
their two editions of his immortality. And then 
from a corner Mrs. Cowden Clarke, timidly, and 
all one big blush, presented a play-bill, with some 
Hesperian fruit (of her own gathering). Shake- 
speare knew the lady at once ; and taking her 
two hands, and looking a Shakespearian look into 
her now pale face, said in tones of unimaginable 
depth and sweetness, * But where is your book, 
Mistress Mary Clarke ? Where is your Concord- 
ance T And, again pressing her hands, with a 
smile of sun-lighted Apollo, he said, * I pray you let 



SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 257 

Leigh Hunt liked to sum up in his 
mind the famous authors who, with 
hand clasped in hand, completed the 
chain of genius for generations. It 
was a subject which charmed him as 
if he had been a witness to the pass- 
ing of the mantle of Elijah on to the 
shoulders of Elisha, or heard the 
dread secrets which, of old, Archdruid 
after Archdruid whispered to his 
chosen successor. 

*' It is a curious and pleasant 
thing," says Hunt, ''to consider that 
a link of personal acquaintance can 
be traced from the authors of our 
own times to those of Shakespeare, 
and to Shakespeare himself. Ovid, 



me take it home with me.' And Mrs. Clarke, 
having no words, dropped the profoundest 'Yes,' 
with knocking knees. * A very fair and cordial 
gentlewoman, Anne,' said Shakespeare, aside to 
his wife ; but Anne merely observed that ' It was 
just like him ; he was always seeing something 
fair where nobody else saw anything. The woman 
— odds her life ! — was well enough.' And Shake- 
speare smiled again." 

17 



258 SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME, 

in recording his intimacy with Pro- 
pertius and Horace, regrets that he 
had only seen Virgil {First, Lib. iv., 
V. 51). But still he thinks the sight 
of him worth remembering. And 
Pope, when a child, prevailed on 
some friends to take him to a coffee- 
house which Dryden frequented, 
merely to look at him, which he did 
with great satisfaction. Now, such 
of us as have shaken hands with a 
living poet might be able to reckon 
up a series of connecting shakes, to 
the very hand that wrote of Hamlet, 
and of Falstaff, and of Desdemona. 

*' With some living poets, it is 
certain. There is Thomas Moore, 
for instance, who knew Sheridan. 
Sheridan knew Johnson, who was 
the friend of Savage, who knew 
Steele, who knew Pope. Pope was 
intimate with Congreve, and Con- 
greve with Dryden. Dryden is said 
to have visited Milton. Milton is 



SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 259 

said to have known Davenant, and 
to have been saved by him from the 
revenge of the restored court, in re- 
turn for having saved Davenant from 
the revenge of the Commonwealth. 
But if the Hnk between Dryden and 
Milton, and Milton and Davenant, is 
somewhat apocryphal, or rather de- 
pendent on tradition (for Richardson 
the painter tells us the story from 
Pope, who had it from Betterton the 
actor^ one of Davenant's company), 
it may be carried at once from 
Dryden to Davenant, with whom he 
was unquestionably intimate. Dave- 
nant then knew Hobbes, who knew 
Bacon, who knew Ben Jonson, who 
was intimate with Beaumont and 
Fletcher, Chapman, Donne, Drayton. 
Camden, Seldon, Clarendon, Sidney, 
Raleigh, and perhaps all the great 
men of Elizabeth's and James's time, 
the greatest of them all undoubtedl\\ 
Thus have we a hnk of ^ beamy 

17 — 2 



26o SUNSHINE WHICH NEVER CAME. 

hands * from our own times up to 
Shakespeare. 

'* In this friendly genealogy we 
have omitted the numerous side- 
branches or common friendships. It 
may be mentioned, however, in order 
not to omit Spenser, that Davenant 
resided some time in the family of 
Lord Brooke, the friend of Sir Phillip 
Sidney. Spenser's intimacy with 
Sidney is mentioned by himself in 
a letter, still extant, to Gabriel 
Harvey." 






XIV. 
BY THE RIVER-SIDE. 

" // is nothing strange that men who throw their 
Jiies for trout should dream of it."" — W. C. Prime. 

Who would not have gone a-fishing 
with dear old Izaak Walton and his 
friends, and been one in the quaint 
and pleasing conversations which 
took place between them ! But as 
that has been denied us, we can still 
be with them in spirit as they whip 
the streams and talk. 

** Venator. On my word, master, 
this is a gallant trout. What shall we 
do with him ? 

" PiscATOR. Marry, e'en eat him 
to supper. We'll go to my hostess. 



262 BY THE RIVER-SIDE. 

from whence we came. She told me 
as I was going out of door that my 
brother Peter, a good angler and a 
cheerful companion, had sent word 
he would lodge there to-night, and 
bring a friend with him. My hostess 
has two beds, and I know you and I 
may have the best. We'll rejoice 
with my brother Peter and his friend, 
tell tales, or sing ballads, or make a 
catch, or find some harmless sport to 
content us, and pass away a little 
time without offence to either God 
or man. 

" Venator. A match, good master. 
Let*s go to that house, for the linen 
looks white, and smells of lavender, 
and I long to lie in a pair of sheets 
that smell so. Let's be going, good 
master, for I am hungry again with 
fishing." 

Before they return, however, Pis- 
cator catches another logger-headed 
chub, which he hangs on a willow 



BY THE RIVER-SIDE. 263 

twig, and then indulges in the follow- 
ing observations, which are remark- 
able for their charming simplicity, 
and (to use Sir Walter Scott's ex- 
pression) for their '* Arcadian lan- 
guage " : ** Let's be going. But turn 
out of the way a little, good scholar, 
towards yonder high hedge. We'll 
sit whilst this shower falls so gently 
upon the teeming earth, and gives a 
sweeter smell to the lovely flowers 
that adorn the verdant meadows. 
Look ! under that broad beech-^tree, 
I sat down when I was last this way 
a-fishing, and the birds in the adjoin- 
ing grove seemed to have a friendly 
contention with an echo, whose dead 
voice seemed to live in a hollow cave 
near to the brow of that primrose- 
hill : there I sat viewing the silver 
streams glide silently towards their 
centre, the tempestuous sea ; yet 
sometimes opposed by rugged roots, 
and pebble-stones^ which broke their 



264 BY THE RIVER -SIDE. 

waves, and turned them into foam ; 
and sometimes viewing the harmless 
lambs, some leaping securely in the 
cool shade, whilst others sported 
themselves in the cheerful sun ; and 
others were craving comfort from 
the swollen udders of their bleating 
dams. As I thus sat, these and other 
sights had so fully possessed my soul 
that I thought, as the poet has 
happily expressed it, 

*' * I was for that time lifted above earth ; 

And possest joys not promis'd in my birth.' 

"As I left this place and entered 
into the next field, a second pleasure 
entertained me. 'Twas a handsome 
milkmaid, that had cast away all 
care, and sung like a nightingale. 
Her voice was good, and the ditty 
fitted for it. 'Twas that smooth song 
that was made by Kit Marlowe, now 
at least fifty years ago, and the milk- 
maid's mother sung an answer to it, 
which was made by SirWalter Raleigh 



BY THE RIVERSIDE. 265 

in his younger days. They were old- 
fashioned poetry, but choicely good. 
I think much better than that now 
in fashion in this critical age. Look 
yonder, on my word, yonder they be 
a-milking again. I will give her the 
chub, and persuade them to sing 
those two songs for us." 

This dialogue then takes place 
between Piscator and the milk- 
woman : 

'' Piscator. God speed, good 
woman ! I have been a-fishing, and 
am going to Bleak Hall to my bed ; 
and having caught more fish than 
will sup myself and friend, will bestow 
this upon you and your daughter, for 
I use to sell none. 

'' MiLKWOMAN. Marry, God requite 
you, sir ! and we'll eat it cheerfully ; 
and if you come this way a-fishing 
two months hence, a grace of God 
I'll give you a sillabub of new verjuice 
in a new-made haycock, and my 



266 BY THE RIVER-SIDE. 

Maudlin shall sing you one of her 
best ballads, for she and I both love 
all anglers, they be such honest, civil, 
quiet men. In the meantime, will 
you drink a draught of red cow's 
milk. You shall have it freely ? 

'' PiscATOR. No, I thank you ; but 
I pray do us a courtesy that shall 
stand you and your daughter in 
nothing, and we will think ourselves 
still something in your debt ; it is 
but to sing us a song, that was sung 
by you and your daughter when I 
last passed over this meadow, about 
eight or nine days since. 

'' MiLKWOMAN. What song was it, 
I pray ? Was it ' Come, shepherds, 
deck your heads,' or ' As at noon 
Dulcina rested,' or ' PhiHda flouts 
me'? 

" PiscATOR. No, it is none of 
these; it is a song that your daughter 
sung the first part, and you sung the 
answer to it. 



BY THE RIVERSIDE. 267 

'' MiLKWOMAN. Oh, I know it 
now ! I learned the first part in 
my golden age, when I was about 
the age of my daughter ; and the 
latter part, which indeed fits me 
best, but two or three years ago, 
when the cares of the world began 
to take hold of me ; but you shall, 
God willing, hear them both. Come, 
MaudHn, sing the first part to the 
gentlemen with a merry heart, and I'll 
sing the second when you have done." 

And so the milkmaid sings, and is 
answered by a song from her mother. 
Piscator thanks them, but Venator 
appears to have expressed his grati- 
tude in a more affectionate manner 
than his sedate companion approved 
of, for his master observes: ** Scholar, 
let Maudlin alone; do not offer to 
spoil her voice. Look, yonder comes 
my hostess to call us to supper. 
How, now ? Is my brother Peter 
come?" 



268 BY THE RIVERSIDE. 

'' Hostess. Yes; and a friend with 
him. They are both glad to hear 
you are in these parts, and long to 
see you ; and are hungry, and long 
to be at supper/' 

Piscator and Venator then meet 
** brother Peter," who introduces 
them to Coridon, '* an honest coun- 
tryman, a most downright, witty, 
merry companion, that met me here 
purposely to eat a trout, and to be 
pleasant." 

They sup of the trout which 
Piscator had caught, with such other 
meat as the house afforded, moist- 
ening their cheer with '' some of the 
best barley wine, the good liquor that 
our good, honest forefathers did use 
to drink of, which preserved their 
health, and made them live so long, 
and to do so many good deeds.'* 

They then agree to sing several 
songs and catches, which Venator 
says '* shall give some addition of 



BY THE RIVERSIDE. 269 

mirth to the company, for we will be 
merry;'* upon which Piscator ob- 
serves, '* 'Tis a match, my masters ; 
let's even say grace, and turn to the 
fire, drink the other cup to wet our 
whistles, and so sing away all sad 
thoughts. Come on, my masters ; 
who begins ? I think it's best to 
draw cuts, and avoid contention." 
The lot accordingly falls to Coridon, 
who begins, for *' he hates conten- 
tion." The song is much admired by 
Piscator, who exclaims, '* Well sung, 
Coridon ; this song was sung with 
mettle, and was choicely fitted to 
the occasion ; I shall love you for it 
as long as I know you. I would you 
were a brother of the angle ; for a 
companion that is cheerful, and free 
from swearing and scurrilous dis- 
course, is worth gold. I love such 
mirth as does not make friends 
ashamed to look upon one another 
next morning ; nor men (that cannot 



270 BY THE RIVERSIDE, 

well bear it) to repent the money 
they spend when they be warmed 
with drink. And take this for a rule, 
you may pick out such times and 
such companies that you may make 
yourselves merrier for a little than 
a great deal of money ; for 'tis the 
company and not the charge makes 
the feast. And such a companion 
you prove ; I thank you for it. But 
I will not compliment you out of the 
debt that I owe you, and, therefore, 
I will begin my song, and wish it 
may be as well liked." 

Piscator is also rewarded for his 
song by the applause of his com- 
panions : and, after the following 
dialogue, they separate for the night - 

** CoRiDON. Well sung, brother ! 
you have paid your debt in good 
coin. We anglers are all beholden 
to the good man that made this song. 
Come, hostess, give us more ale, and 
let's drink to him. And now let's 



BY THE RIVERSIDE. 271 

everyone go to bed, that we may 
rise early ; but first let's pay our 
reckoning, for I will have nothing 
to hinder me in the morning, for my 
purpose is to prevent the sun-rising. 

" Peter. A match ! I know, 
brother, you and your scholar will 
lie together ; but where shall we 
meet to-morrow night ? for my 
friend Coridon and I will go up 
the water towards Ware. 

'* PiscATOR. And my scholar and 
I will go down towards Waltham. 

'* Coridon. Then let's meet here, 
for here are fresh sheets that smell 
of lavender ; and I am sure that we 
cannot expect better meat, or better 
usage, in any place. 

'* Peter. 'Tis a match. Good- 
night to everybody !" 



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